… has a broken kneecap? And for a fourth time too.
The first time was when I went head-over-handlebars on a motorbike when I was 16. The second time was when I slid a motorbike on a greasy road when I was 19 and the weight of two people and the bike itself (a 350cc Triumph) fell on it. The third time was skiing in Scotland when I was in my 20s – and I drove BILL BADGER, my old A60 van, home again.
As for when I did it in the fourth time, all that I can think of is that it was when I had that fall and broke my hand just before I went off on my transatlantic trip across to the High Arctic on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR in the summer of 2019.
But taking a couple of years to manifest itself (it collapsed last spring, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall) is some going.
Anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, I had a lie-in this morning. Not that I intended to but at 07:30 – and at 08:00 – I couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to leave my stinking pit. 09:25 was much more like it.
Having had my medication, sorted out the mails and messages and organised this week’s musical playlist on the computer, I had a listen to the dictaphone. And there was tons of stuff on there too. I’d had a busy night. No wonder I was in no hurry to leave my stinking pit.
The night started off with a huge long rambling dream about refugees. Again I had them with me and I arrived at a railway station. There were rooms above so we took a room above there. We had to carry all of their possessions up into the room above. That meant 4 or 5 trips in the lift to do it. There were all kinds of things happening – there was some objects still stuck in a lift from someone, I kept on bumping into all kinds of old schoolfriends while I was doing it, there was interaction with authority, one of those things that just went on and on and on while we were trying to move these refugees into this room. I’ve missed out most of it I think but the interesting part was of course all these people from school who kept appearing every time the lift either went up or went down and the doors opened. There would always be someone whom I knew waiting there. One person in particular was there once and also other people
So I had these refugees trying to get them into the upstairs room at this station passing by loads of people whom we knew. Some wanted arguments, some wanted help. I had papers from the Red Cross and had to show them. We were going up and down in this lift moving their stuff into this little room. The dream went on like this for ages. We met so many kinds of people and friends and one or two other people who helped us on our way but the farther we could get away from Vienna or Germany or wherever it was the better
My brother had bought a car, a Ford Cortina estate over the internet. A Mark IV model but he said that it was grey so we imagined that it would be the colour of my father’s old one. He was sitting down trying to work out how to get out and get it because his timetable was so full, he was going here and going there, he was having to work something else. In the end it was going to be several weeks before he could get it so I said that I would go for it. It turned out that it was near Foinavon that’s not the name but it’s on the railway line over Slochd Summit so that rules out Forsinard so of course the Inverness train is the place to go. I checked on the timetables, found the correct train and set off. I had to change at a big station to catch one of the stopping trains that went up the Highland line. The train pulled in and I checked with the guard that there was a local service coming up behind. All the doors closed and I thought that I’d missed the opportunity to leave the train but the door was opened from outside so I had to fight my way out. I found myself on some kind of temporary wooden platform which was just framework and no flats. There were people balancing awkwardly on there trying to enter the train and I was trying to alight. Other people who had already alighted were trying to work out how to go down to the main platform. I had to point them the way. This was a scene of total chaos as everyone who alighted from this train onto this wooden framework or whatever was trying to fight their way down to where everyone else was down on the main platform. I was thinking about all the things that needed doing, that I hoped that the car had enough fuel as it was getting late and I imagined that most places for fuel would be closed round here. I’d have to go to Inverness or Stirling or somewhere to fuel up and I hoped that everything else would be OK. I could imagine 1001 things that could go wrong between me picking up the car and brining it back home again.
I don’t know how this one started but I was working in the American embassy doing something, running errands. There was some kind of issue with the Russian desk in this large building and the Russians suddenly started firing loaves of bread over to the Americans. I caught a few and stored them up but they were coming over more and more and more. Eventually there was a pause so I walked across the hall to the Russian desk, found their senior officer, thanked him very much for sending all the bread to me but I told him that I now had enough fresh bread that I needed so if he wanted to send me any more could he make sure that it was frozen so that I could keep it in store. This was greeted by stunned silence throughout the building. After I had said my little piece I walked back to where the American desk was. I was beckoned over to the desk of the Ambassador’s personal secretary. She said “don’t you ever do anything like that ever again” but she was laughing and so was everyone else. I imagined that although i’d been told off, that everyone else was really quite sympathetic and really quite pleased that I’d gone out there and confronted them over it.
We were a big group of teenagers last night wandering around the streets of Crewe. I can’t remember how this worked out but we ended up at the house of a girl to do something. Her mother came to the door and in the end she fetched this girl. We were all around the back having something of a laugh etc. This girl was being quite chatty and quite friendly. Then it became time for us to leave so I asked her for her ‘phone number. She was possibly playing a game and in the end ended up trying to give me her father’s ‘phone number. She said that she could always remember it because it was 8 over 6, the 6 numbers at the end. Of course I immediately told them what it was, which was 675000 (which of course it isn’t). She gradually warmed a bit and in the end asked me for my ‘phone number. I didn’t have a card on me so I had to borrow a card off someone else, try to write my number but we didn’t have a pen that worked. In the end she decided that she would ‘phone me so that I’d have her ‘phone number and she’d have mine. That was what she did. But all of this took ages and there was much more to it than this but I can’t remember now. It was another one of these dreams that slowly developed into something extremely warm and pleasant and the type that I would want to carry on for ever. I awoke in a night sweat, which I haven’t had for a good few months. “I wish that this could have gone on for ever, this particular dream” I said into the dictaphone, so being able to talk like that while I’m asleep shows you exactly what kind of effect it had on me.
But low-flying loaves of bread as well? As I have said before… “and on many occasions too” – ed … what goes on during the night is much more exciting than anything that happens to me during the day these days.
To take me up to shower time I had a play with a few more photos of the High Arctic 2019 and I wish I could remember the name of the hill on which the flagpole is erected at Dundas Harbour on Devon Island. All that I can think of, and I know that it’s not correct, is the painter Samuel Gurney Cresswell who sailed to the High Arctic as Lieutenant with James Clark Ross and then with Robert McClure.
If I had to pick one of my favourite Arctic explorers he would be up there somewhere, not the least for his quote “a voyage to the High Arctic ought to make anyone a wiser and better man”. Well, it didn’t work for me, as the events of the last few days of my 2019 trip bear witness.
After a shower and a weigh-in (and I’ve lost 600g) I had lunch and then cleared off with Caliburn to the physiotherapist. It’s my last session with her today as she moves on to pastures new. She’s fixed me up with a colleague, but I bet that the new girl won’t be anything like as nice as Sonia. She can massage my clavicles any time she likes.
The trip to Avranches was complicated today because of all the roadworks and road closures. I ended up having to meander through the countryside and then it took me a while to find the centre. And when I found the centre, to find the building where I needed to be.
The scanning machine was made by General Electric, one of my former employers, so I knew that it would be good. And eventually they shoved me through it.
The doctor came to see me afterwards and told me about my kneecap, and also the fact there’s some cartiledge damage too. She’ll send a report to my GP who I’ll have to go to see in due course, but I have to be aware that surgery is not ruled out
There was an Intermarché next to the clinic so seeing as it’s been a few years since I’ve had a good look around inside one, I popped in. But there wasn’t anything there much that interested me. I bought one or two bits and pieces and some frozen peas and beans, and that was my lot.
Then I had to fight my way back through the roadworks. And it was good to give Caliburn a decent run-out this afternoon.
Tea was a taco roll (seeing as I had bought some this afternoon) with the left-over stuffing from yesterday, with rice and veg and it really was nice. But I have plenty of mushrooms left so it looks as if it will be a potato and mushroom curry for tea tomorrow.
So a broken kneecap now. Whatever next? At the rate that bits are dropping off me these days I’m at the stage where I’m afraid to go to the toilet.
In fact I haven’t felt so nervous since I was standing in a toilet next to Shakin’ Stevens but that’s another story for another time.