Archive for the ‘BBC Scotland’ Category

Ageing’s alright; better than the alternative which is not being here. (George H. W. Bush)

June 28, 2019

And so dear listener, in two days I celebrate my 65th birthday and, like many people, I never really thought about what it would be like being 65 when I was only 20 as, after all, I was at university (first time) and hadn’t even started real work.

Or 30, when I was happily married but without child at the time altho’ Son Brian wasn’t that far away and I was working for the BBC as an established radio producer.

Or 40, divorced and back at the BBC (contract and casual) having had a career break in the wonderful world of public relations but living in what the wonderful Tom Shields once described as the independent republic of Summerston.

Or 50, when I’d left the BBC (or had it left me?) and I was beginning life as a subject tutor at Glasgow Metropolitan College and trying to teach potential young wordsmiths in an atmosphere where teaching wasn’t necessarily everyone’s main reason for being there but administrative ambitions came first for some management people (of which I’ve never been one)

Or……. well no, by the time I was approaching 60, the shit had already hit the fan and I was going through a period of ‘what the hell was that all about?’ and hoping that I was about to settle down again and maybe write a much better version of the book that I had already written about the alcohol dependency and the cancer.

The ‘Cold Turkey’ I talk about (unplanned withdrawal from alcohol over one weekend) had seen me being visited in the old Western Hospital by close family and friends who did not expect me to make it through the night – but I did; and when I was receiving radiotherapy (thirty-seven daily sessions) I attended the funeral of a friend’s mum only for the ‘mutual friend’ standing next to me to say ‘to be honest, I was expecting you to be the next’ – but I wasn’t….or ‘haven’t been’ to be grammatically pedantic.

But then, just a couple of years before the sixtieth I made one of the greatest decisions of my life; I went to UWS (Paisley) to study drink and drugs for two years. There were some who said, ‘Well if you want to go back to university and become a student again (sic), then why not do American Literature or something like that?’ but now I felt I had something to offer in the field of addiction treatment but also wanted to learn more about the part drink and drugs had played in my life.

And by chance I made some amazing friendships amongst fellow students and staff – including recently Instagram voting for a member of staff’s grand-daughter in some shopping centre competition and any grand-daughter named after (wrong spelling) a rock drummer of the sixties and seventies deserves my vote.

And the months around the actual sixtieth birthday saw me abseiling for charity, zip-wiring for fun, being a zombie (at a well know theme park near Motherwell) for devilment…….and a few years later saw some anxiety and depression and a heart scare.

The anxiety and depression still hang around but I do know people who have considered taking their own life and there are times I talk to them – about all sorts of things AND I also meet an NHS nurse (a different one each time) every six weeks to get my bloods taken and I have an AAA Screening Ultrasound Scan in a few days’ time in Stobhill Hospital so lots of people still look after me. So, it’s the least I can do for others.

I noticed the other day that Holly the Dog’s mum had written ‘Iaint850=65’ on a kitchen calendar which I though was an optimistic view of the future and then we discussed non-alcoholic drinks including a new one called Slipknot (that’s not quite right, is it Skippy?)

And I’m not long back from a long weekend in Arisaig of which I shall talk more at a later date but a wee bit of the anxiety showed on the morning of the day I was due to return when I worried about the train back down from Arisaig being cancelled and I’d be stranded. It wasn’t and I wasn’t.

But along the way there’s been graduations (me, Son Brian, the lovely KT and my grand-daughter from nursery with grand-son to follow) and there was a wedding six years ago and all the usual ups and downs associated with being alive……..

And I’ve spoken lots about the people who have helped so much over the years, the majority of whom are women………but maybe they’re more understanding than men who, in many cases, may feel threatened by some of the things I talk about. Many don’t believe, for example, that I am now simply someone who doesn’t drink alcohol; for many I am still a recovered alcoholic which is good in itself I suppose but may prevent others from recognising their own problems.

Mind you, in many ways, I am my own worst enemy. I’m not a great one for re-unions with people with whom I’ve lost contact and some organisations (e.g. the BBC) don’t seem to be great ones for re-unions. I was, however, supposed to attend one that was a celebration for someone who had worked (and still does) with the Beeb for forty years but a job opportunity got in the way. Or did it?

Anxiety maybe kicked in.

But if I’ve learned anything from the last few years it’s that there’s more to happen in the years to come. My (now) late sister made it to sixty-nine and she had supplied a great deal of material support for me in recent years. Indeed, once the will is finally settled she will continue to do so both for me and the rest of the family.

So you know where to find me and my diary will always remain flexible.

Tioraidh, still wearing the badges and still keeping it simple

Iaint850 who, having written all the above, now fully expects to get knocked down and killed by a passing bus within the next few days.

And after all I said about the importance of women in my life, here’s four guys who are kinda role models for me and the song certainly is

‘but I am still alive’……….and anything is still possible.

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“If you’re in the Brownies and you say I don’t think people should join the Brownies, you’ll probably be thrown out of the Brownies.”

May 31, 2019

Which, if you’re a young girl aged 7 to 10, seems a bit harsh if, maybe, you’re just in a bad mood but Claire Short said it and what Claire Short says…….. 😦

(And I used to be a beaver leader which, for some strange reason, was always good for a cheap laugh when I tutored journalists of the future)

But, dear listener, age has been a big part of my life this week. I think I may have said, somewhere, in passing, that I turn 65 on 2nd July this year and please feel free to make a fuss around that time. 😉

However, I feel it has now happened. I phoned the Firhill Ticket Office to renew my Partick Thistle season ticket and after confirming my details, I asked how much was being deducted from my card. When I was told it was £210, I said that was much cheaper than last season and I was told I now get the concession rate……cos the season starts after 2nd July…….

My D.O.B. is on file.

On the other hand I already have a concession card for trains and when I went to travel in from Summerston to Queen Street for my usual SDF gig, I was actually asked for my ID when I asked for a concession return. 😀

And football was also a big part of the Scottish psyche this week with the women’s team doing so well and you could tell the Hampden Irregulars as they were posting picture of what they thought were lots of enthusiastic fans waiting to get in.

I got little response when I tweeted that they probably hadn’t opened enough gates…….I was right.

But I used to be a member of a closed fbook group which posts football pics of yesteryear and I tended to like the ones that showed the grounds rather the footballers but I left it during the week when one of the Admins had a go at the BBC (doing one of these things where people think they’re being funny by saying the English Broadcasting Corporation or EBC) and saying they weren’t being political by saying that, but why wasn’t the game on the real BBC or the new channel and why couldn’t his friends down south see it (cos he wasn’t political cos he had English friends…) instead of the Gaelic one.

‘I’m not a racist cos some of my best friends are FILL IN THE BLANKS’ 😦

Well, yesteryearman, BBC Alba bid for the rights to the Scottish women’s games some time back and have given it great coverage and as for your friends down south, BBC Alba is available on both Sky and Virgin, and it was also on the Red button. So I left the group. 😀 😀 :p

And when I worked with the homeless one of the refugee girls played for Glasgow City reserves and another was the goalkeeper for the Scotland Homeless team in the world championships in Glasgow.

Incidentally, I think there’s a lot of good stuff on the new BBC Scotland channel but some of the late night stuff (after ten, Horlicks fans) is for a younger generation than those of yesteryear.

Let’s move on.

Actually, no. A big well done to Stevie Clarke, the new Scotland men’s team manager, who, like a lot of folk in the English game, are part of a Prostate Cancer UK scheme called Men United and you’ll see a lot of football people wearing that badge. It’s one of those I occasionally refer to, towards the end of the show. 🙂

And finally, the settlement of my sister’s slowly ambles on. There’s a need for confirmation and I think one of purchasers may be at sea on a nuclear sub, so silent are they. But there is progress and that means that mentally I’m settling down.

I worry about things that are outwith my control which I know is needless but my brain is not that logical but if the weather picks up then I’m more in the mood to get out. And go see people myself……

But I may well eventually get a small extension. To my house. And I’ve said to people that I’ll get my mate Kenny to get it organised and they’ve all looked at me and said, ‘Is that Kenny the Shed Pimp?’……….such is fame 😀

And I’ve bought new specs for myself but people who meet me regularly won’t hesitate to recognise me, but for those who are always ‘too busy’, let’s just say my hair’s a lot shorter and I’m a wee bit fatter. But my diary remains flexible.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge (and that one and that one) and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, who’s looking forward to the Summer

So returning briefly to football………

Many years ago I was an Assistant Producer on a BBC 2 Scotland opt out one Saturday night called A Big Night of Sport which featured a big debate on the future of Scottish football. In the audience that night were Sheila Begbie and Maureen McGonigle, two of the people who fought hard within the SFA for recognition of the women’s game and I do hope they were there at Hampden the other night.

They deserve a lot of recognition but there’s probably men out there, from yesteryear, wanting to know why their tea’s not on the table and who’s going to do the washing up.

The chanteuse (that’s the female of singer) Amy Macdonald is a big Scotland fan and has just released a dance version of Woman of the World as her tribute song for the Scottish women’s team in their bid for world cup glory but I like this version with the Soundsational Community Choir at Glasgow Central Station

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can hurt forever.

May 6, 2019

And so dear listener, you know what it’s been like over the last few weeks; the build-up, the anxiety, the analysis; and then the final ninety minutes. What drama…..

But I’ll come back to the feature length episode of Line of Duty later 😉 first Partick Thistle.

I wasn’t there on Saturday but I watched it on Twitter and some very descriptive writing and pictures. A three-nil win away to Queen of the South means that I will probably be contacting the ticket office later this week and renewing my season ticket.

Maybe it was the special training they had had this season; not just the well-publicised event of this week where all the players had to come up with the team they wanted for this Saturday; write it down on an anonymous sheet of paper; and put it in an envelope so that the management team could see who each other trusted.

What if you were the only one to pick yourself? Not so anonymous then, eh? 😀

But I put it down to another event earlier in the year not long after Gary Caldwell took over as manager and after good friend e and I had seen them in training at Glasgow Uny Science Park.

They were taken down to spend a day teambonding in a session with the Paras down at their Garelochead base. According to (only) one tabloid, after the squad thought the session was over, ‘an SAS squad swooped in to stage a mock kidnap that involved blindfolds and interrogation.’

It left one player (who I shall not name) in tears and ‘four soldiers were apparently required to capture Bruce Ntambe when the midfielder made a bid for freedom.’

Neither player has remained with Thistle but that’s not really surprising, is it?

Now do you understand the link with Line of Duty.

But first, I was at a book signing and reading last week presented by the former Head of Radio Scotland, Jeff Zycinski, and very good it was too. I’d read the book and knew the stories but Jeff tells them well. Plus I’d worked for a few weeks in Selkirk and I did love the old BBC building in Edinburgh at 5 Queen Street which was something like three buildings badly converted into one and I am convinced that there was one door that if you did manage to get it open had a brick wall behind it. 😀

However there was one OOOPs moment. 😦

Just before it started I was asked if I’d like a glass of wine? ‘No thanks but could I have a soft drink?’ only to be told they didn’t have any. Seriously. Luckily I carry a plastic bottle of strawberry flavoured water and whilst that might not be popular with Xtinction Rebellion, it helped to quench my thirst.

Apart from any other consideration, I was driving.

‘And where was this this?’ I hear you ask. In Waterstone’s the bookshop at the top of Byres Road – next to a large Supermarket called Waitrose……….OOOOOOPs indeed. 😦

And finally, there’s not much left to say about Line of Duty. It took a dive for me when Ted went renegade, went to the nightclub, escaped by a door that nobody knew existed and ended up with the OCG in a warehouse full of cocaine.

And how come he didn’t know how to delete his browser history of porn – I mean I do. (I could probably have phrased that better)

And why is there always a bent copper as part of the armed guard for the final interview?

And because it wasa full length episode (well actually 85 minutes) theer was so much time left to fill that you knew the policewomn going to the loo with Gill was dodgy.

Still……that DCS Carmichael (‘ma’am’) is one helluva scorned woman – so watch for her come the next series. 😉

But it’s just a TV drama – so ‘stop making a tit of yourselves and piss off.’

Tioraidh, still wearing the badges and still keeping it simple – a constant in the sea of climate emergencies

Iaint850, who’s tried sucking diesel and didn’t like it.

It is well known that Adrian Dunbar had issues with alcohol a wee while back and he is quite open about the fact he has attended AA meeting over the last twenty years. Apparently he has not attended meetings recently but is aware that they are there ‘if needed.’

Recently he was seen with a couple of bottles of beer and the tabloids were ‘full of it’; ‘back on the booze’ and ‘off the wagon’. Bloody hell!!! I think it’s a ‘well done’ for not drinking for that length of time; not digging him up for having a beer. I know no more than that but we know many people who had drinking problems who are now able to control their drinking.

Anyway, a lapse does not erase progress.

Let’s encourage people who make an effort and not condemn them with the first words that come to mind. Think a little about the effect that words can have.

Here’s a song about bent coppers featuring Ted Hastings;

A man could spend his whole life searching for the perfect cherry blossom and it would not be a life wasted.

April 27, 2019

Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens were looking pretty good for blossom the other day. 🙂

And so, dear listener, for a few tears now, Partick Thistle has played a big role in my life. No. That is not a typo. I think many people know what that means.

Okay. It was, but I left it in. 😉

Going to the game on Saturday afternoons was a major part of my recovery in the early days, but even though I am now recovered, I still go and am a season ticket holder in Row 0. I missed much of last season cos of depression* (which was nothing to do with the team) and I’ve missed much of this season because of my sister’s illness and subsequent passing away.

*despite all we read on social media, do we ever ask ‘how’s your depression these days?’ During my sister’s illness I was asked by some, ‘how are you coping?’ which possibly related as much to my use of alcohol, when my mum was going through something the same with the same result, as the depression – but it was nice to be asked. I have a neighbour who is happy to talk about his issues but not everyone does.

Anyway I went back last week and again this week. And was glad I did so. The seats seemed busier where we stand – a new younger team but that’s no bad thing as long as there’s still room for us – and there was. And there was discussion about the merits of individual players but no falling out. There were no smoke flares; nothing thrown on the pitch.

Yesterday (Saturday) I went back and stayed to the botter, bitter end. Life’s like that sometimes.

The language can be a bit crisp and raw – the kind for which, noticeably on the new BBC Scotland channel, the commentator feels the need to apologise. But why? That’s what the real reality of football attending is like and if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then don’t watch. :p

And ships will always be ‘she’ as far as I am concerned.It’s how I was brought up on Peterhead which was a fishing town before it was an oil town and before that the whaling. 😀

And to the Parfery person (always one of my favourite students when she turned up on time); word on the streets says that you’re getting married this coming weekend. I seem to remember a lunchtime conversation in a city centre bar some time ago when you, me and two others, selected ‘targets’. Yours has obviously been a bulls-eye. Well done. 😀

I used to set the journalism students various writing tasks, discuss the results and then do what the SQA required me to do. I set a simple task.

‘Tell me about your sporting hero but avoid the obvious.’

The Parfery person wrote about her dad who followed a different football team from her but ‘not once did he make me try to turn my coat.’

Isn’t that a beautiful line? 😀

And finally the AGM and board meeting of The Word Process took place this week (which is what I used to call my business when it had a website) and it was really well attended. By good friend e and me. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Basically, I will continue to edit and ‘proof-read’ academic essays in the near future –whatever happens financially. I’m taking a wee break after the next three (!) until a PhD in mid-May.

The catering was provided by Firebird down Kelvingrove way and I must stop complaining about the crusts on sourdough bread sandwiches. After all, I was given a knofe and firk.

Iaint850, who realises that if I want to take part in anything on the new BBC Scotland channel I stand a better chance if I describe myself as an ‘activist’.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge (well two of them on the one jacket) and apparently ‘I’m completely fine’, which might be because I’m almost at the stage I wanted to be in relation to settling my sister’s estate.

The other property’s about to go on the market. So both will soon be with estate agents, which is good, and the other financial stuff will be with the lawyer…….settlement can wait a wee while. I just want to wake up and not think about it.

Except…….

There is still some of her personal stuff to be sorted and I won’t elaborate other than to say there are photos, for example, that meant a lot to her but mean little to me…..they are being disposed of carefully. But I do get some help…..(which sounds like the depression has come back – except it hasn’t) but I looked through some of my own personal stuff the other night.

I call them scrap boxes and I did start to look through them. Interesting but definately only to me (deliberate spelling error so you know I’m Hastings #LOD).

There’s scripts that I wrote for University comedy shows (first time round); there’s stuff my son wrote when he had aspirations to be a journalist; and there’s an article that I had published in the Herald after he and I had been to Legoland in Denmark.

There’s a box with photos (and yes, ‘I do remember the time when …. but wasn’t my hair long and that was in the days when I had proper highlights – a mixture of ash blond and sunny blond’)

And there’s my mother’s season ticket for the Empire Exhibition in 1938 in Glasgow. There’s a badge that goes with that as well. 🙂

Sometimes it’s hard to throw things out, isn’t it?

Memories play a part in tonight’s final piece of music. It’s from the movie Wild Rose, which I’ve not been to see yet (anybody interested? and I promise not to say things like, ‘That’s Julie’ and ‘That’s Phil’) and it’s Jessie Buckley (as Rose-Lynn Harlan) singing Glasgow (No Place Like Home)

A writer takes earnest measures to secure his (sic) solitude and then finds endless ways to squander it

April 11, 2019

Aye. Like Facebook and Twitter.

And so, dear listener, let’s start with something controversial. I found the ending to Derry Girls to be far more poignant than the ending to Fleabag. 😦

To the backdrop of Bill Clinton’s speech of conciliation in Nor’n Ireland, the English boy, despite the job offer made by his mum and her amazing eyebrows, returned and declared himself to be a Derry Girl. How could you not find a speck of dust in your eye at that moment? I know I did………

I think it’s a brilliant piece of writing and I am deadly jealous; but on a down note, as someone who watches some daytime TV…..sorry…..someone who works from home a lot, I have to ask;

What has happened to Bargain Hunt? The randomness of what can be bought has gone. You seem to have to buy a particular type of item and others over a certain amount. The fun has gone. 😦

The bestest daytime show ever was The Hour with Michelle McManus and Stephen Jardine – and not just because I appeared on it. What? Oh, prostate cancer. What else. 😉

And that’s enough TV.

So let’s bring you all up to date. I mentioned last week that I was concerned about doing grown up things like getting my sister’s house ready to be sold. This week it went on the virtual market as well as in the estate agent’s window.

And that’s as much as I’ll say about location at the moment.

Her Glasgow flat is almost ready. A wee bit more tidying up and it will be. And that’ll be Stage One over and done with. (Skippy, can you insert the icon for crossed fingers please?)

I will keep you all posted as much as is tastefully possible.

So I keep myself occupied with other matters. I continue to do some writing for the Scottish Drugs Forum and this is the latest piece;

http://www.sdf.org.uk/infections-outbreaks-and-going-back-to-the-basics-with-sdfs-sophie-given/

And I must be doing it okay. I conducted another interview the other day (basically I introduce newish members of staff) and a room was booked for me to use. Isn’t that nice? 🙂

But when the Glasgow flat goes on the market (few weeks yet) then it is time for me and Son Brian and a couple of others to pause for breath. As with everything like this there is no guarantee that property will sell or that the other aspects of the estate will be settled soon.

In addition, I am still working my way through some of the personal stuff but have become quite hard headed in my approach to things.

So, soontime, keys will be in the hands of estate agents and all mails to either property are just handed in to the lawyer. What should I do with my time?

A holiday? Maybe.

The garden? Well in hand with, for me, an exciting development which will make it onto fbook or into individuals’ online postboxes.

Or what about a course on the next academic year? There’s a couple of one-day things at Glasgow Uny coming up that I fancy but I need something more demanding. Any suggestions?

Or maybe I should enrol in a university library not that far away (No. I don’t mean that one necessarily) and finally write the book I want to about the Scots obsession with alcohol and how we’ve tried to deal with it over the years. We’ll see.

Actually I’ve just seen a job at UWS (Paisley) looking for a sessional interviewer (fourteen hours a week for six months) Now has anyone a 2:1 in Psychology they can lend me?:)

And finally, contrary to what some people out there think. Jackie Bird did not edit Reporting Scotland; nor did she produce the Hogmanay Show. She presented both and had to work with the material she was given. I get annoyed when I read on social media such a lack of knowledge of how the media work and yet Media Studies as a school subject, let alone a university course, is not treated as seriously as it should be. I have no idea what her politics are because they did not come through on screen and every interviewee was treated with the same courtesy. Why has there been so much non-evidenced vitriol?

She was really good at what she did.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple…….nothing to add this week

Iaint850, ‘in vacant and contemplative mood’.

So this week, in this serious bit, I had thought about talking about methadone and how it does do some good, or about the HIV epidemic in Glasgow that is being gradually recognised and the various ways that exist to help people who jag cocaine (and never forget to consider the person rather than just the drug) but instead I just want to mention that it’s the eightieth anniversary (just past) of the Big Book.

This could be described as the ‘bible’ of Alcoholics Anonymous and the source of much of what people believe about what is termed ‘alcoholism’ including the ‘fact’ that some people are allergic to alcohol. Was I? Am I? No. I used it to cope and was helped to shake off that cycle of dependency with professional but whilst I have reservations about some of its contents and how they’re interpreted (and some of that is personal to about six years ago) I belong to the school of thought that if it works for you, it works but maybe not for everyone else.

Maybe what it needs is for a soap opera to write the tale of a community addiction worker, skilled at brief interventions, into the script.

And Smart Recovery, properly portrayed, can be just as dramatic. If not more so.

Last week I played the Band at this point which was well received. This is the Band again with Bob Dylan. Bob didn’t actually to me ‘this one’s for you iaint850’, but he thought it. It finishes abruptly.

And what’s a proof-reading baker’s favourite joke? A cinnamon pun

April 4, 2019

I’ll maybe explain that joke later but I got the basis of that gag, dear listener, from the end of a Celebrity Bake Off which I don’t normally watch (as I don’t like any of the presenters) but it does come immediately before the amazing Derry Girls (Ch4). Which was slightly different this week.

There was a tremendous poignancy as, amidst the beauty and the horror of the school prom, the producers had interwoven clips of the celebrations at the news of the IRA’s decision to announce a ceasefire all those years ago.

(And I feel as if I’m presenting this week’s show in a Nor’n Ireland accent)

This came just hours after Theresa May’s announcement to have talks with Jeremy Corbyn and, suddenly, set against this backdrop of these two current but hopeless leaders, politicians like John Major become statesmen. Locking her current cabinet in so that none of them could let the world know what was happening before she could tell us sums up the poor state of politics in Britain.

And I’m against a second referendum. Why should its result be more accepted than the first referendum? I elect people to make decisions. These days I don’t vote for a party; I vote for the person and if I don’t like anybody I go in and write something on the voting paper.

Doolan!!!!!!! (or similar)

So it’s good that the TV’s good as we hit the light nights. 😀

I’m still not sure about Fleabag; Scot Squad returned (albeit to the new BBC Scotland channel where Wonderball was replaced by Championship football, so little chance of an arts or book programme in the near future); and of course the ever excellent Line of Duty. 😀

ALTHOUGH can I say to everyone, on social media, who applauded themselves for guessing Stephen Graham to be the UCO, not only was it bleeding obvious but all the pre-programme publicity had shown him in the same photo as the AC-12 people AND it is only the first episode. 😦

I was brought up on The Fugitive in the early sixties so I take nothing for granted and, yes, I am that old. 😉

And I got a mail through from LinkedIn the other day headed ‘How to conquer procrastination’.

I’ll maybe read it later.

And the joke at the start? Cinammon = synonym.

And whilst there was general approval of last week’s Dance Special, word reached me of a much better version of the Slosh than the one I used;

And finally I couldn’t help but notice that Lulu had turned seventy. She apparently started off one night by appearing with Take That at the Albert Hall, disappeared for thirty minutes to go to sing with another band in another place, and then came back to the Royal Albert Hall to finish the night off with Relight My Fire.

It brought back memories for me and good friend e of last year at the Bandstand when she broke off halfway through as well; only this time it was cos her family had turned up and they all went round the back for a cup of tea. 🙂

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and rethinking the plan about keeping it simple. Ot maybe not.

Iaint850, who, like Lorraine Kelly, is hotter at sixty than he was at thirty. 😉

And in a stunning link and showing how carefully thought out this blog is and not just cos I saw Lulu in a newspaper, it would have been my sister’s seventieth birthday this week and I know that she and many of her friends from university had plans to do things to celebrate (and it was nice to get a couple of messages from those friends).

Well I had things to do this week and one of her (two) properties is about to go on the market.

It’s about an hour outside Glasgow and Son Brian and I have done a lot of tidying up down there but it is now in the hands of an estate agent.

I’ve arranged for cleaners and the estate agent has arranged for a photographer and a home report and OMG!!!……….it was all a wee bit too much for me…..not cos it was my sister but it’s possibly the most grown up thing I’ve ever done in my life.

When our folks passed away it was all done through my legal and the, then, Solicitors’ Property Centre. Now I’m being asked to make decisions and it’s quite frightening.

My thanks to good friend Caroline who listened to all this and then got me a bottle of water cos, frankly, my dear, I had had too much coffee by that point……phew.

Recently I saw a documentary on Sky Arts and it was about The Band. No. It was about the band called The Band and I’ve been listening to them a lot recently. It fits the country vibe with a bit of rock. Friends and family? They do help to take the weight off, don’t they? I’m not sure where I’d be without them.

Growing up is such a barbarous business, full of inconvenience and pimples. (J.M. Barrie)

February 15, 2019

And so dear listener, again many thanks for messages of sympathy and similar after my sister passed away a few weeks ago and her funeral was just over a week ago. Some nice memories from her friends down south, with whom she worked all her working life, were amongst them. 🙂

And I’m amazed at the number of people who didn’t realise that we were originally from Peterhead but, there again, neither of us made too much of it*

Anyway, I’m now at the stage of doing some thank yous and whilst my legal team is doing the big stuff (like bank accounts) I’m also going around the organisations of which she was a member e.g. the various National Trusts in the West of Scotland, and advising them that she has passed away and how much she enjoyed the walks with them but, unfortunately, she won’t be renewing her subscription so can you cancel it? Or is that a bit brutal?

Private Eye have been told that she won’t be renewing her subscription but can they send it to my address in the meantime. 😉

*Still too much fish and not enough town on ‘Fish Town’ BBC Scotland TV, but I’m quite excited by the new fish market. At the ages of 16,17, 18 and 19 it was in the fish market and around the harbour that I worked on Saturdays and during holidays. 😀

So you can imagine my excitement when I also saw the new fishmarket on BBC TV news – something to do with Brexit. It is so different from the one I worked in. It’s difficult to imagine now but one of my tasks was, well, there were four phone boxes in the market numbered, imaginatively, one – four and when I heard one ringing, I would go answer it and it was probably one fish buyer looking for another fish buyer and I would go to the PA system and say. ‘Joe Smith to Phone Box Four.’

There were other reasons why Peterhead became the biggest white fish port in Europe but I like to think I played my part. 😉

So, yes, there is an estate to be settled and, ultimately, I could be pleasantly surprised but that is a very long way off and, yes, I may have to consider Inheritance Tax issues but given that I currently receive weekly Working Tax Credits of just over £7, some people may have to forgive me when I say, and I mean it most sincerely, I really do, that the current sum of my ambitions are some new pots and pans and a vacuum cleaner** and I’ve never been to Kyle of Lochalsh…….

** that’s the BBC man in me speaking. But what’s the clue?

Maybe, for the first time in my life, other than deciding to bequeath everything in my will to my son and family, I can do something for them whilst I am still alive and that will give me more pleasure than anything else.

I have put them through a lot in recent years, starting just over twelve years ago and questions of my own mortality have never been that far away from me ever since

But, yes, it would be good to get away and to book that now so I am committed.

Someone did suggest that I should consider Shetland and I have never been there. I’ve been to Orkney a few times – but never Shetland.

And so, last week, I sat down to watch the detective series called ‘Shetland’ and when the announcer said something like ‘stunning scenery’ I thought this is it. 😀

One dismembered body, a crappy hotel that looks as if it was thrown up in the days of Sullom Voe refinery construction almost fifty years ago and a similar caravan site that played home to women described as ‘away day girls’ – a phrase I had not heard since the early days of oil exploration in Aberdeen and Peterhead when some ladies of the night came up from Glasgow and Edinburgh but, I’m proud to say, were soon seen off by the local talent.

To be honest, it did not sell Shetland to me. 😦

And finally, while I’ll never be rich from the editing. I was in Morrison’s in Anniesland on Saturday morning doing my big shopping (they have a fish counter; the ASDA has a fish shelf or two) and the young man at the till told me he was a geology student. I told him I was a ‘proof-reader’ and gave him two free pieces of advice.

‘Always put yourself in the position of the reader. Never assume they have your knowledge and, anyway, explaining something to the reader shows everyone else that you understand what you’re talking about.

‘Turn the title of what you’re writing into a question – either in reality on paper or in your head. That way when you’re stuck in writing something, you go back to the question and see how, what you’re writing about, can help find the answer.’

It also applies to report writing, eulogies and social media posts.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, having to be more grown up than I have ever been in my life and not sure I like it

And so the saddest story of the week has to be the Mars Rover robot which had been sending back information about Mars for something like fifteen years without complaining and then sent a final message; ‘My battery is low and it’s getting dark.’

R.I.P. Mars Rover.

Sorry, I was going to add something else but really, in a week when I’m sorting out an estate and have 12,000 words to edit this weekend some of which come from Urban Management, Zhou Enlai School of Government, Nankai University, there is only one piece of music, isn’t there?

There’s never a right time to go, but there could be a wrong time to go (Terry Wogan)

September 6, 2018

And so dear listener, this week, for the first time in a long time, I suffered from first day nerves at a new job…..except it’s not like a full-time job with a wage and stuff. And it’s not as if I’ve had a first day recently. 😦

As many people know, I’ve started to do some voluntary work with the Scottish Drugs Forum on the social media side and attended a very successful conference last week. This week saw my first day in the office and all I will say is that it went very well indeed. They seem to be a very nice bunch of people and I knew some of them already which always helps. 🙂

But I was reminded of some other first days as I washed behind my ears and sharpened my pencils the night before.

Like my first relief shift with Blue Triangle. I’d been inducted for various projects and done shadow shifts in various places but a text had come in offering an 11 – 7 n/s in Clydebank on Sunday and I got straight back and said Yes. I got it.

So I turned up at 11 on Sunday morning only to be told that n/s actually stood for night shift…..so I came back home and got a wee disco nap.

And going back to my days doing a Youth and Community Post Grad and I’d a placement in a community centre in Hamilton (Fairhill known as Whisky Valley) and on my first night in the café I’d to stop a fight between two girls – always the worst.

So we’ll see how the volunteering works out.

The possible working with homeless refugees may have been put on hold as I have enough to be concentrating on.

I’ve also not done too badly financially out of the late Summer rush of editing, including, intriguingly, three International Relations dissertations from Durham University. Let’s just say, challenges were offered by their English.

But there was also a retro moment when myself and good friend C went to TGIFs just opposite the blue police telephone box in Buchanan Street. It has been a long time since I was there. I’d forgotten how much it lacks non-meat options but it still bangs a lot of balloons for birthday parties even early evening. 😀

And what do you do if you give someone a surprise present and leave it in the boot of their car but they don’t get back to you? Do you drop hints in some way or just come out and say something? No. No reason. But it worked out okay.

No such problem with my son and his birthday (this week) where (often) you get the idea, and the link, sent to you but I’m not sure he’d suit a butterfly cape (see last week’s blog for details)

And some news on my own health front. I’ve now got to be tagged for twenty-four hours so that my blood pressure can be measured and recorded over that period but I’m also not allowed to shower or have a bath either over that same period…….

And I’ve been asked to take part in some heart failure clinical research. I do wish we could find a better phrase than heart failure but I’ll read it closely and maybe check with Dr J, my consultant. and it pays.

And finally, a big well done to the Scotland Women’s football team – not for being the first Scottish team to reach a World Cup Finals since the men did in 1998 but, quite simply, for reaching a World Cup Finals. 😀

BBC Scotland’s Reporting Scotland did a nice wee feature on this and then a couple of minutes later talked about ‘the Scotland team manager’ Alex McLeish. Know your place, Shelley Kerr.

(This blog was written well before Friday night’s defeat to Belgium)

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and a couple of others as well and still happy enough keeping it simple.

Iaint850, feeling very indecisive at the moment.

So a lot of discussion about adverts for a Gin Society which were not appreciated by Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drugs Partnership. I didn’t think they were too bad.

But I was reminded of a very famous cartoon from the New Yorker of the fifties and a woman shouting down the phone, ‘But I’m not an alcoholic. They’re anonymous and go to meetings. I’m a drunk and go to parties.’

It was at the time that AA and the basic theory that ‘alcoholism’ was an untreatable disease was taking off – that the actual problem lay with people being allergic to alcohol and it was ‘the drink that done it’ as Scottish lawyers used to say in defence of their clients.

It was the early seventies before it came to be realised that ‘addiction’ was much more a case of learned behaviours and there might be other ways of helping people, including a life changing event or a basic change of circumstances ….for which me, and all those GIs who came home from Vietnam (stoned in Saigon but clean and clear in Smalltown Arizona), are eternally grateful. 😀

And this is the best song ever written about working and it has the most amazing intro for any song written about working and it has Dolly Parton:)

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad (various)

August 24, 2018

And so dear listener, I’m back. Well, not totally back and not too sure that I actually went away but I’ve had to think long and hard as to what I actually do when Skippy and I sit down to do this show every week*. It’s not (yet) the blog of old, but the blog, oh the blog, yes the blog is back. Stone cold sober as a matter of fact. 😀

*but does it have to be every week? 😉

I stopped for a number of reasons. I was tired of writing it. The sun was shining. I knew the heavy editing period was coming up and that I’d get tired of the screen. And then there are the memories. Two years ago was the loss of that USB stick and that still kinda hangs over me – for all sorts of reasons as was discussed on the balcony of Tinderbox a few weeks ago. Thanks C….and I think you’re doing really well. 🙂

Altho’ I’ve been told my old project has a certificate for me so I’d better make arrangements to go and collect it, I suppose………

And I still owe some people a gig (as it were) but it was good fun to go and see the Pretenders with former student and one of the Sticky Toffee Pudding Gang of Four from way back – Missie K. 🙂

And I didn’t stop writing. I wrote this a week ago but it’s not bloggy style but that doesn’t mean I didn’t mean every word of it

‘I have only, in the last day or so, become aware of C4’s Born Famous (Michelle Mone and daughter) but I am old enough to remember Kay Carmichael filming under cover in Lilybank in Glasgow next to Dalmarnock (1977). Four years later, BBC Scotland (David Martin) sold the idea to BBC 2 to produce a series based on a book (The Politics of Poverty) being written by David Donnison, who was the chairman of the then Supplementary Benefits Commission and Kay’s partner, and I was on board as researcher. My job? Long before filming started I travelled the UK talking to folk involved in working with ‘poor people’ – many of whom were involved in self-help groups and more than able to speak for themselves. They were happy to help. Others like the Child Poverty Action Group got involved and the then Department of Social Security let us film and talk to employees and claimants in Doncaster. The idea was for David to talk to folk dependent on benefits and working in that field as to how the system could be changed so that it helped people, rather than demonise them e.g. single mums were a popular political target and not just at the hands of the Tories. Did it make any difference? It was thirty-seven years ago (1981). You tell me, but I can take pride in four half hours that were anything but poverty porn.’

And I’m going to be doing some voluntary work with the Scottish Drugs Forum but some other (paid) stuff doesn’t look as if it’s going to happen (yet) but I’d like to thank good friend e and her very sophisticated children for the good luck charm which helped me to get the SDF gig. 😀

And finally, I seem to have a leak. In the road outside but at first the Scottish Water said it might be in my drive but their supervisor came along with a metal dowser and found it in the street. But I’m still slightly worried. I hate being a grown up. 😦

tioraidh, still wearing that badge (and I have a new one that says #stopthedeaths) and still keeping it simple (and why not?)

Iaint850, and getting used to my hair being shorter.

Oh, and I did get a letter from the Origami Academy rejecting my application but I didn’t know what to make of it.

It was good writing that. The blog that is. Thanks for reading it.

And tonight’s music is by a band of which I was reminded by good friend Ann from Prostate Cancer HQ. The band is The Hold Steady and the track is the mission statement for the blog (and me and Skippy) from now on – ‘Stay Positive’.

My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance (Erma Bombeck)

May 3, 2018

And so dear listener, this week I read The Long Drop by Denise Mina. It’s a fictional account of a strange but true event when a man called William Watt spent an afternoon and evening drinking in the company of a man called Peter Manuel who was later found guilty of murdering the Watt family but not William who happened to be out of the house that night. But what I found fascinating was the insight into a Glasgow that was having difficulty in thinking of changing – when motorways were a doodle on someone’s foolscap pad and when, at times, there was not much to choose between crooks and cops. 😉

And the Daily Record had an amazing character called Pat Roller (say it out loud) who must have been the last man to leave the office as he had to make the final calls round all the police stations for that last story from whoever happened to answer the phone. No press officers then.

All these things happened a long time before I came to university in Glasgow. And stayed. But my family had connections. In the Milton*. And we came down on holiday.

*Maybe, j, that’s where the ‘the’ in the ASDA came from.

Loads of memories;

Possibly, having just attained double figures in years, walking back with my dad through Cowcaddens – a dark and dismal place then – on a Saturday night and buying Sunday’s papers.

And, probably the same age, being on the subway (Glaswegians do not call it the Clockwork Orange) and seeing a young girl of South Asian origin and thinking how beautiful she looked. Where was she from I wondered? She got off at Kelvinbridge.

Ah memories but much more recent was my own (successful) treatment for prostate cancer, so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I sat down to watch The Cancer Hospital – BBC Scotland’s look at the work of Glasgow’s Beatson Hospital which this week looked at prostate cancer. It was an excellent programme and brought back a lot of memories – most of them good. 😀 😀 😀

As I mentioned on Facebook it is now ten years since I was halfway through my own radiotherapy which was preceded by several months of hormone injections and, yes, as one of the guys said in the programme, it was like the menopause (according to my ex-wife) and I put my current hot flushes and weight gain down to that. ):

But my memories of the actual treatment are still strong; that small sheet which was intended as a modesty cover which we gave up on after two or three days cos, at that point, I couldn’t even raise a smile. And occasionally the radiotheraper had to use a felt pen to highlight the tattoos and as one nurse said, ‘we can’t see the wood for the trees.’ But the trees were zapped out of the way quite quickly and that’s how they’ve stayed. And then the nuclear klaxon would go and the radiotherapers would run out of the room and I’d be left for ten minutes – rigid – to let the machine do its best. It worked. 😀 😀 😀

And then that moment (and I can feel the tears starting now) when, three months after the treatment finished, my son and his kinda step-dad came down with me to the Beatson and met the consultant and I was given the All Clear. 😀 😀 😀

We know that not everyone can be that fortunate but the one thing that everyone (almost) who goes through the cancer experience agrees on is the dedication of the NHS staff who do such a brilliant job. That’s why I get annoyed every time a Health Secretary or Shadow Health Secretary or publicity seeking co*kwomble goes to a hospital looking for a photo-op. I wonder how many lives could be saved if the doctors and nurses could get back on the wards.

Anyway, I cried at some of the stories…..well, all of them..

And finally, Minimum Unit Pricing policy has arrived in Scotland after a long fight against vested interests. It may not be the ‘silver bullet’ which was bandied about this week (I don’t see how increasing the price of Frostie Jack will kill vampires but who knows) but research (for example, University of Sheffield, the Finnish (sp) Government and the World Health Organisation) suggests it will.

What difference would it have made to me? I do know that I was easily getting through a bottle of whisky each day and had started to move to much cheaper brands…….Price does make a difference.

I cried at some of the stories on the news programmes that night. Worthwhile photo-ops I thought

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and trying hard to keep it simple.

Iaint850, been doing a lot of crying this week. It’s what happens when the prostate cancer menopause finally hits you.

Some listeners may remember a few weeks back that I explained that my sister was treating me to a deep clean of my house as an early birthday present. Since I came out of hospital, I’ve maybe not given it the attention it deserves……and I live on my own (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before) and there has been lack of, how can I put it nicely, ‘temporary visitors’ but fostering a dog has been mentioned.

So (oops) I contacted a company and someone came round at the agreed time and looked my house over. OMG! What an unnerving experience! She was good and professional but,

‘we’ll need to see what we can do.’ and ‘when was the cooker last cleaned?’ and ‘do you want the kitchen cupboards cleaned? I think we should.’….I mean she was very pleasant and they bring their own vacuum cleaner (cos mine’s rubbish) and there will be three of them and then – after she’d gone – I’d another wee look around. Surely it’s not that long since I cleaned the shower cubicle, is it? Skippy?

I’ll get that done tonight.

She also asked if I’d had the place deep cleaned before.

When I was in hospital eleven and a bit years ago, the family and friends who were tidying up parts of my life, arranged for some folk to come in to clean and tidy the house. I’ve never asked why. Maybe it was something to do with my fight with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It took place over the entire house. And I won. 🙂

This is Meghan Linsey’s cover version of the One Republic track – Counting Stars – and it’s brilliant.