Archive for the ‘depression’ Category

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

June 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anxiety maybe kicked in.

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

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

Tioraidh, still wearing the badges and still keeping it simple

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

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

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

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‘Amongst the dead I found a Canadian doctor and his first aid bag. I wish I could have told his next of kin that his loss had not been a total waste of time as his first aid bag provided sterling service through France, Belgium and up to the Dutch border’ (Patrick Moore – veteran and survivor)

June 7, 2019

I was tempted to say something about Love Island as a contrast but that would be unfair……..but does Anton really get his mum to shave his bum?

And so dear listener, I did something this week which could be the best thing I’ve done for a very long time. I have been and went and bought a new set of Gregory Pecks and the lenses that go with them. 😀

As I’ve said recently I do feel mentally and physically tired and one of the reasons was that my eyes were very tired. It didn’t help recently that I left my bedroom window open overnight and there’s a fair amount of activity in my cul-de-sac between 6.30 and 7 in the morning and I don’t normally hear it but on Wednesday morning, I heard it. In fact there was a wee bit of a row.

But there’s been a floater in my left eye and I went to the optician to see if anything could be done about it. Turns out there’s also been a deterioration in my left eye as well. 😦

Now, I can see much more clearly than I could for some time. Give me a few days to get used to them and I will return to roads well journeyed – and new.

And I’d a smashing wee chat with Dr David (my GP) over certain things (mental and physical) that were hanging over me and, amongst other things, reflux has returned and it’s really annoying. But it’s not my heart and I’ve got fresh medication for it. Big relief!!!!!!

But it doesn’t help when you drink ginger beer. Back to juice and flavoured water. 😉

And Son Brian was over to help sort through the last few things of my sister which are kinda personal and, unlike say cutlery and crockery, they are not being left for new owners – once they get their acts together.

So big thanks to him but we also did a wee look ahead and should I worry about the fact that he has highlighted the need for me to update his address in both my will and the Power of Attorney document and he now has my passwords? I trust him, don’t I? Well, I have to, don’t I?

He’d also brought along his copy of my living will which is the one that gives him the decision making powers over whether any machine that keeps me going should be switched off.

Actually Skippy, maybe I should worry.

But I’m learning so much.

I didn’t know, for example, that banks have bereavement units to deal with this kind of thing and when I told my legal that my sister had just received a bill for £27.52 from EE I was told that not only had the account been cancelled some time ago but the amount had been waived because of the circumstances. And this is one of many reasons why it takes so long.

And finally these are minor worries compared with jumping out of an aeroplane over enemy occupied territory when you know that if the occupying forces see you they will shoot you OR jumping out of an amphibious troop carrier into water that is as deep as your oxters and you’re expected to have a functioning weapon, get it working and then liberate Europe OR fly your Spitfire over and over again taking serious flak from German gun positions determined to shoot you down out of the sky.

And yet, those veterans who made it through until this week didn’t see it as anything special and I think a few of them were glad we now had a united Europe – with or without the EU but I do think that has been a big help………

Tioraidh, still smiling, still wearing those badges and still keeping it simple (Skippy, is that what I usually say?)

Iaint850, who no longer believes that the lights at the end of the tunnel are the lights of an oncoming train.

So we talk a lot about being aware of other people’s mental health issues and I’ve mentioned that, in the past, I’ve done suicide awareness and intervention courses, the lessons of which I applied successfully in my days of working with the homeless only to come back into work a few days later to find, not a ‘well done’ note but ‘you’ve a risk assessment to update’ note. Which was fair enough.

But if the behaviour of a young woman on a railway station platform worries you (and you’re the only other person on that platform) what do you? And don’t forget that I’m a man.

It was Summerston Railway Station. And she was already there when I arrived. And there’s no staff.

And there’s a machine but I get my concession ticket on the train.

And she was walking up and down and looking at the edge and some fast trains do come through that station. She wouldn’t stand still.

But I couldn’t go up to her and just ask, could I?

And if I did go up and just asked she’d think me some kind of perv or weirdo……

I had an idea.

I went in to the shelter and bought a proper ticket from the machine and on the way back out, I just said, ‘You okay?’ to which she said, ‘Aye but thanks’ and I wandered away again. A few minutes later some more folk arrived and then the train. I’m still not sure.

A few years ago I came across a band called Roky Eriksen and the Thirteenthfloor Elevators.

Amongst other things Roky claimed to have been to Mars altho’ this may have been partly because, amongst their many psychoactive substances, the Elevators were very partial to Listerine which had much more alcohol in it then that it does now.

This is very grainy black and white footage of them and You’re Gonna Miss Me and, yes, the whisky jug was mic’d up. Which added to the unusual sound. Roky passed away this week; next week’s Rock RIP will be Doctor John.

His last words, which we have yet to decipher, were: Tweet Tweet, Possil Fleet!” RIP Reverend Love

May 23, 2019

And so, dear listener, Jake Black of Alabama 3 has died. Jake was from Possil in Glasgow. The official Facebook account posted a tribute to Black, one of its founding members, who was also known as The Very Reverend D.Wayne Love. 🙂

“Early this afternoon, on a beautiful summer’s day, our friend, comrade and spiritual teacher, Jake Black AKA The Very Reverend D.Wayne Love, passed over to the higher ground,” the post began.

“After a magnificent performance at the Highpoint Festival in Lancashire, D.Wayne in his supreme wisdom, decided it was the appropriate moment for his ascencion into the next level.”

Revealing that Black was surrounded by his “brothers Larry Love, L.B. Dope, The Spirit, Jonny Jamm and Sister Therese Mullan,” at the very end, the group said that his passing was “painless and peaceful.””

Long-term listeners will be aware that Alabama 3 played a major role in my recovery after Cold Turkey Sunday and the cancer stuff. I did go down to see them at Balloch Country Park after the all-clear on the cancer front, but it was on 10th December 2016, ten years exactly to the day and the date after Cold Turkey, that I went to see them, along with J, the blog’s favest librarian, at the now ruined O2 in Sauchiehall Street. 😦

It was a brilliant performance and a good night and for me, a circle was squared. I had fully recovered. It’s a difficult feeling to get over, particularly if you’ve never met me, but one that gives me hope I’ll live for at least another seven years. No. No reason.

And so to other matters;

I couldn’t help but notice that the Queen was asking about whether it was possible to cheat a self-scan checkout.

‘C’mon Liz. It was you who taught me the double onion scam!’

And is the SNP’s clarion call still ‘It’s Scotland’s oil’ or has a passing bandwagon just went past and a new slogan will do until 2022 which, I think, is the earliest we can have a second Independence referendum, although I am opposed to second referenda on a similar topic unless there’s at least twenty-five years between them.

My thanks to Radio Clyde presenter, George Bowie, for an unwitting trip down memory lane for me when he mentioned Frampton’s, a pub and club and formerly a disco (only a couple of times, honest) which was never, ever part of a golden triangle in that part of Maryhill. 😉

He then sequed to kids going to school on the Bonkers bus. Bonkers was a trendy showbar in Hope Street many years ago (only a couple of times there as well) and it was one of those where the barstaff also ‘performed’ on the bar counter.

And I saw a lady on TV the other day called Lucy Worsley (sp?) talking about Queen Victoria who I thought was very good. If I worked in television, I’d get her involved in making history programmes……but what do I know?

I mean I remember recommending a young actress called Keeley (sp?) Hawes to someone after I saw her in some police drama. Never heard of her since. I wonder what she’s doing now?

And I met up with my ex-wife and my now former accountant for coffee in M&S at Anniesland the other day – a bad corner for traffic, isn’t it?. My sister went there a lot and we’d a couple of things to discuss (but not yet arrangements for my 65th birthday which isn’t that far way #pleasefeelfreetopushtheboatout) 😉

And we’re standing and we’re ordering and I’m paying and I happen to mention that Virgin had gone down but was now back, at which point one of the folk serving said,

‘Oh, is it definitely back on? I must go and tell my mum. She thinks the world has ended’ and off she ran.

She did give me a fresh cup when she returned……..

And finally, good luck to anyone who chose to move house this week, especially if they decided to move on Thursday knowing well in advance the school would be closed for Euro elections and they could give the kids to their grandparents while they actually moved. No. No-one in particular but that was a near missive.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and trying desperately to keep it simple in other areas as well.

Iaint850 #mymentalhealthisimportanttome

So, all I’d like to say at this bit is I saw the doc by Alistair Campbell about his depression. I met him once, at Charles Kennedy’s memorial service at Glasgow University.

He’d done one before about his depression and this one was more about possible solutions (involving all sorts of strange devices) and my ‘moments’ of anxiety and depression are nothing like his. Indeed, other than not understanding the thing that pushed me over at Blue Triangle at the time, I have plenty of coping mechanisms that can kick in once I’ve identified the trigger.

Playing Alabama 3 is obviously one of those mechanisms and this is one of their best-known songs.

It’s from The Sopranos which is also, coincidentally, the name of a book by Alan Warner about a group of schoolgirls from Oban. Enjoy

#mymentalhealthisimportantome

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

April 27, 2019

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

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

Okay. It was, but I left it in. 😉

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t that a beautiful line? 😀

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

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

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

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

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

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

Except…….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘It was the worst cover-up in the history of cover-ops’ (Donald Trump highlighting what concerns him most about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi)

October 25, 2018

And so dear listener I was only kinda joking about stockpiling for a No-Deal Brexit or the Beast from the East but I was serious about needing a simple recipe for bread; one that can be made with ingredients from the ASDA, Summerston, which, whilst it has played a major role in the last thirty years or so of my life, it is not the best stocked of shops. 😦

There is no fresh fish counter, for example, and, as a pescatarian, if I want fresh fish I have to travel to the fishing ports of the ASDA, Bearsden or Morrison’s Anniesland…….and the Nirvana that is the shop in Byres Road……..is it still Beveridge’s?

Anyway, stockpiling…….I have made a good start by buying a new jar of whole peppercorns and some long life cartons of coconut cream. I would add frozen strawberry cones to that list but I seem to be eating those…….and a jar of beetroot but I now find John West’s tinned salmon very boring. 😦

And I do now have a couple of bread recipes. I may yet practise. Others still welcome.

And my concerns about the weather are not just on the basis that the (Daily) Express (thanks to Jeremy’s brother Piers who is a weather forecaster) predicts yet again it’ll be a bad winter but are based on my experiences of last year. 😦

My heart scare certainly coincided with the first bad weather of January and I can remember on one occasion walking up from the ASDA and standing stock still in the freezing cold so sore was my heart at that moment. 😦

And then, from the window of my ward in the Glasgow Royal Infirmary I looked out onto a cold and icy M8 junction with cars slipping and sliding. 😦

I’d only just got home and was getting out again when the ‘beast’ arrived and the only times I’ve had to use my Heart Attack spray were weather related……We’ll just have to wait and see.

But speaking of hospital wards, I do feel that one of the biggest steps forward for women was when the NHS did away with mixed wards in hospitals and gave women, and men, a sense of communal and complete privacy. It seems an old fashioned notion now – the concept of privacy – but I’m not sure either men or women would want to lose that.

Looking at Twitter there’s a strange language (other than bad) employed in discussing all sorts of things including gender transition and feminism, for example, and something called Digital Journalism which seems to be practised by academics who have never done any court reporting or council reporting in a small town. 🙂

But one big advantage is the ability to talk to @scotrail about when trains will be running again.

I got a reply within about four minutes and found that very helpful; mind you the other thing, if you check Twitter, is that ScotRail is not a very good or well-run network is it?

Anyway, that’s all a bit serious.

I loved the letter which appeared on Social Media (possibly from the Daily Mail) in which the writer complained about his new TV which carried the message ‘Built in Antenna’ and complaining that he’d never heard of that country. An amazing number of people were appalled at his ignorance and pored scorn on that ‘type of people’. It was a joke (LOL) I laffed for both reasons. 😀

I also laffed at David Schwimmer for his posting following the theft from the Blackpool supermarket and the subsequent posting from the Blackpool Police. I won’t explain it to you. Google it – if your Virgin Media broadband and television is working which it wasn’t on Thursday.

So I called 151 and got a pre-recorded message explaining that it was ‘planned maintenance’ and it was anticipated that it would be finished by 6pm and then (gulp) it gives me my full postcode and not just the area – which makes me think it’s only me…..but it wasn’t. Thankfully. So I went for a walk. And then the phone went beep. The Internet was coming back on. 🙂

And finally, I feel this has unwittingly become a round-up of my current life so I might as well keep going.

Yes, the vol stuff with the Scottish Drugs Forum is going well and some of the writing I’m doing may well appear soon online and my thanks to the Blogmeister for lending me a book called ‘Social Media 101 – Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online’ which I started to read on Thursday when the Internet was down. 🙂

And the editing has picked up (a wee bit) and again my thinks to good friends e and Jenny H for their recent help and thoughts. 🙂 xx

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple in that I still have one of last year’s intended Christmas presents but I ate the other

Iaint850, actually happier than I may have sounded but lots to think about

So here’s a wee story, which relates back to my lost USB stick and the depression it brought – but ‘stick’ with me.

I was in an academic’s office a couple of weeks ago at one of those universities which has various campuses and was chatting away when one of his admin people walked in with an internal envelope (remember them) and said, ‘Here’s that USB stick you thought you’d lost yesterday (at that other campus). They found it after you’d phoned.’ And the academic was relieved obviously that it had been found so I told him my tale.

If only the Mitchell Library had been as efficient…….

Here’s Shania Twain and Dolly Parton 910 words

Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety (Francis Bacon)

May 19, 2018

And so, dear listener, as some of you know, I had applied for a gig as a volunteer. I won’t name the organisation but suffice to say that they are a council based within Scotland who look after refugees and have a festival coming up at the end of June for which they required volunteers for a range of roles. 🙂

There was no individual interview but we were observed during an ice breaker exercise and breaking into groups with a flip-chart sheet. I asked for, and received, feedback. This is part of it.

‘In terms of feedback, you were a pleasure to get to know, and of course more than qualified and experienced to carry out a volunteer role in the third sector – however often decisions to select volunteers are taken on the basis of what the role has to offer to the particular candidate, at least that is a factor we consider at XXX. This is true particularly with regards to this role, which does not require advanced English or computer skills, and is therefore one of our more inclusive roles for someone who would find it hard to get into a volunteer role in an office setting. I’m not saying that you are over-qualified for the role, rather that other people in the room would benefit more from this development opportunity.
The only, and very slight, feedback I would give you is that while it was great to see your clear enthusiasm to spend time with people and your energy, we did also feel that your natural gregariousness meant that people around you ended up being very quiet both in the group work and the presentation afterwards.’

Is that me as you know me? I am young. I can only learn. 😉

I wish them the best of luck and that’s filled a fair amount of my word count for this week. I did say to some people afterwards that I may have come across as a mouthy Glaswegian – which I’m not. I’m originally from Peterhead. 😀

Which reminds me……I’m doing a Prostate Cancer Information talk in Kilmarnock Job Centre later this month. My friend, the rainforestriverman, does inspirational talks as well. His latest was in Sao Paulo. A previous visit to Kilmarnock saw me at the Sheriff Court bailing three people out. Their ‘Not Guilty’ plea was accepted at a later date. (icon for phew!!!!!)

I remember one Saturday morning at the Sauchiehall Street project being in the laundry room when a big Orange Walk was going past. It seemed to be the pit stop where they replaced the lambeg drummer with a fresh lambeg drummer and I was asked to explain what was happening by two refugees. I did my best but failed.

Anyway, can you excuse me for fifteen minutes while I walk very slowly downstairs and sit in a very relaxed fashion before I take my blood pressure. The evening score is about 130 over stuff but it’s between 150 and 160 in the morning but that is oh so much better than it was a wee while ago. 🙂

And I’ve got this dreadful feeling that this might come across as a seriously serious blog and I’m no fun. I mean, I occasionally put a bet on in what are deserted bookies’ shops these days cos so many folk do it online these days (just like Ray Winston suggests we do) and it’s only the FOBT machines that are being used and I don’t know how they work. And, yes, I did once see a homeless person put a £100 note, which he said he’d ‘found’, into a machine in one punt. He lost it. Twenty seconds and it was gone. ):

But what do I know? Four (?) years ago I put £10 on Scotland to vote for Independence. It’ll be many years before that appears on my Fixed Odds coupon again. And at least one policy for Independence would be good. And a strong leader.

And finally, Mao Tse Tung was the Long March – not the long walk. I’ve been feeding people duff info about Windsor’s Communist credentials all week.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple, even if it’s not.

Iaint850, I mean me – ‘gregarious’? Chance would be a fine thing.

So, as I write this, I don’t know what division Partick Thistle will be in next season but you, reading this, probably do. I’ve been to very few games this season for a combination of reasons; periodic depression and the cardiac event at the turn of the year.

I will be buying a season ticket and I will make my return at the start of the season. A couple of seasons ago I went to the first game of the season with e and AJ and we were in the Jackie Husband Stand and very relaxing it was. Maybe I should do that again. Just to get started. 😀 😀 😀

Take a mum and her child. No. Not a random mum off the streets. No. One I know…….Skippy! Draw up a list. Under 16s go free.

And this, musically, is a special request for the rainforestriverman (I know. Who’d have thought?) who came very close to giving me away at my wedding – it’s a long a story and Johnny Walker Black Label played a part. It’s the ‘legendary’ Iron Maiden.

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

May 3, 2018

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

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

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

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

Loads of memories;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll get that done tonight.

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

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

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

Leaves fall. Snow melts. Everything ends to begin again (The Vampire Slayer)

December 29, 2017

And so dear listener, it’s that time of year again when we look for the Blog Personality of the Year and remember, it’s your votes that count. I mean that most sincerely. I really do. 😉

Well, to be honest, it’s Skippy who’s been counting your votes. I’ve been slightly under the weather with a throat lurgy that I’ve managed to keep under control with the help of lots of ice cream. It is no better; it is no worse.

But it wasn’t as bad as the throat virus of 2017 which saw me off work for four weeks (when I still worked for Blue Triangle) and indeed whilst 2017 was not the worst of years it was close (2007 was pretty shitty particularly if you add the last four weeks of 2006). I am reasonably optimistic about 2018.

But some of 2017 must play a part in this year’s ceremony.

For example, about three years ago, I introduced a Musical Track of the Year category (and maybe I should introduce a Book of the Year – Diary of a Bookseller) and previous winners have included Walk the Moon’s ‘Come on and Dance’ and Jamie T’s ‘Zombie’. In mid-July I announced that I’d resigned from the BT job with nowhere to go and I did so by playing the brilliant The Story (much of which seemed so appropriate at the time) and was received as such by many people. 😀 😀 😀

But there are two versions; one by Brandi Carlile and one by my Twitter friend Dolly Parton – but which should I play at the end? The lines are still open for you to decide.

And there is only one Team of the Year. A runaway victory for those who still work at Blue Triangle that I know and not just Caroline and Debbie with whom I converse from time to time but I did get a lovely message on Christmas Day from a former Project Manager. 🙂

Maybe one day I’ll talk more about what was involved in being a project worker but the Service User looking for a knife for his pineapple still makes me smile. I keep up to date with former service users either by meeting them begging in town or through the Court Circulars in the Digger.

BT Project Workers? Simply the best. 😀 😀

So I hope you did well at Christmastime for pressies and stuff. I did well for books from my ex-wife and from good friend e but I should stress that that had no influence on the voting that gave the Lifelong Achievement Award to Holly the Dog. Holly and I didn’t get off to the greatest of starts but that changed on the couple of early occasions I took Holly for walks on my own. I sent e a selfie of me and Holly but given the lighting and the similarity in hair styles it was impossible to say which was which. Oh how Holly and I laffed! 🙂

And so to the Personality Awards. Skippy, it’s time for the Fanfare of Strumpets!

In Third place is a weekend in Oban. The Saturday saw a beautiful sunny day and a brilliant walk along Ganavan Sands; the Sunday it poured and I spent the day in a museum called War and Peace and then a brilliant hot chocolate in a chocolate shop next to it. It was more or less where and when I decided to resign and final thinking took place a few days later after a very pleasant day in Barshaw Park, Paisley. It was only then I realised that the anxiety and depression of the previous year had never really lifted. It has now.

And whilst some things have not worked out quite as I’d hoped, something will turn up (Micawber)

Second place is tied in with that. It was the night of what was to be my last ever shift altho’ I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t work in the best of clothes; I know I smelt but for a number of reasons including the one where well trained police people would look for my spliff; and I was eating chips BUT I was still recognised by a former girlfriend of xx years ago.

Jan, you boosted my ego at a time when it was definitely needed. Thank you. 🙂

And finally, this year the Award goes to something that had nothing to do with resignations.

It was that moment in May when I was fortunate enough to see a bee entering the small bee backpackers’ hostel that sits on a fence in my garden. The hostel itself badly needs more protection against the elements (j) but that bee was the best moment of last year and thanks very much for voting for it. The photo brought a lot of smiles to a lot of faces. 😀

So, a mixed year. I do have plans for something called Project Getting Out a Lot More and if you’ve already been approached, then please do not read anything into it that’s not there. I am working on it. It’s about…….but you’ve guessed, haven’t you?

Y’see, as I’ve explained to others, 2017 lacked a zombie moment for me. I must say Yes more often

So before I say the usual pay off line, can I just say the votes are in and it’s Brandi’s version that has gained the most votes.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge (but of course) and still keeping it simple.

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. Peg Bracken

December 20, 2017

And so, dear listener, this may well be your favourite edition of the blog. It’s the one where I do little talking and just do cracker gags. Mind you, I’ve got to say that last week’s gag, attributed to Keith Chegwin, was one of the best I’ve heard this year so far. 🙂

The one about Theresa May and stable government which seemed to get lots of favourable coverage was awful. There is no such job as a nativity manager. What might have worked would have been, ‘Why shouldn’t you put Theresa May in charge of the Nativity? Because she’s not very good at stable government.’ No. It still doesn’t work.

Mind you I still prefer……

Q Why do you call your dog Metal-Worker?

A Because every time he hears a knock he makes a bolt for the door.

So I think I’m sorted for Christmas but I fully accept that much of that has been because I’m not the busiest soul in the world just now. As I write this, about the only big thing left to do are neighbours’ cards and that’s partly cos I can never remember the name of her in Number 1. So if I leave it late, maybe she’ll put in one my box and then I’ll put one in hers.

(I think there’s an unintended innuendo in there. Sorry)

Q What do you call a penguin in the Sahara Desert?

A Lost.

So I did send out loads of cards and I do hope they all arrived because I’ve heard of one that didn’t but the envelope the card was in was delivered. What a nuisance!…… And I may make arrangements to continue to do so from beyond the grave as with the final ever blog and then the one after that. Sorry, that’s a bit morbid. It’s been a funny year but there’s no excuse for morbidity.

But then I worry a bit about my sense of humour at times because I don’t put Lol after everything. Somebody posted something about their blood group and I said something like, you’ve got to be positive about it and I don’t think my joke was understood. 😦

Q How did the Vikings send secret messages?

A By Norse Code.

(And can I say a mega-thanks to the Daily Telegraph for their help with these jokes?)

So the SVQ thing is going slower than I intended (and I do realise that much depends on the candidates I work with) and on the editing front I will make a definite effort to get into Latex in the New Year but I did notice that Blue Triangle Head Office has become one of the places where they wish people Happy Holiday whereas every one of the projects will be celebrating Christmas and New Year……..and I’ll miss celebrating Ramadan next year with the refugees. Indeed I’ll miss celebrating New Year with them. 😦

We’ve become a society afraid to give offence – even where none is intended – because there are so many people out there looking for possible offence even if they’re not the group that might be offended.

Q Who invented fractions?

A Henry the 1/8th

So I’m not sure what next year holds for me, altho’ interestingly I found myself reading my Master’s dissertation the other night. By crikey, it was good. And I still enjoy writing and talking about drink and drugs. There’s thinking to be done. And revolutions to be considered for 2018. And, yes, I am no longer totally pescetarian – but it was never ethical or medical – and one consequence has been I’m eating jelly babies.

And I’ve just mucked up, with an f, my next gag.

Q What lies in a pram and wobbles?

A Yes. Obviously. No, that’s not the answer. The answer’s a jelly baby.

And finally, next week sees the Blog’s Annual Personality of the Year Award and it’s not too late to nominate anyone – even wee Joe off Strictly Come who, along with his dance partner, was still smiling as the results were announced. The other three duos were terrified. And it is entertainment. 😀

Masterchef is the only one of these I watch until the finals when the dishes become more floral tributes than food – including at least one which looked designed more for snorting than eating but what do I know?

Q What would you get if all the cars in Britain were red?

A A red carnation.

And finally, all I want to say in my own personal review of the year is that there were times when I was weird – not, hopefully, in person, but when my head was sat looking at this screen. It’s approximately eighteen months since, after a BT Sunday night shift and a couple of hours’ sleep, that I burst into tears at questions I was being asked about what to me was a simple mistake to which I’d owned up. It took some getting used to – not being believed and what felt like a witch hunt and I’m not sure I ever did.

So, despite a wee touch of morbidity at the top of the show, I am back to being cool and I have a range of ideas I wish to share with people. Need I tell you who they are? It’s called Project Getting Out More.

tioraidh, still wearing that badge(especially as the days extend) and keeping it even more simple than previously.

Iaint850

Nollaig Chridheil dhuibh uile agus Blidhna Mhath Ur

And it wouldn’t be a blog Christmas without this and all the memories (especially Otago Street) that this brings back.

“I began to think vodka was my drink at last. It didn’t taste like anything, but it went straight down into my stomach like a sword swallowers’ sword and made me feel powerful and godlike.” (Plath)

December 9, 2017

And so, dear listener, this weekend is the eleventh anniversary of my Cold Turkey when I ended up in hospital after a weekend of non-drinking – so dependent had my body become on alcohol – but last year I had made the decision to stop counting the years unless asked. I am simply someone who does not drink. 😀

The events of Saturday, 10th December 2016 (this time last year) are well known to regular listeners. My Cold Turkey weekend had started on Saturday, 10th December 2006 (and finished two days later) and Alabama 3 were in Glasgow’s O2 on that day and date in 2016 (exactly ten years on!!!!) and J, the blog’s favest librarian, had agreed to come with me and an interesting night out occurred although I still have no idea, J, what the point was of the monk with the V for Vengeance mask standing at the side of the stage. Anyway you enjoyed the gig and that was good. As did I. As did my neighbours when I got home and played all their albums into the wee small hours……… 😉

And as I went home, I thought that was it. No anniversary talk ever again.

Until the heating upstairs in my house broke down last week and I had a very cold bed. 😦

I don’t wear much in bed (if anything) so I am not well organised when I need something to get me through the night when it’s cold. The best thing I have is a freebie sweatshirt from a movie called Interview With The Vampire and it is long enough to be a nightdress and may have…….well anyway. It’s what I was wearing the night I got taken to the Western Infirmary and then to Gartnavel Ward 8 to dry out – for ten days. It’s what I wore when I was discharged. 🙂

I’ve never thrown it out cos for years I believed there was a demon in it. Daft I know but for the first few years of my recovery I used the language that everyone else uses to describe things. It was only after I’d started at uny (Post Grad and Master’s in Alcohol and Drugs Studies) that I saw things through different eyes.

But yet……..I had had a major fight that night with the Four Hallucinating Horsemen of the Apocalypse and I’m not sure they all left. (This was after the out of body experience when I think I died for a while) It must have been one helluva fight cos after I ended up in hospital, my next door neighbour organised some friends of hers to clean, tidy and basically put my house back together and they had to be paid. And then I’d to pay the person who paid them. And then my son, then a B.Acc student at Strathclyde University, took over some financial duties as my credit card and banking stuff needed sorted.

(This is why I prefer cash as it helps me keep better control of my finances and whilst the future may lie in contactless cards, I do see a lot of people who fail to keep the transaction slip)

And somebody (my sister, my ex-wife, her husband?) organised some cards from me and some presents and my ex also invited my sister and me (death warmed up and only just) for Christmas Dinner and I really appreciated that. 🙂

But this is why I still buy and send cards. I do understand why people don’t send cards but make a decision to give to charity instead but mine say something more than just Merry Christmas – they say ‘I’m still alive and don’t you forget it!’ 😀 😀 😀

And I buy them from Cancer Research UK – so a charity still gains.

And at a time when emergency call centres seem to be getting a lot of criticism, can I just say big thanks to the 999 operator who looked after me that morning when I realised I needed help. And made sure I left the front door open so the paramedics could get in. And at least three of the four horsemen went out.

And No (in answer to the second most asked question I get) I do not get cravings and I think the main reason for that is that I did/do not attend ‘meetings’ where alcohol is the main topic of conversation. With my addiction worker we basically looked at alternative behaviours so that alcohol was not my answer to everything.

In fairness, I have only ever been to four meetings – one in Maryhill on my own – one in Stevenson and at a convention in Paisley with someone known to some of the regular listeners – and one at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. I think AA works for some people; I needed something like Cold Turkey to make me aware of what I was doing with my life.

(The answer to the most asked question I get is ‘Yes I do have male friends. Honest. Just don’t expect me to list them just now.’)

But there are times when a feeling does come back – a memory which prompts nice feelings. Alcohol advertising on TV doesn’t bother me although I know some campaigners would like to see greater controls as with tobacco.

I don’t watch much TV but sometimes I’ll see a drama and someone in it will pour a large, decent-sized drink of whisky into a glass and then take a decent gulp – and the heat will hit the back of the throat and the world will seem better. But then the other memories kick in and I remember why I’m glad I don’t drink.

Not that there’s anything to stop me. Other than me. It’s called free will.

So, no music tonight to end with. Instead I’m going out for a quiet walk and not bother about the weather. I do a lot of walking. I’ve not just discovered Fitbits.

I tell people this next bit but I’m not sure they believe me. Eleven years ago my balance was so bad I had to learn to walk all over again. Ask the people who visited me and saw me using a zimmer. Ask the physios who helped me practise walking up and down the backstairs of Gartnavel. I then progressed to walking round the graveyard and my physical recovery started then. 🙂

Indeed, whatever you may think of me, please remember it all came into being under interesting circumstances eleven years ago. I am young; I am still learning. 🙂

Next week begins the traditional run up to Christmas for the blog.

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

Iaint850