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Butterflies cannot see their wings. But the rest of the world can. (Meghan Markle)

January 12, 2018

And so dear listener I have succumbed. No. Not to alcohol (but I will confess, Rosie and Ann, to some meat when someone came to my house to eat) but to the throat lurgy I had previously mentioned. At one point it was merely annoying and not too intrusive.

For example, I had a very enjoyable cup of coffee and a very enjoyable conversation in a café at the top of Storie Street in Paisley last week – once I’d found it – and there’s a guy I know who lives outside of Glasgow who, when he comes in, likes to pack a lot in. So I meet him for breakfast. Last Saturday it was the famous North Star café in Queen Margaret Drive. With avocado. I had the scrambled eggs.

But then, on Monday morning, I felt ill. I had planned to make the start to 2018 that I’d promised by going flyering to GCal and Strathclyde and I’d two SVQ related meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday. It was all I could do to find the switch on button on the DAB radio.

(It’s actually the middle of three but I did find myself counting down until I was sure that there were still three buttons and went back up one and pressed it. I was right.)

The weather forecast was not great so I postponed the start of 2018 (just for myself – not you) and put some clothes on and walked down to the ASDA. That was fine. Walking back up was hell. My throat kept drying on me and I felt the need to keep walking up the hill on the basis that if I stopped I’d be frozen solid. In Summerston. 😦

So I cancelled some stuff and on Tuesday I went to the doctor. He’s a friend and we chatted about various things and then, ‘What is it today, jt?’ and when I replied, ‘It’s the throat’, he said, ‘Not again?’ But it was. 😦

It was red and raw. And he prescribed antibiotics (and not as I told some people – amphetamines) and I’ve never had them before and I know that Maryhill Health Centre is very careful about what they prescribe. 🙂

Aye, despite all my problems in recent years I’ve never had antibiotics. It’s not something I’ve come across before and it occurs to me that I know more about what were called, until recently, legal highs. I had proper blue Valium in the immediate days after Cold Turkey and I’d sleeping pills at one point but they were too effective so I stopped and we don’t count anything I may, or may not, have taken over eleven years ago – but never antibiotics.

OMG! They’re powerful! I had two on the Tuesday night and the TV stopped working! Strange messages came up on the screen about my TIVO box and calling 150 but I made the mistake of using my remote control as my phone and that seemed to make matters worse.

A site on Facebook told me I was not the only one so I listened to the radio through the computer (as opposed to through the TV) and read and then OMG! (again!) I heard people downstairs discussing Korea. Had the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse returned? (Well three cos one of them is still stuck in the jersey I was wearing the night of Cold Turkey). Bravely, I went downstairs with my fingers in the sign of a cross (No. I don’t know why) and the TV had come back to life. It was a news programme. I went to bed and had nightmares – one of which included Tony Blair. 😦

Wednesday, we’ll ignore cos the antibiotics worked their way through my system and I don’t want to talk about it (but that explains the smell of nag champa in the bathroom) and I cancelled more stuff. Still getting strange dreams.

Thursday, signs were slightly better but it’s only recently that I have realised how cold my house is, cos I’m spending much more time here at the moment than was ever intended and I’m not well. I also keep wanting to sleep but feel I should keep all that for night-time. I have also realised that I am hungry but with little appetite.

And finally, on Friday, I did what any sensible person living on their own would do; I used Google and Facebook to find out if how I felt was usual with antibiotics. It is. It is like living with the hangover from hell for five days 😦 Is there no end to this suffering?

And then my bowel cancer testing kit arrived!!!!!! 😦

And I was going to say a few things about cancer this week but one health thing at a time I always say.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and, to whom it may concern, quite happy keeping it simple.

Iaint850, glad I took j’s advice about getting the flu jab or else I’d be in one helluva mess.

And so I couldn’t help but notice that the new Culture Secretary, Matt Hancock, is a big fan of Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl. Now, Ed, as we know, knows a good tune when he hears one (and that’s all I’ll say for very good legal reasons) but is an incredibly inoffensive person. Indeed, I suspect Matt is a big fan of Michael McIntyre as well and his appointment does not bode well for broadcasting in the UK (many of his other powers are devolved)

Steve Earle, on the other hand, has been married seven times, including twice to the same woman and is a recovering cocaine and heroin user. What he thinks of Michael McIntyre is unknown but this is Steve’s Galway Girl

and cos one Steve Earle track is never enough here’s Copperhead Road AND wait for the tempo change!!!!

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No, John, there is no Blue Lagoon car park in Paisley (anon)

January 5, 2018

And so, dear listener, a Guid New Year to ane’n’aw. I didn’t get the chance to do that in a blogilly manner because I had to broadcast the traditional Blog Personality Award of the Year on the Sunday. Which was also Hogmanay and people had better things to do.

So, once you’ve read this, read the blog below this one. Did you get an award? Holly the dog did.

But, yes, this was the first Hogmanay and New Year’s Day that I didn’t spend the nights with the homeless and refugees. And the family party I used to attend (not my actual family) no longer happens. Ah, the influence of having grandchildren staying with you. 😉

I watched some TV. Quite liked the Saturday night out prog but one day people will realise that the success of Flicks in Brechin was what the sign (in block capitals) actually seemed to spell out when seen from a distance. And no mention of Bonkers – a bar and club just along the road from where I worked in PR – and Clatty Pat’s – just along the road from the BBC…..places I used for a wee while after separation. 🙂

And this hints at an interesting question, which I shall call the Gus McKinnon Question.

Y’see, one of the books I received at Christmas was called ‘Close Quarters’ and is about a murder in a tenement just off Byres Road. One of the characters is a legal person called Gus McKinnon who spends his nights in bar called The Centurion and often staggers home drunk. It’s not a spoiler; it’s a recurring theme.

So, without going into any detail of the separation, I bought a house in Summerston – and then we told people.

That’s all I will say.

But a number of people then said, ‘why didn’t you buy a flat in Partick – close to the action?’ Now the house I actually bought has a large garden (and tbh, I had no idea how big a garden until I bought it as my one and only look had been in the dark before deciding to buy) and that has turned out to be a big factor in continuing to stay here.

The house is a bit idiosyncratic and has a semi-spiral staircase which looks slightly nautical and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve done any work to it with the kitchen still looking pretty naff – partly due to my duff painting – and whilst I’d quite have liked a Partick tenement flat my neighbours here are pretty good.

There was that incident when a neighbour’s daughter crashed her car into mine; the Sunday afternoon when Big Peter attempted to murder his mum; and the Sunday night when a Strathclyde Police task force attempted to bludgeon their way into one of the houses across the road, spent a couple of hours inside and then withdrew.

But apart from that it’s been pretty quiet. 😀

But reading that book did make me think – which I’ve been doing a lot of recently – and my thoughts are pure fantasy but what would I have made of a life in the West End – rather than being a regular visitor? Still thinking.

And finally, and this is the last time I’ll say this, 2017 did not really work out for me in many ways. Much of the depression has lifted but I do feel there is a residual mentally and physically. Indeed, one of the typical symptoms of being reluctant to leave the house has applied at times – continually rationalising with myself about going out.

BUT

I have plans for 2018. Let’s make them happen and if Mohammed won’t come to the mountain, then the mountain has to start knocking on doors. And UWS (Paisley) will get flyered amazingly soon cos there’s none on the noticeboards. 😦

And then the other three. I need the work.

http://www.thewordprocess.net

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

Iaint850, a very stable genius but only just 🙂

So, all a bit heavy, so can I tell you about my favest programme of the last two weeks?

It was The Story of Scotdisc – the label that did so much for the careers of Lena Martell (nee Thomson), Tommy Scott and Stuart Henderson jr – oh, and Sydney Devine.

In the late seventies I did my (first) Post Grad placement in Easterhouse (and I did my second Post Grad placement in Easterhouse as well) and one day the women were all really chirpy. They were going to see Sydney at the Pavilion that night and the next day they came in with a glazed look. I knew Sydney as a radio host and didn’t understand his pull as a country’n’western star. I’m still not sure.

The Scotdisc prog featured Sydney’s Line Dancing video and of course it featured Achey Breaky Heart (sp) – not necessarily serious line dancers’ favest piece of music.

For me, one of the biggest thrills was to hear the distinctive voice of Jim Symon. Clyde through the night was brilliant (and I did do a couple of features for them live from the studios above Anderston Bus Station) and Ian Anderson emerged from there.

A lot of good memories and well done to Nick, Linda and Russell from Demus Productions and well worth a look on BBC iPlayer (9 pm, Wednesday, 3rd January BBC1 Scotland) and here’s Lena. I have no idea who Dave is but this is the version with the importantly changed lyric – she is a woman, not ‘just’ a woman. One hundred years on from women (of a certain age) getting the vote, I think that was a change well ahead of its time.

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

December 29, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BT Project Workers? Simply the best. 😀 😀

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. Peg Bracken

December 20, 2017

And so, dear listener, this may well be your favourite edition of the blog. It’s the one where I do little talking and just do cracker gags. Mind you, I’ve got to say that last week’s gag, attributed to Keith Chegwin, was one of the best I’ve heard this year so far. 🙂

The one about Theresa May and stable government which seemed to get lots of favourable coverage was awful. There is no such job as a nativity manager. What might have worked would have been, ‘Why shouldn’t you put Theresa May in charge of the Nativity? Because she’s not very good at stable government.’ No. It still doesn’t work.

Mind you I still prefer……

Q Why do you call your dog Metal-Worker?

A Because every time he hears a knock he makes a bolt for the door.

So I think I’m sorted for Christmas but I fully accept that much of that has been because I’m not the busiest soul in the world just now. As I write this, about the only big thing left to do are neighbours’ cards and that’s partly cos I can never remember the name of her in Number 1. So if I leave it late, maybe she’ll put in one my box and then I’ll put one in hers.

(I think there’s an unintended innuendo in there. Sorry)

Q What do you call a penguin in the Sahara Desert?

A Lost.

So I did send out loads of cards and I do hope they all arrived because I’ve heard of one that didn’t but the envelope the card was in was delivered. What a nuisance!…… And I may make arrangements to continue to do so from beyond the grave as with the final ever blog and then the one after that. Sorry, that’s a bit morbid. It’s been a funny year but there’s no excuse for morbidity.

But then I worry a bit about my sense of humour at times because I don’t put Lol after everything. Somebody posted something about their blood group and I said something like, you’ve got to be positive about it and I don’t think my joke was understood. 😦

Q How did the Vikings send secret messages?

A By Norse Code.

(And can I say a mega-thanks to the Daily Telegraph for their help with these jokes?)

So the SVQ thing is going slower than I intended (and I do realise that much depends on the candidates I work with) and on the editing front I will make a definite effort to get into Latex in the New Year but I did notice that Blue Triangle Head Office has become one of the places where they wish people Happy Holiday whereas every one of the projects will be celebrating Christmas and New Year……..and I’ll miss celebrating Ramadan next year with the refugees. Indeed I’ll miss celebrating New Year with them. 😦

We’ve become a society afraid to give offence – even where none is intended – because there are so many people out there looking for possible offence even if they’re not the group that might be offended.

Q Who invented fractions?

A Henry the 1/8th

So I’m not sure what next year holds for me, altho’ interestingly I found myself reading my Master’s dissertation the other night. By crikey, it was good. And I still enjoy writing and talking about drink and drugs. There’s thinking to be done. And revolutions to be considered for 2018. And, yes, I am no longer totally pescetarian – but it was never ethical or medical – and one consequence has been I’m eating jelly babies.

And I’ve just mucked up, with an f, my next gag.

Q What lies in a pram and wobbles?

A Yes. Obviously. No, that’s not the answer. The answer’s a jelly baby.

And finally, next week sees the Blog’s Annual Personality of the Year Award and it’s not too late to nominate anyone – even wee Joe off Strictly Come who, along with his dance partner, was still smiling as the results were announced. The other three duos were terrified. And it is entertainment. 😀

Masterchef is the only one of these I watch until the finals when the dishes become more floral tributes than food – including at least one which looked designed more for snorting than eating but what do I know?

Q What would you get if all the cars in Britain were red?

A A red carnation.

And finally, all I want to say in my own personal review of the year is that there were times when I was weird – not, hopefully, in person, but when my head was sat looking at this screen. It’s approximately eighteen months since, after a BT Sunday night shift and a couple of hours’ sleep, that I burst into tears at questions I was being asked about what to me was a simple mistake to which I’d owned up. It took some getting used to – not being believed and what felt like a witch hunt and I’m not sure I ever did.

So, despite a wee touch of morbidity at the top of the show, I am back to being cool and I have a range of ideas I wish to share with people. Need I tell you who they are? It’s called Project Getting Out More.

tioraidh, still wearing that badge(especially as the days extend) and keeping it even more simple than previously.

Iaint850

Nollaig Chridheil dhuibh uile agus Blidhna Mhath Ur

And it wouldn’t be a blog Christmas without this and all the memories (especially Otago Street) that this brings back.

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

December 14, 2017

And so dear listener can I just say a big thanks to all those who commented in some way on last week’s blog. Most people offered some variation of ‘Well done’ and some updated me on their own roads to recovery. I am proud of what I’ve achieved but am never arrogant. Too many people have been involved in my recovery to allow that and I can never forget that. 🙂

Thanks.

And the weather’s been a real pain hasn’t it? Forecasts are too accurate and too fast moving – they change so quickly – so what I do (on either BBC Scotland or STV) is just to stare at the bit that is Glasgow or Paisley and watch while Judith or Gillian or Kawser (or Sean) tells us what’s happening as the clock and the wind move. That’s good enough for me.

But stuff all those people earning money for their opinions on the weather in the papers. None of them can ever replicate or beat the words of the master poet Bud Neil;

Winter’s come, the snow has fell

Wee Josie’s nose is froze as well

Wee Josie’s frozen nose is skintit

Winter’s diabolic, intit?

But it shouldn’t affect me too much should it? After all my current work/lifestyle is based on earnings from the editing I do but that’s been presenting problems. Let’s leave the question of me working in Latex for a moment.

It’s the person who approached me at the weekend with 80,000 words (not all written yet) and who, when I told him what my fee was, suggested reducing it by about 50% because of the number of words and he thought they were good ones. 😦

Aye, but they weren’t in the right order or they were made up or were too complicated AND the second sentence was about nine lines long with an amazing number of clauses. It was appalling and you got a sense that he was not expecting that many changes cos it was ‘a good piece of writing’. Yet this person’s doing a PhD. 😦

I made an excuse and left.

But did I actually want to do a PhD? No. No really (which is still my favourite knockback of all time – well the last eleven years). Actually, I did. I just get annoyed when I see money talking like that. Bitter. And twisted.

But I have started eating a little meat. I had some chicken recently. Somebody told me it was fowl but I thought it tasted okay.;)

But back to the weather. Yup. I miss summer.

This gratuitous piece of music reminds me of summers in my home town of Peterhead when I was much, much younger.

But still talking of the weather, I took a delivery, like many, from the Rainforestriverpeople and thought nothing of going out in the rain to collect it. Ten minutes later I had collected all the wrapping (seriously….. just ten minutes) and went out to the bin and OMG, Son Brian came very close to collecting his inheritance a wee bit before I intended it – it was that icy!

And I hate that Beagle Street advert – the one where the wimp stops sorting out the kitchen in their new flat just cos his girlfriend wants him to sort out life insurance cos Emma (!) says so! Don’t be such a wimp! Finish the kitchen first! Or has she booby-trapped it?

And finally, on behalf of all those doing things to help all those skippering out there, can I just say that numbers actually reduce at this time of year cos of brilliant places like the Glasgow City Mission who run a night shelter from the beginning of December until the end of March, but the homeless are with us fifty-two weeks of the year. Either as rough sleepers, living with their kids in B & Bs, staying in projects like the Blue Triangle where I worked or in hostels and shelters on a nightly basis where, altho’ these places sometimes get a bad press, they feel really safe. Fifty-two weeks of the year.

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

Iaint850, about to start my revolutions for 2018

So the next two blogs are the special ones for this time of year and I may have to put them out early cos one’s due on Christmas Eve and one’s due on Hogmanay (which, for the first time in four years will not be spent (by me) in a homeless project in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow).

The first is the annual Christmas Cracker edition of the blog.

For example;

My dad used to be a road worker and had been accused of stealing from his job. Obviously I didn’t believe all the accusers but, when I got home, all the signs were there.

(RIP Keith Chegwin)

And the final one of the year is the Annual Blog Personality of the Year and nominations for all the various prizes are open to anyone and everyone – regardless of how well you know me – but that was a good shout, e.

And many newspapers and broadcasters have been pulling together the best Christmas songs of all time – but it’s all been Slade or Bing Crosby and David Bowie or the Pogues. This is much more traditional and has always been one of my favourites. The tempo change quite early in and reminds me of Steve Earle and Copperhead Road. 🙂

Listeners, this is Annie Lennox, GCU’s first female chancellor.

“I began to think vodka was my drink at last. It didn’t taste like anything, but it went straight down into my stomach like a sword swallowers’ sword and made me feel powerful and godlike.” (Plath)

December 9, 2017

And so, dear listener, this weekend is the eleventh anniversary of my Cold Turkey when I ended up in hospital after a weekend of non-drinking – so dependent had my body become on alcohol – but last year I had made the decision to stop counting the years unless asked. I am simply someone who does not drink. 😀

The events of Saturday, 10th December 2016 (this time last year) are well known to regular listeners. My Cold Turkey weekend had started on Saturday, 10th December 2006 (and finished two days later) and Alabama 3 were in Glasgow’s O2 on that day and date in 2016 (exactly ten years on!!!!) and J, the blog’s favest librarian, had agreed to come with me and an interesting night out occurred although I still have no idea, J, what the point was of the monk with the V for Vengeance mask standing at the side of the stage. Anyway you enjoyed the gig and that was good. As did I. As did my neighbours when I got home and played all their albums into the wee small hours……… 😉

And as I went home, I thought that was it. No anniversary talk ever again.

Until the heating upstairs in my house broke down last week and I had a very cold bed. 😦

I don’t wear much in bed (if anything) so I am not well organised when I need something to get me through the night when it’s cold. The best thing I have is a freebie sweatshirt from a movie called Interview With The Vampire and it is long enough to be a nightdress and may have…….well anyway. It’s what I was wearing the night I got taken to the Western Infirmary and then to Gartnavel Ward 8 to dry out – for ten days. It’s what I wore when I was discharged. 🙂

I’ve never thrown it out cos for years I believed there was a demon in it. Daft I know but for the first few years of my recovery I used the language that everyone else uses to describe things. It was only after I’d started at uny (Post Grad and Master’s in Alcohol and Drugs Studies) that I saw things through different eyes.

But yet……..I had had a major fight that night with the Four Hallucinating Horsemen of the Apocalypse and I’m not sure they all left. (This was after the out of body experience when I think I died for a while) It must have been one helluva fight cos after I ended up in hospital, my next door neighbour organised some friends of hers to clean, tidy and basically put my house back together and they had to be paid. And then I’d to pay the person who paid them. And then my son, then a B.Acc student at Strathclyde University, took over some financial duties as my credit card and banking stuff needed sorted.

(This is why I prefer cash as it helps me keep better control of my finances and whilst the future may lie in contactless cards, I do see a lot of people who fail to keep the transaction slip)

And somebody (my sister, my ex-wife, her husband?) organised some cards from me and some presents and my ex also invited my sister and me (death warmed up and only just) for Christmas Dinner and I really appreciated that. 🙂

But this is why I still buy and send cards. I do understand why people don’t send cards but make a decision to give to charity instead but mine say something more than just Merry Christmas – they say ‘I’m still alive and don’t you forget it!’ 😀 😀 😀

And I buy them from Cancer Research UK – so a charity still gains.

And at a time when emergency call centres seem to be getting a lot of criticism, can I just say big thanks to the 999 operator who looked after me that morning when I realised I needed help. And made sure I left the front door open so the paramedics could get in. And at least three of the four horsemen went out.

And No (in answer to the second most asked question I get) I do not get cravings and I think the main reason for that is that I did/do not attend ‘meetings’ where alcohol is the main topic of conversation. With my addiction worker we basically looked at alternative behaviours so that alcohol was not my answer to everything.

In fairness, I have only ever been to four meetings – one in Maryhill on my own – one in Stevenson and at a convention in Paisley with someone known to some of the regular listeners – and one at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood. I think AA works for some people; I needed something like Cold Turkey to make me aware of what I was doing with my life.

(The answer to the most asked question I get is ‘Yes I do have male friends. Honest. Just don’t expect me to list them just now.’)

But there are times when a feeling does come back – a memory which prompts nice feelings. Alcohol advertising on TV doesn’t bother me although I know some campaigners would like to see greater controls as with tobacco.

I don’t watch much TV but sometimes I’ll see a drama and someone in it will pour a large, decent-sized drink of whisky into a glass and then take a decent gulp – and the heat will hit the back of the throat and the world will seem better. But then the other memories kick in and I remember why I’m glad I don’t drink.

Not that there’s anything to stop me. Other than me. It’s called free will.

So, no music tonight to end with. Instead I’m going out for a quiet walk and not bother about the weather. I do a lot of walking. I’ve not just discovered Fitbits.

I tell people this next bit but I’m not sure they believe me. Eleven years ago my balance was so bad I had to learn to walk all over again. Ask the people who visited me and saw me using a zimmer. Ask the physios who helped me practise walking up and down the backstairs of Gartnavel. I then progressed to walking round the graveyard and my physical recovery started then. 🙂

Indeed, whatever you may think of me, please remember it all came into being under interesting circumstances eleven years ago. I am young; I am still learning. 🙂

Next week begins the traditional run up to Christmas for the blog.

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

Iaint850

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……

‘Are you the proprietor?’ No conversation that started with those words ever ended well (The bookseller from Wigtown as opposed to Kabul)

November 23, 2017

And so, dear listener, I totally understand where the Bookseller is coming from. I, too, am a proprietor of a small business but one who rarely, if ever, meets his customers. All my business is done by e-mail with documents in basic Word. That last bit is important. I recently lost some business to someone who wanted to know if I could work in Latex. 😦

I made an excuse and left. 🙂

And a good friend and fellow PT fan, Alan, co-runs (eh?) a brilliant retro women’s clothes and accessories shop down Kelvinbridge way called Glorious. If you’re in the area buying cheese from the Cheeseman of Kelvinbridge, then this is the place for you 😀

https://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/glorious-glasgow

And as I write this I’m waiting to hear from a possible PhD student with whom I have made contact through Tinder…….no, not Tinder…..LinkedIn. If this comes off then Christmas may be paid for and did you note how Christmas was spelt there. There is no Christmas without Christ which sounds like an aphorism – like one of those things you get at training sessions – ‘there is no ‘I’ in team.’ Aye, but there is a ‘me’.

And my business is http://www.thewordprocess.net

So I had to go up to the attic a few days ago and whilst I was there I took the Christmas stuff down. Honest, I’ve done nothing with it but I have started some lists. 😉

One very good friend looked at me a touch disdainfully (?) when I said that but she is mega-busy at the moment*; whereas another good friend feels she’s done nothing ‘cos of plague and pestilence.

*You’re right. Vietnamese street food is, on the surface, not necessarily Christmassy. There’s a slight difference between stuffing your lettuce with the prawn satay and decking the halls with boughs of ivy. This year it’ll be Christmas fish (although I am slowly re-introducing some meat to my diet. Slowly. Same reasons as before. It needs variety again) 😉

But I can afford Christmas. I’ve just been to see my IFA (Killermont Investments just next to Charisma Blinds and Joyce Quinn Design in that wee set of units next to Maryhill Railway Station) Financially I am good and I now know when I get my state pension. No. I’m not saying when. But I may make enquiries of Maryhill Juniors to see if the Social Club is free that night.

That may be where I have my funeral wake. Or the Corinthian. I’ll decide nearer the time. Two pieces of music have been chosen but I’m not sure about the third. Gosh, I quite fancy going. I haven’t updated the VIP list recently.

And finally, it’s always nice to meet up with some of your favourite people and I did so on Thursday with a wee chat with friend Debbie in a coffee shop which I don’t think is as much a singles’ haunt as the one down Byres Road and to the rainforestriverman it’s good to know somewhere in Blythswood Square which offers Caramel Logs as freely as you did. I always liked it when I got to steal the toiletries from hotel bedrooms and the trolley in the lobby.

tioraidh, still wearing that badge and glad I kept it simple

Iaint850, ever optimistic and loving the Bam Whisperer. I have been in many situations where she could be very helpful.

So I wanted to say a little on the subject of Minimum Unit Pricing and alcohol and some of the research that is behind the scheme and surely in a week when yearly alcohol-related admissions rose from 35,376 to 36,235 people anything that helps should be welcomed. Do you know what it’s like in an A & E on a Friday night and how much money is spent on treatment? Imagine if some of that money was released and spent on cancer patients, people recovering from heart attacks or old folk who need a wee bit more help in hospital.

Maybe even more addiction workers?

So research in all sorts of places from the World Health Organisation through Finland to the University of Sheffield show that in countries where some form of pricing control is in position then fewer people die of alcohol-related stuff, there are fewer hospital admissions and there is an all over reduction in alcohol consumption. And that’s a bad thing?

And it won’t be the ‘responsible drinker’ who is punished because you are a responsible drinker. You’re not buying cheap supermarket vodka in order to pre-load as it makes it easier to get mwi later in the night without spending too much money. What? mwi? Mad wi’ it.

Trip along Sauchiehall Street at 3 o’clock in the morning and watch out for your son or daughter – y’know the one that’s away for a sleepover that night – stagger across the street trying to find the pre-ordered taxi that will see safely, well, safely somewhere……

Or maybe your tipple is a 3 litre plastic bottle of Frosty Jack’s Cider. Sorry but I never was, but big plastic bottles like that have another use apart from the contents getting you drunk quick. They are a basic part of building your own plastic bong – or ‘bucket’ as it’s known.

So if you don’t drink like the above, then you have nothing to worry about; if you do, then go see your doctor for a chat cos you seriously need to.

Maybe the combination of successfully coming through my own issues with alcohol and getting my Master’s in Alcohol and Drugs Studies (20th November 2013) means I know what I’m talking about. Thanks to all who had faith in me.

Well, after that what can I play?

It’s the line about the ‘beer I had for breakfast’ that gets me every time. I was there once upon a time.

“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.

‘Another email from a collector in Edinburgh who has 13,000 books to sell. I replied asking for more information’ (Bythell)

November 10, 2017

And that quote was from the very, very lovely Diary of a Bookseller recommended to me by the very, very lovely Craig Williams of the BBC who produced the very, very lovely documentary Donald Trump, Scotland’s President still available on the reasonably attractive BBCiPlayer. 😉

And I remember someone recommending a second hand bookshop in Wemyss Bay which I’d love to visit but I still have a soft spot for Voltaire and Rousseau down Otago Lane – if it’s still there. The lane that is.

And so dear listener, let me apologise for last week’s show. It was awful. An idea didn’t work and I should have walked away from it. I used to do a lot more walking than I’m currently doing. There’s a wee tekkie problem putting a new MP3 player together with my recent (couple of years) interest in country music. Maybe one day. And a couple of other tekkie issues.

And it doesn’t help that I live alone (have I ever mentioned that?) and there’s no-one other than Skippy to read it before transmission.

This living alone can cause problems in other directions. For example, I was cutting my toe-nails the other day – a difficult operation at the best of times. The scissors slipped and the pointy bit went directly into the toe next to the one I was cutting, causing blood to emerge. The obvious thing to do would be to get an Elastoplast on it. Other plasters are available but they’re not as good.

The Elastoplasts are kept in a cupboard over there. But I don’t want blood all over the floor. One hand has toilet paper stopping the blood and the other is single-handedly opening the cupboard and the plaster box, pulling one out that’s the right size, opening it without the two sticky sides sticking together and wrapping it around the toe – just. Blood is still seeping but the box is now empty. 😦

There is another box. For some reason, these are colourful and luminous. And small. But one is enough to wrap around the toe in a slightly different direction to the first one. And I breathe silently and happily and there is blood on the floor and on a towel and three toe-nails remain to be cut. Carefully.

Occasionally, I still feel a small whisky would be justified but luckily these moments are few and quickly pass when I put on a reasonably new CD by Steve Earle. Which I don’t think is very good. Yet.

But let’s take a minute to discuss another aspect of my physical health – my knees. They have been x-rayed and the word from the doctor is they are normal. I have no idea what this means and may pop in to find out more.

But they feel better – well, one of them does. I think I’ll be fine. 🙂

And on the mental health front, I had to explain to someone that my depression was not just being ‘unhappy’ but, amongst other things, was an unwillingness to interact with people. How unlike my student days.

Did you know that on this week, just past, in 1964 the new Queen Margaret Hall of Residence was opened in Bellshaugh Road, Kelvindale? It got knocked down in 2000 and turned into more of a student flat type accommodation.

I was there, dear listener, something like 1972-74 and if I say that it was there that a boy became a man, need I elaborate?

But I made a lot of friends there and it was there I first wrote comedy, did a Toast to the Lasses and played mixed hockey – just as deadly serious as the all-male hockey I played for the university. At first team level. 😀

Then I moved into a flat in Woodlands with three others and that noise you can hear is that of a veil being drawn.

But I did get my first degree. Just.

And finally, it’s too easy to pour scorn on Donald Trump but what little, if any, respect I had for the man disappeared when, in Japan, he tipped a whole box of fish food into a pond of koi carp…..and, in doing so, killed them. The bastard!!!!

I used to keep coldwater fish. Okay so it’s not in the same league as koi carp, but they meant a lot to me.

And I do remember being in somebody’s house in Orkney about four years ago and one of their interior walls was one side of a fish tank full of Pacific Ocean fish. Seriously amazing.

Tioraidh, still wearing this year’s poppy and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, who, like everyone else, is keen to hear the results of Duaisean Gaidhlig Na H-Alba 2017 which will be announced in the Glasgow Central Hotel on the 15th November. No. No reason. 🙂 But my money’s on Buidheann Disathairne.

So somebody told me the other day that they were never sure whether to give money to the homeless people ‘begging’ in the streets.

‘After all’, she said, ‘is there not a chance they might spend it on drinks and drugs?’

‘Possibly, or they could buy food,’ said I. ‘but at least you’re giving them an option they didn’t have until you gave them that money.’

And I got a strange look.

I also met the Big Issue seller I buy from on an unusual pitch, which was distributing the Stylist outside Queen Street Station. She’s an Eastern European lady from Kinning Park. Anyway I’m standing talking to her and it’s difficult cos I don’t understand Eastern European and another lady (not Eastern European but more Milngavie) took a Stylist from my friend but when I cheerily shouted, ‘thanks’, I got another strange look.

Altho’ I openly admit to my interest in country music being recently recent, my interest in Steve Earle and the Dixie Chicks goes back to 2003 and the Second Gulf War when they both spoke out against that war and were removed from various playlists. I tried to get them both onto a radio programme I was working on at the time. In Glasgow. I failed.

This is/these are the Dixie Chicks: