Category Archives: Nerina Hall

4th May 2024 – HAPPY STAR WARS DAY …

.. to all of my readers. May the fourth be with you!

What I hope is that you have had a good day today. As for me, I’ve had a better day, but then again that’s not saying all that much.

After I’d finished my notes last night I had a rush around and was actually in bed by 23:03. That’s quite early for recent times but still later than I would like it to be, with an alarm call at 07:00.

Once in bed I didn’t remember anything at all – I certainly can’t remember any phantom alarm calls going off that would awaken me

When the real alarm did actually go off I was a little boy in bed with a little girl. My mother came in and said that she was glad to see me awake and glad to see me and that the two of us had got on so well together and she was going to sing a song to awaken both of us. Just at that moment BILLY COTTON roared his “wakey waaaa….key” and I didn’t find it funny in the least.

It’s very strange but the number of times something in real life has synchronised with something in a dream, such as my mother about to sing to wake me up and we have the alarm going off just at that moment. It’s not every time, of course, but it’s an unusual percentage of times that’s higher than you might think.

Anyway I wandered off for a wash and for my medication.

Having set out the room as the nurse likes it to be, he came down after seeing to my neighbour upstairs, changed the dressing on my foot and put on my puttees. And the wound on my foot is certainly looking much better than it did several weeks ago. That’s good news.

After he left I came back in here where I crashed out – the first of several times today. I’m not doing too well from that point of view.

As for my breakfast, I did manage to stay awake long enough to make and eat my cheese on toast and coffee. And the bread that I made yesterday is really good too. I was quite impressed with that lot of baking – almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin all those years ago.

Once I’d finally awoken I went for a wash and a shave and sure enough, at 14:00 I had a visitor. One of my fellow students on my Welsh course is retired and spends months driving around Europe in his caravanette. He’s turned up in Granville this morning so he came for a coffee and a chat.

And wasn’t it lovely to see him? I don’t have enough visits, which is a shame

After he left I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was with Nerina last night. She’d come back home and we were together, but it wasn’t at all what she was expecting. She realised that my routine had changed so what she decided was that some time during the following day we’d both sit down and thrash out some rules for some kind of co-existence. I was willing to listen but obviously I wasn’t going to agree to any of the rules that might change my life drastically from how it is. Nevertheless I was interested to see exactly what her proposals might be. Of course they might affect other people like the district nurse coming round but that was something that we’d have to see about and have to negotiate anyway so that we could have some kind of life in common rather than living as two individuals in the same house

The biggest change would be that I can’t walk anywhere these days. I’m stuck inside this building and not able to go out. I’m not sure what other changes there would be after 30-odd years but there would bound to be some. The fact that I don’t have to go to work and so can have a more regulated lifestyle would be a big change for a start

There was also something else going on too about living together. A young mother named Maggie had moved in with a guy called Bill in the suburbs of Glasgow because it seemed like the best opportunity she was going to find to escape the kind of squalor in which she’d been living. His lifestyle didn’t conform to what she was expecting either so it was necessary to get together and thrash out rules between him and her but she was far less optimistic that some kind of arrangement suiting both parties would be found and considered it a great challenge to try to persuade him to conform to certain ideals of communal life in the middle of all of this Glasgow gang warfare that was going on around these tenements

There are several people whom I know who can’t bear to be on their own and have to be with someone else regardless of how it turns out. For one or two of them, it’s turned out really well but for the most part it’s been something of a disaster and they just move on to the next, with predictable results.

The res of the day, when I’ve not been asleep, has been dealing with the blog entries from when I was in Canada in 2022. The photos and the corresponding text needs to be added in so I’ve been working on that.

There’s only a handful of photos left to do but they won’t be done tomorrow as I’ll be baking biscuits. I’m running right out of those at the moment. I’m just trying to think about what kind of biscuits I should make. The last lot were chocolate biscuits and the ones before that were honey biscuits.

Tea tonight was one of my breaded quorn fillets with a salad and a baked potato. Quite delicious as usual, especially the potato cooked for 5 minutes in the microwave and then 15 minutes in the air fryer.

Pudding was delicious too. Some of the strawberries that I bought the other day soaked in a vegan cream. And there are more strawberries and cream for tomorrow after the pizza.

But right now, that’s it. My eyesight has deteriorated rapidly since yesterday and I can’t really see what I’m doing.

And that’s a problem. Not like when I lived down on the farm. It was such a small village that even though I might not have had a clue what I was doing, all the neighbours knew

Thursday 25th April 2024 – I HAVE ACHES …

… and pains in places that I didn’t even know that I had places. I’m not as young as I used to be and this travelling is really taking its toll of me. I wish it didn’t.

After I’d finished my notes last night I didn’t have what it takes to go to bed. It took an age to find the energy and morale to raise myself from my chair and stagger off on this marathon trek of several inches that seems as if it’s several hundred miles.

As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it wouldn’t be so bad if I could find the energy to do something productive while I’m waiting but I can’t seem to do that either.

But eventually I fell into bed and that was that. It took an age to go off to sleep, being wound up as I was, but once I’d gone off I don’t recall moving again until just a few minutes before the alarm went off

It goes without saying that I took full advantage of every minute under the covers that I could because right now it’s freezing around here. You’d never believe that it’s the end of April with temperatures like we’re having. I know many people who have relit their heating and if this cold spell carries on much longer I shan’t be far behind.

So off I staggered into the dining area to sort out the medication and then to prepare everything for Isabelle the nurse so that she has everything that she needs and it’s set out how she likes.

So she came and organised me and told me that tomorrow I have a blood test to undergo. I’m not looking forward to that one bit. My arms look and feel as if I’ve been wrestling with a hedgehog as it is.

After she left, I came in here, sat down on my chair and that’s how I stayed for several hours. I couldn’t even be bothered to go to make breakfast – that’s the kind of state in which I was this morning.

The cleaner came round later and snapped me out of my reverie, bringing me all of the medication from my new prescription.

And there are piles of it too. It’s starting to become ridiculous, all of this and I really don’t know where it’s going to end. There are two more now added to the pile of nonsense after these latest visits and next time I go, there will doubtless be a couple of others to counter the side-effects that those two have caused.

Once she’d gone I managed to transcribe the dictaphone notes from yesterday at the hospital and add them into the notes, all of them and it really was “all” of them because it must have been a very mobile night that night with a lot going on.

In the middle of all of that I was out like a light for an hour or so. I really can’t keep on going these days and it’s driving me to distraction.

Rosemary rang up for a chat this afternoon, just a short one today. Only 1 hour and 10 minutes today – we’re losing our touch. She was telling me about her forthcoming trip to Italy which should make a nice trip out for her. She has all of the luck. It was Vietnam last year.

After we finished our chat I transcribed last night’s dictaphone notes. The Government was talking about some big, bold plans for railway modernisation to bring the railways right into the 21st Century. All of the particular regions were asked to submit their plans. We were working on a series of cross-country lines from east to west. Everywhere where we went where we saw the proposals from other areas, it was all about going north-south from London into the different regions. It seemed that the whole of the cross-country system would be squeezed out. Of course there was very little that we could do because we didn’t have the weight or influence. It was very frustrating to everyone concerned. All of the people were so concerned and frustrated that we couldn’t seem to make any headway at all with our plans. Naturally we were doing everything we could but we were being squeezed at every turn by everyone else. It was impossible to put forward any coherent plans because nothing that we were doing would conform to whatever it was that the Government really wanted. There was a grave danger that the whole of our east-west railway would be squeezed out. I had girls from the office coming to see me in tears about the prospects of failure that all of our lobbying and arguments were bringing but we we were doing everything we could. There was nothing more that we could do but we didn’t seem to be making any kind of progress. Everyone was just so frustrated.

Anyone who knows anything about the British railway network will know just how true that is too. Going cross-country in the UK by rail is really difficult and time-consuming. Government policies haven’t helped either. A cross-country railway line closed in the 1960s was approved for reopening as far back as 1992 and we’re still waiting. Brunel would have had it up and running in 6 months.

They run all kinds of feasibility studies and passenger surveys, file the results and then go back to re-run the exercise 5 years later by which time costs have doubled.

And after Zero a few nights ago and Castor the other night, TOTGA came round too during the night. I’d been in France with Nerina and we’d just come back. Early on Sunday morning she came round. She had an apple. I made a remark something like “that’ll be the last apple that I’ll see for several weeks” so she left it for me which I thought was really nice of her. Then I had a ‘phone call from where she was working. Could I go to see her? She was working in some kind of merchant banking office. I arrived and it was one of these self-service receptionist places where you had to root around to try to find your contact’s ‘phone n°. I couldn’t find hers at all. In the end she happened to turn up at the counter by pure chance. I asked her for her telephone n° in her office but she made some kind of cryptic remark so I asked her whether she wasn’t allowed to leave her ‘phone n° or not. She said no, she wasn’t. I said “that’s strange. Anyone can have mine any time of the day even at 04:00 and get me out of bed as long as they say the magic words”. She asked “what are those?”. I replied “do you want to earn some money, Eric?”. She asked “was that really the last apple that you’re likely to see for several weeks?” I explained that we weren’t exactly that broke but we’d just come back from the Continent and we didn’t have any in the house. Nevertheless some kind of additional income would come in handy and I was intrigued to hear what kind of proposition she was going to make to me from her work that would be of interest to me in a financial sense

So that was a very special treat for me last night to follow my vegan pesto.

Tonight, I finished off the vegan pesto with more pasta, veg and a vegan burger. I need to order some more of those as the European Burger Mountain in the fridge has shrunk dramatically just recently. But not right now as despite it being really early, I really am going to try to go to bed and sleep the Sleep of a Thousand Dreams and see who comes with me.

After all, I’ve had all three of my favourite females over the past week or so coming to see me. And wouldn’t it be nice if they came more often, or, at least, more regularly? Life is much more interesting when they are around. It’s the only interesting company that I seem to have these days.

My life at the moment is, after all, hardly interesting. It reminds me of a story I heard when one person asked another one sitting next to him at a dinner "do you ever think that life is really boring?"
To which the other one replied "Quite often. Especially when one is sitting next to you"

Saturday 6th April 2024 – TODAY WAS ONE …

… of the worst days that I have had for quite a while.

In fact, it’s a day that harks back to the bad old days of winter 2015-16 when I was struggling to come to terms with this illness, or over the summer of 2015 when I’d moved to live in Leuven

It’s a combination of two factors really.
Firstly those stabbing pains that I have nin the sole of the foot returned yesterday and gradually worsened as the day wore on and accelerated through the night.
Secondly I was wide-awake at about 04:30 and there was no hope whatever of going back to sleep.

It totally beats me as to what would have awaken me, and awoken me to such an extent that I couldn’t go back to sleep, even at that time. It must be something quite considerable and important, so I’m surprised that I don’t know what it is.

What I was going to say was that I didn’t have a clue, but I doubt whether there would be many people who would disagree with that diagnosis.

And as it happens, I do have a clue about what time I went to bed last night, and it was late yet again, which is even more surprising considering how early I awoke.

But doing all this paperwork and making all these notes really does take its time and I’m surprised that I’m ever ready to go to bed.

So having settled down to go to sleep I was soon awake again, drifting into alternate fits of wakefulness and sleepiness, but always being awake nevertheless.

And that didn’t stop my imagination working because even though I was in this semi-wakefulness I was still off on my travels.

When the alarm went off at 07:00 I’d already been up and about for 15 minutes and was on the point of finishing dressing and going for a wash.

Not before checking the blood pressure though. 16.1/9.9, which compares with last night’s figure of 16.4/10.1 – pretty much the same by the looks of things.

After shovelling down the piles of medication I arranged the room for the nurse and then tidied up the knives and forks etc from the previous evening. If I’m having house guests, which looks pretty much like it in the near future, I need to learn some new habits.

Rather like the man in church praying to God – "Oh God give me patience! And hurry!"

When the nurse came round he plastered me up again but said that this will be the last of them as the foot has healed so well.

As it happens, I think that the foot has certainly healed but not as well as he thinks. Still, he’s the nurse, I’m not.

After he left I made a start on the dictaphone notes from the night and from the morning when I was half-awake. And apart from what seems to be the usual fact these days of getting up, getting dressed and ready to leave the bed but only in my subconscious mind (as far as I know), also later on there was a phantom doorbell to say that the nurse had arrived. That was at 03:00 and so it was extremely unlikely, but nevertheless I found myself getting out of bed for that as well. I’ve no idea what’s going on with me at the moment. This is crazy.

What this next dream was about was a woman who was visiting the doctor’s for some reason. He gave her an examination . Then someone like Ingrid came along. Because she was more ill he gave her the more profound examination and had to make sure that she was supported by enough orderlies but she could withstand the pressure that he was going to apply. It was all to do with rolling balls Up and down the body to find weak points. Obviously he’d roll them quite hard and then feel the resistance, to see where the body was in need of reinforcement

And before anyone says anything about it, I shall say myself that that particular dream sounds like a right load of balls. It’s an interesting concept though and I bet that there’s plenty of mileage in an idea like that if I were to take it to some of the more obscure clubs in Soho

In fact I could probably make a small fortune from clubs like that for the rights to the unexpurgated version of this blog

And then while I was lying there half-asleep Nerina and I were at a port somewhere on our way to cross the Channel to go to a party at a friend’s house. We didn’t have any preparations at all – we didn’t have a GPS to find out where it was, we didn’t have any accommodation booked for Nerina or anything like that. We were going to simply improvise and make it all up on the spot. So we boarded the ferry and I went to look out of the window but they were all misty and steamy so I asked the purser if he had any car windscreen wipers. He chuntered but had a really good search, chuntering all the time. Eventually he came up with a pair and handed them to me, which I thought was nice. I could sit down then and look out of the window to admire the shipping like I usually do.

And this brings back many happy memories of me being invited to a party and setting out to go there, and suddenly realising that I had no idea of the address or where the person lived. I drove around in circles for quite a while before in the end I gave up and went home.

As Kenneth Williams once so famously said, "I’m often taken aback by my own brilliance". It’s the kind of thing that only I can do.

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … bed, this thing about Normandy involved the Normandy group on Social Network. In the end we’d sacked all of our advisers and dealt with everything on a question and answer basis amongst ourselves. That even included the vets. Everything there on the group seemed to be going much better since we no longer had advisers and people were resolving their own problems like this

In my case though I’ve simply sacked my Social Network. It’s becoming less and less of a Social Network and more and more a vehicle for adverts and publicity. If I wanted to see “sponsored links” and “suggested for you” articles I’d look for them. I don’t want them thrust into my face at the expense of stuff that I want to see.

So I went for my coffee and cheese on toast for breakfast and despite two really strong mugs full of coffee I crashed out quite completely and absolutely, and for a good couple of hours too.

And Nerina came to visit me again, but it wasn’t a very pleasant meeting so I’m not going to transcribe the notes. With all of these problems I’ve been told to do all that I can to avoid unpleasantness.

In fact, this illness has made a whole new person of me.

What I can say about it though was that the dream was building up to a ‘phone call, and sure enough, I had one too, and a real one. It was the delivery man with the rest of my Amazon order.

This afternoon, I really felt like death. It was the worst that I have felt for quite some considerable time.

Margaret Thatcher once famously said something like "anyone can do a good day’s work when they want to. To be successful, you have to do a good day’s work when you don’t want to" and I’ve ploughed nevertheless through some radio notes and a pile of Welsh homework when all that I wanted to do was to go back to sleep.

There was football on the Internet later, Aberystwyth v Penybont. Penybont are far too good a team to be involved in a relegation scrap where they are right now, but Aberystwyth are down near the bottom for a good reason.

And that was how it went on. Aberystwyth started well and had a couple of chances but faded quite quickly and Penybont took control.

A 3-0 win was probably about right but Aberystwyth will rue the errors that they made. However it’s not easy playing football in a monsoon like they had this afternoon during the game.

Tea was baked potato and salad with one of the delicious breaded quorn fillets that I like, and that’s it for the day. I’m off to bed, with an alarm for tomorrow as the nurse will be round.

And tomorrow afternoon I have biscuits to make as I have now run out of supplies.

But before I go, talking about obscure clubs in Soho and unexpurgated versions of writings reminds me of a former girlfriend who worked at the local library on Saturdays and who has featured on these pages on more than just a few occasions.
She was asked to order a pile of books so she was going through the list, and one title caught her eye
"What’s this book here?" she asked
"It’s called ‘Ferry across the River Kwai’" explained her supervisor
"But is that title right?" she asked. "I’m sure that it should be called something else"
"It’s all right" said the supervisor. "Don’t worry. It’s simply the unabridged version of the story"

Tuesday 2nd April 2024 – TODAY WAS A …

… better day than yesterday, which is an improvement. There were several waves of sleep that had to be fought off round about midday and I managed to do that successfully and apart from that, I’ve managed not to fall asleep at all.

And that’s a surprise because it was another late night last night. It takes an age to finish everything off these days ready for a round of whatever it is that goes on here during the night.

As it happens, I can’t remember much about the night because I was of course asleep. But I do recall a visit from Nerina at some point, about the two if us going to the countryside near Chester.

And while we’re on the subject of Chester … "well, one of us is" – ed … we did end up there at some point of the day but I can’t remember when now. This is always the problem when you are teetering on the edge of dozing off two or three times on the same day – you lose track of “when” and “where”.

No problem about the alarm though. It went off as usual at 07:00 and I promptly fell out of bed while reaching for the equipment. But soon I found it and could take my pressure, 15.9/9.4. That’s lower than before I went to bed, whixh was 17.3/10.8.

Judging from that, you would be excused for thinking that it was a quiet night, but far from it as you will see if you read on.

The medication was next on the list. That just seems to be more and more, as time goes on. I’m sure that someone is slipping extra piles into everything when I’m not looking.

A good wash was on the agenda today too. I was sure that I could smell myself coming, and my clothes walked into the laundry basket on their own. I’m not doing too well about my personal hygiene as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … and need to make much more of an effort

With that in mind, I washed the shorts that I wear in bed. They need to be kept clean.

Having arranged things for the nurse he came by and changed the bandage on my foot. They seem to think that it’s healing but if it is, it’s doing an excellent job of disguising itself.

The ones on my legs are showing an improvement which is a good news. I managed to walk four steps without my crutches, and if that’s nor success I don’t know what is these days.

Today I’ve been radioing. I’ve checked off the programme that needs to be sent off today for broadcasting at the weekend, and I’ve sorted out the music for another one.

Apart from that, I’ve sent off my Amazon order, played on the guitar and even … shock! Horror! … done some Welsh homework. I don’t know what’s come over me today.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night. Quite a lot of it in fact. Once more I was dreaming in Welsh again about a door in a hospital being closed but it needs to be opened. Eventually someone opens it and inside are several bodies. It seemed that all kinds of indignities had been heaped upon these corpses at one time, both when they were alive and when they were dead as well, and opening the door had revealed it all to the public like this

They found A MORTUARY LIKE THIS IN THE USA a short while ago. The owners had been taking the money for the burial and so on but never burying the cadavers, just leaving them to rot. It created quite a scandal in the USA.

But not as big a scandal as what was going on IN THAT HOSPITAL MORTUARY IN THE UK a short while earlier

This … "presumably dreaming in Welsh" – ed … all came about because the girlfriend came over from Caerfyrddin and couldn’t remember the word for “right” … "”gwyir” or “dde”" – ed … and it was all to do with Caerfyrddin having a corner kick and someone putting the ball into the penalty area and the teams taking up the correct position but everyone was out of position and the captains had to shout at them to tell them where they should be. One of the players from Caerfyrddin was in the wrong position and didn’t say the correct word for “right”.

In which case it’s dde. Gwyir is “right” in the sense of “correct”.

But it’s interesting that I’m dreaming – and talking to myself – in Welsh. That basically means that I’ve moved one step higher up the literacy ladder. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed that I’m understanding more and more of the football commentary so I suppose everything is all coming together.

That’s how I began to teach myself Flemish – when I moved to Brussels, if there was a football match in TV I’d watch it on a Flemish channel. It’s easy to guess what’s happening in a football match when you see it, and you can tie the commentary up with the action on the screen.

While I was chatting to a friend of mine, a schoolteacher in the UK, I told her of my tactic for watching football and now she makes her daughter, age 11, watch the football in a foreign language only and the kid has to take her mother a list of 10 words that she heard in each game

It’s one of those things that you aren’t sure will work for someone else but it costs nothing to try.

Learning Welsh was something that I always wanted to do but in the UK I never had time and over here I never had the opportunity. But, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, at the start of lockdown Coleg Cambria put its Welsh language courses on-line instead of in face-to-face classes.

And instead of the usual 100 or so people signing up for a beginners class, they had 1036. There’s someone in my class from the UAE and I’ve met several people from the USA on other courses, all trying to connect with their roots.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed there was a group of girls who had to go along and do something gruesome to one of the guys. One of the girls was tall and slender, called Hilary This was the girl Our Hero falls for so the two of them establish a relationship but he in the meantime is carrying on with more kinds of wicked things against a few more of his hermits who are trying to usurp his powers etc. Of course this girl is quite a willing accomplice in his actions as well. She’s willing to do all kinds of things to establish her position by the side of the King.

And you really don’t want to know what gruesome thing they had to do, especially if you’re eating your tea right now.

Finally, a partner of mine and I were going through one of our usual rocky patches again. She had a friend whom I suspected was a partner. One day I came home and found them in my shed going through my selection of spare parts and she was giving him this and giving him that. I thought “what the hell was going on? He’s not having any of my spare parts. He can clear off” so we had a huge row. In the end this boy turned round and walked off, but not before hurling a few insults etc for good measure. He said “do you know what? Some of the stories she has told me, I haven’t half told some good ones around the town”. I replied “do you really think that I’m all that bothered with that kind of thing?”. It was a steering wheel and steering column and rack that she was handing out. That infuriated me beyond belief.

There are plenty of spare parts to hand out, that’s for sure. We had a huge pile of new stuff for the cars, much of which was never used. It’s all in my barn at Virlet and in the warehouse at Montaigut, and much of it is stuff that’s no longer available. It’s probably worth a small fortune sold off on the internet by someone who knows what they are doing.

Tea tonight was a taco roll, delicious as usual with rice and veg. Tomorrow there will be a leftover curry but I’ll have to make some more dough for the naan breads as I’ve now run out. I hope that the new batch will be as good as the last one. Plenty of garlic in it anyway, to keep the werewolves and vampires away

But now I have some printing to do – the prescription for the blood tests has arrived, as has the bon de transport for the trip to Paris and the hospital. I had a good chat with them, which included a discussion about tying in all of my hospital visits into a time when I am actually there. I can’t do with these last-minute things – it’s far too reminiscent of the bad old days and “… you are summoned to appear at 10:30 in the forenoon to answer to the aforementioned…”

It’s like the time when I was still at school and told my father that I was going to leave
"Why’s that?" he asked
"I’m going to be a policeman" I replied
"You’ll never be a policeman" he scoffed. "You don’t have the intelligence"
"Well they obviously think a lot about me" I retorted. "That’s four times this week already that they’ve asked me to go down to the station to help them with their enquiries"

Tuesday 26th March 2024 – THE SMELLS IN …

… my kitchen are delicious right now.

Sitting in there cooling down at the moment is another honey flapjack, and as well as that, there are two dozen mixed nut and fig biscuits cooling too. And there would have been more biscuits too, and probably some other stuff besides, if I had a big oven

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … there’s a proper built-in oven sitting downstairs in Caliburn along with the unit to build it in, but it’s beyond my capabilities to bring it upstairs . How I would love to have this up here working properly with plenty of room to do stuff.

But I shall just have to dream about it right now and make the best of what I have.

And I did too, with a full little oven crammed to the gills with food happily baking., I’ve been a busy boy this afternoon. And just as well because I’d run out of flapjack and of biscuits and I needed some more.

It was a busy night last night too with everything that I needed to do and once more it was midnight or thereabouts when I finally made it into bed. I really need to be much better-organised than I am in the evening if I’m going to be in bed at a reasonable time.

It took much longer than I would have liked to go to sleep too so I didn’t have much in the way of decent sleep and I was really in no mood for anything when the alarm went off this morning.

Nevertheless I made it out of bed and the first thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. 15.9/10.0, compared to last night’s 17.4/12.0. That was quite high for last night so I wonder what had wound me up before I went to bed

Next stop the kitchen to sort out the medication, and then to arrange everything for Isabelle the nurse. And it’s a good job that I did because she was early for once and she doesn’t ring the doorbell downstairs to give me advance warning of her arrival as does her compadre.

She seems to think that there’s an improvement with my legs, but I can’t see it. I’m sure that she’s exaggerating, or maybe she’s just fed up of coming here every day like this.

After she had left I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, who had come with me. Nerina and I had been apart for several years. I’d been working in the Social Services with children. After she’d been wherever it was that she’d been she came back. She was in a Ford Granada saloon, sitting in the front on the passenger side. When the car came and the driver stopped the vehicle she just sat there. I carried on with what I was doing outside. After a while she came out of the car and came over to see me. She said “after all these years that we’ve not seen each other, I’m here now and you ignore me”. I replied “I’m waiting for you to adjust yourself and get used to the idea of being back etc”. I also said that I was rather scared. She replied “you tell me your story now about all these disadvantaged children”. I wondered how I was going to tell it – which children I was going to mention because there were so many and different kinds of confusion that I didn’t really need because I wasn’t in any state to cope with this kind of issue at the moment

And if Nerina were to turn up here now after all this time, whether in a Ford Granada saloon or not, I’d certainly have a shock and probably wouldn’t be in any state to cope with that kind of issue.

But I do have to say that it wouldn’t be unwelcome in the sense that it would be if it were someone of the family in which I grew up. After all, I actually chose her so I must have liked her and you can’t unlike someone just like that. We were just driving down a very bumpy road and bits of our relationship simply fell off

Add to the fact that I was in a very dark place at the time and had so many problems of my own to deal with that there was no room in my head in which to fit any other problems.

As long as she doesn’t want me to tell her about Zero, Castor and TOTGA.

But I’ll tell you something for nothing, and that is that there’s more chance of her turning up at the door than anyone else of my family, I can say without any fear of contradiction.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was in the office at work. Someone rang up and asked to speak to “Paul”. I asked “Paul who?” because there were three or four but he didn’t know. He couldn’t read the writing so we stayed on the phone and deciphered the scrawl for a couple of minutes and found out who we thought was the correct Paul and I transferred the call. I had some post to distribute around the office so I went to take it before I went home. A couple of the girls were in so I asked them why the girls didn’t wear their school uniforms to work any more. They replied that the boss didn’t like it. I replied “never mind” and handed out the post to the correct people then came back into my room ready to pack up my stuff and leave. Someone, a guy, came into the office and asked “you aren’t leaving yet, are you?”. I replied “after I pack up, I am. Why?”. “I want to talk to you about a phone call I’ve just had”. “That’s nothing to do with me” I replied. “Someone asked to speak to ‘Paul someone’ and we worked out who it was and it was you so I passed the call through. That’s all that I did about this phone call. The rest of it is nothing to do with me whatsoever”. He began to search through the post on my desk as if he was looking for something so with nothing better to do I let him carry on and hoped that he’d be satisfied and clear off, and I could go home.

That’s usually the way to deal with people like that – let them get on with it and ignore them. It’s his time that he’s wasting, not mine. I’d just grab my coat and go home, and leave him in possession of whatever he would want to possess.

There was plenty of time to review my Welsh stuff for the course today but it didn’t go as planned as even though I felt keen and enthusiastic, which is a very rare situation these days, I still didn’t make much progress and in fact made something of a dog’s breakfast of my course.

It’s just that I simply can’t think, and when I can I can’t think quickly enough. And then nothing whatever is sticking in my teflon, non-stick brain

And that totally beats me into a state of despair. I’ve no idea how to fic it, no idea how to cure it and no idea how to cope with it either. In fact, all I know is that I’m a bit of a mess right now.

Still, as Bob Dylan said, "The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keeping on"

And whose hair used to be a lovely, gorgeous shade of red when I knew her? But we won’t meet again some day on the avenue, unfortunately.

When the Welsh lesson was over I came to make my stuff.

For the flapjack it’s basically a mixture of oats, flour, butter, sugar and seeing as I don’t have any syrup, some honey. And there’s all kinds of seeds, dried fruit and chopped nuts in it too

It’s quite simple to make and very nutritious. It makes a change from the fruit buns that I usually make for breakfast.

And then the biscuits. That’s just a basic 10/8/4 mix of flour, butter and sugar, and added in were a pile of chopped almonds and brazil nuts and chopped figs, with some vanilla and orange essence of course.

Had there been room in the oven I could have added many more things in too such as oats, honey, coconut, other fruits. Your imagination can run totally wild with biscuits. A couple of dessert spoons of cocoa powder make nice chocolate biscuits too but that’s for maybe next time.

Tea tonight was a taco roll, delicious as usual with some of the stuffing left over from last night. There’s plenty left for a leftover curry too. I need to lengthen it I reckon, so there will be a small can of lentils or chick peas added in. I’m rather low on potatoes right now and I need my chips at the weekend.

So right now I’m going to hit the hay and home for a better day at my Welsh class tomorrow. I’m working on the principle that if you throw enough whatsit at a wherever, some of it may stick eventually. But it’s taking a long time.

And time is something that I don’t have much of. I feel like the actor that I saw in a film as a child – "Oh Lord give me patience! And hurry!"

But it’s not patience that I need. It’s success and achievement, rather like the kamikaze pilot from Crewe who flew 17 missions during World War II.

There was actually a Japanese kamikaze pilot in World War II who went to his instructor to complain. "I don’t know what it is" he said "but I keep on missing the ships. What am I doing wrong?"
"That’s not a problem" replied the instructor. "I’ll show you how to do it. But I’m only going to show you the once, and then you’re on your own."

Tuesday 20th February 2024 – MY WELSH CLASS …

… passed surprisingly well today and I’ve no idea why.

It’s not as if I’ve done anything different at all. I’m still having no end of trouble trying to remember anything with this teflon brain that I have. And “teflon” because nothing seems to stick to it.

Homer Simpson is famous for saying "every time I learn something new, it pushes something old out". My problem is the opposite. I can sing you any kind of song lyrics from any kind of obscure rock song of the late 1960s but trying remember why I’ve just walked into the kitchen is something else entirely

So I have this brain, but nothing is sticking to it.

At least I can remember where my bed is. That would be a catastrophe if I couldn’t.

But I couldn’t remember to go to it at any kind of reasonable time. It was another depressingly late night and I have to stop doing it. I ought to be going to bed much earlier than I do.

Even though it was only a short night, it was a comfortable one without too much tossing and turning. When the alarm went off I was in our bedroom at Gainsborough Road checking on Nerina. She seemed to be fast asleep tucked up under the blankets so I whispered gently “I’m just going up for my lunch now” and turned to go. Just then the alarm went off. I thought to myself “it’s just typical, isn’t it? I’ve just made sure that Nerina’s nice and comfortable and now she’s going to be awoken by the alarm”.

However it was in fact mine in my bedroom, Billy Cotton shouting his WAKEY WA…..KEY! to half of the street and the people on the Ile de Chausey so I fell out of bed and checked my blood pressure. Only 15.4/9.6 this morning compared to 17.6/10.6 last night. Things are getting better.

There was a full house of medication this morning. I have all of the pills and tablets that I need for another few weeks, as well as four injections that my cleaner brought me yesterday. In fact I’m not really short of much at all right now so I fail to understand how my next LeClerc delivery next week is going to be over €60:00 and 33 items. I must be going all suburban these days instead of living the usual hand-to-mouth.

Back in here I had a listen to the rest of the dictaphone notes from the night. This was the story of Springsteen’s first album. It was a totally unexpected hit and how the leader of the group – it wasn’t Bruce Springsteen – was actually in the bath when the news broke. All of the reporters and journalists came his way but he didn’t understand what was going on either. When the reporters found out that it was Bruce Springsteen who had written them some of the journalists tried to interview him but he was ready with a quip about how his girlfriend had written one of the tracks but no-one wanted to talk to her. But they were all taken aback by the success. Springsteen related to the fact that none of them could actually speak the language that was being used. It was all a kind of elite grammar and pronunciation whereas Morse and his friends came from the back streets and spoke in a different fashion than Sprinsteen who had written most of the lyrics of the songs.

But this is really the Springsteen story. When Columbia Records fist saw him he was a solo artist playing his acoustic guitar and they immediately thought “the new Bob Dylan” and signed him up. When he turned up with all of this friends and their electric instruments Columbia Records was so disappointed and shunted him off to a studio out in the sticks

With no promotion his first couple of albums bombed but I remember back in the 70s seeing a television programme in which he was complaining about the lack of back-up. And then BORN TO RUN happened.

And although Springsteen’s then-girlfriend Karen Darvin didn’t write any of the lyrics, it’s been claimed that the song SHE’S THE ONE, one of my favourites and for obvious reasons too, refers to her.

"no matter where you sleep tonight or how far you run
Whoa – she’s the one, she’s the one"

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … bed, an office trip had been proposed and various people were thinking of going but the organisation was completely chaotic. The person who had taken on the job had suddenly fallen ill. In the end they managed to complete something and have some people ready to go, so everyone was ready for the next weekend. In te meantime they’d proposed some kid of race and I took part in it. I just followed someone round until the last minute and then overtook them and went through the chequered flag but she came and berated me for not telling everyone about this office trip. I told her that I hadn’t organised it. When she asked who had, I gave her a list of people whom I knew, all of whom are off sick. “I don’t even know who’s going but I’m sure that you can find someone around the office who can give you the information and see whether there are any places left to go”.

And I suppose we’ll now have all the old jokes about the certain people who were so disappointed when they learned that that proposed “Office Outing” referred to a day trip at the races.

But the funniest thing that I knew about office trips was the person who proposed a day trip on Concorde (when Concorde was flying) to somewhere interesting at a price not unadjacent to several hundred pounds per head.

He collected all of the money and when all of the passengers turned up at the airport they found that no such trip had been arranged and their erstwhile colleague had disappeared with all the money.

That’s the kind of thinking that I appreciate. It’s certainly a most elaborate and novel way to hand in your notice.

Having dealt with the dictaphone notes I revised for my Welsh lesson for a couple of hours and then went to make some coffee. The bread and butter pudding went the Way of the West on Monday so we’re back on the fruit buns.

The bread and butter pudding was in some senses a big disappointment. I made it beautifully and it tasted really nice too, but nature overwhelmed it quicker than I could eat it. Even dividnng it up into weekly amounts didn’t work if, like this last lot, there was a day that overran a weekend for some reason.

So we had a really good lesson and for a change I finished on the podium during a class quiz. And that’s something that hasn’t ever happened before.

This afternoon I had a little relax without doing very much for a couple of hours, and then attacked the radio notes. I’ selected, paired off and joined up all of the music for the first one and even begun to dictate the notes for it.

And while I was at it I even began to choose the music for the following programme. And if I manage to do that and dictate both lots of notes I’ll be up to the end of October once I’ve edited and assembled the backlog.

Having a stock saved up for the future is a good plan, and for obvious reasons too. I intend to live on, long after I’ve gone.

So having sent off the programme for this weekend, I went and made tea. A taco roll with stuffing, with rice and veg.

As for my new mayonnaise, the taste is absolutely delicious but it’s too thick. I was hoping that it would pour out of the bottle but it’s even thicker than store-bought mayonnaise. Next time I’ll use more milk to make it thinner so that it’ll pour.

So while the mayonnaise isn’t exactly what I wanted, it’s certainly proper mayonnaise as mayonnaise is supposed to be, and I’m not going to be troubled by vampires while I have any of this around the place. I might have gone a little overboard with the garlic.

IN a few minutes I’ll be going to bed. Despite a few wobbles here and there I’ve kept on going all through the day so I’m quite tired. A good sleep will do me good because I have plenty to do. My hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche tells me that "at present there are such goings-on that everything is at a standstill" and that sounds about right.

But not that I have much hope of doing it. When PG Wodehouse used to write his novels he said that quite often "I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit".

In my case though, it’s a keyboard and I curse a lot.

Thursday 1st February 2024 – I HAD A …

… visitor last night.

There I was, tucked well up under the bedclothes but in my head I could see my bedroom door

And then in came Zero

Whether or not I was dreaming, or whether or not I was hallucinating after taking another dose of that horrible sand-like medicine I really don’t know. It could have been either, I suppose

All that I could say is that it wasn’t for real. And isn’t that a shame?

It’s been a while since she put in an appearance. Apart from Castor who featured in a little voyage, the first for quite a while, a couple of weeks ago, my three favourite young ladies seemed to have fallen out of the picture.

Several others, such as The Vanilla Queen, have long ago dropped off the edge of whatever it is that goes on at night and I really would be disappointed if Castor, TOTGA and Zero were to go the same way, so it’s really nice to see Zero back in the fold again.

But while we’re on the subject of last night … "well, one of us is" – ed … instead of the nice early night that I promised myself, I ended up spending almost an hour cleaning the heads of a printer. How long should it take to print a medical prescription of one page of A4?

Having crashed out well and proper after tea, I was already running far later than I intended and that was the last thing that I needed.

And so in bed there I was and my mind was a-roving like it does. I was at work and one of my colleagues, a big aggressive guy, was complaining about one of our other colleagues who would never come when he was called. You had always to go to fetch him and he never seemed to be awake. This guy said “he’ll soon be awake in a minute. I’m going to sort him out”. He strode off down to the other end of the office. All of a sudden I heard my alarm go off and the strident tones of Billy Cotton, minus Band Show, shouting “WAYKEY WAY …… KAY!” followed by the opening bars of “Somebody Stole My Gal” just like he used to do on the radio when we were kids. I thought to myself “God! It’s not me he’s talking about, is it?”.

Yes, that’s my alarm call in the morning. I used to have David Bowie and WAKE UP LITTLE SLEEPY-HEAD but I’d sleep through that. No danger of anyone sleeping through Billy Cotton – not even my neighbours.

So having discovered that that was actually a dream, I fell out of bed and went for the blood pressure machine. A mere 17.8/12.7 this morning, compared to 17.6/10.1 last night. Obviously Billy Cotton gives me quite a jolt in the morning.

Mind you, having said that, I took last night’s blood pressure before I had the printer issues. I wonder what it would have been like afterwards.

In the kitchen, I had the medication – the last of this SODIUM POLYSTYRENE SULPHIDE and it really does say “polystyrene” on the label.

Last night I sent a mail to the hospital to say that if they wanted me to continue to use it they would have to send a repeat prescription, but they haven’t so it looks for the moment as if that’s it.

So it will be interesting to see if that’s the drug that’s causing me all these problems, or whether it’s one of the other new ones.

But on the other hand, thanks to my poor cleaner, there’s another new medication to start taking tomorrow, so that’s bound to stir up the deck a little.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night, because there was more than just Zero and a rude awakening. There was another long dream that seemed to go on for ever about me playing bass in a band. We were supporting Hawkwind. A little later on I’d had my illness and Hawkwind held a benefit concert for me. Things were slowly deteriorating and I’d been called back to the hospital again. They were to review all of my medication and change some of it. That didn’t bother me because it’s not the first time. When I went back in there was a football match on TV. I was back in at a certain time but they were running hours late so I had to amuse myself during this particular time. On the TV was a football match between Crewe Alexandra against someone. It was a match that I really wanted to see. Crewe played really well and in the end won 3-1. It was extremely important because it kept their place alive in the promotion. Then it was one of these films in black and white, cowboys from the 1930s and 40s with John Wayne, but first a film that actually went back further than that to the date of American independence about them being in forts and travelling from one fort to the next. I really can’t remember much more than this about this dream but it went on for ever.

We also has the European Union launching a space rocket. We were involved in the final preparations for its departure. There was no actual countdown as such which surprised us completely because everyone would like to know how long they have to do various jobs. We were working away and occasionally a voice would announce “20 minutes to blast-off” or something but there was no clock, no person giving the time and we had no idea what was happening. In the end we had everything ready and were waiting for the astronauts. Of course one of them had to use the bathroom, didn’t he? That was when the timing became critical. he really had to rush and even the person who said “10 seconds to blast-off” made some kind of remark. In the end he must have been back because ignition took place on time and the rocket left.

On the subject of rockets, the British had a space rocket at one time and it was called “The Civil Servant”. When asked why it was given the name, a Government spokesman replied "it costs the country a fortune, it won’t work and we can’t fire it"

Somewhere along the line there was a young girl who somehow managed to fall into a lake. There were two of us walking through the park talking and we dived in, rescued her and put her back on land. We just carried on walking and didn’t think anything of it. A week or so later Nerina was talking about a colleague of hers who worked at the Council who had been fired because he’d been messing up all the street names. For example, Edleston Road in Crewe he’d now changed to Market Street but Market Street was somewhere else in the town. It was all starting to become crazy. In the end he was fired. Nerina told me a story about how he was painting the yellow lines marking the edge of pavements in the wrong place. On one occasion he’d put them so wrong at a lake that a girl had fallen in and two men had rescued her. I told her that that was us, me and the other person. She was totally surprised about that. She had no idea that I’d dived into the water to save someone.

This reminds me of a time when Nerina saved me from drowning when I once fell into a lake. When her friends asked her how, she replied "Simple. I took my foot off his head".

There was much more to what went on during the night, by the way, but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your meal right now

After my nice strong black coffee and slice of bread pudding I attacked the Isle of Wight Festival 1968.

Much to my surprise, not only did I manage to track down tons of obscure material by many of the obscure bands that was there, I even found, embedded in a documentary, an elusive 40-second piece of music, the only known recording of the only known concert appearance by a group the basis of which went on to be “Queen”.

You’ve no idea how difficult that was to tease out of its setting, not being helped by being interrupted by my cleaner who brought me another lot of medication.

There was nothing whatever by the group that opened the Festival, an obscure isle of Wight band that didn’t last long and disappeared without trace long before portable home taping. However I found the name of the band’s guitarist and even found a short guitar piece that he played as an advert for a local pub on the island. So that’s in the mix too.

And then I found a major issue. Even though the Festival was officially advertised for the Saturday and Sunday, there were two bands that played on the Friday night to the assembled campers there so I can’t really say that the Festival started on the Saturday morning.

That means that what I’ve done so far will have to wait for another … gulp … five years.

So instead I began to prepare another programme for the missing date. I’ve chosen all of the music for it and even paired some of it off. I would have done even more except that, once more, I was out like a light with no warning whatsoever at about 17:00 and didn’t come round until 18:48 – and then I was in no fit state to do anything for a while.

Tea tonight was different. I have tons of tinned food around the place that I bought when I first moved in here as a kind of emergency reserve if I can’t manage to go out due to illness. It’s now becoming rather well out-of-date so tonight I made myself pasta with a tinned kind-of complement to a dish of couscous and meat.

Of course it wasn’t that simple. I friend some onion and garlic with herbs and spices and then added the couscous vegetables with some tomato sauce before I tipped it into the saucepan with the pasta.

There are chickpeas in the mix so there is some protein going in.

As I use up the tinned stuff I’ll be replacing it with more modern in-date food, but the stuff that I bought from Noz is irreplaceable of course so I don’t know what I’ll do about that.

So with no printer to worry about tonight (as yet – the night is young) and still over an hour to bedtime I’m going to have a bash on the guitar.

Over the last day or two I’ve been having fun with Tom Petty’s version of the Byrds’ version of Bob Dylan’s YOU AIN’T GOIN’ NOWHERE. I thought that the title was somehow appropriate given my state of health these days

“Strap yourself to a tree with roots” as the song goes, but I can’t even go outside to find a blasted oak, never mind a flaming beech.

But leaving that aside, the arrival of country musician Gram Parsons to the Byrds could have been a total disaster and could have completely ruined the band but instead they produced ONE OF THE FINEST ALBUMS OF 1968, which says a lot considering how many fine albums there were that year.

It brings back many happy memories for me singing IN SOUTH CAROLINA THERE ARE MANY TALL PINES as I was driving down through the tall pines of South Carolina in 2005 on my way to Rhys’s wedding.

"But now when I’m lonesome, I always pretend
That I’m getting the feel of hickory wind"

And wouldn’t it be nice to have the feel of hickory wind right now? But if I play my cards right I might not be lonely. Having had Zero through the door last night, whose turn is it tonight?

Knowing my luck, I can guess. It won’t be TOTGA or Castor. But as they used to say, you have to take things as you find them and make the best of it. "In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts" as Théoden said.

Saturday 27th January 2024 – SITTING IN MY FRIDGE …

… right now, even as we speak, is a bottle full of carrot and broccoli water from when I blanched and froze those carrots and broccoli the other day.

That’s right. Brain of Britain here forgot about it and so didn’t use it for making his broccoli stalk soup today

Mind you, the soup was still really nice and I enjoyed every last drop of it. I thought that I’d made enough for two days but after the first couple of drops soaked up into a lump of bread roll made fresh yesterday, the idea of saving anything for another time went right out of the window.

There have been plenty of broccoli stalk soups that have passed through these pages so if you want to see the recipe, just click on the “broccoli and potato soup” tag at the foot of this entry and it will take you to several pages.

In these pages I talk a lot about my cooking, and for several reasons too.
Firstly, my mother was a hopeless cook so I spent a lot of time later living out of tins. It wasn’t until I met Nerina that I began to eat really well. With an Italian mother, what do you expect? I learnt a lot from Nerina, and from Liz and also from that Italian Restaurant in Wandsworth where I worked one winter
Secondly, I’m proud of what I cook. Although it’s pretty basic stuff, I eat really well considering.
Thirdly, with not going out or anything like that I have plenty of time on my hands and I need a good hobby. I’ve arranged my kitchen so that if I prop myself up in the corner between the sink and the hob, almost everything except the freezer in the bathroom is at arm’s length and I don’t have to move anywhere
Fourthly, if anyone can ever suggest any improvements in my recipes feel free to send me some tips. I’m always grateful to receive them.

But that Italian restaurant was a riot.

It all began with a friend of mine living in Newcastle upon Tyne complaining that he was unemployed and couldn’t find a job. I told him to go to London where there were plenty of jobs. But he found excuse after excuse to everything I said.

In the end I was so fed up that one winter when I had nothing to do I put an ad in one of these local newspapers in London asking for a room. And I had one in Wandsworth arranged within half an hour.

On the train (I was determined not to use the car) I came to London, the Underground to Wandsworth and then a bus to my digs. I was installed.

Before I’d even unpacked I walked down to the High Street past a parade of shops where there was an Employment Agency and an Italian Restaurant. And within 15 minutes I had a day job driving a bus for schoolkids for Merton Borough Council and an evening job delivering food

The Christmas period was chaos though. The schools had closed so I was full-time in the restaurant. There at 06:00 to prepare for opening (as a café) at 07:00. Close at 14:00 and then prepare for the evening.

When you finished, everyone slept underneath the nice warm pizza ovens for three hours or so before getting up at 18:00 ready to open at 19:00. When the restaurant closed, you’d prepare for the next morning.

No question of “that is your job, this is my job”. Everyone did everything – cooking, waiting at table, preparing, driving. My tomato sauce actually passed muster in a professional environment, thanks, Nerina.

It was absolutely insane, but I daren’t tell you how much money I took back to Brussels after three months, all in used fivers in a plain brown envelope.

However, let’s turn our attention to last night. In bed nice and comfortably for once, rather later than I was hoping, I was asleep quite quickly as you might expect after this anti-potassium stuff.

However, it was quite a turbulent night . On the dictaphone there was a ton of stuff, much of which has an important significance so it really must have been quite interesting too.

I started out with my rock group last night. There was something going on, whether it was a rehearsal or something I dunno. I was in the middle of playing one of our numbers when wherever we were was raided by the police. We managed to get the young girl violinist away before anyone said anything but the police wandered around, noticed that she wasn’t there and insisted that she be brought. We said that it was impossible so they threatened us for a blood test etc. They kept on insisting that she turn up. This was going to turn into a rather nasty situation. I was in some kind of school hall or something I dunno. When the guy with me said “have you ever seen the dawn rise in the morning?” he took me outside and we watched the sun slowly rise over the horizon.

And you’ll be surprised about how much truth there is in a short tale like that. One of these days I’ll tell you about it but the World isn’t ready yet to hear the story.

That thing about me and the World War that broke out. The Germans bombed all around Mill Lane and the British denounced them as terrorists yet all around Mill Lane (wherever Mill Lane might be) were all kinds of ammunition factories therefore it was all perfectly legitimate so the UK should not have denounced them at all, particularly when you consider some of the things that they were doing

You’ll be surprised at how much truth there was in this story too. One of my University theses for my degree (I actually wrote two) was ABOUT COVENTRY AND IEPER and reading the howls of indignation about the bombing of Coventry in 1940 despite the fact that it was clearly a legitimate military target, yet three years later when the UK had acquired the technology to do so, they were shamelessly targeting the civilian population of Germany with no restraint whatsoever.

By the way, if you want to read MY SECOND THESIS, all five pages (there was sixth one added to finish off the story) were redacted for the web.

Having had a great deal of trouble completing the practical work for some of my modules (or not even starting it at all) due to the chaos that ensued after September 11th 2001 I was miles behind with my course and I chose two modules with theses and no practical work so that I could write them in the car while sitting on places like deserted airfields in former East Germany day after day after day, all of that kind of lark, in the hope that that would pull my score back up.

However, as we all know, there’s a huge problem with “mature” (I use the term loosely) students.
Firstly, we were too old, too experienced and too worldly-wise to be herded around like 18 year-olds. Many of the tutors who came in from other Universities had no experience of dealing with people like us and their attitudes and attempts at discipline just didn’t wash
Secondly, life tended to get in the way of course work. “This assignment should have been handed in yesterday”. “Yes, but my baby was sick” or “my house burnt down” or “I had to go on a mission for my boss”. These were genuine excuses that many of the tutors didn’t understand. These weren’t “18 year old” problems to which the tutors were accustomed.
Thirdly, and this was my great problem, I wasn’t studying for a career path and desperate for a degree. I had my career all nicely planned out and I was heading where I wanted to go (that’s not to say that it didn’t change dramatically once I graduated, but that’s another story completely). I was studying for my personal interest and if there was a qualification after it, well, that’s nice but it wasn’t the name of the game. I’d find something that interested me and follow that trail for miles and miles, suddenly finding that I’d departed a long way from the core of the course and was totally off-target. But did I care? I was totally absorbed and having fun.

However, as an aside, I can still add “B.Sc.Hons” to my name if ever I feel like it.

In another dream I had to go to Manchester – I’m not sure whether it was work or for the hospital but I awoke rather late and wasn’t sure whether they knew about my trip etc. As I was dressing I turned on the radio and found that I could pick up the channel on which their cars broadcasted so while I was washing i listened to any sign that they might be coming to pick me up. I got as far as my T-shirt and undies off and was washing myself waiting to hear that the taxi company was coming to pick me up but I wasn’t really optimistic that they’d written it down or remembered.

At one point during the night I was turning around over and over trying to be comfortable when I felt that the bed was moving and suddenly stopped with an almighty jolt but it can’t move as its a fixed bed. It did it again later on too. I’ll tell you what – I’d get good money for this anti-potassium stuff on the back streets of Granville if only I could walk out there.

Someone called Ruth was running some kind of garage in the neighbourhood and had become friendly with me. Although I liked her coming around, I wasn’t really interested in a relationship. One day I was hurt and had to go to hospital. I knew that she would be coming round later in the day so I didn’t say anything to her. I had my cleaner help me when the car came to pick me up and take me off. I had a good chat to my cleaner about the situation and a chat with the taxi driver too. It seemed to be the best solution that one of the two of us (Ruth or me) move away. She was probably the most likely to move as the garage wasn’t doing very much. I had my treatment and asked “what time is it?”. It was about an hour to return home and it was 14:00 and she was coming to see me at 15:00 so I thought that we’d make it fine. He set out to drive me home. On the way back he asked me a riddle about the United Kingdom but I can’t remember it now. I could actually work it out, which was quite impressive. We talked again about this woman on the way back. When we arrived it was 15:00. We were just arriving when on the way back we went past her garage and there were just 2 cars on the front, an Austin Maxi at £1745 and another vehicle for about a similar price. I thought “she’s not going to make any money trying to sell those cars at that price. No-one is going to pay that much money for them”.

And considering what I wrote earlier, it’s totally ironic that someone called Ruth should appear in my dreams later on. But the owner of a garage? I really don’t think so.

I was going through another long rambling dream concerning Norman Smith, the recording engineer better known of course as the rock star Hurricane Smith who produced several albums and was going to produce an album for a woman who sang with Abba which was to be filmed on a dusty petrol station near where we lived so we went along to see. But once more I ended up being taken to hospital again where they checked me over and took my blood pressure. I was polite to them but I didn’t see why they needed to take my pressure. The nurse who was rather like Oddjob in GOLDFINGER came along and soon quietened me. This went on for a while with a lot of intervention. Eventually I was let go at about midday so I reckoned to the driver that we could make it back at 13:00 when all of this began. I can’t remember any more about the rest but I know that it was very interesting.

One thing that I did remember about that dream that comes back to me was talking to the taxi driver about death and dying- him saying that if I did decide to take my own life I would probably be disappointed because there weren’t all that many people in the concert hall to watch Hawkwind which I didn’t believe at all. I was polite enough not to say. However my brother-in-law who was a part-time goalkeeper went flying past somehow on some kind of mission for someone – not on an aeroplane etc bust just floating in the air flying along overtaking a car.

A group of us had gone off to climb Mount Everest or something like that. We’d set out early one morning. There were several other people making their way up the mountain. We all trudged in a weary line until it became early evening. There was a kind of café-restaurant there so we all swarmed in. After everyone else was seated there was only one place for me, by a young girl. I went and sat next to her and we slowly began to chat. It turned out that she was from Montréal although she spoke English. We talked a lot about Montréal and when she found out that I’d lived in Chester she talked about her visit to Chester. We were handed a menu. I had a look down it and there was only one vegan dish. She told me what she wanted so I ordered it and ordered my vegan one. She seemed to be quite pleased at that. We carried on chatting and ever so slowly my arm went around her. She slowly cuddled up against me which I thought was unusual. My brother came along, as he would, and talked about going to fetch something from the shops. Someone gave him their order and someone else ordered something else. The two of us ordered something (we were definitely “the two of us” by this time). He wandered off to the shops. Every now and again we saw some people come back. She would ask “is that him?”. I replied “no, he’ll be walking with a limp”. She asked “why is that?”. I replied “because he’ll be shocked having to spend all that money”. Eventually he came back and handed her a receipt for repairs to her car. I found out that she had an old Zephyr 6 which impressed me greatly. He said “you know that your repairs are going to cost you over £1000”. She didn’t say very much to that. We walked outside this restaurant and there were parking places at the back for cars. She asked if they were private places. I replied “yes they are”. She replied “if I leave my car here I won’t have to come back, will I?”. In an automatism I gave a despairing “Awww” – actually a real despairing Awww too. I could see the look on her face slowly change to one of happiness. I thought to myself “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”

Yes, “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”. Here we are, almost on the point of finally Getting The Girl and the dream grinds to a halt. And we can’t have a dream like this without at least one person from my family coming along to try to spike my guns, can we?

Incidentally, we – or rather my father when we were kids – had a Zephyr 6 mark III, a black one, 3816 TD. I remember it well.

And after I sold my MkI Cortina (which features regularly on these pages) I had a MkIV Zephyr 6 for a short while but it caught fire. We’d been to see Jethro Tull at that venue in Ardwick, South-West Manchester … "the Apollo" – ed … and I’d parked on a demolition site around the corner. Coming off after the concert, I grounded out on some rubble, not realising that it had scraped away part of the fuel line and there was a fuel leak that ignited.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errrr … bed I’d forgotten something about the girl. We ended up back in a rented apartment that I’d rented. There was only one bed so naturally I explained to her the situation. She seemed to be quite comfortable with it so that night we slept together, and slept together for a considerable number of nights. After that she came to Granville for a look around to see what the town has to offer. As her visa was about to expire she went back to Canada and I hoped that I’d see her again and that she wished to come back.

And so Our Hero finally Gets The Girl after all of these years of dreaming. And it takes the French Government’s Interior Ministry to intervene this time and put a stop to whatever is going on. Do you ever get the feeling that you are just not going to win?

Back in this dream … "which dream?" – ed … I met a car with 4 boys – I don’t know if they were the four that I mentioned before, if indeed I did mention them … "no, you didn’t" – ed … I had a Ryobi drill and was doing some things with it. In the end I took the mandrel off and fitted a huge mandrel like a bolt thread that you’d use for drawing nuts up long distances. For some unknown reason it wouldn’t go in and I didn’t want to force it. The guy next to me said that he’d done it on his old car and it will fit so I had to squeeze it very tightly to open the internal jaws on the drill and fit this attachment in. Then I couldn’t find the nut so he asked if anyone had a nut. One guy replied that he had one but it was on his A40. We ended up talking about old cars – I had the Cortinas, ha had the A40, someone else had an A50 and the conversation became quite interesting.

So after all of that – well, most of it anyway, the alarm went off and I arose from the Dead.

Once more I’ve no idea what they will make of the blood pressure figure this morning. Not wracked with pain so it was only 18.0/11.6. What did the letter from the hospital say? Ahh yes – “target figure maximum 14.0/9.5”.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I came in here to begin to transcribe the dictaphone notes. There were that many, as you have seen, that I was nowhere near finishing them when I went off to make my delicious broccoli stalk soup.

Back hereat my desk at 11:15 after all of that and despite two cups of strong black coffee I crashed out immediately. Really, this stuff that they are giving me is ridiculous.

while I was asleep, crashed out in the morning I was waiting for a tram in Haslington. Along came the mother of The Farmer’s Daughter, someone who has figured a few times in my dreams in the past. She said a few encouraging words which quite surprised me – I was half-expecting her to tell me to keep away from her daughter. She said a few other things too that quite surprised me. After she’d gone my mother came along. She said that she’d heard a few stories about the woman, including that she was terrorised by her husband who seemed to control her far too much. I said “you know, you aren’t the first to say that. You aren’t even the second”. “Why?” she asked “Who else has said that kind of thing?”. I replied “what do you think she’s just been saying to me then?”.

It was 12:48 when I awoke and do you know what? I hadn’t felt a thing. It was only the fact of meeting that woman in my dream that made me even realise that I’d been asleep. It was just as if someone had flicked a switch and I’d gone out like a light.

It took an age for me to get my head together after that and continue with the dictaphone notes, stopping and almost dozing off every 5 minutes. It took me almost until hot chocolate time to finish them.

After the hot chocolate I started work but Rosemary rang me later. Only 1 hour and 28 minutes this time. A short ‘phone call then. We spent tons of time chatting about nothing at all, as friends often do. She’s also talking about coming to visit me, which will be nice

Tea tonight was, seeing as I have run out of those lovely quorn fillets that I so like and Leclerc had none in stock, a burger on a bap with air-fried chips and a vegan salad. As I said, my food is quite simple but it isn’t half delicious.

So hallucinating badly every time that I close my eyes and trying hard not to fall asleep I’m going. I might crash out for an hour or so and then I have the radio notes to dictate.

God alone knows what’s on them. This stuff that I’m taking is making me talk – and type – total rubbish in this confused state in which I find myself right now

Not half as confused as the old woman in the Old People’s Home who once hurled a volley of abuse at the old Queen Mother.
"Don’t you know who I am?" asked the Queen Mother indignantly.
"No, dear" said the old woman. "But don’t worry. Ask the Matron. She’ll tell you."

Monday 22nd January 2024 – THIS PERISHING RUBBISH …

… that I’m taking to control the potassium in my kidneys is going way beyond what is reasonable.

After having the helping at 07:30 or so with the morning medication by 09:05 I was out like a light and the next thing that I remember was that it was about 11:00. It was really as if someone had simply flicked a switch.

And when I awoke I was in a state of utter confusion that has continued to some extent or another throughout the day

Surprisingly, I found that I had even been on my travels while I was crashed out on the chair. I was in Nantwich and noticed that there was a big hotel right opposite the railway station, right by the bus station (which it isn’t) so I had this idea of going round France and the UK, finding similar hotels located in similar good positions and marketing holidays aimed at the pedestrian tourist with luggage. When Hawkwind awoke me with ANGELS OF DEATH I was busy setting up a stand at a railway junction in the Gironde somewhere in order to greet my passengers who were changing trains there.

That’s exactly how deep a sleep it was.

But returning to last night, I didn’t need much rocking when I went to bed loaded up with this anti-potassium stuff, that’s for sure. I was soon away with the fairies.

And quite literally too. I must have travelled miles during the night. I dreamed that I’d had one of those drinks again (and that’s bad news, isn’t it?). I remember so vividly mixing it and drinking it and thinking that this time of course it didn’t taste so bad so what was I worried about? Thinking that it was the nicest one yet. When I turned over I awoke from the pain in my leg. I looked at my watch and it was 00:25 and I was still in bed so it was something that I obviously must have dreamt but it was so real.

Later on I was in my blue MkI Cortina. I was out with a girl again last night. I had to take her home so we drove home. As we went through Haslington there was a sign that said “Winsford Station” and it was 8.5 miles away. I thought that that was a strange thing to see. I brought her home and parked outside the door to her apartment. I asked her for a kiss but she thought that it was rather too much of a public place. But we had a bit of a kiss etc parked outside her door then she went in. I wish that I knew who she was. She was very familiar to me but I just can’t think whether I knew her or not. Just round the corner from there was a golf club. I wanted to use the bathroom so I thought that I’d go there. I went in and did what I needed to do. I thought that these toilets are much higher than the usual ones and I felt much more comfortable sitting on these than I did on the one back at home at the traditional height. It was easy for me to dress afterwards. As I turned to wash my hands I noticed that someone had left a golf cart and golf clubs right by the sink. I washed as well as I could. I picked up my crutches but there were some other crutches there too. I picked those up and walked outside. There was a cleaning team there because it was time to go home and close the building. I explained to one of them, a young guy, that there was a set of golf clubs still in the toilet. He thanked me and said goodbye. he told me not to forget all my crutches. I realised that I had the ones that weren’t mine so I told him about those too and handed them to one of the people.

But I wish that I knew who that girl was. She seemed so familiar to me that I’m sure that I recognised her but I just couldn’t put a name to her. And isn’t that a shame?

And then it was common knowledge that I was leaving the hospital so a day or two before I was due to go a whole crocodile of people passed by my bed in a kind-of conga dance to say goodbye to me. I was drugged up to the eyebrows so I was rather unaware, rather unsure. One of the very last people to go was something small dressed in pierrot’s clothes and a STRAWBERRY MOOSE hat on it. With it being small it can’t possibly have been someone who worked there. Then I remembered that one of the staff had a very young daughter and brought her into the hospital every now and again. She’d been to see me a few times so I reached out, touched her arm and began to stroke it in time to the music. A horrible thought came over me “I wish that I knew who this was and I hope that it was that young girl otherwise this is going to be a terribly embarrassing situation in which to be”. I forgot to mention that right at the very beginning I was asleep. It was someone blowing a hunting horn of some description that had in fact awoken me, just blowing 2 blasts on this horn so I was awake and that was how, because of this horn

Next off I was with Nerina in a house somewhere. I can’t remember very much about this dream. I’d prepared a programme for the radio and had sent it off. Very near the end what I’d put in there was wiped out and Thierry’s voice came over, introduced a song but it only played so many seconds of it before it cut to the News. I heard him say “oh blast!” but I wasn’t sure whether it was for real or on the radio. After the news his voice carried on and went well over the hour so I had no idea what was happening. In the meantime I was planning on buying a house. I’d seen one out in Brittany that I’d liked , a farm cottage type of place on the edge of a village with outbuildings at the back for the cars. I’d bought it but trying to obtain possession was proving to be really complicated. I knew that it would happen and I knew that it would come but trying to actually physically obtain it was proving to be extremely difficult

After that, someone came along and awoke me and said that it was time so I began to get up but I thought that it was rather early. My pianist, who was sleeping in the same room got up and told everyone that she would help me. That seemed to satisfy them all. After some debate and discussion they all left. In the meantime I went back to sleep again. Then I awoke and wondered why the alarm hadn’t gone off for a second time. I looked at my watch and it was 05:46, a long time before the alarm goes off so that part must have been a dream too.

And who was this pianist? Surely not the 12-inch pianist that my rather deaf fairy Godmother brought me once.

When the alarm went off I was busy being interviewed by a Colonel from a Home Guard regiment in Normandy. They were creating this to defend the land against the invading Germans and wanted volunteers so I went along. He laughed and said that I wouldn’t be any good. I explained that I couldn’t march and couldn’t run but I could fire a gun. I could be the battalion reserve. In case of invasion they could just put me somewhere with a machine gun and I could act as their hold-up man while they went off and found some better positions somewhere.

There was even more that this but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your lunch right now.

So I staggered on my crutches into the kitchen to pump myself up with more medication, and then back in here to check the mails and messages. and I do appreciate all of the mails and messages that I receive.

Having transcribed the dictaphone notes I promptly crashed out as I said just now.

It was a very bleary-eyed and comparatively incoherent me who had to speak to the nurse from the hospital ringing up to find out how I was. I told her about the problems with the anti-potassium medication and about water retention, the ack of ability to walk etc.

She replied that she’d speak to the doctor about it but as yet no-one has come back to me. They are probably waiting for the result of this week’s blood test.

And so am I if it means that I can stop taking the blasted stuff.

There was an exciting phone call over midday too. I was speaking to my neighbour on the phone when suddenly she had to go because there was someone at her door.

No sooner had she come back and restarted the chat when I had to go because there was someone at my door. It was my long-suffering cleaner who had brought me my next lot of injections. And there are more to come too, which will be here on Wednesday. I hope that there will be some room in the fridge.

We finally managed to finish our ‘phone call and then I had to chase up this bon de transport to go to Paris tomorrow. And the doctor had actually already sent it – to the taxi company.

And he’s put the address incorrectly. It’s not actually the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière where I’m going but the Hospital St Antoine. I hope that the taxi driver knows the way and it won’t cause any complications, because the doctor has filled out bon de transport is for the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière.

The ambulance company that brought me home on Friday rang me too. There’s some confusion in their office about my health cover

Apart from that I’ve been weaving my way through the next radio programme. I listened to the one for this week and sent it off and then made a start on another.

And how difficult is it when you have all these interruptions and your head is going round and round after this drink? It took me an age to choose the music and pair it off, and I’ve only written half of the notes. I really ought to be doing better than this.

But not right now though. I’ve had tea – a stuffed pepper that somehow didn’t seem to be as nice as usual and I don’t know why, and now I’m off to bed ready for my … gulp … 06:30 alarm clock.

Before I go though, I’ll leave you with THE HIGHLIGHTS of the game from the weekend. When that ball hit the bar after 55 seconds, I could hear it from here, never mind on the computer.

In case you’re wondering, which I’m sure you are, the team in purple are under-21 stars of a team that’s pushing for promotion in the English Championship. The team in white and green are basically Saturday afternoon players from Wales.

But look at their third and fifth goals. Aren’t they peaches?

Saturday 13th January 2024 – “IT SOUNDS TOO …

… good to be true”.

Yes, doesn’t it just?

There I was, lying awake, watching the clock on my fitbit tick round and round. 05:35 came round certainly – I saw it and watched it. And a few other times too.

It seems that even being a passenger in a car, never mind the driver, is having this effect on me. In the old days, as I have mentioned previously… "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’d go for a good run before going to bed in order to ease the stress, but I can’t even go for a good walk these days.

And even less so, starting from this afternoon

There was football on the internet, Cardiff Metropolitan v Caernarfon, and I watched the first half on my knees. I’d tripped over something coming into the bedroom and ended up flat on my knees. It took me 50 minutes before I could invent a means of standing up.

My right leg, which was bad before, is now completely impossible. I’d tell you more but there’s no feeling in it as you know. I’ll have to wait until I go to the Centre de Re-education on Tuesday to find out just how bad it is.

The good news (and there has been some today and, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any) is that my leek and potato soup was cooked to perfection and the home-made bread rolls were delicious too

For tonight’s meal, the oven chips cooked in the air fryer were done to absolute perfection too so the meal of salad, chips and one of those soya steaks in breadcrumbs was wonderful

Not so much the bread pudding. That was definitely the worse for wear after my week away from home so that’s now pushing up the daisies. But me no daft, me no silly, I’d cut a big pudding into 4 large sliced and there are still 3 in the freezer.

So meanwhile, back at the ran … err … bed I checked the dictaphone when I finally did awaken at 09:50 and there was tons of stuff on it.

We started off with me playing bass and singing in a rock group with a guitarist, my friend from the Wirral on rhythm guitar and a drummer, and we were playing a concert in a pub somewhere in Crewe. Neither the gear nor the van had arrived. It was my friend from the Wirral who was driving it. He eventually turned up, much to the applause of the audience and much to our relief, about an hour late, and we set up our instruments. My friend from the Wirral just sat on the floor, refused to move, refused to stand up and refused to play. He was known for having his moody fits and outbursts and was just in one of them at the moment. In the end the guitarist and I just shrugged our shoulders and began to play. We began to play BORN TO BE WILD. When I awoke I was actually singing it, live on stage, something that took me completely by surprise.

This dream is famous for several things.

Firstly, I did have a friend like that. He would freeze in times of stress and would be totally incapable of acting if a problem arose. On several occasions his friends have had to rally round and help him out of his problems.

Secondly, I was always happier playing in a power trio of drummer, guitarist and me. I had a very good drummer with whom I had a good rapport and we as a rhythm section played in several bands. But every time a fourth (or fifth) member came along, it usually dissoived into chaos.

One thing though, was that I loved to sing but the guitarist with whom I was most associated was also a singer who loved to sing so my chances were few and far between, even though I actually owned the PA that we used (a 200-watt Hiwatt amp with 2x 4×12″ columns and several treble horns).

There’s a story behind those horns too. I wanted a set and there was a pair advertised in the Manchester Evening News at an address in Stockport so we went round hot-foot. And who should open the door but Graham Gouldman, songwriter and bassist at Strawberry Studios down the road from there.

On the subject of people called Graham, I hear that Grahame and STRAWBERRY MOOSE have been having a lively chat via e-mail today.

But thirdly, there’s something that I really don’t understand about this dream is that although I didn’t dictate it, we had another person up on that stage for a while. And I know that we did because I even remember introducing her to the public, the words that I used to introduce her, and the songs that we played.

Anyone care to guess who it was?

When I introduced her to the public from the stage in Crewe as she came up and put on her guitar, I used her real name (not the name by which she is known in these pages), I mentioned her age (which is something that I would absolutely not do these days for anyone) and so asked the audience to “be gentle with her, because I am gentle with her”, something that might have raised a good laugh 50 years ago but would be an absolutely outrageous thing to say today.

We played several numbers that we had worked on together on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR (so you’ve probably guessed now who she was) including that one by Green Day … "BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS" – ed … where that young Inuit boy on board joined in with us.

But what’s astonishing about this is that she put in an appearance and I didn’t dictate it. The other week when I mentioned that my subconscious must be creating a barrier between me and certain people, I wasn’t sure that I was being serious.

After last night’s escapade, I am now. And what I would like to know is how many times and for how long has it been doing that.

One of the most extraordinary things that came out of this exercise that we do about dreams was the girl who dreamt that she could run around in the fields and forests even though she was born without legs and had never un an inch in her life. But this can’t be far behind that.

What happened after this was pretty banal by these kinds of standards. I was part of a delegation that went to South Korea to a military air base there to discuss the products of our company with some people from the Korean military. One night while we were there the guests inn the bar were Widespread Panic. Of course, we went. There was a problem with the cash machine in the restaurant where the concert was to take place. It kept on ringing up ice cream as “various” and charging a purely nominal amount for it so of course we were ordering ice cream all the way through the night like most people would order a beer. We were eating tons of it and I was sure that we would be sick next morning. When we returned it showed the bill from this night at the restaurant had twice as many ices as we had ordered. Instead of there being three for some rounds there had been six. The accounts department was extremely concerned and called us in. I explained that at some part of the night another three people had noticed what we were doing and came over to talk to us. They joined in this ice cream orgy. The accounts department then asked why it was that we considered it to be appropriate that their ice cream should be added to our bill. I explained that these three people were in fact a delegation from Airbus there to see the Korean military too. We were of the opinion that it would be a good idea to entertain them to ice cream because it could open a lot of doors for our company in the UK and France which otherwise would never ever open to anyone. That seemed to settle the matter and everyone seemed quite happy. A few of our colleagues were surprised and disappointed and questioned the bill but that was more out of jealously than anything else.

I’ll have to stop leaning over to where my dictaphone would be in Paris. Anyway Nerina and I had gone on a boat trip around the harbour in St Helier and the Channel Islands area. It was one of these large motor yacht type of things that would carry a dozen couples or something. We boarded it and it set off. We were given something of a running commentary. We noticed that there were plenty of kids up at the front, fishing out of the water all kinds of plastic like old buckets, fishing buoys, jerry cans etc, trying to clean up the harbour. Anything that they noticed, they pulled out. I went to have a look. There were loads of letters there too so I began to fish them out. Many of them were addressed to me so I was quickly collecting a pocketful. There were some addressed to others and looked quite important. In the meantime this guy was busy talking. We noticed that one or two of the couples were actually jumping into the water, swimming around and then catching up the boat. For some reason Nerina and I jumped in and we had a great time splashing around in the harbour. We suddenly realised that the boat was a long way from us by now so we had to swim like hell to catch up with it. I was pulling out more letters from the water at the same time. Eventually we managed to climb aboard. She climbed up the steps at the back and asked me how I came on board. I pointed out a ladder that was there on the rear corner of the boat that she obviously hadn’t seen. We sat down again and I began to open these letters. There was one that was from Poland and had a diplomatic stamp on it. I wondered what this was all about. I managed to open it discreetly. There was a return envelope inside, a pre-stamped one with a Polish diplomatic pass stamp on it addressed to someone at our address urging them to make their donation to their war relief as quickly as possible. I showed it to Nerina to ask her what she thought about it. We sat there puzzling over it.

And as if I’d ever want to swim around in the harbour of St Helier. I’ve seen what’s pumped into there.

The soup was, as I said, delicious.

  • chop a small onion and fry it in olive oil and butter
  • add a couple of garlic cloves with coriander and chives
  • when these are browned and smell nice, add in your finely chopped leeks and potatoes, and stir round to fry for 10 minutes
  • add just enough water to cover, add a stock cube and leave to slow boil (with the lid on) until the potatoes and leeks are really mushy
  • add some soya cream
  • remove from the heat and whizz up with your whizzer
  • then eat with the fresh bread that you prepared earlier and baked while all of the above was going on

As for quantities – leeks and potatoes, how many do you have that need to be used?
And the rest – it’s all down to taste.

There had been some washing going on while all of this was happening so after lunch I hung it up to dry.

Then I … errr … had a little relax.

Watching the football from the floor was a new experience, although I managed to pull myself upright by half-time. Caernarfon had to do better against Cardiff Metropolitan than Hwlllffordd did against Y Bala in order to qualify for the playoffs for a European place next season.

And in a pulsating game that roared from end to end with Caernarfon’s new signing from Porthmadog, Morgan Owen, having an outstanding game, they were still 2-1 down with minutes to go while Hwllffordd were 2-1 up.

But in wild drama at the end, first Danny Gosset scored an equaliser for Caernarfon with just minutes to go, and then down in West Wales Y Bala scored 2 quick goals .

So it’s Caernarfon who push on for Europe while Hwllffordd have to join the fight against relegation.

Tea as I said was excellent so now as I’m cold and in total agony from my knee, I’m off to bed.

Will the young lady from last night come to join me for the second half of our gig? Or will it be someone new?

And more to the point, if my subconscious really is trying to block out some people from visiting me, I can name half a dozen for a start and my subconscious can block them out starting tonight, with my full permission and pleasure.

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.

Monday 25th December 2023 – A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS …

… to all my readers. I hope that you had a lovely day and that Santa was kind to you.

This year I shall be changing the habits of a lifetime and I shan’t regale you about the public conveniences on Crewe Bus Station as I do every Christmas, for the simple reason that they are no longer there.

Like everything else in Crewe these days, they have gone the Way of the West and right now Crewe Town Centre is looking like Dresden in 1945 after an Allied air raid.

And that’s a shame about the public conveniences. I have many fond memories of them and in particular about how a careful study of the helpful diagrams on the walls helped me pass my ‘O’ Level Biology so convincingly.

But anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here. Despite going to bed late last night I was up and wandering about at 07:45 this morning – after just about 6 hours sleep.

It beats me what is going on right now – the days when I could have 10 and even 12 hours sleep weren’t all that long ago, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Mind you, I did notice that for one of these medicaments that I’ve been having since my stay in October, one of the side effects is “disturbed sleep patterns” but I don’t think that it’s the sleeping patterns that are necessarily disturbed.

Once I’d organised myself, I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. Nerina and I were staying somewhere at a hotel, a fairly comfortable hotel. She suddenly announced that she was going to go swimming or to the cinema with some friends from work or something like that at about 23:30. That didn’t bother me but the place needed to be cleaned and tidied as we were leaving. She said that she’d do it when she returned but I told her not to bother. There’s no reason why I couldn’t do it while she wasn’t there. She seemed to want to insist but quite seriously I couldn’t see the point. Once she set out on her way to go I managed to find a polishing cloth etc and began to wipe down the surfaces and the tops of the chests of drawers etc. I had one of these old tape recorder radio things, a Grundig thing. There was a tape of Steve Marriott singing but I can’t remember which group he was in. I put that on to listen to it but the quality was absolutely awful and I couldn’t understand why. It was usually so much better than this. Even Steve Marriott instead of singing was having a really good complain about the quality. I could hear him in between the crackles and whizzes having a really good moan about the state of everything. I just didn’t know why this cassette wasn’t playing properly at all.

It’s been a couple of weeks since Nerina came to join me on a nocturnal ramble, so welcome back Nerina. I know (because it’s been said before) that some people think it’s strange that I’d welcome back Nerina into a nocturnal ramble, but it’s far from being strange in my opinion. Apart from the fact that I actually invited her to share my life all those years ago so she has more right that most to be there, we were in a very bad place at a very bad time with all kinds of very dark storm clouds hovering on the horizon back then.

And given a choice between Nerina and almost anyone else of my family coming along to keep me company, I know exactly who I’d choose

I fell asleep dictating this and I can’t remember where I’d reached. There I was cleaning the room and Steve Marriott on the tape deck of this big Grundig tape recorder-radio thing. The quality was dreadful and I couldn’t understand why it was so bad. Neither could he because while the speaker was crackling and popping I could hear him complain. Anyway I made a start but some people suddenly appeared. There was a recording that needed to be done and could Nerina and I do it? I explained that she wasn’t here at the moment and wouldn’t be back for a while. That didn’t seem to please them at all. They decided to stay. I decided that while he was staying and Nerina would be on her way home from this cinema or whatever I’d go to have a shower. It was one of those where you have to juggle the controls so that it would be correct and then climb over and in to it as if it was the base of a bath.

By the way, for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few these days, when I say “fell asleep” and “woke up” when I’m dreaming, that’s not actually what’s happening.

At the time that I’m dictating, I am in fact fast asleep but I’ve been doing this for 25 years and it’s become an automatism these days. When I “fall asleep” what happens is that the dictating starts to slur, it all goes quiet and then after about a minute or so we have the deep breathing and, occasionally, snoring (and I’m sorry for doubting you, Percy Penguin).

But when I’m “awake” I’m actually asleep but I’m somewhat conscious and aware of my surroundings and when I transcribe the dictaphone notes later I do have a recollection of some of the events.

On the other hand, sometimes, I transcribe some notes that mean absolutely nothing. I have no recall whatsoever of some of the dreams that I have, like the following, which means absolutely nothing to me. I had 2 overtime Gods or whatever fighting over me trying to drag me this way or that way to go along and work under them for some overtime etc. It was quite an extraordinary dream and it all evaporated when I awoke and took hold of the dictaphone but they were pulling me one way and another one another way offering me all kinds of inducements to follow them and do the homework that they had planned. Instead, I kind-of awoke.

Finally I was back in the Vietnamese jungle or some such. We were running a guerilla unit. I was in the stores somehow. We were sending out patrols. I was trying my best to keep our camp quite tidy but no-one else could be really bothered. Stuff was being dumped in the jungle and I was in despair because of this. Someone would have to come along in years time and clean it all away, old metal skips and everything just abandoned. We were expecting to be pulled out at some time. As we were discussing this the phone rang in the office. Someone went to answer it. I remember saying to people that it looks as if we finally have our orders to go. There was no cheering or anything like that from within the hut so I didn’t think anything of it. Then someone came dashing in saying “for God’s sake try to stop such-and-such a patrol”. It seems that someone has sent them off with the wrong gelignite and it’s 10 times more powerful, they stuff they’ve taken, than what they should have. If they are planting booby-trap bombs with that they are likely to become casualties themselves. Of course there’s no way of stopping a patrol once it’s gone out. As it happened, we were lucky. The captain of the patrol had decided that he would sample some of the gelignite to make sure that it worked correctly. When he did, he was astonished by its performance. A simple lump demolished a considerable part of the suburb of one of the towns that he was supposed to be attacking so he too came to the realisation that he had the wrong gelignite so he and his troop beat a hasty retreat before anyone of the opposition realised what exactly was happening and what had gone on.

So today I have emulated my namesake the mathematician and done three fifths of five eighths of … errr … nothing. I spoke briefly to Liz, Alison and my ill neighbour on the internet, and a neighbour came here for five minutes, and that was that.

So, what about my Christmas food? I know that you are all dying to know how it went

  • The Hash Browns – not the absolute disaster that they have been in the past but they were still a long, long way from where I would like them to be
  • The Christmas Cake – too dry and crumbly, but that’s always the case with eggless cakes. I think that Liz must have a special ingredient that she keeps secret. But despite that, it looked like a Christmas Cake and tasted like a Christmas cake, even if I did have to eat it with a spoon
  • Icing and Marzipanning – not my strongpoint. I can’t do icing to save my life. But the cake was covered with it so what I did worked to a point. All in all, the cake passed muster.
  • The Vegan Wellington – this was superb and a big thanks to Liz for sending me the recipe. There’s plenty left and I’ll be eating it for ever, I think
  • The Stuffing – the chestnuts having been discarded as unfit for human consumption and having to improvise, it could have been a problem. It was dry and crumbly but it looked like stuffing, smelled like stuffing and tasted like stuffing. What more do you want?
  • The vegetables – I was using the electric streamer which is rather hit and miss. Following everything that I usually do, they ended up overcooked. That’s a rare event
  • The Christmas Pudding – Leave the best until last. This was a masterpiece, it really was. Exactly how a Christmas pudding should be. I’m really pleased with this.

There’s no peace for the wicked. The Centre de Re-education is open tomorrow and I have three sessions, spread right out through the afternoon. There’s plenty of paperwork that needs sorting out but I’m in no mood to do it.

An early night sounds as if it might be a good idea but I don’t have the energy to go to bed right now

But that’s Christmas over for another year. I’m wondering if I’ll see the next one. If my health continues to deteriorate like this, it’s unlikely. No-one with this illness has lived longer than 11 years and I was diagnosed in 2015. Time is running out.

But not me. I can’t even stagger out at the moment.

Friday 8th December 2023 – AFTER THIS MORNING’S …

… efforts I’m totally exhausted. I really don’t know how long I can keep this up .

At least last night when I went to bed I fell asleep quite quickly, judging by the timestamp on the first of the sound-files on the dictaphone.

It was another restless night though and once more I was up and about long before the alarm went off.

After the medication I came back in here and had things to do.

Firstly, there was a bill to pay. That involved writing out a cheque, finding a pre-paid envelope, etc – and that involved some tidying up of my stationery drawers.

Secondly, there was everything that I needed to print off for my demand for intervention from these Autonomy people. Having had the Social Services help me complete it the other week at the Centre de Re-education I now had everything that I needed.

Even down to the A4 manila envelopes. Fed up of trying to squeeze a whole rain-forest of papers into a standard-size envelope, I went berserk on the internet earlier in the week and ordered a packet of 50 envelopes into which I could fit every tree on the planet.

Thirdly, there was another letter that needed writing. This one was rather complicated because rather a lot depends on it, it has to be worded precisely and accurately, and in French too.

After a quick wash I headed out for the bus where I was swamped by a load of young teenagers heading from the High School across the square to the Ecole d’Hotellerie out at the Pointe de la Crête between Granville and St Pair sur Mer.

At St Nicolas I alighted from the bus and first port of call was the Post Office to send off all of my letters.

And there was some good news there too. They see no reason why I can’ open an account there, pay in some money from my Credit Agricole card, have a bank card and then draw cash out of their cash point outside whenever I need it.

Having been stranded for a day or two in Flagstaff in Arizona 20-odd years ago when my bank card was paused for “unusual expenditure” even though I’d told the bank where I was going and what I was doing, I’ve always had a couple of accounts and bank cards on the go “just in case”.

But with not being able to go any more to my bank in the town centre because of the lack of access to the bus back home, I need some way of laying my hands on some cash every now and again, even if it’s only to pay my cleaner for whatever she buys for me at the shops.

At Carrefour I had some luck. I was sure that I’d seen some gas cylinders tucked away somewhere on one of the shelves so I’d taken the empty one with me. Sure enough, they did have them on exchange, although they did cost les yeux de la tête as they say around here.

Imagine that – the highlight of my day is finding a gas cylinder in a shop.

As well as the usual stuff I bought another packet of icing sugar too. I’d had a quick look in my baking box and wasn’t sure if I had enough in stock.

But the cylinder was heavy and walking back for the bus after my coffee I was thoroughly exhausted even before I reached the bus stop.

The climb back up the stairs was another difficult problem that I found it had to solve but once in here and with everything put away I made my coffee and cheese on toast and came back in here.

Fighting off waves of sleep (quite unsuccessfully at times) I transcribed the notes from the dictaphone from last night. And “hello” to Nerina who put in an appearance last night. We I had been living together and for the first time for a considerable period I went through and carried out an inventory of the food that was on hand. I discovered to my surprise that we had almost next-to-nothing. When she came home from work I told her about the situation and that we’d have to be very careful about what we would do and what we would eat over the next few weeks but she went down to the kitchen and pulled out a box that was full of vegetables that I hadn’t seen before. I don’t know how I’d come to miss it. I was busy there examining the contents thinking about exciting things to make with it when she pushed two straws into a navet"turnip" – ed. I thought “why has she done this? What is this going to be used for now?”.

I was in Scotland last night as well. I came across a family who had a couple of girls aged probably just in double figures, I suppose. They’d moved into a big new house and invited me to see it. It really was lovely, a quite modern 1960s-type split-level house, all square with flat roofs. The younger girl told me that they’d been living with the Scots in Glasgow prior to this. She was telling me all about her house and that didn’t seem to be quite bad afterwards. The subject of preparing the older girl for boarding school came up. She had to go to pack her things. I asked her if she needed help because I wasn’t actually doing anything at this time. She said “yes” so I answered “first of all, is there anything that you DON’T want me to touch?”. She replied “yes, my sister’s notebook”. That sounded like a strange request to me, why that would be the most important thing not to touch. I went down a corridor and through a maze of rooms, including the younger girl’s bedroom into the older one’s. It was huge. There was a lot of stuff lying around. She picked up an object and asked me what I thought it was. I replied that it was a bed cover. She began to fold it up so I found some similar ones lying around and folded them up too. She had some kind of plant like bamboo or something. It had obviously seen much better days. She said that it was 3 years old but she kept it because it was very nice and made an interesting shape. We carried on tidying up her room and putting aside the things that she was taking to boarding school.

These two girls actually had a history. The family reminded me very much of a woman and two girls whom I met at that Folk Festival in Scotland where I used to be the camp site Night Security Guard for a couple of years. That was where Louise, with whom I’m still in contact, had her first encounter with STRAWBERRY MOOSE

I was in that freight yard again, on the lowest level when the girls came past on the highest levels on a railway locomotive pulling a couple of lime-green coaches piped with yellow. And then we had exactly the same conversation that we’d had in the previous version of it. And if you’re wondering why that seems to make no sense whatsoever, don’t worry. You aren’t alone because I don’t understand it either

There was something about several files relating to a Paul Temple mystery that I had on my laptop or whatever that I’d transferred onto my watch. One of them was something to do with him him being in a cloak like a superhero so I had ideas about renaming all of them. However that was when I awoke with a severe attack of cramp so I can’t remember now where it went after that

And then I was with a girl from school last night. I can’t remember who she was but she lived out Audlem way, Buerton somewhere on the way to Newcastle under Lyme. I was wearing old clothes because I’d been doing some work. I’d ended up in that village where I met her, and we were chatting. We’d encountered a couple of yokels who had an old recoil-starter type of electric generator that you could carry around in one hand and would power a radio. They’d rigged up some kind of 1930s-type of valve radio and were trying to start this generator to power it. After they’d been playing with it for about 10 minutes I went to look as they wandered off. I could smell straight away that the petrol was probably 20 years old. I drained out the petrol, cleaned the carburettor, put fresh petrol in and fired it up. It ran, and we had the radio playing so I took it over to them. We carried on chatting. We were pointing out a Tudor house in this village that had been left to ruin, how the roof had sagged etc. Then the girl came back. We went into her house to continue to chat, just the 2 of us. All of her family was there except her mother and father. I was just sitting there, quietly listening to them talking, feeling very uncomfortable being in working clothes. When her mother came back they began to talk about knitting. The girl had been spending a lot of tie knitting just recently and just had one line to finish off on a cardigan that she’d made. One of the others in the house said that they’d finish it off in exchange for her doing something else which seemed to be a good idea for her. But time was dragging on and I was wondering how I was going to be able to leave but of course I was quite interested in this girl too. After a couple of minutes she looked at me and said “should we go?”. I thought “yes, we’ll go if she wants” but then I was going to have to think about what would happen. Obviously I would want to spend the evening with her, doing something exciting, going for a meal, going to the pub, going for a walk, but not in the clothes that I was wearing. I was stuck in a quandary yet again – how was I going to organise going home, changing my clothes and generally tidying myself up etc while I had the girl with me. But a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush, she was there, she wanted to go so why would I argue with that?

Not that that would ever have stopped me in the past. No-one has had more experience than me for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

There was also a dream at one point about I’d been walking and had come to a set of stairs, up which I just walked normally without having to cling on. I was so surprised that I went to find another set of stairs and walked up there normally too without hanging on to the handrail. I thought “if only I’d realised yesterday that I could do that”. That was of course quite obviously a dream and I wish that that had happened when I encountered the stairs on the way back to the apartment here after my shopping trip.

After I’d transcribed all of that I attacked the radio programme and finished off the notes for that ready for typing tomorrow night.

With the time left I carried on with the Canada 2022 photos. We’ve climbed out of the St Lawrence valley, over the Appalachians via the Matapedia Pass and we’ve now just rattled into Campbelltown Railway Station on the banks of the Baie des Chaleurs.

Jackie and I had a chat on the internet too. She’s actually quite worried about me, as are many people, so it seems. But there’s really no need to worry. I know what my fate is and I’m quite resigned to it and comfortable with the idea. I’m not worrying about it and there’ no reason for anyone else to either

Right at the beginning I was told that this illness has a lifespan of between 5 and 11 years and how long I keep going depends on how long my heart can keep on going, which is why there’s now all this concern about my cardiac issues. It’s now over 8 years so I’m “well in” and one day it will catch up with me.

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap with chips and salad – really delicious too.

For the rest of the evening I won’t be doing too much. Everything seems to be wearing me out so I’ll sit with my feet up.

Tomorrow I’ll be marzipanning my cake. Liz reckons that I should leave the marzipan to set for a while so that it doesn’t bleed through the icing and I seem to remember that I had that problem last time I made a Christmas cake.

Something else that I’ll be doing is to track down some recipes for vegan stuffing. I can’t have Christmas dinner without sprouts, roast potatoes and stuffing now, can I? I shall have to throw something together.

With not being able to buy my Seitan slices these days (I used to buy them at the Asian wholesalers in Leuven) I’m not sure what I’m going to have for a main course. I’ll probably have to throw something together there too.

Thursday 23rd November 2023 – HAVING SAID …

… the other day that I was thinking about getting up before the alarm went off, I actually managed to make it out of bed this morning before the alarm went off.

A few months ago I went through a phase of early rising, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but just recently it’s been just a distant memory.

Mind you, at one point I didn’t think that I’d ever go to sleep, never mind awaken. For several hours starting shortly after going to be I was wracked by attacks of cramp, one after another after another.

But something must have awoken me this morning and I’ve no idea what it was but I couldn’t go back to sleep afterwards. So I spend 15 or 20 minutes doing some exercises in bed with the elastic strap with which I sleep, wrapped round my ankles, and then I raised myself from the dead.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone. And considering that it was a short night, it was quite a lively one. There were some huge problems about confrontations between the Government, the University and the Students’ Association. The Students Union magazine that was sent round for that month had dozens and dozens of cases in it where students claimed that they had been provoked by the Government or University into a whole variety of things. As members of the Executive Committee we had to sit and examine these cases. I was on my way to a meeting, walking through a street where all these ragged children were playing around telling each other jokes etc. When they were running around they were leaving their shoes all over the place. I had a couple of particular pairs of shoes that I’d encountered and had been playing football with them up and down the street as I was walking. One of the kids noticed and began to chase after me, making a few remarks. I was distracted because there was another instance taking place right before my eyes of the goings-on between the Government, the University and one of the students. I was in a hurry to go along and actually witness it first-hand so I couldn’t stop and sort out this boy’s shoes for him.

strawberry moose bill rammell open university Eric Hall photo April 2002And that brought back a few memories from the time that the Minister of Education was invited by the University to address the student body, and being forewarned by one of our “moles on various committees” we laid an ambush with STRAWBERRY MOOSE and the Minister fled. Such was Strawberry Moose’s fame in those days.

But of course, Strawberry Moose had the final say, as you might expect.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bedroom I was going off by road to the far north of Canada. We set off in a big double-decker express coach. I had my huge suitcase with STRAWBERRY MOOSE in it. I handed it to the driver, boarded and found a seat. There were a few other people sitting near me and we had a chat every now and again but I spent a lot of time dozing off. We eventually pulled into a service area with a restaurant etc where we had to alight because this was where our different buses came in to take us further on our way. I alighted from the back along with these other people whom I’d met. The driver began to take the cases out of the coach. We were checking times with each other and discussing our plans etc. One of the girls with us asked where the restaurant was. I said “it’s behind you” … "ohh no it isn’t" – ed … so she turned round. Of course by this time the bus had gone so you could actually see the service area. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have my case and the bus has gone. It’s dark and I could hardly see anything on this motorway service area. I certainly can’t remember my case being taken off the bus and now he’s disappeared.

And later I was with a girl who might have been Roxanne. She wanted to know if she could borrow my big Bosch hammer drill to drill a hole through a piece of wood. We had a look at the wood and saw how thick it was. We ended up having to tape a couple of drill bits together. I put them in the drill and was busy giving her a lesson on how to drill wood and how to drill deep lengths etc.

Nerina and I had had some friends round at one point – another couple. We were chatting away and it was becoming quite late. I said something to Nerina about going to bed. It caught her unawares and she sked me exactly what I meant. I explained that I was having to go to the bathroom so if she was planning on going to bed at some point in the near future I’d switch on her electric blanket for her so that her bed would be nice and warm. I switched it on and the evening carried on. I wandered off to do something. later on I went upstairs and she was there in bed with the bedclothes thrown back. I asked if the bed was warm enough. She replied that it was too warm. I asked why she hadn’t switched off the electric blanket but she didn’t say very much. We ended up having a lengthy discussion about Christmas and birthday presents.

Later on there were 3 of us. We were having a virtual tour on the internet of Yeovil, getting into a virtual car and on one of these map sites having a street view out of the town. We decided that it looked fairly sophisticated so we found another way back into the city. I went a strange way because I said that it’s one way of seeing what’s in people’s gardens. We came across a nouse where behind a tarpaulin were dozens and dozens of police motorbikes all with white fairings. They were a model that I hadn’t seen before so I imagined that they had been imported from somewhere obscure and were slowly being prepared for sale. This visual programme was incredible. We ended up on the very top of a hill really high up looking over this really beautiful valley with a river and viaduct in the distance etc. We climbed out of the car to look and the car just accelerated away on its own down the hill. I could feel the wind whistling through my hair as Nerina, this other guy, another couple of people and I stood there watching it. All 5 of us seemed to go at the same time. The woman of this other couple completely forgot who she was with and took my hand as we walked away which of course had everyone bursting out into laughter.

The last time that I was in Yeovil was with Sue from Swindon. I moved her from Brussels when I had my Luton Transit and we saw each other a few times after that if I happened to be in the UK. We celebrated the Solstice together at Avebury one year but like most things involving the UK it petered out.

Thinking about it, I was in the UK for half a day in 2013 to pick up a lorry-load of slates to deliver to the South of France and Rosemary and I went in Aberdeen in 2019 to pick up THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR instead of flying to Greenland to meet it there, and they are the only times that I’ve been in the UK since 2011. And, to be quite honest, I’ve no intention of ever returning.

Having finished the dictaphone notes I carried on with the radio programme and that’s now finished and up and running, ready for broadcast on … errr … 5th July next year.

In between all of that, I had my coffee and bread-and-butter pudding and phoned the garage to talk about Caliburn and his controle technique. He actually has a vacancy and he’ll send someone round “shortly” to pick him up. And Caliburn will soon be 17 too.

The lift engineer who came to chat with me was a woman – not that that’s a surprise in itself these days – but I wouldn’t go doing any lift engineering in the clothes that she was wearing. And she was wearing enough perfume to pole-axe a bactrian camel. It reminded me of the story about the guy spreading white powder outside his front gate and his neighbout asked him why.
"It’s to keep Polar Bears off my cabbages" he replied.
"But there are no Polar bears within 5,000 miles of this place"
"Powerful stuff, isn’t it?"

This afternoon I’ve been sorting out more of my Canada 2022 photos and I’m now about to board my train in Moncton ready to travel back to Montréal. And what a journey that was.

As well as that I’ve been going through one of the backup drives checking duplicates and disposing of yet more.

Tea tonight was steamed veg and veggie balls in vegan cheese sauce, delicious as usual. Tomorrow’s tea with have to be sausage and beans, not salad, as I’m not going shopping in the morning. At some point the garage might come by for Caliburn and I’ll probably be out at the shops or something so I’ll stay at home and wait, which will mean that he won’t come.

But I’ve plenty of other things that will keep me out of mischief. At some point I’m even going to soak my fruit ready for Christmas baking and that’s the kind of thing that will be exciting.

My first ever Christmas cake a couple of years ago, coached on the internet by Hannah from Batley, was a resounding success but I put that down to beginner’s luck. And in any case Hannah is no longer in our Welsh group so I’ll be on my own for this one.

But I learnt a lot last time. Here’s hoping that I can remember it.

Sunday 19th November 2023 – IF I EVER FIND …

… out who it was who rang my doorbell this morning at 09:30, “harsh words” will be said. I was just on the point of tidying the kitchen and putting things away when someone rang the front door bell and awoke me. Who does a thing like that at 09:30 on a Sunday morning? I just stuck my head under the bedclothes and presumably they went away. However I couldn’t go to sleep again after that. It really annoyed me

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m happy (well, I’m not, actually, but that’s by the way) to raise myself from the dead at any time you like but Sunday is a Day Of Rest when there’s never an alarm and I’m quite content to lie in bed for as long as it takes until I’m ready to show a leg. And anyone who gets in my way and interrupts me will know all about it.

But that’s not the worst of it.

As it happens I did manage to go back to sleep at some point but at 10:15 the doorbell went again.

This time I staggered across the apartment as Nature intended ready to give someone a piece of my mind but there was no-one on the other end of the parlophone.

There was no point in going back to bed after that so I had my medication and, exceptionally, I made myself a mug of strong instant coffee

It took a while, as it usually does these days, to come round into the Land of the Living and then I sat down to transcribe the dictaphone notes. I’d been producing a play. Admittedly it wasn’t very good but it was part of street entertainment. The idea was that there would be 4 different versions of this play taking place simultaneously and the actors would begin to walk from the far end of each street until they arrived simultaneously in the centre of the Square in the town centre. Of course, doing something on that kind of scale in a small town there won’t be any kind of experienced actors so if you did find any experienced actors you’d ration them out between the different performances to make sure that one of the streets didn’t have more quality than the others. It was all quite hit-and-miss, the kind of thing that was destined to fail but you would give it a go. The actors set off and slowly advanced into the town centre down their respective streets to meet up in the middle. There was one woman who was really outraged because she considered that her street had a couple of second-rate actors playing important roles whereas the neighbouring street had a couple of professional, experienced actors playing the same roles. She was incensed. What annoyed me more than anything was that from where she was standing to watch it she could actually see two performances, the one with the average actors and that with the better actors in the leading role so she really had no grounds to complain. Nevertheless she was extremely angry and vituperative about it.

That reminds me of something that happened 10 years ago when I was in Munich. I was at some kind of party with some theatrical types and busy chatting to a young Italian girl who was with a travelling theatre company. She was telling me that she was going to produce her first ever play – either Hamlet or “The Scottish Play”, I can’t remember now.
She asked me "how would you produce the play?"
"Do you know the play well?"
"Yes I do" she responded.
"Have you read it?" I asked
"Yes I have" she answered
"When you read it, do you visualise in your mind and your imagination what is going on, or do you simply look at the words?"
"I can imagine and visualise it" she answered.
"Well, that’s how you produce it – so that it turns out exactly how you imagine it to be. It’s all your own work – no-one else’s so do it how YOU see it and not how anyone else wants you to see it, otherwise there’s no point in you being the producer"

And half an hour later "how would you produce the play?"

Later on during the night I was talking to the lorry driver with whom I was talking in a dream a couple of nights ago. He was telling me that every Sunday he had to go to the fuel depot at Y Fflint to load up his lorry ready for the week’s work. But because it was a Bank Holiday just about everywhere was filling up so there was an enormous queue. He wasn’t attended to until late at night which meant that he had no drivers’ hours left to go home. He slept at the side of the road in his cab then spent the next week delivering, running later and later because with the effects of Covid it took much more time to unload and prepare anything. Instead of being home for Friday he ended up coming off the road and going straight to the tanker depot to refuel for the next week’s work without even seeing his home and having to sleep in his cab for the night again. He went at the height of Covid for several weeks without even seeing his own home and family.

Finally I was staying with some people in Arizona, in a big house on the edge of town. There was just the boy of the house and me there – the family was away. No-one had said anything about food and by now I was starving. I’d brought some bread rolls with me in the car so I said that I’d make a sandwich. Did he want anything? He replied no so I went off and fetched whatever I had, which wasn’t very much. later on in the afternoon as it began to go dark I went for a walk. I could tell by plaques on various places around the town that it had been created in 1918 as a watering point along the railway. Someone had built a church but it was all ripped out and modernised in 1933. There were several stories. One of the strangest things was that at the side of the Town Hall was what might have been a memorial of a 1950s convertible that had been involved in a really heavy front-end smash. There were 3 children standing by the car so I wondered if they had been killed in the accident and the memorial was to them. The most interesting thing was when I went down a side street I ended up in some kind of gallery that was all ornate carved wood like something out of a Gothic cathedral. There were people milling around and one or two people were talking to me. I was standing by a waste paper bin blocking it. Some woman asked me to move so we had a little chat. I pointed out to her a ghastly luminous human head floating down the gallery. As I went round the corner I came across a cat show with about 20 or 30 cats in baskets. I went over to stroke them and some woman made a remark to someone else about “that’s the guy who’s staying with such-and-such a family at the moment”

After lunch I made the pizza for the next batch of pizza and I do have to say that the dough came out the best that I have made for some considerable time.

While it was busy proofing I began the bread and butter pudding.

The recipe included eggs so I had a go with Liz’s patent baking-soda-and-vinegar replacement. And the result was something like Lance Percival experienced in CARRY ON CRUISING

Nevertheless it went into the oven well enough and baked quite nicely. I decided in the end to bake it in a low, wide dish in the conventional oven so that it will cook more evenly

As yet I haven’t tasted it but if it’s anything as nice as the uncooked mixture tasted before I baked it, it’ll be phenomenal.

And having ordered some dry figs in the week from LeClerc, I found three unopened packets in my baking box. I really must make a proper and thorough inventory of exactly what I have in here.

In between everything I edited the radio notes that I’d dictated last night and I completed the programme. I’ll be ready to start the next one tomorrow.

There was a visitor too. One of my neighbours came round to talk to me about cars with hand controls.

The pizza was absolutely delicious again, and now that I’ve written my notes I’m off to bed once I’ve had a drink of honey, blackcurrant and lemon

So who will put in an appearance tonight? At some point during the night I had a vague recollection that Nerina was there or thereabouts. I’ve no objection to her coming to visit me during the night because, after all, I did invite her to share my life for better or for worse.

However I do wish that everyone else in my family would clear off and leave me alone. I put as much distance between them and me in the real world as I possibly can and so I take a great deal of objection to them pursuing me around in the ether during the night.