Archive for the ‘Oban’ Category

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

December 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BT Project Workers? Simply the best. 😀 😀

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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.

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

June 2, 2017

And so, dear listener, for those of you who know what I’m talking about (and indeed for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about) at the time of writing this, I still have no news. And I do leave the house (off-rota this week) not long before the postman is due but that old trick doesn’t work.

So let’s talk about things that are actually happening. 😉

The Court Case is happening so that’s me at the Sheriff Court on Monday morning.

I am defo going to Oban in July but I won’t say exactly when just in case…… 🙂

Not only is accommodation booked but I have now booked train tickets and yes, Debbie from my work, I do realise how little (probably nothing) going by bus would have cost me, but I like going by train. It’s basically a long weekend with hopefully a couple of trips to wee islands just off Oban. And completely forget about work (altho’ we do have a project in Oban).

Now, should I take a Kindle or real books? Probably real books and just leave them for the next people who get the room. 😀

I have been to/passed through Oban many times including a visit to Iona many years ago for the BBC when I was shown around the Abbey by Lord George MacLeod himself and did my share of chores with the Community itself. His later TV obituary was called Glory to God in the High Street and I was really proud of my researcher credit on that one.

And then there was the death of John Noakes.

A wee while ago, I and the Good Dr W did Go Ape in Aberfoyle which involved zipwiring, rope-ladders up trees and rickety walkways between trees and would I do it again? Probably not, as I’d know when to be scared this time.

This is a wee clip of John going up Nelson’s Column with no harness but with his cameraman having gone on ahead. John had to do the top bit twice as the sound recordist didn’t quite get the quality he wanted. I’d do the zipwiring again but not that final rope ladder! Never! Nor the cargo net!

And finally, the blog and me on social media have remained election free but with just hours to go, I felt I should say something. So here it is;

Not only am I not sure who to vote for, I don’t know what to vote for as nobody is agreed as to why we’re having a General Election and what the issues are.

Theresa May called this election three years early because she felt we needed strong and stable leadership in Brexit talks and has said nothing other than platitudes all along; Jeremy Corbyn has done okay in the old trench/class warfare but was let down badly (on his days off) by sending along his lieutenants Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry who spoke platitudes which they didn’t understand; SNP supporters spoke of what the SNP would do for education and health (without seeming to realise that they should already be doing something about them at Holyrood) and it must be hard for Nicola to realise that her dreams of a second indyref are drifting further and further away; the Lib-Dems are nice but much less focused than they were under Charles Kennedy at his best (62 seats) and this week sees the second anniversary of Charles’s death; and the Scottish Greens are nice locally but I have no idea why they’re standing in three seats in a UK election.

I’ll make my mind up on the day. And on the day I will decide to vote for Pam Duncan-Glancy. She’s quite recognisable. She describes herself as the ‘only wheelchair user in the election’. And she’s Labour. And I’ve seen her outside Hillhead Subway Station. And she’s the sister of the girlfriend of a former student of mine.

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

Iaint850, wishing everything in life were as simple as a General Election.

In the midst of all the campaigning you might have missed a wee report from the Care Inspectorate which looked at the work carried out by Scotland’s twenty-nine Alcohol and Drug Partnerships – made up of local authorities, health boards, police and drug and alcohol agencies.

It concluded that ‘the majority of operational staff were very positive and confident in demonstrating that they worked well together to improve outcomes for people, families and communities.

‘(However), local councils and health boards must do more to reduce the stigma and create the necessary conditions to successfully embed a recovery philosophy.’

It was an American organisation called The Faces and Voice of Recovery that was the inspiration for the subject of my Master’s – four years ago this Summer. I still have all my notes and printed off journal articles and some amazing stories from the people I interviewed for that MSc. I wonder………

One of the reasons I’m glad I don’t work nights these days is that I don’t have to listen to the busker outside the Dental Hospital and the three o’clock drunks singing along with him with this. It’s Oasis (the proper version) …what else?