Archive for the ‘cancer’ Category

There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. (William Barclay)

June 30, 2017

And so, dear listener, as you read this, I may be about to turn 63 or I may have turned 63. I do not believe that there is an actual moment when this happens, so I cringe when I hear people say ‘well that’s you a year older’ when in fact we age continually by a nano-second and then nano-seconds later they say, ‘mind you, age is just a number’ and then say, ‘but you don’t look your age.’ 😦

It’s nice to recognise that I’m still alive (much to my surprise and that of several others) and the plan is to meet Son Brian and the lovely KT and two very young grand-children for dinner. 🙂 More anon or next week.

(And the show might be moved about the schedules a wee bit as I’m taking some time off and may do some travelling within Scotland (okay Oban seafood restaurants) which might have an effect on things)

And my thanks to e for the traditional ice cream and coffee start to the celebrations 🙂

But back to the age thing. In the early days of the blog I used to claim that I was 42 – for the rest of my life which was nothing to do with Douglas Adams and the meaning of life nor was it two times twenty-one but came from a line in an Alabama 3 track where it was said that once you reach 41 then it’s time to start measuring you up for the coffin. I rebelled against that.

(Incidentally, J, have you recovered yet from that gig and the man dressed as a monk with a V for Vengeance Mask and the music of A3?) 🙂

Anyway, I became 60 one year and had such a good time that week (and the abseiling and zipwiring that followed) that I became happy to admit my age – that and the small pension that came my way that I wasn’t expecting. Small.

But you never stop learning – and those are not mere words. Three years ago I got an over – 60s pass for trains and buses but I don’t ‘do’ buses’ cos they don’t go where I want them to. Trains kinda do and my car obvs does……But buses?

The only time I have used a bus recently was just before Christmas when a co-worker and me and seven refugees went to see Hansel and Gretel at the Citizens and we just kinda all launched ourselves on the bus at the same and got waved through.

The reality is slightly different. I thought it was contactless but it ain’t. And do I need to take a ticket from the side of the machine? I might try one again. The terminus is at the bottom of my road, so maybe early one morning? But Ardrossan Harbour still beckons.

Next? Using my contactless debit card. 😉

Moving on.

And my thanks to the rrm for remembering that address that I used when I did some distance learning a long time ago (or a Correspondence Course as it was known in these days) For some reason I wanted to be a company secretary (?), which given my phobia for financial figures and filling out forms, seems a foolish notion.

Even when very young I was happy talking to people, even strangers, and I enjoyed writing. 🙂

Anyway that address?

Rapid Results College based in Tuition House in London and at one point in his life the rrm passed it every day on his way to work. Maybe not as exciting as The Girl on the Train, but there’s a story there.

And finally, the Vampire Slayer, friend of the blog since the Sticky Toffee Pudding Night, has been in the country looking as undercover as all superheroes do, but just checking we’re still safe from Vampires. We are. It’s why Prince’s square exists. To talk to superheroes. And people watch.

tioraidh, still wearing that badge (the big sky one) and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, looking forward to two weeks of reflection and getting used to my haircut.

And this month’s Prostate Cancer Hero of the Week is David Hawkes, a physicist based at University College London. David had been developing medical imaging technology for all sorts of patients, including those with prostate cancer. Two years ago he had a PSA test (a blood test very specific for prostate cancer) and it was high so he had to get it checked out so he volunteered to test the very latest in medical imaging technology – that which he had helped to develop. It found that he had prostate cancer and he needed treatment.

He decided to have focal treatment using cryo-ablation (something developed since my time) which is where very cold gas is passed down a tube inserted into the prostate.

This has to be every exact. So, to what they turn for its precision? Yes; the very same machine that had been used to accurately diagnose it in the first place. He had two doses of treatment and has been fine ever since.

We’ve come such a long way since chemical castration was the main treatment – and I think that was the opening line from the radio documentary I produced on the subject seven years ago.

This is/these are the Lumineers with Ho Hey which has no known connection with any form of cancer.

There’s a lot of optimism in changing scenery, in seeing what’s down the road. (Conor Oberst)

June 23, 2017

And so, dear listener, an interesting reaction to last week’s show which, for at least one reader, saw a tear being shed. I had written briefly about my son’s likelihood of getting prostate cancer being greater as I had had it but he knows this. What I had not considered in writing this was that many people read the blog on a Sunday, as that is when Facebook, and other social media, publishes it, and this Sunday just past was Father’s Day – it was a complete contrast to how many others were using social media to talk about their dads and relationships with sons and daughters; so today is happy blog day. :D:D:D

For example, and continuing the Prostate Cancer theme, I wear the awareness badge that many top football managers and the brilliant Jeff Stelling wear on several of my jackets. One advantage is that I can be down Byres Road and be approached by chuggers and I show them the badge and ask if they know what it is and then I start explaining and it’s them making an excuse to leave me. Except on this occasion……

When I asked if she knew what it was she said ‘Yes.’ And told me what it was, that she gave money to them and told me why. Let’s just say it was a father-daughter thing and leave it at that but it’s been a long time since I’ve had that broad a smile. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And one of the other things I mentioned last week was the need to think about the need to find something else (academically?) in my life. One thing that is on the list is Distance Learning Tuition and Marking. Distance Learning (using online resources) is a growing market for universities and I think there were eight on my Post Grad doing it at a distance and I also noticed that Edinburgh Uny has something like 2,500 online users of all its educational services but the downsides are twofold;

I could end up never leaving the house and I’m not sure what subjects I could be offering…..mmmm

(Rainforestriverman, what was the name of that place where I tried a correspondence course all those years ago?)

And so, there’s a wee bit of spring cleaning going on but not with the aim of ‘unfriending people’ but rather taking the opportunity of freshening things up a wee bit whilst I’m still young. 😉

And the other thing I mentioned in last week’s blog was Fèis Spòrs Ghlaschu 2017 (No. I haven’t just copied and pasted it, Skippy. What makes you think that?)

Yes. I did the tuckshop and it was really good. People seemed to believe me when I said that I was selling really healthy Haribos specially developed in the laboratories of sabhal mòr ostaig in Skye (they did, didn’t they, e?) and the only thing that didn’t sell was chocolate which melted almost as soon as it was brought out the Cool Box but the ice lollies went down well. 😀

My only observation on the day (and e and c and some others know what I’m going to say) related to those parents who give their offspring a ten pound note to start the day and all they wanted was a can of ginger* at seventy pence and that’s the float gone straight away.

But the vegan hot dogs were good (but maybe in the way that I had to check on the soy sauce for J, the blog’s discerning diner, I should check out the ingredients in brown sauce)

*Becky, a ‘can of ginger’ encompasses all cans of fizzy soft drinks in the West of Scotland and I have no idea what the North London equivalent is.

And another direct result of the feis is that I’ve had my hair cut short(er). I just got fed up with it. So, if you’ve not seen me for some time, I’d be interested to know what you think.

And finally, the Proclaimers and my part in their success…or at least Margo McDonald’s part in their success.

It was ’86 or ’87 and I was asked to produce (in a couple of weeks) a series of five radio programmes with Margo which were to go out almost immediately (the next week) Monday to Friday (5 x 30’) and it was really rough and ready stuff with tapes (!) turning up at BBC reception, or my home, of Margo interviewing people. It was called something like Snapshots of Scotland and it was Margo interviewing people like Sammy Gilmore of UCS fame (lovely man) and Margo also suggested some music (which was unusual for Margo) and it was this new band – the Proclaimers – and there was no doubt the music added a lot to what we were doing with the programmes. Letter from America, for example, was a natural follow on to some of the things Sammy said.

It was only a few weeks later that l learned that Margo’s daughter, Zoe, was going out with one of them and later married him. She didn’t miss a trick, did she? 🙂

I miss Margo.

Tioraidh, and still wearing that badge (with pride) and still keeping it simple

iaint850, going for the world record of Friendzones.

So, in keeping with the rest of the show, here’s an optimistic end.

Walking to work the other day, whilst passing through a lane in Glasgow City Centre, I was hailed by someone ‘begging’. It was only when I got closer I realised I knew him. He was someone I’d worked with before (a really nice guy with a lot of potential) and his main problem had been ‘legal highs’ and then the Queen went and banned all psychoactive substances, except coffee, alcohol and tobacco, so his problem became ‘illegal highs’.
(She also failed to ban amyl nitrate poppers)

He’d moved around but was now sleeping rough. I chatted for a while and, obviously, gave him no money whatsoever so he could get a bed for at least that night and as I was walking away he shouted, ‘John Boy, I’m going to get clean and I’m going to stay clean. You know me.’

And, yes, I do believe him.

There is only one song I can play and it’s up there (when I first saw them perform it) with the first time I saw ‘The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black, Black Oil.’

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, Certainly, I can! Then get busy and find out how to do it. (Theodore Roosevelt)

June 15, 2017

And so dear listener, the No News is over and, as some people know, I didn’t get the job I went for. For very obvious reasons, I’ve got to be careful what I say but it was loosely tied in with the homeless charity for which I work and it was working as a literacy/numeracy tutor with roughly the same client group I already work with and yes, I thought I would be good at it but I did always say that if someone better qualified or more experienced was in for it then they stood a better chance.

And that’s what seems to have happened. 😦

And it does mean that that question goes back to being the most asked question and I think this week has reflected that.

But it was fun prepping for it. For example, I had forgotten that I had a teaching qualification – an Introduction to Teaching Further Education – and I’d done a lot of teaching basic core skills. I have even had the experience of teaching wall and floor tilers who’d never used a computer and seen the Daniel Blake thing of asking someone to drag the mouse across the screen and for them to actually lift the mouse to the computer screen – and how do you turn the page on a computer when writing something? Good question. 🙂

So, along with the blessed Nicola, I think a period of reflection is called for, but I do make the point that I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I will rush nothing. I am young.

My thanks to all those who supported me and major thanks to a lady friend who, in a textual conversation, after I’d said ‘maybe time to move on’, replied ‘move in immediately!’…….seconds later came the correction……’move on. I meant, move on……’

(Skippy, can we maybe check to see if there are any other qualifications I’ve forgotten?)

But I’m going through one of those weeks when, if I take one day off as Annual Leave, than I have about seven off-rota days. And that’s what I’ve done. The reason? Well, I’m going to be helping to do the tuckshop (again) at a Gaelic Sports Day at Pollok Park. Now, some of you will read this after the Day is over so I’ll leave it until next week before talking about it. It’s e’s influence that I get involved and this contributed to me going to Gaelic this year but I’ve forgotten a lot so we’ll see.

But e, have you ever seen a TV programme called Eat Well For Less? It’s roughly about a couple of people who go supermarket shopping without a list. Not that we did but Costco can be such an inviting place – with their tempting coffee and cake on the way in. And their trolley searches on the way out.

My tuck shop is well stocked. (No, Skippy, I am quite happy with that as a euphemisim)

But I was slightly worried, given the part of Glasgow we were in, that I might see people for whom I know a warrant is out. But I didn’t.

And finally, I was back out at UWS (Paisley) last week and met lots of people I knew (about seven but the campus was sooooo quiet) and I finally found the new way into the library and flyered lots of noticeboards and caught up on some gossip (of all sorts) but my favest bit was when some schoolchildren asked where D Block was ….and I remembered….happy daze and that may be part of the problem.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, my mind’s in a bit of a tumbril at the moment. 😉

So my son and I have discussed my death a few times and he has Power of Attorney for when the dementia kicks in and gets what little savings I have and the house with its smashing big garden and the picture of the Sea Lion (or walrus) that he has coveted since I moved into this house and that there are arrangements for the funeral and some people will get VIP/Access to all Areas Tickets and my lawyer has the details of the music to be played.

But there is one thing I’d rather I wasn’t leaving him – but he does know this.

He knows that he is 2.5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer because I had it but he, also, is aware that more and more ways of treating it (should it happen) are being developed all the time.

But recent research by Prostate Cancer UK shows that 66 per cent of men in this position do not know of this increased risk and apocryphal evidence from me in the days when I did talks and information stands is that many men who are aware of these risks do nothing about it. Even when there’s been a death in the family ‘cos of it.

But Son Brian knows and I’m sorry about that. Still at least you’ve got the fun of all my CDs and downloads to listen to……..aw, come on. There must be one you fancy.

This is William Matheney. (I saw a shop in Paisley High Street which offered to teach me to play guitar, get me in a band and get me on stage……I am so tempted)

Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever. (Keri Russell)

May 5, 2017

And so dear listener, I am a man of my word. But I do need your assistance. I do need help – as I suggested last week. After all, in many ways, I am offering you an opportunity to help direct someone’s life in a way you might not otherwise get. I do, however, reserve the caveat that I decide what I do but maybe you should carpe the diem before anyone else does. I still need pushed in the right direction. 😉

Or am I still trying to work out the ending of Line of Duty?

So, yes, I have booked a B & B in Oban for a few days in July. The way my part-time rota works means that I can, if I chose the right days, be off work (for good reasons) for about a fortnight whilst only using up twenty-one hours of my annual leave. This I have done. 😀

And I shall also book my train tickets in the next few days. At the moment I have no plans for whilst I’m up there but some of the small isles off Oban have tearooms that do lunch – including Sundays – and at night, I am assured it is great for seafood and the B & B is at the end of the Esplanade. And, yes, the organisation for which I work does have a project in Oban but I may not necessarily visit. Gannavan (sp) Sands is more of an attraction as is fresh air. 🙂

And one of the other things I said I‘d do I’ve done. I’ve signed up for a morning’s walk around the Forth and Clyde Canal in Ruchill organised by Glasgow University. It’s a historical walk but it’s an area I used to know well (don’t ask me about Frampton’s or the Viking bar and my old Addiction Centre used to be up there and it’s not that long since they found a cannabis farm there as well) ……..and I well remember e coming with me to Maryhill Health Centre, when it was in that area, so that I could get my PSA result after my prostate cancer treatment. I defo needed a friend to help with that and the PSA result was a good one. 😀

And, in fact, it was my (former) cancer that saw me talking on BBC Radio Scotland the other day. I’d seen on Facebook that they were talking about the Digital Rectal Examination Test (or finger up the bum as I was once asked not to say on STV. And didn’t.) and tagged someone at the BBC so they mentioned the radio prog it was on and I listened and I phoned in and it was as if I was expected.

‘This is jt850 and I’d like to comment……..’

‘Hi jt. This is Karen McK. How are you?’

‘I’m fine Karen. How are you?’

‘Fine and I’ll just check. Is your radio off?’

‘It is.’

‘Right. I’ll just put you through now.’

And I was not asked what I wanted to say. It was as if I was expected. And they knew what I’d say. And somebody else phoned from Pacific Quay today, asking if I’d used any alternative medicines in my cancer care to which I answered ‘no’. And the conversation ended.

But let’s go back to Line of Duty and one of the most discussed TV progs for a long time and the theme of ‘spoilers’ – knowing what happened before you actually see it happening. Yes, I had heard this and that about her and her lawyer and the balaclava men and all that stuff but actually seeing it? Nothing could have prepared me for that moment when she turned round and arrested the lawyer. WOW!!!!!!!!!!

(I know someone who uses a lot of exclamation marks. Is she’s not seen the final episode she will realise how wow making it was!!!!!!!!!)

Good, well-acted drama wins every time. Sometimes you even need to know the plot already before you can appreciate what has happened – as I said to a good friend after we’d watched Fassbender’s Macbeth at the Phoenix, Linwood a couple of years back. 🙂

But what hold did the DCC have over the WPC (do we still call them that?) that made her hand over all those documents? And given my recent nose allergy/infection it was a wee bit worrying to hear that MRSA grows up your nose. And why, every time someone mentioned the name of the Forensic Scientist – Tim Ifield – did I start singing ‘I remember you’?

(Line of Duty. Not Macbeth)

And finally, I have a sleeping problem.

Some of my early shifts see me starting at seven or thereabouts and whilst I’ve changed my medication so that I’m not as sleepy as I was with the previous stuff, it still makes me sleep real well so when the alarm goes off at 5.45 it is a real struggle to get up to go to work and get a parking space twenty minutes from the project. I just want to turn over and go back to sleep.

However, and I suspect most people know what’s coming, on those mornings when I don’t have to go to work, I still wake at 5.30 and check the alarm and lie there – unable to get back to sleep. What, dear listener, can I do? Your help is appreciated.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple until I’m told not to.

Iaint850, sensing a new challenge. More anon.

Growing up in Peterhead, there wasn’t much of a chance to see live bands (altho’ I have very vague memories of an early Bay City Rollers gig in Maud Village Hall) and the closest place for gigs was the Music Hall in Aberdeen.

This was the first band I ever saw there. Blodwyn Pig. Now, I’m not so sure why, but when you’re about sixteen……….and, yes, it does finish abruptly.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” ― Oscar Wilde

April 27, 2017

And so, dear listener, I wish to give plenty of notice that this show may turn out to be a bit of a moan. I don’t know for sure as the blog is never properly planned but a lot of it goes through my head and I’ve just had a sleepless night but not for good creative reasons. 😦

So beware before you step any further.

But at the same time don’t worry. This is nothing to do with depression as a mental health issue; I suspect this may come down to my butt needing kicked and I may be looking for volunteers to help to do that. Depression as a mental health issue is getting a fair amount of publicity at the moment but, from personal experience, I do know the difference.

The origins of the current mood do lie, though, in the anxiety and depression of last year which was work related but I’m handling that and I did emerge with an SVQ3 and I am enjoying the shift to days but the early starts are really early and an opportunity has come up, which, well I’ll know more in May. But the anxiety did slow me down and stop me going out – even to football matches. 😦

And this virus/allergy/infection is proving harder to deal with than expected and the original medication was really debilitating; gave me plenty of sleep but left me tired a lot of the time. I’ve been to see the doc and I have new tablets but in the three days between stopping the old pills and starting the new, my sleeping patterns were awful and I’m not sleeping, which gives me too much time to think.

And what these have all done is to cause the serious medical problem of ooomphless. I need ooooomph. I’m going to play a piece of music while you take all that in.

My Gaelic teacher, Joy Dunlop. 🙂

So yes, let’s take one example and on this occasion offer a positive solution. Gaelic.

The first block was great but I missed a lot of classes and a Gaelic night out (sorry e) in the second block because of the virus and I never really caught up. I’ve been talking about going to the Gaelic College but the solution is a lot simpler – after this very busy work weekend, I intend to go to the Mitchell Library (spiritual home of missing USB sticks) one morning a week and do the work. 🙂

So I’m not going to Skye for my holidays but again, after this weekend (and I’m not prevaricating. One shift sees me getting home at 11 at night and back in again at 7 the next morning) I plan to select a week at random in the Summer (watching out for an existing Gaelic commitment and a gig), book that week off from the project and devise a trip possibly based on Oban. 🙂

And let’s take on the elephant in the room – companionship. I am carp at computer dating. (plenty of fish gag in the typo) and can’t start an e-conversation to save myself. But I can talk to people. My friendship with R from Cardross started at a suicide intervention course and the friendship with J, the blog’s favest librarian, started over an Inter-Library Loan. 😀

If it’s that big a deal, then set me upon a blind date. I will go.

And I’ve spoken about friendship before and I know I can be a pain but I can be told and take that telling.

After all, I am the man who, on returning to the college after Cold Turkey, was told by some line managers that alcoholics were scum, couldn’t be trusted and were bound to lapse. A few months later I was diagnosed with cancer.

Don’t hold back about telling me things. 😉

But so many friendships have added so much to my life; be it a change in my eating habits to introducing me to new music (and the world of the Inukshuk) to being aware of other peoples’ issues and babysitting……and indeed, going to Partick Thistle came out of an existing friendship and helped to create new ones.

(How are we doing for word count, Skippy?)

I have purchased my PT season ticket (the £308 has been deducted from my bank account this year) and I intend to be more of a full-timer than I was this season and will try and persuade other people to come; I will cut back on the editing because I did so this year and made more money and even in the last few weeks, when an Out of Office sign was up, I have done okay; and I have a brochure of Glw Uny short courses beside me and will pick a couple.

And then there’s the pencils. At Christmas I became the proud owner of twelve pencils which came ready sharpened and I’ve been using them, but when they became less than sharp, I put them aside and used another one.
Now they’ve all been re-sharpened. Once upon a time that would have been procrastination; now it’s a positive move. 🙂

And I needed to cut my toenails. This was a real frightener. My head was saying ‘why do you need to get up? You’re not working until the afternoon’; whereas my toenails were saying ‘Howard Hughes’.

Again after the weekend, please ask me how I’m getting on with these promises (maybe not the toenails) and I’m serious about the blind date idea…….

But I come to the end of tonight’s show with a positive vibe and a declared intention to stay in touch.

I genuinely would not be here today if it were not for various folk and the things I have been encouraged to do. 🙂

That is the biggest debt of gratitude I can pay and I say that with a lot based on much of my current job.

Iaint850, keeping it simple with one of my most favourite up-beat pop songs of all time;

I’m dancing already

In light of Teresa May’s announcement…we’ll just keep on playing country music (Chris Country Radio)

April 20, 2017

And so, dear listener, I intend to take Chris Country Radio’s words literally and devote much of tonight’s show to country music and the part it has played in my life (or at least the last eighteen months). As much as is possible I intend to ignore the elections other than to say, how can anyone plan running this country or council when it has now become the easiest thing in the world to ignore the fact that people did vote and didn’t expect to vote again until appropriate time (or a generation) had lapsed.

Even in my student politics days I never voted as early and as often; altho’ if this quote from a friend of a friend’s Facebook page is anything to go by, then increasing academic standards should be high on the list;

‘Tory’s are literary scum of the earth’

The bastards! They don’t even read good books!

So basically I want to play some music interspersed with some serious stuff. Some of you will recognise the musical choice and your connection with it but I won’t name you. For example,

The lovely Brandi Carlile

Or you may have been with me when we saw someone

Sharon Shannon and Steve Earle

And I spent some time this week talking to a friend from my first time at university who starts treatment for prostate cancer (chemotherapy) not long after the council elections (Sorry. It slipped out). It wasn’t so much discussing treatments and stuff but support and care and where that comes from. Around this time eight years ago I was reaching the end of my treatment and I’d had a twenty-first birthday and a wedding to look forward to and I made one but not the other, but I’m still here annoying the sh*t out of people.

And there’s no prizes for guessing the right word.

This is Blue Rose Code and Karine Polwart (country-ish?)

So my Samsung tablet wasn’t charging properly; in fact I could watch the battery decrease before my very eyes (well, the paint had dried)

Someone suggested blowing into the socket where I inserted the charger and onto the charger itself. It has gone back up from 40% (ish) to 100%. I can now stay totally election free with catch-up TV on the tablet.

But the manifestos will be out soon. That’s when my determination will be tested.

And whilst it’s good to see the Royal Family (jr) talk about depression in the context of their late mum (and indeed others) and it’s all about raising awareness, and I try to do the same through this show, we do need more money to treat mental health. We now acknowledge things like depression as real mental health issues but there are people out there with more specific mental health issues (maybe living on their own or in supported accommodation) who deserve better treatment and many of whom end up in Police cells cos there’s nowhere else for them to go.

My anxiety issues of last were recently described as a reaction to things that were happening at that time and I’ll go along with that but much of what I went through post-recoveries was coping with depression.

And I’d like to thank John Collins, who has a rather nice Country music show on Clyde 2 on a Sunday night (and other Bauer radio stations) for the next piece of music. John and I worked at the BBC some time back and amongst other things he’d a show called BPM – which was absolutely nothing like the country tunes he currently spins. I asked him for a tune for tonight.

This is Little Big Town

And finally, if there’s anything that comes out of tonight’s show, it’s that I owe so much to so many people, but they have good tastes in music.

So here’s a wee joke just to lighten things;

‘I went on a once in a lifetime holiday. Never again.’

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and I owe a lot of tonight’s show to keeping it simple

Iaint850 and beginning to think I have become invisible……maybe it’s my medication that’s given me a cloak of invisibility cos it’s doing lots of other stuff to me as well as sorting out the allergy.

So before I played country, I already used music to help me through the dark times. I’ve spoken about Alabama 3 and Steve Earle and Kris Kristofferson and so on and it was good to see the Waterboys and I’m looking forward to seeing Texas but there’s always been one piece of music that’s been there for me. There was one occasion post-cancer treatment when I felt really down (and as long serving listeners will remember it involved a former Miss Scotland) and I went for a walk not sure where I was going and when I came out of the reverie this was playing somewhere.

This is Green Day (and, J, watch for the tyre kicking)

‘People say I’m brave about cancer, but I’m realistic. I’m a storyteller’ (Steve Hewlett)

February 23, 2017

And so dear listener, I felt really strange on Monday but nothing to do with any virus. I had to turn down the opportunity to take part in an interview with John Ross Beattie on BBC Radio Scotland about some recent cancer statistics that showed that men with prostate cancer living in the most deprived communities in Scotland are nearly twice as likely to die from the illness as those in the most affluent postcodes. This time eight years ago I was finishing the first half of my treatment for this cancer before starting thirty-seven days of radiotherapy.

Those who know me know how passionate my thoughts are on so much of what is involved in that simple, but long, sentence. Why, I could even have brought in libraries and their importance to the community. Macmillan Cancer folk have an arrangement with Glasgow Libraries where on certain days they have information points and people to talk to about cancer. 🙂

Later that day, I heard that Steve Hewlett had died. Steve is (sorry) was a journalist and academic who was one of the best in both fields. He’d been Editor of Panorama for the Princess Di interview and presented Broadcasting House on Radio 4. He also recently had been taking part regularly on PM on Radio 4 talking about his cancer and its progress. He knew it was terminal.

I’d have loved to do that during my treatment. The only difference is that Steve knew he was dying and talked about that. I am still alive and still pestering people about going to gigs and going for coffee. 🙂

He was also a better broadcaster than me. I was once asked, live, to explain what radiotherapy was like. My reply?

‘It’s like being zapped by a nuclear zapping thing.’

Altho’ having heard Donald Trump trying to describe uranium and cybers (both of which can be ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ apparently), I don’t feel quite so bad.

Steve spoke with great dignity on whatever he was talking about – media mergers or his forthcoming death. I rush at things. My mother also spoke with great dignity when she decided not to have chemotherapy which would only have been a delaying process. I walked very slowly homewards from the hospital that night and then remembered I’d driven there.

I remember talking to J last year about a man called Jonathan Wilson (1970-2002) who used to write a column for the Scotsman called Dead Man Talking. He knew he was dying but he lived a lot longer than the initial prognosis.

Still, I have this blog. It started eight years ago and was designed, I thought, as a means of telling people how the treatment was going and would stop when the treatment stopped (if in fact it did – you can never be too sure altho’ I’m reasonably certain now…….Fate has just been tempted!!!!). Like me it has kept going and, like me, it can be a real pest. 🙂

I have done TV and radio and newspapers (my favourite quote for one of the Record pieces was ‘alarm bells started ringing when a nurse stuck her finger up my bum’ BUT this very simple test is one of the reasons why men won’t go and get things checked. To all women who have ever given birth, there are some men who consider this basic test to be invasive!)

I’ve done information talks and ‘manned’ information stands at various events* and done informal chats with many people in many situations and I’ve done it all being very positive but the question of death will always hang over people with cancer but it tends to come from friends and family.

*I haven’t done many recently and they’ve tended to be a wee bit freelance but if you, or any group with which you’re associated, want a speaker about prostate cancer or information stand for a health event, then contact Prostate Cancer UK’s Scottish office (for Scotland) on 0141 218 4760.

And when I talk about ‘still wearing that badge’, there are two. One is the ‘big sky’ badge which J gave me and the other is the Prostate Cancer Awareness badge for which a donation is good. Both are very positive and optimistic.

Mind you on one occasion, when teaching at college, in an all-male staff-room (not testosterone filled as I was full of oestrogen at the time) I had put up a notice saying,

‘which one of you bastards has stolen a dying man’s coffee?’

Unfortunately some students had come in to video me for something else and saw this. I later heard them talking about ‘poor John’ in the corridor. The next time I had them in class I had a lot of explaining to do – but it was worth it. The lesson plan was thrown out of the window. e was my curriculum leader. I don’t think she minded.

More people survive than die but what is survival? Ernie Walker was General Secretary of the Scottish Football Association when Scotland actually got to World Cup Finals. When he died, the press reported that he had been ‘battling prostate cancer for eighteen years.’ I’m sorry. That is no battle; that is a clear victory. 🙂

But I still cry at cancer ads on TV.

Sorry if this is a bit disjointed but it’s been written in one go and it did get started at three this morning and it’s only just gone four but sometimes scrawling a note to yourself just isn’t enough. It’s also been written earlier in the week than usual.

I might as well just stay awake and do some editing or send some mails pestering people about gigs and going for coffee. Well at least I’m alive to do that.

R.I.P Steve Hewlett.

Cya, still wearing both those badges and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850  and still available for gigs and for coffee…..whatever. 😉

And in other news….…I’m back at work but have been using the last few days to get fit; it’s days and it’s different but in ways I’d not expected; there was snow;  football and Gaelic are on the to-do list; and once I get rid of all the rubbish food in the house, I’ll start the diet. Oh, and I may be going to see the dragons in Edinburgh. What’s that, Skippy? Sorry. I may be going to see the dungeons in Edinburgh. 😀

Have I played Mariachi El Bronx here before? To hell with it. I’ll let David Letterman introduce them.

Then the order came down, dump everything and fix bayonets. You have got to fight for it today. (Private Walter Hutchison)

July 1, 2016

And so dear listener, I have just turned 62. Not bad, given that coming up for ten years ago, a friend of mine looked at me, lying comatose in a hospital bed, and gave me no chance of surviving the night……… but I did and survived much else a few months later. 🙂

It made me the man I am today (which is not necessarily as other men my age) ………..I will say no more than that but I do enjoy life in many ways. 😉

But the death of Caroline Aherene has hit home. My alcohol and cancer issues are, thankfully, well behind me.Hers never left her. I found dealing with the after effects of both at the same time the hardest thing to do. I will never forget my support team who were there for me (and the people who weren’t) and that is partly why this blog exists.

But my thanks to the many ways that people got best wishes  to me and my thanks to a co-worker who brought in buns which made a nightshift go very quickly.

But long term listeners will know that at one stage I talked of being 42 for ever (it’s an Alabama 3 thing) but various things that have happened in the last two years have made me adjust to being what I am (a private pension kicking in helped).

But I’d a great day on Monday (so maybe my birthday came early) and I went to bed that night looking forward to the next day, altho’ I’m always pleased to wake up. It’s a much under-rated pastime. 🙂

Basically, there’s been the money thang with the TSB. I got a phone call from a man whom we’ll call TK who admits they’re in the wrong but is still uncertain what to do as he can’t understand what went wrong. But I am promised my money soon time with goodwill payments and refunded charges etc. TK is not a man to be argued with. I obvs checked out his Linkedin and Facebook profiles and the latest pic in his Facebook profile sees him with a very powerful chainsaw……TK is most definitely not a man to be argued with. Turns out he is the TSB’s Senior Customer Services Executive.

And finally, but not the usual ‘and finally’ but a Monday ‘and finally’, a very good friend, about whom I was slightly worried, phoned and I felt much better. No. No names. No pack drill.

I know I could fire up the Google but I always thought that if you gave the names, you would avoid the packdrill but what do I know?

And so, a final word on Brexit. It has been said that much of the voting was a protest against well educated people as people decided they were in charge and not the experts who actually do know what they’re talking about. However, this was kinda put in its place, and I pass this on without comment, by the number of people (some of whom I spoke to) who didn’t realise that by voting to leave they were actually voting to leave.

And my thanks to an Englishman living in New York – John Oliver – for pointing out that the second most Googled question last Friday morning was, ‘What is the EU?’

And finally,  Roy Hodgson, you did not have to be an expert to know that Iceland were pretty good with long throw-ins, but a lot less arrogance in your players might have helped as well. 😉

And on the question of the Euros, J’s choice (France) has made better progress than mine (Spain) but there’s a long way to go, but I was intrigued by her question the other day,

‘jt, you know about Partick Thistle, but do you know anything about football?’ I think I know what was meant. 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and happy to be keeping it simple

Johnt850, and as Anna Magnusson would say, Afram Island!!!!!

So, as many of you know J very kindly gave me a bee house as a gift for the garden but there’s been little happening in terms of bees using it.

So I went on Facebook for help and changed my profile picture to that bit of my garden fence which supports the house and various people got in touch.

Now J had said to me that it was not a hive but I was to think of it as a Bees’ B’n’B. Ah, said I down the phone, ‘a kind of Bees’ backpackers’ hostel.’ ‘Yes’, said she……… So I shared this notion on fb and I would like to thank Julie, with whom I used to play hockey and who has more international contacts than even you, Rainforestriverman, for progressing this metaphor with a lovely word picture of ‘tiny bees with tiny rucksacks strumming tiny guitars and eating tiny pot noodles.’ 😀

Later the next day, I walked past the Blue Sky Backpackers’ Hostel in Berkeley Street and smiled. It still doesn’t stop me, listeners, from standing at the kitchen door window, shouting, ‘Where are you bees? Where are you?’ My next door neighbours gave up on me long time ago.

And tonight’s closing piece of music has been played many times before, but I was told recently that someone else’s grand-daughter really liked it, so I am under instruction here….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JCLY0Rlx6Q

A giraffe’s coffee would be cold by the time it reached the bottom of its neck. Ever think about that?

June 10, 2016

And so dear listener, I was driving home the other Sunday morning (from work and not some hedonistic Satyrday night/Sinday morning of yore) when I saw a man looking in a shop window and tidying his hair. And I thought, I’m so glad other guys do it. 🙂

Y’know, I’m often asked what my favourite mirror is (aren’t you?) and it comes from some recordings I did for the last ever radio doc I produced (the CD of which I’ve lost in the refurbishment of t850 Towers which is annoying as I wanted someone to listen to it. There’s an archive I must plunder) It was about prostate cancer and why men are reluctant to speak out about it – although that seems to be changing.

It was a smashing husband and wife couple down in West Kilbride and I asked to use their bathroom before returning to Glasgow and with the door open (on the way in and the way out) I could see not only me but also Ailsa Craig in the background – both rugged and part of Scotland’s cultural history. 😉

And speaking of Scotland’s cultural history, please feel free to join me, e and c and a number of Gaelic speaking people at Feis spors Ghlaschu which is a sports day being held by some Gaelic speaking people this Saturday (18th) and I seem to be involved in some way (the tombola?). It’s being held at Lochinch Park (the Glasgow polis’s training ground in Pollok Park) and for all those who’ve ever wondered what the Gaelic is for bouncy castle, it seems to be Castle Sgeingeach……and it’s from 12.30 to 4.40…..which is a very exact time to finish.

Anyway, me and e went curtain shopping to Clydebank (where e lived for a year she said in passing) and I’d like to thank the very patient staff in Dunelm Mill and Harry Corry for their patience as my mind changed every so often but, hey, they are bought and are draped over my settees to lose their crushes (how often has that happened in my life I wonder….with curtains) but I’m not sure whether there will be an official curtain opening (I told you, J, I’d use it 🙂  )

What was of most interest tho’, was not the waitress in the very pleasant coffee shop who brought over our coffees with the words, ‘I saw you were having no milk in your coffees so I  topped them up with hot water’ nor the fact that she packed a mean bottle of tomato ketchup in the pocket of her apron.

It was the pictures on the wall. Bog standard and slightly dated photos of the Singer Sewing Machine factory and John Brown’s Shipyard and the clock tower that could be seen from all over Clydebank. What happened to all those people when the work stopped? Where, now, are the millworkers from Paisley or the coal miners and steelworkers from North Ayrshire? Or more likely, their dependents?  😦

I am part of a family of three generations of accountants and auditors, other than me or daughter-in-law, KT. It seems we will always need financial people, but people to make things? I’ll get back to you on that.

But good news on the book front where books are back in the business chasing out e-readers and similar. E-book sales are falling and the ‘iPad generation still want to read about Hairy McLeary or Katie Morag from a real book.’(D. Record 9th June 2016) and also the Crayons Who Quit…….if you have children or grandchildren of any age, buy that one…….it’s brilliant. 🙂

(And on the subject of e-things, this week’s Unattributed Conversation of the Month went as follows;

Me; So, has using an e-cigarette helped you cut down?

Other person; Yes, I only smoke spliffs these days.)

And delighted also to read that my first university, Glasgow, not only continues to take over the entire West End of Glasgow but recently announced plans to continue its library expansion – thus, in comparison with others, realising the importance of making written research as available as possible to students and researchers.

But I do have friends that question the value of university research and dispute studies that prove the efficacy of minimum unit pricing. Maybe it’s because it’s not disseminated properly and popularly.

So, and finally, step forward one of my own uni-mentors, Jenny H and her partner in writing Kim, whose academic treatise on Generation Rent got used as the basis of a piece in the well-respected freebie Stylist. Jenny H is also a graduate of UWS (Paisley) Drink and Drugs team but Jenny, this is the Dead Kennedys telling you how to pronounce Viva!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1enywhs7vfk

It was at this point I stopped for a while and Spotified the Dead Kennedys. And never started again. 😀

Cya, still wearing the badge and it’s no problem to keep it simple.

Johnt850, about whom the song was written, wasn’t it Carly?

Noel Edmonds is an interesting character who has received a fair amount of finger-pointing scorn this week, particularly after his comments about curing cancer with energy from a box. This after his claims that his dead parents’ spirits live in orbs (and that’s not short for Orbiston in Bellshill) that follow him around and the fact that he drives a life-size doll called Candice around in a black cab – altho’ this might not be so daft as a means of getting him around London quickly.

Y’see he also talked about the need to change his diet and to exercise in a different way……from what he doesn’t say. There is no doubt in my mind that the cancer cell in my body thought I was an easy touch cos of my bad lifestyle but I, too, made various changes to my lifestyle after I cold turkeyed that soooo much helped but everyone is different.

It’s about taking responsibility for your life and analysing what is good for you and helps.

I wish I’d restructured my garden some time back but it’s only recently ‘cos me and a couple of others read the book, The Bees by Laline Paull, that I would ever have welcomed a bee house in my back garden. It’s about keeping your mind open to new things and you never know, Noel might yet be right.  🙂

And my friend, Clyde 2 country jock, John Collins is a big fan of the new band RainTown – a country band from Glasgow. Let me know what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAwTplA368M

I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone…..but they’ve always worked for me (Hunter S Thompson)

June 2, 2016

And so dear listener, following recent visits by various people who studied the recent refurbishment of t850Towers, work continues – particularly in the West Wing. Or back bedroom as some may describe it.

Careful examination of current tapestries and works of art on the walls revealed a need for some more adornments and so, when buying a much needed curtain pole recently, I spent some minutes in the car boot sale next to the Homebase where I bought a framed picture of a Glasgow tram (£1).  🙂  I then came home and printed off two new pics of my grand-daughter and put them in a couple of cheap pine frames from Poundstretcher (and no other cheap shops are available in my area). It’s beginning to make a difference but it needs a wee bit more.

The one thing it needs more than anything else is to move all the paper stuff (journal articles from my  more recent uni-days) to the back of the wing and move the books forward so that it looks less of an aborted PhD attempt and more like a man of literature – ish. 🙂

But this has its drawbacks. I’m looking through a whole wheen of stuff I got when doing the Post Grad and the Masters that I don’t need but I can’t throw out. The Hunter S Thompson quote at the start, for example, came from ‘Understanding substance use and addiction – Influence of culture on alcohol intoxication’ put together by a tutor called Iain McPhee and the boy’s got talent and should go far. 🙂

I’m finding it tricky to throw out stuff….altho’ a lot of cookery and gardening books have ended up in a charity shop in Anniesland. I intend to write my own gardening book called ‘Get a Man In’ but if anyone wants a copy of Muriel Clark’s recipe for clootie dumpling, I have found the Tartan Tin recipe book. I still don’t know what a clootie dumpling is, tho’.

But, on the subject of my garden, can I thank the intrepid explorer, J, for performing the official opening last week with an incredibly emotional speech which I, and I think I can speak for the entire audience there, found very moving. 😦

But despite the new patio furniture and the rustic bench I still prefer sitting on the kitchen step. 😀

And finally, as someone whose waist size has rocketed up (in trouser size) from 30 to 32 (and more walking and less grazing is the answer) my eye was caught by headlines linking an increase in stomach size to fatal prostate cancer. However, closer reading revealed that we’re talking about ‘the fact’ that every four (!) extra inches on a man’s stomach increases the chances of dying from prostate cancer by 18%!.

Bloody hell! An increase of four inches on any stomach must increase the chances of dying from anything by a helluva lot. Moderation is good. But, yes my cancer was encouraged by a poor lifestyle all those years ago and must have got a shock when, suddenly, I stopped the booze, started eating again (not even the word ‘properly’ is needed….just started eating the solid stuff again) and was getting in some exercise.

But also, I was thinking back to when, in recent years, my stomach was under control and that was when I did use the graveyard as a basic walking space for my physical recovery – starting at ten minutes at ending up at an easy two hours round the canals and rivers that make up a large part of the environment in this area. I plan to do that again. Harry Lauder and Jimmy Maxton are both buried here and our parents were cremated there and there is a gravestone with my name on it – but it bears little similarity to my life. Well certainly, not as I know it so far. 😉

I may even try some light running. But I’ll need new trainers. The ones that took me round Millport died not long afterwards as the sole came off one.

So a new pair is needed before I re-join the Johnstone Jaunters…and I will. Shift dependent. 🙂

Oh, and the scarey book that gave me nightmares? ‘Ghost Story’ by Peter Straub. No. No clue in the title whatsoever and not be read immediately before falling asleep. 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Johnt850, and I think ‘mischievous’ is highly appropriate. 😉

Now amongst the recent visitors was someone who has a gluten free diet and the meal was an interesting fusion of gluten free food and fish – in short rice and a prawn stir-fry and scallops on the side.

‘Ah,’ said my guest (and work out who it was for yourself). ‘Often a stir-fry suggests soy sauce. Not every soy sauce is gluten free.’ And, y’know, the soy sauce I have, wasn’t. For alcohol reasons I do look at ingredients and recently have extended that search – but never ever thought about the contents of my larder. I’m checking it out now but slowly. It’s next to the open kitchen door and I can feel the sun – a benefit of night shifting.

And so the countrification of my record collection continues but this is more angsty than other stuff I’ve been listening to. It’s maybe a version of the ‘he done gone and left me so I’ve been drinking’ genre but I found some of the imagery interesting – particularly after a day reading William L White’s ‘Twelve Defining Moments in the History of Alcoholics Anonymous’ – which, tbh, I didn’t need to, but it was still a fun read.

This is Margo Price

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93r_hIpgFpo