Archive for the ‘Recovery’ Category

But when you’re in zugzwang, one possible strategy is just not to make a move. But, in the end, the game has to end. (One view of where we are with Brexit negotiations)

September 19, 2019

And so, dear listener, last week’s show reflected a Government minister’s unwillingness (cowardice?) to voice his own views so he did it in a slimey and snidey way. This week is totally in my voice and all the feelings are mine but I am going to speak about a lot of other folk but mostly in a nice way……. 😀

Let’s start with Son Brian who has been a tremendous help in so many ways in recent months and who has recently set up my new PC altho’ I have not yet made a full transition from the old one (this one) to the new one as I’m trying to stay a wee bit away from computer screens after all the editing and writing I’ve been doing recently.

Anyway Happy Birthday Son Brian (and RJ as well)……. 😀

(and can I be a wee bit editorially geekish here and say there’s an amazing range of templates on Word 365…….I spent an afternoon going through them). 😀

So I’m going to talk about people like Rod Stewart, and I’ll finish with a wee story about him later, but I don’t share the view that it’s ‘good’ when a celeb tells their story about their cancer*. I just think it’s great when anyone tells that story. Sharing is brilliant and if you’re telling that story it’s cos you survived that experience. But well done Rod……..and d’you remember that time when….but later…… 😉

(And a personal hero on the Prostate Cancer front was a guy called Roy Stewart who, despite being seriously ill, was an amazing man to do Information Stands with. ‘Back off Roy, let them get in through the door first’ (lol))

*and I instinctively used third person plural pronouns, Sam, because we already do in certain circumstances. I mean I have no issue with gender transition, but, as an editor, I’m not sure why you still use first person singular pronouns when talking about yourself. Why not third person plural for consistency?

But this week it doesn’t have to be a health thing.

Last week the European Ladies Golf team (under the captaincy of Scot, Catriona Matthew, who played a major part in my PR career many years ago) beat the Americans with the final putt on the final hole in the final match of the Solheim Cup. It was sunk by Suzann Petterson who had hardly played in the last two years, was something like 630th in the World and was a personal pick by Catriona……… 😀

Everyone was a heroine (deliberate use of female of hero) in the team but to be have been written off and then to have written her own chapter in sporting history was amazing….wasn’t it?

And Fernando Ricksen? A hero. Not my favourite as a player altho’ I’ve no real views about Old Firm players but in recent years, he played a blinder spreading the word about MND. And his wife and the rest of his family. There’s an amazing shot of Fernando on his super dooper wheelchair going into some event and his wife leans over and adjusts his head so it’s up and looking forward and looking cool and commanding and not slumped…… 😀

And Gareth Thomas…… Now, I’m not 100 per cent sure why he spoke when he did. The documentary was more or less recorded and about to be broadcast and he was going to talk about being HIV in that and that was one of the reasons why he had done the Ironman Triathlon challenge to show that being HIV did not mean being a wimp….he just hadn’t told his parents and then had to go public because it was about to become public.

I though Gareth came out of it with grace and courage and it may make more people think about overcoming stigma. Well done….. 😀

And I was asked recently…….’wouldn’t it mean more to people if you described yourself as a recovered alcoholic….give more people hope of recovery?’

Seven years ago, I set myself a target of just being someone who ‘doesn’t drink’…….I think I’ve been pretty open about the reasons why I don’t drink and am more than happy to discuss those reasons but it’ll soon be thirteen years so I’m quite happy with the way I’ve done it.

Plus I think there are still too many connotations and stigma that still surround the word ‘alcoholic’. Lapsing is not inevitable.

And I did see one journo on TV saying that David Cameron’s depression wasn’t clinical because he had never taken anti-depressants. Nor have I but that doesn’t mean that my moments of anxiety and depression aren’t real.

And a new GP that I discussed this with last week shared my views. She was good…..’but there was a letter from your urologist in 2014 that said such and such but you never tried it……..I think we should give it a go…….peppermint or aniseed?’ 😉

#copingmechanisms

And finally a wee word about the furore (eh?) surrounding some Head of a Fire Brigade (Lincolnshire?) who thought that Fireman Sam being white and male put people off. So I wonder if he (of course it’s a he) has ever seen Flora the Firefighter who is a real person and this should be standard viewing everywhere.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07cdm4x

tioraidh, still wearing the badges (with pride) and still keeping it simple but I may send a birthday card

iaint850 who’s nobody’s hero but is happy waking up every morning.

And many years ago, at the age of 12 or so I was allowed into the adult, let’s call it the grown up, section of Peterhead Library cos I’d read all the kiddies’ books; and I seemed to be heavily into World War II books. I picked out one about Arnhem (seventy-five years ago) and happened to go into the newsagent that my dad used and the man behind the counter asked to see it and he looked at it, especially the photos.

‘Why?’ I asked my dad later.

‘Because he was at Arnhem and he survived but he doesn’t talk a lot about it.’

That night I stopped reading books by generals as I realised who the real heroes were. Many of mine over the last few days are listed above.

The Rod Stewart (and rainforestriverman) story can wait until next week.

Here’s Chumbwamba and their famous appearance on TV in the states and a song that is appropriate for so many people in today’s blog. If I’ve missed anyone out, for once let me know.

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Don’t forget you’re human. It’s okay to have a meltdown. Just don’t live there. Cry it out. Then re-focus on where you’re heading.

August 30, 2019

And so dear listener, apologies for the lack of a blog last week.

As some of you know there have been hiccups with regard to the settlement of my sister’s estate. I can’t say much as, by its very nature, it’s a legal process, so I can’t say much. But I have changed lawyers and I have known my previous lawyer since university days (the first time) so some decisions have been hard.

I have a new lawyer and I think we’ve found the tunnel but I’m still not sure whether that what we’re seeing is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel or the light of an oncoming train.

But I’m happier and what I refer to as moments of anxiety and depression are beginning to recede but they are real and usually the coping mechanisms that I talk about help but no amount of going for a walk can sell a house you thought was already sold altho’ it hasn’t not been sold.

But I did have to clear away a lot of dead wasps from my sister’s house last weekend AND altho’ she’s dead I don’t think I’m unusual in still thinking about her and what she would make of the various happenings.

But I did mention some of this to another friend from my first time at university and therefore of that generation. His advice was to ‘wake up and smell the flowers’. It’s funny. I’ve done suicide intervention training on two occasions, and used it successfully twice, when working for Blue Triangle.

It wasn’t easy and it might have been so much easier had I been able to say to them ‘Wake up and smell the flowers!’ No, I didn’t get thanks and I had loads of paperwork to do after it.

And then I got a message on social media from someone from whom I had not heard for years but who does seem to follow me and this show somewhere.

Here’s one quote; ‘I have to admire that you can pull out the positives and I wish I was more like that.’

So, dear listener, which of the messages had the more positive effect? Or need I ask? Thank you Chris. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And finally, it’s been a bit of a one-subject blog but there have been good things this week. It’s my grand-daughter’s fifth birthday this week and I did get her a proper card as opposed to the one that said ‘Sorry, I forgot your birthday’ that I started the week with, I was at a smashing conference organised by the Scottish Drugs Forum (#stopthedeaths), it’s been a wee while since I’d eaten at the Hanoi Bike Shop so thoroughly enjoyed eating there again , I’m slowly working my way through a 100,000 word edit and I’ve been shown the actual bin where I can drop off used coffee capsules for re-cycling.

But maybe more of that next week,

Tioraidh, and an Oxfam collector in Buchanan Street recognised the Prostate Cancer Awareness badge and let me past, and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, and what I do do is take a wee walk in the garden when it’s dark but I do have lights so it’s very pleasant and very relaxing,

Last week, when the blog didn’t happen, I had planned a political ending.

I was, either, going to have a go (as I have done before) at Iain Duncan Smith whose think tank has proposed setting the date for your pension at 75, or Harry, Meghan and Sir Reg Dwight.

IDS is the idiot who approached Alcoholics Anonymous in 2011 or 2102 and suggested that convicted drunk drivers should be compelled to attend AA meetings. What he didn’t realise was that AA meetings are voluntary and the word ‘Anonymous’ means you don’t have to give your name and so there is no record of attendance. What an idiot!

As is Sir Reg Dwight who felt that paying for H & M’s private jet AFTER the event (and I’m saying nothing about the ecological impact) would stop the criticism of them taking a freebie rather than a commercial flight.

Have you ever been on the Glasgow to Edinburgh train (on quieter times than last weekend) and decided to chance your luck in First Class but you only have a normal off-peak return and the conductor comes in and you offer to pay the difference but he says ‘no’ and he chucks you off at Linlithgow saying, ‘try it on the next train’ (a friend, honest, and a long time ago).

Where’s Sir Reg when you need him?

So, in the real world, I note that there are concerns that children no longer have invisible friends but they have friends they ‘make’ through computers.

Skippy’s doing fine thank you. She’s travelling the world at the moment and sends postcards from time to time – invisible postcards of course. She seems happy and I’ll pass on your best wishes.

Skippy is/was a coping mechanism but you’d guessed that a long time ago, didn’t you?

Maybe so are you, dear listener, and I thank you for listening.

So, in the latest in the well received series of good looking women in country music, here’s Dolly, Lind and EmmyLou……..

“…the time has come when that tired old lie , ‘once an addict , always an addict ‘ will no longer be tolerated by either society or the addict themselves . We do recover”

July 12, 2019

And so, dear listeners, again thanks for birthday wishes but also for your help in spending some of my pressies; in particular what I used to describe as book tokens but which are now well and truly in the Twenty-First Century.

For example, my ex sent me an online book token from the National Books something or other which tells you to print it out and when you do you get a blankish A4 sheet of paper which contains a bar code, a pin (number) and another set of numbers.

I should mention that my ex messaged me later to see if I had worked out how to use it. Well, yes I had but it took the second member of Waterstones staff in Byres Road to run it through the till. 🙂

I would like to thank Julie, Jill and Iain for their suggestions and I’ve been nicely in the position where I’ve taken a sample book out of each of their suggestions……..I’ll keep you posted. 😀

But when am I going to read them?

This is now the start of the dissertation editing season and, yes, it gets earlier and earlier.

Many Masters have to be in by the end of August and I seem to have three on the books for the next couple of weeks and then there’s a business school at Glasgow University which pays for Christmas (and coffees).

And they’re getting younger and that shows in my caustic comments. Those of you who know Track Changes will be aware of the Comments facility.

One of mine this week read, ‘this is meant to be an academic piece of work; not an Instagram post.’ (I smiled)

And incidentally the grand-daughter of the UWS academic went on to win that Beautiful Baby contest in a shopping mall…….. 😀 😀 😀

I’ll move on.

Incidentally, I was going to talk about Recovery (hence the quote at the top but i’m glad to say that lots of other people are now talking so that’s good) 🙂

And the football season is about to start. Saturday, 13th July and it was the mighty Thistle up against the stuttering Airdrie at the end of a very wet week not long before Glasgow Fair Monday. Except it was sunny and I sat outside and read a book.

And then there’s a wee medical update this week. About me.

I had to go for an abdominal aortic aneurysm screening for men (people) aged 65 (and OMG, the men pictured on the front of the brochure look really old. I hope I don’t look as old as that when I’m 65….except……) 😦

Anyway. I went.

Now I’m sure that I mentioned last week that one of those moments of anxiety that I talk about hit me on the Monday morning I was due to leave Arisaig and I went for the train one hour before it was due.

I did the same with the taxi to Stobhill. I was appointed for 1130. The taxi picked me up at 1030. Nice guy. Knew the west coast of Scotland well and seemed quite understanding of the anxiety thing when I explained it as I’d rather wait where I’ve to be than fill in time at home. Besides which I might get taken early. 😉

I was. Lie down; t-shirt up; pregnancy gel rubbed on my stomach; and a thirty second ultrascan.

‘That’s you. You’re fine. No. You’ll never be back.’ 😀

That’s the kinda result my sister liked. Getting taken early. Or it wasn’t too busy. Or the doctor was a woman and had been to Glasgow University. Or…….well you get the idea. And what I really wanted to know was what they had said about her medically.

I never told her that one of her male doctors who’d been to Glasgow was an old drinking buddy of mine. I never actually met him when I was at the Beatson but I knew some other people from other places.

And finally here’s a wee joke for you.

My mate has a huge herb garden which is arranged in alphabetical order. I said, ‘I don’t know how you find the time.’ He said, ‘it’s over there next to the sage.’

Tioraidh, still wearing the badges and patiently keeping it simple

Iaint850, still a wee bit anxious but nowhere near the hamster wheel of doom.

So I, and indeed anyone else on Facebook, was asked by a friend for a song that would add a little bit of get up and go and I suggested a couple (both by Walk the Moon) but that was as much for the videos as anything else.

Somebody else suggested Mr Brightside by the Killers which is a song about a stalker watching his his ex-girlfriend being intimate with another man.

Apparently it’s very popular at weddings!!!!!

Mind you, Delilah as sung by Tom Jones and/or Alex Harvey is on the same theme only people get knifed to death in it.

The joke came from the inspirational Milo Castandea; this piece of music (and dance) also comes from Milo. Enjoy.

And I bet you’re still dancing 😀

Ageing’s alright; better than the alternative which is not being here. (George H. W. Bush)

June 28, 2019

And so dear listener, in two days I celebrate my 65th birthday and, like many people, I never really thought about what it would be like being 65 when I was only 20 as, after all, I was at university (first time) and hadn’t even started real work.

Or 30, when I was happily married but without child at the time altho’ Son Brian wasn’t that far away and I was working for the BBC as an established radio producer.

Or 40, divorced and back at the BBC (contract and casual) having had a career break in the wonderful world of public relations but living in what the wonderful Tom Shields once described as the independent republic of Summerston.

Or 50, when I’d left the BBC (or had it left me?) and I was beginning life as a subject tutor at Glasgow Metropolitan College and trying to teach potential young wordsmiths in an atmosphere where teaching wasn’t necessarily everyone’s main reason for being there but administrative ambitions came first for some management people (of which I’ve never been one)

Or……. well no, by the time I was approaching 60, the shit had already hit the fan and I was going through a period of ‘what the hell was that all about?’ and hoping that I was about to settle down again and maybe write a much better version of the book that I had already written about the alcohol dependency and the cancer.

The ‘Cold Turkey’ I talk about (unplanned withdrawal from alcohol over one weekend) had seen me being visited in the old Western Hospital by close family and friends who did not expect me to make it through the night – but I did; and when I was receiving radiotherapy (thirty-seven daily sessions) I attended the funeral of a friend’s mum only for the ‘mutual friend’ standing next to me to say ‘to be honest, I was expecting you to be the next’ – but I wasn’t….or ‘haven’t been’ to be grammatically pedantic.

But then, just a couple of years before the sixtieth I made one of the greatest decisions of my life; I went to UWS (Paisley) to study drink and drugs for two years. There were some who said, ‘Well if you want to go back to university and become a student again (sic), then why not do American Literature or something like that?’ but now I felt I had something to offer in the field of addiction treatment but also wanted to learn more about the part drink and drugs had played in my life.

And by chance I made some amazing friendships amongst fellow students and staff – including recently Instagram voting for a member of staff’s grand-daughter in some shopping centre competition and any grand-daughter named after (wrong spelling) a rock drummer of the sixties and seventies deserves my vote.

And the months around the actual sixtieth birthday saw me abseiling for charity, zip-wiring for fun, being a zombie (at a well know theme park near Motherwell) for devilment…….and a few years later saw some anxiety and depression and a heart scare.

The anxiety and depression still hang around but I do know people who have considered taking their own life and there are times I talk to them – about all sorts of things AND I also meet an NHS nurse (a different one each time) every six weeks to get my bloods taken and I have an AAA Screening Ultrasound Scan in a few days’ time in Stobhill Hospital so lots of people still look after me. So, it’s the least I can do for others.

I noticed the other day that Holly the Dog’s mum had written ‘Iaint850=65’ on a kitchen calendar which I though was an optimistic view of the future and then we discussed non-alcoholic drinks including a new one called Slipknot (that’s not quite right, is it Skippy?)

And I’m not long back from a long weekend in Arisaig of which I shall talk more at a later date but a wee bit of the anxiety showed on the morning of the day I was due to return when I worried about the train back down from Arisaig being cancelled and I’d be stranded. It wasn’t and I wasn’t.

But along the way there’s been graduations (me, Son Brian, the lovely KT and my grand-daughter from nursery with grand-son to follow) and there was a wedding six years ago and all the usual ups and downs associated with being alive……..

And I’ve spoken lots about the people who have helped so much over the years, the majority of whom are women………but maybe they’re more understanding than men who, in many cases, may feel threatened by some of the things I talk about. Many don’t believe, for example, that I am now simply someone who doesn’t drink alcohol; for many I am still a recovered alcoholic which is good in itself I suppose but may prevent others from recognising their own problems.

Mind you, in many ways, I am my own worst enemy. I’m not a great one for re-unions with people with whom I’ve lost contact and some organisations (e.g. the BBC) don’t seem to be great ones for re-unions. I was, however, supposed to attend one that was a celebration for someone who had worked (and still does) with the Beeb for forty years but a job opportunity got in the way. Or did it?

Anxiety maybe kicked in.

But if I’ve learned anything from the last few years it’s that there’s more to happen in the years to come. My (now) late sister made it to sixty-nine and she had supplied a great deal of material support for me in recent years. Indeed, once the will is finally settled she will continue to do so both for me and the rest of the family.

So you know where to find me and my diary will always remain flexible.

Tioraidh, still wearing the badges and still keeping it simple

Iaint850 who, having written all the above, now fully expects to get knocked down and killed by a passing bus within the next few days.

And after all I said about the importance of women in my life, here’s four guys who are kinda role models for me and the song certainly is

‘but I am still alive’……….and anything is still possible.

A man could spend his whole life searching for the perfect cherry blossom and it would not be a life wasted.

April 27, 2019

Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens were looking pretty good for blossom the other day. 🙂

And so, dear listener, for a few tears now, Partick Thistle has played a big role in my life. No. That is not a typo. I think many people know what that means.

Okay. It was, but I left it in. 😉

Going to the game on Saturday afternoons was a major part of my recovery in the early days, but even though I am now recovered, I still go and am a season ticket holder in Row 0. I missed much of last season cos of depression* (which was nothing to do with the team) and I’ve missed much of this season because of my sister’s illness and subsequent passing away.

*despite all we read on social media, do we ever ask ‘how’s your depression these days?’ During my sister’s illness I was asked by some, ‘how are you coping?’ which possibly related as much to my use of alcohol, when my mum was going through something the same with the same result, as the depression – but it was nice to be asked. I have a neighbour who is happy to talk about his issues but not everyone does.

Anyway I went back last week and again this week. And was glad I did so. The seats seemed busier where we stand – a new younger team but that’s no bad thing as long as there’s still room for us – and there was. And there was discussion about the merits of individual players but no falling out. There were no smoke flares; nothing thrown on the pitch.

Yesterday (Saturday) I went back and stayed to the botter, bitter end. Life’s like that sometimes.

The language can be a bit crisp and raw – the kind for which, noticeably on the new BBC Scotland channel, the commentator feels the need to apologise. But why? That’s what the real reality of football attending is like and if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then don’t watch. :p

And ships will always be ‘she’ as far as I am concerned.It’s how I was brought up on Peterhead which was a fishing town before it was an oil town and before that the whaling. 😀

And to the Parfery person (always one of my favourite students when she turned up on time); word on the streets says that you’re getting married this coming weekend. I seem to remember a lunchtime conversation in a city centre bar some time ago when you, me and two others, selected ‘targets’. Yours has obviously been a bulls-eye. Well done. 😀

I used to set the journalism students various writing tasks, discuss the results and then do what the SQA required me to do. I set a simple task.

‘Tell me about your sporting hero but avoid the obvious.’

The Parfery person wrote about her dad who followed a different football team from her but ‘not once did he make me try to turn my coat.’

Isn’t that a beautiful line? 😀

And finally the AGM and board meeting of The Word Process took place this week (which is what I used to call my business when it had a website) and it was really well attended. By good friend e and me. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Basically, I will continue to edit and ‘proof-read’ academic essays in the near future –whatever happens financially. I’m taking a wee break after the next three (!) until a PhD in mid-May.

The catering was provided by Firebird down Kelvingrove way and I must stop complaining about the crusts on sourdough bread sandwiches. After all, I was given a knofe and firk.

Iaint850, who realises that if I want to take part in anything on the new BBC Scotland channel I stand a better chance if I describe myself as an ‘activist’.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge (well two of them on the one jacket) and apparently ‘I’m completely fine’, which might be because I’m almost at the stage I wanted to be in relation to settling my sister’s estate.

The other property’s about to go on the market. So both will soon be with estate agents, which is good, and the other financial stuff will be with the lawyer…….settlement can wait a wee while. I just want to wake up and not think about it.

Except…….

There is still some of her personal stuff to be sorted and I won’t elaborate other than to say there are photos, for example, that meant a lot to her but mean little to me…..they are being disposed of carefully. But I do get some help…..(which sounds like the depression has come back – except it hasn’t) but I looked through some of my own personal stuff the other night.

I call them scrap boxes and I did start to look through them. Interesting but definately only to me (deliberate spelling error so you know I’m Hastings #LOD).

There’s scripts that I wrote for University comedy shows (first time round); there’s stuff my son wrote when he had aspirations to be a journalist; and there’s an article that I had published in the Herald after he and I had been to Legoland in Denmark.

There’s a box with photos (and yes, ‘I do remember the time when …. but wasn’t my hair long and that was in the days when I had proper highlights – a mixture of ash blond and sunny blond’)

And there’s my mother’s season ticket for the Empire Exhibition in 1938 in Glasgow. There’s a badge that goes with that as well. 🙂

Sometimes it’s hard to throw things out, isn’t it?

Memories play a part in tonight’s final piece of music. It’s from the movie Wild Rose, which I’ve not been to see yet (anybody interested? and I promise not to say things like, ‘That’s Julie’ and ‘That’s Phil’) and it’s Jessie Buckley (as Rose-Lynn Harlan) singing Glasgow (No Place Like Home)

Labour is an insurrection against neoliberalism, not part of your cheese and biscuits circuit…(Paul Mason)

March 21, 2019

I’d be happy if they vowed to eradicate poverty and homelessness for starters. Might actually win a General Election then. 😉

And so dear listener, I’d like to start by mentioning a smashing woman called Jackie who is involved in running a clothes bank in the North of Glasgow who came over to my late sister’s flat and took away what seemed like a million bags of clothes in her car and contacted me later that day to say that most of them had been used. 😀

There’s also been lots of books and some other stuff which has ended up in charity shops in Maryhill and various friends and family and neighbours have asked if they could have stuff which is fine because it’s good that good things get used.

Me? A trough of some plant bulbs which are about to flower very early and a picture of some boats in a storm with the description written in, I think, Polish…..

Things are moving on and soontime I will speak to estate agents and, well, I feel a wee bit more relaxed in many ways. A certain freezer has now been defrosted. 🙂

As indeed have I. A couple of weeks ago it was my grandson’s second birthday but it was one of the last days of heavy showers and I had made a wrong decision to walk down to the ASDA to get newspapers and had got caught in it. Shivering and shaking I called off from the coffee and cakes to which I had been invited by my grandson – just in case – but several Ibuprofen and a mid-afternoon sleep later and I was fine.Still missed out on the event and have yet to play Fireman Sam Skittles with him. 😦

However, I am also more aware of my heart in cold weather and when somebody this week told me he had chest pains during cold weather I found myself shouting at him, ‘go to the doctor!’

And one advantage to no longer labelling myself a pescatarian but simply someone who’d prefer not to eat meat? I can eat wine gums again and it’s such a pleasure.

But other things are going well. Take, for example, the editing. It’s coming up for one set of Easter holidays and then there’s the set when it’s actually Easter. These are busy times for students to submit work. I was asked if I still enjoy it and the answer is yes. I enjoy working with words; I enjoy helping someone’s work to improve; and I enjoy being paid for it. 😀

Indeed, I’m often asked why I started editing. Well, to cut a long story short……..

(Thanks Rosie)

And it’s a love that’s obviously shared by Neil Oliver, Missie K and I (and a few others) who enjoyed listening to Neil talking about five books that meant a lot to him and a very eclectic selection they were but one of the things that impressed me was the fact that he had read several of them on several occasions. Not something I do. I tend to give them away. 😉

On one occasion recently some books were returned cos folk were tidying up prior to selling and buying houses; on another occasion they were returned and the signs were obvious but I continue to ignore them; and there are some that I know I will never see again.

leithid a bheatha

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and continuing to keep it simple.

Iaint850 who is really an actor playing an upbeat cheery character called iaint850

So, as part of my work with the Scottish Drugs Forum, I’ve been attending a couple of training workshops as well as conferences and doing some writing. There’s a part of me that misses working with (service) users but there’s also a part of me that says maybe I’ve reached that time in my life when helping to share experiences and knowledge is the best way forward.

And there was much in the alcohol awareness workshop that I felt would be of great use to folk out there who are maybe a wee bit concerned about their or their friend or family’s drinking.

And with regards to the drugs in the afternoon I have been away from that side of my professional lifetime for some time, so very much a catch up and a talk about trends but, with the current laws doing nothing about regulating, in any way, the manufacture, sales and distribution of things like street valium, there are two things I’d like to highlight.

For some time now, I’ve spoken about my concern about not knowing what goes into the manufacture of drugs, and I do know people who have died (it looks) from street Valium but the other thing is something I’ve only really become aware of recently.

When you or I take an intravenous injection, it’s done in pretty sterile circumstances such as being careful at home or in a hospital and all that that involves in prepping for the jag and getting rid (appropriately) of the gear.

Many users aren’t that careful and things like needles aren’t always that sterile, so when the abscess in the arm begins to show, users can be very reticent about getting treatment in case there are legal concerns. That’s not good.

It’s not so much the drug we need to think about, it’s the person using it.

Which is why I’m about to play a track from a lady called Twinnie called Better When I’m Drunk.

Can I just say, I may be sober but I ain’t boring?

We see people brand new people They’re something to see When we’re nightclubbing Bright-white clubbing Oh isn’t it wild? (Iggy Pop)

November 16, 2018

And I managed to get that track into a Radio 5 documentary I once did about what was happening to Glasgow post Year of Culture. 😀

And so dear listener, this may well be a shorter blog again this week.

Various things are happening and occasionally my attention is elsewhere. But that does not mean that good things are not happening. 😉

For example…….

Recently I, and the other member of the book club, read a smashing book called ‘our house’ by Louise Candlish. Now whilst I have Twitter, I’m not the biggest fan of it (JohnTho64114434 since you ask) but I do follow @OrkneyLibrary.

About a week ago, I couldn’t help but notice that their own book club had selected ‘our house’ as their book of the month, so I quickly tweeted how good a book it was and how much I’d enjoyed it. Ten minutes later I got a ‘like’ from @LouiseCandlish…….the author!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

I’d not noticed her name in the thread (as we call it). My legs went giddy.

Sometimes there is a reason for social media. 🙂

And the editing’s going well at the moment and people are actually getting back to me and saying how pleased they are with what I’ve done for them…..and they pay pretty quickly…….and there is an Out of Office up on my mail altho’ I’m not but if I can, I will.

And whilst I appreciated much of the coverage by the BBC and other broadcasters of all the Remembrance Day stuff, I am annoyed at one piece.

Brilliant portraits on beaches of people who were involved in conflict and described on the BBC Website as eleven soldiers. At least one was a medical person.

I’m talking about St Andrew’s Beach and the portrait of Dr Elsie Maud Inglis (Aug 16 1864 to November 26 1917). Described as ‘a suffragist and campaogner’ Indian-born Elsie trained as a surgeon and was sent to Serbia and Russia, but died from a terminal illness. At least the Daily Record got it right and I think the Northern Ireland beach portrait was a nurse……..

But then I’ve got a lot of time for medical people just now as, apart from anything else, the nurses at Maryhill Health Centre still ask to see me from time to time. Yes. My blood pressure is still a bit high at the moment but thanks for asking. 🙂

Breaking News: I have an MRI Scan at the Royal at the end of this month.

And I’ve been down the Beatson Cancer Centre quite a lot recently, doing some visiting, and some of you may have seen me post, on Facebook, a wee pic of Bingham’s Pond (to give it its official name) around which I walked before my own successful treatment of about ten years ago and still do a wee bit now as well……..settling, so it is. 🙂

And then I go in and sit for a while and on this occasion I was sat next to a nurse who was wearing a lanyard with the word ‘Catwalk’ on it. So I asked her what it was.

Older listeners, do you remember the Catwalk Rock Lounge at the bottom of Union Street? For that was the Catwalk being referred to.

It was in Union Street and was a sibling of the Cathouse and the Garage. I talked about a place called the Solid Rock Café in Hope Street. She met that with Volcano and a place called Inferno’s – she thought it was called. Was that the converted church in Pitt Street? I threw in Clatty Pat’s and Bonkers Show Bar but I don’t think she was too impressed by Bonkers. And no, there is no payoff or punchline…….I don’t think, but she was called Irene……… 😉

And finally, Doctor Who is doing my head in. I do not watch it for nice wee dramas about the partition of India in 1947. I watch it for running up and down corridors and monster/aliens/whatevers that won’t let me sleep, like the Weeping Angels, not those very nice Demons of the Punjab who look after those who die alone. They were supposed to be assassins, fgs (for goodness sake – it’s a new TLA, I’ve invented)

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge (altho’ I almost lost one) and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, and Joanna’s was just before my time and well before hers.

And just a wee quick word on the PM’s Brexit plan.

It was a plan, wasn’t it? All I’ll say is that, a few weeks after my divorce, I gave back some of the CDs. A wee bit of give, a wee bit of take and a little compromise is all we need and we’re there.

So Irene was more a rock chick and I’m more of a country boy these days so let’s go with the Pretenders – in case there was any misunderstanding.

My idea of housework is to sweep the room with a glance (Erma Bombeck)

May 3, 2018

And so dear listener, this week I read The Long Drop by Denise Mina. It’s a fictional account of a strange but true event when a man called William Watt spent an afternoon and evening drinking in the company of a man called Peter Manuel who was later found guilty of murdering the Watt family but not William who happened to be out of the house that night. But what I found fascinating was the insight into a Glasgow that was having difficulty in thinking of changing – when motorways were a doodle on someone’s foolscap pad and when, at times, there was not much to choose between crooks and cops. 😉

And the Daily Record had an amazing character called Pat Roller (say it out loud) who must have been the last man to leave the office as he had to make the final calls round all the police stations for that last story from whoever happened to answer the phone. No press officers then.

All these things happened a long time before I came to university in Glasgow. And stayed. But my family had connections. In the Milton*. And we came down on holiday.

*Maybe, j, that’s where the ‘the’ in the ASDA came from.

Loads of memories;

Possibly, having just attained double figures in years, walking back with my dad through Cowcaddens – a dark and dismal place then – on a Saturday night and buying Sunday’s papers.

And, probably the same age, being on the subway (Glaswegians do not call it the Clockwork Orange) and seeing a young girl of South Asian origin and thinking how beautiful she looked. Where was she from I wondered? She got off at Kelvinbridge.

Ah memories but much more recent was my own (successful) treatment for prostate cancer, so it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I sat down to watch The Cancer Hospital – BBC Scotland’s look at the work of Glasgow’s Beatson Hospital which this week looked at prostate cancer. It was an excellent programme and brought back a lot of memories – most of them good. 😀 😀 😀

As I mentioned on Facebook it is now ten years since I was halfway through my own radiotherapy which was preceded by several months of hormone injections and, yes, as one of the guys said in the programme, it was like the menopause (according to my ex-wife) and I put my current hot flushes and weight gain down to that. ):

But my memories of the actual treatment are still strong; that small sheet which was intended as a modesty cover which we gave up on after two or three days cos, at that point, I couldn’t even raise a smile. And occasionally the radiotheraper had to use a felt pen to highlight the tattoos and as one nurse said, ‘we can’t see the wood for the trees.’ But the trees were zapped out of the way quite quickly and that’s how they’ve stayed. And then the nuclear klaxon would go and the radiotherapers would run out of the room and I’d be left for ten minutes – rigid – to let the machine do its best. It worked. 😀 😀 😀

And then that moment (and I can feel the tears starting now) when, three months after the treatment finished, my son and his kinda step-dad came down with me to the Beatson and met the consultant and I was given the All Clear. 😀 😀 😀

We know that not everyone can be that fortunate but the one thing that everyone (almost) who goes through the cancer experience agrees on is the dedication of the NHS staff who do such a brilliant job. That’s why I get annoyed every time a Health Secretary or Shadow Health Secretary or publicity seeking co*kwomble goes to a hospital looking for a photo-op. I wonder how many lives could be saved if the doctors and nurses could get back on the wards.

Anyway, I cried at some of the stories…..well, all of them..

And finally, Minimum Unit Pricing policy has arrived in Scotland after a long fight against vested interests. It may not be the ‘silver bullet’ which was bandied about this week (I don’t see how increasing the price of Frostie Jack will kill vampires but who knows) but research (for example, University of Sheffield, the Finnish (sp) Government and the World Health Organisation) suggests it will.

What difference would it have made to me? I do know that I was easily getting through a bottle of whisky each day and had started to move to much cheaper brands…….Price does make a difference.

I cried at some of the stories on the news programmes that night. Worthwhile photo-ops I thought

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and trying hard to keep it simple.

Iaint850, been doing a lot of crying this week. It’s what happens when the prostate cancer menopause finally hits you.

Some listeners may remember a few weeks back that I explained that my sister was treating me to a deep clean of my house as an early birthday present. Since I came out of hospital, I’ve maybe not given it the attention it deserves……and I live on my own (I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before) and there has been lack of, how can I put it nicely, ‘temporary visitors’ but fostering a dog has been mentioned.

So (oops) I contacted a company and someone came round at the agreed time and looked my house over. OMG! What an unnerving experience! She was good and professional but,

‘we’ll need to see what we can do.’ and ‘when was the cooker last cleaned?’ and ‘do you want the kitchen cupboards cleaned? I think we should.’….I mean she was very pleasant and they bring their own vacuum cleaner (cos mine’s rubbish) and there will be three of them and then – after she’d gone – I’d another wee look around. Surely it’s not that long since I cleaned the shower cubicle, is it? Skippy?

I’ll get that done tonight.

She also asked if I’d had the place deep cleaned before.

When I was in hospital eleven and a bit years ago, the family and friends who were tidying up parts of my life, arranged for some folk to come in to clean and tidy the house. I’ve never asked why. Maybe it was something to do with my fight with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It took place over the entire house. And I won. 🙂

This is Meghan Linsey’s cover version of the One Republic track – Counting Stars – and it’s brilliant.

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

March 1, 2018

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

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

And he did not explain what those issues were. 😦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Pop’, goes the weasel.

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

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

Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person (anon I think)

February 22, 2018

And so dear listener, I now know what the Tyre Pressure light looks like on my car’s dashboard. And what it does.

And it stays on despite switching the car on and off four times. 😦

It tells me that I have a screw impaled in the tyre on the driver’s side and I ain’t going anywhere. 😦

I phoned the AA (Automobile Association) and they came out and asked if I had a spare tyre and I said no I had a kit (cos new cars don’t have spare tyres) and we just looked at each other and it was a Sunday morning and so he drove me down to a well-known tyre and exhaust centre in Anniesland and they were very good (and you didn’t expect me to say that, did you?).

Now it may have helped that I was their first customer on a Sunday morning and I told them exactly what I wanted and I did not leave the place until it was all done and it only took twenty minutes and it was a wee bit more expensive that I’d like to have paid at the moment but, hey, it’s done. 🙂

And I remained calm and sanguine for the whole morning which I think was good. And that was one of the most pleasing aspects of the whole incident. And went home and ate oat cakes and humous. 😀

But I am quite calm about the whole heart assault affair. I’ve now been to my GP and discussed various aspects of it all and now have an amazing list of repeat prescriptions BUT can I stress it is a very boring list and there are no benzos or opiates amongst them? And the only legal psychoactive drug I take is caffeinated coffee. The other legal psychoactive drugs are alcohol and tobacco and amyl nitrate poppers. It was the Queen who decided. Except she didn’t actually mention amyl nitrate poppers in that particular Queen’s Speech. But they are legal.

And I did see pictures of former Rangers player Nacho Novo who had bad heart attacks and now wears a defibrillator vest in case his heart stops and it can start again. I have a spray which I should maybe explain to people. And start carrying with me.

But I’ve started flyering again for the business side of my life and it’s been good cos I’m making it part of my walking regime and Glasgow is dead hilly. As in the Adam Smith Building is up a hill but I did do Glasgow Caledonian University and it’s not but thought I’d save Strathclyde for another day. But there are two UWSs to do and a lot more of Glasgow University and maybe one day, I’ll daytrip Embra. Anybody want to come with me?

Maybe after the lecturers’ strike when students might see them?

http://www.thewordprocess.net

And finally, I have been and gone and went into the Royal Concert Hall and bought some tickets for Aye Write but I’m not going to say for whom – as in who I am going to go and see.

However, if you have recommended someone to me in any way at all and you attend the event, I intend to sit behind you. You have been warned. 😉

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and wondering if I am still keeping it simple

Iaint850, and all is subject to the weather as I have no idea what the next day forecasts are these days as the weather forecasters are too busy competing with each other to predict what’s happening next week.

So (and that’s a great broadcasting word), as I’ve already explained, I’m making attempts to get out more but in the meantime I’m watching more TV in the evenings than I normally would and I have to pay full credit to some real TV last Monday.

BBC’s Reporting Scotland led the way with an interview with Neil Lennon who recalled playing for Crewe alongside some of those who had been abused by Barry Bennell and a caravan at the bottom of someone’s garden which seemed to mean more now than it did at the time. Neil had been Andy Woodward’s best man at Andy’s first wedding.

Channel 4’s Despatches put an experienced mental health worker into a private medical facility used by the NHS as they just don’t have enough beds. She lasted just six days; I found it hard to last more than six minutes cos of the screams from the patients as they reacted to their treatment from staff. But I did.

On the other side tho’…..when I worked in social care, if I pressed my alarm button I was not looking for a colleague to come to my aid, but a goodly number of police officers. And they did.

A horrific programme.

And then there was one of these police reality programmes which had been well trailed so it came as no real surprise when the blackmailer turned out to be one of the policemen on the case but the surprise was that the cameras kept rolling. None of the police people objected.

Fascinating TV and a sign of the issues that are out there that are being faced by people who keep saying to each other, ‘I couldn’t do your job.’ But they do their own. And I wouldn’t.

So tonight’s choice of music is for anyone out there in social or health care who had hoped for a quick handover to the next shift but then all hell broke loose or someone’s life was at risk and you’d to stay on and help keep your colleagues safe.

It’s Black Lace and it’s the Christmas night out (or maybe there’s another reason);

I’m sorry. This was up next. The Zombie night at M & Ds! What a pelvic thrust she had!!!!!!!! No. I still don’t know what happened. But you’ll be up dancing! I know I will be! And it was also how Saturday nights finished at Clydebank Football Club Social Club upstairs in the Hampden Lounge