Archive for the ‘homelessness’ Category

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water. (Reiner)

March 1, 2018

And so dear listener, I was going to write about this being the tenth anniversary of me starting my radiotherapy and how it worked for me, and prostate cancer. But I’ve calmed down a wee bit since I heard Stephen Fry say this;

‘One (option) was for radiotherapy but that was a really long and difficult process. I mean it’s fine for some people but there are a number of issues with it for me.’

And he did not explain what those issues were. 😦

Jeffery Archer, Michael Parkinson and friend and media academic Ken Garner did explain their reasons this week for not choosing radiotherapy and that’s cool. The trust in your consultant was also important for me. And radiotherapy does take a long time but I was only 52/53 and had plans for my prostate. 🙂

I chose to go NHS (and met a brilliant bunch of men and women) and I chose radiotherapy; Stephen chose a different route and a different treatment.

And incidentally, Stephen, the word is ‘penis’ – not ‘todger’. I had to look that up.

Best wishes, Stephen, and I hope it all goes well for you. And I take great hope from the fact that you married someone thirty years younger than you. Well, I’m not so sure about the marriage bit but other than that, thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

Naw, there are much more interesting people to write about – people who contribute much more to society. 😀

Selfishly, for example, how would the ambulance and paramedics have got to me the other early morning in the conditions we’ve had this week? I suspect they would have managed. 🙂

And my neighbour across the road who is a home help has just walked down the road to join the Cordia cars (an arm’s length organisation from the council who provide peripatetic social care) to see what they can do to help despite the bad weather.

And Carol who works in an old folks home who seems to have just stayed there and continued to look after the folk in her care. 🙂 As did many people in health and social care or who worked in a different project from usual but closer to home.

I used to park my car at the bottom of the hill so at least I could get in. And there was one lovely winter’s morning when I finally got away at 4.30 but the taxi I got couldn’t take me up the hill but it was such a lovely walk – just me and the foxes and the street lamps reflecting in the snow. 😀

And I realised just how bad the weather was on Wednesday when I went out to the blue bin and couldn’t get back to the house. Seriously. I turned round to go to the door and the blizzarding snow hit me full frontal and I could not see through my glasses and I started to bump into other bins amidst snow that was several feet deep cos that was how deep the wind had blown it. I have four. All different colours. 🙂

It was blue bin day on Thursday but none of my neighbours bothered – so I didn’t. The snow in the cul-de-sac was really deep. The wind has nowhere to blow the snow so it’s just piled up.

And I did have an important meeting on Thursday which I had to cancel (well a good friend I hadn’t seen for some time) but I knew it wasn’t going to happen when, on Tuesday afternoon, Scotrail told me they were cancelling Summerston trains on Wednesday and Thursday.

And I think this is where Facebook and other social media have come into their own. I saw people with 4 x 4s offering to help people if they needed to go to hospital; people whose gardens (somehow) backed on to the M80 telling people to come in for cups of tea and pizza; and of course telling the world to tell homeless people where to go for shelter but homeless people – whether they’re in B & Bs which kick them out at nine in the morning, or supported accommodation which doesn’t, or hostels which are dry and safe away from nosey social workers wanting to do good (lol), or rough sleeping – are here all year round.

And finally, a tribute to all those people at Groupon who, no matter what the weather or the time of day, stick to their task of advising me of all their offers.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, dangerously close to running out of chocolate – where is that ice cream van?

On Friday all the folk in the cul-de-sac where I live got out and started clearing the snow from the actual street and I did join them but wasn’t allowed to do any work. However, I now have a wee path from my front door to the road. So I decided to make use of the path in the afternoon and go for a wee walk with my neighbour and her wee dog who disappeared in the snow.

We had barely made it into the next street when we realised that there was a lot of slithering going on as cars tried to cope with going up and down a treacherous hill. Again I wasn’t allowed to help with pushing (I feel a fraud) but looked after the wee dog.

Later that afternoon a woman in a red anorak, who I do not know, delivered milk, bread, cold meat, soup and home made cakes. The message? ‘Mary told me to get them’ and she did the same for across the road……..What Can I say?

So here’s a wee joke to cheer you up and I’m giving credit to friend Rosie for it.

A weasel walks into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, ‘In all my years of tending bars, I’ve never, ever served a weasel. What can I get you to drink?’

‘Pop’, goes the weasel.

And just to mark how bad the weather was this week, here’s the Beach Boys with White Out

What? Seriously? Well, it’s too late now.

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No, John, there is no Blue Lagoon car park in Paisley (anon)

January 5, 2018

And so, dear listener, a Guid New Year to ane’n’aw. I didn’t get the chance to do that in a blogilly manner because I had to broadcast the traditional Blog Personality Award of the Year on the Sunday. Which was also Hogmanay and people had better things to do.

So, once you’ve read this, read the blog below this one. Did you get an award? Holly the dog did.

But, yes, this was the first Hogmanay and New Year’s Day that I didn’t spend the nights with the homeless and refugees. And the family party I used to attend (not my actual family) no longer happens. Ah, the influence of having grandchildren staying with you. 😉

I watched some TV. Quite liked the Saturday night out prog but one day people will realise that the success of Flicks in Brechin was what the sign (in block capitals) actually seemed to spell out when seen from a distance. And no mention of Bonkers – a bar and club just along the road from where I worked in PR – and Clatty Pat’s – just along the road from the BBC…..places I used for a wee while after separation. 🙂

And this hints at an interesting question, which I shall call the Gus McKinnon Question.

Y’see, one of the books I received at Christmas was called ‘Close Quarters’ and is about a murder in a tenement just off Byres Road. One of the characters is a legal person called Gus McKinnon who spends his nights in bar called The Centurion and often staggers home drunk. It’s not a spoiler; it’s a recurring theme.

So, without going into any detail of the separation, I bought a house in Summerston – and then we told people.

That’s all I will say.

But a number of people then said, ‘why didn’t you buy a flat in Partick – close to the action?’ Now the house I actually bought has a large garden (and tbh, I had no idea how big a garden until I bought it as my one and only look had been in the dark before deciding to buy) and that has turned out to be a big factor in continuing to stay here.

The house is a bit idiosyncratic and has a semi-spiral staircase which looks slightly nautical and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve done any work to it with the kitchen still looking pretty naff – partly due to my duff painting – and whilst I’d quite have liked a Partick tenement flat my neighbours here are pretty good.

There was that incident when a neighbour’s daughter crashed her car into mine; the Sunday afternoon when Big Peter attempted to murder his mum; and the Sunday night when a Strathclyde Police task force attempted to bludgeon their way into one of the houses across the road, spent a couple of hours inside and then withdrew.

But apart from that it’s been pretty quiet. 😀

But reading that book did make me think – which I’ve been doing a lot of recently – and my thoughts are pure fantasy but what would I have made of a life in the West End – rather than being a regular visitor? Still thinking.

And finally, and this is the last time I’ll say this, 2017 did not really work out for me in many ways. Much of the depression has lifted but I do feel there is a residual mentally and physically. Indeed, one of the typical symptoms of being reluctant to leave the house has applied at times – continually rationalising with myself about going out.

BUT

I have plans for 2018. Let’s make them happen and if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, then the mountain has to start knocking on doors. And UWS (Paisley) will get flyered amazingly soon cos there’s none on the noticeboards. 😦

And then the other three. I need the work.

http://www.thewordprocess.net

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

Iaint850, a very stable genius but only just 🙂

So, all a bit heavy, so can I tell you about my favest programme of the last two weeks?

It was The Story of Scotdisc – the label that did so much for the careers of Lena Martell (nee Thomson), Tommy Scott and Stuart Henderson jr – oh, and Sydney Devine.

In the late seventies I did my (first) Post Grad placement in Easterhouse (and I did my second Post Grad placement in Easterhouse as well) and one day the women were all really chirpy. They were going to see Sydney at the Pavilion that night and the next day they came in with a glazed look. I knew Sydney as a radio host and didn’t understand his pull as a country’n’western star. I’m still not sure.

The Scotdisc prog featured Sydney’s Line Dancing video and of course it featured Achey Breaky Heart (sp) – not necessarily serious line dancers’ favest piece of music.

For me, one of the biggest thrills was to hear the distinctive voice of Jim Symon. Clyde through the night was brilliant (and I did do a couple of features for them live from the studios above Anderston Bus Station) and Ian Anderson emerged from there.

A lot of good memories and well done to Nick, Linda and Russell from Demus Productions and well worth a look on BBC iPlayer (9 pm, Wednesday, 3rd January BBC1 Scotland) and here’s Lena. I have no idea who Dave is but this is the version with the importantly changed lyric – she is a woman, not ‘just’ a woman. One hundred years on from women (of a certain age) getting the vote, I think that was a change well ahead of its time.

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

December 14, 2017

And so dear listener can I just say a big thanks to all those who commented in some way on last week’s blog. Most people offered some variation of ‘Well done’ and some updated me on their own roads to recovery. I am proud of what I’ve achieved but am never arrogant. Too many people have been involved in my recovery to allow that and I can never forget that. 🙂

Thanks.

And the weather’s been a real pain hasn’t it? Forecasts are too accurate and too fast moving – they change so quickly – so what I do (on either BBC Scotland or STV) is just to stare at the bit that is Glasgow or Paisley and watch while Judith or Gillian or Kawser (or Sean) tells us what’s happening as the clock and the wind move. That’s good enough for me.

But stuff all those people earning money for their opinions on the weather in the papers. None of them can ever replicate or beat the words of the master poet Bud Neil;

Winter’s come, the snow has fell

Wee Josie’s nose is froze as well

Wee Josie’s frozen nose is skintit

Winter’s diabolic, intit?

But it shouldn’t affect me too much should it? After all my current work/lifestyle is based on earnings from the editing I do but that’s been presenting problems. Let’s leave the question of me working in Latex for a moment.

It’s the person who approached me at the weekend with 80,000 words (not all written yet) and who, when I told him what my fee was, suggested reducing it by about 50% because of the number of words and he thought they were good ones. 😦

Aye, but they weren’t in the right order or they were made up or were too complicated AND the second sentence was about nine lines long with an amazing number of clauses. It was appalling and you got a sense that he was not expecting that many changes cos it was ‘a good piece of writing’. Yet this person’s doing a PhD. 😦

I made an excuse and left.

But did I actually want to do a PhD? No. No really (which is still my favourite knockback of all time – well the last eleven years). Actually, I did. I just get annoyed when I see money talking like that. Bitter. And twisted.

But I have started eating a little meat. I had some chicken recently. Somebody told me it was fowl but I thought it tasted okay.;)

But back to the weather. Yup. I miss summer.

This gratuitous piece of music reminds me of summers in my home town of Peterhead when I was much, much younger.

But still talking of the weather, I took a delivery, like many, from the Rainforestriverpeople and thought nothing of going out in the rain to collect it. Ten minutes later I had collected all the wrapping (seriously….. just ten minutes) and went out to the bin and OMG, Son Brian came very close to collecting his inheritance a wee bit before I intended it – it was that icy!

And I hate that Beagle Street advert – the one where the wimp stops sorting out the kitchen in their new flat just cos his girlfriend wants him to sort out life insurance cos Emma (!) says so! Don’t be such a wimp! Finish the kitchen first! Or has she booby-trapped it?

And finally, on behalf of all those doing things to help all those skippering out there, can I just say that numbers actually reduce at this time of year cos of brilliant places like the Glasgow City Mission who run a night shelter from the beginning of December until the end of March, but the homeless are with us fifty-two weeks of the year. Either as rough sleepers, living with their kids in B & Bs, staying in projects like the Blue Triangle where I worked or in hostels and shelters on a nightly basis where, altho’ these places sometimes get a bad press, they feel really safe. Fifty-two weeks of the year.

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

Iaint850, about to start my revolutions for 2018

So the next two blogs are the special ones for this time of year and I may have to put them out early cos one’s due on Christmas Eve and one’s due on Hogmanay (which, for the first time in four years will not be spent (by me) in a homeless project in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow).

The first is the annual Christmas Cracker edition of the blog.

For example;

My dad used to be a road worker and had been accused of stealing from his job. Obviously I didn’t believe all the accusers but, when I got home, all the signs were there.

(RIP Keith Chegwin)

And the final one of the year is the Annual Blog Personality of the Year and nominations for all the various prizes are open to anyone and everyone – regardless of how well you know me – but that was a good shout, e.

And many newspapers and broadcasters have been pulling together the best Christmas songs of all time – but it’s all been Slade or Bing Crosby and David Bowie or the Pogues. This is much more traditional and has always been one of my favourites. The tempo change quite early in and reminds me of Steve Earle and Copperhead Road. 🙂

Listeners, this is Annie Lennox, GCU’s first female chancellor.

We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright (Hemingway)

November 30, 2017

And so dear listener, I’ve found it really cold. Have you? Oh, no – inside as well as outside. And to be honest, whilst there are some things I do miss about my previous job, I do not miss getting up and out just after six in the morning to be in for a shift starting at seven on mornings like these have been – especially at the weekend when often I was the first car on the road. And that includes coming home after a night shift. On a couple of times I parked at the bottom of the main road cos it’s a bit of a hill (I live in a cul-de-sac off the main road) and it wouldn’t be the first time a taxi has refused to make that trip. 😦

(The last time was approximately a year ago when I finished work at 4.30 in the morning and it was a brilliant walk up the hill – streetlights and the snow and the foxes) 😀

It was 2010/11 when we did have people, well cars, having a tough time getting out of Summerston and trains couldn’t get through. Now, it’s more ice and frost on the road until you get to Maryhill Road – especially where the sun has not got through.

There was a time when ours were amongst the first roads to be gritted but then we did have a Lord Provost living nearby.

Now, as some of you know, I have a fairly reasonably sized semi – with a couple of rooms and bathroom upstairs and kitchen and living room downstairs. Well, unfortunately the heating upstairs died. It’s not been too big a deal. I moved the laptop out of the back room and on to the table downstairs; the bathroom has a heated towel rail and I did a lot of reading there; and the only real annoyance was the Master Bedroom…….It was cold. 😦

However, help came in the shape of a new electrician on Wednesday who knew what he was doing and who sent me a picture of the job he was doing in Kilmacolm to explain why he’d be late. But he did turn up and he did fix the heating and told me not to worry about the odd bang – he knew what he was doing. And sure enough fifteen minutes later heat was making its way through my upstairs.

I’m not mad keen on leaving my house too often at the moment but I put that down to the cold rather than residual depression, so I did feel the cold. But the reason for not going out on Thursday night was the temptation of staying in a warm house. I missed a talk about the Necropolis – once the dead centre of Glasgow. 😀

But I have watched more TV than I normally would and saw a smashing wee programme about the development of Scotland’s police people – when it was a number of different police forces and much better as there was more accountability.

There was a fair chunk about what it was like when you left the force and what your last day was like. Some of theirs were a bit more exciting than mine (other than that meeting in Queen Street Station) but I noticed that they have the same habit that I have although in their cases it’s understandable because they were there for twenty-five years. I lasted four and a half in the project for the homeless where I was working but I still talk about ‘we’ and in the present tense. 🙂

I also saw the lovely ‘From Scotland with Love’ – a TV prog but I think the video is still available from Fopp (probably a couple of quid by now) and e and I saw King Creosote play the soundtrack live at Kelvingrove Bandstand a few years ago and the video was played on large screens……just an amazing show. And well worth the re-run. 😀 😀

And whilst I’ve started eating some meat again, I was staggered at BBC’s Landward last week which followed a fascinating item about helping badgers to cross a new road by showing the man, who is now Scotland’s National Chef (Gary McLean), strapping on a powerful shotgun to go shooting deer for venison.

Now I’m not daft – and I do originally come from a farming and fishing community in the North East of Scotland – but I just felt there should have been something between the two items. Arlene Stuart, a beautiful lady to work with on Saturday mornings years ago,* had earlier presented an item on nurdles (which sounds like something Rambling Sid Rumple would have come up with). Could that not have been dropped in between the badgers and the deer killing?

The Saturday morning prog that I worked on with Arlene was called, I think, Something for the Weekend and was about doing stuff at the weekend, which obviously involved eating and drinking. Once every few weeks we had a wine expert, Paul Somebody, with wine and once every few weeks we had Nick Nairn cooking in the studio……..and every so often we had them both.

Sportsound had to throw us out of Studio Six with our empties and our dishes.

And finally I read this on da Internet from a drug rehab organisation that I have a lot of time for,

‘Viagra will be available over the counter in UK, says medicines regulator.’ – This is specifically in order to close down the lucrative criminal market in it. So why not do the same for other drugs, like cannabis, for the same reason? It’s not hard!’

Cracking payoff line.

tioraidh, still wearing both badges and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, and maybe we should use the word gluttony more often. Stop us eating so much.

So, there used to be very strict rules at the BBC about what Christmas music you could play and when. It was something like only new stuff for the first two weeks of December and then open door for the rest of the month.

So I’m not sure if I’m breaking the rules by playing this but many thanks to j, one of the blog’s top pop pickers, for suggesting this.

This is/these are the Futureheads with Christmas was Better in the Eighties.

Actually the setting looks like upstairs in my house earlier this week……

‘Another email from a collector in Edinburgh who has 13,000 books to sell. I replied asking for more information’ (Bythell)

November 10, 2017

And that quote was from the very, very lovely Diary of a Bookseller recommended to me by the very, very lovely Craig Williams of the BBC who produced the very, very lovely documentary Donald Trump, Scotland’s President still available on the reasonably attractive BBCiPlayer. 😉

And I remember someone recommending a second hand bookshop in Wemyss Bay which I’d love to visit but I still have a soft spot for Voltaire and Rousseau down Otago Lane – if it’s still there. The lane that is.

And so dear listener, let me apologise for last week’s show. It was awful. An idea didn’t work and I should have walked away from it. I used to do a lot more walking than I’m currently doing. There’s a wee tekkie problem putting a new MP3 player together with my recent (couple of years) interest in country music. Maybe one day. And a couple of other tekkie issues.

And it doesn’t help that I live alone (have I ever mentioned that?) and there’s no-one other than Skippy to read it before transmission.

This living alone can cause problems in other directions. For example, I was cutting my toe-nails the other day – a difficult operation at the best of times. The scissors slipped and the pointy bit went directly into the toe next to the one I was cutting, causing blood to emerge. The obvious thing to do would be to get an Elastoplast on it. Other plasters are available but they’re not as good.

The Elastoplasts are kept in a cupboard over there. But I don’t want blood all over the floor. One hand has toilet paper stopping the blood and the other is single-handedly opening the cupboard and the plaster box, pulling one out that’s the right size, opening it without the two sticky sides sticking together and wrapping it around the toe – just. Blood is still seeping but the box is now empty. 😦

There is another box. For some reason, these are colourful and luminous. And small. But one is enough to wrap around the toe in a slightly different direction to the first one. And I breathe silently and happily and there is blood on the floor and on a towel and three toe-nails remain to be cut. Carefully.

Occasionally, I still feel a small whisky would be justified but luckily these moments are few and quickly pass when I put on a reasonably new CD by Steve Earle. Which I don’t think is very good. Yet.

But let’s take a minute to discuss another aspect of my physical health – my knees. They have been x-rayed and the word from the doctor is they are normal. I have no idea what this means and may pop in to find out more.

But they feel better – well, one of them does. I think I’ll be fine. 🙂

And on the mental health front, I had to explain to someone that my depression was not just being ‘unhappy’ but, amongst other things, was an unwillingness to interact with people. How unlike my student days.

Did you know that on this week, just past, in 1964 the new Queen Margaret Hall of Residence was opened in Bellshaugh Road, Kelvindale? It got knocked down in 2000 and turned into more of a student flat type accommodation.

I was there, dear listener, something like 1972-74 and if I say that it was there that a boy became a man, need I elaborate?

But I made a lot of friends there and it was there I first wrote comedy, did a Toast to the Lasses and played mixed hockey – just as deadly serious as the all-male hockey I played for the university. At first team level. 😀

Then I moved into a flat in Woodlands with three others and that noise you can hear is that of a veil being drawn.

But I did get my first degree. Just.

And finally, it’s too easy to pour scorn on Donald Trump but what little, if any, respect I had for the man disappeared when, in Japan, he tipped a whole box of fish food into a pond of koi carp…..and, in doing so, killed them. The bastard!!!!

I used to keep coldwater fish. Okay so it’s not in the same league as koi carp, but they meant a lot to me.

And I do remember being in somebody’s house in Orkney about four years ago and one of their interior walls was one side of a fish tank full of Pacific Ocean fish. Seriously amazing.

Tioraidh, still wearing this year’s poppy and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, who, like everyone else, is keen to hear the results of Duaisean Gaidhlig Na H-Alba 2017 which will be announced in the Glasgow Central Hotel on the 15th November. No. No reason. 🙂 But my money’s on Buidheann Disathairne.

So somebody told me the other day that they were never sure whether to give money to the homeless people ‘begging’ in the streets.

‘After all’, she said, ‘is there not a chance they might spend it on drinks and drugs?’

‘Possibly, or they could buy food,’ said I. ‘but at least you’re giving them an option they didn’t have until you gave them that money.’

And I got a strange look.

I also met the Big Issue seller I buy from on an unusual pitch, which was distributing the Stylist outside Queen Street Station. She’s an Eastern European lady from Kinning Park. Anyway I’m standing talking to her and it’s difficult cos I don’t understand Eastern European and another lady (not Eastern European but more Milngavie) took a Stylist from my friend but when I cheerily shouted, ‘thanks’, I got another strange look.

Altho’ I openly admit to my interest in country music being recently recent, my interest in Steve Earle and the Dixie Chicks goes back to 2003 and the Second Gulf War when they both spoke out against that war and were removed from various playlists. I tried to get them both onto a radio programme I was working on at the time. In Glasgow. I failed.

This is/these are the Dixie Chicks:

I myself am made entirely of flaws stitched together with good intentions (Augusten Burroughs)

November 2, 2017

And so dear listener, it is over a week since the clocks changed but I am still feeling the effects. 😦

I cope with the actual mechanics of the change okay. I copy my dad from many years ago who changed all the clocks and watches in the house the night before and everything was run by clockwork (in every sense of the word) 🙂 I do some of that.

The first timepiece to be changed is my £9.99 Casio watch which keeps good time and is the official stopwatch for one part of the North Stand (red’n’yellow) at Partick Thistle. It’s one of the many skills I developed as radio producer and within one second I can tell you how long there is to go to the end of a football match whilst diving to a depth of 50 metres which is remarkable as I can’t swim but anything is possible with a Casio. 😀

I have a friend with a real Rolex which runs slow and when he took it to a well known jeweller to get it fixed, he was told, ‘It’s a Rolex. They run slow.’ Go Casio! Go!

The last timepiece to be touched is the Impossible Task: the Car Clock. I don’t understand why it doesn’t change itself. It’s on a DAB radio like the one in my bedroom and it changes itself – altho’ tbh it’s only tuned to one radio station.

I could read the instructions but I’m terrified that I muck up my existing selection and then I’ll need to invent a reason to go to Arnold Clark’s to get someone there to reset them for me. No, for the next six months, I will have to look at my watch before I look at the car clock to see what time it is.

And then there’s the effect it has on my sleep pattern. I have recovered from the daytime shift system that I was working under just before I left but I do wake up too early and my mind (and indeed my body) is fully functioning at about 6. Most mornings these days I don’t need to get up until back of 7 if not later.

I could read but these days there are no books on my bedside cabinet as I don’t read in bed. I am asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow (I live alone. I don’t know if people know that)…..I’ll work something out.

One of the nice things about night shifts was going home on a Monday morning (07.30) as all the stereotypes from Bearsden and Milngavie were ending their fun-filled weekends. I was going home to bed and, if it was a frosty morning, I would put the blanket on while I washed my clothes from the night before and showered. By nine I’d be toasty and fast asleep whilst the businesspeople of Glasgow were beginning to make an assault on the weekend’s emails. 😀

But some things in my life are returning to normal.

Partick Thistle are picking up points again and I overheard a conversation outside a lift where Rangers’ fans were discussing a possible new manager and the name Alan Archibald came up; Celtic did really well in Europe and the star players were those that Gordon Strachan ignored in favour of an English Championship reserve; and I may not see a game this coming month. There’s only two and they’re both away. I am open to suggestions. 😉

I may do some work on my SVQ stuff and I’ve found a marvellous website telling me some things I was frightened to ask about after a recent meeting. I’ll be fine.

The editing’s beginning to happen again and, as ever, my thanks go to the Chinese community of Glasgow for spreading my name around. Aren’t they nice people? 🙂

And finally, I’m beginning to attend my psychology evening class regularly. I have an essay coming up soon and if there’s one thing I do know it’s how to structure an essay. What the difference is between schema and heuristics I’m not too sure but again I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Tioraidh, and currently wearing a poppy instead of my usual badge but still keeping it simple

Iaint850, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

So eleven months ago I came to a decision. It happened as I took the train back up the road (eh?) having been to see an amazing gig in the company of J who very bravely 🙂 had volunteered (eh?) to come with me to see a band called Alabama 3.

The occasion? It was exactly ten years to the day and date since I’d cold turkeyed and A3 had been a big part of that recovery.

The decision? To stop thinking how long it had been – to quite happily accept that it was ten years and I was simply a guy who did not drink. Never to mention the anniversary again.

The other day I was out at UWS in Paisley an educational institute with which I have been associated for just over six years. So much has happened over those eleven years – much of it good; some of it not so good – but enough to make me realise that it is worth continuing getting the message across. It is not an incurable disease – it needs basic behavioural change, some things worth staying sober for and friends and family who help you think about other things. 🙂

So come 10th December this year, I will say ‘eleven years’ in various places and smile enigmatically.

Did they play this, j?

It’s like you have to be strong for everyone else but they forget to ask if you’re okay.

October 26, 2017

And so dear listener, this week I experienced a feeling I have not experienced for some time but is it right that a man, my age, should experience that feeling. Sorry? Oh, first day nerves, that’s what I mean. I have now seriously started as an SVQ assessor-candidate who is to get assessed as an assessor assessing candidates.

Some people, such as j, seemed to pick it up straightaway but others, like me, have to keep everything in a separate pile in my head and it’s not easy, having piles in your head. 😦

And I don’t think I ever told you, dear listener, what an SVQ assessor does.

NVQ/SVQ assessors help and assess people who are working towards National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). In doing so, they make sure that the candidates meet the required standards.

And, yes, that is Copy and Paste. Did you notice? Any questions?

Yes. I am looking forward to yet another new career. In order to get it all on my CV I am now using font size 8.5 and A3 paper. And have I finished yet? What would be nice would be to get my income back up to pre-resignation levels but with the same free time I had before.

And there are some signs that the editing might be kicking off again and my thanks go to the marketing team for their sparkling efforts. 😀

Ah, that lovely word ‘team’. I have met people who say things like ‘there’s no ‘I’ in team.’

To which I reply, ‘Yeah, but there’s a ‘me’.’

But then I’m the kinda guy who criticises the well-known Pavlov’s dogs experiment cos no-one asked the dogs – and to me that’s a fundamental flaw. 🙂

Ah, yes…..team. Last week a couple of photos appeared on Facebook showing the BBC Radio Scotland team who covered the Commonwealth Games of 1986. One photo showed us on our way to the closing night disco (yes, disco – and it may even have been Tom Ferrie who was the deejay) and the other was in the bunker we called home for the fortnight. 🙂

I was a producer and, in addition to everything else, was responsible for putting together a two minute sports news after the main news. With me? And I had a presenter to read it.

Except one night, at about half past ten, I was sitting with a pint in the BBC Club next to the bunker and became aware I had no reporter. I had to do it. And so dear listener, I had the amazing privilege of saying, ‘And now the moment all Scotland has been waiting for….’

And played a piece of tape that was Liz Lynch winning her Gold medal before reading out some results from the shooting at Barry Budden in Angus and then back to the hotel for my second pint of the night. This one well deserved.:D

And as I write this, speaking of matters athletic, I’ve still not heard back about my x-rays of last week. But it has not stopped me walking. One jolly interesting and recent walk was with e and Holly the Dog though the Botanic Gardens and its environs. We helped reunite a young girl with her dad; cheered on some young athletes; and remenisced (sp?) about our pasts and one shop in particular. Anyone who ever lived West-endish in the seventies and a wee bit beyond will remember Goodies – the first ever twenty-four hour dairy I had ever known; pints of milk and chocolate biscuits after two in the morning; a strange woman who seemed to sit in the same seat 24/7; and a very unhygienic cat who sat in the window, seemingly, also for a full day at a time.

Yes, we have Tesco’s in Maryhill and the Asda in Govan – both of which are also twenty-four hours a day but they lack the magic of Goodies. 🙂

And finally, I did go to see George Monbiot – a man with some very interesting ideas. I would have thought it of interest to anyone claiming to have environmental credentials or looking for original thinking. Maybe those who missed it were too busy slagging each other off on Facebook

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

Iaint850, and surely I’m not the only person who still says Bloody Norah.

And I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me of her recent regular visit to a Costa Coffee Shop (and other chainstore coffee shops are available) and she spotted someone she hadn’t seen for some time.

‘Is everything okay?’ she asked.

‘I’m cutting back on caffeine.’

‘Well there’s plenty of good de-caff stuff out there these days.’

‘No. It’s not that. I just don’t have the money these days.’

This was in a douce, middle class town not that far from Glasgow. I had travelled there by train and before I got the train back to Glasgow I bought a newspaper. The vendor was smiling and whistling. I asked him why he was so cheery.

‘The Tory Party is falling apart at the seams. We’ve got them on the run.’

The two conversations prove nothing except to add to my sadness that so much political debate takes place online by people just shouting at each other. Politics is about real people – not sitting in front of a laptop shouting at people through your keyboard.

Why not help out at a foodbank?

There’s often a single piece of music that you hear on all the radios stations you listen to as part of your regular listening pattern – in my case Radio 1 and Clyde 1 in the car and often Chris Country at home – but often you tire of it. Not this time.

This is Pink and What About Us. Stick with the video. It gives an extra meaning to the song.

Well, you can say what you want But it won’t change my mind (Texas)

July 27, 2017

And so dear listener, the end is nigh. I have seen my (almost) former job advertised and it produces a strange feeling. That has never happened to me before and I hadn’t really thought about that aspect of it all. It’s final. It’s happening.

They will have no problem in replacing me. After all, I am just a part-time worker. I am signed off sick just now so my shifts will be covered by established staff and if not them, then from the relief bank, and failing them, an agency worker (mmmmm agency work?) – and I’m willing to give you even odds as to who gets my job.

It would have been nice to have had a few more days to tell colleagues in other projects that this was happening, rather than them contacting me to see if I was okay. I am – other than the ‘stress and anxiety’ it says on my sickline. 😦

It’s funny but I’m not well used to the world of jobsearch. I talk of being employed by the BBC for about twenty-five years but I wasn’t. I was employed by a number of programmes and departments within the BBC in a variety of different ways and roles and only once did I apply for a proper job in the BBC and I never got it – the rest of the time I got a phone call to see if I was available for two months or so but for only two years was I actual staff. It was from there that I left to join a PR consultancy – but I didn’t apply for the PR jobs. I was approached/head hunted/tapped to leave by two PR consultancies – the only time I ever resigned from the BBC.

One tapping took place at a southside cricket club in the southside of Glasgow and the other (for a different company) took place with an ex-Garden Festival PR who was setting up on his own (post-Festival) but still had access to Garden Festival expense accounts and access to the Buttery and (I’m glad to say) taxis.

When I left the BBC for the last time, I was being employed on a casual weekly basis and one day, I was approached in the newsroom by a high heid yin person who said, ‘not only are you not established to that job, there is no job for you to be established to.’ 😦

At which point I picked up my jacket, made no excuses and left – and told the College where I was part-timing at the time that I was available for more shifts. I later left the College to concentrate on (successful) cancer treatment and I think they just gave out my shifts to other people as well and then sat down later and planned the next academic year. 🙂

I’m just not used to seeing my job advertised and the finality of it all felt weird.

But no, I genuinely have nothing lined up and once I’m signed back on (as it were) I will start knocking on doors.

I need another line. Of income. Casual, part-time or whatever. I think my CV is good and available – suitably redacted – on request. The stamps have been bought.

The editing will needs to be increased and there needs to be something else but I am not washed up and think I am still worthy of my hire. 😉

And voluntary work will be considered – altho’ it can be demanding too. I have seen people who volunteer to help the homeless and it is a thankless task. But I do need to make sure I get out of the house but getting messages at 8 o’clock at night leading to cups of coffee down Byres Road at 9 is good. It’ll be strange having the weekends back and I have a working season ticket for Firhill which makes a big difference. 🙂

Mind you, I do have an idea re voluntary stuff, which sounds quite exciting. I’ll keep you all posted.

And finally, all this does give me a chance to write the book I keep going on about and I’ve started. The other day, I wrote the word ‘Introduction’ in a range of fonts and font sizes. Don’t laugh. It’s a start.

tioraidh, still wearing that badge and really keen to show simple it can still be kept 🙂

Iaint850. And yes I did. 😉

So my mum was a nice wee wummin from Springburn who married a chartered accountant from Peterhead and moved up to Peterhead with him and I think it took her a wee while to work out why she’d done it. She had two children. I was the second one.

I think I was a bit of a disappointment to her at secondary school. I won’t list my achievements but they weren’t as academic as she would have liked and I’m not too sure what she would have made of my recent years but she’d have liked my friends – especially the female ones. I don’t know if she’d have understood the concept of the Friendzone and, tbh, I’m not too sure if my male friends do either 😉

But in later years my mum and I got only really well. 🙂

However, at no time, did my mum arrange for three supermodels to be sitting at the ‘top of our stairs’ when I got home from school and I think none of the less of her for it.

What a stupid thing to say or was it point scoring against his dad? And how is Princess Katie going to compete with that for George when he’s twelve? Alton Towers is out. Don’t want to be compared with William’s mum after all.

Sorry. Just thought it needed said.

So when you need an inspirational piece of music cos you’ve no idea what the future holds, to whom do you turn? Who else but Walk the Moon (not that track but another one)

When you can’t control what is happening around you, challenge yourself to control the way in which you respond (Snoopy)

July 20, 2017

And so, dear listener, this may be a shorter blog than usual. But I never really know until I reach the end how long it’s going to be. And I have reached the end. Of my career with Blue Triangle Housing Association – the homeless charity where I’ve worked for the last four and a half years. My letter of resignation was ‘handed in’ last Saturday with copies going by post and by e-mail so I’m in the process of working my notice.

There’s no big deal or big issue nor am I going to end up selling it. I’ve just not felt the same about some things since I was off work with anxiety and depression for a while last year. I think it’s been obvious, and working with the homeless requires a lot of strength and enthusiasm and resilience and it’s just not been there recently. But I’ve still done my job and done it pretty well. It was a decision reached literally on Friday morning last week. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Blue Triangle offers supported accommodation for homeless people as a kind of halfway house to getting their own tenancies – often through a local housing association. We don’t pick people up off the streets or give them soup and blankets. It’s less glamorous than that. We try and help them to cope with certain issues and help them with the skills needed to look after themselves out there in the big, bad world. Some of the folk we help are refugees.

And on one recent occasion, it was really good to take a refugee to sign all his documentation and then get the keys to his new flat in a high rise. And go and look at it again. That was a good day. And there’s the others.

And, eh, that’s all I want to say at this stage. It’s demanding work and I’m tired. Ten years ago I nearly died from alcohol and it was through the help of Moira, my addiction worker (and soooooo many others) that I learned the skills that helped me to cope with the bad cancer that followed. Now I want some time to myself.

So what am I going to do? 😦

Well, I’ve still three weeks to go and I’m still in the middle of a lot of shifts altho’ it does go quieter in a few days time.

And then it goes scary. 😉

But this is not the time for too much reflection. Or about learning what other people think of me and according to one worker who works with me occasionally – my style of working with the homeless is best described as ‘eccentric’, and it was also nice last weekend to work with an agency worker who knows Moira my former addiction worker. There’s a helluva lot of brilliant people out there in social care helping the homeless and those with addiction issues and so on. We are treated as public sector workers as well when it comes to pay rises. Or pay freezes. 😦

And finally, Doctor Who is a fictional character with two hearts who regenerates from time to time. Can we even be sure that Jodie Whittaker will even play the part as a woman (she is after all from Gallifrey) and, anyway, to those who complain about the lack of role models for boys on TV, can I say just one thing? Sylvester McCoy.

tioraidh, back to wearing that badge and keeping it simple

Iaint850, so much water and so many bridges.

And so, to this week’s Nice Moment of the Month Award.

I had a really nice shift on Tuesday night (thanks Alice) but not nice enough to make me change my mind. I walked back to Queen Street Station and on the way treated myself to chips with dripping vinegar (no time for a tea break on shift) and, tbh, I dress down for work (the guy being sick over me is an image that’s never left me)

I was not looking my best.

And then a good looking woman (aren’t they all?) maybe ages with me, came up to me and said ‘Johnt850?’ (except she didn’t, did she? She used ‘the other name’, didn’t she?) and I said yes and she gave me her maiden name and, yes we had gone out together during my first time at university and before I could say, ‘do you remember the time…….?’ she had introduced me to her husband. 😦

Now she is a lecturer at a university and given this current change in my lifestyle there are good reasons for getting in touch. And, no, she is not on Facebook under her maiden name but a few minutes after I’d got home I’d found her married name but I stopped there. 🙂

Apart from anything, I’d love to say thanks to her for bringing such a brilliant smile to my face the other night. 😀 😀 😀

And I wonder when she wiped the vinegar from her lips? Any post-shift thoughts I may have had disappeared out of the window.

What do you think, dear listener?

Next week. The Orbiston bing – its part in my attempt at the friendzoning world record.

And tonight’s music? A long time ago now, j introduced me to the music of Brandi Carlile (and I introduced her to Alabama 3 – maybe not the fairest of swops) and so it’s a piece of music from Brandi.

The lyrics apply to everyone who’s ever been there for me in even the slightest way. A wee while back I knew that I was depressed when I found myself crying over my keyboard. There’s tears again just now but for totally different reasons.

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

June 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I miss Margo.

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

iaint850, going for the world record of Friendzones.

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

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

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

And, yes, I do believe him.

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