The love of books is among the choicest gifts of the gods (Arthur Conan Doyle)

August 11, 2017

And so dear listener, I am going to have a third T-shirt printed (the first two are virtual but pose the two questions I have been asked the most in recent years) and it will have the words ‘Yes. I have no new job to go to’ and whilst I’m slightly unsure of the mix of negatives and positives there, you get the idea. 😉

I’m going to say very little about the whole saga as it seems to have taken for ages (the four weeks is almost up) but as many people know, I emptied my locker this week (Skippy, is that an innuendo? No? I must be thinking of something else) and there wasn’t much in it – spare clothes just in case and some tea bags. I hope the next person (and they were interviewing for my old job just before I went in) gets as much pleasure out of it as I did.

Four and a half years I worked for Blue Triangle in various places and I enjoyed it but my mission statement for life was totally different from the organisation’s head office;

I believe the person should come first – not the process.

Moving on. And to some sad news. 😦

Each year I try to grow some tomatoes and peppers in my porch with a little success with little tomatoes and peppers. This year they were slow cos of the lack of sunshine but were beginning to happen and then – out of nowhere – some form of whitefly entered the house and the porch was full and the plants were keeling over. The porch has now been cleaned and fumigated.

Some may see that as a metaphor for my new life.

I say ‘fumigated’ but it was just a basic garden fly spray which I didn’t smell but it was strong enough to kill a big fly that had found itself trapped in the porch overnight……

(And economies will have to be made – Get thee behind me, Waitrose!)

But the end of August and September – all the way through to its end – have a lot of birthdays and at least one baptism, but Waterstone’s does well out of me these days, and the jeweller down Byres Road, who is the only man in the entire world who can re-set my Casio for me after February in a leap year.

But I’ve felt a wee bit trapped in the house for the last few days and trips to Paisley have been Godsends…..they’re re-surfacing the main road at the end of my cul-de-sac and I think they’ve finished but it’s been one of those situations where you’ve had to decide whether or not to ignore a ‘Road Closed’ sign because it doesn’t look closed and you want to get home and then you hit the ramp…….I’d to take the car into the garage recently so I worry. However, the strange noise under the bonnet when the engine was switched off turned out to be the Air Con that I’d left on but I also got the DAB radio re-tuned at the same time. 🙂

So I’ve been doing some cleaning and tidying and, indeed, shredding but you’d never know as piles of things have started appearing on the various floors of the house which has always been my method when planning stuff. When I say floors I mean the living room and the back bedroom which is used as an office/clothes drying area. So it’s an incredibly tidy mess.

And finally, there was no leaving do on Wednesday morning. I was swept into the office to fill out paperwork and I didn’t even get a cup of coffee – altho’ I could hear the kettle come to the boil but nothing happening (and one metaphor for my life tonight is enough thank you).

Memories of other leavings came to mind – the several I’ve had from the BBC over the years through to the one from the College, which has since changed its name, through to a jolly interesting PR farewell at King Tut’s a wee while back……my plan is to meet up with some folk – either individually or in groups. My co-workers and local management have been brilliant and in an environment, where wearing alarm bracelets comes as standard, they have all to be people you can trust…..just in case………

tioraidh, happily wearing the badge and happily keeping it simple

iaint850, ‘powerful, good-looking and a great communicator’

And I think what has brought home to me the enormity of what I have done was the other night when I sno-paked out all my shifts, on my Banksy wall calendar, for the next few months. It all looked very empty but there’s no sense of panic. However fleeting it may be, I have some control over my life again but it may, indeed, be fleeting. Give me another couple of days and I’ll start to make sense of the Post-its in my search for work (but not necessarily a job) and, yes, j, I will make a start to the book.

Presumably, despite everything that’s happening to libraries today, the Dewey Decimal Classification System still exists. Now there’s a goal. To go to a library and request a copy of my book (by Inter library Loan, perhaps)

Incidentally I know at least four people who are or were library assistants and I was Convenor of Libraries at Glasgow University Union – now wouldn’t that be an interesting night out? No. Seriously, I think it’d be really good. 😀 😀

And this really is Brandi Carlile. Brilliant voice, smashing lyrics and a lovely vocal counterpoint.

Advertisements

Well I’ve just had that Norovirus but if you’re desperate, I’m sure one of the boys in the band will oblige (Sharleen Spiteri)

August 3, 2017

And so dear listener, I am now just a matter of days away from severing my ties with Blue Triangle and today, on the show, I want to talk about the fact that I have, honestly, no job to go to 😦

There is a perceived wisdom out there that you shouldn’t leave a job unless you have a job to go to. I haven’t. And altho’ I’m using the word ‘retirement’ there may be other issues about which I am not talking. Anyway, I’m going.

And the only slight concern has been raised by those who are either naturally averse to risk taking or have been brought up/trained to be risk averse. So, yes, I’m being totally random but not for the first time.

So, basically, it’s 3-2-1-Go……which brings me to this Week’s Analogy of the Month – except I’ve never done this before. Here is the analogy. You don’t have to watch it all but just some of it to get an idea.

It’s Go Ape which I visited with the good Dr W for her ‘early in her forties’ birthday present from me three years ago. She gave me the abseiling for my 60th. 😀

I did not check out what was involved before I went and looking at this YouTube I’m glad I didn’t. I’d have been terrified – and am just looking at this just now through the fingers of my hand. The zip-wiring was easy once you had done the first one; climbing up the trees was okay but the rungs did get narrower and further apart; those walkways between trees have just made me break out in a cold sweat and I would never ever attempt to do that again; and then that bloody cargo net. You’re supposed to swing in easily, bounce off and then swing in gently again. And make progress after that.

I did okay with the first one but I was tiring by the time I got to the second net and it showed. I got stuck and flustered. My thanks to the good Dr W for talking me over that wee problem (step by step) 🙂 and then the brilliance of that final zipwire over the woods of Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. If I could do that then, why should I worry now? Well, lots of reasons but I’m just going to ignore them. Just now.

So, now do you understand what I am letting myself in for? I am worried but I’m re-building a confidence in myself which has been missing for some time. Personally I’m fine and think I’ve still got a lot to offer but I’m open to all suggestions, but for another week or so, technically, I must keep the offers to coffee, lunch or whatever.

The pile of Post-Its with ideas on them is growing but I still want to explain myself and what I’m doing to a couple of other people who are important to me who I have yet to see. (I’ve now seen them)

Anyway, I’m signed off still for another couple of weeks but I’ve calmed down – more or less – and this Wednesday sees me going in to empty my locker (spare clothes basically), sign a form, hand over a key and smash my ceremonial sword over my knee. I will miss more than you might expect……..give me a couple of weeks and I will explain. I will never get over the guy with the pineapple and the look on the faces of the police people when he chapped the door.

And finally, a quick word, if I may, with my good friend Kirsten, a former colleague from my PR days and one of the world’s greatest event organisers 🙂 xx

Kirsten, you know that job you were talking about? I’d a look at the Job Spec again and it says you have to be able to dance the Gay Gordons without falling over and pulling your partner down, as well as everyone else then having to do amazing avoiding movements. 🙂

tioraidh, waiting to break out that badge again and still keeping it simple

iaint850 this week with one of the worst riddies ever but it was in the dark 😦

So Texas, the band, were playing at the Kelvingrove Bandstand, just round the corner IN GLASGOW, from where Sharleen Spiteri was born and e and I went to see them. It’s a wee tradition we have.

It was an excellent night. e is always good company (as are so many other women that I know) and the Bandstand audience is usually a good one. A good night and Sharleen has a good rapport with the audience. Plus the music played between Support Act and Texas was a smashing microcosm of Glasgow and West of Scotland music in the eighties (Postcard Records in West Princes Street) and just slightly different, J, from the techno and the monk with the V for Vengeance mask that announced the arrival of Alabama 3. 😉

All too soon, it was over and e decided to free run (parkour) her way out over all the concrete seating. Now, in the North Stand (red’n’yellow) at Firhill you can’t do that. Proper Health and Safety.

So my knees couldn’t believe what I was about to attempt to do and refused to go with me. They were still staring at the stage. I will draw no further picture at this point but we (my knees and me) decided on a more settled withdrawal.

I felt a right planker!!!!!

I could blame new shoes but I’ve been running up and down the stairs in my house ever since as practice.

So, there is a valuable lesson to be learned here. No. Not that.

My current concern is obviously my mental health. Equally as important is my physical health. Both can be improved. And will be. 🙂

Mind you, the stairs down to Nardini’s toilet in Byres Road should have been a good rehearsal and the stairs up to my lawyer’s office in Glasgow City Centre earlier this week were a pretty good workout as well.

Well, you can say what you want But it won’t change my mind (Texas)

July 27, 2017

And so dear listener, the end is nigh. I have seen my (almost) former job advertised and it produces a strange feeling. That has never happened to me before and I hadn’t really thought about that aspect of it all. It’s final. It’s happening.

They will have no problem in replacing me. After all, I am just a part-time worker. I am signed off sick just now so my shifts will be covered by established staff and if not them, then from the relief bank, and failing them, an agency worker (mmmmm agency work?) – and I’m willing to give you even odds as to who gets my job.

It would have been nice to have had a few more days to tell colleagues in other projects that this was happening, rather than them contacting me to see if I was okay. I am – other than the ‘stress and anxiety’ it says on my sickline. 😦

It’s funny but I’m not well used to the world of jobsearch. I talk of being employed by the BBC for about twenty-five years but I wasn’t. I was employed by a number of programmes and departments within the BBC in a variety of different ways and roles and only once did I apply for a proper job in the BBC and I never got it – the rest of the time I got a phone call to see if I was available for two months or so but for only two years was I actual staff. It was from there that I left to join a PR consultancy – but I didn’t apply for the PR jobs. I was approached/head hunted/tapped to leave by two PR consultancies – the only time I ever resigned from the BBC.

One tapping took place at a southside cricket club in the southside of Glasgow and the other (for a different company) took place with an ex-Garden Festival PR who was setting up on his own (post-Festival) but still had access to Garden Festival expense accounts and access to the Buttery and (I’m glad to say) taxis.

When I left the BBC for the last time, I was being employed on a casual weekly basis and one day, I was approached in the newsroom by a high heid yin person who said, ‘not only are you not established to that job, there is no job for you to be established to.’ 😦

At which point I picked up my jacket, made no excuses and left – and told the College where I was part-timing at the time that I was available for more shifts. I later left the College to concentrate on (successful) cancer treatment and I think they just gave out my shifts to other people as well and then sat down later and planned the next academic year. 🙂

I’m just not used to seeing my job advertised and the finality of it all felt weird.

But no, I genuinely have nothing lined up and once I’m signed back on (as it were) I will start knocking on doors.

I need another line. Of income. Casual, part-time or whatever. I think my CV is good and available – suitably redacted – on request. The stamps have been bought.

The editing will needs to be increased and there needs to be something else but I am not washed up and think I am still worthy of my hire. 😉

And voluntary work will be considered – altho’ it can be demanding too. I have seen people who volunteer to help the homeless and it is a thankless task. But I do need to make sure I get out of the house but getting messages at 8 o’clock at night leading to cups of coffee down Byres Road at 9 is good. It’ll be strange having the weekends back and I have a working season ticket for Firhill which makes a big difference. 🙂

Mind you, I do have an idea re voluntary stuff, which sounds quite exciting. I’ll keep you all posted.

And finally, all this does give me a chance to write the book I keep going on about and I’ve started. The other day, I wrote the word ‘Introduction’ in a range of fonts and font sizes. Don’t laugh. It’s a start.

tioraidh, still wearing that badge and really keen to show simple it can still be kept 🙂

Iaint850. And yes I did. 😉

So my mum was a nice wee wummin from Springburn who married a chartered accountant from Peterhead and moved up to Peterhead with him and I think it took her a wee while to work out why she’d done it. She had two children. I was the second one.

I think I was a bit of a disappointment to her at secondary school. I won’t list my achievements but they weren’t as academic as she would have liked and I’m not too sure what she would have made of my recent years but she’d have liked my friends – especially the female ones. I don’t know if she’d have understood the concept of the Friendzone and, tbh, I’m not too sure if my male friends do either 😉

But in later years my mum and I got only really well. 🙂

However, at no time, did my mum arrange for three supermodels to be sitting at the ‘top of our stairs’ when I got home from school and I think none of the less of her for it.

What a stupid thing to say or was it point scoring against his dad? And how is Princess Katie going to compete with that for George when he’s twelve? Alton Towers is out. Don’t want to be compared with William’s mum after all.

Sorry. Just thought it needed said.

So when you need an inspirational piece of music cos you’ve no idea what the future holds, to whom do you turn? Who else but Walk the Moon (not that track but another one)

When you can’t control what is happening around you, challenge yourself to control the way in which you respond (Snoopy)

July 20, 2017

And so, dear listener, this may be a shorter blog than usual. But I never really know until I reach the end how long it’s going to be. And I have reached the end. Of my career with Blue Triangle Housing Association – the homeless charity where I’ve worked for the last four and a half years. My letter of resignation was ‘handed in’ last Saturday with copies going by post and by e-mail so I’m in the process of working my notice.

There’s no big deal or big issue nor am I going to end up selling it. I’ve just not felt the same about some things since I was off work with anxiety and depression for a while last year. I think it’s been obvious, and working with the homeless requires a lot of strength and enthusiasm and resilience and it’s just not been there recently. But I’ve still done my job and done it pretty well. It was a decision reached literally on Friday morning last week. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Blue Triangle offers supported accommodation for homeless people as a kind of halfway house to getting their own tenancies – often through a local housing association. We don’t pick people up off the streets or give them soup and blankets. It’s less glamorous than that. We try and help them to cope with certain issues and help them with the skills needed to look after themselves out there in the big, bad world. Some of the folk we help are refugees.

And on one recent occasion, it was really good to take a refugee to sign all his documentation and then get the keys to his new flat in a high rise. And go and look at it again. That was a good day. And there’s the others.

And, eh, that’s all I want to say at this stage. It’s demanding work and I’m tired. Ten years ago I nearly died from alcohol and it was through the help of Moira, my addiction worker (and soooooo many others) that I learned the skills that helped me to cope with the bad cancer that followed. Now I want some time to myself.

So what am I going to do? 😦

Well, I’ve still three weeks to go and I’m still in the middle of a lot of shifts altho’ it does go quieter in a few days time.

And then it goes scary. 😉

But this is not the time for too much reflection. Or about learning what other people think of me and according to one worker who works with me occasionally – my style of working with the homeless is best described as ‘eccentric’, and it was also nice last weekend to work with an agency worker who knows Moira my former addiction worker. There’s a helluva lot of brilliant people out there in social care helping the homeless and those with addiction issues and so on. We are treated as public sector workers as well when it comes to pay rises. Or pay freezes. 😦

And finally, Doctor Who is a fictional character with two hearts who regenerates from time to time. Can we even be sure that Jodie Whittaker will even play the part as a woman (she is after all from Gallifrey) and, anyway, to those who complain about the lack of role models for boys on TV, can I say just one thing? Sylvester McCoy.

tioraidh, back to wearing that badge and keeping it simple

Iaint850, so much water and so many bridges.

And so, to this week’s Nice Moment of the Month Award.

I had a really nice shift on Tuesday night (thanks Alice) but not nice enough to make me change my mind. I walked back to Queen Street Station and on the way treated myself to chips with dripping vinegar (no time for a tea break on shift) and, tbh, I dress down for work (the guy being sick over me is an image that’s never left me)

I was not looking my best.

And then a good looking woman (aren’t they all?) maybe ages with me, came up to me and said ‘Johnt850?’ (except she didn’t, did she? She used ‘the other name’, didn’t she?) and I said yes and she gave me her maiden name and, yes we had gone out together during my first time at university and before I could say, ‘do you remember the time…….?’ she had introduced me to her husband. 😦

Now she is a lecturer at a university and given this current change in my lifestyle there are good reasons for getting in touch. And, no, she is not on Facebook under her maiden name but a few minutes after I’d got home I’d found her married name but I stopped there. 🙂

Apart from anything, I’d love to say thanks to her for bringing such a brilliant smile to my face the other night. 😀 😀 😀

And I wonder when she wiped the vinegar from her lips? Any post-shift thoughts I may have had disappeared out of the window.

What do you think, dear listener?

Next week. The Orbiston bing – its part in my attempt at the friendzoning world record.

And tonight’s music? A long time ago now, j introduced me to the music of Brandi Carlile (and I introduced her to Alabama 3 – maybe not the fairest of swops) and so it’s a piece of music from Brandi.

The lyrics apply to everyone who’s ever been there for me in even the slightest way. A wee while back I knew that I was depressed when I found myself crying over my keyboard. There’s tears again just now but for totally different reasons.

It’s been said that you can’t discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore

July 13, 2017

Wise words there from Jeff Zycinski who, this week, stood down as Head of Radio, Scotland at BBC Scotland, for a range of reasons including, of course, various projects still to be discussed. Jeff and I did not always see eye to eye but I’d like to say thanks for all the nice things he said about my last ever radio documentary seven years ago on the subject of prostate cancer and the kindness and understanding I received from him, and the rest of BBC Scotland, when my father passed away many years ago. Those words may yet prove inspirational. 😉

And nice talking to you, Jeff, in Queen Street Station the other day. Both our families are doing well. 🙂

Anyway, dear listener, I did return from Oban last Monday afternoon and it was one of those galling moments when the guard tells you that it’s on time and you actually want it to be twenty minutes late as then it will only be five minutes until the train to Summerston which also leaves from Queen Street Upper Level and I might not have to pay a fare cos the guard/conductor person doesn’t always collect fares on the way out given that 99.9% of the people on the train must have come through a barrier anyway but it’s a long way to have to pull a suitcase from Summerston station to my house.

So I took a taxi.

I had a good weekend – with much wandering. 😀 😀

I like harbours and the photos would show that, so having checked in I went exploring and had my first fish and chips of the weekend at a caravan on the North Pier……and visited an ice cream shop called The Pokey Hat and had a cone with two scoops of Toffee Ripple and effectively ruined any chance of making that t-shirt last more than one day.

The Saturday was braw and given that the B&B was at the far end of the Esplanade, after I’d posted some postcards for people who are not on my Facebook (sorry rrm – I didn’t have your address), I kept walking away from Oban to a place called Ganavan Sands and I would like to thank Argyll and Bute and anybody concerned with them for the provision of an excellent public toilet at this particular location. 😉

These things are becoming more and more rare (Irvine Beach had a good one) but there’s also a pretty good one on the North Pier at Oban which looks as if it once took money which is a wee bit like the one at Glasgow Queen Street which is also free at the moment because of the state of the station. The Gallery of Modern Art in the City Centre is also good but I always have a good look in the shop before going downstairs otherwise I feel guilty about using it.

But I digress.

I then walked back to Oban.

I had been talking about going on a wee ferry trip just to get some sea air about me but I happened to walk past a gaily coloured small blackboard advertising a boat trip to and around a seal colony. To an extent I could hear it calling to me. Are seals kelpies, trying to lure me to my death on those rocks? It was a tenner and I felt it was worth the risk. 🙂

And it was a very pleasant, if wet, excursion with a very brief history of the area given out by the skipper for the benefit of those Canadians who seemed to make up the rest of my companions. Not a lot of seals but I held on tightly anyway.

Lunch was in one of the restaurants on the North Pier and was large prawns with a parmesan shavings’ dressing and a very nice scented soap in the Gents’ Loo. 🙂

The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the comings and goings of sailing schooners, Cal Mac ferries, the MV Balmoral and a whole range of other craft. I have the photos to prove it. I then went back to my B&B where I used the en-suite facilities to freshen up before going out for, well what turned out to be scallops and langoustines in a tempura dressing and I didn’t need the chips but another brilliantly dressed salad. I slept.

The next day was pouring and I tried to get up the hill to McCaig’s Folly but the wind forced me back. I tried to walk to the Pulpit Hill but the wind blew me over. I went to find the auction mart where years ago I’d produced a radio programme with Jimmie Macgregor and found it was now a supermarket with an addiction centre just round the corner.

I had a toastie for lunch cos it didn’t seem a good food day but I’d a cone with single scoop of toffee cheesecake and nobody thought it strange. And even the toilets weren’t as fascinating the second time around. But a smashing museum called the War and Peace Museum (and nothing to do with Tolstoy) grabbed my fancy and was brilliant and just along the road was a chocolate shop and altho’ I’m not a big hot chocolate fan I did have one. 🙂

(Y’know, Skippy, people often ask me what inspires the music I play at the end. Hot chocolate, eh? I wonder)

And then things began to drift. I did have roll mop herring as my final dish of the day and, indeed, the weekend.

It was from another outdoor stall where despite the rain, Japanese tourists seemed to be enjoying a massive seafood platter with a massive lobster in the middle.

And finally, no, I don’t know what the salad dressing was that it came with.

Oban – Salad Dressing Capital of the Highlands

And loads and loads of sky – all made up of different sizes

And the music? You’ve guessed it, haven’t you?

(the clue was in the word ‘drift’)

To travel is to live (anon)

July 8, 2017

And so dear listener, as you read this it is possible that I am returning from, or have returned from, a long weekend in Oban. It’s been fun and tiring and my head is clearer and I have slept well. I have come to some decisions, which I will mull over (a little Inner Hebridean joke there) but I never actually made it over to that island. 🙂

What I did do was………well let’s not rush into all my adventures just yet.

Let’s start with a brief encounter in Queen Street Station. It’s one of those moments, when someone you haven’t seen for ten years, walks past you and says, ‘Hi John’ and you say, ‘Hi Kerry’ and neither of you thinks it strange at all – like you meet in that way every day. Yes. A former student. 🙂

And I’m convinced that Agent Pedro, as the Celtic fans now call the new Rangers manager, walked past me on the Esplanade at Oban. He is as entitled to his privacy and thoughts as am I.

And then Kenny the Shed Pimp turned up on Saturday but he and his family had come more or less for the train journey which has magnificent scenery. But then again I like Dumbarton from the train. 🙂

But what is there not to like about a journey that takes in place names such as Loch Awe, the Falls of Cruachan and Ardlui and basically travels up the side of Loch Lomond before cutting across country. And whilst most people were making the same journey as me from Glasgow, for some others who live and work locally, then their daily journey is on the beautiful Connal into Oban bit – almost as beautiful as the section close to the start of the journey between Maryhill and Kelvindale (River Clyde and canal). Not long after the train goes past Summerston and the ASDA. 😀

And there was a strange moment on the train which is symptomatic of something but not sure what. There was a young couple on the train with toddler and baby and they were easily befriended by a slightly older couple (who once upon a time I might have described as ‘elderly’) and they shared biscuits and so on.

And as we got nearer to Oban, the slightly older lady asked if she might take a picture of the toddler. ‘Just for memories. Nothing else’, she reassured the younger mum……….

And finally, the B & B. It’s good and I think worth the money for what I’m paying in the middle of July. One small hiccup and it was mentioned in the exchange of mails, you can only check in between 3 and 7 in the afternoon and whilst that is perfectly understandable, when your train gets in at quarter to two it was a bit of a long wait but other that it is fine. 🙂

And the view from my bedroom (at the back) is trees but the view from the dining room in the morning is brilliant.

Oh, and I have to put in my breakfast order the night before. The last time I had to do that was in the ten days I was in hospital post Cold Turkey.

Cheerie (as they say in Wishie), not wearing either badge as I don’t want to lose them but still keeping it simple

Iaint850, and I’ve now just run out of words. Maybe more next week but I’ve done a lot of walking and spent some time at sea.

So, as many of you know, I am quietly (?) happy in my recoveries but every so often something happens which I’m happy to describe as the latest final sign of complete recovery and it happened within the last few weeks.

I was asked (for a fee) to renew my Driving Licence and I was promised that they would use my Passport photo which is about five years old. After a wee hiccup with the form – it took me a wee while to realise that what was causing the asterixed field to get so annoyed was that I very rarely use my middle name these days – I sent it off online.

And the joy, oh the unbridled (?) joy when I got it back. The previous photo had been taken, I think, at the height of the depths of my bad time. Where a bloated and jaundiced and shorthaired figure had previously looked out at me (and anyone else, officer, who needed to look at it) there is now a much leaner (but a bit to go yet) face looking out.

Indeed the haircut is very similar to my recent one and which I realise is perhaps a statement of intent for the future as, indeed, is this wee trip to Oban. 🙂

You can do a lot of thinking watching the boats coming and going.

This is/these are the Shires,

There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. (William Barclay)

June 30, 2017

And so, dear listener, as you read this, I may be about to turn 63 or I may have turned 63. I do not believe that there is an actual moment when this happens, so I cringe when I hear people say ‘well that’s you a year older’ when in fact we age continually by a nano-second and then nano-seconds later they say, ‘mind you, age is just a number’ and then say, ‘but you don’t look your age.’ 😦

It’s nice to recognise that I’m still alive (much to my surprise and that of several others) and the plan is to meet Son Brian and the lovely KT and two very young grand-children for dinner. 🙂 More anon or next week.

(And the show might be moved about the schedules a wee bit as I’m taking some time off and may do some travelling within Scotland (okay Oban seafood restaurants) which might have an effect on things)

And my thanks to e for the traditional ice cream and coffee start to the celebrations 🙂

But back to the age thing. In the early days of the blog I used to claim that I was 42 – for the rest of my life which was nothing to do with Douglas Adams and the meaning of life nor was it two times twenty-one but came from a line in an Alabama 3 track where it was said that once you reach 41 then it’s time to start measuring you up for the coffin. I rebelled against that.

(Incidentally, J, have you recovered yet from that gig and the man dressed as a monk with a V for Vengeance Mask and the music of A3?) 🙂

Anyway, I became 60 one year and had such a good time that week (and the abseiling and zipwiring that followed) that I became happy to admit my age – that and the small pension that came my way that I wasn’t expecting. Small.

But you never stop learning – and those are not mere words. Three years ago I got an over – 60s pass for trains and buses but I don’t ‘do’ buses’ cos they don’t go where I want them to. Trains kinda do and my car obvs does……But buses?

The only time I have used a bus recently was just before Christmas when a co-worker and me and seven refugees went to see Hansel and Gretel at the Citizens and we just kinda all launched ourselves on the bus at the same and got waved through.

The reality is slightly different. I thought it was contactless but it ain’t. And do I need to take a ticket from the side of the machine? I might try one again. The terminus is at the bottom of my road, so maybe early one morning? But Ardrossan Harbour still beckons.

Next? Using my contactless debit card. 😉

Moving on.

And my thanks to the rrm for remembering that address that I used when I did some distance learning a long time ago (or a Correspondence Course as it was known in these days) For some reason I wanted to be a company secretary (?), which given my phobia for financial figures and filling out forms, seems a foolish notion.

Even when very young I was happy talking to people, even strangers, and I enjoyed writing. 🙂

Anyway that address?

Rapid Results College based in Tuition House in London and at one point in his life the rrm passed it every day on his way to work. Maybe not as exciting as The Girl on the Train, but there’s a story there.

And finally, the Vampire Slayer, friend of the blog since the Sticky Toffee Pudding Night, has been in the country looking as undercover as all superheroes do, but just checking we’re still safe from Vampires. We are. It’s why Prince’s square exists. To talk to superheroes. And people watch.

tioraidh, still wearing that badge (the big sky one) and still keeping it simple.

Iaint850, looking forward to two weeks of reflection and getting used to my haircut.

And this month’s Prostate Cancer Hero of the Week is David Hawkes, a physicist based at University College London. David had been developing medical imaging technology for all sorts of patients, including those with prostate cancer. Two years ago he had a PSA test (a blood test very specific for prostate cancer) and it was high so he had to get it checked out so he volunteered to test the very latest in medical imaging technology – that which he had helped to develop. It found that he had prostate cancer and he needed treatment.

He decided to have focal treatment using cryo-ablation (something developed since my time) which is where very cold gas is passed down a tube inserted into the prostate.

This has to be every exact. So, to what they turn for its precision? Yes; the very same machine that had been used to accurately diagnose it in the first place. He had two doses of treatment and has been fine ever since.

We’ve come such a long way since chemical castration was the main treatment – and I think that was the opening line from the radio documentary I produced on the subject seven years ago.

This is/these are the Lumineers with Ho Hey which has no known connection with any form of cancer.

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

June 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I miss Margo.

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

iaint850, going for the world record of Friendzones.

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

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

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

And, yes, I do believe him.

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

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

June 15, 2017

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

And that’s what seems to have happened. 😦

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Brexit is the basis of everything else.’ (Theresa May)

June 9, 2017

I still don’t know what you mean by that, Theresa, but my money is now on October for a General Election and, maybe, just maybe after that, politicians will start thinking about running our various countries again. 😉

(Right, Skippy, back to normal)

And so, dear listener, for those of you who know what I’m talking about (and indeed for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about) at the time of writing this, I still have no news. And I do leave the house not long before the postman is due but that old trick doesn’t work.

(Yup. Copied and pasted from last week and it shows. I blame Brexit which is the basis of everything else)

My General Election highlights? Seeing Theresa May looking like a startled rabbit when Colin Mackay asked her about VAT on Police Scotland and she had to start an answer with, ‘Well in England and Wales.’; actually seeing a candidate in my constituency (Pam Duncan-Glancy); and a very nice checked shirt with hood that I bought from a charity shop in Byres Road for £8.99. 🙂

But, yes, you’re right, Theresa. Running through the wheatfields was the worst thing I ever did as well…………well, that and the odd lie. Altho’ I did once throw a piece of wood that hit a teacher and, boy did I pay for it.

But, I have to say, that practically every broadcaster and practically every politician needs to think seriously about existing devolution and how they report UK matters and politics and how they explain their policies.

Policing is devolved; dealing with terrorists isn’t (for example)

So I saw a lovely programme about the Coats threadmills in Paisley the other night. I’m an adopted Glaswegian (a weegie) but I think Paisley runs Glasgow close in many ways and for many reasons (and certainly more than Peterhead where I’m originally from). I mean, when you’re watching something on your own but yet you still call out ‘that’s the CIba-Geigy club’ then it must mean something to you. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And, yes, the beautiful Coats Memorial Church where I have attended two graduations – mine and uni-Sharon’s. I won’t compare graduations with the one I did at Glasgow a wee while back but I do remember marching behind a piper at the one in Glasgow (which we also did at Charles Kennedy’s Memorial Service two years ago) but I think doing it at the advanced age of XX at Paisley added a certain something to it. 😀 😀 😀

And a big thanks to e and RJ for treating me to a birthday lunch this week (not ‘til 2nd July since you ask but we all lead such busy lives) and an exclusive and exquisite original painting from RJ, who moves up to Primary in a few months, with its vivid pink tree with large blue spots. Very relaxing it is. 🙂

And I will be helping (again) to run the tuckshop at the Gaelic Sports Day in Pollok Park this coming Saturday (17th) afternoon and look forward to seeing some of you there.

And also a wee thanks to Colin S who did the same (treated me; not gave me a picture he’d painted himself) and who would be my stockbroker if I had any stocks but they’re in an attic somewhere and I can’t be bothered getting them back.

And finally, on General Election Day, there was some news about a suggestion that a facility should be made available at music festivals, initially, where people can test drugs if they’re not sure where they came from and see if there’s anything dodgy in them. There’s no recommendation or encouragement about taking them – simply knowing that they’re safe to use ‘cos most of deaths are from taking dodgy stuff.

At the moment one of the biggest concerns out there is dodgy Chinese Valium and has been for some time. We all know people who have died from that (trust me….. you do) and you all want your sons and daughters to be safe, don’t you?

Well, at least as safe as you when you look at the label on a bottle of whisky or gin or that very fancy wine.

Tioraidh, still wearing that badge and still keeping it simple

Iaint850, in birthday mood but will it last when the news finally arrives?

And so I was on an early last Sunday morning when I heard the news about London, but that meant I was able to watch most of the Ariana Grande/Manchester concert – particularly the second half. Slightly disappointed to hear/read comments from some old people (over 29) who weren’t too taken with the music.

Well, I was brought up listening to Radio 1 and have continued listening to Radio 1 with occasional forays into other stations (for example, Clyde 2 on a Sunday evening when John Collins plays country) and, at the very least, I recognised most of the music; loved the stripped back Coldplay and Liam’s swagger; and even warmed to Justin Bieber.

But following those comments I did have a look at my record and download collection. Apart from that one album by Black Eyed Peas that everyone has (I got a feeling) I have nothing…….except I have three albums by Imogen Heap.

Here she is from last week in Manchester and not a ripped denim in sight. Enjoy.