… wasn’t too bad this morning. I was up bright and early … "well, maybe not so bright" – ed … at 07:00 and by 07:25 I was on the road with a nice thermal mug of hot coffee to keep me going.
I took it fairly easy and although Caliburn slipped around in a couple of places we didn’t have any big issues. Even going down the Font Nanaud wasn’t anything like the challenge that I expected it to be, and by the time that I reached whatever the name of the place is in between Marcillat and Villebret, the road was pretty clear. All in all, it only took me 10 or so minutes longer than usual and I was parked up at the hospital by 08:30 as usual.
Mind you, I’d beaten all of the staff of the day hospital into work so had to hang around 10 minutes before the doors opened up. And then, being first in, I could have my comfy spec in the armchair in the corner by the radiator and the power point.
It was the student nurse who came to fit my drain and that filled me full of foreboding. She was the one who had had three tries the other week before abandoning the job and calling for a friend. But today, to my surprise, not only did she do it in one, it was the least painful of all of them.
And here we had the confusion, much to my dismay. It was the young doctor who had telephoned yesterday to summon me to hospital, and although he had probably told the nurses that I was coming, there had been some confusion about the ordering of my blood. Consequently, I had to wait until about 11:15 for the blood to arrive. Then we had the new marvels of modern 21st-Century technology for warming up the blood – to wit – me stuffing it up my jumper.
At about 11:40, someone brought me a nice hot cup of coffee. I’d only been waiting since about 09:00 (the first time that I asked). But in the meantime I’d not been idle. I’d downloaded another whole pile of stuff from www.archive.org and now I reckon that I have a whole decent set of radio programmes to keep me company. I’ll have to check to see if I can find The Men From The Ministry because I forgot about that.
Running so late, I ordered lunch, and ended up with asparagus and tomato for starters, rice and boiled carrots with a bread roll for main course, and then apple purée and an orange for desert. Not the most exciting meal that I’ve ever had, by a long chalk, but it was quite filling and actually tasted quite nice.
It was 14:50 by the time that they had finished with me and I was really disappointed by this. But every cloud has a silver lining, for Ingrid was in the hospital and due to finish what she was doing at 15:00. So go down to the shops or have a coffee with Ingrid? No competition really, is there?
By 16:20 I was on the road and by then, the return journey was a very different story. There had been a flurry of snow in Montlucon at lunchtime and everyone had rushed to the window to see it. But by the time I reached Villebret there was much more than just a flurry and it gradually worsened the higher into the mountains that I climbed. The drag up to the Font Nanaud (height, 934 metres) was exciting, especially as there had been no snowplough or gritter south of Pionsat (I eventually met one, coming towards me from St Gervais) and I was right behind a Mercedes Vito towing a plant trailer with a mini-loader on the back.
He of course had no chance, but he did his best. Rear-wheel drive is useless in this weather when you are pulling something like that and he was sliding everywhere across the road, fighting for grip. He ought to have realised that it was pointless and should have turned round on the old railway track bed to go back down, but he pressed gamely on.
It wasn’t very long before the inevitable happened. He completely lost traction, slewed across the road and came to a shuddering stop. I couldn’t stop to help him because I would have lost traction too so I chugged on over the top and down the bank towards St Gervais.
The conditions round by St Gervais weren’t quite so bad as up on the Font, and the farther south that you travelled, the easier the route became.
By the time I got to Phoen … errr … the Centre Ornithologique, things had cleared quite considerably and the roads were much easier to move about, which was good news for me.
I stopped here to take a few photographs of the snow, to record it for posterity. St Gervais, over there on the hill about 100 feet higher up than where I am, looks particularly covered and you can tell by the sky that there’s more to come.
Pulling away from here wasn’t easy either, with a couple of traction issues to get over the ridges made by the car tyres in the snow. But I was soon off and back down here to dig myself in for the foreseeable future.
I have no plans for going out anywhere else until my next hospital visit. And that’s a thought to depress just about anyone
Just in case you are wondering, we had none of the usual suspects, no family members and only one slight mention of a place of my previous existence during my nocturnal rambles of last night.
I’ve no idea where I was when I started off last night but it was a place that I certainly didn’t recognise, somewhere on the coast of the UK. It was a holiday resort, at a part of the town that was inland a little and high up with a view over the bay. There was quite a group of us and we’d heard that one of our rock heroes or bands was playing in this place at the carnival on the seafront. The word “Jubilee” was mentioned, and it turned out that Jubilee was a suburb of this particular town with access to the sea, so I was making a few enquiries to find out which trams we needed to catch to go there. There was a tram stop just outside the building where we were staying and I was trying to read the timetables and tram routes. But I was there for hours trying to find out which tram it was that went to Jubilee, with trams passing in front of me and all around me. In the end, I went back into the building, which was the hospital where I’d been a few days ago.
We then had an old woman putting in an appearance. I’ve no idea who she was but last night she was living next door to me and I had her doing quite a few of my affairs for me. I’d just turn up out of the blue and she’d do a few things for me and then I’d go off again. When I was there last time, and had her go along and do something for me, and as a reward I had paid for her haircut at the hairdressers. She said that she had only just been, so I told her to go again and have the same cut done, or something else, a second time. And so she ended up with almost no hair. She also said that next day she was going into hospital for an urgent operation but that cut no ice with me. I was supposedly in Crewe by this time, Alton Street or somewhere around there. I had wandered off somewhere and a couple of days later I was back, still looking for this Jubilee. I went into the local hospital and here I came across this woman. she’d had her surgery and I’d forgotten completely about it, so I had to pretend to be interested and to talk to her about it. I’d intended to go to see her later in the day in fact because this was really early in the morning when I arrived. But she was awake this early so we had the chat about her operation
From here I went off to work as a general handyman for some rich old lady. We were somewhere in an urban French environment and she took me with her, beckoned me to follow her around and through these old outbuildings into a large barn-type of place and through into a garage that fronted the street. I had to open the doors to let her friend in with a car. These buildings were full of what I thought were dead insects but she explained that they were immature crabs. She’d bought a huge pile of them but ended up with 100 too many but rather than take them back she’d just dumped them out of the car and they had all died. So we managed to bring the car in and then we went off, her beckoning me to follow once more up to a gallery place with a metal walkway. She’d erected a kind of metal fence around it that went around a kind of headland that she owned or had something to do with. It seemed that the neighbours had objected to the fence (it was merely strands of barbed wire) and so it had to be pulled up, so that was my job. Some guy who worked for some Civil Service body was watching me, telling me what a good job it was in the Civil Service and how I ought to apply to work there. But I was busy pulling up these stakes and coiling up this wire. He wanted to know what I was going to do with this wire so I replied that I was going to keep it – one of the perks of my job. He had quite a moan about that. meantime, I’d noticed that this wire was swinging around all over the road so I had to go down and coil it up properly. I’d also had to consult my telephone to see what was going on because someone else had started this job with me but had gone again, so I wanted to see where he was. However, I somehow managed to connect to a film on this telephone – a black-and-white film of the 30s with some film star appearing in it and I couldn’t stop it – each time that I tried to press “stop” or to switch it off, I had a “buy it now” screen. The volume was set quite loud – I couldn’t lower that and everyone in the area could hear it.
And so despite my trip to Montlucon today, I reckon that I’m still cracking up far more miles during the night. It’s hardly any surprise that I’m so exhausted these days.
But I do wonder what it is that they are putting in my food to make all of this happen.