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» Broken Promises

A Christmas True Story
Nothing causes more broken promises than an addiction to alcohol. Work, family, friends, they all bear the brunt and eventually stop calling, visiting and finally, stop caring.

This is a true story.

In Glasgow, most of the high rise blocks have a concierge office … basically one of the flats in the building has one or two guys who look after the place, letting in workmen, monitoring the CCTV, making minor repairs and helping out where possible. Some are better than others, but let me tell you about John (for that is his name). Now he has actually been recognised for his work in organising charity football matches, and he also runs trips to places like the Science Centre for local kids and runs things like OAP meals and trips to the bingo, but forget about that, let me tell you something that happened last Christmas.

One of the residents he looked after was an alcoholic (let’s call him ‘the man’). An alcoholic who was in such a bad way that although he was only mid forties, he had problems leaving the house, and no amount of talking and persuading would stop him drinking. He was killing himself slowly. What John did was to talk to every other person around his flat, saying ‘Look I know you think you’re doing this guy a favour by getting him drink. Don’t. Get him milk, tea, toilet roll, food. If he wants booze he’ll bloody well have to get it for himself.’

This resulted in a few sober days where John managed to have a few talks with him, discover things about his old job, his estranged mother and family, and helped him start to tidy up the flat he lived in, which through years of neglect was in a very bad way.

He still drank, a lot. No-one would help him get drink, but if he wanted it badly enough no-one could really stop him. There’s no overnight cure, especially if the person looking after you is just essentially an employee of the landlords of the building you live in, but over the months, the flat became tidier, the man started looking after himself a bit more and occasionally got out the house for things other than a trip to the pub.

John was working on Christmas morning last year. The two concierges who were on duty called at the man’s flat early, bundled in and John said, ‘Right, it’s time.’ He was handed a razor, made to have a long wash and dressed in some ‘new’ smarter clothes. He was bundled into a car and taken across Glasgow, destination unknown.

They pulled up at a non-descript house, the man was marched up the drive, the bell was rang and the door answered by an older lady.

“Mrs, here’s your son.”

He didn’t stick around for the reaction. His second job that morning was to return to the block he looked after and make sure every child, children of asylum seekers who didn’t celebrate Christmas, children with parents who couldn’t afford it, every single child who lived there, got a present. Paid for from his own pocket. I can imagine he felt a bit tired but happy that evening as he and the other concierge sat with their feet up in their little office when there was a knock on the door.

The man, his mum, his sisters and their husbands came in with some foil covered plates, a big Christmas dinner for John and whoever was on shift with him (and a surreptitious can of beer or two for them to take home). Not much, but all they could afford, and they’d travelled across Glasgow with it.

The man’s family had welcomed him with open arms, and that day the man had discovered for the first time that he was an uncle … and his mum had got her son back for Christmas.

Apologies for length, and the wee bit of shoehorning needed to get this into the QOTW this week. This is a completely true story told to me by someone who knows him and knows of his work. As I say he has been recognized in a small way for what he does, but John is simply one of the good guys in this world. He makes a huge difference for those that need it and in doing so makes everything just a wee bit better for us all.

Cheers, Cheeses
(Fri 3rd Dec 2010, 18:01, More)

» Meeting people from the internet

Things snowball – pun intended
So I post on a couple of forums about winter sports in Bulgaria. The chat is usually about the three main resorts out there, Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo and is fairly mundane … “what ski boots should I buy”; “do I need a photo for my lift pass”; “are there cash machines” and over the past few seasons, “is there any bloody snow?”. But a few years back, attention turned to the socio-economic condition of the country itself and sort of focused on the fate of an orphanage near Pamporovo that desperately needed a new heating system or it would close. There wasn't a fist thumped on a desk, and someone saying, “Right! Lets fix this!” but the subject kept popping up and got talked about more and more, with someone eventually saying, we should, you know, raise some money or something.

The people looking after the orphanage mentioned a figure just less that £2000 to get the place winter proof, so we made that our goal. Various suggestions were made, but none gathered as much support as someone challenging one of the main (male) moderators of the biggest forum to “ski down a run wearing nothing but a thong.” He eventually agreed and March 14th was picked as the date, Borovets as the resort, and the week was dubbed the “Ski-A-Thong.” A fair amount of the people who post online altered and amended plans and booked that week to go out, including me and a few mates.

And then it went a bit mental. There are a few media types on the forums, so Pete (for that is his name) ended up on radio and TV stations across the UK. Someone from Sky Sports offered prizes. Schools started raising money. Tee-shirts were made. Sponsor money was pledged. From a single challenge, a hundred ideas came forth, so by the time we got on a plane for Bulgaria it was all that anyone was talking about.

Now the point of the QOTW … a pub in the resort was flagged up as a meeting point for the first night and as we walked in we were greeted by a chorus of people we'd never met shouting our names … ID'ing us from a tiny avatar and greeting us like family. It was amazing. Drink was drunk, voices were raised and we were all that bit happier knowing some of the money we were paying to get wasted with, was going to a good cause.

Events happened all week. A quiz, a curry-oke, an auction … and money came from some other, surprising, sources. Us degenerates had arranged a poker night separate from all of the do-gooding. A night of sit-and-goes with fairly quick blinds … basically to ensure that there was a lot of action and no-one was sitting out for too long. People came and went, so there wasn't an exact prize for each game, but on average the winner got the equivalent of £50 in Bulgarian Lev and here's the thing … everyone who won, without exception, took their buy-in back, bought a round of drinks, and put what was left in the ski-a-thong kitty. No-one was prompting this or expecting it … it just happened every single time. Everyone had a great night so a repeat event was held later in the week, and the same thing happened.

Anyway, the day of the actual ski-a-thong arrived. By now, Pete wasn't doing it alone as various people had been sponsored to do the run in a number of outfits … and many others were doing it just for the hell of it. Personally, I’d chucked a kilt into my backpack as an after-thought, but I honestly didn’t fancy a trip down the mountain in it, especially as a ‘true’ Scotsman. At lunch before the event I was still internally debating about doing it, when at the next table I overheard a very young lad, of maybe 11 or 12, pleading with his parents to do the run in his pants. That’s all the inspiration I needed, if he can do it, so can I! I de-salopetted myself, got the kilt on, and subtly got out of everything underneath. I made my way to the bottom of the run and assembled with the other people in varying degrees of fancy dress and unwittingly my naked ass got filmed to turn up later that night on Bulgarian TV, (and that’s a sentence I never thought I’d type). After much nervous ado, we all get up lifts and down a thankfully very short run, fulfilling the requirements of the challenge … then we all get drunk.

Proof, if proof be need be youtu.be/BKvWSY_B2I8 ...look out for the Poma giving Pete a good thwack in the balls. My arse is just after the bunny-girl.

There's a final night in the pub, with speeches, thanks and many many drinks. Some of the children at the orphanage have made us cards. I'm presented with one and it makes me cry … don't know why, but probably it was the orphanage (in my mind) moving from concept to reality. There really were children with no parents out there, relying on donations of clothes and blankets as their accommodation, their home, wasn't heated over winter.

So, the main man takes the mic, the man who agreed to ski in a thong in the first place. He's got the total from all of the events, the promised sponsorship, the tin in the pub where we played poker. Remember we had sort of aimed for £2000? That night, a cheque was presented to the orphanage fund for … Eleven Thousand Euros. Let me say that again. Eleven Thousand Euros.

So, meeting people off the internet can be a wonderful, wonderful thing. We skiied, snowboarded, drank and drank some more, and somehow managed to make life for some Bulgarian orphans a little better for a while. I just dug my card out from the books it lives between and smiled … yup, a wonderful, wonderful thing.
(Sun 23rd Oct 2011, 1:50, More)

» Abusing freebies

Wet Snacks
Long time listener, first time caller.

I was DJing at a wedding a number of years back in a very small town in Scotland, about 2 miles from the very small town in Scotland I used to live in.

It was a stupidly cheap affair, in a pub's back room with tesco value snacks as the meal (and cake), a dress from top shop and, well, me as the entertainment.

I played the usual shite, then after the bride and groom had buggered off, I got to raid the buffet for a bit of an after gig snack. There was a load left as most of the guests were far more interested in getting pissed and hitting each other than a fatty sausage roll or chicken wing. They bought me a lot of beer too though, bless em

I filled a plastic bag with snacks and decided to walk the couple of miles home and collect my gear in the morning rather than spend my hard earned on a taxi. Was rather chuffed as I wouldn't be forking out for a kebab now either.

Bag in hand, I stumbled home alongside a local golf course. The free lager needed out now, so I slipped off the road and let 'im loose. Weird thing was, I could feel it leaving my body, but didn't hear it hitting the ground. Yes, I was pissing in my bag of free food.

If that isn't abusing freebies I don't know what is.

Don't understand what this length thing is all about.
(Sun 11th Nov 2007, 3:37, More)

» Beautiful Moments, Part Two

Bouncy bouncy
OK, here's another great chance to read this ...

It's not the first thing you think of when you mention Australia but through a strange twist I ended up spending a week in a town called Jindabyne and doing a bit of snowboarding in the nearby resorts.

I always got a lift in the morning and was told that the best way to get a lift home was to stick my thumb out. I think my thumb was used for about 20 seconds as every time - every time - the first car to pass me stopped.

I won't mention the first guy who turned out to be staying in the same ski lodge as me and bought me stupid amounts of beer and invited me to a party at his house, or the second guy who drove me all over the town to get a wee repair done to my board. I want to give a mention to the two lovely girls who picked me up on the third day.

We were idly chatting, 'where ya from', 'ya here on holiday', 'what do ya think so far'?
I answered 'Scotland', 'sort of' and 'it's brilliant ... although I've been here for days and haven't seen a kangaroo yet!' I added jokingly.

They talked amongst themselves for a bit and then pulled off the road up a side track which I assumed was some local short cut. We speeded along for miles, the road getting worse and worse as we drove, then it started to climb high into a part of the 'Snowy Mountains' (they're really called that).

We'd been off the main track for about half an hour now, longer than it would take to get to Jindabyne over the main road, so was getting ... well not scared ... they were lovely people ... maybe a bit worried.

We started driving through a heavily wooded area then stopped as we approached an old looking trailer. The driver got out and approached the door which was opened before she got there by an old scary looking guy. They talked and both looked back at me a few times before he dissapeared back in and the driver came back to talk to me.

She came back over and said, 'as quietly as you can get out the car.' Starting to get a bit scared now but did as I was told. The old guy came back out and beckoned for me to come over, gave me a handful of brown pellet like things. 'Walk over there and hold your hand out.'

I did, and out of the trees came a tiny little kangaroo, then another, and another, then loads ... all coming up to me and eating out my hand.

These girls, who I'd known for about ten minutes, drove on an hour's round trip out of their way so that some stranger could see some kangaroos! For no reason other than that they knew where to find some. It was a magical moment that meant a lot ... it was over 12 years ago now and I've got a huge grin on my face typing this.
(Fri 6th Aug 2010, 16:42, More)

» Asking people out

Can I smell your fanny?
Eons ago, my mate Stu and I used to run a DJ, pub quiz, karaoke, entertainment type outfit. Just part time but we made enough to pay off the gear in a few months and even cleared enough to hire people to do the gigs we couldn't be bothered doing. The best gigs we did though were quizzes in big pubs that we hosted together ... have a laugh on stage and get paid enough to have a night out afterwards and a taxi back in the morning for the gear.

One night we had a bonus round, whereby teams had to write down the worst chat up line they could think of, and the winning team would get to see one of us use it later on in a club, on a girl of their choice. (We'd had a few and it seemed like a good idea ... )

The winner by a mile was,

"Can I smell your fanny?"


"Oh, it must be your feet."

So half an hour later we're in the said club, across the road from the pub where we'd had the quiz. Most of the people from the quiz are in and we've formed an unusal gathering by the toilets as Stu and I toss a coin to see who's going to get slapped. He won! So he sighs, pulls up his belt a bit and wanders over to the lass the winning team have chosen.

We can't hear anything above the music, but her face was enough ... curiosity ... shock ... anger ... then ... then ... a tiny smile at the corner of her mouth ... then a big grin ... then huge laughter.

She calls her pals over who laugh too, then we see Stu obviously explaining what made him do it ... she looks over at our big group, sticks her tongue out then grabs Stu and sticks her tougue in his mouth. We Cheer. A few months later, they got engaged.
(Sun 13th Dec 2009, 16:32, More)
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