Archive for the ‘SVQ3’ Category

We would be together and have our books and at night be warm in bed together with the windows open and the stars bright (Hemingway)

November 30, 2017

And so dear listener, I’ve found it really cold. Have you? Oh, no – inside as well as outside. And to be honest, whilst there are some things I do miss about my previous job, I do not miss getting up and out just after six in the morning to be in for a shift starting at seven on mornings like these have been – especially at the weekend when often I was the first car on the road. And that includes coming home after a night shift. On a couple of times I parked at the bottom of the main road cos it’s a bit of a hill (I live in a cul-de-sac off the main road) and it wouldn’t be the first time a taxi has refused to make that trip. 😦

(The last time was approximately a year ago when I finished work at 4.30 in the morning and it was a brilliant walk up the hill – streetlights and the snow and the foxes) 😀

It was 2010/11 when we did have people, well cars, having a tough time getting out of Summerston and trains couldn’t get through. Now, it’s more ice and frost on the road until you get to Maryhill Road – especially where the sun has not got through.

There was a time when ours were amongst the first roads to be gritted but then we did have a Lord Provost living nearby.

Now, as some of you know, I have a fairly reasonably sized semi – with a couple of rooms and bathroom upstairs and kitchen and living room downstairs. Well, unfortunately the heating upstairs died. It’s not been too big a deal. I moved the laptop out of the back room and on to the table downstairs; the bathroom has a heated towel rail and I did a lot of reading there; and the only real annoyance was the Master Bedroom…….It was cold. 😦

However, help came in the shape of a new electrician on Wednesday who knew what he was doing and who sent me a picture of the job he was doing in Kilmacolm to explain why he’d be late. But he did turn up and he did fix the heating and told me not to worry about the odd bang – he knew what he was doing. And sure enough fifteen minutes later heat was making its way through my upstairs.

I’m not mad keen on leaving my house too often at the moment but I put that down to the cold rather than residual depression, so I did feel the cold. But the reason for not going out on Thursday night was the temptation of staying in a warm house. I missed a talk about the Necropolis – once the dead centre of Glasgow. 😀

But I have watched more TV than I normally would and saw a smashing wee programme about the development of Scotland’s police people – when it was a number of different police forces and much better as there was more accountability.

There was a fair chunk about what it was like when you left the force and what your last day was like. Some of theirs were a bit more exciting than mine (other than that meeting in Queen Street Station) but I noticed that they have the same habit that I have although in their cases it’s understandable because they were there for twenty-five years. I lasted four and a half in the project for the homeless where I was working but I still talk about ‘we’ and in the present tense. 🙂

I also saw the lovely ‘From Scotland with Love’ – a TV prog but I think the video is still available from Fopp (probably a couple of quid by now) and e and I saw King Creosote play the soundtrack live at Kelvingrove Bandstand a few years ago and the video was played on large screens……just an amazing show. And well worth the re-run. 😀 😀

And whilst I’ve started eating some meat again, I was staggered at BBC’s Landward last week which followed a fascinating item about helping badgers to cross a new road by showing the man, who is now Scotland’s National Chef (Gary McLean), strapping on a powerful shotgun to go shooting deer for venison.

Now I’m not daft – and I do originally come from a farming and fishing community in the North East of Scotland – but I just felt there should have been something between the two items. Arlene Stuart, a beautiful lady to work with on Saturday mornings years ago,* had earlier presented an item on nurdles (which sounds like something Rambling Sid Rumple would have come up with). Could that not have been dropped in between the badgers and the deer killing?

The Saturday morning prog that I worked on with Arlene was called, I think, Something for the Weekend and was about doing stuff at the weekend, which obviously involved eating and drinking. Once every few weeks we had a wine expert, Paul Somebody, with wine and once every few weeks we had Nick Nairn cooking in the studio……..and every so often we had them both.

Sportsound had to throw us out of Studio Six with our empties and our dishes.

And finally I read this on da Internet from a drug rehab organisation that I have a lot of time for,

‘Viagra will be available over the counter in UK, says medicines regulator.’ – This is specifically in order to close down the lucrative criminal market in it. So why not do the same for other drugs, like cannabis, for the same reason? It’s not hard!’

Cracking payoff line.

tioraidh, still wearing both badges and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, and maybe we should use the word gluttony more often. Stop us eating so much.

So, there used to be very strict rules at the BBC about what Christmas music you could play and when. It was something like only new stuff for the first two weeks of December and then open door for the rest of the month.

So I’m not sure if I’m breaking the rules by playing this but many thanks to j, one of the blog’s top pop pickers, for suggesting this.

This is/these are the Futureheads with Christmas was Better in the Eighties.

Actually the setting looks like upstairs in my house earlier this week……


“While we wait for good things to happen for ourselves, we can do good things for other people.” Rangel

November 16, 2017

And so, dear listener, I need your help. Some of you know how to contact me directly; some of you are on my Facebook; and some of you can leave comments at the bottom of this page. So don’t hold back. Thank you.

However it might be better if I told you what help I needed. 😉

Y’see it is now four months since I handed in my notice to Blue Triangle Housing Association with no idea of where to go/what to do next and three months since it took effect. It wasn’t quite a Gavin Docherty moment but my leaving of the BBC in 2004 certainly was. I walked out of the newsroom and never went back. 😀

So, as you know, I have since started work as assessor-candidate for SVQs and that’s happening and it is a long-term project – given my age, possibly my last ever. The main source of current income was to be the editing and proof-reading but that had been running slow. The third element of my new positivity was to be a night class and I chose An Introduction to Social Psychology. All that and the blog and friends but for once I’m not talking about them. It’s not that I’ve fallen out with any – that I’m aware – but I’m being a wee cautious at the moment.

So the common characteristic to all of that (including some of the elements of the friendship) is the laptop…….and
I realised I was spending more time in my back bedroom a.k.a the office or the HUB, than I wanted to, so something had to give and it was the nightclass.

I was just not settling into it so I contacted the tutor and resigned. I explained the laptop reasoning and he said he had empathy for my position and when a psychologist says that, then you know he means it. 🙂

It wasn’t as much as fun as some classes I’ve been at, in particular last year’s Gaelic 1. There was, for example, the night when me and Katie from Oxfam (and there were other pairings that night) teamed up to discuss forthcoming Christmas TV programmes in Gaelic which I’ve got to say was extremely good fun (and Joy was a fun teacher and was also at Duaisean Gaidhlig Na H-Alba 2017)*

And then there was the night (and I had rehearsed it) when I announced the birth of my grandson in Gaelic. It had been expected but when Joy asked in Gaelic, ‘has anyone any news?’ I put my hand up and just said, ‘Me miss, me miss.’ And told the class everything. 😀 😀

I have previous for this. When son Brian was born, it was announced, not in the pages of the Glasgow Herald, but on BBC Radio Scotland by the great Jimmy Mack. It may have reached further than Glasgow because when a real mutual friend phoned her mum to tell her that me and my then wife had had a baby, the mutual friend was told, ‘We know and not only do we know but so does the rest of Scotland.’ 😉 x

So, that’s a wee update on my life three months down the road (and the editing’s going well again) and something’s missing (and no I don’t mean the fact that I live alone. Have I ever mentioned that?).

No, I need something else in my life that is not dominated by the laptop.

And if it provides an income stream, then so much the better but fresh air might be more of a priority. I’m open to any offer (story of my life) and I’m willing to take my time. At my age, even with my medically normal knees, that’s almost inevitable. 🙂

Any ideas? You know where to find me.

I’m iaint580. Try me.

*And finally, Buidheann Disathairne won the Learner Award in this year’s Duaisean Gaidhlig Na H-Alba 2017 at Glasgow Grand Central Hotel. Gle mhath! to e and c and all concerned. I’ve never been but I’ve heard so much about it. 😀 😀 😀

Cya, back to wearing either the Prostate Cancer badge or the Big Sky badge and hopefully keeping it simple – still

Iaint850, awaiting the offer of Kremlin gold – so I can reject it.

So, as we get closer to the end of the year and the Blog Personality of the Year Awards, maybe just a wee bit about music as there is a Track of the Year category and there’s no reason why the Personality has to be a person or why indeed it has to relate to this year.

So, on Ricky Ross’s Country prog on BBC Radio Scotland this week he played tracks suggested by some of the people he’d featured over the last few weeks. One of them was Marty Stuart whose gig at Oran Mor, I was reliably informed, by someone who was there, was one of the gigs of the year and I do know folk (well, one) who play in a Johnny Cash tribute band called Jericho Hill. 😀

So, Johnny always starts off by saying, ‘Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” and there’s an Alabama 3 track which begins with those words and seeing them almost exactly one year ago with J was one of the highlights of my last twelve months and, indeed, the last eleven years (I’m never sure if other people understand recovery but that night made sense of the previous ten years in soooooo many ways) and they’re coming back to Glasgow this coming March. No. No reason.

Marty chose this track.

I myself am made entirely of flaws stitched together with good intentions (Augusten Burroughs)

November 2, 2017

And so dear listener, it is over a week since the clocks changed but I am still feeling the effects. 😦

I cope with the actual mechanics of the change okay. I copy my dad from many years ago who changed all the clocks and watches in the house the night before and everything was run by clockwork (in every sense of the word) 🙂 I do some of that.

The first timepiece to be changed is my £9.99 Casio watch which keeps good time and is the official stopwatch for one part of the North Stand (red’n’yellow) at Partick Thistle. It’s one of the many skills I developed as radio producer and within one second I can tell you how long there is to go to the end of a football match whilst diving to a depth of 50 metres which is remarkable as I can’t swim but anything is possible with a Casio. 😀

I have a friend with a real Rolex which runs slow and when he took it to a well known jeweller to get it fixed, he was told, ‘It’s a Rolex. They run slow.’ Go Casio! Go!

The last timepiece to be touched is the Impossible Task: the Car Clock. I don’t understand why it doesn’t change itself. It’s on a DAB radio like the one in my bedroom and it changes itself – altho’ tbh it’s only tuned to one radio station.

I could read the instructions but I’m terrified that I muck up my existing selection and then I’ll need to invent a reason to go to Arnold Clark’s to get someone there to reset them for me. No, for the next six months, I will have to look at my watch before I look at the car clock to see what time it is.

And then there’s the effect it has on my sleep pattern. I have recovered from the daytime shift system that I was working under just before I left but I do wake up too early and my mind (and indeed my body) is fully functioning at about 6. Most mornings these days I don’t need to get up until back of 7 if not later.

I could read but these days there are no books on my bedside cabinet as I don’t read in bed. I am asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow (I live alone. I don’t know if people know that)…..I’ll work something out.

One of the nice things about night shifts was going home on a Monday morning (07.30) as all the stereotypes from Bearsden and Milngavie were ending their fun-filled weekends. I was going home to bed and, if it was a frosty morning, I would put the blanket on while I washed my clothes from the night before and showered. By nine I’d be toasty and fast asleep whilst the businesspeople of Glasgow were beginning to make an assault on the weekend’s emails. 😀

But some things in my life are returning to normal.

Partick Thistle are picking up points again and I overheard a conversation outside a lift where Rangers’ fans were discussing a possible new manager and the name Alan Archibald came up; Celtic did really well in Europe and the star players were those that Gordon Strachan ignored in favour of an English Championship reserve; and I may not see a game this coming month. There’s only two and they’re both away. I am open to suggestions. 😉

I may do some work on my SVQ stuff and I’ve found a marvellous website telling me some things I was frightened to ask about after a recent meeting. I’ll be fine.

The editing’s beginning to happen again and, as ever, my thanks go to the Chinese community of Glasgow for spreading my name around. Aren’t they nice people? 🙂

And finally, I’m beginning to attend my psychology evening class regularly. I have an essay coming up soon and if there’s one thing I do know it’s how to structure an essay. What the difference is between schema and heuristics I’m not too sure but again I’m sure I’ll be fine.

Tioraidh, and currently wearing a poppy instead of my usual badge but still keeping it simple

Iaint850, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

So eleven months ago I came to a decision. It happened as I took the train back up the road (eh?) having been to see an amazing gig in the company of J who very bravely 🙂 had volunteered (eh?) to come with me to see a band called Alabama 3.

The occasion? It was exactly ten years to the day and date since I’d cold turkeyed and A3 had been a big part of that recovery.

The decision? To stop thinking how long it had been – to quite happily accept that it was ten years and I was simply a guy who did not drink. Never to mention the anniversary again.

The other day I was out at UWS in Paisley an educational institute with which I have been associated for just over six years. So much has happened over those eleven years – much of it good; some of it not so good – but enough to make me realise that it is worth continuing getting the message across. It is not an incurable disease – it needs basic behavioural change, some things worth staying sober for and friends and family who help you think about other things. 🙂

So come 10th December this year, I will say ‘eleven years’ in various places and smile enigmatically.

Did they play this, j?

It’s like you have to be strong for everyone else but they forget to ask if you’re okay.

October 26, 2017

And so dear listener, this week I experienced a feeling I have not experienced for some time but is it right that a man, my age, should experience that feeling. Sorry? Oh, first day nerves, that’s what I mean. I have now seriously started as an SVQ assessor-candidate who is to get assessed as an assessor assessing candidates.

Some people, such as j, seemed to pick it up straightaway but others, like me, have to keep everything in a separate pile in my head and it’s not easy, having piles in your head. 😦

And I don’t think I ever told you, dear listener, what an SVQ assessor does.

NVQ/SVQ assessors help and assess people who are working towards National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs). In doing so, they make sure that the candidates meet the required standards.

And, yes, that is Copy and Paste. Did you notice? Any questions?

Yes. I am looking forward to yet another new career. In order to get it all on my CV I am now using font size 8.5 and A3 paper. And have I finished yet? What would be nice would be to get my income back up to pre-resignation levels but with the same free time I had before.

And there are some signs that the editing might be kicking off again and my thanks go to the marketing team for their sparkling efforts. 😀

Ah, that lovely word ‘team’. I have met people who say things like ‘there’s no ‘I’ in team.’

To which I reply, ‘Yeah, but there’s a ‘me’.’

But then I’m the kinda guy who criticises the well-known Pavlov’s dogs experiment cos no-one asked the dogs – and to me that’s a fundamental flaw. 🙂

Ah, yes… Last week a couple of photos appeared on Facebook showing the BBC Radio Scotland team who covered the Commonwealth Games of 1986. One photo showed us on our way to the closing night disco (yes, disco – and it may even have been Tom Ferrie who was the deejay) and the other was in the bunker we called home for the fortnight. 🙂

I was a producer and, in addition to everything else, was responsible for putting together a two minute sports news after the main news. With me? And I had a presenter to read it.

Except one night, at about half past ten, I was sitting with a pint in the BBC Club next to the bunker and became aware I had no reporter. I had to do it. And so dear listener, I had the amazing privilege of saying, ‘And now the moment all Scotland has been waiting for….’

And played a piece of tape that was Liz Lynch winning her Gold medal before reading out some results from the shooting at Barry Budden in Angus and then back to the hotel for my second pint of the night. This one well deserved.:D

And as I write this, speaking of matters athletic, I’ve still not heard back about my x-rays of last week. But it has not stopped me walking. One jolly interesting and recent walk was with e and Holly the Dog though the Botanic Gardens and its environs. We helped reunite a young girl with her dad; cheered on some young athletes; and remenisced (sp?) about our pasts and one shop in particular. Anyone who ever lived West-endish in the seventies and a wee bit beyond will remember Goodies – the first ever twenty-four hour dairy I had ever known; pints of milk and chocolate biscuits after two in the morning; a strange woman who seemed to sit in the same seat 24/7; and a very unhygienic cat who sat in the window, seemingly, also for a full day at a time.

Yes, we have Tesco’s in Maryhill and the Asda in Govan – both of which are also twenty-four hours a day but they lack the magic of Goodies. 🙂

And finally, I did go to see George Monbiot – a man with some very interesting ideas. I would have thought it of interest to anyone claiming to have environmental credentials or looking for original thinking. Maybe those who missed it were too busy slagging each other off on Facebook

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

Iaint850, and surely I’m not the only person who still says Bloody Norah.

And I was talking to a friend recently and she was telling me of her recent regular visit to a Costa Coffee Shop (and other chainstore coffee shops are available) and she spotted someone she hadn’t seen for some time.

‘Is everything okay?’ she asked.

‘I’m cutting back on caffeine.’

‘Well there’s plenty of good de-caff stuff out there these days.’

‘No. It’s not that. I just don’t have the money these days.’

This was in a douce, middle class town not that far from Glasgow. I had travelled there by train and before I got the train back to Glasgow I bought a newspaper. The vendor was smiling and whistling. I asked him why he was so cheery.

‘The Tory Party is falling apart at the seams. We’ve got them on the run.’

The two conversations prove nothing except to add to my sadness that so much political debate takes place online by people just shouting at each other. Politics is about real people – not sitting in front of a laptop shouting at people through your keyboard.

Why not help out at a foodbank?

There’s often a single piece of music that you hear on all the radios stations you listen to as part of your regular listening pattern – in my case Radio 1 and Clyde 1 in the car and often Chris Country at home – but often you tire of it. Not this time.

This is Pink and What About Us. Stick with the video. It gives an extra meaning to the song.

‘Ankles are nearly always neat and good-looking, but knees are nearly always not.’ (Pres Dwight D Eisenhower who also served as a US General; the current President never served and it shows)

October 19, 2017

And so dear listener, ex-hurricane Ophelia came and went and caused deaths and havoc in Ireland but by the time it got here, it had run out of puff and whilst it still did some damage it was not on the scale it might have been.

I watched it on TV and some memories came back; not of other ex-hurricanes but of my teens in Peterhead before I moved down to Glasgow and never left. 😀

If we leave aside the prison, Peterhead is best known these days as the biggest white fish port in Europe and as a base for North Sea oil and I’m pleased to have played a part in both of those – one as a regular holiday job with Peterhead Harbours as a Clerk to the Collector of Shore Dues and the other as a radio operator from BOC base to rigs and supply vessels with the call sign Barge 701. 🙂

But before Peterhead Harbours were (re-)developed they were a playground of nooks, crannies and places away from parental eyes. What was known as the North Breakwater was brilliant for guys with some cans of lager on a sunny Saturday night listening to David Symonds and John Peel on a large tranny (I’m not even going to bother explaining that) 😀

Winters were bad in Peterhead as its location meant that it was exposed to the North Sea on several sides. So when the weather was really bad and nights were dark we played a game of chicken by seeing who could climb up the steps to the top of the North Harbour sea wall and stay standing when the next wave came over.

Simple, if damp, pleasures. 😉

Once, somebody, not one of us, didn’t actually stay standing when a wave came over and we never played that game again.

Moving silently on.

And I opened a new bottle of Listerine the other day and just took the first slug from the bottle. A memory came back.

And I did make it to my Psychology evening class this week where the tutor was discussing altruism and gave us a brilliant example by explaining how supremely altruistic bees were as they had no hesitation in giving up their lives to save the hives by stinging aggressors knowing they would die by doing that but those of us who had read Laline Paull’s The BEES (either on kindle or as a book) knew that anyway.

Anyway, I was at the doctor’s this week. Went there with my knees. Well it would have been difficult not to. I can walk for miles with e and Holly the Dog and other people but boy, can I feel it going up stairs – especially the semi-spiral ones here at t850towers. So I got an open invite to an X-ray unit, that just needed a letter from my GP, and I got a flu jab whilst I was there. Strange not to jag a vein.

And we both agreed I was over the depression – mainly because I’d found its pretty big cause and was using basic coping mechanisms again to bring back an air of positivity…..kinda Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. And walking.

Positivity’s good at the moment. The SVQ Assessor thing is taking the time it was always going to take but I am a wee bit concerned at the lack of editing. One problem is the lack of open noticeboards. I was in the Students Association Building at GCAL and the cleaners were still there and I got the feeling that the cleaners were defying me to be the first to stick a poster up on the newly painted pillar. Lesson? Go back later in the day. 😉

And finally, please excuse me while I catch up on some personal stuff.

Jenny H – delighted to help out with the research project at UWS (Paisley)

e – well done to AJ on his medal at the National Mod and looking forward to the pics

Sharon – congrats on the latest edition to the family

Caroline – I think that’s the right decision and still happy to help

J – thanks for the cracking knees stories

Alan Archibald (PT manager) there’s nothing to worry about (at this stage)

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

iaint850, beginning to get bored but I still have the price of two coffees. And the odd curry or similar. 😉

So comedian Sean Hughes died during the week. I knew of him from Never Mind the Buzzcocks fame but I became aware from social media how much other people regarded his talents.

I was saddened, therefore, to read the next day that he had died of a liver disease following ‘years of hedonism’. He was 51. I am 63. I was 52 when I stopped drinking but it was not a choice I made; cold turkey made it for me.

But I was also saddened when I read that, at one time, he had been off drink for a couple of years but his sobriety made his friends uncomfortable, and when he started again his friends ‘welcomed him back’. That’s sad. For me, the help of friends was, and still is, the biggest factor in me not needing alcohol.

On one or two occasions I was told, ‘you’ve obviously got it under control. Why not just the one drink?’ Eh, no thanks. I just don’t drink, but not ‘worried’ about a disease that doesn’t exist.

However, I have known several people for whom being sober, and therefore, boring is a concern. I don’t think that can ever be said about me and I enjoy the clear head I now have but I can still be a pain.

But one of the nice things about writing this blog is the occasional responses I get. I know not everyone listens to the music I play at the end altho’ I make it as easy as I can. Maybe people still think I’m going through the techno/trance phase. Therefore, I am happy to play Rihannon Giddens again.

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” ― Oscar Wilde

April 27, 2017

And so, dear listener, I wish to give plenty of notice that this show may turn out to be a bit of a moan. I don’t know for sure as the blog is never properly planned but a lot of it goes through my head and I’ve just had a sleepless night but not for good creative reasons. 😦

So beware before you step any further.

But at the same time don’t worry. This is nothing to do with depression as a mental health issue; I suspect this may come down to my butt needing kicked and I may be looking for volunteers to help to do that. Depression as a mental health issue is getting a fair amount of publicity at the moment but, from personal experience, I do know the difference.

The origins of the current mood do lie, though, in the anxiety and depression of last year which was work related but I’m handling that and I did emerge with an SVQ3 and I am enjoying the shift to days but the early starts are really early and an opportunity has come up, which, well I’ll know more in May. But the anxiety did slow me down and stop me going out – even to football matches. 😦

And this virus/allergy/infection is proving harder to deal with than expected and the original medication was really debilitating; gave me plenty of sleep but left me tired a lot of the time. I’ve been to see the doc and I have new tablets but in the three days between stopping the old pills and starting the new, my sleeping patterns were awful and I’m not sleeping, which gives me too much time to think.

And what these have all done is to cause the serious medical problem of ooomphless. I need ooooomph. I’m going to play a piece of music while you take all that in.

My Gaelic teacher, Joy Dunlop. 🙂

So yes, let’s take one example and on this occasion offer a positive solution. Gaelic.

The first block was great but I missed a lot of classes and a Gaelic night out (sorry e) in the second block because of the virus and I never really caught up. I’ve been talking about going to the Gaelic College but the solution is a lot simpler – after this very busy work weekend, I intend to go to the Mitchell Library (spiritual home of missing USB sticks) one morning a week and do the work. 🙂

So I’m not going to Skye for my holidays but again, after this weekend (and I’m not prevaricating. One shift sees me getting home at 11 at night and back in again at 7 the next morning) I plan to select a week at random in the Summer (watching out for an existing Gaelic commitment and a gig), book that week off from the project and devise a trip possibly based on Oban. 🙂

And let’s take on the elephant in the room – companionship. I am carp at computer dating. (plenty of fish gag in the typo) and can’t start an e-conversation to save myself. But I can talk to people. My friendship with R from Cardross started at a suicide intervention course and the friendship with J, the blog’s favest librarian, started over an Inter-Library Loan. 😀

If it’s that big a deal, then set me upon a blind date. I will go.

And I’ve spoken about friendship before and I know I can be a pain but I can be told and take that telling.

After all, I am the man who, on returning to the college after Cold Turkey, was told by some line managers that alcoholics were scum, couldn’t be trusted and were bound to lapse. A few months later I was diagnosed with cancer.

Don’t hold back about telling me things. 😉

But so many friendships have added so much to my life; be it a change in my eating habits to introducing me to new music (and the world of the Inukshuk) to being aware of other peoples’ issues and babysitting……and indeed, going to Partick Thistle came out of an existing friendship and helped to create new ones.

(How are we doing for word count, Skippy?)

I have purchased my PT season ticket (the £308 has been deducted from my bank account this year) and I intend to be more of a full-timer than I was this season and will try and persuade other people to come; I will cut back on the editing because I did so this year and made more money and even in the last few weeks, when an Out of Office sign was up, I have done okay; and I have a brochure of Glw Uny short courses beside me and will pick a couple.

And then there’s the pencils. At Christmas I became the proud owner of twelve pencils which came ready sharpened and I’ve been using them, but when they became less than sharp, I put them aside and used another one.
Now they’ve all been re-sharpened. Once upon a time that would have been procrastination; now it’s a positive move. 🙂

And I needed to cut my toenails. This was a real frightener. My head was saying ‘why do you need to get up? You’re not working until the afternoon’; whereas my toenails were saying ‘Howard Hughes’.

Again after the weekend, please ask me how I’m getting on with these promises (maybe not the toenails) and I’m serious about the blind date idea…….

But I come to the end of tonight’s show with a positive vibe and a declared intention to stay in touch.

I genuinely would not be here today if it were not for various folk and the things I have been encouraged to do. 🙂

That is the biggest debt of gratitude I can pay and I say that with a lot based on much of my current job.

Iaint850, keeping it simple with one of my most favourite up-beat pop songs of all time;

I’m dancing already

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

April 7, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnt850, feeling very red-faced and very subdued.

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

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

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

But what do I know?

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

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;

Post Early for Christmas (but maybe the end of February is a bit soon)

February 26, 2016

And so dear listener, this has been a week of learning, Christmas continuing and a wee cancer fright….so let’s get started.

Let’s talk SVQs and a nice wee start to the months ahead and worry not, dear listener, you will not get a blow-by-blow account of  how I/we dealt with assignments and units and so on. Let us just say that I am looking forward to it and I need some structure in my life and in recent years, education has provided it as well as qualifications, good friendships, a job and so much else. 🙂

Without that structure, sometimes I act ‘on impulse’. I don’t always think through the consequences of an action. I may not look impulsive but you are listening to a man who, some forty years ago, played shinty for a Glasgow University team one Saturday afternoon just cos they were short of a player and my hockey game had been cancelled and it’s not that long since I said yes to abseiling and zipwiring…….without thinking. Much. (Let’s ignore the drink and stuff for once) And look where it’s got me.

I don’t think I would Go Ape again cos I would now know what to expect but I have been to IKAEA twice so ‘never say never’.

Anyway, the SVQ3 Induction was good and, as someone who taught at HNC and HND level it’s quite interesting to see things from the other side but I was truly seriously horrified to see that the Scottish Qualifications Authority believe that the abbreviation for Performance Criteria is


Sometimes I despair and maybe there are other organisations that need the services of as well as universities and colleges. 🙂

(Incidentally, I got the gig of part-time subject tutor cos I was asked if I would do a guest lecture to which I said, ‘Yes. What about?’)

And then I had my third Christmas Night Out. With e. (Incidentally have I missed anyone out from that time before Christmas itself?) It began by walking Holly the Dog – with other dogs – on a cold Mugdock Country Park early one morning and finished with a late lunch in a pub type place in the, now, very fashionable Finnieston.

In between? A flat tyre but e did what every liberated woman does these days when faced with this problem. She phoned c, her husband. Who turned up with a large squad of men seriously tooled up and clad in Hi-Vis jackets…….okay. It was one guy who knew what he was doing but it felt like a SWAT team  😉

But the next day, I was getting my hair cut (but not that much) and my hairdresser told me that when she recently had a flat tyre (and all the usual places were shut) she used her husband’s Twitter account to ask for help and cos he’s high up in Pro rugby circles, she was overwhelmed by offers of assistance from hunky rugby warriors. However, as she was tweating, a mature taxi driver had made an offer she couldn’t refuse and the tyre was done in seconds. 🙂

Me? I’d have phoned AA. The one skilled in mechanical breakdowns – not the other.

And finally, can I say thanks to e for pointing me and j in the direction of The Bees by Laline Paull – one of the best books I’ve read in years but maybe stay away from any of us during the summer if we’re in the proximity of bees or their hive outside or, indeed, in the Kelvingrove Art Galleries. But it does need you to use your imagination so maybe it’s not for all.

But I know my recommendations are not always acted upon. RRM, have you bought ‘From Scotland with Love’ yet? 😦

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple (and there’s so much in that little phrase.

Johnt850, and suitably chastised. For my impulsiveness.

So, as many of you may know, the test for people of a certain age for bowel cancer is mass screening by mail in which you send samples of your ‘poo’ (their word, not mine) to an address in Dundee. Which I did over Christmas.

And they got back to me pretty quickly and said ‘There was some blood. Can you do another sample and get it back to us dead quick?’ and I had known there was and I knew why it was and I told them that in a letter I sent to them as well as the new sample.

And I waited. And waited. And waited. And nothing……so I contacted them and they’d not received my sample. So I sent another and very quickly they came back and gave me an All Clear. Phew. But at no time was I concerned cos I had no symptoms other than the blood (which was a one-off)….. 🙂

And that’s why I told no-one cos there was nothing to tell……and I didn’t want people to worry.

Cos, in my dealings with cancer, most times it’s not the person with the cancer who worries but family and friends. I remember someone telling me that a friend had got the Big C but she wasn’t going to let it stop her from helping. Which is nice but as soon as you don’t call a cancer by its proper name, then you’re giving into it.

(The so-called Islamic State hate being called Daesh, btw)

But maybe I should have told people………I’m a creature of impulse……..and in reasonably good health and with a full head of hair and a lot of learning still to do. I will continue to make mistakes and I will not always learn from them. 😦

I think, j, I’ve about run out of artistes from that Celtic Connections gig but if I’ve missed any, let me know. This is Anderson East with The Devil In Me…..interesting lyrics.

Some folks hate the whites Who hate the Blacks Who hate the Klan. Most of us hate anything that we don’t understand.(Kristofferson)

February 19, 2016

And so dear listener, it was one year ago that I became aware that my PhD ambitions were on thin ice. My erstwhile supervisor had gone from ‘what an exciting idea’ to ‘I don’t understand what you’re talking about’ – which was a clue, I think, that I’d reached my heights of academia with the Masters (and I still have some pics of me in a kilt from the day I graduated if anybody wants one). 🙂

I still think my idea was a good one and the book idea has never gone away, but as someone recently said to me, you need permission from someone to write a book – that ‘someone’ has to be yourself.

No. It all came back to me to this week when I did a wee tour of the universities (other than Glasgow) and flyered them with details of my services but it’s getting harder. The number of open notice boards is getting smaller. And I do worry about the number of my old posters that still exist. 😦

But it can be difficult. I had thought, long and hard, about getting into the Storie Street Residences in Paisley (buzzer entry) and I have a colleague who will attempt a similar manoeuvre on a Glasgow Uni-residence (won’t you, e?)…….so I went up and pressed the buzzer and got no reply so I didn’t have to say, ‘Delivery’. Instead I got in one door where there was a noticeboard but before I could attempt the next door, Security came out and asked me if I was affiliated to the University, so I said, ‘Yes,’ smiled, put up a poster and left making my excuses. 😉

No. It was a good morning and I caught up with some folk (tutors and a Phd student) I’d not seen for a while……and Princess Anne had been there only days before…… the Royals ever visit the toilets that are specially cleaned for their visits?

And J, the blog’s favourite car passenger after last week’s incident, you’ll be pleased to hear that I had a look at that traffic island as I drove home. It seemed much more docile that it had been a few days ago. So I got home safe. Hope you’re enjoying 5338.

And ‘fear’ is a word that has different levels and meanings. But that is a good looking tin. 🙂

But I’m pleased to announce that I’m about to return to some form of studying in the shape of my SVQ3 in Social Care which is on a similar level to an HNC in College. This will be of tremendous help in my next career……….whatever that is. I’ll keep you posted. I’m told I’ll find it easy. No. My danger is I’ll be too elaborate in my answers. Another reason to ‘keep it simple’, which I think is a reasonable philosophy. In all walks of life.

And it will help me in my current job where the shifts are so busy that on a recent twelve hour night shift, I was unable to eat the excellent homemade soup provided by my co-worker Debs, with the words, ‘Don’t worry jt, no animals were hurt in the making of this soup’ until a quarter to seven in the morning. 🙂

I am pescatarian, not for ethical reasons, but for lifestyle reasons but I know vegans such as Ann, Rosie, the good Dr W and Ginger Tart, the burlesque dancer who I have actually yet to meet, but all of them have made me more aware of what’s involved in meat production and yes, that does include chickens…….and indeed our treatment of other species including the dolphin on the Argentinian beach.

And finally, it was interesting being out at UWS (Paisley) and sitting in the tutors’ rooms. (Makes it sound like Oxbridge a wee bit). There’s a lot of the books they have on their shelves that I have and that I’ve only recently stopped looking at. There are times when I do wonder if I’m getting the best out of my experience, expertise and learning.

Now, I know there’s a few folk that I work with that read this and they shouldn’t worry. I have no plans to walk………just yet. When I used to go out to Paisley by train, I had this strange ambition to just stay on the train and go to Ardrossan Harbour. I am now using my pass thing on trains (but not buses cos I’ve no idea where buses go). Maybe one day I should stay on that train and get some fresh air about me and brainstorm using my new tablet to jot ideas down….anybody want to some with me and act as scribe? 🙂

Cya, still wearing that badge and keeping it simple

Johnt850, delighted that the man across the road has finally decided to park in his drive.

So on Wednesday of last week I met up with Shona, a former BBC colleague who is setting up on her own representing and promoting jazz and other musicians. We met in a place called Cup in Renfield Street which is a very nice place. Had I known I’d have brushed my shoes. But this is the place that at 6 o’clock at night completely transforms itself into a gin palace selling some 71 different flavours of gin! It felt like I was in some form of speakeasy where, when the Feds banged on the door, the walls swung round and it became a tearoom again.

Whilst there’s much I welcome in the New Psychoactive Substances Bill coming up soon if there’s one thing that that period of American history shows, it’s that prohibition does not work. Oh, that, one day, ‘drugs’ could be treated the same way as alcohol, tobacco and coffee – all of them are exempt under the terms of the bill. Just thought you should know. Enjoy your gin and whatever.

Great word that – ‘whatever’.

This is Lady Antebellum with Need You Now. They’re a trio from Nashville and they’re really good. And apparently they’re playing soon at the Calgary Stampede. Now there’s a road trip and a half. Anyone interested?