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I was a great student. I was good at everything. (Donald Trump)

July 12, 2018

And so dear listener, for the first time in my recent life, this week, I had to remember things from my own life of over forty years ago. It was weird. And this was nothing to with any counselling that I had planned to talk about following my reading of ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman. 😀 😀 for the book.

I was being interviewed by a Glasgow University student for her Master’s and it was about values and ethics for those taking Higher Education with an historical perspective. And Chloe done a good job.

Indeed it got off to really good start.

I had described myself as wearing glasses and looking incredibly old; her early words included, ‘you don’t look incredibly old.’ We got on well………but I ended up feeling incredibly old. 🙂

My first time at university was in 1972 – twenty-seven years after the end of World War II. My second time at university was almost forty years later.

It was a different time then and I think much of it was because so many people had survived the war and all that that had involved….from active participation to existing on rationing and indeed it was twenty-three years after the NHS came into being. But don’t worry. This isn’t going to turn into a Daily Mail/John Major rant about warm beer and respect.

For me, it was about how much my thinking and ambitions and my life had changed over these years and some of the reasons why……..but a lot of good stuff as well.

Did you know, rainforestriverman (and she’s not called Princess Kate!!!! That’s such a motire!!!!!), that the Green Gate Curry Restaurant opened in Bank Street in 1959 (boiled egg curries were 7/6 by the time we got to uny) and that England won the World Cup in 1966. Lots of people seem to forget that. Incidentally, it was in 1976 (great summer!) that the Koh-i-Noor fell into the River Kelvin?

But if I were to do the Daily Mail thang it would be the demise of the bank manager. I have long since stopped watching re-runs of Dads Army but my memory of a bank manager in a small town like Peterhead was of a man (but of course) who was heavily involved in the community and highly respected.

Now? Well, leaving aside any comparison with Fred Goodwin, do they even exist? Do banks even care? I remember my first cheque book – when did you get your first contactless card and when was it first rejected?

And amidst the other memories that were prompted that had nothing to do with Chloe’s research were tutorials in a history lecturer’s study somewhere in a cloister in a quadrant where I was offered cheap sherry but realised the best thing to do was to make an excuse and left. 😉

But this week it was a case of what might have been. I know Jenny H was telling everyone when she tweeted about a lecturer’s job at Stirling Uny (in Substance Use I think it was) but it was my second time at Uny when I realised how much academically there is to gain from relevant research.

And, apart from anything else, I went to UWS (Paisley) as a recovering alcoholic and came out just as someone who doesn’t drink. 😀 😀 😀

And finally, a woman is sitting in a church during the funeral service for her late husband. Another man comes up to her and says, ‘do you mind if I say a word?’

‘No,’ she says. ‘That’ll be nice.’

He coughs, clears his throat and says, ‘Plethora.’

‘Thank you,’ the woman says. That means a lot.’

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

Iaint850, financially better off since I cracked open the penny jar (£9.75)

And I was in conversation with a friend discussing how, emotionally, I felt after the heart scare and I was going to talk a wee bit about mentally standing up to things but one image changed my mind……well, actually, two.

The first was TV footage of all the Police outriders driving off as soon as it was confirmed that Boris Johnson had resigned as Foreign Secretary. It was as if I was watching all the pomp and circumstance as being removed from the man who refuses still to acknowledge his children born out of wedlock and who is responsible for the continued imprisonment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. The man is a buffoon and it shows the weakness of Theresa May that she felt the need to give him a major role in her government to keep him quiet. Ha!

No. The big image was the BBC’s Dan Johnson doing a piece to camera as two ambulances whizzed off behind him and he was able to say, ‘That’s the tenth and the eleventh boy being taken to the hospital.’

They got them all out!!!!!! Everyone, Thai Government and police and army and divers from all over the world combined to get thirteen frightened ‘Wild Boars’ out of all those caves and water and Goodness knows what. Everyone was very calm and just did it.

No pricked egos…….but one death. Saman Guana, a retired navy SEAL (but not that old) died from oxygen problems, but the rescuers will have learned from that.

A fantastic achievement.

No reason for this piece of music other than I like it. It’s a ‘step’ dancing tune from the unlikeliest of sources but a very appropriately named band.

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‘I think….that I would rather recollect a life mis-spent on fragile things than spent avoiding moral debt.’ (Neil Gaiman 2006)

July 6, 2018

And so, dear listener, I do like a good book and I’ve just finished reading one. It’s called ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’ and it’s by Gail Honeyman.

Now, dear listener, there is a fine line between reviewing a book and offering too many spoilers and I’m about to attempt it. Forgive me if I fail. Let’s just say that I’ve thought about it and I’m going to drop some comments in the blog from time to time over the next few weeks which I think it would be fair to say were prompted by Eleanor and the book: thoughts about connections (or lack thereof) and counselling (which in my own case saw some good and some bad because some of it was targeted in the wrong direction) and some other stuff including the very obvious gag based on the surname. 😀

Anyway, because of the public transport problems in my neck of the woods and also downtown Glasgow city centre, on Thursday I took the subway into town. I hate buying tickets from the machine (lack of personal contact) and I went up to the desk. The young lady was holding a tissue to her ear. ):

‘Are you okay?’ I asked.

‘No,’ she said. ‘I keep picking at my ear and it’s bleeding. It’s my own fault.’

I bought a ticket, anyway, and wondered….would Eleanor Oliphant have bought one?

Now, as regular listeners know, I’m not a great fan of 151, and when I realised that I was being asked to pay lots of money for data used on my phone, I knew there was a problem. So I phoned 151 who reassured me my payments were going through but when I tried to explain that, whilst it was good to know I’d ‘millions in my account’, that wasn’t the problem.

I had lost him at ‘millions in my account’.

So I wrote and was advised to call 789 or an 0800 number but 789 seemed very busy and I was wondering if lots of people had this problem.

Then I got a txt msg saying they would call me. But they never did.

And then I saw something on fbook about the shops that were still open in the non-cordoned off bits of Sauchiehall Street and the Virgin Media Shop was one of them. 🙂

I headed for town the next day, getting off at Charing Cross but careful not to put my hand on the arm rail up the stairs. ‘How many germs?’ Eleanor and I wondered.

I made it to the store and was the only customer. ‘Let me see your phone’ the young lady said and after a minute asked, ‘Did you know your wi-fi was switched off? Well it’s back on now.’ 😀 😀 😀

In these days of digital disruption, could personal contact be the next big thing? 😛

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and I’m sure keeping it simple is still the right thing to do.

Iaint850 is ‘reasonably okay’

And as many people know it was my birthday recently and I spent part of it in Stobhill Hospital in the North East of Glasgow. And what a lovely hospital it is. And what was nice was the fact that I spent it in the company of the rapping Dr J who is my NHS heart consultant and who is very good. Either she does remember me (aye, in your dreams t850) or she’s a good reader of notes or more probably somewhere in between. 😉

I had blood pressure and an ECG done on arrival and sat in a nice waiting room with a large window out of which I could see lots of women in their summer dresses as well as lots of other appropriately dressed people with lashings of suntan oil. Dress appropriate, I say.

I was called through and we chatted. Things seem good but it is the NHS so that’s to be expected. I now have an appointment to see her again in a year’s time but before then we will continue to keep a close eye on my blood pressure (by tagging me soon for twenty-four hours) and also my leaky aortic valve. At some point I will get an MRI scan, but there’s no hurry. When I needed urgent assistance, the ambulances (real and metaphorical) were there for me. They would be again. 😀 😀 😀

Had I used the ‘emergency spray’, she asked, and, if so, what effect did it have?

Three or four times, I replied, and I felt it gave me mental control, lovely blue colours in my head and a lovely glowing sensation. 😀

I think the jury may be out on that returning to my repeat prescriptions.

However, one thing she and I did agree is that the current slight breathlessness after activity could be as much to do with my current overweightness as anything else. So, I have taken appropriate measures.

My favourite seat in my house is in the kitchen with the door open, reading a newspaper or book on a breakfast bar next to the fridge. I have now stuck a notice on the fridge door which reads

GO LOOK IN THE MIRROR BEFORE YOU EAT ANYTHING OUT OF HERE!!!!!!

And I think it’s working.

And for all those folk watching the World Cup thinking that music in the background is familiar, this is what you’re hearing.

We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible. (George Santayana)

June 28, 2018

And so, dear listener, last Saturday night, good friend e and I went to see Lulu perform at the Kelvingrove Bandstand. And jolly good it was too. And interesting. 🙂

First, can I say something about the venue? It must be one of the very few venues where the performers can actually see the individual members of the audience. The roof is the sky and it’s light until late (audio curfew is 10.30pm). This creates its own demands for the artists but if you’re Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie or Sharleen Spiteri (last year), then there’s a very good chance you see friends and family and you can actually talk to them. 🙂

But maybe Lulu (who is 69 and very fit) took it too far. After thirty minutes or so, she said she was going for a wee cup of tea and for us to do what we needed to do. She was gone for about twenty-five minutes which provided a tremendous opportunity for lots of people to get another few pints and wines (good size of one-use plastic cups) inside them and for them to totter up and down the concrete steps and to fall over and bang their heads but to get up again, smiling their heads off.*

Lulu did come back and carried on in the retrospective vein that she started off in but it took a wee while to get back into that mood but her second last number was Shout – and that made it all worthwhile. 😀

I have now in recent years seen Lulu sing Shout, The Waterboys sing Purple Rain, Steve Earle sing Copperhead Road, Kris Kristofferson sing Sunday Morning and Leon Russell sing Delta Lady. The next gig is the Pretenders…….

*As you know the question I am asked almost the most is whether I get cravings for alcohol. Well no, I don’t, BUT see the last couple of weeks or so, see standing at the corner of University Avenue and Byres Road and looking directly into Tennent’s Bar with the doors wide open………..No. No interest in alcohol but a wee reminder of what pubs have to offer people…….I moved on. 😉

And my big thanks to the thirty-one people who liked a very blurred picture of my first ever strawberries from this garden. Personally, I’m now strawberried out and if you’re passing or I’ve arranged to meet you……..then I may have some for you.

And also thanks to those of you asking how my bets are doing for the World Cup.

Remember all four are ‘to win’ so I can only have one winner – if any. If it helps to follow my progress, then all four names begin with ‘B’ apart from France and Spain (who lost on penalties this afternoon).

And I and most of the folk I know (men and women just to keep it simple) have no problem with women commentators or pundits…not just in football but in most broadcast sports. Sue Barker, Jane Lewis, Hazel Irvine, Julie Welch, Rhona MacLeod, Sally McNair, Alison Walker….the list is almost endless and continues to grow. And for me the great thing is that they are not there defined by their gender. They are there because they are good at their job, not for gender balance.

Nor would they tolerate this ‘thing’ that seems to be happening in Russia where men (for want of a better word) run up to steal a kiss. There’s at least one name there who could knock someone out if pushed too far.

And my own club, Partick Thistle, the Maryhill Magyars, the Harry Wraggs, the mighty Jags have just appointed a female Chairman – Jacqui Low – who is a woman with a lot of experience in Scottish Government and political PR.

(And, yes, I remember Lockerbie as well but I wasn’t needed on the night. The newsroom had plenty of people. So I went in at six the next morning)

And finally, I think I’m more Alex than Adam (a reference for those who watch Love Island) 😀

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and it gets me past chuggers without any problem, and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850 ‘is still fine’ (a current literary reference)

So (oooops, sorry Rosie) this year is my 64th birthday which is quite a change from the days when I claimed I’d be 42 for the rest of my life. It all changed when I turned 60 and, in the company of the good Dr W, did things like abseiling down the Titan Crane in Clydebank and being a zombie at M & D’s out Motherwell way.

This year? I’m celebrating my birthday at Stobhill Hospital (still open for ambulatory care) in the company of my heart consultant – the rapping Dr J. Currently I feel I have nothing to worry about but it’s nice that the NHS cares so much. 😀

And I think I proved my current fitness at the recent Feis Spors Glaschu where I remained on my feet for four or five hours which does mean that I am more than capable of going to see Partick Thistle at home.

Life’s a bit quiet at the moment but this has been a busy time for editing in the past and I’ve at least one interview for voluntary work at the end of the month.

But I’m taking advantage of the sun and listening to some music but when you’re talking someone turning 64, there really is only one song with which to end the show, isn’t there?

Here’s Green Day with Still Breathing. I have a live version but I think the lyrics are important. Have a listen.

“I’m glad mushrooms are against the law, because I took them one time, and you know what happened to me? I laid in a field of green grass for four hours going, “My God! I love everything.” Yeah, now if that isn’t a hazard to our country … ?”― Bill Hicks

June 21, 2018

And so, dear listener, thanks for asking. Feis Spors Ghlaschu 2018 went very well, despite the rain. A pair of gazebos was purchased and it’s hoped that they will breed and the resultant offspring can be sold to raise funds. :p

No. They kept the rain off some of us and, more importantly, our goods. The tuck shop didn’t sell as much as previous years and I won’t mention the fact that the shinty people had their own crisps’n’ginger outlet. Oh. I just have.

A surprise donation of lots of boxes of Haribos was welcomed by us and Glasgow’s dentists and just the usual gripe; parents sending children over with a £10 note and all they wanted was a packet of Rainbow Drops (10p).

For me it was a good day. No anxiety or tiredness about anything (grammatically that’s a crap sentence but two weeks before my next appointment with my heart consultant, I think you know what I mean) 😀

Nice drive home via Mosspark Boulevard and into the tunnel but on the way over – at St George’s Cross as I was negotiating my way onto the correct lane for Pollok Park – there was a strong smell of smoke. From the Art School and the other buildings that were burning.

Earlier this week I tried to negotiate Sauchiehall Street – not as a rubber-necker but as someone who got off the train at Charing Cross intending to walk to Waterstone’s. That end is a mess cos of the city council’s attempts to pedestrianise it and with added extra trees and talk of tidying up the back lanes. When I worked in the two homeless projects in that area I used to visit those lanes to put the project’s rubbish in the bins at about six in the morning. Not pleasant.

Further along you encounter the cordons around the area affected by the fire. Yes, Campus and the O2 have been mentioned as well as the Art School, but rumours that Biggar’s (a music shop that’s been there for 150 years) could well be about to close are just rumours but temporary closure is bad enough for them and the hairdresser’s and several newsagents and the others and that is when you begin to understand the true extent of the damage.

I spoke to quite a few people including traders (I was the only one in the shops) and also a couple of former Art School students who used to do tours of the School. Sadness and pessimism about the future.

And they’re still slowly knocking down the buildings affected by what has come to be known as ‘the Victoria’s fire’ and there is still no decision about the future of the Pavilion.

£100 million to re-build the Art School…..or should we looking at designing a new Sauchiehall Street and its environs? Or should we seek to make safe the other Rennie Mack buildings?

And finally, if we’re going to ask complicated and ethical questions, then what should I have done about the wee girl who came up quite early on with three x 5ps and asked for a 50p bag of sweets? My solution was to tell her to come back at the end of the day. She did. 🙂

Or the boy who complained that ours was ‘sweet’ popcorn but not ‘salty’. In such circumstances then my riposte is usually, ‘Listen son, this is Pollok Park, no’ Pollok Shopping Centre.’ :p

And Jeanette, (BBC pal) do you remember the time we almost did the Jimmy Mack Show from Pollok Shopping but didn’t cos I knew Easterhouse much better. Happy daze. 😀

Cya, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple (let’s see what happens in ten days’ time)

iaint850, gu dearbh, b ‘e latha math a bh’ ann an Disathairne and thanks to the online dictionary for help with the translation.

And I think I detect the beginnings of a debate about long term legalisation of drugs beginning with the prescribed availability of cannabis oil with the THC left in.

Many people (including the PM) seem to be against the idea based on the view that if such as cannabis, heroin, LSD, illegal highs (formerly legal highs) and street Valium are illegal then they must be dangerous. Well alcohol, tobacco and explosives are also pretty dangerous but they are legal in order to control their manufacture, quality, distribution and to whom they’re sold.

All the illegal stuff is out there and relatively accessible and the ‘war against drugs’ was lost a long time ago and we have no control over it. It’s a market controlled by crooks and criminals and I’m desperately sad that so many people seem happy with this state of affairs.

There is room for an informed conversation as to how legislation could be carried out but the benefits would be good. Even getting people to come forward for help knowing they would not be prosecuted for ‘carrying’ (de-criminalisation) would be a start.

Have a wee think. I will return to this subject. And for every one of my generation and younger, who enjoys a spliff at the end of the day rather than a G&T, enjoy.

I looked long and hard for a piece of music for tonight and I suspect many of you will not be surprised by my choice and that it was written by a Dundonian and sung by two men from Coatbridge.

But this is they from 2009 at the ABC and I well remember my last visit there…..December 2016. Ten years on.

‘I have always loved the big stage and would often tell my friends while growing up that I’d want to help India win the World Cup one day’. (Gautam Gambhir)

June 14, 2018

Skippy! I think that’s the wrong sport!

And so, dear listener, I have placed some bets on the World Cup. With William Hill – the bookies who are currently very supportive of prostate cancer awareness. 🙂

2 x £10 bets on France and Spain (and I can live with the 3-3 draw against Ronaldo the other night) allowed me two free bets worth £5 each (Brazil and Belgium) and all are ‘to win’. I rarely place bets these days and it’s a very long time since I placed a bet on a horse race, although, as I do point out from time to time, ten years ago I did place a bet on a horse in the Grand National called ‘Comply or Die’ which came in at 7 – 1. 😀

It had seemed such an appropriate name, given that I was about to undergo treatment for cancer. My son, separately, also placed a bet on the same horse and later that day told me (eighteen months after my cold turkey) that the winning jockey was a ‘recovering alcoholic’. That acceptance meant more than the winnings. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Anyway those bets give me a reason to take an interest in the World Cup itself. Other than the first game which took place between two of the lowest ranked teams in the competition but who happen to be two of the most oppressive regimes anywhere in the world.

And I now worry about the horses more than I once did.

But I must confess I currently feel cut off from the rest of the world. It’s nothing to do with periodic depression and anxiety; it’s the fact that they’re working on the railway line at Cowlairs and so the nice wee Summerston to Queen Street trip (12 mins) is off for the next three weeks. Until 9th July!!!!!!!

Normally, it’s really smashing. A two minute drive or a ten minute walk and I’m at Summerston Railway Station; twelve minutes on the train and I’m in town; and another ten minutes I’m in the Concert Hall. Compare that with living in the country or some other parts of Glasgow.

I might check out the buses tho’. The main reason for not using them before was that they didn’t take me anywhere near my work (both projects were in the Charing Cross area above pubs) and the train was really handy for the City Centre. But they might be worth exploring. I’ll keep you posted.

But it did cause problems the other night. ‘Cos I didn’t know!!!!!!!

It was the day of wet and windy weather. Or Thursday as some people know it. I was going to go to the Concert Hall for a presentation on ‘Health in the News; Fact or Fiction?’ and normally I take an earlier train in case the trains are running late. But that day, I decided to trust Scotrail and go for exact times so that I wouldn’t get caught in the rain for too long. Arrived at the platform that is Summerston Railway Station only to find…..well,

I’ve kinda given the game away, haven’t I? And the very alternative arrangements are fine up to a point but not as a last minute fix at drive time.

Ho and hum. A good friend who is still involved in the world of studying recently described herself as feeling like a bit of a hermit at the moment. Me too, but for obviously different reasons. Railway lines for example.

Serious efforts are being made to find appropriate voluntary or part-time work and I am open to suggestions but maybe I should think about some form of further education that is not specifically work or drink and drugs related.

And almost finally, I note a story online from the actor Michael Keaton about a drunk Glaswegian getting into his car to give him directions to where Michael was supposed to be going but ending up at the Glaswegian’s home.

This happened to me once in Oban (BBC business) at about 1030 in the morning. I had arrived there to do a recce from the 100th Anniversary of the Highland Cattle Society and was looking for the Auction Mart.

I was on the Esplanade and got out of my car and shouted my request. This man came up to me and said, ‘I may be drunk but I know where I’m going’*(and got into the passenger seat. He got me to the Mart and then wandered off into the Argyll distance. 🙂

*How nearly that became my motto in 2005-6. :p

And finally, plans are now well in hand for my birthday in a couple of weeks’ time. I’ve an early afternoon meeting with my heart consultant in Stobhill Hospital.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple. You never know.

Iaint850, who will return next week with many tales of Feis Spors Ghlaschu but also my thoughts on the sad news about the School of Art.

Now some of you will know that my grand-daughter took part in a dance show last week but there has never been a named mention of her or her young brother (let alone a pic) on social media including this blog. I have been asked.

Very simple. Altho’ I’m a big user of social media I’ve been asked not to do general sharing and to give the grandweans some privacy in their early years. Which I’m happy to do, altho’ I do pass on the odd pic to some folk.

And that includes videos of my grandson and his first steps sent to me on Dad’s Day.

It’s a wee bit like the old days when you collected photos from SupaSnaps and showed them to just some folk.

And just as Kodak told us, ‘one day your prints will come’.

No. I will continue to share much about myself but am very careful about others. It could be that fact that I live alone (have I ever mentioned that?) or that I have no watercooler around which me and my work colleagues can mingle. It doesn’t mean I always get a response. It means I need work colleagues.

Or maybe, Skippy, it just means that I’m dead boring…………………………

But as the equally boring Willie Nelson says, at least, I’m ‘Still Not Dead’.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~ Nelson Mandela 💜

June 7, 2018

That opening quote was used by an organisation called Faces and Voices of Recovery which partly inspired my Masters.

And so dear listener, I have decided that there is too much TV on TV – or at least too small a choice. You know what I mean – cop shows (altho’ I think 24 Hours In Custody (?) is brilliant), property shows and cookery shows. I also remember the early days of cable when scrolling down through a smaller number of channels would produce gems such as Chuck Norris, Troma (sp) TV and ten pin bowling from Milton Keynes. 🙂

But every so often you find a gem and this week it was the end credits to Springwatch – BBC’s live nature programme where one of the presenters is Michaela Strachan. She once gave me her mobile number. She’s probably changed it by now. ):

Anyway, one evening, just before a smashing TV prog about Charles Rennie Mackintosh was due to start, I switched the TV on.

Switching the TV on does help if you’re going to watch a TV programme altho’ I didn’t know it was going to be smashing.

And I caught the end credits of Springwatch and I saw a credit for nestfinders! How brilliant! I still watch end credits to see if I still know anybody and I also remember the excitement when my name was up there as Researcher or Assistant Producer…..and my short career as a co-presenter.

And I also remember going to see the ‘Scottish Film’ at the Phoenix in Linwood with J and we both, without discussing it, did not leave our seats until the credits had run. Respect for the people who worked on the film.

There were only about eight people in the cinema to begin with and so mumbly were the accents in the film that I had to confess that I was glad I already knew the plot. 🙂

Anyway. Springwatch credits. I was determined to see what other gems there might be – like nestfinders. There were none. It was all the usual stuff – and no less worthy of being up there. But I was a wee bit disappointed.

And then there was the mysterious case of Celtic Street in Maryhill not being where I thought it was. At one time it was the shortest street in Glasgow with a Corpie bus garage at the end of it (or was it the shortest in Britain? Or Europe? Or, well you get the picture). Well the bus garage had been knocked down many years since and a wall had replaced it. Celtic Street was no more. It had become a place where people could park their cars.

So UPS had tried to deliver a parcel to my sister and were unsuccessful but it could be collected from 3 Celtic Street but where was that? Google showed that what had once been a lane beside the Ram’s Head had now taken on the name of Celtic Street and it has a lot of houses built to well past the pub. Celtic Street was no longer the proud bearer of that Shortest Street title. ):

But Number 3? There was no giant warehouse to be seen and whilst I started buzzing tenement numbers randomly, my sister had the good sense to go into the newsagents next door and Lo and Behold, it was Number 3. It looks as if UPS might have a policy of lots of wee stores so that if they can’t deliver, then they do have a collecting point that is not a massive warehouse way on the other side of town

And finally, thanks to those who ask after my health. With the help of the NHS, I continue to cut back on medication but the latest one is tricky. For over eleven years I have used Omeprazole to control stomach reflux but I’ve to cut back on it gradually (no cold turkey) to let some other stuff do their jobs properly but it’s six weeks before I need to go and see a nurse again. And I’m due to see the rapping Dr J in about four weeks’ time. So, that’s good. 😀

Yes, I occasionally get tired after not much effort and yes, I occasionally am aware of my heart in a way I never was before but often I am still full of ‘get up and go’ after some really stressful occasions (putting the duvet cover on the duvet) and I’ve only had to use the spray on three occasions and even then one puff was enough.

Note to Skippy…..on 16th June I’m helping out at the Gaelic Sports Day in Pollok Park. Let’s pack one of the small seats and make sure I look out the team baseball cap and lots of water.

And next week I’ll tell you good my grand-daughter was in her first ever dance show at Clydebank Town Hall.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, still worrying why Love Island rejected me.

And I do believe the terminology in how we report and discuss health matters is important. That’s why I’m delighted to be going to ‘Health in the News: Fact or Fiction?’ this coming Thursday in Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. If anyone else is interested, then I think tickets are still available.

Having been labelled, I don’t like seeing others labelled. And the worry is that you begin to believe the label if enough people repeat it.

But I’m happy enough to ignore Loki’s references to ‘jakebaws’ just this once cos of his other remarks on BBC Question Time about how important Minimum Unit Pricing is for the Common Good.

Anyway, last week I played Charlie Daniels appearing on the Marty Stuart Show in the Grand Ol’ Oprey in Nashville and John Collins, a friend of mine who’s the drive time jock on Chris Country Radio, contacted me to say that Marty himself was possibly the best live act he’d ever seen.

Funnily enough J, still the blog’s favest librarian, said the same a wee while back after she’d seen him in Glasgow.

Ladies and gentlemen, for J and J, and everyone else, here’s Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives singing El Paso from Oran Mor in Byres Road Glasgow in 2017. I knew I had it somewhere 😀

There is a light at the end of the tunnel… hopefully its not a freight train! (Mariah Carey but also Half Man, Half Biscuit)

June 1, 2018

And so, dear listener, I had an interesting experience last week with social media. On Facebook I posted a couple of photos of my back garden which seemed to generate about fifty responses. 🙂

In the blog I mentioned the armed police raid which took place just yards from me at twenty past six last Thursday morning. It was witnessed by my neighbour who was indicated to be quiet by a gun toting polisman as they entered the nearby block of about six studio flats.

(I live in a semi which is one of the nice things about Summerston – the variety of housing)

Kenny the shed pimp, about forty minutes later, saw the police dog van and the standby ambulance move away from their ‘safe’ position in another street round the corner.

But comment was there? None.

I caught a police drugs raid on one of those reality TV progs a couple of nights later. Are we now so used to the police doing that, that we feel that these are part and parcel of everyday life – particularly in North Glasgow where folk are shot dead at busy traffic lights on the Maryhill Road?

How close was it? Well in TV they seem to measure everything either as a comparison with Wales or a football pitch.

It was as close as the distance from the edge of a Welsh centre circle in the opposition’s half to a Welsh penalty spot. That close!!!

Anyway, I did my first prostate cancer information talk for some time and I did it in Kilmarnock Job Centre and I enjoyed it. 🙂 I do like an audience. And they were mixed and good and laffed at the right times. 🙂 Yes. Just cos it’s about cancer, doesn’t mean I can’t get a laff from an audience. And some interesting questions in a slightly quieter area afterwards. I am, as is well known, a believer in sharing – in ‘proper’ sharing – and that’s what happened. People become aware of something about a work colleague that they never knew before and they offer some help – and it’s accepted.

And I didn’t know it but I was doing a co-presentation with a local lad but we worked well as a team. He was Lennon to my McCartney or, for younger people, he was Pixie to my Paloma.

If anyone out there knows of an organisation who would like a prostate cancer presentation then contact me one way or another, and I’ll put you in touch with the appropriate people.

I took the train down, which was nice – city centre to town centre – and it’s a road I’ve travelled on a few occasions (to Rugby Park or for AJ and R’s naming days) so it was nice to look at the countryside. One downpoint.

One helluva of an ‘earthy’ smell at Kilmaurs. I had to keep looking at the sole of my shoe – just in case.

Moving swiftly on.

I renewed my Partick Thistle season ticket this week – £290 – and I hope to go to more games this season that last.

I mentioned this last week but my moods and blood pressure are streets better than they’ve been for some time.

Me and Aidan Turner – both happy to be lusted after. 😀 😀 😀

I am happy. 😀

And finally, I was reminded of one former student this week (The Vampire Slayer who is now resident in Italy) when
I saw in a tabloid newspaper that police in Edinburgh had started to use a cut-out police officer (not sure what he’s made off) to encourage cars to slow down. 🙂

The VS’s scoop with the same story was approximately ten years ago, only it was in Bishopbriggs. Cracking story tho’. 😉

And I’d a very nice mail from a student (B) of some time back (who is now resident in the States) who had tremendous journalistic potential but is now involved in something much more spiritual. How did she show that potential? She wasn’t afraid to ask questions. When she turned up.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge (especially for the presentation) and still keeping it simple

iaint850, shazaming it like Monica Lewinsky

B (see above) was one of the first two students (not the ‘usual suspects’)that I told of my alcohol issues (post Cold Turkey) and we had spoken of a few things (in Room 211) that were maybe better suited to social care and the messages that I got from her recently were good and I brought her up to date on me and she finishes by saying ‘I look forward to reading your book’ and I don’t think she meant the academic idea I had planned for post PhD; but maybe a proper version of the one I wrote post Cancer. It got knocked back by agents and publishers but maybe there might be a way to combine the two; or is that too ambitious?

We’ll see.

If rock music gives rise to air guitars does country music give rise to air fiddlers? You will be fiddling along with the Charlie Daniels Band, introduced by Marty Stuart at the Grand ol’ Opry in Nashville and not Kinning Park.

‘Whether you support the monarchy or not, the wedding was a wonderful expression of love that lifted spirits across the country and had diversity at its heart’ (Kezia Dugdale)

May 25, 2018

And so, dear listener, last week’s show was a wee bit on the serious side so I’m going to try to avoid that. Maybe dedicate it to a couple of folk. Purely hypothetically. 😀

Maybe celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary somewhere on the Iberian Peninsula. Maybe they had a humanist wedding by the very same tree at the hotel in Strathblane where Son Brian and the gorgeous KT had their wedding reception. 😀

Maybe I didn’t get there cos I was knackered after eight weeks of radiotherapy (exactly ten years ago this week) and I must thank this imaginary couple for all the help and support they have given me over these years. Thanks. 😀

And really pleased at how well my rhubarb was appreciated by all the young Gaels which was a David Bowie song….later he changed Gaels to Dudes.

All totally hypothetical. Except the Bowie bit. Possibly he wrote it on his famous visit to Cumbernauld Town Centre. 😉

Moving swiftly on.

And a mention for all the folk from my Post Grad of 2011-2013 and something I said in a class about AA and the Twelve Steps – which is the basic tool used within AA.

Apparently I made the point that my aim was for a time when no-one would know me as a ‘recovering’ or ‘recovered alcoholic’ – just ‘someone who didn’t drink’. Well that time came not long after but, recently, on a TV series called Genderquake (partly about transition and other gender issues), there was a contributor who asked, ‘when I can stop being trans and just be a man?’

I am proud that that story reminded a good friend of me. Thanks N x.

And I think what has made such a difference to me over those years has been the ability to meet people (okay women) on a friendly basis without anyone e.g. husbands and boyfriends or the women themselves panicking.

Not sure what that says about me but I’m eleven years five months older than looked possible in December 2006. So, yes, I may not drink but I still count the daze. 🙂

Always keeping it simple.

And my favourite piece of drama this week was the boiled egg eating scene in the Jeremy Thorpe drama. Do you hammer your eggs or do you slice them? And the subtlety of the glimpse of the petroleum jelly. But not in the same scene, I should stress.

Anyway I think I do prefer gluten free soy sauce and I’m perfectly happy with dairy free ice cream.

And Partick Thistle season tickets are about to go on sale so I will be buying one and I do hope that, healthwise, things are settled enough for me to go to games altho’ I long ago lost my seat in the charabanc for away games to young Sam…and deservedly so. 🙂

And it’s really weird having an early morning look at Facebook and seeing a photo of your main road and the entrance to your cul-de-sac and the headline;

Armed police swoop on flat in dawn raid in quiet Summerston street’

It was 6.20 and my neighbour was out walking her dog. Heavily armed police.

Drugs? Stashed in the graveyard? Connection with recent fatal shootings? And the white Audi? It was taken away.

Will it be in The Digger this week?

Still moving swiftly on.

And subway station platforms like Cessnock do worry me a wee bit. They seem awful narrow and remind me a wee bit of the rope ladders between trees at Go Ape where there was just a wee bit of 3-2-1- Go! and I was fine. 🙂

I’d be too scared to do that again.

And I didn’t know, despite my great use of the UWS Library in Paisley (all sorts of reasons) that it has a Special Collection. It chose to tell the world on Twitter that its collection of Philip Roth was kept there and chose to illustrate that with a pic of Portnoy’s Complaint! Cheeeeeky! 😉

But even now I pretend I’m back in there (it’s all changed now) at the table by the window that overlooked the entrance to the Robertson Building and idly searching through Google Scholar. Honest. There was a reason but finding stuff was a good feeling.

And I know I’m not the only person who, when North Korean expert Prof R. Kelly is on TV spends more time looking at the door to his study than at him.

I still can’t watch it without laffing

And finally I’ve got the new script for my Prostate Cancer presentation and I promise to stick to it word for word and when I get to the bit where I say ‘one man dies of prostate cancer every forty-five minutes’ I will not look at my watch, look round the room slowly and say ‘the clock is ticking.’

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

Iaint850, ‘old enough to know better; too young to resist’ (lifted from Steve Cropper who co-wrote Dock of the Bay)

And publishing that quote from Kezia does not necessarily mean I agree with her but for me freedom of speech means I listen to opposing viewpoints without being vindictive, vile and abusive.

So I’ve a lost a pre-loved (second hand) CD I purchased recently. It was a compilation of different line dancing tunes and dances. And was planned as a standby present. (Some things I don’t analyse). So I trawled through YouTube and I found this. It’s not the most exciting but I know which one I’d be. Look to the right of the screen and the lazy, languid fella, both his thumbs in his pockets, looking every inch a ‘two-bob gangster’. That’d be me. And according to Alice with whom I worked, I was never that. 😉

Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety (Francis Bacon)

May 19, 2018

And so, dear listener, as some of you know, I had applied for a gig as a volunteer. I won’t name the organisation but suffice to say that they are a council based within Scotland who look after refugees and have a festival coming up at the end of June for which they required volunteers for a range of roles. 🙂

There was no individual interview but we were observed during an ice breaker exercise and breaking into groups with a flip-chart sheet. I asked for, and received, feedback. This is part of it.

‘In terms of feedback, you were a pleasure to get to know, and of course more than qualified and experienced to carry out a volunteer role in the third sector – however often decisions to select volunteers are taken on the basis of what the role has to offer to the particular candidate, at least that is a factor we consider at XXX. This is true particularly with regards to this role, which does not require advanced English or computer skills, and is therefore one of our more inclusive roles for someone who would find it hard to get into a volunteer role in an office setting. I’m not saying that you are over-qualified for the role, rather that other people in the room would benefit more from this development opportunity.
The only, and very slight, feedback I would give you is that while it was great to see your clear enthusiasm to spend time with people and your energy, we did also feel that your natural gregariousness meant that people around you ended up being very quiet both in the group work and the presentation afterwards.’

Is that me as you know me? I am young. I can only learn. 😉

I wish them the best of luck and that’s filled a fair amount of my word count for this week. I did say to some people afterwards that I may have come across as a mouthy Glaswegian – which I’m not. I’m originally from Peterhead. 😀

Which reminds me……I’m doing a Prostate Cancer Information talk in Kilmarnock Job Centre later this month. My friend, the rainforestriverman, does inspirational talks as well. His latest was in Sao Paulo. A previous visit to Kilmarnock saw me at the Sheriff Court bailing three people out. Their ‘Not Guilty’ plea was accepted at a later date. (icon for phew!!!!!)

I remember one Saturday morning at the Sauchiehall Street project being in the laundry room when a big Orange Walk was going past. It seemed to be the pit stop where they replaced the lambeg drummer with a fresh lambeg drummer and I was asked to explain what was happening by two refugees. I did my best but failed.

Anyway, can you excuse me for fifteen minutes while I walk very slowly downstairs and sit in a very relaxed fashion before I take my blood pressure. The evening score is about 130 over stuff but it’s between 150 and 160 in the morning but that is oh so much better than it was a wee while ago. 🙂

And I’ve got this dreadful feeling that this might come across as a seriously serious blog and I’m no fun. I mean, I occasionally put a bet on in what are deserted bookies’ shops these days cos so many folk do it online these days (just like Ray Winston suggests we do) and it’s only the FOBT machines that are being used and I don’t know how they work. And, yes, I did once see a homeless person put a £100 note, which he said he’d ‘found’, into a machine in one punt. He lost it. Twenty seconds and it was gone. ):

But what do I know? Four (?) years ago I put £10 on Scotland to vote for Independence. It’ll be many years before that appears on my Fixed Odds coupon again. And at least one policy for Independence would be good. And a strong leader.

And finally, Mao Tse Tung was the Long March – not the long walk. I’ve been feeding people duff info about Windsor’s Communist credentials all week.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple, even if it’s not.

Iaint850, I mean me – ‘gregarious’? Chance would be a fine thing.

So, as I write this, I don’t know what division Partick Thistle will be in next season but you, reading this, probably do. I’ve been to very few games this season for a combination of reasons; periodic depression and the cardiac event at the turn of the year.

I will be buying a season ticket and I will make my return at the start of the season. A couple of seasons ago I went to the first game of the season with e and AJ and we were in the Jackie Husband Stand and very relaxing it was. Maybe I should do that again. Just to get started. 😀 😀 😀

Take a mum and her child. No. Not a random mum off the streets. No. One I know…….Skippy! Draw up a list. Under 16s go free.

And this, musically, is a special request for the rainforestriverman (I know. Who’d have thought?) who came very close to giving me away at my wedding – it’s a long a story and Johnny Walker Black Label played a part. It’s the ‘legendary’ Iron Maiden.

‘At the height of my drinking, my life was in a delicate balance between wilful delusion and procrastination. Sometimes it still is.’ (Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey)

May 10, 2018

Sums me up these days. Without the drinking. It’s all so quiet. I wonder what I said. Oooops. Light’s on. Mic’s live. Let’s go.

And so, dear listener, the deep cleaners have been, deep cleaned and have gone. And what an excellent job they have done…..but it was such a strange feeling. For the second half of the day, I was at home; they had ‘done’ the upstairs and were ‘doing’ the downstairs half of the house. And I could hear the hoover, sorry, the vacuum cleaner, and cupboards being emptied and re-stocked and water running as basins were being filled and I couldn’t help but notice how shiny and sparkly the bathroom shower cabinet was compared to what I had left that morning and the fronts of all the kitchen cabinets and behind the washing machine (altho’ they had switched off a spur switch which caused a mild panic but I only had to switch it back on and everything was fine) and so much else. 😀

They took some piles of papers and made bigger piles and it took me all day to find the hair dryer and small things like that but it was all done with the best intentions and you should see (if you’re passing) how clean the kitchen door is on the inside. 😀 😀

And now all I have to do is to keep it tidy. Or get them back in, in a year’s time……naw…..I’ll do more than keep it tidy; I’ll keep it clean. 😉

I don’t really want to advertise their services that much but let’s just say they were Jolly Maids from Paisley……where lots of good things come from. 🙂

And I celebrated with dairy-free ice cream which was very nice (particularly given the current vanilla crisis) and Morrisons’ strawberries but if we were to get a decent run of sun, then I might be picking my own fruit. (And I still have the Earl Grey tea)

You can learn from folk coming over for their tea. I’m still using the gluten free soy sauce.

Oh, and are any of my friends out there fans of the Pretenders – Chrissie Hynd’n’that?

And as well as it being International Dawn Chorus Day during the week (thanks Ann) it was also Teacher Appreciation Day and I think the teacher that had the greatest influence on me was a history teacher called Ian Hall who recognised that I had ambitions beyond Peterhead, in journalism and maybe politics, and who would argue with me and force me to argue back – logically. This was before the disaster that is social media when it comes to respecting other people’s viewpoints.

And there was an English teacher called Hugh McLeod who drunkenly introduced me to Irish nationalism and the writings of James Connolly when I was in First Year in Secondary School. Mr Hall was against Irish nationalism and read the Telegraph.

Mr McLeod also gave me a copy of Ring of Bright Water.

And finally, just a wee word about International Birdsong Day. I did pass on one story about an early morning in Charing Cross when I’d to leave the project where I was working after a twelve hour shift finished at five in the morning.

But there was another occasion about half past four in the morning when I’d taken a taxi up the road (not sure why I finished at that time) but it was bit icey and the taxi wasn’t sure about the hill up to my house. So I walked.
Just me. And a couple of foxes. And a very still night. With dying street lights. And some stars in the sky. And some birdsong from over the graveyard. It was one of those mornings when I was in no hurry to get home.

I kinda miss the twilight hours.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge (and a wee story that I’ll maybe tell next week) and keeping it simple. And why not?

Iaint850, who’s a wee bit worried he may have come over as a mouthy Scot earlier this week. Only time will tell.

And the odd person still asks, from time to time, how my health is. Mentally, I think Loki got it right.

Physically, I’m fine and may not be doing a triathlon this year but I’m in pretty good nick. And good fun to be with!

And then there’s the medication.

The brilliant rapping consultant Dr J and my equally brilliant health centre pharmacist have spoken. To each other.

And basically we’re looking at cutting back on my large list of prescribed drugs, especially anything that is left over from Cold Turkey days. And some from the immediate aftermath of the cardiac event. It’s about making a new balance work.

Already gone are the Vitamin B and Thiamine which are usually the first thing you get to help you through post alcohol dependency and to build you up. Your immune system has taken ‘one helluva beating’ and there’s some short term stuff as well.

I never had anything post cancer.

And amongst other stuff to go from post-cardiac event medication is ticagrelor; and then I’ve to give it two – three weeks and come off Omeprazole – which sounds as if it might be ‘very unpleasant’. In fact the way it’s been described to me, it’s like coming off heroin which is pretty horrible but not as bad (or so I’m told) as coming off of alcohol. But it could last a lot longer.

But I’d like to know your views. Anonymity guaranteed. BUT I do know it’s going to be tough. After all it’s there to control stomach problems, so if it’s not there………..

So what makes a good Eurovision winner? This previous winner has everything. A pleasant ballad with a catchy chorus and a wee dance routine.