Archive for the ‘coronavirus’ Category

‘To all students – I’m so sorry Covid is making this special time of your lives so tough.’ – (Nicola Sturgeon)

September 25, 2020

And so, dear listener, ‘picture it if you’se will.’* Me as an eighteen year old student – a very long time ago. And don’t worry; there is a point to this memory and I realise that I should have offered this insight to the Scottish Government a week or so ago and we might be in a better position that we are just now.

It was in the early seventies and I had come down from the fishing town of Peterhead to the fleshpots of Glasgow – or Queen Margaret Halls of Residence, Bellshaugh Road, just along from the Kirklee Bridge at the Botanic Gardens where my ashes will be scattered. 😀 😀 😀

(Good friend e and I have already had a dummy run. It’ll be like Poo Sticks. You scatter the ashes on one side of the wooden bridge and then run to the other side. I told Son Brian who, technically, would be in charge and he went, ‘Fine. Whatever.’)

Initially, I was 18 and didn’t know anyone. There were 350 students in the halls; 175 boys and 175 girls. You had your own room and the cost was covered by your student grant. You got breakfast and an evening meal and lunch on a Saturday and Sunday. And getting to know people was not a problem. 🙂

Yes. There were wardens on each floor but these tended to be single (as in marital status) lecturers who were new to Glasgow and doing their own exploring.

We had no-one to tell us what to do and what not to do. There was no going out drinking with your pals and worrying about what your parents would say to you when you got home. ‘It’s okay mum and dad. I’ve had a good night but I’m tired and I’m just going to bed.’ 😉

The style of student residence has changed but students haven’t. There are still student residences where QM halls once were and there’s a student village in Murano Street near Firhill (when will I see its like again?) and we’ve been telling young people that it’s old people who are most at risk so when they meet other freshers for the first time, of course they’re going to spend time with them – unmasked – cos how do you know what they look like? So, yes, they have gone out to enjoy themselves in a range of ways and they have come into contact with the virus without realising they were putting themselves at risk. 😦

And I’ll give you another example of the naivety of young people away from home for the first time, if I may.

When Son Brian was a lot younger, he and I went to an Open Day at Maryhill Fire Station. The fireman in charge asked us where we thought most of their calls came from…..and then without waiting, he told us.

‘The Murano Street student village.’, cos no-one had shown their youngsters how to wash a grill pan. So nobody knew how to. And every so often, they went on fire. What do students know anyway?

Maybe all the current Scottish Government (with degrees) travelled to uny every day and went home at night. They should have asked me.

*Andy McChuckemup as played by Bill Paterson when he was still an actor with the 7:84 Theatre Company in the Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil.

Here’s a wee bit of the flavour of the Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil. This is John Bett and the man who went on to be Taggart.

And so dear listener, I wrote that on Thursday morning; spent some time in my alternative office of the Botanic Gardens in the afternoon; and got home at night to some studently news that completely changed my view of things.

@JasonLeitch had been telling students that if they weren’t self-isolating and showing no symptoms then it wasn’t illegal for them to go home for the holidays; but then, a few hours later, he was telling them that eh, no, they couldn’t go home cos that would mean they were meeting indoors with another household.

Nobody had explained that leaving mum and dad to go to a student residence meant they had transferred to another household and their original household (or mum and dad as they knew it) was no longer applicable.

And did no-one tell the Scottish Government about the size of some these households in uny residences? I saw one piece of footage on mainstream TV filmed by a student on a phone saying that three of them had tested positive but the rest of them (nine!!!!!!) were self-isolating in the lounge (FFS!!!!!!)

And then they were told that they couldn’t go to pubs, restaurants or cafes this weekend (‘but hopefully just for this weekend’ said the FM) but as I write this I have seen no guidance for those students who work in pubs, restaurants and cafes – or stay at home with their parents. Or stay in rented flats. Or, for the four social work students that e and I did some work for earlier this year who work part-time in social care. The Scottish Government was happy to let them do that then, but now?

I am a wee bit angry and maybe there’s a degree of self-interest in what I have to say but I also know that many students were already disappointed at the notion that, for many of them, the great university adventure was now going to be just watching a pre-recorded lecturer zooming in on their computer screen.

They are used to being told what to do by teachers and parents and they didn’t even get ‘normal’ contact with their their teachers last term or were impacted by the exam crisis. I feel they’ve been let down when much of this could have been avoided. It all seems a bit brutal to me and may well have an effect on their wellbeing and mental health.

I then finished writing this late on Thursday night, hit the Publish button and have not looked at it since.

So, I was going to keep you posted on my kitchen but no room. It’s going well. Here, with absolutely no connection with how my new work in progress kitchen currently looks, is God’s Country by Blake Shelton.

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” (Robert Frost)

September 18, 2020

And so, dear listener, how did Brian Masters do it? All these hours spent with Dennis ‘Des’ Nilsen discussing the mysteries of life and the practicalities of death and yet, and yet, and yet…….he didn’t write anything down but still managed to get a whole book out of the conversations. Amazing.

I refer, of course, to the amazing drama ‘Des’ which told the story of the mass killer Dennis Nilsen and featured an amazing performance by David Tennant who looked amazingly like Nilsen but also looked amazingly like ITN reporter Robert ‘Pesto’ Peston who, on Tuesday night, turned up ten minutes later on the ITN News to tell us about the certainty of a second wave.

It was impossible not to have nightmares that night. 😦 😦 😦

Incidentally, Dennis Nilsen was born in Fraserburgh – not Peterhead – and Fray Bentos is a place in Uruguay – not Argentina.

And anyone who says anything different has my mate, Doctor Paul, Edinburgh’s top Quizmaster to answer to. 🙂

But this week’s saddest headline of the month for so many reasons, was in the Daily Record this week – Probe into Singing at Care Home.

And it’s been a quiet week – some catch ups and coffees cancelled but hopefully will be re-arranged once we know what the First Minister has to say. And it’s quiet in the cul-de-sac. People have gone back to work, like, actually, in a place of work. I was aware of that the other day when, without realising it, I spent most of the day out the back reading. I felt a certain amount of guilt for some reason.

And as we go further back into lockdown there are people and places I miss. 😦

However, domestically, things are about to change and I’ll have more to say at the end of the show but, just as I’d given up on editing until, say, October at the earliest, someone I’d worked for before has asked me to look at a large piece of work for him (or her) and I’ve agreed to do it in a ridiculously short timescale beginning Monday. 😉

At the same time as a lot of hammering will be going on around me. 🙂 NOT 😦

And I’ve strained a muscle or something at the top of my left arm. It’s not debilitating or anything but it is the side I sleep on and that negates anything good that has happened to it during the day.

So, I’m trying to go to sleep with the smell of Deep Heat in the bed with me. 😦

And finally, I was going to say something erudite about the ‘rona but, given that we have approximately sixty people in hospital, nine in intensive care and (until yesterday) occasionally one death a day and that would have been marvellous six months ago but are rightly worried about the number of positive tests and testing and I’m not sure why we didn’t get health centre nurses to do the tests in the first place and I see Neil Ferguson is back in vogue and you do know that Karl Sikora is a cancer specialist and closing the pubs at ten at night not long after you’ve encouraged them to open in the first place will just lead people to drink more quickly and folk are suggesting herd immunity again on the basis that the bug is not as virulent as it once was and hygiene is so much better but lockdown gets earlier every year, I’ll maybe not bother.

Tioraidh, finding it a wee bit hard to keep it simple and fun

Iaint850, always keen to catch up

Now (as opposed to So or Well), some of you may watch this radio show in colour on Facebook. If so, you will have seen photographs of a kitchen very definitely on its last legs. It’s mine……..but it hasn’t always looked like that. I’ve been running it down over the last few weeks as I’ve been in discussion with a kitchen fitter and the good news is that, as I write this, they are due to start on Monday.

I won’t name them just yet.

But they’re doing it all. I will not be painting the kitchen, as I once did to prove how crap I am at painting, but unfortunately the shelf I put up will have to come down. The colour scheme is blue and grey and all the new utensils will be red.

Once that’s done a new patio will be created. Well, old slabs will be lifted and a lot of new ones will be put down…….and then some planting. This is obviously all being funded from my late sister’s legacy and might have taken a different shape earlier this year had it not been for the ‘rona.

So, the last few days have been about emptying and clearing the kitchen which kinda explains the photos. I have one question. It’s an unopened pack of lentils dated Use By May 2015. What do you reckon?

And I’m not sure what I’ll do about eating…….

Here’s some music that’s nothing to do with the ‘rona. Last week the Cranberries proved popular with a few folk.

Combine them with a song called Zombie and it’s a match made in heaven.

‘The more you can create that magic bubble, that suspension of disbelief, for a while, the better.’ — Edward Norton

September 11, 2020

And so dear listener, many thanks for the nice feedback on last week’s blog and the audience figures were good for the seven day period in which it featured. RAJAR audience figures are not vital as I write it for myself but reaction of any sort is always nice. 🙂

And I’ve since seen the episode of the repeat of the repeat of the episode in the reality series about Glasgow Central Railway Station where the Station tour does feature but the museum in the programme at the time of recording was just an idea in the head of Jacqueline and we, on the tour, did see it but it was more a work in progress. 😉

I also saw a lot of mails and messages in a variety of places saying how much they were looking forward to going on the tour……well…….I was one of a group of seven (should have been eight), plus Paul, and that was half of what they would normally take and now there won’t be any more for a wee while as they’ve been suspended again cos of the ‘rona and the new restrictions. 😦

But I’d a positive wee chat this week with the Partick Thistle Ticket Office to confirm some details about the coming season and my appropriate bubble but even that will maybe have to wait a wee bit until all the ‘rona changes sink in. Fingers crossed.

And no, audiences (as the UKPM describes them) are not so bad that when I asked ‘will the kick-offs be at the usual time?’ did I get the response, ‘well, what time can you get here?’ 😀

The first time I went to Firhill, I wasn’t sure where to go so I asked someone where it was and I was told just follow the crowd. Ended up in Tesco. 🙂

I’m here all week and the halibut’s to die for.

On Friday I’d two pressies to drop off in two places. One was for my son whose family is my extended household and the other was for good friend e‘s daughter. The former was not a problem but with the latter I came close to being a Rainforestriver delivery man, wearing a mask, ringing the door bell, leaving the pressie on the doorstep and taking a photo. At the end of the day, gardenly birthday words were exchanged and I do hope all pressies were well received on appropriate dates. 😀

Current Glasgow lockdown rules were applied which meant me and e could have met up in the pub without breaking any rules…….It’s frustrating.

(Lifted off Twitter – ‘What do you call that game where you ring the bell and run away?’ ‘Hermes’)……..altho’ I’ve always had good service from them.

On Tuesday I met the blogmeister for a coffee or two in Princes Square – a kiosk as you go in with comfy seats and pretty empty at 11 in the morning. Well worth considering for meeting up in the City Centre. Certain business was discussed and we returned to respective trains and went our respective ways.

Glasgow remains miles better when it comes to being open and being classy.

London may have the Brent Shopping Centre but we have the Forge (Parkhead). 😀

And finally, these are open frustrations and not a complaint about the blessed Nicola. I would hate to have a Prime Minister like the English have (which he is for matters legal and most health whereas we make up our own minds mostly).

I know he invents things as he goes along and does absolutely no research or reading beforehand but I will swear on a terrapin’s heart that I heard him say that his ‘moonshot’ idea for testing for the ‘rona was to have a pregnancy test every day………or was it one of those ‘rona dreams I’ve been getting regularly and recently?

Tioraidh, and finding it hard at times to find the fun and to keep it simple and specifically illegal.

Iaint850, one of many digitally capable old people and more so than many younger than me.

So (and I apologise to those who dislike me using that word but it is a useful bridging word but not at the start of a response to a question), well, I noticed with interest a drama crew filming a police drama at the bottom of one of the high flats next to the Ledgowan Hall where a cousin of mine got married many years ago (well, the reception was there) but I wasn’t invited…….never spoken since.

Anyway, it’s not unknown to see that kind of thing in Summerston.

Not a lot of crime these days but we did used to have a young team and their tag (graffiti’d acronym for their name) was, perhaps, misleading but when you call yourselves the Young Summerston League, you’ve got to expect the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Vogue editors having coffee in the ASDA just waiting for Yves. It threw me a wee bit when I first saw it. 😀

Anyway, to music and we have all have Dreams at the moment. Here’s the slightly off-key Cranberries but Dolores makes up for that. Isn’t she brilliant? Mind you, she enters a wee bit like a young guy who I saw in Glasgow Central who thinks he’s hard cos he disnae wear a mask. Thinks he’s a two bob gangster but he’s a full shilling short. Wait ‘til his granny gets him. Nae jeely pieces for him.

“The Glasgow invention of square-toed shoes was to enable the Glasgow man to get closer to the bar.” Jack House, writer and broadcaster

September 3, 2020

And so, dear listener, it’s a shorter blog than last week, altho’ listening figures were better than they’d been for a wee while (I’m happy with just over two hundred and I have some friends who don’t read it so I tell them everything that’s in it) ….and some of you will also find that it’s a wee bit earlier than usual. There is a very good reason for that. 😉

Y’see today is Thursday and yesterday I spent a Christmas present I’d had since, well, Christmastime. It was a voucher from my family for the Glasgow Central Station tour. I’ve known about it for some time but some of you may have seen BBC Scotland’s programmes about Central Station set, mostly, in a time before Lockdown and social distancing. 🙂

So I checked the website and it seemed to be up and running. A few clicks later and I realised I was booking four tickets; one more click and it was just me. I took the train into town from Summerston and walked down to Central and teamed up, as it were, with three couples and a man with a very long beard who was recognisable from the TV series.

This was Paul.

And we were to be the first since lockdown to be taken on a tour so there were things not yet open but we would be seeing something new and could we put on helmets and hi-viz jackets that said TOUR and these would all be cleaned after we’d done with them and could we sanitize our hands and we were off.

I had my new camera with me and I have a lot to learn about it. 🙂

Basically we did the basement and that was okay. There’s a lot of history in them and every so often you see Hope Street and some of you, like me, may remember when you could drive in from Hope Street and park in the station itself.

Now some of you may remember from the TV series that Paul and his colleague, Jacqueline, are putting together a wee museum and we had the first public view of it and there’s a lot of stuff in it, including a small collection of cigarette packets that were found some time back – Woodbine and Capstan.

And there’s a small display of things to do with Grahamstown, the village that was mostly demolished to make way for the building of the station and many of you may have heard the rumour that you can still see an old street in its entirety if you only know which hole in the wall to look through. Jack House said it wasn’t true and I believe Jack house. 😀 Click on the link below for a wee bit more about Grahamstown.

Grahamston: Glasgow’s Forgotten Village

But what we did see was a very old Victorian Platform and that is one of the pics I’ve been sending to people. It’s not much to look at at the moment unless you have a good imagination BUT there are plans to develop it as an exhibit in itself. But the way Paul tells it, you can see the Victorian ladies getting off right slap bang in the middle of Glasgow and all it had to offer. 🙂

And then, on cue, a modern day train went flashing past just yards from us and that was a train on the Argyle line and, because we finished on a modern day platform, I realise now if I am ever on a train on that line I can boringly tell people what’s ‘up there’. 😦

And then it was over. The guinea pigs, as Son Brian nicely described us, had been and went and done the first tour back with Paul and that was on the day that Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire went into a (possibly) two wee lockdown that is basically intended to stop too many people meeting in a house at one time without social distancing.

We’re getting there and every time I do something like that I feel better for myself. Walking in the graveyard is too easy a way to pretend to the world that you’re getting out and about. 🙂

There will be more to see in the coming months as the tour settles and I will be back. Anyone want to join me – maybe May next year? 😉 😉

Tioraidh, defo still smiling and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, getting there wherever ‘there’ is.

Now the obvious piece of music would have been Billy Connolly and Last Train to Glasgow Central but I couldn’t find a short enough clip of him signing it altho’ every time he introduces it he says it’s a short song. Instead…….long before there was social distancing, there was flash dancing – totally unrehearsed and spontaneous. Spot the lady who spots the camera and how quickly the camera moves. 😀

‘Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth’ (Buddha. as quoted by Harry Maguire of Manchester United)

August 29, 2020

And so, dear listener, this week I had my annual consultation with the good Dr J (who is not be confused with the good Dr W) about my heart. 🙂

(New listeners start here. December 2006, Cold Turkeyed. Primarily alcohol, and a few months later bad prostate cancer was found. Both sorted. No problems. No further treatment.

A few normal years doing a Post Grad and a Masters in Drink’n’Drugs followed by four and a half years working with the homeless and refugees but left with depression (but I’ve been told not to mention that missing USB stick ever again nor the idiot of an Area Manager) and then spent some time in hospital with heart problems. Both sorted. Some pills and just got two months repeat script today. I’m sure it’ll be fine during Brexit with Liz Truss in charge…… won’t, will it?)

Still mustn’t grumble…….and I don’t. 😉

Dr J carried out the consultation over the phone and seemed happy but will arrange for an ecg for me later and we do face to face next year……..Oh, yes, we will! (08/09/21…….it’s through already)

So, I told people this and said it all went well. But no. There was a real fright. 😦

Y’see, I had received a letter telling me what would happen and explaining that I’d get a call at 3.15 or within that hour. So, I sat and stared at my mobile phone waiting for it to ring and we were about twenty minutes late and then FFS!!!!!!!!! The bloody landline rang!!!!! Jeez!!!!! What a fright!!!!!! My heart was pounding. Which is obviously a good thing under the circumstances.

Isn’t the NHS brilliant? The Maryhill Health Centre also seems to be pretty efficient at the moment and the pharmacist next to the ASDA, and everyone else who knows me. 😀

Which doesn’t include the UKPM who talks of mutant algorithms and makes things up as he goes along. I don’t. Well…….

I owe people an apology. For years I have told people that the phrase ‘back to square one’ comes from radio days when the Radio Times would contain a gridded plan of a football pitch with numbers so that listeners could follow the game as the commentator would say something like ‘and he’s crossed it over from Square Seven to the brylcreemed head of Farquhar-Smyth who’s passed to Blenkinsop in Square Six.’ I don’t know where my idea came from but I now realise *hangs head in shame* that it’s actually from Snakes and Ladders. That’s what you learn just cos The Chase finishes just before STV’s News at Six. 😀

Serious oops and serious apologies.

tioraidh, and still keeping it simple and fun

Iaint850, still confused by the Nutella and the banana.

So, I caused some confusion a couple of weeks ago when I talked about the loneliness of the long distance editor and a couple of folk asked after me so, this week, I’ll say it. I do get lonely at times. For example, in the early days of Lockdown. I could talk to neighbours but they all seem to have gone back to work. It’s dead quiet during the day. But I do know things could be an awful lot worse.

And other people have gone back to being busy or are not where they were before the pandemic and I’ll need to re-think all kinds of things so, as they say on Twitter, if you’ve any thoughts or suggestions, then my DMs are open. Please feel free to slip into them (Skippy, is that an innuendo?)

Or just contact me liked you used to.

And the editing is finished for a wee while, as universities work out some form of blended learning but nobody knows how many overseas students will arrive until they actually get here.

So, on Wednesday of this coming week, I have booked up to do something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but I didn’t think Nicola would allow it as safe distancing might be tricky. I won’t say too much now just in case ……..but I will tell you how I get on. 😉

(Good friend e and Son Brian know)

Oh, and before I go, in the world of ‘I told you so’, the nature of officework is being discussed.

One of the reasons I did the voluntary stuff for the SDF was cos, for one day a week, I had a water cooler to stand beside; I got introduced to new people and new people got introduced to me; contacts were swopped and ideas were discussed; and I interviewed people, attended drugs conferences and went to real training workshops. I haven’t done much for them recently. Certainly nothing that requires my attendance.

I miss the office and I don’t now when it will re-open but here’s a prediction. Or two. First, soon time office workers will start meeting each other for coffee (I’m free) but these will gravitate into larger and regular meetings. Somewhere.

And what about a really flexible working week with two days a week in the office and the reminder of the week working at home – until the day comes when the Rolls Royce pulls up outside your front door and your big bossman (or woman) stands there and says, ‘Can I have a wee word please?’ and after he tells you the bad news, you’ve not got a shoulder to cry on. They’re all working from home as well. 😦

Steve Earle’s boy died this week. He was called Justin Townes Earle and he was a singer/songwriter like his dad. So that’s why I chose Mama’s Eyes…for every child and their parents everywhere. And I’m not sure if my son has taken after me in any way. Sense and sensibility personified. I wonder who he does take after. But there’s a lot of the song that doesn’t apply. Honest

“As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.” (Ernest Hemingway)

August 21, 2020

And so, dear listener, I didn’t really know any of my grandparents. Two, on my mum’s side, lived in Glasgow but passed away before I was around; the other two lived in Peterhead but I only knew my Gran who lived in what I always thought of, as someone who was still in single figures, as a dark and dingy house in St Peter Street. We went there every Saturday night, it seemed to me, for tea and then she passed away and I do remember taking a cord at her funeral. 😦

I attended a lot of funerals in Peterhead – it was that kind of place.

My sister could have told you more. She did family history stuff. Not me. I knew some uncles and aunts and cousins but never close.

And then last week saw the fatal derailment just outside Stonehaven and a bell rang. There was a letter, wasn’t there?

But where was it?

I knew it was important to my family and there was a railway connection.

There was only one place. Does every family have a black Samsonite briefcase which is passed on down through the generations? My sister had it after my mum had passed away and now I had it. Son Brian gets it next.

I’d looked through it a couple of times before, very soon after Sheila’s death; once with Son Brian in case there was anything legal or financial we needed to know, and once with good friend e, when the pic for the Order of Service card was chosen. I, bravely on my own, decided to look through it again and I found it. The letter.

It was from the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company

and it was addressed to

James Irving, Signalman, Gorbals Junction (my mum’s dad)


Clyde Junction – Signalling Irregularity

Smart action in reversing signals 8/2/29 (and of course this is all typed)

I have been advised of your prompt action in reversing your signals for the G.B. & K. Line against the 6.0pm train from St. Enoch to Kilmarnock when you observed a light engine from the Sheds for the Canal Line approaching your Home Signal. I have to commend you for the prompt measures you took to save the situation and to inform you that the case will be entered in your favour in the staff records.’

And I’m not sure of the signature but it’s from the General Superintendent, Glasgow.

dated 2nd March 1929…….

I’ll frame it. Let’s all pause for a second or two. My granddad was a hero.

Mind you, it was another train journey that caught my attention this week. Yes. This is thrown together. Pretty shallow railway link. A train I travelled on. Summerston to Queen Street. It was an impetuous, spur of the moment decision, that I’ve not made for a wee while. 😉

For those of you who’ve not train travelled for a while, I’m quite happy with it. Travellers all wear masks and those on the Queen Street concourse who were not wearing them just seemed to be passing through – from that side to that side. Check train times – peak hours are fine but the Summerston line is less busy at other times.

So I wandered down to Princes Square – this is going to sound naff – but if I entertain – food or coffee – in town then it’s one of the places in Princes Square. I went for a coffee in Tinderbox but it wasn’t open, but it is open if you know what I mean, but OMG, was the Square quiet.

I bought a book in Waterstones and avoided Fopp. I had somewhere else in mind and then something occurred to me. I don’t wear slippers – I wear Skechers slip ons. The current pair are now more flip flops than tight fitting. At least that’s my excuse for tripping every so often. Either that or all the years of whatever are catching up. 😉

There’s a Skechers shop in Buchanan Street so I thought, I’ll go there. Not sure what the foot protocol is these days. I mean what exactly would you sanitise? Anyway I saw what I wanted in the window and thought that will save time and turned into the shop. Only to be stopped at the entrance by a polite young lady who said that I couldn’t go on. ‘Why not?’ I asked. ‘Because we’re full.’ she said.

Dear listener, I got a knock back from a shoe shop.

I was refused entry. Dingyed.

I’m not saying it’s never happened to me before but not a shoe shop. I wasn’t even wearing the wrong type of trainers. I was wearing another pair of Skechers. I’ll be back. And I do understand.

Tioraidh, still keeping it simple and smiling and I may have a plan.

Iaint850, but the plan’s nothing to do with the shoe shop.

And so, as I headed back to Queen Street Station (unfortunately Love Music was shut), I stood in a very quiet George Square and another wee memory came flooding back. The year was 2011 and the Square was full of office workers running to get away from zombies.

The good Doctor W had a role as an office worker and it was a hard grind. The extras were housed just off George Square in an unoccupied office block called, honestly, the BAM Building (and I think BAM, the building company. is now headquartered in Stepps).

And the main memory that W had of that experience was the smell of Febreze every morning as she walked into Wardrobe. The extras had to wear the same clothes every day. 🙂

The only time she and I extra’d together was Lip Service – the Glasgow based lesbian drama for BBC Three when it was a TV channel.

I mean I do have loads of other memories of George Square, like when the Tourist Information Office was there and the RRM had a summer job there and the Homeless World Cup, and various gigs.

But as I stood there, taking in the morning sun, I had but one thought.

I would so love to see George Square full of office workers running away from zombies again.

This is my favourite song about zombies:

“There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” (Winnie the Pooh)

August 14, 2020

And so, dear listener, there’s a wee bit of serious stuff towards the end of the show – more general than personal – but before we get there let’s do the fun and positive stuff. Let’s talk grandchildren being grandchildren. 😀

Son Brian was coming over to drop something off last Sunday morning about ten and he would have Miss E and Master F with him on their way to somewhere. At five to ten, I decided to pay a quick visit to the loo.

Seconds later, my son has walked through the open door and shouted ‘Hello?’ to which I cry back, ‘I’m in the toilet’ and finish off doing what I was doing and flush it.

I walk back down the stairs to see two wee angelic sniggerers, going ‘you were in the toilet!!!!!’ and having a good laugh. I laughed as well. 😀

But Miss E is now back at school (P2) and Master F had gone back to Nursery just a few days previously and I think one of the most positive things I have seen recently was television earlier this week when children were going (back) to school without too much fuss and just getting on with it – a sign of optimism.

My own educational news is quite simple. I have signed up for five Saturday morning classes this coming February on ‘Cemeteries and Crematoria of Glasgow’. It’s at Glasgow Uny (St Andrew’s Building I guess) and, depending on the ‘rona, it’s due to be classroom stuff (but if not, it’s online) and I may have been the first to put my name down.

The interest comes from that moment when lockdown started very slowly to lift.

I did a couple of dogwalks with good friend e and Holly the Wonder dog at the cemetery across the road and, on a couple of occasions with Son Brian, Miss E and Master F, and they were quite knocked out by the place and I found myself telling them things that I knew about Lambhill Cemetery.

We’ll see, but hopefully it is classroom based, and followed by a series of walks in the cemeteries – in daylight – and maybe you remember that story I told about leaving Glasgow Royal Infirmary by the wrong door and almost ending up in the Necropolis – in the dark. 😦

And one other piece of news is that I have agreed an approximate price for a new kitchen. I won’t name the company until the work’s done but they kept suggesting that I come out to the showroom to see their furniture rather than just rely on the brochures.

I thought to myself; these are people who were not clothed out of a Littlewood’s catalogue nor gave Santa a list of Argos page numbers. 😉

tioraidh, and still smiling and keeping it simple and fun

Iaint50, who was supposed to be watching the Jesus and Mary Chain on Friday night at the Kelvingrove Bandstand but it got Corona’d off. So, what music am I playing tonight? No. You’re wrong.

And so, my thanks to a couple of people who contacted me after a Facebook post when I talked about the loneliness of the long distance editor (but the pandemic doesn’t help). I’m fine and it’s a literary reference as much as anything else and it’s not a complaint; it’s an observation. It is lonely (and that has nothing to do with the intense jealousy I do not feel towards those of you with a loving partner or spouse who offers you cups of coffee or makes the tea or takes the dog for a walk so you can finish what you’re working on). 😉

I fell into this way of life a few years ago and it suits and the twelve hour days and weekend working are just a major part of August (and bits of July and September) and it’s less hectic at other times of the year but it does not follow the academic calendar; but I do know people, e.g. accountants, lawyers and PR professionals, who have chosen this way of life.

I like my niche editing of essays, dissertations and PhD theses. I feel my contribution to their work (which is more than fixing apostrophes and spelling) is valued by the students for whom I work and I like the quasi-academic nature of what I do. 🙂

It is different from those of you who have had to work from home because your office is closed. I can tolerate my loneliness to a certain extent but I am aware of some people who would now rather be back in an office because they are getting fed up of Zoom calls and conferences and mails from Billy the Boss asking how they’re getting on with that report or texts from fellow workers really fed up with Billy the Boss asking how they’re getting on with that report but they can’t mail their complaint in case somehow he logs into their account. 😦

But I also miss the office – informal contact and advice – which is why, pre-pandemic, I went in one day a week to do some work on a voluntary basis for an organisation I won’t name who provided a forum for discussion about drugs in Scotland but I’m not sure what’s happening with them at the moment.

Don’tcha miss the water cooler, doncha?

But, anyway, despite the occasional loneliness, I am alive and looking forward to my new kitchen (you will all be invited) and the Uny classes and catching up with folks but in the meantime I do have a student writing about Confucius and his relevance to modern day town planning. In China.

And a lot of half-full coffee cups to wash. Myself.

“To be full of yourself is to make a fool of yourself.” (Ashly Lorenzana)

August 6, 2020

And so, dear listener, as someone who worked from home before the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, I tend to be very careful about daytime TV. I defo avoid property programmes and only like antique shows when Catherine Southern (sp) is on and then there’s that repair programme with Suzy (?). She works in leather, y’know. 😉

And it’s just as rare that I indulge in unbridled sexism for the sake of a good innuendo. It’s been a long lockdown.

This is intended as a warning. For those who may about to be working from home longer than they thought. 😦

As schools return next week but many people are still told to work from home rather than go into their office, then the distraction of children will be no more until it’s time to collect them from school or nursery. You may be tempted to watch property programmes or, as I was last week, unfortunate enough to catch the first two minutes of one. 😦

It was three o’clock and I’d switched on to get news of the Beirut explosion and the Aberdeen lockdown. It was already on a property programme channel. It was an English couple and that was a description rather than a criticism.

She did my head in. She wanted a nice house in a village so they could become part of village life. ‘You condescending ******* ***’, I thought. ‘You want to organise the village, don’t you?’

And then he spoke. He wanted space to land his helicopter and he had an airplane restoration project on the go for which he required space. And his wife had a pebble painting business for which she needed an outhouse.

I immediately switched over, thinking I’ll never see them in Summerston. But my thanks to Twitter for the annoying news that they found a house well within their budget.

Boke, and not very dry.

Mind you, sometimes random TV can work to my advantage. Thursday I switched on the TV to hear what the FM had to say about the Aberdeen lockdown but instead found a Michael Portillo railway programme that took him from Ayr to Paisley (maybe train to Paisley next week?) and the promise of another programme or two (somewhere) which took him onto Skye. 🙂

He stopped at Prestwick for a wee while. I like Prestwick. I may yet return. 😉

And finally, a wee word about the editing.

Yes. I am doing well this month and thanks for asking and, yes, all the work has come from Chinese students. Over 100,000 words, and very late nights.

But earlier in the year, I and business partner e had done some work for some Strathclyde Uny students.

I don’t re-write; I don’t have enough knowledge to tell a Physics student that their equations don’t add up but if I feel a re-write of that paragraph would help to get their message across a wee bit better, then I am allowed to make that suggestion and possibly how to do it.

Rarely do people tell me how they get on but last week one of the Strathclyde Uny student did, saying she got a First and thanking me for my help and I explained I can only work with good basic material. 🙂

But in the midst of her chat was one phrase which really stood out;

‘Iaint850, you’re some guy.’

Tioraidh, and still managing to keep it fun, and simple.

Iaint850, proud without being arrogant and anyway, it’s my show.

So I have had lunch out twice in recent weeks. Both in the west end of Glasgow and both in restaurants well known to you, my listener, cos I have occasionally mentioned them – Hanoi Bike Shop and Caffe Parma – and both of which had detailed hygiene measures in place; booking in advance, hand sanitisers, staff with masks where appropriate, and contact details and so on.

The second lunch, one other adult and two children eating adult portions, saw me get money back as part of the Eat Out and Salve the UKPM’s Conscience Scheme. But unlike Jeremy Hunt’s well publicised tweet, I wanted to say good luck to three folk returning to school (but in different roles) and not to take them out just cos I could save money.

I’m sorry if I sound as condescending as the woman I was complaining about at the start of the show (it is my show) but given that I could afford to do it, coming away with that money didn’t seem right.

So I am grateful to a fellow Partick Thistle fan who had already thought ahead about this and suggested paying money saved like that into the @ptfccharitabletrust which has been delivering food and cooked meals to various households in North West Glasgow.

Am I virtue signalling? Frankly, my dear, if I am, I don’t give a damn. 😀 I just think it’s a good idea and one I’m happy to share.

So I did watch some TV and one of my favest was a prog on BBC Alba which showed the best of the Belladrum music festival from recent years. My own particular favest bit was this which reminded me so much of the Edwin Hawkins Singers from years ago.

Not only is it excellent singing, it’s excellent social distancing. Remember from last week that it’s not the new normal; normality evolves but there ain’t never ever going back to what was.

This is a choir called Highland Voices;

“The train rolled right through dinner and over the sunset and around ten o’clock and into a nap and out the next day…” (Lindsay Mattick, Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear)

July 31, 2020

And so, dear listener, earlier this week I took a train into Glasgow city centre. Now, once upon a time, that is not something to which I would draw attention but these are ‘interesting’ times and that was an unusual event.

I’d been thinking about it for some time as part of my own personal return to normality (and can I just say, and I’ll only say it the once, there is no such thing as a ‘new’ normality – normality evolves, but I’ll not mention that again. Honest) and I was talking to a friend (as in real talking) and she was saying that she had heard, from a friend, (and if Twitter people trust that second hand approach to things, then who am I to disagree?) that a recent train to Mallaig had only one passenger and as this friend – the one I was talking to – is one of the few people I know to have had the Corona, then I believe her.

Skippy, that is one of the worst sentences I have ever written. We need a good editor. Where can I get one and what do they do anyway?

Well, to cut a long story short, I thought there’s nothing to stop me taking a train from the independent suburb of Summerston to the newly refurbished Queen Street railway station. And so, having checked websites and all sorts of instructions I wandered down to the station and bought my ticket from the machine.

Trains are running one every hour instead of every half hour and the guard/conductor does not collect fares. This caught some people by surprise and they had to join a long but socially distanced queue at Queen Street to get their tickets. 😦

I walked through the automatic barriers, saw the arrows on the ground and followed them to a brand new exit (and entrance) and left the station. Up to this point, everyone was wearing a mask (and this is obviously part of the continually evolving normal).

I walked past the office of the Scottish Drugs Forum for whom I did some work on a voluntary basis until the pandemic and then I went to Fopp in Union Street and spent some money – well, I flashed my contactless card. 🙂

I then went to the men’s bit of Debenhams and bought some t-shirts. This despite the fact that, like many people, I have ordered some tops from #LostStock which will go to help some Bangla Deshi workers but the summer will soon be gone and I’ve gone off black as my main colour.

And that was me.

Now this was the bit that worried me. I was going back to the station some ten to fifteen minutes before my train was due to leave. What would it be like hanging around, waiting for my train, in the midst of the seething masses that might be wanting to travel to, say, Edinburgh?

Well, that wasn’t the case. The station was still quiet. Everyone was wearing a mask with one and a half exceptions – and both, at that stage, were quite far away from me. One was a youngish guy with a bunch of flowers which he held over his face (?) and the half was, well I was going to write an ‘older guy’ but Skippy has just reminded me that some people might describe me like that. Anyway, he had a mask on but was not wearing it over his nose. What was the point? 😛

And then my train was called and I, and some others boarded it. And it was quiet like the one on the way in AND then I had a wee moment. I felt a sneeze coming on and sometimes, I can have a really violent sneeze so, I went to lift the mask up, and then I caught myself………..cos that’s the point of the mask, isn’t it? To catch coughs and sneezes cos they spread diseases. 😦

And not long after I reached Summerston I shoved the mask in one of the freezer bags I now normally carry in the passenger seat of my car and when I got up the road I put it in the washing machine and washed it within an inch of its life.

And that, dear listener, was my morning on a train. I will do it again soon time but will follow the rules and just be careful. 😀

It’s a shame that Michael Portillo and Chris Tarrant have made second careers out of TV programmes about train journeys, cos I think I’m quite good at it; don’t you, dear listener?

And that’s me used up most of my words for this week so just one other thing if I may. Despite the slow unlocking of lockdown and all that progress, I still have ups and downs.

Like many people, I had plans for 2020 but these were to be built upon my existing routine and that has gone. I’ll be honest. Some of those plans were only to be possible because of my late sister’s legacy but they, and some of the ones that would cost no money, have yet to happen.

I know I’m not alone in that feeling. I’ve just got to keep living to make it all happen and maybe losing weight would help but life, and normality, evolves and I’m sure I will be fine BUT sometimes, at times like these, you need a sign (dangerous territory there, iaint850)……..

I now have in the region of 80,000 to 100,000 words to edit in August and every one of those words is from Chinese students to whom I’ve been recommended or for whom I’ve worked before.

This gives me a focus and a platform on which to build for the rest of my future and I have learned a few lessons over the last few months. I’ve had some interesting times over the last (almost) fourteen years and long term listeners know about all the health and lifestyle stuff but I have interesting times ahead…….and more train journeys. Ardrossan Harbour, here I come.

So one of the CDs I bought was country legend Marty Stuart (and I know a great fan of his) and this is him and Travis Tritt and ‘The Whiskey ain’t Working Anymore’ and this is from 1991 and what was normal then ain’t normal any more. In so many ways. Almost fourteen years 🙂

“I was brought up to respect my elders, so now I don’t have to respect anybody.” ― George Burns

July 3, 2020

And so, dear listeners, I have just celebrated my birthday. I won’t say which one – suffice to say I appreciated belated birthday greetings as it gave me a day more to play with.

One of the nice things about Facebook is that it does remind (most) people of birthdays and that, coupled with me posting some memories of Son Brian and KT’s wedding (seven years ago), prompted a lot of nice messages and so, many thanks to all the people who contacted me through fb but other ways as well; in person, by phone or by card.

The purpose of the wedding photos was to show the extent of my hair’s growth over the last few months but I wear it slightly longer anyway and apart from the odd snipping I’ve not minded its growth too much.

But I now have a haircut booked for later this month so that is a really big YES!!!!!! moment. Things we take for granted, eh?

But delighted to have had my birthday tea with grandchildren and I don’t mind admitting I was nervous going over. After all, up to this moment, other than back gardens and kitchens in which to wash hands, I’d not been in anybody else’s house. I’ve had periods of depression and anxiety in the past but the anxiety usually related to large crowds (do your own gags about Firhill) but this was just to be a group of four people including two children and I was made most welcome. Miss E wrote the card but was very impressed with Mr F’s actual ‘F’ or X as it was on the card. 🙂

I received pressies and cards and was well fed (fajitas) and chatted away and was well looked after so I don’t know why I was nervous – well possibly no more than other folk venturing out. It all went well and I do hope the next few months are the same. Things we take for granted, eh?

I’ve done well for Amazon vouchers and I’ve ordered a new camera.

Oh, and whilst I remember, I got an actual letter from my lawyer and we’ve finally settled all the tax on my late sister’s estate, we’ve agreed lawyers’ fees and there was a wee amount of money which was due to me. Now all I want to do is to spend it. Which ain’t that easy at the moment. I have a list but I don’t want to buy everything online. I’m plucking up courage to go into town and do some serious shopping but I’m just a wee bit apprehensive. Things we take for granted, eh?

And finally, last week I did say that I’d say a wee bit more about Friday’s ‘incident’ in Glasgow city centre but a lot of people have covered a lot of ground since then. Incidentally, there’s been some thoughts from the National Audit Office on the poor performance of the Mears Group and I think it’s worth listening to the Scottish Refugee Council and Positive Action on Housing to understand what life is like for those asylum seekers stuck in hotel accommodation.

This is no Citybreak hotel with all you can eat buffet breakfasts; this is neverending, ‘stuck in your rooms’ stuff. You’re not there to view the sights of the city; you’ve no money to do that anyway. Things we take for granted, eh?

I used to be a paid project worker for a housing association called Blue Triangle which offered supported accommodation for homeless people, including asylum seekers, until they got a place of their own.

Part of it was about introducing the ‘service users’ to new experiences or reminding them of old ones and one day we (two co-workers and me) took a group of folk to a theme park near Motherwell, where only weeks previously I’d spent a month as a zombie (long story and well enough known to long term listeners)

We had given them disposable cameras so that they could keep their own record of the rides but some of them almost used up all their pics between the bus stop and the place itself. There is a very small beach and some of the asylum seekers had never seen this before. Before we knew it, it was click, click and click, and all for a small daud of sand. Things we take for granted, eh?

And then there was the time I’d to go with one of the refugees to get keys to a flat in Anniesland, the high flats by the supermarket, and he was excited but on the bus there (I know! Me? A bus?) he asked if he could show me some photos.

I expected to see his family or similar but no; it was his old street in Syria which had been bombed just days previously and a neighbour, who had survived, had sent him the pictures to let him know what had happened.

Things we hope our grandchildren will never experience, eh?


Here’s the Carolina Chocolate Drops again with a track called Hit ‘em up Style’