Archive for the ‘prostate cancer’ Category

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)

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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.

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

June 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I miss Margo.

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

iaint850, going for the world record of Friendzones.

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

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

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

And, yes, I do believe him.

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

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, Certainly, I can! Then get busy and find out how to do it. (Theodore Roosevelt)

June 15, 2017

And so dear listener, the No News is over and, as some people know, I didn’t get the job I went for. For very obvious reasons, I’ve got to be careful what I say but it was loosely tied in with the homeless charity for which I work and it was working as a literacy/numeracy tutor with roughly the same client group I already work with and yes, I thought I would be good at it but I did always say that if someone better qualified or more experienced was in for it then they stood a better chance.

And that’s what seems to have happened. 😦

And it does mean that that question goes back to being the most asked question and I think this week has reflected that.

But it was fun prepping for it. For example, I had forgotten that I had a teaching qualification – an Introduction to Teaching Further Education – and I’d done a lot of teaching basic core skills. I have even had the experience of teaching wall and floor tilers who’d never used a computer and seen the Daniel Blake thing of asking someone to drag the mouse across the screen and for them to actually lift the mouse to the computer screen – and how do you turn the page on a computer when writing something? Good question. 🙂

So, along with the blessed Nicola, I think a period of reflection is called for, but I do make the point that I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I will rush nothing. I am young.

My thanks to all those who supported me and major thanks to a lady friend who, in a textual conversation, after I’d said ‘maybe time to move on’, replied ‘move in immediately!’…….seconds later came the correction……’move on. I meant, move on……’

(Skippy, can we maybe check to see if there are any other qualifications I’ve forgotten?)

But I’m going through one of those weeks when, if I take one day off as Annual Leave, than I have about seven off-rota days. And that’s what I’ve done. The reason? Well, I’m going to be helping to do the tuckshop (again) at a Gaelic Sports Day at Pollok Park. Now, some of you will read this after the Day is over so I’ll leave it until next week before talking about it. It’s e’s influence that I get involved and this contributed to me going to Gaelic this year but I’ve forgotten a lot so we’ll see.

But e, have you ever seen a TV programme called Eat Well For Less? It’s roughly about a couple of people who go supermarket shopping without a list. Not that we did but Costco can be such an inviting place – with their tempting coffee and cake on the way in. And their trolley searches on the way out.

My tuck shop is well stocked. (No, Skippy, I am quite happy with that as a euphemisim)

But I was slightly worried, given the part of Glasgow we were in, that I might see people for whom I know a warrant is out. But I didn’t.

And finally, I was back out at UWS (Paisley) last week and met lots of people I knew (about seven but the campus was sooooo quiet) and I finally found the new way into the library and flyered lots of noticeboards and caught up on some gossip (of all sorts) but my favest bit was when some schoolchildren asked where D Block was ….and I remembered….happy daze and that may be part of the problem.

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

Iaint850, my mind’s in a bit of a tumbril at the moment. 😉

So my son and I have discussed my death a few times and he has Power of Attorney for when the dementia kicks in and gets what little savings I have and the house with its smashing big garden and the picture of the Sea Lion (or walrus) that he has coveted since I moved into this house and that there are arrangements for the funeral and some people will get VIP/Access to all Areas Tickets and my lawyer has the details of the music to be played.

But there is one thing I’d rather I wasn’t leaving him – but he does know this.

He knows that he is 2.5 times more likely to develop prostate cancer because I had it but he, also, is aware that more and more ways of treating it (should it happen) are being developed all the time.

But recent research by Prostate Cancer UK shows that 66 per cent of men in this position do not know of this increased risk and apocryphal evidence from me in the days when I did talks and information stands is that many men who are aware of these risks do nothing about it. Even when there’s been a death in the family ‘cos of it.

But Son Brian knows and I’m sorry about that. Still at least you’ve got the fun of all my CDs and downloads to listen to……..aw, come on. There must be one you fancy.

This is William Matheney. (I saw a shop in Paisley High Street which offered to teach me to play guitar, get me in a band and get me on stage……I am so tempted)

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.

In light of Teresa May’s announcement…we’ll just keep on playing country music (Chris Country Radio)

April 20, 2017

And so, dear listener, I intend to take Chris Country Radio’s words literally and devote much of tonight’s show to country music and the part it has played in my life (or at least the last eighteen months). As much as is possible I intend to ignore the elections other than to say, how can anyone plan running this country or council when it has now become the easiest thing in the world to ignore the fact that people did vote and didn’t expect to vote again until appropriate time (or a generation) had lapsed.

Even in my student politics days I never voted as early and as often; altho’ if this quote from a friend of a friend’s Facebook page is anything to go by, then increasing academic standards should be high on the list;

‘Tory’s are literary scum of the earth’

The bastards! They don’t even read good books!

So basically I want to play some music interspersed with some serious stuff. Some of you will recognise the musical choice and your connection with it but I won’t name you. For example,

The lovely Brandi Carlile

Or you may have been with me when we saw someone

Sharon Shannon and Steve Earle

And I spent some time this week talking to a friend from my first time at university who starts treatment for prostate cancer (chemotherapy) not long after the council elections (Sorry. It slipped out). It wasn’t so much discussing treatments and stuff but support and care and where that comes from. Around this time eight years ago I was reaching the end of my treatment and I’d had a twenty-first birthday and a wedding to look forward to and I made one but not the other, but I’m still here annoying the sh*t out of people.

And there’s no prizes for guessing the right word.

This is Blue Rose Code and Karine Polwart (country-ish?)

So my Samsung tablet wasn’t charging properly; in fact I could watch the battery decrease before my very eyes (well, the paint had dried)

Someone suggested blowing into the socket where I inserted the charger and onto the charger itself. It has gone back up from 40% (ish) to 100%. I can now stay totally election free with catch-up TV on the tablet.

But the manifestos will be out soon. That’s when my determination will be tested.

And whilst it’s good to see the Royal Family (jr) talk about depression in the context of their late mum (and indeed others) and it’s all about raising awareness, and I try to do the same through this show, we do need more money to treat mental health. We now acknowledge things like depression as real mental health issues but there are people out there with more specific mental health issues (maybe living on their own or in supported accommodation) who deserve better treatment and many of whom end up in Police cells cos there’s nowhere else for them to go.

My anxiety issues of last were recently described as a reaction to things that were happening at that time and I’ll go along with that but much of what I went through post-recoveries was coping with depression.

And I’d like to thank John Collins, who has a rather nice Country music show on Clyde 2 on a Sunday night (and other Bauer radio stations) for the next piece of music. John and I worked at the BBC some time back and amongst other things he’d a show called BPM – which was absolutely nothing like the country tunes he currently spins. I asked him for a tune for tonight.

This is Little Big Town

And finally, if there’s anything that comes out of tonight’s show, it’s that I owe so much to so many people, but they have good tastes in music.

So here’s a wee joke just to lighten things;

‘I went on a once in a lifetime holiday. Never again.’

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and I owe a lot of tonight’s show to keeping it simple

Iaint850 and beginning to think I have become invisible……maybe it’s my medication that’s given me a cloak of invisibility cos it’s doing lots of other stuff to me as well as sorting out the allergy.

So before I played country, I already used music to help me through the dark times. I’ve spoken about Alabama 3 and Steve Earle and Kris Kristofferson and so on and it was good to see the Waterboys and I’m looking forward to seeing Texas but there’s always been one piece of music that’s been there for me. There was one occasion post-cancer treatment when I felt really down (and as long serving listeners will remember it involved a former Miss Scotland) and I went for a walk not sure where I was going and when I came out of the reverie this was playing somewhere.

This is Green Day (and, J, watch for the tyre kicking)

‘People say I’m brave about cancer, but I’m realistic. I’m a storyteller’ (Steve Hewlett)

February 23, 2017

And so dear listener, I felt really strange on Monday but nothing to do with any virus. I had to turn down the opportunity to take part in an interview with John Ross Beattie on BBC Radio Scotland about some recent cancer statistics that showed that men with prostate cancer living in the most deprived communities in Scotland are nearly twice as likely to die from the illness as those in the most affluent postcodes. This time eight years ago I was finishing the first half of my treatment for this cancer before starting thirty-seven days of radiotherapy.

Those who know me know how passionate my thoughts are on so much of what is involved in that simple, but long, sentence. Why, I could even have brought in libraries and their importance to the community. Macmillan Cancer folk have an arrangement with Glasgow Libraries where on certain days they have information points and people to talk to about cancer. 🙂

Later that day, I heard that Steve Hewlett had died. Steve is (sorry) was a journalist and academic who was one of the best in both fields. He’d been Editor of Panorama for the Princess Di interview and presented Broadcasting House on Radio 4. He also recently had been taking part regularly on PM on Radio 4 talking about his cancer and its progress. He knew it was terminal.

I’d have loved to do that during my treatment. The only difference is that Steve knew he was dying and talked about that. I am still alive and still pestering people about going to gigs and going for coffee. 🙂

He was also a better broadcaster than me. I was once asked, live, to explain what radiotherapy was like. My reply?

‘It’s like being zapped by a nuclear zapping thing.’

Altho’ having heard Donald Trump trying to describe uranium and cybers (both of which can be ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ apparently), I don’t feel quite so bad.

Steve spoke with great dignity on whatever he was talking about – media mergers or his forthcoming death. I rush at things. My mother also spoke with great dignity when she decided not to have chemotherapy which would only have been a delaying process. I walked very slowly homewards from the hospital that night and then remembered I’d driven there.

I remember talking to J last year about a man called Jonathan Wilson (1970-2002) who used to write a column for the Scotsman called Dead Man Talking. He knew he was dying but he lived a lot longer than the initial prognosis.

Still, I have this blog. It started eight years ago and was designed, I thought, as a means of telling people how the treatment was going and would stop when the treatment stopped (if in fact it did – you can never be too sure altho’ I’m reasonably certain now…….Fate has just been tempted!!!!). Like me it has kept going and, like me, it can be a real pest. 🙂

I have done TV and radio and newspapers (my favourite quote for one of the Record pieces was ‘alarm bells started ringing when a nurse stuck her finger up my bum’ BUT this very simple test is one of the reasons why men won’t go and get things checked. To all women who have ever given birth, there are some men who consider this basic test to be invasive!)

I’ve done information talks and ‘manned’ information stands at various events* and done informal chats with many people in many situations and I’ve done it all being very positive but the question of death will always hang over people with cancer but it tends to come from friends and family.

*I haven’t done many recently and they’ve tended to be a wee bit freelance but if you, or any group with which you’re associated, want a speaker about prostate cancer or information stand for a health event, then contact Prostate Cancer UK’s Scottish office (for Scotland) on 0141 218 4760.

And when I talk about ‘still wearing that badge’, there are two. One is the ‘big sky’ badge which J gave me and the other is the Prostate Cancer Awareness badge for which a donation is good. Both are very positive and optimistic.

Mind you on one occasion, when teaching at college, in an all-male staff-room (not testosterone filled as I was full of oestrogen at the time) I had put up a notice saying,

‘which one of you bastards has stolen a dying man’s coffee?’

Unfortunately some students had come in to video me for something else and saw this. I later heard them talking about ‘poor John’ in the corridor. The next time I had them in class I had a lot of explaining to do – but it was worth it. The lesson plan was thrown out of the window. e was my curriculum leader. I don’t think she minded.

More people survive than die but what is survival? Ernie Walker was General Secretary of the Scottish Football Association when Scotland actually got to World Cup Finals. When he died, the press reported that he had been ‘battling prostate cancer for eighteen years.’ I’m sorry. That is no battle; that is a clear victory. 🙂

But I still cry at cancer ads on TV.

Sorry if this is a bit disjointed but it’s been written in one go and it did get started at three this morning and it’s only just gone four but sometimes scrawling a note to yourself just isn’t enough. It’s also been written earlier in the week than usual.

I might as well just stay awake and do some editing or send some mails pestering people about gigs and going for coffee. Well at least I’m alive to do that.

R.I.P Steve Hewlett.

Cya, still wearing both those badges and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850  and still available for gigs and for coffee…..whatever. 😉

And in other news….…I’m back at work but have been using the last few days to get fit; it’s days and it’s different but in ways I’d not expected; there was snow;  football and Gaelic are on the to-do list; and once I get rid of all the rubbish food in the house, I’ll start the diet. Oh, and I may be going to see the dragons in Edinburgh. What’s that, Skippy? Sorry. I may be going to see the dungeons in Edinburgh. 😀

Have I played Mariachi El Bronx here before? To hell with it. I’ll let David Letterman introduce them.

A giraffe’s coffee would be cold by the time it reached the bottom of its neck. Ever think about that?

June 10, 2016

And so dear listener, I was driving home the other Sunday morning (from work and not some hedonistic Satyrday night/Sinday morning of yore) when I saw a man looking in a shop window and tidying his hair. And I thought, I’m so glad other guys do it. 🙂

Y’know, I’m often asked what my favourite mirror is (aren’t you?) and it comes from some recordings I did for the last ever radio doc I produced (the CD of which I’ve lost in the refurbishment of t850 Towers which is annoying as I wanted someone to listen to it. There’s an archive I must plunder) It was about prostate cancer and why men are reluctant to speak out about it – although that seems to be changing.

It was a smashing husband and wife couple down in West Kilbride and I asked to use their bathroom before returning to Glasgow and with the door open (on the way in and the way out) I could see not only me but also Ailsa Craig in the background – both rugged and part of Scotland’s cultural history. 😉

And speaking of Scotland’s cultural history, please feel free to join me, e and c and a number of Gaelic speaking people at Feis spors Ghlaschu which is a sports day being held by some Gaelic speaking people this Saturday (18th) and I seem to be involved in some way (the tombola?). It’s being held at Lochinch Park (the Glasgow polis’s training ground in Pollok Park) and for all those who’ve ever wondered what the Gaelic is for bouncy castle, it seems to be Castle Sgeingeach……and it’s from 12.30 to 4.40…..which is a very exact time to finish.

Anyway, me and e went curtain shopping to Clydebank (where e lived for a year she said in passing) and I’d like to thank the very patient staff in Dunelm Mill and Harry Corry for their patience as my mind changed every so often but, hey, they are bought and are draped over my settees to lose their crushes (how often has that happened in my life I wonder….with curtains) but I’m not sure whether there will be an official curtain opening (I told you, J, I’d use it 🙂  )

What was of most interest tho’, was not the waitress in the very pleasant coffee shop who brought over our coffees with the words, ‘I saw you were having no milk in your coffees so I  topped them up with hot water’ nor the fact that she packed a mean bottle of tomato ketchup in the pocket of her apron.

It was the pictures on the wall. Bog standard and slightly dated photos of the Singer Sewing Machine factory and John Brown’s Shipyard and the clock tower that could be seen from all over Clydebank. What happened to all those people when the work stopped? Where, now, are the millworkers from Paisley or the coal miners and steelworkers from North Ayrshire? Or more likely, their dependents?  😦

I am part of a family of three generations of accountants and auditors, other than me or daughter-in-law, KT. It seems we will always need financial people, but people to make things? I’ll get back to you on that.

But good news on the book front where books are back in the business chasing out e-readers and similar. E-book sales are falling and the ‘iPad generation still want to read about Hairy McLeary or Katie Morag from a real book.’(D. Record 9th June 2016) and also the Crayons Who Quit…….if you have children or grandchildren of any age, buy that one…….it’s brilliant. 🙂

(And on the subject of e-things, this week’s Unattributed Conversation of the Month went as follows;

Me; So, has using an e-cigarette helped you cut down?

Other person; Yes, I only smoke spliffs these days.)

And delighted also to read that my first university, Glasgow, not only continues to take over the entire West End of Glasgow but recently announced plans to continue its library expansion – thus, in comparison with others, realising the importance of making written research as available as possible to students and researchers.

But I do have friends that question the value of university research and dispute studies that prove the efficacy of minimum unit pricing. Maybe it’s because it’s not disseminated properly and popularly.

So, and finally, step forward one of my own uni-mentors, Jenny H and her partner in writing Kim, whose academic treatise on Generation Rent got used as the basis of a piece in the well-respected freebie Stylist. Jenny H is also a graduate of UWS (Paisley) Drink and Drugs team but Jenny, this is the Dead Kennedys telling you how to pronounce Viva!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1enywhs7vfk

It was at this point I stopped for a while and Spotified the Dead Kennedys. And never started again. 😀

Cya, still wearing the badge and it’s no problem to keep it simple.

Johnt850, about whom the song was written, wasn’t it Carly?

Noel Edmonds is an interesting character who has received a fair amount of finger-pointing scorn this week, particularly after his comments about curing cancer with energy from a box. This after his claims that his dead parents’ spirits live in orbs (and that’s not short for Orbiston in Bellshill) that follow him around and the fact that he drives a life-size doll called Candice around in a black cab – altho’ this might not be so daft as a means of getting him around London quickly.

Y’see he also talked about the need to change his diet and to exercise in a different way……from what he doesn’t say. There is no doubt in my mind that the cancer cell in my body thought I was an easy touch cos of my bad lifestyle but I, too, made various changes to my lifestyle after I cold turkeyed that soooo much helped but everyone is different.

It’s about taking responsibility for your life and analysing what is good for you and helps.

I wish I’d restructured my garden some time back but it’s only recently ‘cos me and a couple of others read the book, The Bees by Laline Paull, that I would ever have welcomed a bee house in my back garden. It’s about keeping your mind open to new things and you never know, Noel might yet be right.  🙂

And my friend, Clyde 2 country jock, John Collins is a big fan of the new band RainTown – a country band from Glasgow. Let me know what you think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAwTplA368M

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it (unknown)

May 13, 2016

And so dear listener, a few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Prostate Cancer HQ wanting to know if I wanted to be kept up to date on volunteer opportunities and if, indeed,  I wanted to continue to volunteer. And I said, yes, and that I knew I wasn’t doing as much stuff as I once did but things continued to change and I was busy but…..

Indeed, all I’d done recently was a couple of information talks a) for a friend, Fenton of that Ilk, and her student nurses down EK way and b) with some recovering heroin users down Dumbarton way – both slightly different audiences – and I was asked if I could supply someone at PCHQ with details of both and much to my shame……No. I can’t. 😦

I know stats are good and that for some people there is a thrill to an Excel spreadsheet that I feel when I see an empty Inukshuk Blueberry Ice Wine tea tin, but my stats keeping is rubbish. 😦

Somebody from my work’s HR department was in touch recently.

‘The auditors are in.’

Could I supply originals  of my first degree, my two Post Grads and my Master’s? Well, three out of four were relatively easy, although I did ask if the auditors could read and understand Latin. Y’see, my first degree from Glasgow University was in Latin…Magistrum Artium…..and the Paisley University stuff was easy to lay my hands on and I also found an Introduction to Teaching in Further Education that rings no bells. I may have been drunk at the time.

But my Post Grad in Youth and Community Work? No sign. I did try and explain that it was about forty years ago (I was a prodigal, okay?); that I had been living in student flats and then had lived in about four houses; had had a broken marriage; that I had studied for it at an institution that no longer existed (Jordanhill College); and it was awarded by an institution that no longer existed (Scottish Education Department); and it was funded by an institution that no longer existed (Strathclyde Regional Council) and that I had no idea where it was……..Let’s just say at this stage that a discussion is about to continue. 😦

I’m not being disrespectful to stats collectors ‘cos having done some social scientific research, I do know the help that they can offer, even if such evidence is totally ignored and instead we prefer what we see in the soaps………and the role that factoids play rather than what we warily call facts.

Sometimes it’s the little things that appeal to me. When, for example, in an email to J, I referred to bog doors, when I actually meant big doors and we laughed. Thank you to the man who invented the QWERTY keyboard for giving us, inadvertently, a good laugh. 🙂

And to e and RJ for supplying me with ice cream In Nardini’s in Byres Road on the hottest day of the year so far (a scoop of rhubarb crumble and a scoop of mango since you ask) but don’t tell your slightly older brother and, e, I hope you recover from your football injury soon…..they’ll be getting the vote next. ;p

And when the man who cuts my grass (I have a lot of grass) strimmered a stone into a piece of glass in my porch window, it is ho and it is hum, and a text to Kenny the shed pimp and a call to his mate Paul the Glazier and we’ll get it sorted. 🙂

Y’see, as I explained a couple of weeks ago, it was eight years ago that I was being zapped to treat my prostate cancer and we had just reached the stage where they increase the power. They seemed confident that they had found the right area in my groin and that those minute felt tip pen markings, that they continued to make in that area, were accurate. But you find yourself thinking……what is this going to lead to when it’s all over?

And do you know something? The positive results of the cold turkey and the cancer treatment aren’t over yet. There are still adventures to be had and even if I still prefer to sit on the kitchen step at the back rather than the new patio furniture, it’s great having the option.

And finally, an inukshuk ‘is a human-made stone landmark or cairn used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America.’ I think my garden is just about ready for one.

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

Johnt850, and I meant prodigy not prodigal.

And my final words on the recent Scottish election (I make it sound like a Shakespeare play) are these:

Ruth Davidson and her inner sanctum recognised that a majority of people had voted against Independence and that, therefore, it was reasonable to think that that majority was in favour of keeping the union – and played that card. The Labour Party didn’t recognise that and paid the price.

The fragrant Nicola’s inner sanctum, whilst well pleased at all those people signing up as members, didn’t realise that these new people thought that  ‘activism’ was all about  re-tweeting negative things about opponents and didn’t realise it meant going knocking on doors and giving out leaflets.

Many SNP supporters, in their quest for a one-party dictatorship that brooks no opposition, did not realise that voting SNP/SNP actually worked against them.

I will make no political comment about the EU referendum other than to say I am in favour of staying in, if for no other reason, that the holiday-pay I get as a part-time worker (and other benefits) is secure ……..a security of employment that is still denied to many agency workers. There are battles still to be won. I have a social media petition to sign about it. What? No. Online. No. No clipboard out on the streets. Don’t be daft.

So why the hell would a record/video company even think about photoshopping Meghan Trainor after this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PCkvCPvDXk

 

I know words. I have the best words (Donald Drumpf)

March 4, 2016

And so, dear listener, in a week when Donald Drumpf gets closer to getting his finger on the nuclear button, but not as close as the North Korean President, and we discuss the ins and outs of Brexit (what a horrible word), there are only certain questions I need to ask this week;

Why is it not possible to get a return ticket for the Glasgow area which would let me go to work on the Thursday night and go home on the Friday morning? Not only that, but it turned out that the cheapest way of travelling was to buy day returns rather than singles and that saved me 20p on each journey and that was without my pass, which applies at only certain times.

And why, possibly a direct result of last week’s news about me NOT having bowel cancer, did I go to sleep straight after that night shift* and missed the call from the BBC to take part in a programme following good news of yet another breakthrough in cancer treatment?

*Cos I was knackered, that’s why.  😦

I’m told by BBC producer Steve Hollywood that it was a good item anyway – without me. This is BBC Steve who once told me that I’d taught him everything he knew and five minutes later did things in digital editing that I could only dream about. I think my son, who did a school work experience with the BBC, could do more in the way of digital editing than me. 🙂

(Steve I still remember that time, after a BBC night out, when I woke up (in my own bed) with over £600 of cash and IOUs.)

And does anyone out there remember a BBC TV programme called ‘What’s My Line?’? I do but I think it’s one of those implanted memory syndromes. It was in black and white and a panel, which included Lady Isobel Barnett and Sir Gilbert Harding (dressed in tiaras and tuxedos), had to guess the occupation of a member of the public from their actions.

J, the blog’s favest librarian; my first guess would have been a baker kneading dough; my second a fish porter; and my third would have been someone working in Post Office Parcels Counter – which considering I know your profession doesn’t say a lot about me minutes before I go on shift. Yes. Your mime was a librarian. I can see it all now. 😉

Incidentally, a private message, if I may to j. I’ll see your five and raise it to six!!!!!!

And why, when Holly the dog starts to play with other dogs, am I the only person thinking, ‘Oh my God, it’s a fight.’ ‘No, jt, they’re only playing.’ Sometimes, after a long walk, my legs feel as small as the daschund (?) in that insurance ad.

And am I watching too much daytime TV and in particular, antique programmes? (No. Not very old programmes but programmes about antiques) or does everyone else in my position find themselves shouting, ‘No. That’s too much for a monkey on a stick. Buy the spoons!’

Sorry, what was the question?

And finally, I was intrigued by the tabloid headline ‘Codgers on coke’ which referred to claims that two pensioners had to be kicked out of a charity event after claims they snorted cocaine in a toilet. Well, why shouldn’t they? Okay there are many reasons including the legal aspect of it all but substance use ain’t ever been the preserve of the young. 🙂

I may have been ‘alcohol only’ in my student days but cannabis started floating about the West End of Glasgow in the mid-seventies (unless you were some form of Bohemian, jazzy, painter, thespian type) One pub in Byres Road, in particular, was big a draw for people wearing curlers….but that was fifty years ago. In just the same way that not everyone who drinks becomes dependent on the stuff, not everyone who smokes, jags or pops pills becomes drug dependent.

That ‘grassy’ smell at the Beach Boys concert? That’s my generation, that is. 😉

Cya, honestly still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple.

Johnt850, more questions than answers sometimes…….

So a guy called Tony Warren died during the week. Two aspects of his life stand out for me.

First he was openly gay at a time when gayness was illegal. But it’s strange. I knew quite a few guys who were homosexual, but they never formally ‘came out’. Rather they quietly said ‘No, jt, I don’t fancy her. I’m more interested in men, myself.’…and it was accepted.

So when Sam Smith stands up making pronouncements about homosexuality and racial discrimination as if it were all completely new he shows a complete lack of respect for all those who have gone before him.

I now know many people and their friends and families at various ends of the rainbow spectrum that is LGBTI and one of the most diverse groups of people I have ever known (from that point of view) were those amazing Zombies of just over a year ago now. 😀

Tony’s other achievement was to bring working class life to the TV screen when it had never been there (in any great depth) before. He came up with the idea of Coronation Street and had to persuade TV bosses to give the idea a thirteen week run – and it’s still here today. What an amazing tribute to an amazing guy. 🙂

So at a time in my life when others were influenced by Hendrix and YES and ELP I really liked the sounds (and hairstyles – ah those fringes) of bands like this. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Lindisfarne;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYPBF4s8m_Y