Category Archives: Pionsat

Wednesday 22nd July 2020 – BACK HOME

Yes, I’ve been back home today.

And before anyone suggests that it’s rather a long way for me to drive in my current circumstances, that isn’t actually what I mean.

For a change I was awake quite early, and so there was time to listen to the dictaphone

It was a confusing voyage last night. There were quite a few of us and I’m not quite sure of what we were doing and where we were going but we were all young teenagers, that kind of thing or a few maybe even younger and that’s basically all that I can remember.

While I was typing out all of that I even had a cup of coffee brought to me in bed. And how any years is it since that ever happened?

Having dealt with all of the paperwork I went down to breakfast and then decided (just for a change) to organise myself.

I emptied everything out of the back of Caliburn, tidied him a little, found a pile of rubbish that needed throwing away, and then threw a few gardening tools in the back.

Having made two phone calls, we set off.

First port of call was in St Eloy where I bought some petrol in a container. Second, also in St Eloy, was for some rubber gloves and a pile of rat and mouse poison.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallWe then disappeared off into the countryside and ended up back at home – my old place in Les Guis.

Time hasn’t been kind to it at all. In the couple of years since I’ve been there nature has totally overwhelmed it and it was something like an Amazon rainforest.

But by now Ingrid had arrived and the three of us set to with a will. I went ahead with Terry’s brush-cutter and cut a swathe through the vegetation, with Rosemary and Ingrid following on behind with the clippers.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallAnd it was really hard work too there. The heat didn’t help very much.

What also didn’t help much was all of the objects hidden in the undergrowth. The brushcutter and its blade looked as if it had fought a war (which it probably had) as I hacked my way through the undergrowth.

All of this in just a couple of years since Terry and I were here last picking up the mini-tractor. It’s hardly a surprise that lost cities are still being discovered in the Amazon rainforest with vegetation growing like this.

les guis virlet puy de dome france eric hallBy the time that 14:00 arrived, we had reached the house and could go in all of the doors there.

And how sad everything was, with reams and reams of cobwebs, dust and everything all over the place. And we were exhausted too by this point and so called it a day.

As we weresitting around chatting, a neighbour came round to see us and to see how things were and we had a little discussion. But Ingrid went off for her appointment and Rosemary and I came home for a rather late lunch.

Later on, I went back to my house. Those two phone calls that I’d made earlier – one had been to Ingrid and the other had been to someone else.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve been slowly replacing the windows in the house and that I bought a matching front door. That needs a new doorframe building but because it has to be in hardwood and not softwood, it’s beyond the capacity of the tools that I have here.

Previously, I’d made “local enquiries” and someone had come up the name of a reliable joiner. It had always been my intention to have a joiner make a doorframe, so I had phoned him up.

Much to my surprise (and yours too) I asked him when he would be free. He replied “I can come at 18:00”.

You can’t put obstacles in the path of willing workmen so I arranged to meet him at the Intermarché in Pionsat. We drove up to the house and he did all the measurements. While I was at it, I mentioned the third window that is yet to be installed. “I’ll do that as well if you like”.

And why not?

So the arrangement is that I’ll drop off the door on him tomorrow and leave him to it. There’s no time schedule – he can do it whenever he’s free. Which won’t be before September because all of the sawmills will be closed for summer holiday.

Having bid my farewell, I drove back to Rosemary’s where she had made tea.

A shower to clean myself up and to wash my clothes was next and then, shame as it is to say it, I crashed right out.

The exercise had clearly affected me and I felt that I had done quite enough for today. I’ll write up my notes in the morning.

Tuesday 28th March 2017 – I’VE LOST COUNT …

… of the number of times that I’ve stepped out of my life. Just thrown a few boxes of stuff into the back of an old car, said “goodbye cruel world” and moved on.

And yet, as I sit in my little hotel room in Poitiers, I can reflect on the fact that however many times I’ve done that in the past, here’s another time to be going on with, because I’m doing it again.

I’ve long-since come to the conclusion that I can no longer carry on at the farm. I can’t even drag myself upstairs, never mind a pile of wood, water, food, all that kind of thing. I can feel myself going downhill from one day to the next and if I feel like this now, what am I going to feel like in 8 months time when winter starts? Being too ill to move in minus 16°C with no heat and no mobile phone signal to call for help is not really such a good idea.

And so I need to move on now. While I still can. And so for the last week or so I’ve been packing up boxes of my more important stuff and bunging them into the back of Caliburn. And after a visit to the bank at 17:00, we hit the road.

I’ve not taken some stuff that I wanted, and that’s for sure. The furniture that I had set aside, I’m not up to mountaineering across the barn to fetch it (yes, I’m beginning to realise that I’ve left this “moving” lark a little too late, haven’t I?”. And other things that I dearly wanted to take with me – well, I can’t find them anywhere as far as I have looked.

But a few things are notable by their consistency. I’ve always taken with me my LPs and my guitar (the Gibson EB3 bass) and they are all comfortable in the back of Caliburn. In fact, the guitar was the first thing to go in.

Howeer, to return things to their proper order, I had another good sleep last night. Tossing and turning a little as I seem to do these days, nevertheless it’s really comfortable in my bed. And then a nice early rising and breakfasting long before the alarm went off.

After a nice repose, I then attacked the barn once more, looking for some more stuff (that I didn’t find, of course) and making sure that I had forgotten nothing. And then taking down some more stuff to put in Caliburn.

Once that was all out of the way, I locked up the barn completely and then made a start on tidying up the attic and cleaning everything. I did have half a mind to take a pile of stuff down to the launderette to wash but that can al wait for some other time.

After lunch, Ingrid came round to visit me again and we blitzed the attic, vacuuming it and cleaning it from top to toe. It’s never been looking as nice as it does right now, that’s for sure. Everything else was loaded into the back and we sat down for a breather. THis was the first time that I’ve ever been ready well in advance of leaving. usually it’s all a last-minute rush.

Ingrid and I said our goodbyes and I went to Pionsat and the Post Office to stop my post deliveries. But as you might expect, the Post Office was closed. No idea what will happen about that now as I had dismantled the post box before I left.

At the bank I concluded the business that I had started the other day, and then we hit the highway. Me, Caliburn and Strawberry Moose. Only a vague idea of where we’re going to go. At the moment we are just going to drift around until we find somewhere nice to live. Somethind will turn up – it usually does… "it’s called “Prison”" – ed.

But driving through the mountains of the Creuse I was listening to Carole King singing “You make me feel like a natural woman”. Well, as it happened, I was feeling like a natural woman too, but where I was going to find one around there is anybody’s guess.

Saturday 25th March 2017 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… the most extraordinary football match.

Puy-de-Dome League Division 4 and two teams – St Gervais d’Auvergne III at home to Charbonnières II. Charbonnières were streets better than St Gervais – they missed a sitter almost from the kick-off but took the lead after about 5 minutes with a soft goal through the St Gervais keeper’s legs.

All one-way traffic it was with Charbonnières making it look so easy, and only some last-ditch outstretched feet and some astonishing saves by the St Gervais keeper who, I reckoned, knew absolutely nothing about any of them, just being in the right place at the right time and diving the right way, prevented Charbonnières from running riot.

But it was all too easy for Charbonnières and after about half an hour they eased off for some reason or other, and I don’t know why. And then the inevitable happened. A harmless cross into the penalty area, the Charbonnières keeper palmed it away, the loose ball hit one of his own defenders on the back and rolled across the line into the net.

Stunned silence from the crowd.

In the second half, Charbonnières struggled to get going. St Gervais were quite awful but they were slowly growing in confidence, with the opponents becoming more and more frustrated.

And then it happened.

A cross from the wing into the centre of the field, a St Gervais player hitting it on the half volley, and there we were, a most unlikely 2-1 for St Gervais.

Even more unlikely was that St Gervais scored a third just minutes later!

As the game progressed, Charbonnières finally awoke and went back on the rampage, with some more outstretched feet and some very fortunate goalkeeping keeping them out. But they did pull one back from a free kick with just minutes to go.

In the final minute or so Charbonnières threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the St Gervais defence, and then we had a wild clearance out of the defence. The Charbonnières defenders had the idea of stepping up three paces to catch the St Gervais attacker offside.

But ohhh woe! Woe!

They were in the St Gervais half, and an attacker can’t be offside if he’s in his own half. The attacker picked up the ball, advanced totally unopposed on the Charbonnières goal and slotted the ball underneath the isolated keeper. 4-2.

And that was that. And the crowd are still shaking their heads even now.

The second match was between the St Gervais Second team and the First XI of Charbonnières, and this was much more evenly matched. Charbonnières took the lead with a good header, and as the game wound down towards the end, they slowed down the game. But two dramatic late goals from St Gervais turned the match around and Charbonnières then tried to speed up the game. But they couldn’t come back.

We had a few little niggles but all-in-all it was a good game.

But I’ll tell you something. I complained the other day about the lack of solidarity that I have received from most of my “friends” in the Auvergne. Today, there were several people whom I knew from Pionsat’s football team and while they all said “hello”, not one of them came to sit with me for a little chat, even though it’s been 18 months or so since I was last at a match and they all know about my health issues.

I’m really disappointed about that.

So last night was another bad night for me – awake in the middle of the night and then wide awake definitively at about 05:45. Up here in the attic (with a fire burning) long before the alarm.

After a brief rest I took a pile of boxes downstairs to Caliburn and loaded him up, and also put in some stuff from the verandah. Then I nipped off to the Intermarche at Pionsat for some bread and so on.

I didn’t do much when I returned, and after lunch I crashed out for an hour or so.

But before going to the football I removed almost all of the boxes from the attic and put them in Caliburn. That was heavy work and exhausted me completely. There’s still stuff to pack up here, but that’s Tuesday morning’s job.

And now I’m back from the footy I’m going to be doing the washing-up and then going to bed.

Sunday is a day of rest, but I bet that it won’t be.

Wednesday 22nd March 2017 – ONE THING …

… about being in bed early is that there I was, out like a light, with just the odd bit of tossing and turning, and that was how I stayed until about 06:40. Totally painless. And with the early morning sun streaming into my room, I felt so much better than I did yesterday.

But it had been freezing in the night. The windows in the attic roof were all iced over. But nevertheless it was reasonably warm in the attic while I had my breakfast.

And then I had some work to do. The technician was due to arrive and so it was a good reason to do a little tidying up. And with the bright sunlight I could use the vacuum cleaner too. That didn’t take too long at all.

When he arrived, he told me that the fault wasn’t at my place but at the exchange (GRRRR – after all that!) and in fact, when I looked, I noticed that I had a connection. he helped me configure it and then cleared off. And, as luck would have it, I received a message from Orange to say that as the fault was not on my premises, I wouldn’t be charged for the call-out.

And so as I settled down again, I had a phone call from Ingrid. She had to go to Marcillat and so I invited her round for a coffee – that’s the least that I can do. And that meant that I had to tidy up here in the attic too. I need to be pushed like this.

Anyway, she came round and we had a coffee and a good chat, and then, much to my surprise, she made me a sandwich. And, while I was eating that, she fetched me up a huge pile of wood. Saying that I was overwhelmed is the least of it.

We nipped into Pionsat for the Bank appointment and then came back here for another coffee before she hit the road back to Biollet. I made some tea and then, still struggling with my cold and cough, I headed off to bed.

My bed is absolutely beautiful and it’s soooooooo comfortable, and it’s a shame that I can’t take it with me. It’s out of the question for me to struggle with it out through the window here and down the scaffolding. I remember the issues that I had trying to get it up into the bedroom.

I shall have to think of a Plan B, and I have one in mind

Tuesday 21st March 2017 – AS FOR LAST NIGHT …

… it was nothing like as good as the previous one.

But then again, there’s a good reason for that. And that is that somewhere in the middle of it all I had a very severe attack of cramp. And severe it was too -it kept me awake for ages while I tried to calm it down. And then it would go, so I would turn over, and it would come back again. This went on for hours, I reckon.

And then, I was awake at 06:00 – such are the perils of having an early night. I really do need to get my life back on track.

After breakfast I had a little relax and then slowly headed off into Pionsat.

First port of call was the Intermarché and a loaf of bread for he next couple of days. Man might not be able to live by bread alone, but I can if I have some stuff to go on it. Next port of call was the bank because I need to make some kind of financial arrangements for my future. They fixed an appointment for tomorrow at 16:30.

But outside, I bumped into Simon. Long time no see indeed but news of my impending demise had even filtered through to him. He invited me for a coffee and I agreed – but a little later as I still had two things to do.

The most important was to contact my internet supplier and have a moan about my Livebox not working. After much binding in the marsh they agreed to send out a technician to sort me out. At my charge of course, but some things you need to do. That’s tomorrow morning too.

And then round to Clare’s. She had been concerned about me when I was missing the other week and had even gone round to my house to see if I had arrived there. I had to express my gratitude and offer a bottle of wine in recompense. It’s the least that I can do in the circumstances.

I had a good chat with Simon and Desirée at their little office. I’m amazed at how domesticated and suburbanised Simon has become since he married. It’s clearly doing him good, so good luck to him.

Back here, my exertions finally caught up with me and I was stark out for a few hours. And then I began a little desultory packing, with a pause to watch a film. That took me nicely up to tea time, when a couple of handfuls of pasta, some vegetables and tomato sauce did the trick. I wasn’t all that hungry.

And then, bedtime. No idea why I’m so exhausted. It’s not as if I’ve spent too much time running around today – physically, that is.

And so I have realised, rather unfortunately, that I’m not going to be able to keep on going out here. I don’t even have the energy to pack up this place. Or anything like it. I am just not up to it. Even climbing up the stairs into the attic is killing me.

I shall have to take what I’ve got in Caliburn and head off to find some peace and solitude somewhere.

What a shame!

Sunday 19th March 2017 -THAT WAS SOMETHING …

… of a disturbed night’s sleep what with the livestock in the roof. And there I was, thinking along the lines of Marshall Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke, and “Sunday is the one day of the week a man can get up at noon and sit around with his boots off without anybody hollering at him about it”. First Sunday for almost 18 months that I hadn’t set an alarm, and there I was, wide awake and up and about at 07:30 in the morning. I’m hoping that this isn’t going to be a regular occurrence.

After breakfast, morning was quite steady – at first – and then round about 10:00 I sprung into action. By 12:00, everything not needed in the back of Caliburn had been taken out, and all of the food, clothing and other items that will be accompanying me on the next stage of my journey – because there is going to be a next stage on my journey – were all arranged neatly inside. It’s amazing, all of the space, once I managed to sort it out. And I counted almost 30 of those black plastic crates that I had systematically looted and pillaged from the rubbish bin at the supermarket in Leuven.

After all of that, I needed a sit-down. And having relaxed, made some butties and set off for the football. None at Pionsat of course, but there was a double-header at Le Quartier. Mind you, their ground was deserted at 13:00 so I went for a drive down to St Gervais d’Auvergne. Nothing going on there either so I had my butties by the lake.

Back at Le Quarter at 15:00 for the second match, but there was sill no-one there so I nipped up to Pionsat to see what was happening. Apart from a new Salle de Fêtes being built on the site of the old Maison Ducros- Maymat there was nothing going on there either.

And so back here, I checked on the internet and it seems that I have the dates incorrect. No matches this weekend – it’s next weekend when it’s all happening. D’ohhhh!

And so I made up my bed in the bedroom. even if it’s colder down there in the bedroom, I’ll snuggle up under the quilt and sleep in the quiet and in the comfort tonight. I deserve that at least. And while I was in there I began to pack away some clothes too. No time like the present.

Tea was a vegetable chili and rice, and now it’s bedtime. I’m hoping for a better night than last night.

Thursday 8th December 2016 – LAST NIGHT, I DIDN’T …

… have such a good night’s sleep. I dozed off quickly enough, even with the radio on, but I was soon awake again when something loud came on the radio. And once I’d sorted that out, I couldn’t go back to sleep again for ages.

However,I must have done because the alarm awoke me. And then it took ages to leave the comfort and warmth of my bed. I’d been on my travels too for some part of it, wandering around somewhere with a young lady.

For the first part of the morning I pottered around and then set off for the garage to leave Caliburn for his wheel bearing.

peugeot 306 courtsey car garage jailot st gervais d'auvergne puy de dome franceThe courtesy car was there too this time. It’s a 1994 Peugeot 306 with 308,000 kilometres on the clock and a rear flasher that didn’t work.

There wasn’t any diesel in it either so I had to put 12 litres in it to get me about, an don my way back home I went via the Intermarché at Pionsat for a little shopping and to visit the bank.

Liz phoned me up too and we had a good chat.

After lunch I carried on with the tidying up in here, slow as it is, and then went down to see how Caliburn was doing. But he wasn’t ready and that’s something of a disappointment as I would have been on the road tomorrow had he been ready. Now, I have no idea when i’m going to leave here.

Tea was mushrooms, green beans, vegetables and pasta in tomato sauce cooked in the oven. And that was nice too.

So let’s have an early night and see what tomorrow will bring us.

Tuesday 12th July 2016 – I NEEDN’T HAVE BOTHERED …

… to go to all of this effort and worry about this morning.

I breezed into the bank, checked my accounts, and then gave the bank cashier the kind of instructions that would normally have caused a considerable amount of upset and confusion, and probably have led to the involvement of the bank’s Head Office. And I was prepared for quite an argument too.

But to my total surprise, and in an attitude that is going to change the way that I think about banking in the depths of darkest rural France, the bank clerk carried out my instructions to the letter without even batting an eyelid and, even more astonishingly given everything that was involved, without even asking to see any identification.

We were in there, out and gone in less than two minutes and that must be something of a record.

I had a reasonable night’s sleep in the nice comfy bed at Liz and Terry’s. So reasonable in fact that I only left it twice, and when the alarm went off at 07:00, I promptly turned over and went straight back to sleep. It’s been a good while since I’ve done that, hasn’t it?

Off to Pionsat and the bank, and then round to my house to sort out my mail and pick up a few things that I might need. And what a mess my place is in. Brambles, weeds and long grass everywhere. It’s just so depressing. I’ve asked Terry if he’ll attack it with a strimmer if he has five minutes, then I’ll be able to find the front door.

We went shopping for food, and I bought a baguette to make some butties for tomorrow seeing as I’m back on my travels to Leuven after all of this. I didn’t get to stay for very long, did I?

Nothing happened in the afternoon – I stayed in and did some work on the blog to bring it up-to-date – and then tonight after tea we had the laugh of our lives.

Celtic, Scottish football champions, were playing Lincoln Red Imps, Champions of that major and important footballing nation … errr … Gibraltar, in a Champions League match which could not unreasonably have ended up with a cricket score. And the final result? Lincoln Red Imps 1, those giants of Scottish football … errr … 0. I’ve never laughed so much in all my life.

So another early night, because it’s a 06:00 start. I need to be on the road by 07:00 as it’s a long way to Lyon and the Part-Dieu station for my train. But at least once I’m on it, it’s direct to Brussels with just three stops and no messing about in Paris.

Over 800kms in well under four hours. That’s the beauty of the TGV

Friday 20th May 2016 – AND I’VE BEEN OUT TODAY TOO!

After breakfast I had a few things to organise and then round about 09:30 I hit the road for my place, calling at the Intermarché at Pionsat on the way in order to buy some bread for lunch.

At home I had a little rest of an hour or so and then I started to collect up the stuff that I need for Belgium (and also for Canada, just in case I have the possibility to go there later this year). A few things I couldn’t find, and a few things I forgot, but I’ll call there tomorrow on my way out to the motorway and finish off a few things.

This afternoon, I took it easy. I’ve cut my hair and had a shower – so I’m nice and clean and tidy ready for the journey back home. I’ve done a load of washing too and even as I speak, it’s going round and round in the dryer because there won’t be enough time to dry it properly.

I’ve not planned my food resources correctly because I have some mushroom and lentil curry and also some home-made vegan ice cream left over. I’ll just have to come back another time to finish it off.

And now I’m off for a very early night. There will be no alarm clock in the morning because I intend to have a good sleep if I can. I’ve a long way to drive tomorrow and I’m not really up to it. I’ll have to do my best and see what happens. I can’t expect too much in my state of health.

But what was nice was that I had an e-mail from the Social Services department asking me how I was feeling and whether I’d been able to manage the journey back. That was a very pleasant e-mail – it’s nice to know that they have been thinking about me.

I didn’t catch up on my last night’s voyages, I was off on a different track completely. While I was waiting yesterday for Caliburn to have his contole technique, I was reading the local paper and noticed a story concerning someone whom I know in Pionsat. He’s been fighting a complicated legal battle for the last five years and judging by the news story and his post on his Social Networking site last night, he’s finally been successful.

And so last night, on my travels, I was involved with him in some way. It’s pretty-much a truism to say that there are no winners amongst the civilian population in a lengthy court case because whoever comes out on top, his card is marked and the authorities are hell-bent on revenge. And this was the case last night. This boy was harassed and harassed by the authorities and in the end was carried off and convicted of something or other. He’d left some of his possessions with me while he was away and I discovered a secret compartment in his affairs and the contents of this compartment went to show that maybe he wasn’t as innocent as he liked to appear. But, then again, who is? As you probably know, I have a theory that all humans are pretty much the same in the grand, and some are caught and others are not and that is the big difference.
Later on during the night I went for a walk and came across a huge mansion-type place across a field and lake and through a forest of cherry trees laden with blossom. I didn’t have my camera with me so I went back for it and then walked through the lake (it wasn’t very deep at first but I ended up over my knees by the time I reached the other side) to take a photo but of course my camera wouldn’t work. It turned out that this was some kind of Girls’ Schools something along the lines of Ampleforth College,with the girls wearing red and white checked dresses. This all rang a bell with me because I’d sat on some kind of committee where some novel educational programmes submitted by various schools had been judged, and while the winner was from some kind of mainstream school, one that had particularly impressed the committee was one that had been submitted by a person who had since gone on to become a senior teacher at this school. I was therefore interested to see if any of these novel ideas had been applied at the school and after having presented myself to the headmistress, I was granted research facilities at the school to examine the teaching and the recreational activities. I quickly adopted a committee of three sixth-form girls. I was impressed with the keenness and throughness of these girls, but not so impressed with the fact that when the bell went for the end of the day they immediately deserted and left me to do the tidying up and that sometimes went on for quite a while. One one occasion I went round to their room and “swept them out” with a large-bristled brush. Another thing that impressed me about the school was the fact that all of the food was vegetarian, although I was unable to find out if there were vegan options.

Thursday 19th May 2016 -I WAS OFF …

… on my travels again today.

I started off at the Doctor’s this morning at &0:00, only to find that my doctor is on holiday and it was a locum in attendance. That means that most of what I wanted to discuss was pretty pointless but I handed over a few letters from the hospital and had a form signed, as well as a quick check-up. My heart-beat is high but apart from that, things seem to be quite normal for now.

Montlucon was the next port of call. I had to pay a bill at the laboratory that does my blood tests and then another bill at the tax office for all of the documents that the hospital gave me before I went off to Leuven. There’s nothing else outstanding that I cans ee for the moment, although I have a couple of bills to pay at Leuven when I return.

Once that was out of the way I went back home for an hour, most of which was spent chatting to Nicolette whom I encountered in the lane. She seemed to be quite concerned about my health, which is nice of her.

Caliburn had his controle technique at 15:OO and the garage had forgotten that I was coming. But they squeezed us in and of course Caliburn passed with flying colours. And then we nipped off to the other side of St Gervais d’Auvergne for his service. So he’s all done and dusted now and ready for the road.

Back here, I crashed out for an hour and then made tea. Microwaved potatoes and mushroom and lentil curry was on the menu followed by some of Liz’s home-made vegan ice-cream. And now I’m off to bed. I’m feeling even worse than yesterday and to make matters worse, my “upset stomach” has returned.

I’ll see if I can pick up where I left off last night because I was off on a few travels too. The first part involved my being somewhere on the continent – it may have been in Occupied Europe or a neutral country during the war but it was a big tower-block kind of building. I was talking to a woman there who was expressing her surprise that the top floor was occupied by the British Royal Air Force Bomber Command which was using the premises to direct the bombing attacks against Germany, whereas just a couple of floors down, the German Luftwaffe had offices used to direct fighter control against the British bombers. I replied that that wasn’t the only thing that was unusual – out in the grounds was a military hospital where half the staff was British and half was German and they were dealing with wounded soldiers of both armies.
From there, I found myself in Crewe in a huge traffic queue trying to go over Edleston Road bridge. I was in a driverless car – a while Volkswagen Karmann Ghia – and so I left the car to see how it would do. And it advanced quite nicely in the traffic, except that it was going too fast for me to walk after and with my illness I wasn’t able to run after it – and this really had be worried. I remember that on the bridge was an end-terraced house with the door round the side (which actually fronted onto Edleston Road) and it was actually my house. I was reminiscing about how many of these houses used to be built on the bridges in Crewe.
We haven’t finished yet, because there was a football match taking place between one of Pionsat’s teams and a team that consisted mainly of females and which only had 10 players. Pionsat were however struggling to get on top in this game and on one occasion they broke clean though the defence and the player had a shot but a defender stuck out a foot and diverted it out onto the post and out for a corner. From the corner the ball came in and the keeper missed it but a Pionsat player headed the ball in off the post for a goal. There were three Pionsat players in an offside position but they weren’t interfering with play so there was no reason why the goal should be disallowed but one of the defenders, a young man, argued so much with the referee that in the end he was sent off the field, which tilted the game even further into Pionsat’s favour.

I’ll see if I can pick it up from there.

Tuesday 17th May 2016 – I’VE BEEN OUT AND ABOUT TODAY

So having gone to bed quite early last night, I ended up chatting to Alison and Liz on the internet. And then, having dozed in and out of sleep for hours, it was midnight when I switched off the radio and finally settled down for the night.

I had quite a few trips down the corridor, what with one thing and another, but was wide awake by about 06:30, having been off to Stoke on Trent during the night. I’d bought a Land Rover chassis-cab with a crane or winch on the back. It was in good condition but a little scabby but down in the scrapyard we discovered two perfect doors (although of a slightly different colour) so we bought them and fitted them. The next task, as my friend explained to me, was the rear valance and he sorted out his angle grinder and wire brush to de-rust it so that we could paint it over. Zero came over for a chat too, which was very nice because it’s been a good few weeks since she’s appeared in one of my nocturnal rambles.

After breakfast I started to organise myself. I sorted out all of the washing into piles that will either go back home or come with me to Belgium, and then I sorted out the paperwork. I made an appointment with my doctor as I have some paperwork that she needs to see and I need a form signing. That’s for Thursday morning.

Once I’d organised that, I went off out and about.

first stop was the garage. It’s time for Caliburn’s Controle Technique on Thursday afternoon, so I’ve booked him in for a service and a visual check to make sure that there’s nothing about to drop off on the road.

The bank was next. There’s an important bill to pay and if I don’t pay it soon I’ll be transported for life or something so that was urgent. And then I went to the Intermarché for a bit of shopping.

Finally, I ended up back at my house where I dropped off a pile of stuff, stripped out the back of Caliburn and gave him a good brushing out, and now I’ve installed my temporary bed in there for when I go back to Belgium. I couldn’t find the OSB that I use and ended up having to use a sheet of plywood as a bed base. It’s not very satisfactory, bending and creaking in the middle, but it will have to do for now until I can think of something better.

But I’ll tell you something – and that is that I’m clearly not well. Two hours of working on Caliburn, and it wasn’t very hard labour that I was doing, and I was done for. I’ve no idea how I’m going to cope in the future if I can’t summon up the energy for this.

Instead of hanging out there to do more work, I ended up coming back here where I crashed out for three hours – really gone, I was. I’ll have to catch up back at home some other time.

Now that I’ve been to the shops and bought some garlic, I made one of my mega-curries tonight with mushrooms and lentils. But there’s plenty left for the next few days because I couldn’t summon up the appetite.

Now I’m off to bed again and to listen to the radio programmes for a while. I’m ready for a good sleep, even though I’ve already had a good sleep just now.

I can’t keep it up like I used to.

Thursday 17th March 2016 – IT’S DAY FOUR …

…of my hospital marathon – the day that I had a marathon session in the allergy clinic, just by way of a change. And just by way of a change I was up a long while before the alarm went off too

And that surprised me immensely because I hadn’t ‘arf been on my travels during the night too.

I started off at the allergy clinic (I can’t keep away from here, can I?) and we were making up a soundtrack tape – don’t ask me why – and we found a record featuring someone singing but there were also loads and loads of background noises of all kinds of things that represented actions and items that were taking place in the song. We were listening to it. Liz was only listening with half an ear to it and all of a sudden she pricked up her ears – “did I hear a fox?”. “I think that it’s something on this record” I replied. We played the record back two or three times and, sure enough, there was some kind of reference in it to a fox, and the fox is barking away in the background.
Liz made a subsequent appearance too, in reference to a school trip that she was organising. In fact, she wasn’t really organising it because it was now September and the kids had been back at school for three or four weeks. The aim of this trip was that it was some kind of field trip which involved the children being away for a few days and this was to take place at the end of December. So much time and trouble had gone into the organisation of all of this but people had forgotten to tell the parents about it and it was only now that people at the school were discussing the presentation of the event to the parents. But Liz’s school was in such a poor, deprived area that it was obvious that not many of the families – Group B families was how she described them – would be able to afford the trip and wouldn’t have the possibility to save up between now and the date that payment needed to be made so that their children could go. So rather than be an exclusive trip and not allow some of the poorer kids to go, they were talking about postponing this trip to another year and maybe a few months later in the year so that everyone would have a chance to save up for it.
Next stop was back in Crewe, where I was going for a walk. and I’d been for a walk down Market Street, passing underneath the Cumberland Bridge at the bottom and into Middlewich Street (where we were a few weeks ago, as you might recall). As I was crossing the road I had to start to run as a car came around the corner under the bridge from Market Street at something of a speed on the wrong side of the road, which is actually the right side of the road because we are talking about the UK, although for some reason I wasn’t aware of this. So I had to make a run for the pavement. I had the idea that the road under the bridge was a one-way street, which it wasn’t as vehicles were coming from both directions. Anyway, I was around the corner by now and walking up Middlewich Street and a bus was coming down the street, travelling quite quickly. he reached the bottom and swung round to the right to go underneath the bridge but a car came hurtling out from somewhere under the bridge, shot off up the side of the railway line where there is no road, causing the bus to jam on his brakes. He only just missed this car. I carried on with my walk and it was dark by now. I’d been chatting to a couple of people whom I’d met on my travels but by now I had arrived at a place that was a bank. It had a cash-point which was in the basement, and there were people in there using it. It occurred to me to go and check my English bank account so went downstairs. I pulled out my card ready to use and while I was waiting my turn I noticed that there was something like a shop counter down here, with money all over the place, but no-one had taken any notice at all of this money. I already had a fair bit of money in my wallet, by the way. While I was sorting myself out, another person came down the steps behind me so I told him to go ahead – I’ll be a minute or two yet. he looked at me strangely and said “do you always carry that enormous amount of money around with you?”. I said “no” and carried on doing what I was already doing. But he stood there watching me. I told him again to go ahead and use the machine but he just stood there. I was starting to sense that we were going to have some kind of confrontation but just then, one of my friends from Brussels came in and came downstairs to use the cash point. He (my friend) asked me “what’s 212 plus 212?” as if this was the key to his PIN. I was having to be very vague in my reply because of this other person lurking around in the vicinity. But now of course there were two of us in there, both of whom were likely to be potential victims for this guy loitering around on the stairs.
We haven’t finished yet either, for there was some other part of the dream going on about my youngest sister. She was with a friend and they both drifted in and out somewhere along the way. But in the meantime there was a man who had come from the UK and was now in the USA who had travelled all around the USA on something of an extended holiday. He’d retired from work and there was a great deal of confusion about his pension arrangements, what employment pensions he was entitled to and what he was going to receive. In the end, after a great deal of argument and discussion, he’d been to his former employer who had promised to look into everything. This was an oil company, and the people there decided to make a presentation to him. They gave him an old oil drum which, while not sounding as it it was very much, was actually quite symbolic because it had fallen off a ship somewhere off the coast of New England and washed all the way down along the eastern coast of America (regardless of prevailing winds, tides and ocean currents), round Cape Horn and the Tierra del Fuego and then back up the western coast of America (regardless of prevailing winds etc) and had been recovered again near Seattle. They presented it to him as a symbol of his own voyage all around the USA. Eventually, it worked out that they had found three pension entitlements for him and so he could live happily ever after.

And so you can see why I was astonished by my early night.

On the way to Montlucon through the snow, which dramatically cleared by the time that we reached Pionsat, and then it was quite straightforward as far as the hospital, although I did stop for some cash at the bank on the edge of the town, seeing how the nurse will probably want paying this weekend before I go. And being nice and early at the allergy clinic, that meant of course that they were all late.

But I did happen to notice the first E-plate on the car park. It was a, EA — KK registration so I reckon that it’s about three weeks since they first came out. They now seem to be slowing down to well over two years a letter.

At the allergy clinic, first thing that they did when they arrived was ask me to take off my upper clothes and to check my body. Then they sat me down in a comfortable chair (or what passes for a comfortable chair around there), gave me a couple of injections and then started to squirt something out of a syringe into my mouth – something quite minty and also quite bitter. Then they told me to take a drink of water.

This was how we went on for much of the day. I’ve no idea what it was that they had given me but they ought to have given something to the room and the chair to stop them spinning around while I was trying to sit there quietly and do some work on my Canada notes.

They brought up some food too, but it was, as I expected, some meat (there seems no point in going to an allergy clinic and telling them about your allergies if they are going to totally ignore them, is there?). I was prepared for this however, and had brought along some vegan cheese and tomato butties. But we did have coffee too and that wasn’t too bad.

When I’d finished and the room had stopped spinning, I went off to find Caliburn and then I headed back to my place for an hour or so to gather up some of my possessions, or such that I could remember of them.

And the snow had gone, much to my surprise and pleasure. It was in fact quite warm and I felt a little better once I had warmed up.

Back at Liz and Terry’s, I had another early night. I need to build up my strength prior to leaving because it’s a long way to Brussels, even if I am going to do it in a couple of steps. The days when I could do a full day’s work and then drive the 800kms between Brussels and my Farm through the night – they seem to be long-gone now.

Monday 14th March 2016 – WELL THAT’S ME TOTALLY P155ED OFF!

I had my blood test at the hospital this morning, and the blood count has gone down yet again to 8.1. And that’s despite having a blood transfusion the other day. The operation that I had to go through 6 or 7 weeks ago has clearly done no good whatever and I might just as well have saved myself the agony.

The thing that gets me though is that no-one in the hospital seems to care. Here they are, messing about with allergy tests for a different medication to deal with the immunity issues following the removal of the spleen, and on Friday I’m in hospital for a scan on my lung to see where this blood clot (the one in my lung that I picked up in hospital) has got to.

But as to my underlying illness and the causes of it, and any potential solution – not a word!

What made me even more depressed about all of this is that while I was sitting in the allergy clinic with all of these patches and injections and so on, I was editing all of the photos that I took in Montreal and sorting out all of the notes that relate thereto. And then I got to thinking about just how much I enjoyed the city and how much I felt at home there. And then I reached a conclusion.

And that is that seeing as how no-one cares, then I don’t either. if nothing definite comes out of my visit to Leuven next week and they can’t sort something out, then I’m on the next plane to Montreal. I’ll find a quiet room in a house somewhere around the Cote des Neiges, which really is my favourite part of Montreal, and let nature take its course.

I can’t go on like this. it’s nothing short of purgatory for me to have to go through all of what I’m going through and for no good purpose either. I may as well not be here and be somewhere else instead, whether in this world, the New World or even the next world.

What didn’t help matters very much was that I had another one of those comfortable, reassuring dreams where everything went according to plan, our hero got the girl and we both walked off together into the sunset and all of that – something that never ever happened to me in real life and how I wished that it had.

I was back playing in my rock group from the 1970s again and we were totally unrehearsed – we hadn’t played together for years and we were featuring in a venue somewhere. This was downstairs in a basement somewhere, rather like Enoch’s in Crewe used to be, and we weren’t even sure what numbers we were going to play, never mind how we were going to play them. This went on and we didn’t have all that much idea about what we were going to do. We spent so much time discussing and debating it that we weren’t actually getting anything done. There were quite a few of our friends there, including one particular girl whom I fancied and who I was trying to impress, who were coming to see us and so we HAD to be organised. Came the afternoon of the gig and we decided that we would have a rehearsal. I headed off towards the rehearsal room, carrying my bass guitar and there was some girl, whom I had seen vaguely back in the past but I hadn’t particularly noticed very much, came over to me and asked me if my guitar was a Gibson SG. I told her to count the strings, which she did, and agreed that there were just four of them. And so I told her that it was in fact a Gibson EB3. We started to talk about bass guitars and musical instruments, and she said that she had a mandolin with four strings on it. Of course – a mandolin – that brings back Lindisfarne and “Road to Kingdom Come” and “No Time to Lose”, all of that kind of thing. We ended up having quite a chat about this kind of thing, and she said that she could actually play some Lindisfarne music on the mandolin. It’s always been my ambition to play in a folk-rock group like Lindisfarne so I egged her on to go and fetch her mandolin,which she did and we had a brief jam session. After that, we wandered off together hand in hand. As I said earlier, this was another one of these comfortable situations and I wish that I could remember who she was, or even what she looked like – rather different from the Girl from Worleston the other night whose face is still vividly fixed in my mind. Anyway, off we went, hand in hand and there were a few people loitering in the vicinity who noticed the pair of us together like that and gave a little smile to each other. We walked to a rocky wall where there were a few seating areas set into it at various levels – just flat, grassy areas. I invited her to sit down with me but she said that she had other things to do and didn’t have the time. I continued to encourage her to sit down, she continued to be doubtful and it was at this moment that I woke up rather dramatically and shattered the illusion, much to my dismay.
After the usual crawl down the corridor I ended up at the football – Nantwich Town in fact. And while Nantwich Town might have a new ground, down on Kingsley Fields, this match wasn’t being played there. And neither was it being played on their old ground at Jackson Avenue either, but in the street in London Road right more-or-less outside Churche’s Mansions. I was watching the game, with about 4 or 5 others (huge crowds they have in Nantwich), a couple of girls and a couple of kids, having a kick-around with the balls.There was a really strong, swirling wind blowing that was creating havoc and on one occasion, much to my surprise, I actually caught the match ball one-handed, swerving around in the wind as it went out of play and that was really impressive. For the rest of it, the conditions were really difficult and catching the ball, even a simple catch, was really difficult if not impossible. We were actually watching this at the back of a river and the house rear yards backed right onto it. One small boy was climbing over the back wall and the wooden fence on top and lost his footing, sliding straight down into the river and emerging all covered in green slime. That certainly looked unhealthy! All of these houses had basements that were well below the level of the water but were somehow really dry. I wouldn’t have liked to have lived down in there, although there were people quite happily doing so. There were two teenage girls watching this football match and they lived in one of the houses. At half-time they went back to their house where the mother was cleaning the room of one of these girls, and one of the girsl asked the other what she would like for breakfast. The other replied that she would like one round of cheese on toast with half a packet of crisps and a coffee. I said “breakfast? It’s getting on for 10:30 and most of us had eaten breakfast long before this match kicked off”. But anyway, the first girl dragged a big metal wood-stove out from a corner into the middle of her little basement room ready to fill it and light it to make the toast and put the kettle on. They asked me what I would like to which I replied that I’d had my breakfast a long time ago, but I’ll have a cup of coffee with them. They next asked me what coffee I wanted and what mug I wanted and I thought that they weren’t half making life complicated when all that I wanted was a simple cup of coffee.

But anyway, enough of this. I was up early enough, breakfasted and on the road by 07:40. And what a beautiful morning it was too. I was in Montlucon at the hospital by 08:30 and in the comfy chair by the power point at 08:40 too.

I had the blood test, as I mentioned, and then had the drain fitted, and then injected and patched with all kinds of things. My companion from the other day was there too and we had quite a chat. And while I might have won the “mine’s bigger than yours” competition by having the largest lump on my arm, I felt really sorry for her with all of the tests that she was going through and the mess that they had made of her arm. In consolation, I let her have my mid-morning cake to cheer her up.

We had quite a few moments of humour too, including when one of the others asked if she could leave the room to use the bathroom.
“You’re supposed to raise your hand” I retorted.
“Just like school” said someone else.
At least, despite everything else, there’s a good feeling of cameraderie there in that clinic and the nurse is a really good sport too, which is good.

But the bad side of this is that I’ve had a few adverse reactions so I need to come in again. I explained my situation, all of my hospital appointments and my visit to Belgium and as a result, exceptionally, they can fit me in provisionally at 09:00 on Thursday.

I mentioned that at this rate I ought to be looking for an apartment here in the vicinity of the hospital and asked the young girl here with me whether she had a spare bed in her room. She said she did, but her mother wouldn’t like it. I asked “who cares about your mother?” which made everyone smile, but didn’t have the desired effect.

Not that I expected it to either, but there you go.

As for the blood test though, it’s on the limit of the blood transfusion level, but that’s not good enough for me. I’m off to Leuven next week – 800-odd kilometres by road – and I need to be on my best form for the journey. So what I’ve done is to change my little one-hour appointment back at the allergy clinic from tomorrow to Wednesday at 09:00 seeing as how there was a space, and then went up to the day-hospital and persuaded them to take me in straight afterwards for a blood transfusion. That way, then at least I’ll be in something-like reasonable health to undertake the journey. Coming back won’t be too much of a problem as I don’t have a time-limit for that so if I’m tiring out, I can take a good rest and carry on later.

But as I also said earlier, I’m thoroughly depressed by the way that all of this is panning out. I’m thoroughly hating the past, hating the present and hating the future too.

To cheer myself up, I went to Carrefour and the Flunch to have a plate of chips and vegetables but that was a waste of time as they were stone-cold. Liz had given me a little shopping list that involved going to Grande Frais and the Carrefour so I bought the necessary and looked for something else to cheer me up but there wan’t anything there that took my fancy. That’s always the case when you’re in the middle of a black depression – nothing will pull you out of the pit.

Back home – for only an hour as Liz wanted the shopping by 16:00 – I still couldn’t find my copy of Paint Shop Pro or anything else that I needed. But there was a little issue that the water in the home-made 12-volt immersion heater was off the temperature scale. I had to drain off 5 litres of the water and put 5 litres of cold water into it. I’ve also plugged the fridge into the main circuit so that it’ll now be working 24 hours per day. I’ll have to do something because with no-one there drawing any current, there’s tons of surplus electricity and it’s all dumped into the hot water.

Yes, 41 amps of surplus energy was being generated when I arrived and the cables to the immersion heater element were stone-cold – a far cry from 6 months ago when they overheated at half of that and I had to rewire everything. All of this, the temperature in the water and the amps that the cables are currently … "ohh! Very good!" – ed … handling just goes to show how much current was being lost by the rubbishy cables that I had been using. Decent cables, even half the diameter, properly crimped and soldered, is definitely the way to go and I wish that my soldering techniques would improve.

However, if things continue like this, my soldering techniques won’t be an issue.

I stopped for diesel on the way back and also to the pharmacie at Pionsat for the next lot of anti-biotic prescriptions (which wouldn’t have been necessary except for this spenectomie, and what a waste … "you’ve done that already" – ed … and then back to Liz and Terry’s.

After tea, which was a stir-fry with the stuff that I had bought earlier, I said “sod it!” and went to bed. I’ve had enough disappointments for one day. I’d already crashed out for half an hour on the sofa and it was beyond me to keep on going – not when I wasn’t in the mood to go on fighting.

Tomorrow is another day. Let’s see how we get on with that. Not any better, I bet.

I’ll leave you all to sit and read this rubbish – all 2322 words of it.

And serve you all right too!

Monday 25th January 2016 – B*GG*R!

And so I had the phone call – at 17:27 precisely. “Mr Hall – you need to come into hospital for a blood transfusion. Your blood count has dropped right down to 6.8”. That is, incidentally, the lowest that it has been during this whole procedure except for the day that I crawled into the doctor’s.
“But do I really need to come in? I’m coming in for good on Wednesday anyway and I’m having a blood transfusion as soon as I arrive”.
“I’m afraid that you do – in fact you need to come in to the Urgences right away”.
And so after a brief discussion, I packed my bag. Liz had just come home from work and luckily, there was a vegan lasagne to hand in the fridge so I managed to have a meal this time before I set out.

It also gave me an opportunity to reflect on my last night’s voyages, where for the first time for ages, I was accompanied by no-one that I knew (except for a very brief cameo appearance right at the end).

We were in the USA last night. There were three guys, two of them were quite sedate teenagers and the third was quite wild. Something had happened involving the farces of law and order and they had had to flee from their homes. This is the story of their drive to safety, something like Thelma & Louise or Fandango as they fled north towards the Canadian border. The two sedate guys were fleeing together and eventually the police caught up with them and flagged them down. The third guy turned up on his own a short time later, bringing with him some shoes that he had … errr … borrowed along the way. He found himself on this fuel station and was immediately surrounded by the police, so he gave himself up. It turned out that the person who had been doing all of these dreadful things against these boys, causing them to flee, was wanted by the police himself and on some quite serious charges too, and once this had all become clear, they began to be treated as witnesses rather than as criminals themselves. The third boy, the one with the shoes, was told by the police “ohh yes, you were bringing the shoes to us, weren’t you? You were coming here to meet up with your friends and to bring us the shoes as evidence”. Of course, he immediately agreed and so this car chase ended on a happy note and everyone lived happily ever after. This fuel station where we were was one of these places that was clad in green corrugated iron (the modern angular stuff) that was quite close to a road junction that was a diagonal T-junction. The main road was flanked by a row of buildings with the side turning diagonally backwards and the petrol station was up the side turning behind the buildings on the main road. And in the corner right up behind the service station right up against the back of the buildings was a kind of café in a portakabin made of the same material. I’d been reading some instructions somewhere in this fuel station about petrol stations that sold bottled gas for parties, barbecues and so on. It listed all of the places where you could go to buy it, and one group of places that was listed was a group of petrol stations that were struggling to survive now that they had lost their Phillips Petrol franchises. I remembered something in the back of my head that I had heard while I’d been on my travels about Phillips Petrol Stations not being allowed to sell bottled gas. But as soon as they had lost their franchises, they had started to sell everything, including bottled gas, as they fought for survival. Anyway, these two boys decided that with peace having broken out, they would go home and this would be the end of their adventure. The third guy decided that he would carry on, head north and into Canada, pawn the car that he was driving (which was someone else’s car anyway) and make a new start in Canada. I decided that I would go back to Canada with him. But as I came out of the service station building onto the forecourt I had this astonishing feeling of déjà-vu that I had been here before – maybe when I had crossed over into the USA I had come here to buy some fuel and buy a coffee in the café. We can’t be all that far from the Canadian border here. As these two boys were leaving, they were going through their receipts and statements of their expenditure. One boy had a look of horror on his face “TWENTY …… ONE THOUSAND dollars for candy” in a very indignant tone. “really, I don’t think that I’m allowed that!”. The third boy and I had smiles on our faces. How on earth had he managed to spend that much money on sweets?
A little later, we had the story of two brothers, one of whom was brilliantly successful and the other who was not. The unsuccessful one lived in a big house and was clearly sponging off his other brother. A deal had been done somewhere and the successful brother had ended up some $150,000 light on it. On making certain enquiries he discovered that some document were missing. He went round to see his brother and they went through all of the papers and in the end the poorer brother admitted that he had them and this was part of the fraud that he had committed on his brother. The rich brother then asked for them back and put some very heavy pressure on the second brother. In the end the papers were handed over but the second brother then put his hand into his desk drawer and pulled out a recording unit. he had apparently been recording this discussion which had contained details of some of the evil deeds that the rich brother had done in order to get where he was today. Of course the richer brother wanted to have this recording but the poorer brother wouldn’t let him and so there was a fight and the richer brother ended up beating the second brother to a pulp in order to lay his hands on the incriminating recording. He walked back out to the front of the house where the second brother’s wife and some friends had been having some kind of party, but he explained that he had to go. He got into his car, which was a red Toyota kind of thing and drove away. A short while later, his wife said that they should go and check up on the other brother – it was the thing to do and they had other things to to anyway – so she went back to check. On returning, she said that he had crashed out and was having a really good sleep by the pool but she hadn’t looked really closely. And should they ring him up? It might spoil his sleep. The first brother, who had been something of an actor, ended up disguising himself as some kind of a tramp with 2 days’ growth of beard and shabby clothes. He walked into this Greyhound bus station and this was where I entered the scene. I was with someone else – it might even have been Rosemary but I’m not too sure and I was saying “this is how bus stations are in North America. It was in the open air, with the soil being that red compacted sandy soil that you find in the Utah Desert. We had apparently been talking about the pie huts in American bus stations before and here was one exactly like the one that we had mentioned, right on the corner at the bottom and there were loads of poorer people around here. We went into the waiting room, which was like a portakabin of exactly the same type as the café at the garage earlier this evening. We waited for our bus and this brother-disguised-as-a-tramp was in there talking to a girl. This girl was a network-marketeer and she was in someone’s network at quite a senior grade,called a Scooby-Doo in her network. She did a good deal of the motivational talks as she was really keen and really enthusiastic about it. This brother wasn’t really all that keen or enthusiastic about it – not really interested at all, but he needed someone to talk to in order to make some kind of convincing cover for himself.

I had my blood test after this (as mentioned above) and then breakfast. And then I found myself alone. Liz had to go off to work and Terry had a job on for today. I wasn’t up to much and so I stayed behind and did some work on my 3D project, wrote a letter and generally had a quiet day. That is, up until my phone call at 17:27.

I was on the road again at 17:50 heading north to Montlucon, stopping at the Intermarché at Pionsat to buy some bananas and a packet of biscuits. I’ve been stranded in the hospital without food before, as I’m sure you all remember.

There was a parking place outside the Urgences when I arrived at 18:45, so I didn’t have far to walk. I didn’t have long to wait in reception either, but once I’d crossed the threshold, the problems began. My previous history means nothing at all, apparently, and we had to start right from the beginning yet again, even down to the electro-cardiac tests. I had two doctors examining me too, and each one of them asked me exactly the same questions and did exactly the same tests.

While I was lying on a trolley in the corridor waiting to be assigned, a woman came over to me and had quite a friendly chat with me, as if she knew just who I was. It took me a while to figure it out but eventually I realised just who she was. She’s the surgeon who will be attacking me on Thursday morning. And doesn’t she look different in civvies? She reckoned that the horrible solution that I Just had to drink – allegedly to reduce the amount of potassium in my blood – was in fact a punishment for some misbehaviour that I’ve carried out.

But one thing in which she totally agrees with me – and that is that to have a blood count of 8.6 last Monday, and for it to be still 8.6 on Thursday and then for it to dramatically drop to 6.4 (because that’s what it was by the time that I arrived here) today is quite simply not normal. I’ve mentioned before another set of abnormal results from the Laboratory and so I wonder whether there’s something not quite right about the Laboratory.

The blood has finally arrived anyway – at, would you believe, 23:40. I’m being moved to a private room so they can feed it in. I foresee a very restless night.

Tuesday 12th January 2016 – I REALLY DON’T KNOW …

… why they pay some of these people. If I were in charge, they would be paid in washers.

It’s no surprise to anyone to learn that neither of the two letters that I was promised, by two different secretaries of the hospital at Montlucon, has been prepared – let alone signed and posted. And so we had another fifteen minutes of unpleasantness at the reception counter when I went to collect my droit d’entrée to go to see the anaesthetist.

However, this was resolved in rather dramatic fashion while I was talking to the head of the accounts department. She told me (again – because she had told me this three or four weeks ago) that I needed to have the authorisation of my insurance company for the hospital to send the bills for consultation directly to them, and for this, I needed a letter from the doctor who was treating me.

I then (rather patiently for me) explained that I was in total agreement, but having asked for those letters on 23rd December from my Doctor and again on 4th January from my Surgeon, I had still received nothing despite the re-assurance on the telephone the other day, and in fact the letters hadn’t even been typed out.

At that news, the head of the accounts department picked up the telephone, dialled a number and had what can only be described as “a frank exchange of views” with someone on the other end of the line, including the phrase “do you realise that you are holding up the work of the hospital?”. And after she hung up the receiver, she gave me the form that I needed.

I don’t need all of this stress, and even less so when I’m ill like this. And I just go back to the very first day that I was admitted to the hospital, back in late November, when I handed my insurance card to the hospital. As you may remember, the hospital refused (and on a couple of occasions too) to telephone the insurance organisation as I was admitted. Hod they done so, they could have opened a file ON THE SPOT and established all of the information necessary to establish the necessary procedures and coverage ON THE SPOT and all of this unpleasantness could have been avoided. I don’t know enough about hospital procedure to be able to explain to anyone else what is happening and what to expect (from an accounting point of view), and the procedure in Belgium (where my insurance organisation is based) is so much different from that in France.

It’s all so unnecessary.

But abandoning yet another really good rant for the moment … "thank God!" – ed
let us retourner à nos moutons, as they say around here.

The alarm went off at 07:00 and I crawled agonisingly out of my bed. I’d had an early night and crashed out really quickly.

And during the night, I’d been trying to go to a rock concert somewhere but I had never managed to make it. And so I was at home somewhere or other (a house that I actually know but I can’t put a name or address to it, although it strongly resembled Davenport Avenue), and the musicians arrived! The three of them fitted into my tiny bedroom and started to play, just for me. The group might have been “Rush” or it might even have been “Strife” (I’ve been talking a great deal about them on my social network account just recently) but one thing was sure and that was no matter who it was, there was just one musician – the bassist – from the group and the other two members were the guitarist and drummer with whom I used to play back in the 1970s. And when they finished, the bassist said something along the lines of “that’ll teach you to come to our concerts next time”.
So from here, the drummer, guitarist and I had to catch a bus back to Crewe (we were in Chester at the time apparently – scene of many of my earlier musical successes) and so we waited – and waited – and waited – and no bus came (back in those days the C84 ran every hour). Eventually another bus came. This was a bus of the type of the mid-60s – an early Bristol RE single-decker with a green lower and white upper, but with large windows and very curved rather than angular corners – and on the headboard it was indicating “Whitchurch”. Buses heading from Chester to Whitchurch usually travel down the A41 through Christleton and that way but this bus was on the road out of Chester in the general direction of Tarvin, so I assumed that it might be going to Whitchuch via Nantwich, from where there were buses every 15 minutes to Crewe. But chatting to the driver, it appeared that he was only going so far down the Nantwich road, turning off just after Tarporley somewhere in the general area of Bunbury. And so we were there for a good while – the guitarist, the driver and I debating whether or not to take the bus, alight where it turns off the main road and wait for the very late C84. But what if the C84 overtakes us along the route? We’d then be even later and that would clearly be no good (the idea that if our C84 wasn’t running, we would be stranded wherever we were hadn’t entered our heads at all, apparently). The driver said that he could as a favour, pass by Aston Juxta Mondrum (which is nowhere near where we want to go and in any case didn’t have a bus service to anywhere) and drop us there, but we stood for ages at this bus stop, haunted by indecision and being totally incapable of making up our minds.

I was on the road by 07:30 and pulled into Pionsat at more-or-less the same time as the nurse (she who runs the pie hut at the footy) and so paying for my consultation from the other day was quite straightforward.

I arrived at the hospital in Montlucon at 08:30, having found a good spec to park Caliburn, and despite having had a little adventure on the way. It was pouring down with rain and round about St Gervais, the driver’s side windscreen wiper became attached from the arm. Luckily, I was able to rescue it and replace it but it came loose again and so I drove all of the way there without wipers (once you go through the initial 5 minutes of blindness, you’ll be surprised at how clear the view is through a “liquid windscreen”). Subsequent enquiries in the daylight revealed that the blade hadn’t been fitted correctly and I was able to deal with that.

It was just as well that I was early at the hospital. Once more, I had the choice of seats (the one in the corner by the power point) for we ended up 5 people in a room made for two and they were turning people away, to wait in the waiting room until there was a space for them. It really is no surprise that they couldn’t fit me in last Monday afternoon if this is how busy they are in the day hospital.

It was the efficient nurse who dealt with me today. Not only did she fit my drain at the first attempt, it hardly hurt (in comparison to all the others who have tried). And then we reverted to the marvels of modern 21st-Century technology, warming up the blood by stuffing it up my jumper.

I took advantage of my stay there by having a browse through I discovered a while back that they are now grouping as *.zip files many of the old-time radio programmes instead of having them as individual downloads, but 1.4GB is beyond the capacity of my internet connection at home or here chez Liz and Terry. But not at the hospital where a real (as opposed to “notional”) 600kb/s is readily available, and so I downloaded all of Beyond Our Ken, all of the Sherlock Holmes radio shows of the 40s and all of the Philip Marlowe radio shows.

If I’m back next week (which is more-than-likely) there’s the Clitheroe Kid and the Navy Lark to download. And then I’ll be keeping an eye out for ITMA and Much Binding In The Marsh. And if it keeps on and on and on, I’ll end up with more radio shows than the BBC.

I declined the lunch that was offered, and for two reasons too.

  1. The food in the hospital is disgusting
  2. I was hoping to be in and out long before I became hungry

and wasn’t all of that a silly mistake?

I was indeed finished early – at 12:45 in fact. So much so that I had time for a coffee in the café, but I won’t be doing that again. Coffee from the machine is just €0:60 but in the café it’s €1:70, and it’s not as if the surroundings are any more pleasant than the hospital foyer. It did give me an opportunity to spy out the land there and check the food on offer (I need somehow to supplement the hospital diet) but there was, as I expected, nothing there that I could eat.

Then it was time to deal with the anaesthetist, and this is where we had all of the nonsense mentioned above. By the time that I had finished, it was almost 15:00 and how I wish that I had had lunch in the hospital earlier.

I gave the usual spiel to the anaesthetist. “I hate tubes, injections, internal cameras and all of that kind of thing. I don’t want to know what you are going to do to me – just do it and get on with it. if you find anything else when I’m opened up, do that too because I don’t want to come back a second time. But when I wake up, I want to have both my hands and both my feet, and I don’t want to see any tubes, pipes and cameras”.
“Both your hands and both your feet?” said the anaesthetist? “Not your head?”
“I lost my head years ago” I replied.

So we had a nice friendly chat. He’s an old guy, probably my age, with a sparkle in his eye and a devilish sense of humour which makes a change from most French people whom I know. I wish that there were more like him. And then I went for another spy around the 3rd floor to see what I could see. There seems to be a nurse there who would love to sooth my fevered brow, but I’ll be b*gg*red if I let him.

I did some shopping at Amaranthe, the health food shop. A pile of vegan cheese (we’re running low here) and a few other vegan bits and pieces. I bought myself a big pile of vegan muesli biscuits for lunch and nibbled them throughout the afternoon Liz didn’t give me a shopping list for the Carrefour so I had to improvise, and ended up forgetting a pile of stuff that would have been useful to us.That’s a shame, because I feel that I ought to be paying my way while I’m here, and a load of shopping each week would certainly help.

A new pair of slippers and a few pairs of sock was on my shopping list though. The slippers that I have are falling apart and my socks are … errr … quite religious. There was a special offer of 6 pairs of socks at €5:99. Terry asked me if they would last any kind of distance, to which I replied that maybe I only need to worry until the 27th January.

I didn’t feel like much in the way of tea. Too stuffed up with muesli biscuits I reckon. And then I had an early night, leaving you to digest a mere 2000 words this evening.

And serve you b*gg*ers right too!