Archive for the ‘humour’ Category

“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

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‘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)

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

June 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next? Using my contactless debit card. 😉

Moving on.

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

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

Anyway that address?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Handle a book as a bee does a flower, extract its sweetness but do not damage it.” ― John Muir

May 11, 2017

And so dear listener, this week I had the visitor I’d been waiting ages for. To be honest, I’d almost given up expecting the arrival and I was almost caught by surprise but I do have several cameras so I was instantly able to record their arrival – but not their departure.

Let me explain.

A few months ago, J very kindly officially opened my back garden. Some slabs had been laid, some plants planted and some new garden furniture was there for the purposes of being sat upon. J brought a small bee house to the party.

This is not a beehive; it is a resting house for busy bees on their journeys hither and, indeed, thither. In fact, Facebook conversation decided that it had the potential to become a Bee Backpackers Hostel with bees cooking beans, singing songs, playing guitars and washing their dishes once they’d finished 🙂 . Except, none came.

So, a few days ago, I was planting some herbs and doing the tidying up of the garden that I like to do before my grass-cutter comes to, well, cut my grass and I heard buzzing. You hear lots of things in my part of Summerston but bees buzzing…….and there it was. 🙂

There was a single bee hovering around the house….the beehouse that is……and I ran upstairs to get one of my cameras. It was still there when I got back out and I got it hovering and I got it entering and I missed it coming back out as I’d put the camera down. Quite amazing seeing it come out as all its wings are slicked back and then as soon as it has cleared the hole, the wings come straight back and it’s away. 🙂

Okay, it ain’t wildlife photography like Gordon Buchanan but I was really excited at what I saw and it generated a lot of activity on Facebook when I posted the pics.

So, J, thank you for all that excitement and that is the first contender for the Blog Personality of the Year and it’s only May!!!

(Last year it was won by a book called The Bees by Laline Paull and the Book Club still recommend it as a brilliant book)

Incidentally, I’m just in from the ASDA and whilst I was in the car park I noticed that my phone was telling me that I was in the ASDA and that all my friends would like to see my photos of the ASDA. Leave it with me, friends, and I will do what I can.

I was actually going to lede with something else. Not bees.

Last Saturday I went to the Mitchell Library. Now listeners who have been with me for some time will need no reminding of the chain of events that started on a previous visit to the library some time back……..so there was a wee gulp when I crossed the threshold.

I ordered the same as I did that time – a black coffee and a roll and a fried egg and potato scone and sat in the same seat as before and proceeded to do what I’d gone there to do. I find I study better in a library environment and that was one of the reasons I did so much of the Master’s at UWS (Paisley) Library all those years ago.

My heart was slightly in my mouth, particularly as the wi-fi was working but not on Virgin Mail. Yes. I know there’s no real connection but ask my son about how tekky-illiterate I am altho’ I am okay when walked and talked through it. But I did what I had to do and left. WITH EVERYTHING I’D GONE IN WITH!!!!!!!!!

I then went for a walk down to Finnieston, quickly rolling my hair into a hipster bun and growing a beard in which crows could roost, and almost took another photo.

There’s a wee path which takes you past what is known as the Gaelic School and if you keep looking behind you, as all good snappers do, you see the tops of the very beautiful Sikh temple shimmering over the school – true diversity before that word became associated with a dance troupe currently performing at Butlin’s.

Paisley Uny library has been refurbished and my favest seat has gone. It was one floor up, beside a large window where you could overlook a major entrance area and see who was coming and going who might fancy a coffee but also you could keep an eye on the comings and goings in the library itself. 😉

The Mitchell Library ain’t quite the same but it has its compensations.

I’m now going into the back garden to read Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Yes, I do have an interesting reason for doing so. Hopefully more soon time.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, at times amazingly patient when I know why (Skippy, that’s a bit deep even for me)

And so tonight’s music is from a very new album where the songs of Brandi Carlile are sung by such diverse talents as Pearl Jam, Adele and Old Crow Medicine Show. I actually have two copies of the album and have one to give away but rather than offer it up as a competition prize, I know who’s getting the other copy. This is taking me longer than usual to type as I keep looking at the bee house.

‘Proceeds all go to benefit children living in conflict zones.’

This is Dolly Parton with ‘The Story’. Watch it without crying – I defy you.

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

May 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I’m fine Karen. How are you?’

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

‘It is.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Line of Duty. Not Macbeth)

And finally, I have a sleeping problem.

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

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

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

Iaint850, sensing a new challenge. More anon.

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

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

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” ― (the great) Walter Cronkite

April 6, 2017

And so dear listeners, some of you may remember some time ago that, after a very poor team bonding day, I happily left the others and took a train up the road. On that train was a young lady reading a book – as opposed to a kindle – and I congratulated her, as I left, as everyone else had their noses in their tablets. The book?

Appropriately it was The Girl on the Train. 🙂

The other night I met another girl on the same train. 🙂

It was the ten o’clock coming out of Queen Street and I had not long finished my shift. A couple of tables down was a young lady (20ish), wearing railway workers’ clothes and with a book in hard covers. She also had a quarter/half bottle of Buckfast secreted in a bag. 😉

She smiled as I grunted into my seat and had a swig. Our eyes met a couple of other times and she had a couple of other swigs and then, just after Possilpark and Parkhouse, she got up to go but there is a wee gap between P & P and Gilshochill (or Gilshiehill as it’s known locally) and she paused at my table to show me the book. It was about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the photos were sepia-tinged black and white and she explained the significance of the signs on the copper-plated scrolls.

She also said that she loved books 🙂 and that she’d given her one year old god-daughter a huge pile of books and spent time reading with her 🙂 . And then the train pulled into the station and she was gone. Summerston’s the next station down the line and I was looking forward to home going. In terms of the shift, it had not been a long time in hours, but long in never getting a minute to yourself and never getting the chance to log why you’d never got a minute to yourself.

A few days previously I’d spoken to a grown-up man who had never read a book – other than what he needed to read for any qualification.

So I’ve lent him a book by Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book. I look forward, with interest, to his comments.

(Incidentally, the day after that chance encounter with the Book Lady of Gilshochill, there was a landslip outside Possilpark and Parkhouse and the line has been closed ever since – a bit of a nuisance if you want to get to Oban)

And a final word about words if I may. I am currently taking very powerful anti-histamines (altho’ I have a bad habit of referring to them as amphetamines) and whilst I can gauge their useage in a day when I’m project working I am loathe to take them in connection with other activities .e.g. editing and so, there is an Out Of Office up there and I’m not even acknowledging any mail as I know I’ll just say yes. Somebody has just put money in my Paypal account to persuade me to do their essay.

Later today, I will return it.

And the amphetamines are working but there are times when I leave my brain in the kitchen when I go through to the front room. Sorry if I am coming across a bit stranger than usual at the moment. But I can feel them working so that must be good.

And finally, a final, final word about words, particularly those spoken by football managers.

And this happened a wee while back and it was for one of those radio documentaries where I did all the interviewing and someone else presented – and on this occasion it was the smashing Ian Archer. He arranged for me to interview the then Rangers manager Jock Wallace.

Jock had a reputation as a man of few words and most of those were four letters long but it was good to have his views. I arrived at Ibrox, was escorted up the marble staircase and was introduced to him. I got pelters from him – my jacket, my hair and my then support for Clydebank – and all of it with expletives most definitely not deleted. I was dreading the actual interview.

But it had to start and the tape did roll. And he was superb and not a single sweary word. I was editing it in my head which is always a good sign. And the tape stopped rolling. And the swearing started again – me as the target once more. I didn’t mind. I had got what I came for.

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

Iaint850, always in the market for coffee, despite the pills, and always nice to hear from people.

Anyway, at almost the very beginning of my time with the BBC I worked for a programme called Nationwide. It was whilst we were at war with Argentina and I was often called down to London for the week to work on the war desk. On one occasion I was asked by the editor to have a look at some cine footage that had been transferred to Beta (told you it was a long time ago).

It was of the sinking of the Sir Galahad and it was taken from another ship as opposed to the broadcast BBC coverage which was taken by helicopters. It was basically men burning to death and jumping from ships to save their lives. Nothing was shown at that time as far as I can remember but it left a lasting effect on me.

Which was why I was so appalled at the obvious delight on Michael Howard’s face when he discussed Margaret Thatcher’s taskforce and what it had achieved thirty-five years ago; horrible, horrible man. And this week there were signs that, more and more, the Middle East is becoming World War Three by proxy.

So by the magic of randomly picking a CD from a shelf in Fopp I became aware of a chanteuse called Rhiannon Giddens, only to discover that BBC Al, the blog’s bad taste pal and his wife, the lovely C, not only knew of her but were already going to see her in Edinburgh.

This is Rhiannon at the Grand Ole Opry

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

July 1, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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