Went to see the new Trainspotting T2 film last weekend and couldn’t help comparing Messrs Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Franco with the kids who get cut down by neuroblastoma. They get the drugs, different but every bit as potent and toxic as anything the trainspotters did in their prime, but do the kids get a sequel twenty years down the road? Therein lies the question. Rarely seems like the default stock answer.






Last week’s blog was probably as dark as any that I’ve written in a long while, and judging by the comments, or lack of them in some cases, I guess it didn’t paint a happy picture.







Oh how I would love to #ChooseRecovery but I suspect that is some way off.


But not this week…

This has been an XLookup week on the road. XLookup is me in work mode. I’m getting quite accustomed to grabbing short bursts of development time as and when I can, and this week has been a time grabber on speed:






















Enough of the hashtags for a minute. In the latter days of my time working in Glasgow, Anna and Fabiana were 100% responsible for telling me about The Secret (Google it) and how I was being drawn into a circle of like minded people: people who could and ultimately would bring the best out of me. Just by reading this, you are by definition one of them. There have been many relationships established along the LCFN journey, some cemented by a meeting and a huggle, and some just by being there in cyberspace. Y’all know who you are.

But The Secret goes way beyond the bike ride. When I got huggles from Anna and Fabiana on the day I was shown the door, they both told me, collectively and simultaneously, that it would turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.

And yer know what?

It’s turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me…

Leaving aside the mental issues of dealing with the miles, the injuries and the negative vibes that strike out of the blue, it’s the professional side of my escape from the captivity of the nine to five job that’s made the difference: and what a difference.

When you’ve been in the same place for 25 years, you get accustomed to the certainty of the routine, even if it does mean getting up at 5am to jump on a bike. So when you get shown the door one day short of your 63rd birthday, and you get the opportunity to go out on your own, it’s scary: and to a degree it’s risky. It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, you’ve lost the safety net of your mates, the guys who can tell you where you’re going wrong on the days that your stuff just ain’t cutting it. In programming you get a lot of days like that. Thank feck for Google. Google is my new best friend, even if they are storing all of my searches in some giant database in the desert. I’m cool with that, even if the data centre isn’t.

I then spent the next three months trying to prove myself to the guy who promised me some short term work. After two weeks, the three months I’d been promised became twelve. Those twelve months end in six weeks time.

But the thing is right, I’m good at what I do. I’ve been employed in software development since July 1975 and despite being made redundant through closures and cost cutting three times, and working for myself three times, I’ve never lost a day’s work to the R word in almost 42 years. It’s that kind of resilience that I admire so much in kids who fight cancer with a smile on their face: shit happens, it happens to individuals and it happens to families: it’s how you deal with that shit that defines you.

I’m writing this blog aboard the same train, albeit and hour earlier, that I got two weeks ago when I penned the Journey Fae Hell, the story of being stuck in Preston station for three hours. I found myself in Preston for three hours again today, by choice this time, because I had to be out of my apartment in Liverpool by 11am: but that was no big deal because I just hooked up the laptop in a corner of the waiting room and got stuck into some heavy duty VBA. And watched trains. I saw the Ormskirk train come and three times: it’s an interesting train that cos it looks wider than any other bog cart that I’ve ever seen: yet it still runs on four foot eight and a half rails.

I hope the boss is going to offer me a rolling twelve month contract like football bosses get. I’ll be 64 in a few weeks’ time and the question arises as to what’s going to happen in March 2018. I can answer that question now…

I am not retiring.

In the summer of 2016, the boss challenged me to design a query set for Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). At the time I didn’t know the query language and didn’t know the disease.

Cue creativity, imagination and teamwork. I know I said I work on my own but when it comes to the clinical stuff, help is only a phone call and a shared screen session away.

Back in August, I had an idea that might just change my life (like the wannabee warblers on Z Factor): except that this idea might change not just my life, it might change the lives of hunnerds and hunnerds of people up and down the country. Remember when I wrote a few weeks back about a disease detection application that I’ve developed? We’re now talking to a distributor…

A few times in my life I’ve nearly cracked it. PB2000 was one of the best athletics coaching management systems in the world thirty years ago, and it remains the cornerstone of much of the rule based development work that I’ve done ever since. Zapper was Ludo and Coppit rolled into one, on speed, and it had the potential to be a world beater until I got scammed. So now, off we go again: the merry go round of hope and a wee bit of anticipation. The difference this time is that I’ve been introduced to people who understand the potential. They might not understand me, yet, but that’s coming…

Three months ago, on this same train coming back up the road, I knocked up the kids’ cancer module: it seeks out kids at risk by clustered recognition of symptoms. I haven’t done anything with it because I’m working flat out on other diseases. I apologise to the kids for that but I will return to it one day. It’s built, it just needs partnered, verified and signed off.

These are extraordinary days. The bike plays a huge part in my development work because the best ideas come when I’m out on the road. On the days when I’m banging my head off a brick wall trying to do stuff, the bike provides respite and no little opportunity for creative thinking and invention.













And so, to Eileidh…


























People get kicked in the teeth. It happens to all of us at one time or another. But you have to fight back. Take a deep breath, take stock of where you’re at and focus on the good stuff. Ditch the bad stuff, the stuff that’s gonna drown you, and give the rest of it all you’ve got.







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