Yule ’17

Not so bad in the end. A third of the guys went on Christmas leaves, and – despite subbing for the current chairman – seldom did I have to come in contact with those who stayed except at meals, in the morning and at night doing the fatigue duties, and occasionally when smoking. Mostly I was all on my own in my room, doing my languages, watching iPlayer and reading.



Backlog: chairmanship over

In mid-November I finally asked the therapists to be rid of the chairmanship and they agreed. (One of my arguments was that more than a half of my then co-patients had arrived at the ward when I had already been at the post, in other words they hadn’t voted me in.) It took another week until the actual vote of the new chairman took place, during which time I incidentally became the most senior patient of the ward, and yet another to hand the post over – funnily, all the three groups changed their leaders in the same week – but at long last I was a rank-and-file member again.

I was somewhat surprised at the amount of praise I got from the guys, both informally and formally, for my ‘time in office’. No false modesty: I did think I was a good chairman; even so it was nice to find out that the others mostly perceived me as a good one as well. One or two even mentioned I had been fair and just, which pleased me the most, because being that had been the hardest thing about the job. All the same it was a relief to no longer have to be alert 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, to be only responsible for oneself.


Backlog: protected housing interview

Unless something quite unexpected happens, the near future is all set up. A month ago I went to the city I’d studied in all those years ago for an interview with the ‘protected housing’ people and it went fine on many accounts. First, in the train there I listened to Hats Off to the Buskers after years, which was rather uplifting. Second, before the meeting I met one of my best friends, who stays in the city. Third, the interview was successful (by the end of the week they confirmed I was on). Fourth, in the train back I listened to Peace and Love after years, which I enjoyed as well. And last but not least, I then visited (in the city I had lived in before the cure) another of my best friends, who afterwards drove me back to the rehab.

I was up for some good times and some bad times, but the very day was an unequivocal success. And the prospects were good too: I would leave the city I learned to hate and get closer to my old mates from college, having a roof and apparently almost a certainty of finding some decent job.



Diluain, 30 Dàmhair, chuir iad dheth teasachadh agus uisge theth. Seadh, thug iad dà theasadaire so-ghiùlan dha na daoine air an dàrna làraich, no garrad, Dimàirt; ach cha tug iad fear sam bith dhuinne air a’ chiad làraich gus Diardaoin. Cha robh àite agam airson faighinn na bu bhlàithe gu sealach fad beagan làithean, agus bha mi a’ faireachdainn nach robh mo chorp a-mhàin, ach eadhon m’ eanchainn a bha a’ sìor fhàs na bu shlaodaiche is na bu raige.



More than a month ago I complained that I had little time for blogging. Since than I’ve had even less, to some extent paradoxically just because there was a lot happening which would be worth blogging about.

At the beginning of October I was elected the ‘community chairman’, so instead of the few duties I’d had as a ‘group confidant’ I now have quite a few. So many in fact that I no longer undergo occupational therapy; which is hardly any gain, as that’s one of the best parts of the cure.

On the other hand, I’ve been a chairman for long enough by now to know most of the ropes. And there are other good aspects to the post. For instance, when a 1-bed room became vacant, I was allowed to move there. No longer having to adjust my spare-time activities to any roommates’ presence is a mighty help. As regards spare time, I’ve been recently probably actually somewhat better off than what I’d been six weeks ago.

It’s a shame though that I’ve practically lost this autumn. While the trees’ colours were at their best, the park was either closed due to high winds, or instead of being there during occupational therapy or during my spare time I was mostly doing some paperwork and the like.


No blogging time

It’s not that I lack stuff to blog about. I could, even would like to, blog about playing table tennis again (and still not all that badly); about co-winning the ward’s chess competition; about the two guys I fancied who’d already left [AS&RM] (especially the latter one, who I think I was in rapport with, however little time we had to talk together); about my first two roommates [KH&MC] who’ve been both discharged quite recently and who were very good roommates (especially the latter one, with whom I could converse in English and French, not to mention Slavic languages); about the porter duty, whose ‘other shift’ was being covered by a guy I fancy immensely [Anndra, or OZ]; about getting a new roommate before having time to really enjoy being alone in the room for a while …

Time. That’s exactly the problem. Every workday is partitioned by various ‘duties’ to such an extent that it’s often hard to find time for doing my languages quotas, let alone turning on the laptop. Sundays are only slightly better; Saturdays are fine in this respect, but then so they are for the others, many of whom aparently spent these by just watching TV (turned on quite loud) in the hallway, so it’s hard to concentrate on any mental activity. (In fact I’m not sure Saturdays aren’t more exhaustive than workdays.) And of course, using a laptop after the lights-out is virtually impossible.

I’m afraid the backlog of things I can’t do until I’m ‘properly online’ again will have mushroomed so much within these five months it’ll take several months more to catch up.


About to leave – part 2

Three more nights. Monday being the last day of my internet subscription, I’ll have to temporarily cover most of my online activities (smartphone is just a meagre substitute for internet access as far as I’m concerned); on Tuesday I’m going to pack my possessions and so on; and on Wednesday I’ll hand over the flat and leave for the rehab.

Leaving this town, hopefully, for good. There are places you love the more the longer you stay there (the city where I went to college or Glasgow), and those you hate the more the longer you are stuck there (the town where I was born or this one). Of course, there’s no way I’ll be able to return to Scotland, but at least getting closer to my ex-college-mates would be fine.


And yet it wasn’t all bad

What I said last night holds, but it’s quite possible that years from now I’ll reminisce about these last few months a little wistfully. That I’ll mostly remember all those iPlayer documentaries I saw while having my meals . . .

I even have new favourite presenters, Dougie Vipond and Neil Oliver having been joined by Chris Packham, Dan Cruickshank, James Fox . . .


About to leave

So, on Wednesday to the rehab. And then hopefully to some other town, as I’ve learned to hate this one. Anyway, I’m certainly not returning to this gaff, which I never liked in the first place. Because of …

A floating floor and no carpet in the bedsit. No door between the antechamber and the bedsit, making old women blethering on the staircase all too audible. A washbasin so tiny one can’t even wash a pair of socks in it. Bathroom walls so dark it’s hard to see one’s face properly when shaving. A microwave oven and an electric cooker but no fridge. And so on.

But most of all the sod staying above me, stamping like a hippo from wall to wall and back again, quite often for a few hours in a row. God knows what the arseheid is doing that for. Even worse than the bitch in Wester Common. It’s been years since I last went – sober – to my bed with a pleasant expectation of a restful sleep. I go to sleep anxious that noise will not let me fall asleep, and certain it would wake me up.

So in a sense I can’t wait to leave here. Who knows, perhaps I’ll yet get a chance to relearn going to sleep without this anxiety. While there’s life there’s hope.


Làithean beagan trang a-rithist

Dimàirt, b’ e an t-uachdaran agus am fiaclaire; an-dè, an oifis airson tèarainteachd shòisealta. Ach, gu neo-chumanta, tha mi beagan ro làimh, seach air dheireadh, ron cheann-ama a tha ann an Diciadain an ath sheachdain; bha fiù agus àm gu leòr agam a’ tilleadh bhon oifis ri dhol ann an taigh-òsta agus biadh sònraichte a’ cheàrna seo a ghabhail. Ma bhios mi soirbheachail, cha bi teans agam a ghabhail a-rithist.


Packing rehearsal

The flitting day is nearing; the day before yesterday I eventually tried and found out which of my possessions I’d be able to cram into the rucksack and laptop case and which I’d have to discard.

The result was satisfactory: as expected, I’ll have to throw away all my books but Monte Walsh, including Colin Mark’s Gaelic-English dictionary (which is why I’d bought the Kindle version), as well as my winter jacket, but somewhat unexpectedly I’ll be able to keep my fleece, and my diaries can be distributed so that the rucksack presumably won’t break like my old one did two years ago.

Maybe one day I’ll reach the ideal of only having as much as can be carried in a rucksack alone.


170712: Busy, busy day

Incidentally the twenty-second anniversary of the last time I had sex, but that’s irrelevant: what made it busy was all related to the near future, rather than to distant past. First the landlord came for the rent and I had to disclose to him I was about to leave soon: he took it surprisingly equanimously. Then I went out myself to the office of my internet provider: although it took some time, I finally did make the lady behind the counter fill in the contract termination form. After which I visited the local branch of the state department responsible for pensions and mined them for information about the possibility of getting some income on account of the consequences of the cancer and the cure: I even got the necessary forms, even though in the end we concluded it would be better to apply after my rehab stint.

It’s been like this for some time: days or weeks of having no appointments alternating with days or weeks of having several. But I was quite satisfied at the end of this one, because I did follow all the negotiations through without bottling out of anything. Rather unusual for me to be honest.


Eòlach air cinn-là

Bha mi airson gam fònadh leam fhìn, ach mus do dhùisg mi, sheirm boireannach air choireigin bhon ospadal leighis-inntinn mi, agus dh’aontaich sinn gun tig mi ann air an dàrna latha dhen Lùnastal.

Sgoinneil. Mu dheireadh thall, tha fios agam dè an uimhir ama a tha agam gus an latha dar a dh’fhàgas mi am baile mosach seo, an dùil nach biodh agam ri tilleadh a-riamh. Thòisich mi cha mhòr sa bhad air cnuasachadh air dè as fheudar – agus as urrainn – dhomh a dhèanamh tron àm.

(Thuirt i cuideachd gum bi mi ann mu mhìos: bha mi ’n dòchas gum biodh sin na b’ fhaide ach ’s dòcha gum bi aon mhìos gu leòr. Bu chòir dha a bhith nas saoire mar an ceudna.)


Bookmarks: stuck

This is becoming ridiculous. Every day I stop ‘following’ another website or two, every night I tell myself the next day would be primarily dedicated to cutting down the number of ‘to-read’ article bookmarks, yet the following night I find out there were so many new ones the number is only slightly lower than the night before, if it’s not in fact even higher. If this was my first year on the internet I could put it down to beginner’s infatuation with it, but I have recently begun my tenth …



Occasionally I treat myself to some moderate profligacy. Having read an article about rosemary smell possibly enhancing memory, I bought a bottle of essential oil, and an aromatherapy candle holder or diffuser or whatever it’s properly called. Despite the fact that normally I would snort over a research carried on only 40 participants.

(I did snort when I later learnt I was one of a crowd. The mitigating factor is that one of the reasons I succumbed to the whim was the fact that rosemary is mentioned in the title of one of my favourite Simon & Garfunkel albums.)

I burn a candle under the oil bath daily, usually when working on my languages’ vocabularies and/or when meditating. Sure, I’ve no idea whether it actually has any effect, there are too many other variables. But the smell is pleasant, and I’ve always had a soft spot for candles anyway; somehow this makes burning one even more gratifying.



Uill, chan eil an àrd-dhotair buileach cinnteach fhathast, ach cho-dhùin e mu dheireadh thall gu bheil coltachd mhòr ann gun deach at na h-aillse à sealladh. Dh’aontaich e cuideachd gun urrainn dhaibh a’ chuisle PhEG a tharraing às mo stamag.

Drochaid-choise thar Allt a’ Choire Odhair Mhòir

Chan e seo toiseach ùr. Gidheadh, ’s e a’ chiad cheum air slighe ùr, as dèidh nam mìosan dar a bha e coltach nach biodh tèile ann tuilleadh; ’s dòcha gu bheil beagan ama ri teachd romham fhathast.

Feumaidh mi a-nis faighinn air ais dhan rehab agus an uairsin, nas fhaisge air mo sheana-charaidean. Bha mi a’ grodadh san bhugair bhaile seo ro fhada.



Agus gnìomh eile ‘tasglannach’ air a choileanadh: tar-sgrìobhadh an leabhair leam le truaill-chainnt agus gnàthasan-cainnte èibhinn (a’ mhòr-chuid dhiubh èibhinn gu do-rùnaichte) dhan fhaidhle theacsa. Bha fiù agus an tìde agam airson am faidhle a chur chun nan càirdean bhon cholaiste ris a chumas mi suas fhathast, agus gu Rob.

Bha fhios agam gun robh mòran fhealla-dhà bhon cholaiste is bho Sheirbheis Nàiseanta ann, ach chur e iongnadh orm dè cho mòran ’s a bha ann bho na bliadhnaichean as dèidh sin. Gus deach mi dhan rehab. Tha fhios nach robh mòran ann as dèidh sin, agus mi a’ cur seachad an àm saor agam air an eadar-lìon, seach a’ coinneachadh ri daoine ann an taighean-seinnse.


Galettes de pommes de terre

Le goût a été bon, mais la portion a été trop grande, et l’odeur, l’air lourd, cela restait dans la garsonnière pendant deux jours. Je les ai apprécié, mais je n’ai changé l’intention : utiliser toute l’huile qui reste, et après ça ne poêler plus jusqu’à l’hiver.

Ajouté 18/5: Fait. Dès lors, j’ai poêlé pour la dernière fois (Spam, bien entendu) et j’ai jeté la poêle. Un autre bric-à-brac moins.


Claon-bhreith nàdarrach

Leugh mi aiste car neònach mu “implicit bias” an latha roimhe. Bha an t-ùghdar air IAT test a ghabhail agus chuir e iongnadh air gum b’ e an toradh “slight automatic preference for white people over black people”. Air dè bha e an dùil? An robh beachd romansach aige gun robh e gun chlaon-bhreith buileach?

Dh’fheuch mi aon dhe na deuchainnean cuideachd; b’ e an toradh “strong automatic preference for Gay people over Straight people”. Chan eil sin buileach ceart: tha e gu math follaiseach gu b’ fheàrr leam, ceteris paribus, fireannaich gèidh na fireannaich dìreach, ach ’s ann eile-sheòrsach a tha na càirdean as fheàrr agam uile, agus cha chreid mi idir gum b’ fheàrr leam boireannaich gèidh na fireannaich dìreach.

Ach b’ e an seantans a bu chraicte na leanas: ” In popular culture, it is hard to think of a female equivalent to Sherlock Holmes, for example, a detective whose astonishing deductions were a product of his singular genius.” Nach do chuala an sgrìobhadair a-riamh mu dheidhinn Bana-Mhaighstir Marple?


No keepsakes any more

Another long-term ‘project’ finished last week: all the letters, tourist guides, magazine pictures and so on and so forth either turned into digital form and discarded, or simply discarded; another step towards the ideal of only having as many possessions as can be carried in a rucksack and a shoulder bag.

(This is not strictly true: for instance, I still have the Oxford panorama bookmark I brought with me from the UK back in 1990. But then I’m still using it as a bookmark, it’s not gathering dust in a drawer with the sole purpose of reminiscing when maybe once in a blue moon coming across it.)

Of course, what remains is my diaries, and these would take years to transcribe, even if brutally edited; in fact I may not manage it at all. But I’ve started – with the notebook which isn’t really a diary: apart from slang expressions used by people I knew there are their (mostly unintentionally) funny utterances.