Category Archives: Paris

Wednesday 24th April 2024 – THAT WAS AN …

… adventure!

Right now I’m back home sitting in my favourite chair and you’ve no idea just how grateful I am. It was the last thing that I expected today but as Paul Peña wrote and Steve Miller sang, YOU KNOW YOU GOTTA GO THROUGH HELL BEFORE YOU GET TO HEAVEN

Last night though, after I’d finished my notes etc I went straight to bed and spent a very pleasant hour or so listening to “Alquin” on the computer. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, THE MOUNTAIN QUEEN is one of my favourite albums of all time, especially since I met the group, a band from Delft in the Netherlands, in a dingy damp cellar underneath an old hotel in Crewe in 1975.

It was something of a disturbed, turbulent night. I can’t recall too many interruptions from the staff but there’s a huge pile of stuff on the dictaphone that you will discover as you read on.

By 08:00 I was wide awake and as no-one had come past by 08:30 to awaken me, bring me breakfast, take a blood sample etc, I left the bed, did what I had to do and then washed my clothes.

Just as I was hanging up the sodden rags to dry out, the doctor came in and handed me my leaving pouch.
"Am I leaving then?" I asked
"Ohh" she replied. "Hasn’t anyone told you? Anyway, your taxi will be here at 13:00"
What a shame she hadn’t come 5 minutes earlier when my clothes were still dry

She went through the documents with me and made sure that I understood everything.

And then I went through my requirements, including the fact that she needs to apply to the Securité Sociale. for another series of authorisations, but I don’t think that she understood. That’s important of course, so I’ll ring up the taxi company and have them involved in the proceedings.

"By the way" she added "You have a consultation at ‘Imagerie’ at 10:30" so bang goes my idea of a shower. It’s a good job though that I had a good wash and changed my clothes.

At 10:00 the driver turned up to take me to “Imagerie” and off we set.

When we arrived I was told that they wanted to take a few scans of my heart so I had to strip off, clad myself in some paper overalls and then lie flat out on a bed while they clamped all kinds of strange devices to me and pumped me full of some kind of fluid.

Once I was ready they passed me through one of these Stargate time-tunnel things, back and forth for half an hour or more, taking all kinds of strange photos while the machine made all kinds of strange noises and I had to do all kinds of breathing exercises

Eventually they dragged me out and with my head spinning and body shaking (and it still is, even now) I went and dressed ready for the ride back.

And whose stupid idea was it to take my blood pressure as soon as I’d come back from all of that?

Batman and Robin weren’t on duty today – I must have scared them off – so another young nurse came in to ask me "we need to have your room ready for another arrival at 13:00. Would you mind waiting in the waiting room?"

So that’s why they want me gone. "Well, if it’s a nice young lady, I don’t mind sharing the room" I replied but she told me to clear off.

They brought me my lunch to the waiting room – bulghour with chicken followed by pork and courgettes. The peaches with almonds for dessert were nice though.

The taxi was booked for 13:00 so of course he turned up at 14:40. With the A13 being closed it’s total chaos in the outskirts of Paris right now.

Once in the car we had to go on a TRAVERSÉE DE PARIS, with no Bourvil to carry my suitcase, to another hospital to pick up another passenger. The trip across the city was a nightmare and finding the correct entrance was something else too.

And then there were “parking issues” while the driver went in search of his passenger.

Eventually we set off for home, going a very tortuous way via Rungis and Versailles to avoid the queues on a journey that seemed to take for ever and after a pitstop near Caen, we had first to go to Bréhal to drop off passenger number 2. We eventually arrived back here at 19:45.

My faithful cleaner was waiting for me which was lovely. She helped me up the stairs (and I needed it too) and into my room, where she went through the papers and took what she needed for the chemist. I had an energy drink – and I needed that too.

There was one jar of vegan pesto remaining and I’d saved it for some special occasion or other. “Now” seemed like a special occasion so I made a big dish of pasta with assorted vegetables and smothered it all with half the jar.

And it was delicious too.

So this is all that I’m doing. I’m totally wasted and I’m going to bed. With luck I’ll have a really good sleep ready to face Isabelle the nurse tomorrow morning

As for the dictaphone notes, there are quite a few of these. I was with my brother (so I was right) and we were having to go to Shavington. We set out to walk but it was really late at night. Our parents had gone to Sandbach but we wondered why. They were supposed to be doing something but we reckoned that it was really an excuse for a party and a drink. As we walked it was the biggest moon that we had ever seen. There was only probably about a tenth of it that was bright but we could make out the shape of the rest of it above the horizon. It was absolutely enormous. As we walked we looked at the houses and the Christmas lights. We wondered whether one of them was actually on fire because of the way the lights were working. Then we cut off to Shavington down that track that I take frequently in my dreams, a long, narrow track, but I’ve not been down it for a while but at one time I’d go down it once per week. As we started to go down there – we’d gone maybe a quarter of a mile – we noticed someone leading some horses. My brother made some offensive remark about me being unwilling to spend any money. It seemed that his idea would be to hire a couple of these horses and go to Shavington on horseback to save having to walk. I thought that there’s nowhere to leave the horses, you can’t just tie them up in the street like in a Western. You’re going to need someone to hold them while we were at the doctor’s. It’s all going to be just far too complicated to even think about hiring a couple of horses to go there and come back.

That’s a track down which I’ve walked, or skied, or climbed on many occasions during the night and I’ve no idea why it keeps on cropping up like this. I’ve no idea if it exists in real life and I’ve certainly never encountered it for real as far as I’m aware.

Later on I was with a girl and her sister. There was some kind of event going on in the village but it was really poorly attended. There were very few people there. There were two beer tents and most of the people with me, because we were a large group, preferred one tent but I thought that the beer in the second was much better. I tended to patronise that one. In the end I managed to persuade people that that one was best and they came over. They were wondering how everything worked so I explained that I bet that he was really disappointed with the attendance. I explained that when I used to put on rock concerts I’d hire a complete bar and just buy the beer etc but I needed about 80 or 90 people to make a profit at the bar and that rarely happened. They were surprised by that. In the end we set out to walk home. I’d sold everything that I had in rural France except for one plot of land where I had four Cortinas parked. My friend’s sister was planning on moving too. I had my old J4 so she told me that when we reached her house, to back it into the drive and do something useful but I’d no idea what she meant by that and what her plans were. There was a big house for sale with lovely gardens that had been empty for years. We were admiring that on the way back. My friend said that she’d enquired about buying it but it needed more money than she had. We carried on walking and talking back to my friend’s sister’s house but I’d still no idea about what was going on and there were only a few more hours left before the end of the day. if she was planning on moving today she was leaving it extremely late because we’re never going to fit everything of hers into my J4 van.

Cortinas as usual, and my old J4 van has started to make regular appearances just recently too which is bizarre. But it’s true about the bar. We could rent the bar and staff for free if the turnover was over a certain amount but the owner needed a guaranteed minimum to cover his expenses and that had to be made up by the hirer if there was a shortfall

And then I was watching two girls, one of them a ward of mine, fighting over a boyfriend using broadswords. It was an extremely tame affair with the two of them jabbing at each other. Most of the wounds with broadswords according to modern autopsy were like overarm slashes down onto the head yet these were just poking at each other. The ward of mine asked permission to go out with this boy. I gave it because I didn’t see any reason why she shouldn’t but the other girl was extremely upset. This led to the fight.

And overarm slashes being the common cause of death in medieval fights with broadswords. I was impressed that I could remember anatomical details like that during a dream.

There had been some dispute between two men over something too. One had gone into a second-hand shop, changed his clothes and hid in the shop in the hope of escape of his pursuer but that didn’t work. They had a fight too. Somewhere in the middle of all of this I was walking through Crewe planning on going for an ice cream with my brother’s wife (as if that would ever be likely to happen) when I bumped into a guy who told me that he was going to Birmingham for the best ice cream in the UK. I knew this guy from somewhere but I couldn’t think where so I decided to go with him. We dashed to pick up my brother’s wife but she wasn’t in so we headed for the railway station. I boarded the train with this guy and went to see the conductor about buying a seat but my friend told me that there were no seats available on this train. It was completely full. I had to reluctantly disembark and go back to my original plans.

There was something else but I only remember a small part of this. I was with a guy who was going across the Channel on a ferry so I thought that I’d go with him. We went in his car, drove to the ferry terminal and joined the queue but we couldn’t understand why all these people were standing around so strangely. We suddenly realised that each person was about twelve feet apart from the one in front and behind. That was how their cars were going to be parked on the ferry. There were no cars there though, just the people standing in position. We had to go to the back of the queue then walk twelve paces behind the person who was there and then stand and wait around. God knows what was happening to the vehicles because there were none about at all. Everyone else kept on turning up, people having fun in the ferns and bracken that were all around this car park. It really was the strangest thing that I’ve ever encountered, all of us just standing there twelve feet apart in our own little family groups etc and not a car in sight.

So after transcribing all of that I’ll probably go back to sleep again.

While I’m doing that, I can reflect on my conversation with the photographer as I left the Stargate
"Did you manage to find my heart?" I asked
"Yes I did" she replied
"Thank heavens for that" I replied. "I’m not turning into a Conservative after all"

Tuesday 23rd April 2024 – OUCH! THAT HURT!

And if you read on, you’ll find out what and why. I’ve not had a very good day.

Anyway, last night after everything had finished I sat down and READ A BOOK about an American sailor and his family, including his 6 year old daughter, captured in the South Pacific in 1917 by a German sea-going raider and who spent 10 months as prisoner on board before being shipwrecked off the coast of Denmark.

After that I settled down, fully dressed because I was freezing, under the covers and that was that.

A few times during the night I was awoken by a few comings and goings but for some reason or other I was so tired that I was back asleep almost immediately and ended up not awakening until they came to take my blood sample at about 09:15.

Actually it was the little student nurse who came on her own so I told her that if I leave here alive she’ll have earned her diploma. Anyway, she managed to find some blood. I still have some left, apparently.

Once she’d gone I went for a wash and brush up as best as I could and then a driver came to collect me. It was the rock music fan who has taken me before so we had a good chat before he dropped me off at Neurology.

While I was waiting for my appointment I had a good chat with the receptionist and another patient and saw several photos of cats and dogs before being ushered into the room where the examination was due to take place.

It was the doctor who had seen me before on two occasions. He and his sidekick gave me the electric shock tests to my arms and legs and I was right – there is a further deterioration. So no surprise there. We had a good chat and now he’s gone away to think about a Plan B.

The same driver came to pick me up for my next appointment but that’s not until tomorrow so he brought me back here.

While I was eating lunch a doctor came to slap a freezing patch on my lower back and we all know what that means. She took an age to find the correct position so I asked her "can’t you see the scars from the previous attempts?"

When she told me that she could, I told her that they ought to paint an “X marks the spot” or even a target in the correct place.

A short while later, Batman and Robin, the young ward nurse and her little student who follows her around like a shadow, came to prepare me.

It was the little student who drew the short straw and had to hold me down and I bet she wished that she hadn’t when the doctor missed her aim with the lumbar puncture and found the central nerve.

Eventually, but not soon enough by any means, the torment was over and I could go to lie down. “You’ll just need to be flat out for an hour” but she was joking. After an hour or so a nurse came round to make sure that I was still alive and to take my blood pressure, with predictable results. But in fact it was several hours before I crawled out of bed, and then only for a particular reason too.

Once I’d settled down in my chair I transcribed the dictaphone notes. Yesterday’s are now on line and then I started on today’s. I was going to start at a new school but the morning that I was due to go I had a ‘phone call that began speaking in Welsh. It was a young girl saying that she was glad to go back to live in Easingwold. I couldn’t understand who it was but the conversation became more and more intimate until in the end, I had to go, I said plenty of encouraging words and finished with “I love you” but I had no idea who this person was at all. Absolutely none. I arrived at the new school but couldn’t find out how anything worked, the system of how lessons were organised etc. In the end I stumbled across a lesson from one of my class so I asked the teacher where all the other lessons for our year were being held. He gave some kind of nebulous speech abut how I should have looked at the newspaper. Of course I knew nothing about this. I found a copy of the newspaper but didn’t understand it. In the end I found some kind of paper print-out with the details on it. It was headed with the most extraordinary offensive message that had nothing whatever to do with the subject matter. I thought it totally astonishing that they’d pin this on the wall. I couldn’t find any paper then. Every piece of paper on which I tried to write, I was making no impression with a ball-point pen. The writing was just not sticking as if it had one of these shiny surfaces. I kept on coming across paper that had already been used, carbon copies of the ‘phone call that I’d had earlier in the day from that girl etc, but nothing that I could do would be able to reproduce anything on any kind of piece of paper. It was just so frustrating because I wanted to crack on and organise myself as this was just not working at all.

Then this conversation that I’d had in the morning had completely shaken me. I didn’t have a clue who on earth it was to whom I was speaking and I really wish that I knew because it had all the air of being something really interesting. The only Welsh-speaking girl I knew at school was only in passing and it certainly wasn’t her so who on earth was it?

Then we had a boisterous kind of office party where everything was going out of control. The sad part about it was that these were all middle-aged people. The boss there had picked on someone else’s wife and was making life really uncomfortable for them. They were trying to work out a moment in which to disappear such as when the boss went to the toilet but they’d brought the PA with them so putting that into the car in the space of a couple of minutes was going to be complicated. There were all kinds of things like this. Some woman was making some very plain and clear hints that she wanted to dance etc with me but of course I was having absolutely none of this and sat stoically at my seat in the dining room watching the events unfold, taking absolutely no notice of any of the extremely broad hints that she was dropping. All in all it was an extremely sad evening watching these people behaving like this

There have been more than a few parties like this where everyone makes a fool of themselves and I note that I even made a remark about it while I was asleep, which shows you just what I think about it all.

Then I was going through the videotapes looking for a blank one but came across a football match that took place years ago that I hadn’t seen. It involved one of these obscure South American republics playing in similar colours to Portugal and who had qualified unexpectedly for the World Cup after beating a selection of prize teams from other parts of the World to make it to the finals. I’d obviously taped their opening match but I couldn’t remember how it went or what the score was so instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing I put on this videotape and settled down to watch them. I got as far as watching them come out onto the pitch before I awoke. I’d no idea who their opponents were in this particular game.

And despite what I said the other night, Castor put in a very brief appearance last night. And wasn’t it nice to see her? We were on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR rearranging the dining arrangements. I was passing the cutlery and crockery and glassware from one table to the next. There was the final piece that I picked up to take round to the other table and who should be sitting there but Castor? She was talking to someone else about their life, I suppose. She was saying that she was born into a policeman’s family. I’ll tell you that that didn’t ‘arf ring a few alarm bells with me finding out that she was the progeny of a policeman’s couple.

But even if it were true and I had known, nothing of what happened back then would have changed for a minute. As I said at the time, I would have accepted any consequence. And as Joni Mitchell sang, YOU KNOW I’D GO BACK THERE TOMORROW BUT FOR THE WORK THAT I’VE TAKEN ON

And fancy the dream stopping there! I suppose that it was the shock that awoke me.

While I was asleep in the afternoon I was going for a walk. I had all of the four cats coming with me, following in my footsteps, climbing and jumping over each other as they used to do etc. There were a few members of my family with me. I had to take some money out to pay for something or other, housekeeping or whatever. I needed €60:00. I walked as far as the cash machine but when I went to look through my wallet I couldn’t find the bank card that I usually used. In the end, looking through everything I found a selection of other bank cards but I wasn’t sure which ones would work and which ones wouldn’t. There was one from the bank in Belgium so I put that in the cash machine. It seemed to read the card because it asked for the PIN. I typed in the usual number and that seemed to accept it but that was as far as I reached in the dream.

Tea tonight was salmon lasagne with creamed spinach so some horse trading was undertaken but I’m not doing too well for food which is a shame, but not unexpected.

So right now I’m off to bed to try to recapture Castor and to hope that they try to check my blood pressure at calmer moments.

But while the little student was preparing me for my lumbar puncture I asked her why doctors always wear masks
"Is it to do with infection?" she asked.
"Not at all" I replied. "It’s in case the procedure goes all wrong. Then they can’t identify the guilty party"

Monday 22nd April 2024 – MEANWHILE, HERE IN …

… The Land Of Grey And Pink, or Ice-Station Zebra as it ought to be called, I’m tucked up in bed in the cold awaiting my doom.

And also awaiting my evening meal, but that’s another story.

Last night after everything finished I hauled myself off to bed quite early and tried my best to settle down to sleep but as usual these days it didn’t quite work out like that. However later on I must have managed to drop off because there’s some stuff on the dictaphone. I was with a girl. She had a big box of something or other. It was a case of having to pass it through a hatch. Going up and down this hatch with this box was extremely complicated. One day I happened to find it in the way so I asked how come I found it in the way. It suddenly occurred to me afterwards that I must have pushed it in behind me then moved it round, then somehow managed to work my way round past it as I passed through the hatchway. Once I’d worked out exactly how I’d done it, it became a lot easier to go up and down past. It was less of an inconvenience. What actually happened was by leaving it at the bottom of this hatch I couldn’t actually close off the draught-proofing. I had to sit and think to try to work out exactly how I was going to do that. Then she told me that it was a packet that the Post needed to collect and send away, in which case it’ll be out of the way. I couldn’t thus understand the problem but she explained that if she left it outside it was raining and the package would be wet. I hoped that the Post Office would come quickly because this is proving to be so complicated. It doesn’t need to be this complicated at all. The quicker we can resolve this issue the better it would be for everyone.

I was at one of these Alternative Technology meetings last night too. It was a big meeting discussing the manufacture of some kind of alcohol for fuel. I had to go along to add the oats to it but of course I had no idea how to do it. There was a huge retort stand with everything being heated by a bunsen burner. It all looked quite complicated. They said “add the oats” so I had to ask the meeting how to do it. The answer was quite simply “just stuff it down one of the holes into the test tube”, no preparation, no cleaning, no nothing. I thought “if that’s how they want it doing, that’s how I’m going to do it. If they want it doing before the full meeting I’d simply do it the best that I could”.

As seems to be usual when I’m keyed up for something important like this I was awake and out of bed before the alarm went off and I took the opportunity to wash my puttees and my nightclothes so that everything will be nice and clean and ready for me when I come back home, if I ever do.

And that’s not like me either, is it?

What else isn’t like me is that I had MY BAGS ARE PACKED AND READY TO GO, as Peter, Paul and Mary would have sung, so I just had to wait around for the driver to come to collect me.

Bang on 07:00 she turned up as well, my favourite taxi driver, so we were going to be in for an exciting trip. Anything to relieve the boredom.

She had a couple of errands to perform around the town on the way and then we hit the highway.

The journey was quiet to start with but being stuck behind a dithering driver at the péage seemed to switch her on and the running commentary began for the rest of the trip.

That was just as well – I couldn’t stand the quiet.

The autoroute that we usually take into Paris is closed at the moment so we had to go another way.

That led to all kinds of confusion but luckily she was rather more restrained than last time and when we ended up in the wrong lane we simply went with the flow this time instead of performing some kind of dramatic U-turn as you might see on American “cops and robbers” TV.

We were ages late in arriving which is no surprise given the conditions, and once I was registered in I was shown up to my deep-freeze on the second floor where I dived fully-clothed under the bedclothes. And where I still am.

The nurse threw a bottle of water at me which was just as well after my marathon fast, and then we had the pantomime about fitting a catheter in my arm.

They offered to let the little student nurse do it, poor thing. I did admire their optimism. And we gradually went up and up the respective grades. At one time there were no fewer than 6 nurses of different ranks in the hierarchy standing around my bed until in the end someone let out a cry of joy.

My lunch (an omelette) that had been growing cold on a side table was then brought over to me and no sooner did I have my fork stuck into the accompanying salad when the doctor appeared. It’s all just one more distraction.

While I was trying to doze off after lunch the whole world and his wife came in to interrupt me just as I was starting on some kind of dream of something to do with wartime. No sooner had it started under way when everyone came in and it immediately disappeared which was a shame.

The nurses did a few more things before clearing off and I crashed out yet again.

The funny thing about all of this was that no sooner had I set foot in my room that they went to check my blood pressure.
"Blimey! That’s high!" said the nurse.
Well, of course it is. I’ve just come 360 kms with my favourite taxi driver
"I’ll come back in an hour to check it again"
So she came back to do it again immediately after 6 nurses had just finished poking and prodding me – with predictable results.

So now that I’ve had my meal I’m going to try to go to sleep again, this time until morning. And hope that I have some better results than of late.

They’ve offered me a sleeping pill but I’ve turned it down. It’s like the young girl who, on her wedding night, propped herself on a chair by the window
"Aren’t you … errr … coming to bed?" asked her husband
"Ohh no" she replied. "My mummy told me that this would be the most exciting night of my life and I’m not going to miss a minute of it"

Friday 8th March 2024 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not sitting in a rainbow but sitting in my comfortable chair back in my office.

Yes people, I’m back home and I won’t use the Golden Earring “Back Home” salutation, to spare Sean’s suffering. He thinks that I’ve used it too often but in my opinion it shows you just how many journeys I’ve made in the past.

In fact it reminds me of that big poster I saw in a Travel Agent’s in Brussels once. I’m the last to criticise someone’s efforts to communicate in a foreign language – mine are nothing much to write home about – but sometimes you have to.

In an attempt to attract as many as possible of the English-speaking community to visit their shop and book a holiday with them, the sign, in large block letters, read "Why Don’t You Go Away?"

It’s almost as interesting as the sign I once saw in West Berlin in the late 1970s. Intourist, the Russian Travel Agency during the Cold War, opened an office there.

In an attempt to attract westerners there with their hard currency, they ran an advertising campaign with a big poster in their shop window "Come And Visit The Soviet Union"
And someone had written underneath "Before It Comes To Visit You"

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

As I expected, and indeed foretold, sleeping last night was not easy. It seemed like every five minutes someone was dropping stuff on the floor.

But anyway at about 06:30 I seemed to recover consciousness and began to wait for things to happen.

There was the flood of people – nurses, nursing assistants, trainee doctors and the like. And in mid-wash someone came for me to take me to the building where they would give me this brain scan.

For the benefit of new readers, the hospital at Paris isn’t like a traditional hospital where they’ve built upwards in the same building. Here, it’s like a University campus with different buildings of different epochs scattered all over the grounds.

There’s a shuttle bus all around the campus for people who can walk but for people like me there’s a fleet of small electric vans where the rear floor drops down and they can push a wheelchair in and ferry the person to another building.

It was a long wait for my scan and when it was my turn they clamped a metal guard over my head to keep it perfectly still and then pushed me back and forth through this Stargate time-tunnel machine made by my former employer General Electric for a good half an hour

Back in my room the visits kept on coming but I did manage to dictate the details of my nocturnal travels. We were discussing a drummer last night. I don’t know who he was but people were wondering just how good he was. Someone said that it was always suggested that he played drums on LIEGE AND LIEF by Steeleye Span … "you mean Fairport Convention" – ed … instead of Gerry Conway, if it was Gerry Conway who played drums on that album, I dunno … "no, it was Dave Mattacks" – ed … That seemed to mark him down as being one of the better folk-rock drummers in the UK everyone agreed that if he had played on Liege and Lief he would certainly have been someone at some point.

And I was impressed that I could remember as much as I did about it all in a dream last night

There was something else about the snow. Someone in a black pickup was sliding in the snow an what looked as if it might have been a camp site. The pickup hit something in the snow, an electric trunk or whatever and came to an extremely sudden stop. I wish that I knew where that is now

Then someone with a Renault Espace-type of vehicle had gone to the airport to pick up some people but for some reason he had some time to spare. We noticed this group of 4 people weaving in and out of the traffic that was waiting a the airport, talking to each other. They had an accent that I thought was South African. They were big people and had some luggage with them. They weren’t the type who looked business-like. I wondered if maybe they needed a taxi to go somewhere and this guy could take them if he had time and earn himself a little money. I waited until they came near to me. They squeezed in between two cars to cross the road so I went over to them and told them never ever to do that because they could end up being crushed if one of the cars moved. They were rather contrite. Anyway I was talking to them. They lived or were going to somewhere in the Saddleworth/Oldham area. I suggested that they might want this particular guy to take them. They agreed to go with him. The guy had a quick chat about the fare. I reckoned that a tenner would be a good price to charge them in those days. They all began to pile into the Renault Espace

I’d gone to a party for some reason at someone’s house, one of these house parties that you had years ago. There was a young girl there who had had a cocktail. She was obviously so young that she’d never had one before and so was a little unsteady on her feet, so I noticed. When we were all going into the house I went over to her to ask her if she needed any help and to be there for her to lean on. We began to chat and she said the usual things about how she’s not very pretty etc. We began to talk about make-up. She said that she didn’t wear make-up except on special occasions which at her age was hardly a surprise. Things began to click between the two of us and at the end of the night I arranged to see her again. Then I had the problem of cars. I had the yellow Cortina that was making a horrible noise when you turned left and the MoT had long expired. There was a brown Cortina that had had an accident and we’d stripped the nearside down. It was still running on the road but with no nearside wing on it or anything like that and the MoT had long since expired on that too. I thought to myself that if I were to start taking the girl out I’m going to at least need the correct kind of car, something that’s working and reliable and more to the point, had an MoT. I was trying to work out what to do about these two Cortinas, even considering collecting all my Cortinas, all the bits, everything and just junking them somewhere and going to buy a car that was legal and could keep on the road

This is a recurring dream, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. In real life things did actually get out of hand about this kind of thing in the late 80s when I had my taxi business. I put it down of course to there not having enough time in the day to deal with everything that was arising, and the fact that I was really in a very dark place at that time. If I had cleared out all of the rubbish and had just one decent car it would have probably cost me the same in the end and made life a lot less complicated but, as the old saying goes, when you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to remember that you came just to drain the swamp. But it’s really quite funny – there I was last night on the verge of Getting The Girl and it was my own problems that were putting the baton dans la rue as they say around here, confounding me at the vital moment. That’s the story of my life too – I’m my own worst enemy. But that’s the usual case when there are several persons living inside this body. You never know which version of me you are going to get on any given day.

There was no time for a shower though with all of the confusion, which was a pity. I was really looking forward to one this morning, but no such luck.

Eventually the doctor came to see me

"How was the brain scan, doctor?" I asked
"We found nothing" he replied
That was not reassuring, but regular readers of this rubbish will recall that it’s not unexpected.

But the bad news is that the fluid drained off from the lumbar puncture is “inconclusive”. They’ve had to send it away for in-depth studies and the results won’t be ready for several weeks. According to the doctor, there’s no point in my hanging around there for several weeks and then the results might show nothing at all, so I may as well go home.

He handed me my leaving papers, which included yet more medication and a daily visit from the nurse. It looks as if my depressing series of later and later Sunday lie-ins has resolved itself without any help from me. He and his sidekick pass by the building usually at 08:30.

A few minutes later the doctor came dashing back to swap some papers over.

Apparently they’ve rung for a taxi to come to fetch me but there’s an ambulance belonging to the same company already in town. If they had an “ambulance” voucher instead of a taxi voucher they could come for me now. So we played “swaps”.

The nurses came a few moments later to usher me out of my room. Apparently they can clean it and fit another patient in before the end of the day so I had to go down to the waiting room.

When the ambulance came for me we all went downstairs and they began to take out the stretcher from the back of the vehicle

"What’s going on here?" I asked, bewildered
"The ambulance voucher says ‘transport allongée’ and ‘allongée’ means ‘allongée’" replied the assistant

While they were strapping me into the stretcher they noticed that the nurses hadn’t taken the catheter out of my arm. So unstrapped, off the stretcher, back upstairs to find a nurse.

And then back downstairs, onto the stretcher, strapped in and shoved into the back of the ambulance like a pizza going into the oven

If you don’t know the slang meaning of the French phrase etre à cheval sur, then a trip with these two will explain everything. ‘Allongée’ means ‘allongée’, yes, but your 4 hours working period means a 4-hour period, not 4:05, and a half hour break means a half-hour break, not 29 minutes.

Having a passenger strapped immobile in the back makes no difference at all.

And ‘keeping a calm environment’ means not uttering a word to your passenger at all during the entire journey. The assistant can however tell the driver “that lane’s quicker” or “you should be over there” or “quick – he’s through the péage

Had I been driving, I would have found a novel and inventive use for half a roll of plasters.

Back here my faithful cleaner was there to help me and we managed to find our way upstairs. "Do you need any help now?" she asked
"No thanks" I replied. "I have things to do" and if you’d been strapped to a stretcher immobile in the back of an ambulance for five hours, you’d have things to do too.

Imitating THE CARMICHAELS, supper waited on the table inside a tin. In fact the pasta was dried and in a box but the Greek Mushrooms were in the tin. I didn’t have time or the urge to make anything else right now.

Now I’m off to bed for pleasant dreams (I hope) and I’ll tidy up and put away tomorrow. My fudge tastes really nice – I tried a piece just now. That was definitely a success and I’ll make it again

But that phrase reminds me of the time that I dashed into the legendary Gentlemen’s Rest Room on Crewe Bus Station on my way home after a heavy night on the Boddington’s at the Lion and Swan

"Phew!" I exclaimed with a sigh of relief. "Just made it!"
"Blimey!" said the man in the next stall, looking over into mine. "Can you make me one like it?"

But returning to the subject of signs, Brussels was always good for a laugh for signs like this nevertheless. When SABENA – “Such A Bad Experience – Never Again” launched its direct flights from Brussels to Singapore, it had all these posters "Breakfast in Brussels – Supper in Singapore"
And underneath every one someone had written "And Luggage in Lagos"

Thursday 7th March 2024 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not sitting in a rainbow but up on the ceiling of my hospital room in Paris. The doctor has just missed his aim with the lumbar puncture and found the central nerve

So if ever you want to find out what pain is all about, I advise you to try that and you won’t have to ask again.

Seriously, that was the most painful thing that has ever happened to me and I sincerely hope that they don’t do that again.

At least he found his target the second time around and extracted enough nervous fluid to last a good while.

So anyway it was another late night last night as I was finishing off the things that I needed to do, leaving half of them undone as usual. There never seems to be enough time to do anything these days, so I’m finding.

At least it was a peaceful night, without too much disturbance. In fact I can’t recall anything even dreaming

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and went to check the blood pressure – 14.1/9.1, which is very close to what they want to see. Last night it was 17.1/11.7 so it really must have been a peaceful night.

Next stop was the kitchen to sort out my medication I made some bread, kneading it gently as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles.

While the bread was rising , I began to make a flapjack from a recipe that I found last night on the internet before going to bed. I didn’t have half of the ingredients so it was a very inventive one too but it’ll probably still taste as nice.

In the bathroom I had a good wash and washed the shorts that I wear in bed, forgetting that I’d left my elastic musculation bands in the pockets. Ahh well …

By now the bread was cooked so I made my sandwiches while I was waiting for the flapjack to finish cooking but the taxi driver caught me by surprise by coming early so I had barely time to finish packing my sandwiches.

And the flapjack? That’ll have to finish cooking on its own and it’ll be nice when I come back.

And the stuff that I left all over the worktop?

The driver was the woman who had taken me once before and true to form, she complained and vented her frustrations on the other drivers for every metre of the 344-kilometre route. A proper olde-worlde taxi driver as I said last time

We had time to stop for a coffee but wished we hadn’t when we reached Paris. The Prif was blocked solid so we ended up coming off and finding our way through the back streets of Paris with the result that instead of being 10 minutes early we were 10 minutes late.

This time I’m in The Land of Blue and White. My room is quite nice and so was the receptionist who showed me the way. She made a friendly remark about my eyes, which cheered me up.

So the plan is a lumbar puncture almost immediately and a brain scan tomorrow. If the results show no further spreading of the cancer into the nervous system I can go home tomorrow afternoon

However, if there’s a spreading of the cancer, then “we’ll see”.

He thinks that I ought to continue at the Centre de Re-education and will give me a prescription, and he’ll also give me a prescription for the nurse who comes to my house to deal with the leaking ankle.

Before leaving, he slapped this freezing patch on my back.

The young nurse came back to wire me up and take a blood sample. And poor thing – she had several goes before she could find a vein. My arm ended up full of holes and it reminded me of the old joke about the difference between a hedgehog and a police car and which is far too coarse to repeat in these pages.

By now the doctor came back with two nurse, one to help him and the other to hold me all curled up and to stroke my arm in reassurance.

And then they began.

And it was just as well that they had a nurse holding me down. I was suspicious before when I saw this second nurse come in, and now I know why. I had a feeling that he must have had a go before and with the same result

When he hit my central nerve I think that the whole hospital knew about it and the best that could be said for it was that the second attempt was much less painless. He managed to draw off plenty of fluid anyway.

In between all of the comings and goings I managed to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night, such as they were. It was a very poor crop last night. We were all in someone ‘s house having a party. Someone had prepared a huge meat pie or huge pie of some description. There was someone who was going away so he said “I’ll have a slice of this pie”. He decided that it was the nicest pie that he had ever tasted and arranged to take it with him. He asked about any more on any other days. The woman said “Tuesday” which was the previous day she’d had a day off so nothing had been made. He was extremely disappointed with that because he was hoping that he could lay his hands on another pie like the first one but not with any luck

Abd that reminds me that I ought to be thinking about baking another vegan pie sometime. They are really nice with potatoes, veg and gravy and its been a while since I’ve had one.

But as I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I need to make more room in my freezer. It’s full to the brim yet again and I still have the sausage rolls that I made the other week resting in the ice box of the fridge.

It’s no use either saying that I should have bought a bigger freezer either. I’d have just filled it up just as quickly with all kinds of other stuff and there still wouldn’t have been room in there. I always found that the amount of possessions that you have always expands quite quickly to fill the space available, regardless of how much that is, and you always never have enough room.

While all of this was going on I was having a perfusion. It finished quite quickly and blood was being drawn back into the pipe. When the nurse uncoupled me she swung the pipe round and this place looked like a slaughterhouse as the blood from the pipe went everywhere.

What an unholy mess that was. She cleaned up most of it but missed some and the place doesn’t look much better.

Tea was an assortment of whatever they could find for me and it ended up, to my surprise, being quite substantial, which makes a change. I’ve eve been able to lay in a store of supplies for the leaner times that lie ahead.

So now that they’ve finished with my feet I’m off to bed, and I’ll try to sleep if I can manage it.

There’s so much noise in a place like this, and that’s the problem. I’m a very light sleeper, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and the slightest noise disturbs me. I can’t ever sleep in here.

The noise in fact reminds me of when I was out one night with Percy Penguin and we drove past her local village hall. There was all kinds of shouting and yelling coming from within.
"What’s going on there?" I asked.
"Not much" she replied. "They are holding a Young Farmers Ball"
"And what’s all the noise then?" I asked. "Can’t he get them to let go?"

Wednesday 14th February 2024 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

… I’ll be back in Paris at the end of April, despite what I said yesterday.

There’s a heart test already arranged for 24th April, so the doctor said “we’ll make it a stay for a few days and run a pile of tests on you”. Ahh well, can’t be helped, I suppose

All that way there and back and I was only with him for about 15 minutes, and even then he spent much of the time being interrupted on the phone by other people.

At least, it’s good practice, I suppose. Especially for me having to organise myself ready to travel.

Having had a good wash yesterday I still had plenty of things to do before I could go to bed so it was rather late when I finally crawled under my covers.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed to switch it off and then to take my blood pressure. A mere 16.6/9.5 this morning – quite a change from the 18:8/10.9 of the night before.

Once I was up I dressed and then went to make my sandwiches for lunch – nice thick slices of home-made bread that had been stored in the freezer and left to defrost overnight, and filled with cheese, hummus, lettuce and tomato with garlic mayonnaise.

The taxi driver was someone who had run me round to the Centre de Re-education once so I knew her. We had a very interesting chat during which I learnt that she is on good terms with one of the guys off the radio. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" … – ed, the World is becoming far too small for my liking.

She’s not been taxi-driving long so she didn’t know the way very well, but I helped as well as I could and we arrived at the reception desk bang on time. And then I was called for the interview.

When I’d been there last time his office was right at the far end of the corridor and round the corner so I went to sit there. Today, his office was right next to the reception desk so he had to come to find me.
"Walk this way" he said, beckoning me in his direction
"If I could walk that way" I thought to myself "I wouldn’t be in this flaming hospital having this blasted treatment in the first place"

He went through all of my results with me, and everything seems to be an improvement (that’s not how it looks to me, but never mind) so he’s pleased with the progress of his cocktail of medication.

He thinks that an in-depth examination will be called for after a few weeks, and so he reckons transforming this day visit into a hospitalisation for several days.

One of the things that he suggested was another lumbar puncture – and I went cold at the thought.

As for all of my detailed and comprehensive notes about my blood pressure, he scarcely gave them a glance. So much for those then, I suppose.

Finding a nice quiet corner I ate my butties, went for a visit down the corridor and then found my taxi driver, and we set off for home.

Shame as it is to say it, I slept almost all of the way back and I’ve no idea why. But both the outward and the return journey were the most trouble-free that I have ever had. The traffic was slow-moving on the Prif but we weren’t ever held up, either on the outward or the return journey.

My cleaner was waiting for me when we arrived. She’d volunteered to help me up the stairs but strangely, I didn’t need it today. I could climb up all 25 steps without any help. So maybe there really IS progress after all. I must admit that last night, for the first time since my bad fall, I’d felt well enough to restart my musculation process with my elastic strap around my legs.

Back in the apartment I made myself a nice mug of boiling hot chocolate and then came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes. And there were tons of them. No wonder I was tired. I’d travelled miles during the night.

We were managing a rock group last night. The drummer in this group was only very young but was a prodigy, extremely good at his job so one of the other teams in the league decided that they wanted to sign him. I said that he’d only go if they made a ridiculous offer and we had another drummer to replace him. My team in the transfer window arranged a few more transfers in, a defender, an attacker and one player whom I didn’t know. I didn’t recognise his name so I wondered where he came from and what he did, thinking that he might be a replacement drummer to replace the one whom we were about to lose but it wasn’t. In fact he was another outfield player. So I explained to the club that it doesn’t matter how much money they offer, they can offer as much as you like but if he’s still under contract with us and we don’t have a replacement then he can’t leave for another club.

And that really does make a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Mr Teale, our geography teacher at school was telling our class about the Midwest USA. He was talking briefly about the Oregon and California Trail that they took. So when he finished I told him about the time that I’d visited there and seen it. I had my photos that I showed everyone. I mentioned the big baskets at the top of the hill where the descent into California starts, where back in the past they went through and found all old bits of wood lying along the trail. They picked them up and stuck them in this basket. It’s extremely likely that much of the wood in there comes from these crashed Pioneer wagons that failed to make the descent correctly and came to grief somewhere along there on towards the end of the trail on this downhill slope

Regular readers of this rubbish in another format will recall that we have spent a considerable time on the Oregon and California Trail. in 2002 I went to see the famous trail ruts and Register Cliff IN GUERNSEY, WYOMINGand then went back there IN 2019, and one day I’ll finish editing the … gulp! … 6,000 photos from my famous trip

Then I put some knock-out drops into the air when our Geography teacher and one of the other teachers were talking about the summit of the Oregon and California Trail. I’d been there of course and knew all about it but it seemed appropriate for the class to have a break and go to sleep so that the rest of the room could occupy ourselves for a bit

As for the summit of the trail, it’s not easy to know what is meant by it. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have been TO SOUTH PASS which is the watershed, where rivers to the east drain either into the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico, and to the west where rivers drain into the Pacific, so I suppose that that might be described as the summit.

However you’ll never lose a wagon down the descent there. Edwin Bryant, in his book WHAT I SAW IN CALIFORNIA described the slope either side as being so gentle that you’d hardly know that it was there, and that was my opinion too.

I also started later on talking about my Will, where I was going to leave money and to who. Actually finding it is a bit of a struggle but it was above the treeline on the route that these Oregon Trails took. But I found it sure enough and opened it to read. It’s different from the one that I have at home. My property will just be left to my heritee whoever that will be, with no mention of sorting it out amongst the people who ought to benefit so I hope that other people will understand, if they find this document, exactly what I want to do. I’ll have other ideas but I probably won’t get them down

That’s something that I really need to do – to write my will. It will be pretty straightforward and simple, and won’t take long. But that won’t be the end of the story because there will be a lot of work to be done in its respect and also in the respect of carrying out my wishes.

Apart from a few bits and pieces, it’s all going to be dropped into the lap of one person, and that person will certainly earn their share of the inheritance at the end of it. Mind you, they’ll deserve it

So who will that person be? The answer is that even though there’s a lot of ground between us, there’s really only one person honest and reliable enough in my entourage upon whom I could in theory rely.

And if that person doesn’t carry out my wishes? Well, there’s not much I can do about it, except to come back and haunt them, rather like the two gay ghosts who really gave each other the willies one night.

But that reminds me of Liz (not “this Liz” but “that Liz” who died in 2009) going in for a serious operation, and writing down a list of names
"Is this the list of people you want us to tell how it went, mum?" asked Kathryn?
"No, dear" replied Liz. "This is the list of people whom I’m going to come back and haunt if it all goes wrong".

Liz would have known about all of this, though. Having served on many University committees she’s had plenty of experience of holding hands sitting around a table and trying to contact the living.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed – as I said … "when?" – ed … but didn’t record, the people making this programme … "which programme?" – ed … presented her … "who?" – ed … with a teddy bear afterwards as a kind of memento of a trip that she’d made. Of course no-one from that voyage is with us these days except of course the teddy bear. That’s the only survivor of that first 1840s voyage across from East to West

That looks like an awful mess, doesn’t it? It looks as if it’s related to the Oregon and California Trail, but what’s the rest of it all about?

And then I was back at my little house in Winsford as well last night, wondering how things would have been if I’d actually stayed in Winsford and not taken the opportunity to move to Gainsborough Road in Crewe.

That’s a really good question. I quite liked my little house in Winsford but for some reason I felt really uncomfortable there.

Nevertheless, even though it was a Barratt House, I won’t ever hear a bad word against them as they helped me onto the property ladder. I went in three years from living in a van to owning (with a mortgage of course) a brand-new semi-detached house and I wouldn’t ever have done it without them.

While I was writing out my dictaphone notes I fell asleep again. It’s one of those days, I reckon, so in the end I went and made my leftover curry. It was delicious and the naan bread was cooked to absolute perfection. I’d eat all of this again and again if I could.

But now I’m off to bed. And I go, as Joachim du Bellay said, "heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage" “happy is he who like Ulysses has had a good journey”.

What I’ll be hoping is for more pleasant dreams like I used to have when TOTGA, Castor and Zero used to come to see me. It’s all very well giving me medication that has a side-effect of blanking them all out but as Tennessee Williams said, "If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels"

Tuesday 23rd January 2024 – SO THAT’S ANOTHER …

… French hospital that I can add to my ever-growing list. And remind me to cross it off my list of ones to revisit. Florence Nightingale was there and dropped her lamp on my toe.

But seriously, old and creaking though the hospital might have been, I couldn’t fault the service that I had yet again

“But I don’t want another one of these 06:30 starts again” said he, setting his alarm for 06;15 tomorrow. “I’m not as young as I was”.

Indeed I’m not. It took me over half an hour to wash and dress this morning which meant that I didn’t have time to make my sandwiches for the journey. Consequently I’ve been without food and drink all day until I returned home.

That’s actually not a bad idea either. It’s something along the principle of a long journey where “what doesn’t go in won’t want to come out” at an inconvenient moment.

The taxi was late arriving so I had to ring up to chase them up. And when it arrived, what kind of state was I in to stagger to the car in my condition? This is really beyond a joke now.

But eventually we set off, with the driver telling me that she had no idea where the Hospital St Antoine was so she programmed it into her GPS.

She was … errr … past her prime, shall we say, and moaned and complained all the way to Paris about just about everything.

When we reached Paris we zigzagged up and down the streets as she kept on misreading her GPS, we almost speared another vehicle on a couple of occasions as she swerved dramatically across carriageways and nearly took out a couple of bollards as she did another handbrake turn at a missed junction.

A proper olde-worlde taxi driver she was, and I’ll tell you something for nothing, that I’d travel with her again. She made the journey quite interesting.

Finding the hospital was one thing. Finding the building that I had to visit was another. And then finding a parking space was something else quite difficult. In the end we negotiated with two ambulances and persuaded one of them to leave.

It was a desperate, agonising crawl on my crutches to the lift, to the reception and then to the waiting room. And my driver was helpfulness itself. Nothing was too much trouble for her and once she was away from the steering wheel she was actually quite a pleasant person.

We were 30 minutes late, not a problem because I telephoned them en route to say that we were “held up in traffic”. I suspected that something like this that happened.

There were quite a few people waiting but I jumped the queue and they saw to me straight away. Now I have a machine and its terminals stuck to me until tomorrow morning.

Yes, they want me to bring it back by 10:00 but they are of course joking. I’m not going back tomorrow. If it’s that important they should have given me a bed for the night.

Anyway I have the Holter Machine now, and I left the Technical Department here, the Haematology Department at Hospital Pitié Salpetrière and the taxi company fight it out between them if the hospital wants it back tomorrow.

Whatever the outcome was, the net result is that I have to be up and about to hand it to someone at my door at 06:30. And I suspect that it will be what my old boss when I was chauffeuring in Brussels would call a “Spanish 06:30”, meaning “any time they like”.

Having done all that, we set off for home. On the way back I had a message from the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière – "Please stop taking medicament X and we’ll send you a prescription for medicament Y instead".

And I bet that After the blood test results on Wednesday There will be further changes.

We arrived back early, which was nice, and my helpful cleaner met us at the door to help me up the stairs. I’d be totally lost without her.

Once I’d settled down I made some hot chocolate and a nice baguette sandwich of lettuce, cheese and tomato which was excellent for a starving man.

And then back here I downloaded and printed the prescription for my long-suffering cleaner to take to the pharmacy tomorrow. She came down to collect it and we had a chat.

Then there was the dictaphone notes. Tons of them. I travelled miles during the night. I can’t remember much about this dream but it was one of those that rambled on. I was back at home with my family. One of my niece’s children was there. Everyone else was there. The girl was in a wheelchair because she’d had a problem and was going to the doctor’s very soon. They were going to give her a respray of her artificial suntan before she went. There were 2 other people disabled in that house and me too. I said to my mother “don’t you think that there’s something wrong somewhere with us that you have so many disabled people here all at once,”. She replied “yes you don’t usually have that many disabled people in a household do you?”.

Disabled people apart, there was a lot that was wrong about our family and household and disability wasn’t one of them.

There was then a dream about my youngest sister. A woman had decided to teach her to dance some kind dance. She held her backwards so that my sister couldn’t see what was behind her. They began this dance. There was a huge snake that lived in this room. When my youngest sister had her eyes closed and was dancing near that direction. Someone shouted “it’s OK baby. The snake (they used the snake’s name) has her jaws closed quite tight”. Obviously the inference being that this woman was going to lead my sister up towards the snake and the snake would devour her. My sister was immediately on the defensive and became much more nervous and tight in this woman’s arms than she had been before that person shouted out that comment.

And then my sister was there again later on. There was a digger there that slowly picked her up. She was dangling over different parts of the audience of the State Fair. Then she happened to fall or something fell from her hand. Instead of reaching for it this machine’s hand took her higher until she was in some kind of despairing reach of what she’d dropped. It slowly lowered her and she kept that position. The arm of the machine moved around. My sister actually soared up and went off in a very nice aeroplane. Someone standing by me tried his best but was carried away and the plane once it got going went more and more out to Haverfordwest. Before she left she gave me this little ball of dough and told me how to ply it and pull it apart … becomes very indistinct and tails off

Not much of that latter dream makes sense but it was really difficult to decipher, especially as I began to taper off into nothingness. I wonder how it would have ended had I not done so.

Then I was back in a dream from a while ago, I think about some people investigating a murder. They were following up several clues, one of which was something that had fallen from a TGV. Anyway, a TGV was going full speed ahead when there was an enormous bang from underneath. They slowed right down and stopped. This stopped the whole TGV network. They looked underneath the line but couldn’t see anything so they walked slowly back along the track to see if they could see anything. They came to the TGV that was following them but was stopped. he said that just 20 metres back he had run over a dead cat. He was certain that it wasn’t there before when he was on the outbound trip. They began to look for this cat but couldn’t find it.

This dream moved on to someone having been killed. They’d picked up some evidence about a vehicle being seen somewhere. They made a few enquiries at an isolated farm in the vicinity. The farmer said that he knew absolutely nothing but it was the pace that his denial went that made them extremely suspicious They looked further around and came across another farmer who had a vehicle but something about this didn’t seem to fit anything. Eventually they found a third farmer who had had a Bedford CA van but had taken it to be scrapped. He was in the area at the time but had left the van unattended for a while and then gone back to it. He was sure that it had been moved. They were then convinced that they’d found the vehicle that was used so they went and bought the van and drove it back, deciding that rather than have it forensically tested they would try shock tactics and drive to the first farm in it. As soon as the farmer saw the van coming he ordered his men to open fire. A couple of them did but when he saw that it was quite pointless he put his gun to his head and shot three bullets through it, finishing himself off.

There was plenty more where that came from, but you don’t really want to read it especially if you are having supper or something.

My supper tonight was a taco roll with rice and veg – really delicious yet again. I don’t know why I complained about the taste yesterday. And with no sauce left I made my own with olive oil, wine vinegar and lemon juice with some garlic paste. Totally delicious.

And now, having already crashed out twice and an early start in the morning, I’m off to bed. Today has really exhausted me. But there’s my blood pressure, my medication and my on-line food order before I can go to sleep, not to mention my early start tomorrow.

It’s never-ending, isn’t it?

Friday 12th January 2024 – IT WON’T BE …

… doing my head in tonight anyway, this bluetooth tethering. Believe it or not, I’m back home at last.

Carefully avoiding a Golden Earring cliché,
"Home on a kite we fly,
Home on a breeze we blow
Eyeing the folks below and
Watching everybody run,
Each one heading for a different place
Watching everybody hide,
Each behind a different face

Forever forever your lamp will burn
Forever home forever would that you’d learn
That you came with nothing
So with nothing you’ll return"

And that’s truer than you might think too – except that I came home in a taxi, flying along with the speed limiter set at 133 kph, stopping just for a coffee at the half-way point and slowing down just for the heavy traffic on the prif at Caen.

We weren’t even held up, not even for a minute, in Paris. It was straight through the traffic and onto the prif there too. First time that I’ve ever had a journey like that.

And in case you are wondering, I wasn’t discharged from the hospital, I was expelled. And I heard at least one nurse say "if he comes back, I’m leaving".

But to be serious … "for once" – ed … I’m glad that I left today because we had a change of crew this morning and those miserable bar stewards who seem to hate me so much were back on duty.

There had been a few rumours flying around starting yesterday evening that I’d be leaving today and this morning, almost everyone for sure, even the cleaning supervisor who came to check the room over, seemed absolutely convinced, except for one person who hadn’t been told. Of course.

Soon enough I found out when the doctor came to hand me my leaving papers.

"Someone had better ‘phone my taxi" I said. "It’s 4.5 hours to come here"
"Don’t worry about your taxi" she said. "He’s already been called. He’ll be here at 13:30."

Definitely expelled.

Just enough time for me to have a shower, transcribe the dictaphone notes and pack my things.

The shower was nice and lovely, but I didn’t wash my clothes. Then I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night.

I was at a schoolkids’ end-of-year concert last night. It was a concert with a difference because they had one of these horse-racing games and they were all gambling on the horses. Then there was a kind-of gold-mining competition with kids having to report on what they mined, and a whole variety of other things including my middle sister parading up and down dressed as someone so much older. As the event drew to a close I walked up the hill from where this event was taking place. It was in a kind-of mountainous forest that you’d find in the Alps, with loads of fir trees all around. Several clumps of fir trees that I’d recognised from previous years had been cut down. While I was waiting for my sister I noticed a couple of lorries on the road going past.

A little later I was attending a few classes at night school. I had to go to these classes but the subjects were extremely complicated and way over my head. In the end I ended up abandoning them. It was so real going to these night school classes that I really thought that at one stage in my life I’d actually done this and gone to these classes for a short while before abandoning the subjects.

And then I was at a party last night being given by a woman whom I knew from the Auvergne whose boyfriend had very recently left her. We were all having a really good time which surprised me because I didn’t usually socialise very much. Then it came to quite late. She began to talk about the sleeping arrangements – “so-and-so and someone else would sleep here”. There was a variety of single people so she asked “who wants to sleep with me?”. There was a long pause for several seconds that seemed like a lifetime so I said “yes, I will”. She replied “right, that’s settled. So-and-so and someone else would sleep in the other bedroom and the rest of you can sort yourselves out”. Someone asked for a receipt to show that they had slept separately. I couldn’t believe my luck that no-one else had actually said anything and we’d waited for a good couple of seconds. I thought “this isn’t like me, is it?”.

So what’s this all about? Me getting the girl! Imagine that!

After that I was in a really interesting dream about trying to take an oil filter off a car. There were 2 of us doing it and we were there for hours. The reason why we couldn’t take it off was that I was undoing the wrong bolt. But as this dream went on and on the flaming alarm on this blasted machine by the bedside began to go off and awoke everyone in the hospital

And that’s typical, isn’t it? There I was having a good night’s sleep and not even coupled up to the perfusion machine and its alarm goes off. The only surprise is that it didn’t go off just as I was about to get the girl. That’s what usually happens.

But not to worry. There’s usually half an hour between saying “yes” and going to bed. Still plenty of time there for me to pull defeat from the jaws of victory as usual.

Later on the whole family was having a competition to see how many interesting things one could find abandoned in the street and bring home. I was doing something near a school and someone mentioned a computer so I went to have a look. It was the old-type computer with keyboards for opening up this and opening up that etc. But it was 16GB and I couldn’t believe it. Someone said that there was something jammed inside so it had been thrown into a corner. A couple of people had taken bits off it so it had been abandoned. I went to have a look and sure enough I couldn’t work the keys to operate this particular drawer thing. But all the memory was complete on it and the processor was a powerful one so I thought “I’ll take this home”.

In the meantime there were some signings going on at the local football club. It signed two full-backs who turned out actually to play centre-half. The original two centre-halves a couple of days later left. The story was that they were both keen on some other player’s wife and he’d had words about it and they’d had to depart as the club signed two centre halves

Finally, the issue came about this gold Ford Granada MkI covered in dust that no-one could start. I was sure that I could so I went to have a look at it. It was on sale at £370 which I thought was a bargain for this vehicle. It was covered in dust as if it had been in a barn for a while. The story was that they couldn’t lift up the bonnet. That wasn’t anything that was going to defeat me. I went to have a good look at it with the correct kind of tools to lift up the bonnet when someone with an amazing booming voice shouted out something in the hospital right outside my door and I awoke

And when I awoke, it was 07:47 and I must have had the deepest sleep that I’d ever had. And the hospital was like the Mary Celeste – there wasn’t a soul about. No-one rushing about pushing trolleys and the like. That was what made me realise that it was the miserable team of je m’en foutistes.

Je m’en fous is a very impolite way of saying “I don’t care” and if a kid were to say that to its parents or teacher it would expect a clip around the ear. A je m’en foutiste is someone who couldn’t care less about his job and does the barest minimum to avoid being sacked. And there are lots of those about.

They grudgingly brought me two bread rolls for breakfast, the smallest that they could find, with just one portion of jam. And a box of apple juice with no straw.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … It’s the little things that make a great difference.

The taxi turned up at 13:15, just after I’d had my lunch, such as it was, and once we’d organised the paperwork we hit the road for the easiest journey that I’ve ever had.

My cleaner was waiting for me at the door and she helped me upstairs where I crashed out into a chair. I couldn’t do very much except chat to a neighbour and to Liz on line.

Grahame has sent me another nice mail about Hawkwind and Help Yourself so I sent him a little present, including two of the best improvised live tracks ever.

There are several groups that make it up as they go along during live concerts, but that night at the Patti Pavilion Help Yourself, aided by Deke Leonard and Cochise’s BJ Cole who played pedal steel guitar, they churned out two of the finest ever improvised tracks EDDIE WARING and the old Elias “Bo Diddley” McDaniel standard MONA

Tea tonight was chips, ordinary and sweet potato, with a salad (thanks to my cleaner who bought me a lettuce and some mushrooms) and a veggie burger. And after the deprivations of last week it was absolutely delicious.

And tomorrow it’s soup. There are a couple of leeks that are looking rather sad so leek and potato soup looks as if it might be on the lunchtime menu. I’ll have to bake some bread for that and it’ll be delicious.

But I’m not sure when, because there’s no alarm tonight. I’m sure that it’s more tiring being a passenger than a driver on a long-distance car journey. Even a double espresso didn’t do anything about keeping me awake.

So an early night between my own sheets under my own quilt cover? How nice is that? And no alarm too

It sounds too good to be true, and it probably is. Watch someone ‘phone me up at 08:00 tomorrow morning.

Thursday 11th January 2024 – THERE SEEMS TO BE …

… some confusion about when I might be going home.

The doctor who came to see me this morning told me that if all goes well and my improvement continues, I might go home at the end of the weekend or on Monday.

The orderly who has just brought me my evening meal tells me that I might be going home as soon as tomorrow.

And if the evening meal that he brought me is anything to go by, tomorrow isn’t soon enough. On the other hand, if my medical condition isn’t up to it, then the longer that I stay here, the better, even if it means drinking more of the dreaded sodium sulphide.

They gave me another dose of it at midday, and I was out like a light again for several hours. I think in all honesty that they do that simply to sneak in here and turn down the heating while I’m away with the fairies. I wondered why it was going cold here.

So apart from being cold and being away with the fairies, I’ve been a busy bee today. Rhys and Helena have been sending me messages to which I’ve been replying.

Helena is one of my oldest friends and we go back well over 50 years to our school days in Nantwich. She, along with Robert, is part of my personal on-line medical staff, having been a nurse in Yorkshire for quite a while.

A couple of neighbours from Granville have spoken to me on the internet too and my neighbour who is currently in Paris spoke to me on the phone.

There have been the dictaphone notes to transcribe as well. With our amazingly busy schedule Nerina and I had hired help to do some of the more mundane tasks around the house. One of them was cutting all the lawns and there were specific days to do it. We were walking through Willaston one afternoon when it was a lawn-cutting day. Th guy who was cutting our lawn was there with our lawn mower and had just gone into a shop to buy a cup of coffee. So evidently I walked nonchalantly into the shop and said “hello” to him. His jaw dropped completely to the bottom. He’s obviously been doing someone else’s lawn and claiming payment for it as well as claiming payment for ours that he never did. He simply left, and left me with the lawnmower equipment which I had to pick up and bring back to the house

Later on, I was asleep in my hospital room when a machine started up, started to make its alarm noise. I waited a minute to see if it was the case then I rang the bell for the night porter like you do. It was actually for real. It really was bleeping and I really did ring the bell. The night nurse appeared. Of course my dream disappeared completely because what I was dreaming was actually the thruth about what was going on yet I’d done it all in my sleep.

I had a kind of field somewhere that needed cutting. I’d talked to a young Filipino boy whom I knew who worked as a coach driver for a local company taking schoolkids around. His boss had one, a tractor with a grasscutter so we agreed that he’d borrow his boss’s tractor and go to cut our grass one morning. I don’t know whether he’d discussed it with his boss or not but that wasn’t my particular concern. We drove him up there that morning but he was in quite an emotional state, going on about how he hated the job, how he hated the coaches, how he hated the boss, how he hated everything, how the boss had paid him £70:00 short on his wages once. It was a real emotional tirade from this young boy. I was sitting listening because if he really was going to throw in his job, that might make a vacancy for me. Talking about tatty coaches – I’ve driven tatty coaches in the past and it’s never bothered me. Tatty bosses, that’s never bothered me either too much so I was listening to all of this. We turned up at the buses place. The tractor with lawn mower attachments was still there. We all stepped out of the car and walked over to it

Having said that during the night, I was always very careful about whose coaches I drove. It was mainly for Shearings and its subsidiaries and one local coach company. And if I was operating “on my own account” the coaches only ever came from one company.

From several other companies I respectfully declined work, including the company who shared the yard from where our taxis operated.

Loads of medical staff have been by today. The doctor has stopped the perfusions because my legs are swelling and regrettably, after all my efforts, I’m gaining weight. So there will be probably something else that will keep me awake during the night now.

But it’s like I say – they give me some medication to cure something and it just creates a problem somewhere else in my body. I don’t think that I could have been assembled correctly in the factory.

The physiotherapist came round, took me for a walk, and then gave me plenty of exercises to do while I’m sitting down, many of which I was already doing.

So while I can certainly criticise the food, I can’t criticise the care that I’m receiving.

While all of this was going on, I’ve been listening to “Help Yourself”.

Effectively an artificial band created by Famepushers, the Entertainment Agency, as a support for singer-songwriter Malcolm Morley, they might be a London band but they have always been considered as honorary Welshmen following their participation in the “All Good Clean Fun” tour, their appearance at the Patti Pavilion with a whole host of Welsh bands at Christmas 1973 and the fact that on the drums was Dave Charles, who for many years was sound engineer at Rockfield Recording Studios in Monmouth.

Due to a failing memory I can’t remember where I met them but it was in the days when they had Ken Whaley and not Paul Burton on bass guitar, although it was Burton at the Patti Pavilion, I seem to remember.

Their claim to fame is the legendary track REAFFIRMATION on their album BEWARE THE SHADOW that just goes to prove that you don’t need to play a lead guitar solo of 10,000 notes in 10 seconds to produce something that is one of the best, if not the most bizarre, lead guitar solo in the history of rock music.

So right now that I’ve finished my notes I intend to go to bed, where I’m hoping to have the best, if not the most bizarre, dreams possible. Not that there’s too much chance of that with all of the noise that goes on around here, but we can always live in hope.

And tomorrow I’ll find out more about going home. But I can’t wait to be back there, if not for the food and decent internet.

Using a bluetooth tethering system is like going back 30 years to the days of dial-up and 14.4 kbs external modems. Click on a link and then go for a coffee and a walk around the village while it opens.

It really is doing my head in.

Wednesday 10th January 2024 – IT’S AMAZING …

… how much of a big difference a couple of little actions can make. And that’s something that I’m going to remember for the future, that’s for sure.

This morning, they brought me two bread rolls for breakfast. And a couple of hours later they brought me a mid-morning coffee. You really have no idea and can’t possibly imagine how much those little gestures have meant to me and how much they have improved my morale from yesterday’s miserable efforts.

Mind you, I did have a shower and clothes-washing session in between. Years of living on the road has taught me to take advantage of every shower that comes my way because sometimes they are hard to find. And when you do find a shower, take your clothes in with you and give them as good a wash as you possibly can.

That’s an old tip that I learnt from the Bible –
"while shepherds washed their socks one night
all seated round the tub
the Angel of the Lord came down
and gave them all a scrub."

Something else that cheered me up were the messages that I received yesterday

Sean wrote to me to say what a horrible night Monday must have been and to keep my chin up for things can only improve. And he was right this morning, as I have already said. That bread roll and coffee, and your message, cheered me up immeasurably.

Grahame’s message cheered me up too. In fact it made me laugh. I’d been talking about hallucinating and Hawkwind, and he wanted to tell me about the time that he did both together many years ago. I thought that that was an avenue down which it was unwise to go any further.

But it did remind me of the time that Nerina took me to see Hawkwind at Keele University one night. Nerina is quite a bit younger than me so when the band came onstage she rushed to the front like all the young’uns do.

After a while she came to look for me and found me standing at the back
"Why don’t you come to the front?" she asked. "The view is so much better there"
"That’s as may be" I replied " but hey! The smell is so much better at the back, man."

Rhys wrote to me a short while ago but his message is buried under … gulp … 450-odd others that have come in while I’ve been busy sorting out transport and all that kind of thing.

He thinks that I’ll outlive everyone else who has had this illness and set new records. Well, I didn’t feel like that yesterday but a good night’s sleep and my bread roll and coffee fired me with a new enthusiasm, and who knows? It won’t be for the want of trying, and it won’t be for the lack of support either, medical or moral. Not that “moral” is a word that is usually used when I’m about.

But to be serious … "for once" – ed … Rhys was one of my close friends from University and I was lucky enough to be honoured to be best man at his wedding in South Carolina in 2005

The marriage didn’t last as long as it ought and poor Gretchen is no longer with us which is a shame for Rhys and her family.

But I remember the wedding – and more importantly, the weekend afterwards while they were away – vividly. I met a young Mexican girl at the wedding and we spent a lovely weekend together down at Charleston and then back at Columbia for a Widespread Panic concert on the Sunday night.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have a certain weakness for Southern Rock – groups where the lead guitar solos can sometimes go on for several weeks, groups like the Marshall Tucker Band, The Outlaws, Doc Holliday and Blackberry Smoke (who I photographed when I was official photographer for the Fredericton Jazz and Blues Festival in Canada).

But the leading group of all, surprisingly unknown in Europe, is Widespread Panic. I’d first encountered them when I was with Onion River Radio in Montpelier in Vermont years ago and I’d always wanted to catch them at a concert because like most Southern Rock groups, it’s simply not possible to reproduce on an album what they actually do onstage.

Anyway, there they were, topping the bill at the Three Rivers Festival that Sunday night in Columbia so Itzé and I blagged a couple of tickets (Press Passes always come in useful at times like this) and that was that.

Even now I still keep in touch with them and they’ve been kind enough to send me a few concerts to broadcast on my radio programmes

When I was on my marathon trek in 2017 saying goodbye to everyone whom I knew in North America, I managed to meet up with Rhys again and we had a weekend together. But the journey took so much out of me that afterwards I ended up at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina where I holed up for several days to recover my strength ready to go back to base.

Not the first time that I’d been to Myrtle Beach either. I’d been there in 2005 for a weekend too.

And that was strange. I thought (and still do) that Myrtle Beach is a bit of a dump – Rhyl with the sun, in fact.

But when I worked at that strange American company in Brussels where I met Alison, there was this woman going on about this brilliant place my the seaside where her husband had taken her for her honeymoon a couple of years back.

She espoused at great length about it and finally mentioned its name. Myrtle Beach. "Ohhh, Myrtle Beach" I said. "I was there last year. I thought that it was a bit of a dump. I’ll bring my photos in and show you"

Funnily enough, we never heard another word about Myrtle Beach. But the people there were strange. It was like being on another planet.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … hospital, I mentioned a “good night” a little earlier.

That was obtained by the simple expedient of putting the perfusion pump in the bathroom and closing the door. And for once, I had enough silence that I could have a good night’s sleep.

Well, not quite. There I was, asleep, listening to Hawkwind’s MOTORWAY CITY in my dreams when one of my sisters brought me a really strange kind of bun like a cupcake with chocolate over the top and one or two other decorations but it smelt of onions. I wondered what it was going to be. Just then I actually awoke because of something on the music to which I was listening. I awoke, to find that it was “Motorway City” actually playing so in the end I switched off everything and went back to sleep. But it was quite strange having this onion-flavoured bun given to me by one of my sisters.

By about 06:00 my reverie came to an end as someone came by to take a blood sample, and that was that.

It was an endless stream of medical staff doing all kinds of things in here today, but an ominous sign is the doctor saying that she’ll send a physiotherapist to see me. If I’m going home soon that would be totally unnecessary so it looks as if I’m in here for longue durée as they say around here.

Some of the morning’s activities have already been mentioned, particularly the messages that I’ve received. It’s nice to hear from my audience so if you’re a new subscriber, of which there are more than a few just recently, or a long-time lurker, send me a message to say “hello”. There’s a link to a form at the bottom right corner.

Just be mindful that if you have a gmail address, I can’t reply to you. I’ll either say something on here, or if it’s private, you’ll receive a reply from STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

The rest of the morning was spent trying to decipher where I’d been during the night. And I’d put some miles in too. A friend of mine lives in Canada just inside the border. Right by where she lives was a railway bridge, called “Cedar Bridge”. It was a prominent feature of the landscape so all the slaves and everyone escaping the USA would flood across the border and head for Cedar Bridge. That would be the symbol that they’d reached safety. It was an iron bridge over the railway built for pedestrians only. One night at some point but I can’t remember the date it was just swept away. Cedar Bridge was destroyed. It was a terrible loss as a symbol of freedom from persecution for a great many people.

And then I’d received an absolute mountain of paperwork from a hospital in Canada about my illness, a mountain of it. I had to go through it and scan it all which took for ever. Then I had to post some of it to somewhere and some of it to somewhere else so it became incredibly complicated. I was halfway through doing it when I received another e-mail with some more stuff and some stuff that cancelled some of the first stuff. I had to restart what I was doing but I’d forgotten where I was. I’d lost my place. Then I had to send some information to my brother. The only way that I could do that was to send it to my niece and ask her to contact him. That started to become even more complicated still. I was there with all these papers and all these e-mails with all of these forwarding and “copy to you” kind of stuff. It was incredible. I was just so confused with it all and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if anyone else was too. When it came to writing up my notes at night it just turned into a load of gibberish. I just couldn’t seem to make it make sense

That sounds about right. I’m submerged in paperwork from my hospital visits and can’t sort them out properly before I’m overwhelmed with yet more from another hospital stay which contradicts everything that I previously received.

Later on, I won a prize in a competition. It was a baby pig. How on earth was I going to cope with a baby pig? A group of us who had had to go our separate ways arranged to meet at the Cheshire Cat in Nantwich. I eventually found my way there with this pig screaming and squealing and wriggling in my hands so in the end I just let it go. I didn’t know what else to do. Then I saw a bus go past, a bus from my school. It had “Competitors” written on it. There were loads of schoolkids on it, many of the ones whom I was hoping to see in the Cheshire Cat. I thought “this is going to be a wash-out, isn’t it?”. I reached the door of the Cheshire Cat. There was a Bouncer o duty. I asked him how many people were in. He replied “about 2”. I said “I’d better go to buy a 3rd drink, hadn’t I?”. When I walked in I found one of my friends sitting at a table with 2 other guys. I asked my friend what he wanted to drink. He wanted a beer but these other 2 guys wanted rum and coke. I thought “2 beers and 2 rum and cokes is going to cost me a fortune too”. Instead of going to the bar the main way I decided that I’d take a short cut through the crack in the wall which I did and ended up in the middle of 2 girls having a dancing class. They were girls whom I knew so I thought “at least I’m going to have some pleasant company” because I’m going to end up chatting to these 2 girls, I hoped. But this was all turning into a complete, confused mess too. I thought to myself that with all this going on today and I’m not having any luck whatsoever. I was having all this work to do and I just don’t understand any of it.

“… turning into a complete, confused mess”. And that’s something with which I can relate at the present moment, right enough.

Back in that dream again later, I had to leave so off I went. It was a Friday and I couldn’t go back on the Saturday so I was back Sunday lunchtime thinking that I still had 2 drinks left in the tap that I’d bought on Friday. There were just 2 people in there so I left myself in the glorious arms of the folk singer Miss Colwill who has figured in these dreams in the past but I don’t know where she fitted into this dream tonight.

And who is Miss Colwill? The names “Ruth Colwill” and “Rebecca Colwill” came immediately to my mind but there’s no trace of either

But stepping back into a dream again. Why can’t I do that whenever I’m about to lay my grubby paws on Castor, TOTGA or Zero?

Everything came to a dead stop round about lunchtime when they brought me a glass of sodium sulphide. And for several hours afterwards I was away with the fairies.

In mid-afternoon a discreet mug of coffee smuggled into my room revived me somewhat And I carried on with my studies of Victorian methods of tree pruning. I’m not sure why because I won’t be pruning any trees ever again. But in these ancient, 150 year-old books that you can download for free fromARCHIVE;ORG there are tons of useful, long-forgotten facts.

Tea was rubbish as usual but somewhere along the line the needle in my hand had been dislodged so all the perfusion was running up my arm. In the end the nurse had to take it out and stick it in somewhere else.

In fact he asked me to tell him where I would like him to stick it and, do you know, I was sorely tempted …

More sodium sulphide has found its way into here so in a minute I’ll stick the perfusion machine in the bathroom, switch off the Hawkwind playlist that’s been playing for the last couple of days, and hope for another pleasant 5 or 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep like last night.

But whether or not I’ll get it is another thing. There’s too much going on here for that. So I’ll just hope for pleasant dreams

Look out Castor, TOTGA and Zero! Hee I come!

Tuesday 9th January 2024 – I’VE HAD AN …

… absolutely horrible day today. Almost every minute of it has been as rotten as it can be.

So where do we start? I suppose we ought to start with the cup of sodium sulphide. Even drinking it is enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm, and it certainly dampened mine.

But despite crashing out three or four times while trying to write up my notes, I ended up in bed next to a pumping machine pumping this hydrating fluid into me.

All night it was going, like drops of water onto a plastic container. And all night I was lying there wishing that the blasted thing would shut up.

Round about 05:00 I gave up and decided that if I had to listen to a noise, I’d listen to one that I like so I put on the headphones and a Hawkwind playlist. That was about the only time that I had any real sleep.

But it wasn’t all that long. The hospital routine soon started up again and that was that.

For breakfast there was only one bread roll and I had to plead with a nurse to bring me a second

Then we had the endless stream of visitors – doctors, nurses, all of that. And ominous signs from the doctor “if you’re still here on the 24th we can see to that”. That’s like 2 weeks away and they aren’t batting an eyelid about the possibility of me still being here.

There were the telephone calls that I had to make too about cancelling my taxis and my visits to the Centre de Re-education.

My Welsh lesson began at 11:00 so at 10:50 they brought me another cup of this sodium sulphide. What a time to have one of those!

To the orderly who brought it to me I asked for a coffee and despite asking several other people several times I finally received one at 15:15. I don’t know what I’ve done to upset these orderlies on this shift but they’ve really go it in for me.

It’s like the sailor who went away to sea for 18 months and came back to find his wife with a three-month old baby.

He asked his doctor about it and his doctor told him "we have a special name for that in the medical fraternity. It’s called a ‘grudge baby’"
"A grudge baby?"
"Yes. Someone had it in for you."

And in between asking for and receiving my coffee, I’d attended my Welsh lesson (which was a disaster), fallen asleep 4 times (twice in the lesson), had several visits, had my midday meal (which was the most rotten yet) and had several other interruptions.

Some of those interruptions were welcome though. My cleaner sent me the photos of Granville covered in 2cms of snow, my friend in South Germany whose son was sound engineer for the Pink Fairies contacted me because she hadn’t seen me on line for ages and wondered how I was.

Rosemary and Liz had chats on line with me too and my neighbour, the President of the Residents Committee of our building, was in Paris so came here for a chat. She brought bananas and clementines too

And the night shift is much more friendly. They’ve given me another sodium sulphide drink but to date I’ve had two coffees to go with it.

All in all, I don’t suppose that it’s been as rotten as I said at the beginning, but you’ll have to excuse these incandescent outbursts.

“What about the dictaphone notes?” I hear you ask. Well, you don’t want to know about all of them, especially if you are having your tea right now.

But what I can repeat is that A girl of 12 with longish bobbed hair, very thinnish with all brown clothes had won some kind of competition. It meant that she, some guy and me were all living together a this particular house for a weekend. It was some kind of music competition, something like that she’d won but I don’t know why the other guy and I were there at the same time We were all expected to be crushed into the same car etc while we were there so we were going to be thrown together.

There was a couple more dreams that were disturbing to. One was a dream about Hitler’s sister who also had a half-brother from the time when his father was away on a mission at another border post between Germany and Austria. As it happens, the half-brother met the sister during the days of their adolescence and you don’t need me to explain what happened. It resulted in the suicide of Hitler’s sister

The other dream was pretty much of a similar situation but it involved someone else. When I awoke, the name of whoever it was evaporated completely out of my brain unfortunately. Shades of Eric Gill I reckon, rather unfortunately.

And finally, I was with a girl last night. I could feel that our relationship was cooling off. Later on we were invited to go to a restaurant . We had a look at the menu. We were 5 couples, 10 of us and there were 10 different things on the menu. We actually ordered one each so that everything was ordered from the restaurant, the whole menu. For some reason I couldn’t hear what she ordered. She was ordering something off the menu but she wanted something else. She had this long discussion with the waiter but I couldn’t hear a thing of it. Later she came down. Her dress wasn’t fastened so one of the other guys went over to fasten it for her. I thought “hang on, that’s my job”. But the other guy began to fasten her dress up. I thought “hang on – this should be my job. I should be doing that” so I went over and he moved away and I began to fasten it.

“Slipping through my fingers”. “Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”. That seems to be the story of my nocturnal rambles. Seeing things like this slipping through my fingers. Regular readers of this rubbish will also recall the series of dreams that we had a couple of years ago of members of my family coming along to spike my guns just at a crucial moment in a dream.

Life is so much harder when, as well as your enemies, you are also having to fight those who are supposed to be your friends. People who want to suck you down into the maelstrom with them instead of wanting to rise up. Aren’t I glad that I left Crewe?

Mind you, I’ve encountered a couple of people elsewhere who were like that too. I seem to have a knack of attracting them.

But while I’ve been typing this, Kate has been on line sending me love and asking me questions. I mustn’t be too depressed because there really are some nice people in this world and I seem to attract them too.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … that I don’t have many friends, but those I do have are the best friends that anyone could have in the world.

It’s with your help and strength that I keep on going, and I love you all.

And just as I type this, onto my playlist comes "Moonglum, friend without a reason
Moonglum, friend without a cause
Embarrassed by a show of love
But would stand by the man of the feeble blood
This bond meant much more to him
Than a kingdom offered by a queen
No words for this silent trust
As the Sword goes on to sate its lust"

And how apposite is that?

Monday 8th January 2024 – NOW THAT I …

… have figured out how to tether my phone to my computer using “bluetooth”, I can access a phone hotspot with the computer and post the days’ entries directly.

In fact, you might have noticed that the completed entries for the last 3 days are now already on line.

Once again, I make no apology for anything that is contained therein that might distress or upset people.

Firstly, I have no control whatever over what goes on in my head during the night. And how I wish that I did! I’d have Zero, Castor and TOTGA in there all the time, with a succession of other people who have been so nice to me in the past. Even Nerina. After all, she had a lot to put up with in the old days.

Secondly, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … as this illness unfolds and heads towards its inevitable climax, the state of my mental health is just as important as the state of my physical health and needs to be controlled in a similar manner. And so any intemperate or unpleasant outburst needs to be recorded in the same way that a blood pressure recording is.

Thirdly, these are stressful times and you have no idea. Having a blood test on Wednesday, a desperate ‘phone call on Thursday and a 350-km dash in a taxi early on Friday morning is enough to tell you that something has gone horribly wrong.

And so here I am. Like the famous Maréchal MacMahon, "j’y suis, j’y reste" – “here I am and here I stay”.

So here I stayed, all through yet another miserable night of doors banging, people talking, trolleys rattling and the like. And by 06:00 I’d given up all thoughts of sleep.

Mind you, with the amount of stuff on the dictaphone, and no hallucinations either, I must have done a lot of sleeping at some point somewhere.

First port of call is the bathroom for a wash and brush up and to put on my day clothes. Then an endless stream of visitors to see me – nurses, nursing orderlies and the like, taking my temperature, taking my blood pressure, giving me my medication etc. You can imagine.

There’s been a change of crew too and it took “some negotiation” to have a second roll of bread when breakfast eventually came.

They aren’t very willing to hand out the coffee either and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that is a catastrophe of tsunami-like proportions.

Once the breakfast was out of the way I sat down to try to decipher the huge mass of notes from the night. The girl who was here a couple of nights ago was there again last night, at school. We were all at school and it was the fancy dress ball so everyone was dressed in fancy dress. I had on a pair of tights and a girl’s skirt which actually belonged to a girl with whom she was friends but I’d carefully concealed it about me somehow even though I was wearing it. She was wearing white tights and a pink top. I didn’t really notice if she was wearing anything else. We both came out of the school door together, she on one side and me on the other and headed for the lift. There was a German World War II jeep heavily camouflaged with bales of hay etc. I always had a great deal of affection for this vehicle and the people who drove it and I even happened to like one of the girls on it, whom I was hoping to bump into at some point. We were all waiting there for the lift. The lift came and the jeep drove on, then it looked as if the lift was about to leave. I said “oh no, it’s not going to leave, is it?” but it stayed so the girl and I boarded. At that point, all through this dream Alquin had been playing YOU CAN ALWAYS CHANGE. that was one of the tracks that we were going to play on stage during the concert. I had a feeling that the girl was going to talk about the track, or someone was, and I wanted to keep our selection secret but it was going on and on and on as this dream continued. When I awoke it was actually playing on the computer.

Then we were making arrangements about times to go to do the family banking for the family business that we had. I noticed that I was down to go between 14:30 and 14:45 which was going to be rather difficult because I started work after lunch at 14:00. Trying to evade myself out of the office every day for any length of time without anyone noticing is going to be extremely difficult as I’d already been back that late on a couple of occasions. In the meantime there was something going on in Brighton where there was a killer on the loose. His modus operandi was exactly the same as a series of murders several years ago so naturally the police were following up the trail of the murders committed then. One of them was by a bookcase in a side street so they arranged to set up some kind of dummy person there that this guy could shoot. But a journalist went along with the police and he decided that he’d arrive first and case the area which of course was a really bad thing to do because the guy would notice him but he turned up on his train but there were problems with his train. This meant that the journalist couldn’t get out there at the time that he had planned to be there, maybe 10 minutes before. It was cutting it extremely fine with the journalist doing his dummy run there and the correct kind of time that the murderer committed the crime on the previous occasion at the spot. There were all stories about how the journalist was going to totally wreck the police trap and spoil the show.

When the alarm went off I was in the middle of a dream musing on the state of the world and thinking of a particular woman who had left the oven on too low and too long and had dried out the food that she was trying to cook. There were 11 articles in there altogether to replace articles that had been cooked in the microwave and the previous table-top oven. I had a quick look and the time was only 04:00 so i was obviously a false alarm for some reason – maybe I dreamt it I dunno. Anyway I checked that I wasn’t supposed to be leaving the bed at this time and went back to sleep.

I was home from work and was with Laurence. A woman from work came round. The living room was in a really appalling state with stuff everywhere. I was quite embarrassed and apologised to the woman. I began to pick up clothes but most of them were Roxanne’s. I explained “it’s really difficult trying to live with a preteen daughter. Roxanne is 11 and is at .that age”. I walked out into the hall and threw these clothes upstairs but they missed, fell down and draped all over the stairs again. The woman said that she had a daughter who was 10 but was extremely well-behaved in that matter. I said that Roxanne was very well behaved and was a lovely girl but was in the “attitude” kind of stage. It was very difficult to try to make her see things from maybe our point of view. But it wasn’t just Roxanne’s stuff that was everywhere. It was ours as well. But as I said, it was all extremely embarrassing having people round from work with our place as untidy as it was.

Roxanne was in fact 9 years old when her mother and I separated so I’ve no idea what she was like as a preteen. But she was a normal, happy, healthy, well-adjusted kid when I knew her and there’s no reason to suppose that she was any different than any other kid of that age.

Did I tell you that she was an actress?

It all started one Sunday morning. Where we lived was right on the border between Jette and Laeken (I liked Jette very much) to the north of Brussels and on the house next door to our apartment building was a big sign dating from the 19th Century with the name of the town on it.

One Sunday morning up rolled a TV crew. They set up a sofa in the street underneath the sign and had actors and actresses sit on the sofa and shout “TV Brussel” – the name of the Flemish television company.

Of course, quite a crowd gathered and we looked down from our balcony.

One of the actors was a little girl, black as the ace of spades, and when they looked up they saw Roxanne, blonde as blonde could be with her long hair down past her waist, they called her down and they had the two kids sitting on the sofa, one in contrast to the other, shouting “TV Brussel” together, and she was shown on the cinema and television for months.

They obviously liked what they saw because they took our name and address and a short while afterwards she was asked to appear in a TV film as a schoolkid playing in a school playground. She passed the audition and the screen test and off she went.

Sometimes I wonder if she continued afterwards.

There had then been some sort of firework display in the vicinity. A friend of mine had been to see it and had come back horrified with stories of what had been going on. A little later on we’d been somewhere and come out, and bumped into a woman. She was talking about her 2 daughters who had been to the firework display. One of the daughters had come out with ” mummy why didn’t you disappear as quickly as (her sister)?”. The woman with me again told her story about what she’d seen. As we all turned to go afterwards there was a big sign pinned to the wall over an advertising hoarding “hey Eric, your websites in April had more visits than this discussion” which I thought was quite funny. A little further on we came across an internet box, one of the street internet boxes where all of the connections to the individual homes were wired. This one had been smashed open. All of the glass was smashed and it was difficult to see whether the cables were still intact. There was a policeman there examining it so we had a chat about that, the internet and things in general

Finally there was a dream where the Welsh rugby team were playing the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team. I was explaining the rules and regulations to someone but I was actually dreaming and speaking in Welsh at the time during the dream. We were interrupted by breakfast coming early but I noticed that on the tray there was no coffee. I asked the boy who was delivering them if he could go along and fetch me a very large coffee from somewhere. Of course, that part about the coffee and the breakfast coming early was certainly a dream. It never ever happened.

Last it may well be, but not “finally”. There was more stuff than this but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your tea right now.

It took an age to transcribe these notes as the doctor, the one who had given me the lumbar and thoracic punctures, came to see me.

Apparently the creatine and potassium in my kidneys are preventing them from functioning correctly and what could happen risks being fatal. So they intend to give me all kinds of teratments to try to reduce the levels.

They also have to stop giving me certain medication too, and for that I have to be under constant medical supervision as most of the suppressed medication is my cardiac medication.

All of this is much more serious than it sounds, apparently. They think that I might be at Death’s Door but I mustn’t worry. They’ll do their best to pull me through.

There was the continual procession of nurses and orderlies, and I managed to blag a coffee here and there, but after they coupled me up to a perfusion – apparently I need rehydrating – I didn’t see anyone for hours and it wasn’t until 18:30 that I had a cup this afternoon, much to my dismay.

Ingrid rang me for a chat this afternoon, one of our usual multilingual chats, and I’ve also chatted to Liz, a couple of neighbours and Isabelle the infimière ambulante

Tomorrow I need to chat to the Centre de Re-education and the taxi company to cancel everything that they have arranged for this week as I won’t be here.

Rosemary sent me a brief message to say “it’s snowing here”. I replied “so what? It’s snowing here too”. And it is. Quite heavily too but it’s not sticking – yet. Not that I care because here in The Land Of Yellow And Orange I have the heater going full-tilt and for once in my life I’m warm.

But that’s not all that counts. The food here is pretty dreadful, I’ve had to have another needle in my right hand now for a perfusion as the one in the left arm had to be changed.

This perfusion will last for 24 hours, so I’m told. It’s already had me flat out on my back for several hours. But just now I’ve had to have one of these sodium sulphide drinks so I’ll be out of my head for the next few hours.

Either I’ll be dead to the world in a few minutes and we’ll have a blank page, or else you’ll be in for the most exciting dreams of your life.

Watch this space.

Sunday 7th January 2024 – WHAT A WAY …

… to spend a Sunday – all doped up and nowhere to go.

Yes this morning they gave me some more sodium – sodium sulphide this time – but in liquid form. “Here – drink this!” and so I did, and it’s disgusting.

No hallucinations, so no Zero, Castor or TOTGA to keep me company, but it didn’t ‘arf knock me for six and I was flat out for a good part of the day.

It was rather unfair, because I was awake quite early – ridiculously early for a Sunday in fact. And there’s tons of stuff on the dictaphone too as you’ll find out in a minute.

One of the nurses came by. "If you need any help in the shower, don’t hesitate to ask". To which I took no notice.

But when the second nurse came past and repeated the same phrase, it was "Okay, okay, I get the message. I need a shower."

Mind you, it was nice under the shower. I really did enjoy it.

After breakfast I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I’d been living a kind of extremely nomadic life … "no surprise there" – ed …. It wasn’t that I was broke either. I had plenty of money. I was living in the attic of a folk club where I had to climb up a whole series of strange steps to haul myself up through into the top so all my post was being directed to my eldest sister. She forgot to deal with some of it for a while. It turned out that I’d had the option on a house for which I’d signed and for which the bank was arranging a mortgage but she didn’t give me some of the letters which meant that the option had expired so I wasn’t going to have that house after all. That was extremely distressing to me. At the same time I was driving around in BILL BADGER my old A60 van. It had no tax on it and I’d already been stopped twice by the police. It had no insurance on it either and they had noted that. I’d also driven through a speed camera at one time faster than I ought. I was living a temporary, nomadic life and none of this had been taken into account anywhere so one day I would be called to account, I’d have all these things on my driving licence. I’d have 9 points and with another 3 points I’d lose my licence. I could see that it wouldn’t be long before that happened, having these 9 points all together and then having to go carefully for all this time and in the meantime having the van MoT’d. I could see that all of my life at the moment was falling to bits. Nothing was going right and I had all kinds of problems. I was just extremely distressed by all of it.

And that’s not an unusual state of affairs in my dreams – and in real life too, is it? Nothing going right and the wheels dropping off everything all the time

I forgot to mention that at one point I had to climb into my attic at this folk club. There were plenty of people there. Sitting at the foot of the stairs was an old guy with 2 children. I thought that one of them was a girl so I said “excuse me, miss” but it turned out to be a young boy. That was extremely embarrassing too.

There was a young boy rather similar to Jimmy Clitheroe, very tight with his money and always trying to find some more. There was some kind of party that he had to attend, which involved spending £5:00 to go. He was keen to go but there was an argument downstairs at the door when someone who appeared to be drunk said that he was a representative of the Co-op or something. Jimmy Clitheroe pushed him out and closed the door, but the pane of glass broke. Everyone else was broke too. One old man who was there was complaining about how hard up he was. He’d gone through his accounts to show that he was broke, rang up the glazing company and gave them the measurements for the window. When asked about the payment foolishly gave his own bank card number. This boy Jimmy Clitheroe was quite pleased about this because he’s got away without paying anything but his mother had learnt what was going on. When it came to giving him his pocket money for the next week she handed it out and said “here’s you pocket money minus £1:00 for the old guy who had to ring up etc an here’s another £1:00 for the house for the inconvenience”. That meant all his pocket money and he didn’t have any money to go to visit his friends at this dance so he couldn’t go … fell asleep here … what I meant to say that everyone thought that he would be unhappy about it but instead he remembered the song about “one wheel on my wagon”. He went off singing that. That seemed to make him a lot happier about the situation.

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few right now, I don’t actually fall asleep. I am asleep when I dictate these notes – something that years of practice has enabled me to do. What happens is that slowly I drift off into total silence while I’m dictating and after a few seconds you’ll hear a slow, deep rhythmic breathing,

There was also a dream involving a herd of polar bears being given sledges on a kind of miniature railway to go downhill to the sea. Instead, on their way down they encountered a herd of wildebeest and the wildebeest encountered a couple of humans and you don’t really want to know what happened especially if you are eating your tea right now.

I was round at an estate agents later on trying to find a house. There was one described as “2 bedrooms with study” so I wanted to find out more about it. I noticed that it had a large garden, part of which was lawn etc and the other part was gravelled over as if someone had been parking several cars there. That immediately piqued my interest. There was also a discussion about commercial properties. There was a shopping mall that had been built a long time ago but no-one was quite sure when. Several of the units were empty so people were looking at them with a view to trying to find some kind of clue as to their origin. They seemed to think that it might go back as far as 1890 but that was doubtful. There was one big unit that was empty. It seemed to be the kind of unit that a certain ladies’ clothes shop was seeking so they contacted the shop. They came to see it but it wasn’t really suitable for them. In any case the description of “large sales floor with plenty of storage” didn’t seem to fit. I couldn’t find the storage anywhere. It certainly wasn’t in the basement underneath so I was wondering where it was and how it was controlled or made.

And then I was being interviewed by the police about something or other. They asked about my movements over the last few days. I explained that they were extremely difficult but nevertheless I pointed out two calls to the hospital between the first and the third of the month to which I’d been invited. That was what I’d been doing for a couple of days just recently. It was the First of March until the Third of March and this was about the Fifth of March. He saw that there were several difficulties recording them and asked me if I could transfer them over to my big computer. I told him that it would be put on the big computer in due course which seemed to satisfy him for the moment but to me he was more interested in my notes and records on the computer than he was on this murder in my opinion. He didn’t seem to ask me many questions about the murder at all.

Of course, in real life I was a great deal of use to the Cheshire Constabulary. Almost every day I was being asked to help them with their enquiries.

As I said just now, I’m asleep when I dictate these dreams. But usually when I’m typing them out later I have some kind of vague recollection of them in the back of my mind. Rarely though, I have no recollection whatever, and that one was one of those.

We then had an issue of dark olive green cabs for lorries that had been discovered somewhere in Greenland. These cabs were new and had never been fitted. I was trying to identify them. They looked very much like ERF cabs to me, or maybe Foden cabs but someone seemed to think that they were MAN cabs, and if I posted them as MAN cabs someone would immediately recognise them and claim them as theirs as not having been delivered. I was looking through the internet trying to find identical cabs that had been labelled but I wasn’t having much luck because for some reason the computer kept throwing me out of the page that I was trying to search so I couldn’t actually see properly what the results were of my search on line.

Finally there was an advert in one of these magazines about a girl looking for a companion. Out of boredom I replied. Much to my surprise I found that, mush as she was a bit of a flighty piece, she seemed to be quite nice and what’s more, she seemed to like me very much. We developed quite a good rapport quite quickly. It was while I was running the taxis so I could only see her on Saturday nights but somehow that seemed to fit in with her timetable too so she was there making plans etc on what we’d do on different Saturday nights. She planned a night where we’d go to have a drink or something and end up sitting on top of a kind of cliff somewhere like at Frodsham and watch the stars, which sounded very nice to me as we’d just been for a drink but for some reason we’d had to come home early. Back at home early she was making a drink. There was still a group of taxi drivers there waiting for work to come in, and there was a pile of little children being dressed in winter coats ready to leave. But while this girl was making a cup of tea I was standing right behind her as cose as I could be, holding her by the waist. We were laughing and joking. My elder sister came in and made some remark about us being home early but last week we’d ended up in some farmyard or other for several hours completely up to no good. I didn’t realise that I was being spied upon so closely. That was what I said, but it was all extremely humorous. My elder sister began to chat to this girl as if she was already one of the family. It ended up being quite a warm ambience of the type that we have in dreams every now and again, something that was quite pleasant and I didn’t want it to stop.

Terry came on line for a chat later, to remind me that it’s the anniversary of our visit to the Stade Louis Dior where we stood on the terraces and watched US Granville, who play in the equivalent of the Conference North with a team of taxi drivers, school teachers and shop assistants stuff the Girondins of Bordeaux in the French Cup.

And how Bordeaux were unhappy and completely lost their cool as well. It was embarrassing to watch a Premier League club behave like that.

We travelled many a mile together, Terry and me, and we worked on many roofs.

tt would always be the same story. Terry would ring me up a about 08:00 "are you free today?"
"You have to say the magic words, Terry" I’d reply
"Liz is baking."

And for someone who said how much he hated cats, I’ll never forget how gentle he was with those two feral kittens he found asleep in a tyre in his barn at Le Fournial.

Liz came on line later too and we had a chat for a while which was nice. I also had a chat with someone who appears quite often in these pages, but usually during a nocturnal ramble. That was lovely too but I wish that she’d appear in real life too. As for who she was, I’m sure that regular readers of this rubbish will recall a few names and have a good guess.

The doctor came by but didn’t have much to say for himself. He asked about the perfusion so I told him about the hallucinations, so I suspect that that’s reason for these drinks today.

Apart from that, I’ve had some reading to do. And talking about global warming, I’ve found a paper presented to the Woolhope Naturalists’ Club of Hereford as early as 1867 by a certain T. Curley, CE FGS, discusses the subject and that really is the earliest that I’ve ever seen where systematic global warming has been the subject of discussion.

Not only does he discuss it, he presents some interesting calculations too, some of which I know to be confirmed by other scientists and geographers.

But I’ve also been asleep for much of the time thanks to this witches’ brew of sodium sulphide. During one of my (many) dozes during the day I went off into a dream with a group of young people but I awoke quite dramatically and the whole thing evaporated from out of my mind. Absolutely all of it.

And now that I’ve had my depressing evening meal (I’m glad that I brought these extra food supplies) I’m going to have yet another one of these sodium drinks. So I imagine that it won’t be long before I start to fall asleep and disappear into the Arms of Morpheus. I suppose that I’d better find the bed quickly before I crash out on the ………. zzzzzzzz.

Saturday 6th January 2024 – I AM ABSOLUTELY…

… wasted. i4ve had a horrible day today, probably the worst that I have ever had.

You’ll remember the perfusions that I had and the hallucinations that went with it. Well, the story continues.

At 23:30 or thereabouts two guys brought a stretcher here and I clambered aboard, to be whisked off to another building here for an echograph on my lower stomach and kidneys.

When the echographist had finished, the ambulance brought me back here.

When I was tucked up in my nice little bed a nurse came round and coupled me up to another perfusion, and we started again with the hallucinations.

At first I tried to dictate them as they happened but I was totally overwhelmed. I managed so many and then that was that.

Unfortunately none of my favourite characters appeared to calm me down. Things were completely and utterly out of control. Every time I closed my eyes that was that – I was off again. It took hours for me to go to sleep.

It was quite early when I awoke too and I had to wait around ages for breakfast. I was starving.

But today, I’ve been totally out of it. This perfusion, which is a mixture of sodium chloride and calcium chloride, has finished me off.

The doctor came round to see me too. I have a critical level of creatine in the kidneys and a critical level of potassium in the bloodstream. The perfusion is intended to counteract the potassium.

When I told him about the side effects he didn’t really say very much, which surprised me.

And the side-effects are the hallucinations and the fact that I have been out of it all all day, as if someone has slipped me a Micky Finn. I’ve hardly been able to function at all and for much of the day I’ve been asleep. The rest of the day, I’ve not been able to concentrate at all on anything.

To transcribe the dictaphone notes it took ages – firstly because I was in no fit state to do it and secondly there were so many of them. And as usual, they are shown here exactly as I dictated them, with no apologies or explanations. There was a lot of noise during the night and a lot of dreams too. I dreamt once that they were making really loud noises removing some kind of perfusions out of the way of everyone whom I knew, including people like TOTGA, Castor etc but I couldn’t really see who they were. It turned out that they were nurses here tidying up. One of them awoke me to give me a perfusion in the arm.

Almost immediately going back to sleep I dreamt of being pushed around on a stretcher by a couple of young people, one of whom was playing the accordion with a lot of traditional folk melodies playing on it.

While I was awake having this perfusion I had a hallucination again. This time I was being pushed by someone in a wheelchair. They said that they were going to take me to somewhere where they would put me in a sitting position. Once they’d done that they’d take me to a place where I could sit which was much more exciting than where I was at the moment.

Also 2 women pushing me in a wheelchair to a Renault Espace but it looked nothing like a Renault Espace at all and was all glass so that everyone could see everything that was going on inside it. I was taken in this wheelchair by these 2 girls, put inside the Renault Espace which was driven to another part of the hospital where a couple of guys were waiting. Once our car arrived and unloaded me these 2 guys took over and began to push me. But I was actually awake and conscious and lying in my bed in the hospital when I was having this hallucination. It certainly wasn’t me being asleep and dreaming

Later on I was in an Indian Restaurant with a couple of people. We were chatting away. I went over to a drawer, pulled out a cheque book from there and wrote a cheque for £95:00 to the bank. One of the people watching asked me why. I said that I had debts to pay. He said something like “don’t we all”. He wondered how much it was o I showed him. It was £495:00. He said “you’ll pay that quickly paying it at that rate”. I said “it should only be £75:00 but I’m paying it in advance”. He actually shook my hand. Then a server came to see us but but was actually someone with the head of a cash machine so I fed the cheque into it. We began to talk about soup so me, the man and his young daughter sat down at a table where there were already several people sitting – it was a long bench-type table with benches either side. The guy said “you’d better go and ask the chef – he mentioned the chef by name but I’ve forgotten – because he’ll have soup that he’ll want to get rid of at the end of the night.

Then someone asked me to raise my pelvis so that they could close the ambulance doors – while I was still awake. These hallucinations are incredible.

I closed my eyes and I was immediately in a taxi queue, still in my wheelchair. There was all folk music going around. Even now as I’m dictating this I can hear folk music played on a violin. It really is strange because there’s nothing happening outside at all – it’s all in my head, whatever it is that’s going on. I’m wide awake and I’m just hallucinating like this every time I close my eyes.

They were waiting outside there questioning, joking, reduced to a question about pyjamas. I was ….. unintelligible … that was my job for the evening. Those projectiles on the bed ….. unintelligible … The room of mine was downgraded from mid-dangerous to less dangerous from a security point of view after a security patrol had been to inspect it. Someone could fire into the room but they wouldn’t be able to actually hit anyone so it was considered to be a very low risk at all.

There was a song rather similar to THE BARRICADES OF HEAVEN. I’d recorded it twice and wanted to dictate one. The thing was that one of them was in really perfect condition and sounded really well but there was only threequarters of it but the other one which was complete, the quality wasn’t as good so I was trying my hardest to figure out a way to make a complete one using the quality of the best one. But in the end I ended up deleting one of them, the one with the best quality because it was incomplete. Then I had second thoughts of re -recording it. I was sitting there scratching my head puzzling over what I was going to do

Despite being in the kind of condition in which I find myself, I’ve had some nice chats with my neighbour from Granville, with Liz and with Tina over the internet and that was really nice. The nursing staff here are nice to and bring me extra coffee, bread and fruit to make up for the food that I can’t eat.

They have bandaged up my leg where I have skin issues and done all they can to help me. One of them was very interested in my story about hallucinations too.

We have rock music fans amongst them too and I’ve had a couple of interesting chats. Apart from the perfusions I seem to have struck lucky with this hospital. Castle Anthrax was nice of course but things seem to be much more urgent here in The Land Of Yellow And Orange

Anyway, tonight there are no perfusions planned so I’m hoping to have a good, deep sleep and see what tomorrow might bring. And if it’s any more calcium chloride I’ll go spare.

But they are doing their best to treat me and if they think that something is necessary, who am I to complain? I’ll just have to take the side effects in my stride and suffer accordingly.


Friday 5th January 2024 – HERE I ALL AM…

… not sitting in a rainbow but sitting in a room at the Hôpital Pitié-Salpetrière in Paris, where I’ve been summoned due to an emergency – they’ve found something in my blood sample from Wednesday that has them in a panic.

So there I was, at 06:00 when the alarm went off, struggling to my feet.

First thing was a good wash, scrub and change of clothes. I might as well look the part, I suppose.

Next thing was to check that I had everything packed. Those bread rolls that I made yesterday evening were good and made nice sandwiches – the food at the hospital is rubbish of course so I need some reserve supplies

Next thing was to unplug all of the appliances and it was in the middle of doing this that the driver arrived – an elderly guy who I’ve not seen before.

He helped me into the car and we set off for Paris. He didn’t go as fast as the younger drivers but we had good luck at Ceen with no hold-ups so we made very good time.

There was even time to make a pitstop halfway between Caen and Rouen, and a mug of coffee is always welcome. I treated the driver seeing as he’s doing al the work.

Our good luck ended at the Porte d’Italie exit of the Boulevard Péripherique where there was a gridlock the like of which I have never seen. IN the end we went back on the “prif” and took the next exit. But as a result we were late arriving and I had a very concerned phone call from the hospital wondering where we were.

Anyway, I’m now installed in my little room here on the second floor, still with no internet which is a shame, and the food is rubbish, as I expected so I’m grateful for my emergency supplies.

But at lest I’ve managed to make the heating work, which is something, I suppose, and under supervision I managed to walk 6 steps without my crutches, which is something of which I can be proud.

But what a celebration hey? Me, who would think nothing of walking though the night from Chester to Hankelow, all almost 30 miles of it.

They had four tries before they could take a blood sample, and three to fit a catheter in my arm and once the catheter was in, they began the perfusion.

There was a combination of three perfusions which gave me the most extraordinary hallucinations, during which Zero, Percy Penguin and my old LDV van made their appearance.

The LDV van I remember well. After 2 Transits I had the LDV van for a couple of years and was the first of the vans that I had that would keep up with modern traffic with its 5-speed gearbox.

It blew up the engine not long after I had it so we bought a Maestro diesel for £50, swapped the engine out and received about £350 for the bits of Maestro when we sold them on the internet.

It then lost the clutch going round the Boulevard Péripherique one night and I had to drive it 300 miles with no clutch, even starting from a standstill on a couple of occasions.

What had happened was that, with it being a hydraulic clutch, the clutch slave cylinder had fallen off and was just hanging on by the hydraulic pipe. The bolts on the door hinges where the same size and same thread so I pinched a couple of those as a temporary but permanent repair.

Then a brake pad separated and we lost the asbestos pad part of it. I had to drive it home through the Brussels traffic with no brakes and in the days before internet marketing it took quite an effort to have a pair sent from the UK.

The handbrake cable then snapped on it, so we had no handbrake but what killed it off was the little trail of rust inside the back of the van.

There was this little streak of rusty water running down the inside wall of the van so I climbed inside to look.

At first I couldn’t see where it was coming from but when I twisted myself round, with my hand on the roof, the whole roof lifted off on one side. The joint between the roof and the side wall had rotted away and I had a big roof rack on the roof and I’d been carrying all kinds of heavy equipment on it.

So that was the end of the LDV. You couldn’t drive that on the road in that condition.

Next van was the ex-Telecom Ford Escort diesel. And how that brought back all kinds of memories of my travels with BILL BADGER. It was exactly the same kind of van and I found myself doing exactly the same things.

That was a vehicle that I’d bought because of the 1.8 litre diesel in it, which I wanted for one of the Cortinas. But it surprisingly passed an MoT even though there was a pile of things wrong with it.

But I had a year’s use out of it and it did a few miles too, and then along came Caliburn.

And there’s just time to transcribe the dreams from the night before I go to collapse in my nice comfortable bed. There was a load of folk music going on last night probably related to what I’ve been listening to just now. The music seemed to have affected everyone. At one particular moment I went into work and there was someone stuck in a folk music loop singing folk music songs. I happened to mention i( to his superior who became extremely upset and began some kind of enquiry. Many years later the same thing happened again. There was all this folk music. Some people were listening to it of course, concentrating and so on. I was enjoying it very much bu at work the big boss came and began to ask me all kinds of questions like “did I feel mentally unstable?”, “did I feel that I was being a difficult person?” etc. I couldn’t understand what was happening. He said something about starting work. I replied that as far as I was aware that has never happened at all. He asked “what about this incident?” and brought up the one about folk-dancing early in the morning. Of course I was totally bewildered because I didn’t remember things like this. I wanted to know why this folk-music thing had suddenly become so important to so many people for what seemed to be reasons that seem to be completely detached from what the music actually represented etc. I was just totally bewildered by it all.

Later on there were 4 of us who used to hang around together. One was a boy from school whom I came to know quite well. We’d agreed to meet in Sandbach for the fair at a certain time but it was a very informal, insincere kind of agreement. Anyway I went along and, sure enough, there were some people there so I walked back to Crewe, found some plants and walked back. And there I met my friend and some other guy of our group so we began to chat. They were surprised that I’d been here twice but I said that I wanted to make sure that the festival was going so I was here early. The place was crowded with people. I needed to go to the bathroom but they told me that the bathrooms were filthy here and I wouldn’t appreciate anything at all of those. Nevertheless I wandered over that way to go for a look but the alarm went off.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … hospital I’m told that despite already having had a couple of examinations with one of these electrode machines, there’s another one planned for during the night in another building, one that goes into things and greater depths.

Once they’ve done that, they’ll have a better idea, but I suspect that they know already, and I have an idea too. In May 2021 they discovered the cancer in my kidneys and I underwent an operation to remove the tainted bits – and it also removed bits of another part of my body, to my eternal regret. My betting is that it’s come back to whatever kits of my kidneys are left.

What’s your bet?

What’s your bet?