Archive for the ‘Maryhill’ Category

‘A friend is what the heart needs all the time’ (Henry Van Dyke)

February 2, 2018

And so dear listener, this ain’t the usual blog. Apart from anything else it’s not as structured as usual. 🙂

Seriously. I know that in many years from now some literature academic will stumble over these shows and give them the credit they deserve as an exceptional piece of writing.

That and the Facebook postings of 2018 when in a matter of days I charted a journey from antibiotics that I thought I was allergic to but I was actually having a ‘small heart attack’ and back out the other end with more tests ahead of me. Thanks to all who followed the action and responded.

Basically it was a slow heart attack but it can kill and altho’ I’ve been trained to perform CPR and mouth to mouth I don’t know how to do it to myself over a period of time (and I don’t think that sentence says what I wanted it to)

And tonight as I looked at the metaphorical blank sheet of paper in the typewriter I just burst into tears. You forget the emotional side of recovery, don’t you? Here I go again. The physical begins with a walk around the graveyard and the mental, for me, is dealt with by hammering out 1,000 words on a weekly basis and talking (or rambling) to friends. Well it worked for prostate cancer and alcohol dependency.

But this time it’s been a wee bit different. Oh, my 999 call early morning was there again and I slightly surprised the call handler by having the front door open for the ambulance folk and having my prescriptions to hand and, and, and so on and I was driven to the Royal Infirmary after the ambulance folk had done tests and I stayed there for a few days in a ward I can never forget and I’ll tell you about that in a few weeks and then transferred to the Golden Jubilee and then that moment when I was told by the consultant that I could go home (twelve days on) and I kept looking over his shoulder at the nurse who kept nodding assent but with a smile on her face.

So my arteries are fine, the leak in my aortic valve is a mild to moderate risk but the blood pressure needs to be watched. I have a cardiac rehabilitation programme to follow and some outpatienting to do.

But I’m sleeping so much better.

Oh and those sample bottles full of urine and the toast at nine o’clock at night and the blood tests at 6.30 morning and night and those gowns that I had to wear until they no longer needed easy access to my body (eh?) and that mobile tracking device I had to wear even when I went to the loo.

And I think it’s worth saying that it’s been a wee while since I’ve been in the company of mostly women and not fallen in love at least once.

And I told folk I am going to write a Rom Com set in a Coronary Care Unit and fellow blogger Jill came up with a very simple plot which I think would work. And I wrote down some amazing quotes. And I witnessed some amazing patience (and that’s the correct spelling) where incontinence and possible dementia were concerned and I have no criticism of any individual, system or institution – just amazement at how nurses and auxiliaries just wipe things down and get on with it.

I mean I did ten or so days in a detox ward in Gartnavel about eleven years ago and that was pretty scary and the thirty-seven days I did as a Cancer outpatient getting daily radiotherapy were pretty straightforward which is not to diminish cancer treatment but I got to drive home at speed after each treatment. Here I’ve got to wait four weeks before I can drive again. And then I can get a much needed haircut.

So if you’re mobile and in the area – I do need some help with shopping and getting out for walks.

(Yes, I’ve been alcoholically dependent, had bad prostate cancer and now a heart attack……..and I’m still here)

But, yet again, people are helping and yet again I will get on with it because I am young and still have a lot of living to do and a lot to learn. The invites are in the post even as I write.…….and should you ever find yourself in Summerston, please get in touch but bring your own bottle – sample or otherwise.

Tioraidh, so, possibly adding to the badges but so glad I keep it simple.

Iaint850 and much humbled by what I’ve seen.

And after all that there is only one piece of music I can play even if it is badly lip synched. Here’s Feargal Sharkey (and just click on the YouTube bit)


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… 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.

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.

‘A vain, outlandish, anti-immigrant, fear-mongering demagogue runs for President of the United States – and wins.’

April 13, 2017

And that, dear listener, is the blurb for a fictional book written in 1935 called It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis and I think it’s more about the rise of Hitler than Trump altho’ so much of it does apply to Trump’s America. However, it’s been written in a very strange style and I’m doing, like, one chapter per night.

But it does mean that events register in a way they might not otherwise have done.

For example, I was reading about the concentration camps (or Holocaust Centers as Sean Spicer describes them) that American President Berzelius Windrip had introduced for dissidents when, low and behold, it was reported that Chechnya had introduced them for gay men.

And United Airlines’ way of removing that overbooked doctor from one of their plans seemed to stop just short of the firing squad as described in the book when they took away someone who was a bit belligerent, although I think they were justified as they knew a firing squad awaited them (in the book).

As yet, as I say I’m reading it slowly, I’ve still to reach a bit where the President is eating dessert cake (‘really beautiful dessert cake’) when he’s told that his country has dropped 59 (‘unmanned’ as in no pilots) missiles on some country in the Middle East but he gets the wrong one, but there’s a bit to go.

It could be a while before it ends up on the book club shelves.

[Oh, and I a quick word to j, if I may……No I don’t think I’m excluded and I was reasonably happy with what I wrote. I just got a shock.]

And so, dear listener, that was a pretty heavy start to the show so let’s go lighter. Let’s talk about my first ever media appearance. 🙂

I was reminded of it when I noticed a couple of weeks ago that Songs of Praise was coming from my hometown of Peterhead. Many years ago, when the world was black and white, it came twice from there in the space of a few months and I appeared in both – well I did and I didn’t.

Was I in primary school or early years secondary? It matters not, but I was in a choir (and somewhere in my house there is proof of a very fresh-faced young man but with a wee bit more hair than was usual at that age. It’s an early version of a screen grab where a professional photographer took photos of the TV screen)

Anyway, Peterhead played a blinder in the first one (no doubt due to my charms) and the BBC came back and the choir was also invited back. Now were you ever to see this prog, you would notice me at the start, in position next to the font, and marvel at my good looks. However, when the camera next returned to that position I was gone – I had fainted and had to be got out, without being spotted by the cameras, down an aisle to the side. But I was smitten by broadcasting. And as regular listeners know, I am often smitten, but by ‘eck, they’re quality smites. 🙂

And some other good newses in that the Queen Street to Summerston railway line (or as some may know the West Highland Line to Oban, Fort William and Mallaig – and that’s just given me an idea) has re-opened following the landslide somewhere along the line near Possilpark and Parkhouse. 🙂

And my gardener is due to do the first work of the season very soon and the shed has been tidied and this will be the first full season of the garden furniture and patio with plants, so who knows what that might lead to.:)

And finally, obviously delighted to see Partick Thistle make it into the top six and I just wonder if, mathematically, we can get into Eorpa if results go the right way; also delighted that we are going to spend £4 million on a new training ground. Shame we don’t where it’s going to be – just yet.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and always glad to see other people doing so and – still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, who can’t stop worrying, especially when he’s not sure what he’s worrying about.

And so, dear listener, I was supposed to be meeting uni-Sharon on Wednesday but the installation of a new washing machine took precedence (much more useful than me I would suggest) but I had additional reasons to be in town.

However having discharged those duties I happened to bump into my PT (Partick Thistle, the Harry Wraggs, the Maryhill Magyars) mate #soulboydaviebee (Tamla discos’r’us) who works part-time (p-t) in the brilliant indie record shop, Love Music, who persuaded me to give him £10 and allowed me to take away four CDs of my choice but based solely on the covers. 😀 😀 😀

One of the CDs is from a band called House of Fools. It takes a wee bit of getting into, as does this viewing of them but give it time.

‘Maybe just not every week……..’

July 28, 2016

And so dear listener, last week’s blog seemed to strike a chord with many people and can I just say that the train to Ardrossan Harbour was a  kinda metaphor for what I’m talking about – altho’ if anyone wants to go there, I’m more than happy to go with them. It’s more about re-examining things I do and seeing them in a different light, like two of my favest places – Byres Road and Firhill Stadium – ‘the field of dreams’. 🙂

And sometimes it’s seeing things you’ve become accustomed to through the eyes of someone else. 😉

Take for example, Firhill – the home of the mighty Partick Thistle. Young AJ had spoken to his mum, e, about going to a football match and it had been decided that a home game against Queen of the South was the obvious choice. I was more than happy. 😀 😀 😀

I won’t go into all the detail of the afternoon but there was a certain amount of explaining what was happening but not a lot. e has a coaching badge and AJ has seen it on TV and, whilst I was worried that boredom might set in by half-time, it didn’t. I liked the way that ‘our’ team kept the suspense going all the way through the game by leaving it at one-nil down before scoring the winning two goals in the last ten minutes……’we are Partick Thistle, we score when we want.’ 🙂

And we watched it from the Jackie Husband stand which gives a much better view than where I normally stand – in the North Stand (red’n’yellow) – and yes, I’d be happy to go back with e and AJ and, indeed, anyone else out there who’d like to take son or daughter to the first ever football match.

The downside? There’s not a lot of singing in the Family Section, 😦 but I’ll live.

And then there’s  Byres Road which I used to know intimately but I still know it pretty well but a lady called R, from out of town, who I should stress I know, told me she was coming uptown and would have her young boys with her and would I like to join them for tea? To which I said ‘yes’ and I did. 🙂

The younger was having his birthday the next day so I’m not sure whether this was part of the treat or not, but we ate burritos – and I wonder what the difference is between them and fajitas and we spoke of Casio watches.  So the next day, I went to the jeweller’s down Byres Road that sold it to me many, many years ago and priced exactly the same watch that I bought all that time ago. It is now £20 as opposed to the £9.99 I spent all those years ago and I can only accept Casio’s word for it that it’s water resistant to 50 metres. I don’t swim. 😦

But I was down Byres Road the next night with the blogmeister and we drank in Vodka Wodka – which I like. My appreciation of it was enhanced by the barmaid who, having poured my orange juice, put a straw in and took a sip. ‘That’s not right,’ she said and poured it out.

She opened another carton and gave me a fresh glass. Now, that’s what I call service. 😀

The conversation ranged far and wide but at one point touched upon a man called Billy Graham – an evangelist – who held meetings at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow which attracted thousands in the fifties and sixties. This was in the early days of television. There was no internet – no tweeting nor nothing like that. So how did he do it? Radio, and word of mouth.

Billy himself just trusted the word of God and spoke it like it was and it worked.

And finally, I bumped into former Divinity student and would be writer and former student of mine of so many years ago, Cathcart minor, who was clutching a decorated, 18 inch long, shoe horn (and I think Carry On movies have been made on less of a plot device). Basically, it was an interesting chat, but James, I have seen you move from boy to man over many, many years, but that beard…..maybe one day. 😉

Good luck with the writing and, as ever, if I can help……….

Cya, still wearing the Big Sky badge and continuing to keep it simple

Johnt850, broadcasting to you all and at the same time I’m talking to a student who is asking me things he or she should have asked his/her tutor months ago.

So when I was in Vodka Wodka I paused to look at the booze in the gantry and I don’t miss it but am intrigued at the range of alcohol available. When Billy was preaching, pubs were smoky places with a limited range of ale and whiskies and that was the scene when I started my drinking at the age of 16/17 but it is coming up to ten years since I cold turkeyed.

The blogmeister remembered the bit of the story of that night where I believe that I fought the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (an hallucination or not?) wearing only a freebie sweatshirt from the movie, Interview with a Vampire, and how I remained convinced that one of the horsemen was now a demon who lived in that sweatshirt. Obviously, I don’t now but I don’t dare throw it out. Wonder what Billy G would make of it all.

It’s a few months since J, my favest country music fan, introduced me to Brandi Carlile. I have a few songs which are part of my listening when I’m a bit down. Lots of Alabama 3, Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day), Hey, You Come On and Dance (Walk the Moon) – all lift me up when I’m down….so does this 😀 😀 😉

Brandi and Hard Way Home. Inspiration in a CD. No. No reason.

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

June 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

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

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

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

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

This is Margo Price

When you tug at a single thing in nature,you will find it attached to the rest of the world (John Muir suggested by Ian Harrower)

April 7, 2016

And so dear listener, this blog is now eight years old. It started as a way of letting people know about the second half of my successful treatment for prostate cancer – the radiotherapy – or sandblasting as it was known in the blog. That was a way of trying to introduce some humour and reduce the fear factor in talking about cancer. 🙂

Altho’ I had to do some fast talking when some students who were filming me in my (shared) office saw a notice above the coffee table which said, ‘Which of you bastards stole a dying man’s coffee?’ Some jokes don’t work. 😦

The first half of the treatment got less attention. It was a drug called Zoladex and it has been suggested that it had major side effects. My ex-wife looked at the list of them and said ‘you’re about to go through the menopause.’ And I still get hot flushes, altho’ whether that’s because I still get an awful lot of things wrong or am easily embarrassed, I’m not sure.

It came in the shape of a large needle and was administered, by a doctor, on a monthly basis. Y’see the male hormone testosterone feeds the cancer and the Zoladex administers oestrogene which kills the testosterone and gives the sandblasting a better chance of working. Which, in my case, it did successfully.

So I am still around today. To continue making mistakes. I’ll move myself on. Cos it’s been a good week. Mostly.

I’d like to say a big congrats to Sophe Williamson who married Christina Watson a few days ago and sent out some lovely pictures. Call me old fashioned but when two young women get married, I think it’s really nice when they’re both wearing wedding dresses. I showed some of the pics from social media to a work colleague who said, ‘they’re really nice. How do you know Sophe?’

‘Oh,’ I said, ‘we were both zombies together.’

Sometimes you can just sense when someone’s not too sure how to reply to something that’s been said and it’s best for the conversation to move on.

But since this blog is eight years old it was appropriate that I went for a drink with the blogmeister, altho’ I didn’t realise the anniversary until I sat down at the typewriter just now. I had written a page about my experiences with the drink and cancer and I had edited it as appropriate for individuals and if I felt their stomach was up to it, I could send them a page about the Twenty-four hours of Cold Turkey which I’d written for a competition run by the Scottish Book Trust.

Anyway I did spend some time in Tennents with the man who helped me launch my blogging career as I had no idea how to start such a venture but I have to say that Morgan’s Rum and Diet Coke may not be the best basis for a diet……just saying’, that’s all. 🙂

And it wasn’t eight years ago that I made the decision to join some friends who are Partick Thistle fans but that came out of a concern that I wasn’t doing anything with my Saturdays and time hanging heavy on my hands can be dangerous. It paid off on Tuesday night when not only did the Harry Wraggs, the Maryhill Jags win one – nil but I came away with a large foam thumb. Unfortunately I had missed the game where a free cushion designed by Kota Ezawa was given away. And if that seems strange for a football club, then bite on this, footie fans. Until recently, the mission statement on the PTFC website read, NOT SO CUDDLY ANYMORE!

And finally, I’d like to thank J, the blog’s favest music critic, for agreeing to come with me to see Alabama 3 in a ‘few weeks’ time’. For those of you who don’t know, A3 are the world’s greatest acid house country rock band and played an amazing part in my recovery. I saw them once before at Balloch Country Park a few years ago.  I suspect it’ll be slightly different indoors. 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and, stupidly, sometimes finding it difficult to keep it simple.

Johnt850, feeling very red-faced and very subdued.

And, yes, Scotland has done really well in having four leaders out of six Holyrood parties who are in same-sex relationships and have not made a big deal out of it. Indeed the tabloids have made little of it which is nice.

I’ve touched on this before. I worry when people come out in any sense and a big thing is made of their ‘bravery’ which I feel puts people off. And that’s been a big aim of this blog – to try and demystify substance and cancer issues and various people have spoken to me about things arising out of this………and there’s lots of folk like me……..there’s a massive list of speakers available from Prostate Cancer UK who are available to do information talks or staff information stands at Health Days.

And then there’s the tube of an expert on Breakfast News or whatever the BBC prog is called, whose first contribution to a discussion on eating disorders is to congratulate the two young girls, who were speaking about their experiences, for their ‘bravery’. The girls were much quieter after that. I’m not sure if they had ever seen talking about their experiences as being brave. Now they were thinking about what they had done.

But what do I know?

This is Lady Antebellum……..this is from a different past.

Who’s that boy with the ocean green eyes, In rough trade every Saturday, Don’t he look cute in his eighties track suit? I wish I hadn’t thrown mine away (Ash)

January 2, 2015

And so, dear listener, we arrive in 2015 with good intentions and a feeling of mild hysteria following a recent twelve hour night shift during which I realised I had a clean mophead in my work locker in case we ran out. Inexplicable laughter lasted for about ten minutes and that was even before I’d opened the locker. Maybe there was ‘something’ in the air that night.

This is the pot-pourri edition of the blog which not only allows me a random selection of items but the chance to run the gag that when the late Ian Paisley’s wife suggested that she introduce fragrances to the house with a selection of dried flowers, herbs and spices he was aghast; ‘there’ll be no pot-pourri in this house’, cried Paisley.

But speaking of the project can I thank Secret Santa for his two part pressie which I opened publicly in dread of what was in. It was a two part pressie; the first was okay but the second was a book called How to Bonk in Public. ‘They know you really well’ said my sister.

It was the same when I explained to some people that I was being targeted by Filipino women (or men purporting to be….) for what is known as sexortation. ‘Maybe it’s my loose privacy settings,’ I opined. ‘More likely your loose morals,’ said my ex-wife.

But on the subject of pressies can I say thanks to e for what she had described as ‘it’s the wrong one but I don’t think you’ll mind’……….it was, of course, a picture of the Finnieston Crane which is more or less exactly the same as the Titan Crane down which the good Dr W and I abseiled last year;

My thanks to Maureen of Momac Designs (who can be found through Facebook or me) for her help with some very special jewellery at a ‘slightly’ discounted rate;

And my thanks to my granddaughter (gd) who knew that what I wanted, what I really, really wanted was a griddle pan and tongs. Only sixteen weeks and so perceptive. I know that deep down she wants to hear all of my collection of hard house and industrial strength techno.

So decorations are down (don’t know why they’re so unhappy) and preparations begin for the next Windy Challenge (as I’m calling it). It’s a kind of Blue Peter Challenge for the Twenty-First Century and suggestions are welcome.

But you may have noticed that the last few editions of the blog were rather special. One was reflecting on my eight years without alcohol by talking of a special day in Easterhouse (and I do hope that those who ‘liked’ it on Facebook meant they liked the blog rather than the anniversary ‘cos it ain’t that big a deal. Many, many people do it without drawing attention to themselves like what I do).

Another was a wee perspective on the Bin Lorry Crash and it was interesting that when I was paying my respects at GOMA, three bin lorries passed within a few minutes (and can I point out that the driver sits on his own up front with fellow workers sitting behind him often separated by a barrier?)

And some Personality of the Year Awards which were graciously received…..

And big well dones to Uni-Sharon who made into the pages of the Daily Record for a good news story about her phenomenal weight loss (twelve stone with a wee bit more to go but what I think has helped is there’s a lot of simple exercise involved)

But it did mean that I missed some of the big stories of the time. For example, did you know, did you really, really know that the inventor of the USB drive died during the year? Apparently they lowered the coffin into the grave and then had to pull it back up, turn it over and lower it again.*

And a student friend told me she was worried about her parrot. Apparently it kept saying, ‘I can’t go on. I hate my life.’ Her roommate was too selfish to notice. He was too busy crying all the time.**

And finally a cannibal once took my sister to see a Russell Crowe film. ‘Gladiator?’…’No. I really miss her.’***

*He’s alive **Humour with a serious message *** There is no ***..

And finally, delighted to see that research has indicated that changes in the last few years regarding the sale of drink (also known as the BOGOF ban) has seen a reduction in consumption of about three per cent. Surely, surely this helps the case for Minimum Unit Pricing which will have an effect on the sales of cheap booze through the supermarkets. Alcohol is 60 per cent more affordable that it was in 1980………..oh, and twenty deaths each week in Scotland are directly attributable to alcohol. I’m not against alcohol. I just worry that we’re more concerned about one case of Ebola than we are about cheap booze.

Cya, keeping it fun and defo going for it

Johnt850, Uptown Funk personified

So it was a quiet festive period and I did feel a bit down but then e was in touch and, a propos of nothing, reminded me, in a gentle way, of what a great year it had been. Batteries have been charged and I have things to look forward to, ranging from an eighteenth birthday party and baptism (actually separate happenings) at the end of January, through to the fact that I have two weeks’ paid annual leave at the end of March with no idea of where to go all the way through to a draft application for a PhD which I’ve totally ignored over the last few weeks.

Skippy, there is still much to do. Fire up the DeLorean, the car of 2015.

And my thanks to John Cavanagh for this little gem

It was to have been Doctor, Doctor by the Thompson Twins but on reading the lyrics…….

June 7, 2014

And so, dear listener, I have just been banging my head against a brick wall cos, without being too specific, an online job application has asked me to circle which of two positions I am actually applying for……But how? 😦

And if the London-centric BBC News has ever angered you with the phrase ‘and now time for the news where you are’ this is author James Robertson with the perfect riposte;

The smile is back on my face. 🙂

And I have just received my Partick Thistle season ticket for the coming season. It tells me I’m a ‘grown up’ and must pay ‘grown up’ prices. Student discount over the last two years or so has been good. In cinemas. And similar places of entertainment. If I’m not careful, I may be paying tax soon……wow, that would be really ‘grown up’.

Mind you, there is a certain ‘date of birth’ celebration coming up when I may have to consider my age and maturity. Mind you (again) having had a look at a reverse bungee jump on Youtube, I think it’s do-able with appropriate buddy…..I have an idea. 😉

But the important thing is that the North Stand stayed red’n’yellow. 😀

And the quasi-autonomous dictatorship that is the Empire Games continues to ride rough shod over everyone. Ask the residents of North Lanarkshire and the people of Dalmarnock. However, my rank hypocrisy in this matter may well reveal itself in a few weeks’ time but no matter how good my seat, I will be cheering for St Lucia.

Incidentally, I was involved in the Empire Games in 1986 for BBC Scotland – pure unbiased BBC Scotland – and I do not remember similar disruption but I also remember the Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal (GEAR) plans of the late seventies and early eighties. Legacy? What legacy?

And I did a wee interview for Radio Clyde this week for the good folk at Prostate Cancer UK on the subject of what is described as a ‘risk indicator’. Basically it is agreed that the symptoms to which I refer – such as going to the bog too often in the night – and that very specific blood test – PSA – are not enough in themselves. With which I agree and I seem to have called on the Scottish Government to look into the possibility of researching into and supplying such a thing.

But in the meantime, ‘Any doubt, get it checked out.’

So where do I stand on the issue of paying 5p to supermarkets so I can advertise their names just so it goes to ‘charity’? Well, I’m currently eating an apple…….sorry, I’m currently collecting Tesco bags, Morrison bags and ASDA bags. And when the time comes, I will walk into ASDA with my Morrison bags and into Tesco with my ASDA bags…… get the message? It’ll be fun. :p

And finally, I rarely tell tales of the project(s) where I work but I will this time.

Somebody came into the office and said there was a wasp in the room where he was preparing food (I don’t know why I didn’t call it the kitchen there) and he hated wasps. So I went thru with a copy of that day’s Metro. ‘Bill’ left the room.

But it was a buzzy fly. I counselled it with a brief intervention and it left. But I thought that was too easy. I should make something of it. So I started to thwack surfaces and walls and shouted out, ‘take that you ruffian’ and ‘oooh’ and ‘you little bast……’ when the door opened to see how I was getting on. Or so I thought. It was not ‘Bill’. It was another service user……..

Prat is now my middle name. 😦

Cya (keep)ing it fun and still wearing that badge? YES.

Johnt850, who was not the guy in the tartan boxers on the M8 altho’ it did bring back memories of a night at Anniesland Cross……..

And so to the possible PhD;

I e-mailed a couple of academics asking for literally five minutes of random thinking but got nondescript responses. I was down. 😦

But a lovely lady at Paisley Uny Library (No. Not that one) came back with a positive response. And I’d a wee conversation with someone I’d met at a suicide intervention course who was also very positive in some of the things she had to say. I was back up. 🙂

I often speak of my support team; and recently I expressed my doubt about the existence of God or Karma or a Higher Power or some form of Energy directing me. If such an entity exists, then it is a collective made up of women aged in their late thirties or early forties and if they’re over that age then they don’t look it and if they’re under that age e.g. Missie K and the Vampire Slayer, then they have similar dominance over me and I’ll quit whilst I’m digging a hole here but one thing they do have in common? They’re gorgeous. Thanks. XX

And in a week when so many images of D-Day and D-Day veterans abounded, this was the one that caught my eye. No matter what your views on war and peace, this highlights the debt we owe to all the men and women who were sacrificed by a coalition government…….

(it may take a second or two to come up)