Tag Archives: bad night

Sunday 3rd December 2023 – IF MY CHRISTMAS …

… cake tastes as nice as did the bits that bubbled over the top of the cake tin onto the base of the oven, I shall be extremely pleased. It was phenomenal!

And yes, Liz, “bubbled over”.

Trying to bake a cake with no self-raising flour or eggs and just using sodium bicarbonate and red wine vinegar to produce a chemical reaction is very much a hit-and-miss process.

The last time I tried, when I made my bread-and-butter pudding, it exploded in my face, presumably because it was insufficiently cooled and mixed before I added the vinegar, but today it went perfectly and I was so impressed

But I was also so tired too.

Not that a really late night had much to do with it, but the fact that all through the night I had the Return Of The Stabbing Pain.

It defies my understanding, all this that goes on with my body. I’ve mentioned in the past … "and on many occasions too" – ed … the fact that at times during the night there’s a stabbing pain in my right foot as if someone is pushing a hatpin into the sole of my foot, and last night it occurred probably almost every 5 minutes

It went on for ages too and when I finally brought myself into the Land of the Living today at about 11:40, it was still going on.

After I’d had the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. A group of resistance fighters of undercover British soldiers had been parachuted into the Occupied Territories to attack the headquarters of a German General. One of the people who worked in that office was a member of the Allied resistance and had been feeding them information. What they did was to make sure that this person made good her escape. Then they walked in and hauled a hand grenade through the door into the other office where the German General would normally work. The hand grenade exploded and there was a cry of agony from in there so they dashed inside. The General’s secretary was there. She’d been very badly injured by the bomb. She staggered out of the room into the office and saw that the office was empty save for these British soldiers. Her first thought was “where’s Madame So-and-so?”. It quickly became clear to her what had happened but no-one in the party of Allied soldiers had the courage to finish her off. 5 minutes later the German General came back in his car with a load of companions who’d been out somewhere. They stepped right into the middle of this carnage, rounded up the soldiers easily and led them away to be shot. During the whole of this dream the British soldiers made absolutely no effort whatever to resist capture and no effort whatever to try to escape or evade.

Several young children, both boys and girls, who had been dancing had come together under the tutelage of a well-known ballerina and were planning to put on a concert. It was called “The Icepedia of Madame Clifford”. She was busily arranging them into groups and teams etc, choreographing dances etc. These children were due to start any day now having their formal tuition in whatever this Madame Clifford wanted to do but just as they began, I awoke.

Later on, a group of 4 or us, 3 girls and me, had been away for a while on a kind-of touring holiday or road trip. As usual there was one girl whom I particularly liked but she was far too busy being friendly with the other 2 girls than she was spending any time alone with me, which was rather disappointing. When we reached the end of our journey there was some kind of issue or confrontation. The girl whom I liked ended up having lost her clothes so she was there basically with all that she had on. I noticed that she was wandering off to the car of one of the other girls so I went over to ask her if she was going to borrow some clothes from her. She replied “no” so I wondered if there was anything that I could do for her or to help her, give her a lift somewhere as she had no clothes, no money etc but she assured me that she’d be OK. I couldn’t actually see how but she was quite adamant. In the end I could hear the 3 girls making up some other kind of plans to meet somewhere on the way home. I felt rather annoyed that I was being left out of everything but I didn’t say anything. I got into my car, and then realised that I was going to be rather short of money for going home. Someone passing by pointed out that one of my tyres had a slow puncture so I wondered how I’d manage to resolve that too. Then the girl pulled up in her car alongside me so I began to talk to her. I had it in my mind to say that I was jealous of the fact that she spent more time with the others than she had with me etc but for some reason I just could not push the words out of my head and out of my mouth to say them. It ended up really unsatisfactory from my point of view. Then the other 2 girls turned up and talked about meeting somewhere in Munich or wherever. I realised that my timetable was going to be really tight and I couldn’t even make it if I was invited. I wondered how these girls were going to do it too. It turned out that they were going to be flying so where was the one with no clothes and no money going to find the money for that? I set off anyway, disappointedly and came to a road junction where there was a car waiting. I waited behind it but it didn’t move. I suddenly realised thet there was no driver in it so I pulled around it, checked that the road junction was clear and began to drive away.

A disabled boy with whom I used to work appeared in a dream somewhere and we talked about my illness. I told him that I had a lot of appointments unofficially registered on 22nd October and I was going to go to the hospital to talk to a few people about how things were going on. We’d been parked in Shavington outside the small parade of shops talking, then he pulled out of the parade without looking and nearly hit another car that was coming our way. Luckily he managed to stop in time but the car carried on driving. We ended up following it for a while then both it and we turned into Chestnut Avenue and began to go down the hill. He’d completely lost the thread of what he’d been saying and told me that that was a problem when his concentration was disturbed. He lost track of just about everything.

And then I was with Alison, Hans and Jackie. We were in Germany somewhere going for a meal. We all piled into one of the cars and someone drove to this restaurant out in the countryside. We went in and the restaurant was actually up some stairs but I struggled up. We eventually managed to find a place to sit. We had quite a good time talking about all kinds of different things. When the bill came mine was €30:06. While I was sorting out my money everyone disappeared. I heard them downstairs. Someone was saying something to Jackie about “shall I run you to the station now?”. That took me by surprise because I understood that we would all be staying together for the weekend. I went downstairs and to my surprise I walked down the stairs without my crutches. We were all milling around in the cloakroom gathering our clothes together. Hans told a joke that made everyone laugh. he said “that was one of Eric’s”. We collected all our coats and set off outside. It was pouring down with rain. Hans made a remark about how lucky we were that we had hats with us. He would be soaked to death walking to the car.

A group of us from the radio had gone to watch Man play in Brussels. The auditorium was packed but I managed to find a little place at the side of one of the mixing tables to put the ZOOM H1 so that it would record the sounds of the group. I wandered off to do something but when I came back there was a family sitting around this table so I went up to tell them that they needed to be very quiet because there was a live microphone recording taking place. They apologised and said that they hadn’t known that it was my seat. They stood up and left. Taking advantage of the empty seat I sat down. I suddenly realised that I hadn’t brought any spare batteries for the Zoom. it it goes flat I’ll be having a real problem. I switched off the machine while the preliminaries were taking place but just them all of the musicians came onstage. I had to switch it on again hurriedly. I’d done it so quickly that I wasn’t sure whether it was on or off. I had the feeling that this was turning into another complete mess. After the first couple of numbers I was chatting to one of the guys from the radio. I told him that if we have issues about space there are only two numbers that are absolutely essential in the recording. I told him of one but I couldn’t remember the name of the second. At that point the dictaphone began to go flat so I gathered up my things and left. After I’d been walking home after 10 minutes I realised first of all that I still had the elastic strap around my ankles and secondly, I didn’t have my crutches. I walked past the street fair and the place where people left food out for the live slugs and fish. I came to a set of steps but I thought that I better hadn’t push my luck too much with these steps without my crutches. I walked the long way round and headed home. I remember thinking that I hope that everything would be fine from now on because if I lose my crutches that’s really the end of everything. I’ve no idea what I’d do then. That was the thought that was worrying me for the rest of the way home.

Something like that actually did happen to me once while I was recording an outside broadcast. The batteries in the ZOOM H8 went flat and the spare batteries were just as dead.

Of course, I haven’t done any outside broadcasts since last Summer before I went to Canada, and for obvious reasons too.

Another reason why I’m exhausted, and probably the most relevant one, is that I’ve been on my feet all afternoon. So much so that my back, my thighs and the muscles in my calves are aching in places where I didn’t even know that I had places.

Firstly, I prepared the mix for the next batch of biscuits. Fresh ginger, fleur d’orange and ground almonds together with the usual spices

And anyone who has been following these pages for any length of time won’t need to be told about what happened just as I was up to my elbows in flour and vegan margarine. For the benefit of new readers, the telephone rang.

There was no other option but to answer it. It was my neighbour, the President of the Residents’ Committee, wanting to know how I was and what happened on Friday so I cleaned myself up and had a good, lengthy chat with her.

She was the one who tipped me the wink about the apartment downstairs. At one of the residents’ meetings the owner of the apartment just happened to mention quite casually that he was thinking about selling up.

She told me and the owner and I had negotiated a price, agreed a deal and I’d paid the deposit to purchase all before he’d even had time to consult an estate agent.

All I have to do now is to wait for the lease to end and the tenant leaves the property, and then I won’t have all these stairs to climb and I can install a proper kitchen and shower. And, it goes without saying, find a cat to adopt me

Of course, the tenant can always leave before the lease expires. “Negotiations are proceeding”.

Next step was to make my Christmas pudding. That was quite straightforward and it was all placed in the steaming container that I’d greased and lined with baking paper. Three hours of steaming in a bain marie to cook it, and seeing as I didn’t have one, I had to invent something.

But that’s now steamed and it’s currently cooling down before I open it to see how it’s looking. And I hope that it works.

Then there was the Christmas cake. That really took some mixing too but I do have to admit that my soaked fruit looked and smelt delicious. Anyway, it all went together, thanks to everything that I’d bought from LeClerc and fitted quite nicely into my moule à charnière.

You’ve no idea how difficult it is to find proper cake tins here in France so when LeClerc had brought in a pile of stuff for a baking sale a couple of years ago I bought two – a large one and a small one that fits into an air fryer.

Yes, I have a cunning plan about that.

Earlier on I’d taken out of the freezer the last of the pizza dough, and while the cake was baking I was busy defrosting and then assembling my pizza.

When I was satisfied that the cake was baked properly I put the pizza in to bake and while it was baking I rolled out the biscuit dough and cut out the biscuits.

Once the pizza was cooked I put the biscuits in the oven and while they were baking I ate the pizza.

So now I have a Christmas Cake, a Christmas pudding, 40 ginger and orange biscuits and a partridge in a pear tree and I’m totally exhausted. I really am.

What I should have done today is to edit a radio programme but I’ve not had time as yet and right now I don’t have the energy to even move. I’ll have a hot drink and then go to bed.

But while I was making my hot drink the phone rang yet again. For several years in the early 1970s I had a girlfriend whom I knew from school. However we ended up going our separate ways, as you do when you’re that kind of age.

In 2006 Liz (not “this” Liz but “that” Liz”) and I were on our way from a meeting of the Disabled Students Group in Bristol (Liz was in charge of Student Support and I was on the Disability Committee) to a University Region 9 Meeting in Newcastle upon Tyne.

We stopped off at a pub in between Shrewsbury and Oswestry for a meal, and who should walk in?

Quite honestly, you could have put her in her school uniform and she would have been exactly as I remembered her – not a single day older.

Since then, we’ve kept in some kind of desultory touch.

So now that I’ve had my hot drink I’m going to go to bed. A good sleep will do me good, as long as I don’t have the person with the hatpin again.

Friday 1st December 2023 – THE BAD NEWS …

… is that my carcinogenic protein has now been found in my nervous system

The good news is that the doctor whom I saw in Paris at lunchtime is keen to have a go at tackling it. And who am I to object to that? What do I have to lose? My marbles – I lost them a long time ago. In fact, I doubt if I ever found them.

But it’s nice to have some good news. It’s been a long time since I’ve had any, and that’s not a cue to talk about those three days that are missing from my blog at the end of August 2019 aboard THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR either.

But while we’re on the subject of good news … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had a really good session on the acoustic guitar working my way through part of my playlist. I reckoned that if I was going to spend 4 hours sitting in a car going to Paris, that would be as good a time as any to catch up on my beauty sleep so I may as well make the most of my own personal time.

The trouble is that most of my playlist is nostalgia-based and I have a lot of stories to tell about the songs on it. For example, in REAL LIFE my heroine comes from the Outaouais with black curly hair and, quite probably, regular readers of this rubbish will recall the name by which she might be known.

Then there’s MARY JANE’S LAST DANCE. "I’m tired of screwing up, tired of going down, tired of myself, tired of this town". I remember singing this to myself driving down from Crewe to Dover Docks through the night with all of my life that remained packed into the back of an old Cortina Estate

And I could go on … "not with a pickaxe through your neck, you couldn’t" – ed

So abandoning yet another good rant for a while, I hauled myself off to bed.

As usual, being a very light sleeper and having to make sure that I’m out of bed promptly, I had an enormous amount of trouble going to sleep.

But in between the spells of wakefulness I must have gone off to sleep because the alarm awoke me.

First things first – I had a good wash and put on some clean clothes. If I’m going to be poked and prodded about I might as well make an effort.

Second thing was to check the papers in my backpack to make sure that I had them all. My sandwiches were in there too – I’d made them up the night before. It’s always a good plan to have a few bits of bread in the freezer.

Finally, there were the dictaphone notes. Something had gone wrong and we’d had a calamity. As a result everyone in our house had to go out on some kind of visit to someone important at some ridiculous hour of night in the middle of winter. There was a big storm raging. This meeting went on apparently much longer that it was supposed to and it was gone midnight when we all finally struggled back. I was in front having to feel my way along the wall and along the clothes line etc in order to arrive at the building. I eventually ended up in the outhouse to the house. I eventually managed to put the key into the door and open it. I threw on the light switch but there was very little power in the batteries so there was barely a glimmer of light illuminating anything. I could see that this was just going from bad to worse to worse.

Later I was at the University of Duluth in Minnesota last night watching a strange kind of game, something of a cross between basketball and ice hockey. Each team consists of both males and females. The aim was as in basketball or ice hockey to work the ball down towards the goal area where you could lob the ball over the crossbar. If it hit the ground you’d have a free shot at scoring a point, similar to basketball. The net was a kind-of thick arrangement where it was quite easy for the ball to be lost inside. Then it would vibrate and shake around, then dart out in all kinds of strange directions and everyone would run after it. I was watching from behind one of the goals because I knew someone from Duluth who was taking part. Duluth was leading up until the final minute when the opposition managed to get the ball over the bar and bounce on the ground behind which meant that they could have a free shot. However their free shot was held up in the net and the whistle blew before it was ejected. I went to have a chat to my friend afterwards but he couldn’t stay around because he’d only turned up to play the game. He was busy with his harvest back on his own farm.

Strangely enough, I’ve never been to Duluth. I did actually have a passage booked on a freighter going from Ijmuijen to Chicago and Duluth once but at the outbreak of Covid all ad-hoc passengers were excluded from freight sailings and as far as I’m aware they haven’t restarted.

Finally I went into work on Monday but half the cars wouldn’t start and there was a big meeting taking place. The boss asked me to go to the Centre des Urgences to explain and arrange for some assistance. All of a sudden I had a mental blank and couldn’t remember where it was. For about 10 minutes I was wandering aimlessly about the building even ending up down in the basement again in the stores with Henri. Eventually someone explained to me where it was and I found it but it seemed to be for people who were having to travel at last-minute rather than anything else Nevertheless I went over and began to explain the problem but a girl sitting behind one of the desks shouted at me “can’t you see that I’m busy? Can’t you see that I have plenty of other things to do?”. I stormed right over to her and gave her a complete and utter mouthful of exactly what I thought of her interruption and then went over to find someone else with whom I could speak at another desk.

The car came for me bang on time and as I was struggling downstairs the visiting nurse was running up on his way to attend to my neighbour.
"Do you want a Covid injection?" he asked. "I have one left over"
Do bears have picnics in the woods?

So there I was, a taxi driver at the bottom of the stairs, the nurse and I halfway up, me with no clothes on my upper body receiving an injection. It must have made a wonderful sight, but I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity.

The drive to Paris was uneventful apart from the traffic around the Péripherique of course. And finding the correct building in the hospital complex (because it really is a maze) was quite straightforward.

Finding the entrance however was another thing, and once we found it, finding the reception was even more complicated.

And then I had the doctor, and we had quite an interesting discussion.
"Do you know why the hospital at Montlucon took out your spleen?" he asked.
"To be honest" I replied "I don’t think that even they knew why they did it"

And then I recounted my tale of woe about the events that took place between November 2015 and March 2016 with which regular readers of this rubbish will recall being regaled at the time.

But retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, and he told me that the last lumbar puncture revealed traces of the carcinogenic protein in the liquid that flows around my nervous system

So that, dear reader, is that.

But I’ve had to fight all my life and even if I were ready to stop, I wouldn’t know how to.

Over 30 years ago I met the old blues singer TS McPhee in a snooker club in Crewe and we had a good chat. He wrote A SONG ABOUT DYING "I’m like a ship on the ocean that’s rolling from side to side".

He goes on to say "I’ve done everything that I ever set out to do". Well, he might, but I’m a long way short of that and so I’m going to keep on keeping on, as BOB DYLAN WOULD SAY

He’s keen to get in there and fight too, which is good news. It’s always nice to have allies and I don’t have many of them.

His plan is to call me in after the New Year and have me stay for a few days. He plans another one of these really agonising lumbar punctures to check the results, and then he’s going to spend some time examining my heart.

What he reckons is that following the disastrous sessions of chemotherapy that I had and which were rapidly abandoned, there might be some kind of tablet that might stimulate the nerve cells to fight back in the same way that Aranesp stimulates the red blood cells.

However it’s not for the faint-hearted – and he means that in the literal sense. He needs to know if my heart will withstand the strain. If not, he’ll have to think of a Plan B.

He told me about the side effect too, one of which is “bad attacks of cramp” however I don’t really know whether I have any vacant spaces in which to fit any more attacks of cramp.

At one time I started recording the attacks of cramp that I was having but for quite a while now, the only recording of attacks of cramp that takes place is when I go for a day without any, and I bet that you’ve not noticed too many instances of that.

After he threw me out I thought that I’d find a quiet place to eat my butties undisturbed and then phone the driver to say that I was ready but I’d hardly taken the first bite out of my bread before I was caught in flagrante delicto

Apart from the traffic leaving Paris and on the péripherique de Caen we had a straightforward drive home and I drifted away with the fairies now and again.

We were back here at 17:50 and the first thing that I did was to have an energy drink and then make a massive mug of hot chocolate. I’d had nothing whatever to drink all day.

After a rest I had another helping of sausage beans and chips. Something quick and easy.

But after my exertions today I’m off to bed. I’m not going shopping tomorrow. I really can’t haul myself off outside after today.

Instead I’ll send off my supermarket order and add onto it the things that I’d usually buy at the Carrefour.

Discretion is the better part of valour after the events of today.

Friday 24th November 2023 – AS YOU MIGHT …

… expect, having decided not to go to the shops this morning in case the garage came to pick up Caliburn, they didn’t turn up at all.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, this is par for the course. Only I can do things like DRIVE 500 MILES TO VISIT AN ISOLATED ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE and find it closed for the season, or load up Caliburn to go to the dechetterie and pick the only day in the month when it is closed.

And in 2022 where I booked 4 nights in a hotel in Montreal to find that the only day that the train to the east left was on the third night

That’s the kind of thing that crops up all the time and regular readers of this rubbish are used to this by now.

Having said that, it was really just as well that I didn’t go because I really didn’t feel like it. It was another horrible night where it took ages to go off to sleep and when I did, I had another incredibly mobile night.

When the alarm went off I staggered into the kitchen, to find that I was actually feeling rather more steady on my feet today than I have done just recently, and I even managed 4 steps without leaning on anything.

It might be Severine’s exertions that are working, or it might be my nocturnal exercises with the elastic band wrapped round my ankles, or it might just be my imagination.

After the medication and checking my mails (and I’ve had authorisation to have a taxi for Paris on Friday next week) I had a very slow start to the day and it took a while to wind myself up ready to start. We were on board a ship again last night and every time we’d go ashore I’d always sit with the same person, another guy. On this particular occasion we all lined up ready to climb into the boats to take us ashore. I sat down in a good place but the guy walked straight past me and went to sit down next to someone else. In the end I had either a girl or a woman sit next to me but I was more interested in listening to what these other 2 guys were doing. They were having a tremendous amount of fun talking about Queen Victoria as a painter, cracking jokes with each other etc. One of them was having a go at painting and everyone was crowded around having a look. All of a sudden, even in the dream, I felt really lonely and alone.

Liz once asked me a good while ago if I ever felt lonely, living as I do. But in fact I don’t actually live alone. The advantage of having a split personality is that there’s always a group of me living inside my head and there’s that much noise going on that I’m certainly not lonely.

But in actual fact, the alternatives to being lonely are probably worse. “he who travels fastest travels furthest” and “he who travels fastest travels alone”. And I’ve certainly covered much more ground alone than I otherwise would have done.

The only time that I have really regretted being on my own was at times such as strolling across the Little Big Horn battlefield or standing on the top of South Pass, or visiting the Norse Furdustrandir on the coast of Labrador and there was no-one to share the experience with me.

But of course, had I had someone in tow before I set off, I wouldn’t have ever arrived at anywhere like that. I really ought to have had a daughter. Castor enjoyed my little stories when we were alone together on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR late at night.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bedroom we were all discussing what we would be doing on a particular evening at home. Almost everyone had various plans but it ended up that I would be there with my 3 younger siblings at home wo we were trying to work out what we would be doing about a meal. I tried to find out whether there was any food that needed collecting because sometimes there was but the food that I could have picked up coming back from Percy Penguin’s I’d picked up the previous day. There were 1 or 2 things from other outlying farms but it was quite out of the way to go. They did ask me if I’d go out there to pick it up but for some reason I said that it would be difficult. As they were leaving my parents turned to me and said “you’ll be OK organising this meal for the other 3 won’t you? And you’ll be paying”. That was the first news that I heard about it. They had never ever discussed the payment with me for a single minute until they had some of their feet outside the door.

And then I had exactly the same dream half an hour later – word for word.

Later on I was seeing on some kind of basis a girl who had the same name as one of my regular visitors, but it wasn’t she . A third by began to hang around occasionally. I’d invited the girl back for a meal and I’d cooked something but the guy showed up. Out of courtesy I gave him some food. He asked for something but I only had a little so I said “you’re eating me out of house and home aren’t you?”. He replied “it’s not my fault. I didn’t ask to come for a meal”. I replied “you asked to asked to hang around with this girl. What did you expect?”. In the end it ended up in one of these arguments that we had. I said to the boy “there’s only one person who can decided who the girl goes out with and that’s the girl herself” and I went off to clear the table. About 30 seconds later he said “it looks as if I’m stealing your girlfriend” and walked out of the room with her. After she left she stuck her head back in the door to say “if you see (something) belonging to me you’ll remember to give it to me won’t you? You will still keep looking for it, won’t you?”. I answered with a very non-committal “yes” and carried on clearing the table.

Some of my plants are going to miss my layered kitchen but I’m going to have it remodelled as I can no longer walk up the steps. One of the plants was an adopted plant that came from a level kitchen anyway so it wouldn’t have too much trouble readapting but the others will probably find it difficult because the steps in the kitchen are completely beyond me now. It’s high time that I had the floor and everything put on the level. And what that has to do with anything I really don’t know at all.

There was another dream too. We were on holiday. I was with a girl but I can’t remember who she was. There was a variety of older couples. There was a very young girl there with a much older man. He was disabled. We formed the opinion that she wasn’t looking after him correctly. She seemed to be a nice enough girl but there was something about how the reaction between the 2 of them didn’t seem correct at all. When we travelled to this particular hotel we could see that the old guy was having a hard time but the girl didn’t seem to be particularly concerned all that much. Next day we were going somewhere and the girl appeared on her own. She tagged onto our little group of people. We didn’t really say all that much to her but when we climbed out of the coach to go on the way back to the hotel we began to chat. We asked about the guy and she gave some very non-committal answers. I had the uncomfortable feeling that she was trying to ingratiate herself with me for some reason but I wasn’t really sure why. As we climbed up and down the steps across this entry to go to the hotel I shouted out to my girlfriend “all those in favour of a coffee say ‘Aye'” and the girl shouted “Aye” too. I had no idea exactly what was happening but there were some things about this situation that just didn’t seem right to me at all.

That’s just another one of a whole series of strange encounters that I’ve had with strange people. 25 years ago I had an e-mail from a girl. “I’m a clandestine from Myanmar here in Brussels with no papers at all. I think you can help me”.
My biggest default has always been my curiosity and that has led me into a pile of difficulties and problems in the past but nevertheless, I responded.
We met up in Brussels and she got into my car. A beautiful young Oriental girl, probably early 20s at most. Perfectly manicured hands, perfectly coiffured hair, designer denim jacket with matching jeans.
If it looks like a rat and walks like a rat and smells like a rat, then it’s a rat. There’s no way she’d fought her way through the mangrove swamps on the border between Myanmar and Thailand

She played me along for a while and I played her along for a while but she eventually grasped the message that whatever she wanted from me she wasn’t going to get until I in my turn had some answers to a whole host of difficult questions, and that was something else that fizzled out.

There was another complicate dream about a girl who lived on a model housing estate that wasn’t quite finished. She had a pet that might have been a dog. As she travelled a lot she relied on one of the neighbours, a young guy, to feed the dog for her. On one occasion that she’d been away something had gone wrong about the dog food. In the end the guy had only ended up making meals for the dog for 3 days instead of 7. It led to quite a few complications, not only for her and the guy but for a few passers-by who heard their discussion. That’s all that I remember about this dream but it did go on for hours and hours and at one point I remember sitting on the kerb overlooking this housing estate eating a meal that I suspected was dog food.

There was something to do with a Prisoner-of-War camp. There were civilian internees, of which I was one, who had to go to the camp during the day but were allowed home on parole at night. On one particular occasion I was one of the last ones to leave. There were 2 women who had come there but were both ill in bed. By the looks of things they weren’t going home. The female commandant grabbed hold of me and began to give me things, festooning me like a Christmas tree. There were all kinds of stuff that apparently these women had brought that needed to go home. I couldn’t understand how I was supposed to carry all of this but she said “things like the Hoover here you can pull by the cord and it’ll follow you”. In the end, being in no position to argue, I shook my head and set off to catch the bus back to where I was staying. There were all kinds of complications about bringing these things into the lift. The Hoover snagged on its cable around a step, it was left out of the lift when we went in and the doors closed. There were all kinds of extreme difficulties through which I was going, trying to move these things while these 2 women were just lying there in bed doing nothing while I was doing all of this and upsetting everyone else who was trying to share a lift with me, waiting at the entrance to this building while the door opened. I can’t ever remember feeling as frustrated as I did about this

And that used to be a regular feature during my nocturnal voyages too.

Having dealt with all of that (which took much longer than it ought) I attacked the radio programme. And despite several occasions when I went off with the fairies I actually finished all of the notes. That leaves me tomorrow afternoon for starting my Christmas baking because I’m shopping in the morning.

With some time left over I carried on going through one of the back-up drives in the array on the shelf and made another pile of space.

Tea tonight was a delicious sausage, beans and chips. If I’m not careful I’ll be running out of sausages in due course. That batch of vegan sausages that I bought in Jersey is delicious but I won’t be able to buy any more. Beans though are no problem. Ric and Elaine bought me some last year and Liz and Terry bought me a pile this summer when they came over.

So I’m going to bed now, ready to fight the good fight in the shops at St Nicolas tomorrow. I need some mushrooms for my pizza on Sunday and a few other bits and pieces too.

And then I’ll have to think about an order from LeClerc. At the moment I’m doing Ok for supplies but I’ll never be able to find anything when I really need it.

Ordering my shopping is just like waiting for the garage to come for Caliburn, really.

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.

Thursday 9th November 2023 – MAIS OÙ SONT …

… les neiges d’antan? wrote Francois Villon 550 years ago in his poem La Ballade Des Dames Du Temps Jadis.

And I wrote something similar last night in my tale of woe about “Ladies From Former Times” when I wrote about Castor, Zero and TOTGA and the absence thereof during my nocturnal ramblings. Where indeed are the snows of yesteryear?

So of course it goes without saying that last night Zero and TOTGA came to see me – at different times, I have to say. I don’t think that I could cope with them both together.

It was all extremely confusing because I had another bad night – one of many that I seem to be having these days. I think that it must be my guilty conscience catching up with me, or something like that.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. As I said, at some point TOTGA came by. We were talking about an expression that I’d used in a conversation – one of these superlative hyperbole expressions. At first she didn’t understand it so I explained that it came from the “Round The Horne” programme which was very good at doing that kind of thing. I went to give her an example and was about to talk about Geronimo and his Indian braves when I suddenly had the most appalling attack of cramp in my left lower leg and I awoke in absolute agony.

Can you imagine it? There I was, not only with the bird on my plate but just about to get my fork stuck in it and I had a bad attack of cramp. The first time that she’s shown up for quite a while too. Is there anything more disappointing than that?

Actually, all through the night I was having these bad attacks of cramp and it was probably all of this that was disturbing my sleep.

In fact, I was glad when the alarm went off and I could stagger to my feet.

It took rather longer than usual to come round into the Land of the Living, but once I was finally on the same planet as you lot, I transcribed the dictaphone notes.

TOTGA I mentioned just now. And later on I was in some kind of big city. One of these places with some impressive stone buildings like Bank headquarters etc. I was walking along a path that was on top of a cliff with all of these big buildings on my right. I came to a point where I couldn’t go any further. The wall of the building went right down to the edge of the cliff. I noticed that there was a gate in it. I can’t think why I hadn’t noticed this gate before. I walked through the gate and slowly went up the hill. There in the distance was a Fortis Bank cash machine. Luckily I had my new Fortis card with me. I picked up the card and tried to put it in the machine but it wouldn’t fit. I’d noticed that I’d actually left it stuck to the backing. I had to peel off the backing but it still wouldn’t fit. I noticed that there was still something else attached to it. It took me several goes to have the card completely separate from whatever it was that it was stuck to. I put it in the machine. At first I had a really difficult job to remember the code number. Eventually I recalled it and could access the account. I then had to think about drawing out some money – obviously, with not going anywhere near a bank these days, the more money I have on hand the better but there has to be a limit. I didn’t want to go too close to the limit in case the machine swallowed my card and then I really would be stuck. I had to think really hard about how much money I was going to ask for.

Actually this is a real preoccupation with me right now. I can’t actually go to the bank any more because I can’t climb back onto the bus at the bus stop. I have a little “fighting fund” of cash squirrelled away but it’s not going to last for ever.

It’s actually quite bizarre. When I was at University, as well as being Chair of Northern Europe I was also involved in Disability issues when I was on the Executive Committee and so I’m well-aware of the day-to-day problems that disability can present.

So I’ve never understood why, if the local council only has a certain budget to spend on improving the bus routes and facilities around the town, why one of the last bus stops to be raised up to a working height is the one just outside the Medical Centre where all of the ill and infirm people go.

That should have been one of the first to be raised up. But instead, the buses stop in the roadway far from the pavement and they don’t “kneel down” enough for wheelchairs and handicapped people to board very easily.

Anyway I digress.

A little earlier I also mentioned that Zero put in an appearance. But you really don’t want to know about the voyage that we had together, especially if you are eating your meal right now. It’s been a while since there has been anything really gruesome figuring in my nocturnal voyages, but when there is, there really is.

With a bit of luck she might put in an appearance tonight and we’ll have a happy ending.

Some nights, what goes on in my sleep is far more stressful than anything that happens during the day. It’s similar to the reason why I’m having serious thoughts about stopping my treatment at Leuven. It doesn’t matter how good the treatment might be and how efficient the care is in the journey to and from Vlaanderen is finishing me off.

Once I’d sorted that out I attacked the notes for the radio programme that I dictated last night. And I stuck at it and finished the programme. I’m actually now at 31st May 2024 with my totally-completed radio shows. I want to be as far ahead as I can possibly be because sooner or later the inevitable will catch up with me.

Afterwards I spent some time tidying the apartment. I’m having a visit tomorrow so the place needs to be clean and tidy. I know that cleanliness is next to Godliness but with me it’s next to impossible.

Neitzsche famously said “out of chaos comes order” but he said that a long time before I was ever thought of. Ezra Pound once said of Ford Madox Ford “Put Ford naked in an empty room and within an hour behold total chaos!”. That’s something that I understand very well

The bedroom is actually clean now and I’ve even vacuumed the floor. And you’ve no idea just how difficult a simple task like vacuuming is right now.

And then I had a good wash and brush up and the car came for me to take me to the Centre de Re-education. The ergotherapist had me opening and closing doors, laying tables, picking up pins and counters off the table, that sort of thing. She also says that next week she’ll come round here to give me practical advice about getting the most out of my apartment.

Severine the physiotherapist put me through my paces too and then, totally, exhausted, I headed back home in the car.

My cleaner was just coming into the building so she helped me up the stairs and into here, where I made myself my mug of hot chocolate.

The rest of the day, such as it was, has been spent pairing off the music for the next couple of radio programmes and beginning to write the notes for one of them.

Tea tonight was delicious. Steamed vegetables and a vegan sausage in a vegan cheese sauce. That was a meal that I enjoyed very much.

So now I’m going to bed, but not before I’ve sent someone a message. If I had to pick a favourite relative (and despite everything that I have said, I do actually have one) it’s the one who is getting married in Michigan tomorrow and I’m really disappointed that I can’t be there with her.

She actually works for one of the biggest transport firms in North America and was away on a mission for work when she was caught in the lockdown over across the border in 2020. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to fight the good fight at the shops if the wind has dropped because it was quite savage again today. And then I’ll finalise my tidying up ready to find out what is actually going on about this visit tomorrow.

The plot sickens.

Friday 3rd November 2023 – SO MUCH FOR THAT …

… idea about having a good night’s sleep.

It might have been only 23:00 when I went to bed but at 03:30 I was still wide awake with no sign whatever of ever going to sleep.

However I must have done at some point but I was awake again before the alarm went off even if I wasn’t actually up and about.

Once the alarm went off I made it to my feet and went off for my medication. And then back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night. I’d been away somewhere for several weeks, it might have been the hospital, and I’d parked Caliburn in a shed on a piece of waste land at the back of a pile of terraced houses. I went there to pick him up. There were cars all over the place, being worked on or being dismantled etc. Going into the shed Caliburn, who was now an LT Volkswagen, had had one of his air vents bodily ripped out so there was a hole in the front panel. I opened the doo and there were engines, cowlings, covers and shrouds everywhere. I fought my way in. A guy came running over. He asked if I could give him a jump start. I started the van and rolled forward and it was to his father’s wheelchair. We had to put the leads from the van to the wheelchair in order to make it start

There had been something earlier. I’d gone on a long-distance journey with someone. Everyone else had gone at the end of whatever this meeting was. The only way out for me was to climb over the fence. That was extremely complicated and I ended up having to do practically a forward roll over the fence to go out again. I’d brought someone with me. We were talking about the accounts and he said “I’ll let you off some of the accounts in view of the fact that you drove”. I thought that the reason why we took so long was because we had to go back once or twice for things that he’d forgotten. That really bumped up the mileage. He’s not doing me any favours at all by knocking a couple of things off. I should be sending him a bill for all the extra mileage.

This “Peace Train” thing (whatever that might have been) was about Joan Baez and her guitar being hung from some kind of monorail track and being driven around as if she was a train on the monorail while she was playing the guitar and singing that particular song.

A kitten was wedged underneath the foot of the table and stuck up against the glass surface which was why it was looking so peculiar. I actually dreamt that bit in French and began to dictate it in French.

Finally I was coming back from work somewhere and I’d stopped in a town to have a coffee. I had a wheelbarrow with a few bricks and things like that in it which I no longer needed so I just abandoned it in the street and went in. The coffee bar was packed and there wasn’t room anywhere but the proprietor encouraged the patrons to move up a little. It made a space for me next to a girl. I sat there with my coffee and we had quite a chat before she disappeared. Then I had to leave. I was in a wheelchair by this time, doing down the steps in it when I noticed her outside. She asked if she could give me some help but I told her that I’d be able to manage. We were sorting through a few things of hers, LPs and CDs etc because there was a market on in the town where there was a stall for 2nd-hand CDs etc. I noticed in her glove compartment things like books about camping, scouting and so on. I thought that she was one of these strange “jolly hockey sticks” types of girls who never seem to grow up.

Later on I staggered out onto the bus and went to St Nicolas for my shopping. There wasn’t much that I needed but it was nice to be out and about and to have my coffee while I waited for the bus home.

Once more it was a struggle up the stairs and I really can’t go on like this much longer. But back in here I made myself some soup – and then I crashed out for half an hour.

In a couple of weeks’ time it’s the birthday of one of my neighbours and she was having some of her family around so I went up to say hello and to give her a box of chocolates that I’d bought her.

But as usual, I didn’t stay long. I’m not really the sociable type, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and after an hour or so I came back down here to crash out yet again.

What I’ve been doing this afternoon is to hack some sound-files about, tidy up some of the music directories (yes, directories – I’m still working in DOS 5.0 in my head) and reviewing some pages in my blog. There are quite a few that need updating with things missed off that I never had the time to do at the time, and I want to catch up with that.

As well as that, I’ve been chatting on the internet. Liz is helping me choose a couple of new domestic appliances, Rosemary and I talked about the storm and then Hans in Munich has found some real Bavarian gingerbread spice mix and would I like some?

Actually, today I finished the last of the honey and oat biscuits that I made and some gingerbread biscuits would be nice but the spices won’t be here by then. I fancy making some chocolate ones this weekend. The last batch of chocolate ones that I made were really good. Add some orange and some coconut flavouring and they’ll be really nice.

Tea tonight was chips cooked in the air fryer and salad with one of those strange burgers that I bought a while ago, and it was actually quite nice.

But that’s got me thinking. I’ll have to send my spies out to look at the pavements at one of the bus stops at Yquelon. There’s a bus stop that’s not too far away from Noz and I’m wondering if I ought to have a go at going there on the bus some time to see if I could survive the journey.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve hit the jackpot on several occasion at Noz with the end-of-range stuff that they have, and I wonder if I ought to think about going again.

Thursday 2nd November 2023 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about the weather last night. It did become rather windy. Not that there was very much about which we needed to worry – the gusts of wind didn’t go any faster than a mere 207 kilometres per hour as measured at the weather station by the lighthouse at the end of the road.

As well as police patrols on the cliffs to keep people away, several roads were closed, including the one that goes along the promenade near the sailing school where the waves were washing over the wall into the car park opposite.

At 06:00 the emergency services and the council workmen were called out to begin removing the trees that had blown down everywhere and to re-erect the signposts that had been uprooted.

It didn’t help my sleep very much either. It seemed that almost every time that I was off on a nocturnal ramble around and about, a large gust of wind awoke me and that was that.

Nevertheless when the alarm went off at 07:00 I was flat out asleep and it was something of a struggle to raise myself from the dead.

Later on I tried to telephone the garage about Caliburn’s Controle Technique but there was no-one answering. I imagine that they were among the many people who didn’t make it into work today. I know that my cleaner never made it into town. She gave up after going 150 metres.

Armed with a mug of coffee and a home-made fruit bun I had a listen to the rather depressing voyages on the dictaphone and to reflect on what might have been. There was something about meeting people via the internet last night. I can’t remember all that much about it except that there was a warning that if you encountered anyone taller than 5’8″ you had to communicate the fact to the organisers rather than proceeding as you might normally do. It wasn’t quite as simple as that – it was a complicated affair about meeting people and not simply a dating site or something like that.

We set out later from somewhere in the North to go somewhere down South in one of the hospital taxi vehicles. It looked as if the paperwork for my stay in hospital to sort myself out had been accepted and I could now travel that kind of distance instead of being stuck to a hospital that was much closer to home but maybe isn’t as specialised.

And then we were discussing ways in which our department could improve its output. Among the many suggestions was one that we should work closer with the local authorities. I set out a four-point plan of what I felt that the local authorities needed to do with out work, which was continually being interrupted by the guy in charge. There was a fifth point that I mentioned that each side should show the other some respect. For some reason he blew up at that. he began to list all the things that he said had happened including the fact that one of my colleagues had spent several weeks preparing something to be worked on by the local authority. I asked him “if that’s the case why are we having this meeting today to discuss ways of doing it if our colleague has already done it?” to which he blew up even more. He made it clear that he had no interest whatever in listening to anything that we had to say. In the end I told him that if he’s going to call a meeting simply to listen to our complaints and then shoot us down in this kind of fashion there’s no point at all having the meeting and I was going to do some work that was more productive rather than waste time around here. Somewhere in this discussion there was a situation on a roundabout where there was a system of wooden stakes that had been installed on it. Everyone wondered what they were. Someone actually identified them as stakes used to hold bodies still when the bodies are being cremated. That had everyone puzzled as to why they would want to put something gruesome like this in the middle of the roundabout in the town.

We were back discussing the hospitalisation of a young girl, what we’d need to do to make her stay as practical as possible but a gust of wind awoke me just as it began.

And there I was back at the hospital again, back as a young teenager in the Admissions section ready to be given a bed etc. While I was checking in another gust of wind sprung up outside awoke me and made me lose my train of thought.

Back at the hospital yet again trying to enrol this young girl onto a course of hospital treatment but just as we were filling in the forms yet another gust of wind awoke me while I was in the middle of counting something and it disappeared.

At another moment some woman wanted a sink or wash hand basin installing in her house so I had a word with someone whom I knew and took all the material down there ready for him to start but he never turned up. This woman did nothing but moan all the time about why he’d never turned up, what she was missing etc. In the end I sat down and began to do the installation but apparently that wasn’t good enough either. We had everything that we needed in the end in the same place, the electricity, the water, etc. We could screw the sink to a batten somewhere. I was doing my best to have the job done quickly but she was making so much of a nuisance of herself etc that it was just making it impossible. Even doing things like asking her to read me the M number off the top of the bolt – she just handed me the bolt and told me to look at it myself which wasted more time regardless of how impolite it was etc – all kinds of situation like that. In the end I just did the job any old how. I could have done a much better job that I did but it was just taking so long with her continual interrupting me etc so I was glad to leave the house afterwards.

And finally we were back trying to get this young teenage girl into hospital ready for treatment but the noise of the wind was such that it was making it impossible for anyone to hear what anyone else was saying to whoever. It was all becoming extremely complicated. We ended up having to experiment with a diesel multiple-unit, a modern type, having it flying just a couple of feet above the railway line to see whether it would fit underneath the infrastructure etc ready for it to come into service as quickly as possible. Again there was all kinds of confusion with the noise of the wind and no-one could hear anyone else. We were having real difficulty completing these reports.

All of that and, for the first time, not a single person whom I recognised. That was disappointing. It’s been ages since Castor put in an appearance so I imagine that she’s now gone for good along with the Vanilla Queen whom I met in the Arctic in 2018. But it would be nice to see Zero or TOTGA again.

Usually though, it seems to be my immediate family who keep on appearing.

With going out to visit my neighbour this afternoon I had a strip-down wash (I’m not up to climbing into the bath for a shower after my fall the other day) and then changed all the bedding at long last.

Back in the bathroom I went one better than Dave Crosby. I’m not sure why because there’s no danger of me having the ‘flu for Christmas because Isabelle the district nurse came by to give me my ‘flu injection.

However, there could be several other reasons why I’ll probably not end up feeling up to par. But I won’t be looking in my rear view mirror and seeing a police car because I can’t drive these days.

Before I went to my neighbour’s, I put the bedding and a few other things into the washing machine and then at my neighbour’s, I showed her the letter that I’d written.

She suggested a few amendments so I’ll retype it later and then post it tomorrow if I succeed in making it to the shops. She also mentioned that we’ve been invited to another neighbour’s tomorrow lunchtime.

Back here I took the washing out of the machine and then shook my head wondering how I’ve managed to survive as long as I have.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the struggle that I had a couple of weeks ago to take a basket full of damp clothes to the clothes airer. When I came to Granville I bought a little trolley-type of thing, basically a plank with 4 castors, because I thought that I’d left the big one back on the farm.

As it happens, I hadn’t. It was in the back of Caliburn so I left the new one in a cupboard here. So today, I fetched it out, put the basket of clothes onto it, and then pushed it along with my crutches. If only I’d done that last time.

After that I came back in here and finished off all of the notes for the second radio programme and then went for tea – fried rice with some of those Chinese whatsits.

When they run out and I can’t buy any more, I’ll have a go at making them. Some of the stuffing that I make for my stuffed peppers maybe made a little differently and I can buy some of that thin brick pastry on-line. It should be interesting to see how they turn out

And that’s it for tonight. The wind has dropped so I might well have a decent sleep tonight in my nice clean bedding. And then depending on how I feel, I’ll head on the bus to St Nicolas and the shops to see what’s happening there.

It’ll do me good to go out and about

Wednesday 1st November 2023 – THERE WON’T BE MANY …

… people having much sleep tonight. And there’s a police patrol out on top of the cliffs just outside the front door making sure that no-one goes too close to the edge.

We are currently being battered by one of the fiercest storms that I’ve encountered so far, and seeing that this is the windiest corner in France, that’s saying something. It’s absolutely raging outside.

There wasn’t much in the way of sleep last night either.

It was rather later than usual when I went to bed and despite it being another turbulent night, I was actually up and about by 06:20. I couldn’t sleep at all.

Of course, being up and about is one thing. Being awake is something else completely and it took me quite a while to come to my senses. And that’s a surprise, seeing how few senses I have these days.

Once I’d livened up, after my morning coffee, I went tidying up. My bedroom is now looking a lot better than it did earlier. There were books and papers all over the place but now I can actually see some work surface.

In the kitchen and the dining area too. It’s been a couple of weeks since the cleaner has been and so the place is in a bit of a mess. You’ve no idea how difficult it is to perform even the simplest of tasks around here.

One thing that I did today was to switch on the heating. I’ve put it off for a couple of days because I wanted to see November in before I switched it on, and I was desperately clinging on towards the end.

Just now I mentioned the turbulent night. There were tons of stuff on the dictaphone. I started off with a girl whom I knew from Nerina’s office but I can’t remember very much at all about what was happening in it. I seem to have forgotten it all. I do remember suddenly realising that it was a Tuesday night. I’d been off sick for several days and if I didn’t go back into work in the morning I’d be in all kinds of serious trouble. I needed to get a grip, get my things together and head back into work in the morning.

Later on I wanted to sit down and write a letter about the apartment downstairs, how I thought that I ought to be moving into it. There were so many hoops and so on through which I had to jump that it was extremely complicated and needed a great deal of thought before I could sit down and write out a letter about it, making sure that the letter said everything that needed to be said without actually causing any problems for the recipient.

And then my brother and I were at it again last night … "again" sigh – ed. We’d had something to do and he wasn’t at all happy about it. I just couldn’t care less. I carried on going on my way anyway. We ended up in this building that had an Indian restaurant in it. I had a job there as a delivery driver. He’d been hanging on behind me as usual. I prepared everything and went out through the door into the street. For ages nothing happened so I had a patrol around the building to see whether there was anything else happening in there or anything else I could be doing because I needed to be earning some money. In the end I went back into the restaurant. My brother, who had now become some kind of girl Was actually preparing meals. He was moaning, complaining and shouting all the time about what he was having to do and how he didn’t want to do it etc, how he didn’t even like waiting on tables. The proprietor said “yes, I didn’t tell you about the waiting on tables bit but you knew everything else” but that didn’t stop him having a really good moan about everything. He was really unhappy about what was going on.

Meanwhile, I’d had an engine out of one of the Cortinas and had taken it to pieces to have a good look. I’d reassembled the block and sump and put them in position and had all the ancillaries like the manifolds, camshaft etc all there ready to go in. Nerina came round to have a look to see what I was doing. I showed her how the engine worked, what bits were where and what they did. She put her hand in there and touched something. She said “oh it’s loose”. I explained that everything there has to go in under tension – you can’t put one piece in, tighten it up completely, then put another bit in. You had to put all them pieces in together and tighten them up bit by bit while it all goes into tension – it’s all tightened up together slowly. She asked if I’d done anything to the engine. I replied “nothing, except to scratch the name on one of the pistons. This vehicle has done 300,000 miles and there isn’t a sign or wear in the bores, anywhere. I’d never seen an engine quite like this”. We were putting it all together. Also in the garage was an Austin A30 or A35. Some young person came into the garage to look around and saw the Austin. They noticed that the way that the grille and headlights were arranged made it look as if it was smiling and said “of look! This car’s really cute! It really likes me”.

But never mind that – last time I rebuild an engine from scratch in a Cortina it sheared off a big end cap from a con-rod while I was going down a dual carriageway at a rapid rate of knots

And finally a little girl came to see me in hospital. She was all of these “My Little Pony” humanoid figures lying around so she went over to look at them. Later on she began to play with some of them. I told her that she could choose one to play with because it had some work to do in the hospital and it was very important that it was ready when it was required to perform this particular task of work.

While we’re on the subject of letters, there’s a very important letter that I had to write today. I’ve not sent it off yet because, due to its nature, I want someone else to read it first. And so I’m going for coffee with the President of the Residents’ Committee tomorrow afternoon.

While the cleaner was here I finished off the notes for the radio programme, paired off the music for the next one and then wrote half of the notes for that one too. I’ll finish off those over the next couple of days and then dictate them late on Saturday night, assuming that the gale has subsided by them.

Tea tonight was a leftover curry and it was one of the best that I have made. The leftover stuffing needed lengthening, and as 5kg of potatoes was cheaper than 2.5 kg so that I now have the European Potato Mountain in my apartment, I lengthened it with a potato.

Into the mix was some soya yogurt to make it nice and creamy like a korma, and I took from the freezer some of the naan dough that I’d made a couple of weeks ago and had a garlic naan with it.

So I’m off to bed now, with my head stuck firmly under the quilt until tomorrow. And then we’ll see what people think about this letter that I’ve written. I’ve always worked on the principle that “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” and asking costs nothing anyway.

It might even be beneficial, and that would be something!

Friday 27th October 2023 – THE PREVIOUS DAYS’ …

… completely entries are now all on line.

That’s because I have now found a decent internet connection – yes, I’m back home.

And getting back home was an adventure all of its own as you will find out as you read on.

Last night I’d gone to bed early ready for my early 05:30 start but as usual, I couldn’t sleep. I awoke at 12!50 with a start. I had the radio on and was still listening to it. Somehow the dictaphone that was by the side of the bed fell on the floor. I couldn’t find out where the noise that I was listening to was coming from. I searched round the bedroom for a minute or two until I suddenly regained my senses and found that it was my radio. I took off the headphones ready to go back into this dream and carry on.

And so I dictated into my little machine.

At some point I must have gone back to sleep but I awoke again at 03:00 and that was really that. By 04:30 I’d given up any attempt to sleep and ended up listening to the old-time radio programmes.

At 05:40 someone came round to take my blood pressure and then I had the breakfast that I was promised.

After everyone had gone I had a really good wash and then carried on with selecting the music for the next series of radio programmes. Nurses came and went of course but I battled on and I’m now up to 29th November 2024, with several holes in between such as my Isle of Wight Festival and my Hawkfest programmes for which I’ve yet to decide on the music.

The Hawkfest should be exciting though. There have been a whole variety of Spacerock groups from all over the world who have performed at the various Hawkfests and I managed to talk to a few of them at some point or another. I’ll probably end up with a couple of hours of music and there will still be a lot that I’d have to leave out.

At 11:50 I was whisked off to the IRM unit (in a wheelchair – how the mighty have fallen) where they injected me with a radioactive substance and left me to simmer for an hour, and then they stuck me in another Stargate where I went back and to for 20 minutes.

Back at my unit I was eventually allowed to eat my lunch – several hours later – and the doctor came to see me.

She told me much of what I already knew – about how the cancer is spreading through my kidneys, my heart and into my nervous system via a few other parts of my body.

She thinks, as I have been told elsewhere, that I wouldn’t be able to survive a heart transplant in my state of health so that’s out of the question. As a result she advised me not to buy any long-playing records.

However, she wants me to have an IRM done of my heart, and that can be done locally. It may be that some tweaking can be done to it to keep it going.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that right back at the beginning of all of this in 2015 I was told that I had a coeur de champion – the “heart of a champion” and that’s what will keep me going, but if ever my heart begins to give out, it’s the downhill slope.

And so her comments weren’t any surprise.

She did have some good news. She’s talked to the Haematology department and they may well be willing to take me on instead of my having to go all the way to Leuven. I’m entitled to transport to any hospital within 500kms of home. Paris is 334 kms and Leuven is 650 kms, so continue to go to Leuven means going by train and really, I just can’t do it any longer.

And that’s a disappointment. I had quite enjoyed my spell at Leuven because firstly it’s a beautiful city secondly, I get to see Alison, and thirdly it awoke all of the Flemish that I’d picked up when I lived in Brussels.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I first met Alison at that weird American company where I worked for almost a year after I left General Electric.

The doctor took my telephone and spent the next hour or so reading all of my reports from Leuven and translating them from Flemish to French. She’ll take them to the Haematologist and have a chat.

Presumably they’ll look into the other things that are going wrong with me.

The car pulled up for me just over an hour late and then we set off into the traffic.

Paris and its outskirts were nose-to-tail all the way, and we crawled slowly out of the city. Once we hit the countryside we could put our foot down and began to make good time, only to be pulled over in a Gendarme control.

It’ s obviously near the end of the month and the Gendarmes don’t have enough victims so they went over the car with a toothcomb until they found something for which they could write out a ticket.

It was 21:00 when we finally arrived here and my cleaner was waiting for me. She and the taxi driver helped me up the stairs into my apartment for which I was grateful. It was an agonising climb.

Once I’d recovered I made myself baked potato, baked beans and vegan sausage and that was that.

Now I’ve written my notes I’m off to bed. There’s no alarm in the morning and I’m going to have a lie-in – if I can. There’s usually always someone who comes along to interrupt me.

Saturday 21st October 2023 – I HAVE SET …

… a new record today.

When I checked the dictaphone today I found no fewer than THIRTEEN sound files. It must have been an extremely mobile night last night.

What’s surprising though is that I haven’t crashed out at all, despite all of that. This could well be the cue for a decent night’s uninterrupted sleep, but you know how well my prophesies unfold in this respect.

leaving the bed was the usual struggle, and then I had a good wash and scrub up. After the medication I had a few things to do and then the nurse came round for my blood test.

He didn’t have much luck today. It took him three goes to find some blood and once again I’m feeling like a dartboard after all that.

It took a while to recover from that and then I attacked the dictaphone notes. There was something going on last night about members of my family but I can’t remember anything at all about it except that I was having to identify who was who on the basis of their ankles and lower calves. That was really quite difficult.

Later on I was doing something about the railway stations in Paris, the advantages and disadvantages of going to the Gare St Lazare instead of Montparnasse. No matter which way I looked at it, it didn’t seem to make any difference because both involved a lot of walking between various taxi pickups and so on in any case. It was just becoming more and more complicated all the time

Later still there had been some kind of attack on several cities by kamikaze pilots flying aircraft and crashing them deliberately into different things as the Japanese did in World War II. It caused an enormous tidal wave which began to engulf the low-lying areas. There was a lot of film report about it much of which looked as if it had come from the San Francisco earthquake but where we were, we were blocked by a rising lake that was threatening to cut off our escape. In the end we had to retreat higher and higher. I was in my van so I was told that I had to retreat the furthest away and park at the side of the road. Even then the water began to lap around the bottom of Caliburn and slowly rise higher. The people who had watched me move thought that it was quite funny that I was suffering like this but but gradually it began to affect them too. Strangely enough the city that had been most affected by all of these attacks was Bombay because a great many others had managed to have been shot down or otherwise dealt with before they crashed.

We were on board ship at some point and the water level was rising higher and higher. In the end we were forced to abandon the ship and we ended up in a sort of lifeboat. The water was rising quite rapidly and eventually we were cut off, floating in this boat. I was singing a few sea shanties until people told me to keep quiet. Gradually we were higher in the sea as the water rose. This began to be extremely serious and it didn’t look as if we were going to touch down properly and have a relaxing arrival. We’d all be completely at the mercy of the van that was following us and the people in it.

This one concerned a ginger cat called Rusty who lived in a supermarket somewhere. This was something else that was affected by the rising water levels etc. I could see that although people had built some kind of wall of produce to keep it out it had managed to jump through and knock over a lot of these items and had ended up in difficulties. I really can’t remember the rest of this.

We were then on board a bus and the water level was rising. Several of the passengers were panicking. One of them had sent a text to his mother to ask her what he should do. She replied that she had seen some straps hanging from the ceiling, the type that standing commuters take hold when the bus is swaying around. She told him to take hold of one of those. At least he’d be steady and upright while the waters continue to rise.

I was back in these floods watching an English football referee called Stanley Baxter swim around refereeing a football match becoming slowly more and more engulfed in the water until he eventually sank in it.

There was an island off the Arctic coast of Canada where there was a Canadian politician who used to attack people and tear at their clothes and generally thrash about at them. The fact was that he had to be airlifted in and out of this island like a baby.

There were parts of the UK mainland where you could have your injections for free. There are people there who had been injected who were living until they were 103

Later on I flew out of Brussels and ended up in the Falkland Islands although it was nothing like the Falkland Islands that I ever knew. I was walking around there looking for somewhere to eat. The more I walked, the further I seemed to go out into the country. It wasn’t until I’d been walking for a mile or so that I realised that I didn’t have my crutches. I was walking normally. After a little while I noticed that there was a major road in the distance. I thought that if I were to take this road back it might lead me back in town again. There was a detached house with a garage. It seemed to be the public footpath and everyone was passing through it to reach that road. I followed a few people and there was a family in there playing. As I went out of the back door of the garage there was a young girl there with a big fluffy white cat. I bent down to stroke it. It immediately began to rub itself against me purring really loudly. The people looked at me and seemed to be extremely pleased about the cat being so friendly. The woman asked me if I was allowed to have a cat where I am. I replied that cats are certainly allowed wherever I am. The little girl then asked “were you on the flight from Brussels out to here on Monday?”. I replied “yes”. Se replied “so were we. I thought that I recognised you. We were sitting at the back talking to the stewardess and a woman with a baby”.

Later on I was back in that dream again. I rang up the house and spoke to the girl. She said that she was very sorry about her sister because apparently I made her cry. I said that I couldn’t understand how I could possibly have made her cry. If I did, it certainly wasn’t my intention. After we’d talked for a while I asked “by the way, would you like to come out to a milk bar or something with me one day?”. She replied “I don’t know if my parents would like it”. I replied “they don’t really need to know, do they?”. She had a little laugh about that.

There was a British woman working down on the border between Switzerland and Germany during the war. 2 tourists came along to have a look around the area for some skiing. They gradually worked their way into the confidence of this woman. She gave one of them some information that was important. After several adventures these 2 men flew away. Just at that moment the German police turned up to arrest them. They took hold of this woman and tried to drag her away but she wanted them to wait for a moment. Then the plane with these 2 men flew over, waggled its wings at her and then flew off presumably back to the UK. Later on the was imprisoned. her cellmate was talking to her about the event. She said “did you think that these British people managed to get away? Do you think that the British Government got what it wanted?”. The cellmate looked at her and said “the British Government might have done but I don’t think that you and your friend did”.

And finally I was back in a family last night. although it wasn’t mine – it was a happy family. There was talk about relocating to Iceland and becoming Icelandic nationals. This meant applying for all kinds of documents etc. We set about collecting the documents for them. The most important document was the police statement, that we hadn’t been involved in any nefarious activities. I seem to remember that at the time that gave me a lot of hope and optimism and cheered me up, although there were several questions in my mind about other issues that might cause a problem with the Icelandic authorities. Nevertheless it was still another one of these very happy dreams

I really don’t know what to say about all of that.

Later on I attacked in a rather desultory fashion the radio notes that I’d dictated before going to bed. That programme is now completed and there’s just one more of the backlog to do. That’s tomorrow’s project.

Tea was one of those strange veggie burgers with salad and chips. It was actually quite nice too. I don’t know what I’m going to do when the supplies from Noz runs out.

Later on I chopped up a few more sound-tracks and once I’ve dictated the radio notes for the final programme I’ll be going to bed.

After last night I deserve it too.

But before I go, there was something that I forgot to mention about yesterday.

When I was round at Rosemary’s three years ago there was a feral cat roaming around outside.

When I was around there last year it was “keep the door shut – I don’t want that cat to go inside the house”

Last night it was “I’ll have to get out of my chair to fetch that. Just let me take Myrtille off my lap”.

No-one I ever knew won a fight with a cat.

Thursday 19th October 2023 – IT GOES WITHOUT …

… saying that last night was just as bad as the others that I’ve been having just recently. Having a nightmare at about 03:00 didn’t help matters any.

Anyway, as a result it was another difficult crawl out of bed when the alarm went off

What surprised me though is that I seem to be moving rather better than I was a couple of days ago – to such an extent that I actually managed to walk 14 paces without grabbing hold of any support, and that’s an improvement over the last few weeks.

So I made it into the living room and had my medication. Then I came back in here and checked my mails and messages. There wasn’t anything exciting in the mail this morning – no letters or messages from any Health Insurance people. Time is running out.

Once I’d come round into the Land of the Living I transcribed the dictaphone notes. There was a review of what needed to be done in the garden, tasks performed, items bought, etc to prepare it. From there we went on to a football match which Morton won 4-0 which was to the disadvantage of Oldham Athletic. Someone was saying that it’s a shame that Morton’s new manager didn’t score a goal. Someone pointed out that he did in fact score a penalty earlier on in the match. When we had a look to see who it was I saw that it was one of the existing players but I couldn’t remember now who it was.

So later on, back to where we were before. One of the Morton players had pushed this guy who was his manager, pushed him around in a wheelchair during part of the match, pushing him around to show him off to the team or vice versa, something like that.

I was in a dream later with Nerina. She was going off to do a taxi job and I was preparing the cars ready to go out. One of the estates didn’t have an MoT on it. We’d let it expire while we’d been away. We had to go to check it over to make sure that it was OK. I was taking out the radios etc ready. I decided that I’d go through the diary, check on all the big jobs that we usually do and go through for when they were ready for renewal to see if that would give me a clue about how I could manage the car MoTs better. Nerina was going out to do a couple of jobs so she was confused about what was going to be happening to the radio in the office if I was outside fixing all the cars.

There was also something else, as I mentioned earlier, but you don’t really want to know about that.

This morning I’ve been sorting out paperwork and making another assault on a different target. They actually replied too, telling me that I had the wrong address. But at least they posted the correct one so I could redirect my correspondence.

They also provided a phone number that I could ring, so if no-one has contacted me by mid-morning tomorrow I’ll phone them.

There’s also a personal profile that I need to create for the French Government’s healthcare site so I spent some time doing that. It might be too late for that to be of any use but you never know.

All in all, it took me an age to do everything this morning.

This afternoon I finished off pairing the music for the third radio programme in this batch that I’ve just done and then I wrote out all the notes.

Before I go to bed later I’ll dictate the notes for the first one. I did four one after the other last time and I was exhausted by the end so I’ll do one at a time over the next few days.

My neighbour gave me the phone number of her ergotherapist. She told me that she was very impressed with the one who came to see her so I may as well try to have an appointment with the same one. He wasn’t in but his secretary took a message.

My cleaner came by too to bring me a letter. It’s good news from the Belgian Social Security – I’ve had a pay-rise for my pension. Whatever am I going to do with this extra €1:02 a month?

Tea tonight was an attack on the European Burger Mountain in my fridge, with pasta and veg and the rest of that vegan pesto from the other day. Pretty basic, but pretty nice.

So when I’ve dictated the radio notes, I’m off to bed. Tomorrow I’ll be shopping and then I imagine that I’ll be panicking about this trip on Monday, making a raft of phone calls and eventually, I imagine, making a phone call to book a train.

It’ll be a blooming miracle if this taxi thing comes off.

Wednesday 18th October 2023 – THESE NIGHTS ARE …

… not getting any better. It was another dismal night of being awake for hour after hour after hour.

And then being flat out asleep, dead to the world, when the alarm went off.

And so with having slept for probably about half an hour it was a very weary me that staggered to my feet when the alarm went off.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I had some correspondence that needed my attention. I’ve sold yet another photo from my adventures around Labrador and you’ve no idea just how many hoops you have to jump through for $200.

Not that I’m complaining of course. I’ve sold a fair few of my p =hotos but this is the most that I’ve ever received for one.

There was then the information that I needed to collect, which I mentioned yesterday. That took a good while and then I could send it all off by internet. A phone call won’t be sufficient because they will need to see the information that I have.

While I was at it, I decided to contact my former employers. They have a Social Services and Welfare department so I may as well try to involve them in whatever problems I have going on. The more the merrier, I reckon.

At that point, I drifted off into the Arms of Morpheus for a good half-hour. And then I sent off a couple of radio programmes to be broadcast this weekend and next weekend.

Climbing into the bath, even using a wooden box as a step, was almost impossible. I had a real struggle to fight my way in, and finding my way out again wasn’t all that much easier. This is starting to become rather grim.

While the cleaner was here I attacked the notes for the radio programmes and not only did I whizz through one from start to finish, I did some of the next one too. If I’m lucky and don’t have too many distractions I’ll be able to finish that one tomorrow.

After the cleaner left I had my hot chocolate and then attacked the washing. That’s everything now done for the moment.

But have you any idea how difficult it is for me to move a basket full of moist washing into the bay where I keep the clothes airer? It’s this kind of simple thing that is causing me all kinds of anguish right now.

There was (surprisingly) some stuff on the dictaphone. I was doing something with a rock group last night. Things weren’t working out too well so at some point I went round to the place where we kept all our things and began to take everything away that was mine. I noticed that some of them had actually got together with one or two other people and were in the process of trying to create something but I didn’t want them to use my things. I was in an extremely bad temper, even down to things like my telephone answering machine so I took it away. They had changed the message on it so many times that it was now absolutely useless anyway. I ended up with seven or eight bags that I dragged off as best as I could, came back to my bedroom at home and dumped the lot on the floor while I sat and thought about my next move.

It was then our students’ union annual conference taking place at some hotel in Manchester. Things were so up-in-the-air and so confused that I set out from home with absolutely nothing except the clothes that I was wearing. I boarded the tram that whisked me off. When I arrived in Manchester I eventually found the venue. It was a very small hotel with several floors but no matter where I went I couldn’t find anyone in charge of the organising. No-one would give me any papers or any timetable, I didn’t know anything about having food etc. There was a meeting taking place on the Sunday to which I’d been invited but there was nothing at all like that. The guy running that particular meeting grabbed hold of me and asked me why I hadn’t done a few things. I explained that I needed paperwork so he wandered off. I spent all that Friday evening wandering around this hotel trying to find someone to give me some information to tell me what on earth was actually going on and what I was expected to do.

Not of course that it makes no difference because I don’t ever know what I’m doing. That was always the advantage of living in a small village – if you didn’t have a clue what you were doing, everyone else knew.

Tea tonight was a chili sin carné using the leftover stuffing lengthened with a large handful of peanuts. What with all of the bulghour that was already in there, there’s enough protein in that lot to sink a ship.

But right now, I’m off to bed. I wonder how much good the mails and letters that I’ve written today will bring. Probably not a lot, but if you ask, you might receive, or you might not so there’s a 50/50 chance. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive at all.

But we’ll find out soon enough. But if no-one actually does anything, I can see myself walking to Paris on Monday morning.

Tuesday 17th October 2023 – THIS TRIP TO PARIS …

…is becoming more and more complicated as each day passes.

My cleaner took the paper to the Health Insurance people for stamping. However, because it’s more than a certain amount it needs to be pre-approved by their head office.

"You should have your reply in 15 days" said the clerk to my cleaner.

And I travel on Monday.

But be that as it may, I ended up having another miserable night. What with a raging thirst and the stabbing pains back in the sole of my right foot, I was pretty much fed up of how the night went.

However even though I saw 06:40 come round, I was flat out asleep when the alarm went off at 07:00. And as you might expect, it wasn’t exactly easy to leave my stinking pit.

Anyway, there I was. And after I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages, I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I’d been to a Remembrance Day parade. There were whole choirs of people including soldiers and civilians singing the Eric Bogle song NO MAN’S LAND two or three or four times consecutively, one after the other. I’ve no idea why because there’s nothing else that I remember

And then Nerina and I had been on holiday and had just come home. We’d slowly started to unpack. I couldn’t find half the things that I’d taken with me, CDs, that kind of thing and I was going round in circles. Nerina decided that she’d go to bed and I suddenly got it in my head that I’d go home. I left our house and began to walk on my crutches down West Street in Crewe. A train pulled up but it pulled up further down the platform than it usually would and a tram came in right behind it. By the time I reached the train to board it, it pulled away and left me standing there. Then I looked at my ticket and found that it was for travelling in the opposite direction, not out towards Nantwich. I stopped for a think and decided that I’d head back into the town centre. It was a wet evening but somehow very nice. I walked into the town centre, which became part of the old Brussels town centre. I couldn’t find a chip shop that was open. There were all these wonderful smells from barbecues, food stands and the brewery was creating quite an odour as it was working. I was aimlessly wandering around taking it all in. Then I wondered why it was that I was thinking that I was heading home because I was actually living with Nerina. My home was there. I thought that I’d set out back and wander back towards home. I noticed that by now I wasn’t using my crutches. I was going slowly but I seemed to be walking much better and didn’t need them. I was totally at a loss as to what was happening. I was going down these stone steps at the back of the town centre etc. Although my right leg was hurting it was still keeping me upright. I remember thinking that it’s a beautiful evening out here in the town centre just wandering around, looking around, taking in all the smells and sights. Maybe the two of us ought to come out and do this kind of thing more often

Later on I was with Nerina again. We were wandering around a shopping street somewhere in a tourist area in a city like Bruges. For some reason we became separated and I was on my own. There was something like a tiny kiddy’s tricycle that you’d sit on and push along with your feet. Someone disabled was using it. I found another, sat on it and began to push myself along the street on it. It was really interesting because there was a whole new perspective of views that you could imagine that a small child would have when it was being hustled along by its parents. I was taking it all in and slowly going down the street. Suddenly I heard her call in the distance, wondering where I’d got to. I thought “never mind. She’s heading in the right direction. She’ll catch me up quite quickly. I just carried on pushing myself along through the crowds on this kiddy’s scooter.

Having done that, I had to fight off a huge wave of sleep and then sit down and prepare for my Welsh lesson.

And to my surprise, the Welsh lesson went really well and I actually enjoyed it. That makes quite a change, the way things have been just recently.

Once the lesson was over, I had to wait for the doctor’s office to open and then I could telephone him. I spoke to his secretary and explained the issue with the Health Insurance. She promised that she would tackle them herself and let me know how things develop.

Next issue was to see about a vehicle to take me. My idea is that if I wait until I have confirmation that the cost is taken in charge, there will probably be no vehicle available. If I book one now and, if the cost won’t be reimbursed, I can always cancel it.

And cancelled it will be, if it’s not reimbursed. I only wanted to borrow the vehicle for half a day, not to buy it.

But there is another plan going through my head about this trip, and it will involve the collection of a mass of paperwork and a phone call to Italy.

More of this anon.

For what remained of the afternoon I chose some more music for the next couple of radio programmes and paired off the music for one of them.

After tea, which was a taco roll with rice and veg, there was football. Y Barri v Pontypridd

This was a typical lower-table derby match – at least, during the first half – with a few moments that could best be described as “warm”.

In the second half the game came to life and there were actually some moments of sublime skill. Y Barri’s opening goal, scored by Harrison Bright, was one of the best that I’ve seen for a while.

In the end Y Barri won 2-0 and if it hadn’t been for Wales under-21 goalkeeper George Ratcliffe in the Ponty goal, they could have had a hatful.

Y Barri’s centre-forward Kayne McLaggon is one of the best attackers that I’ve seen in Wales and he would have been able to take on the best if he ever had had some decent service. He’s been carrying their attack for years – up until this season.

A few years ago I saw a few games in the WPL where a young centre-forward called Ollie Hulbert played on loan for Cardiff Metro from Bristol Rovers and he impressed me very much. Y Barri signed him this summer and I reckon that once he and McLaggon work themselves out, and when they finally have some luck, they’ll be an unstoppable force up front.

So later than usual, I’m off to bed. I have a lot to do tomorrow so I need to be on form. I hope that I have a better night than last night.

Wednesday 11th October 2023 – I ALMOST FELL …

… out of the bath this afternoon. as I was climbing out, my right knee gave way again and luckily I was able to grab hold of the shelving unit before I hit the ground.

Not that it’s any surprise. I was wondering how long it would be before I actually fell over in here. I’ve been expecting it for quite a while.

But I’ll tell you one thing for nothing – and that is that I was right about what I’ve been thinking. I’ve had the idea for quite a while that each time the leg folds up it seems to make things worse subsequently. And that certainly seems to be the case today.

Not that things could be much worse actually. It was yet another miserable night although while I had the pain in my foot again, I didn’t have all of the burning in the lower leg. But whatever it was, it still kept me awake for much of the night.

When the alarm went off I was nevertheless fast asleep and had something of a battle to leave the bed.

After I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages it took me a good while to come round into the Land of the Living and then I sorted out the rest of the food that needed to be put away.

And there was quite a bit of it too. It’s not exactly that I’ve gone berserk but I need a minimum order of €50:00 before they deliver so I’ve had to think about things that I’ll need sooner or later when it comes to making up a large enough order.

Next stop was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. And there was an enormous pile of it too. I was with someone who might have been Captain Povey from the Navy Lark last night. he was telling everyone about how his wife had gone on a course and afterwards he was intending to apply for a course so he could go to join her, which was met with a great deal of guffaw from a lot of people. The scene then moved to Crewe, a railway station. But to reach the railway station you had to go down what was called the Horse Landing last night. They’d extended the station out from the main part of the building to that particular point. All the vehicles. All the vehicles were driving down the Horse Landing to drop off. As we watched, there were two old Mark II Consuls or Zephyrs. One was being driven by a woman. Both the vehicles picked up fares at the same time at the bus stop and both were to go down to the railway station. One got away quite quickly but the other was in all kinds of problems. It took a good deal of time to actually depart. It then put its indicator out to turn left down the Horse Landing. It was a standard series II big Ford like that with a roof bar with the taxi sign. I was interested to know that the indicators weren’t on the bar but where they normally would be, on the bodywork. I thought that that would make life confusing as they would be less visible than if they would be up on the top where everyone could see them.

Later on I was at another railway station that was all built in wood. It was in beautiful repair and the colours were all reds and yellows and lilacs, it all went really well together. To access it you had to walk round by a car park somewhere where there were bus stands, crush barriers etc. Even though it was no real practical plan, the fact that it was a beautiful building, I loved actually going there to it and walking around down the path that led to the front door.

It had been hot, miserable and sweaty while I was having the other dream just now but when I started to think that I’d roll the bedclothes back it was cold but it became a really nice environment for me to sit back, relax and sleep which might sound strange because there was nothing happening. Just me and the cool breeze here trying to sleep.

And then I was back in that dream at that pretty wooden station again. A vehicle began to reverse across the car park and made the people crossing there dodge for the pavement. One woman wasn’t quick enough and the bus almost hit her. She fell to the ground and her fibre mug of coffee went everywhere. In the end the crowd called out for the driver to stop. Luckily he did so before he ran over the woman. That would have been painful if she’d actually ended up underneath it.

We were back in an earlier dream where I’d been visiting some kind of hotel. Several members of my family were there but weren’t actually involved in it. I’d gone to my little sister’s room to have a look round and for one or two things while she wasn’t there. I was quite distracted so I left everything as it was, including some of my things there while I went to do what else needed doing. But time caught up with me and I could hear all kinds of people moving around in the building. I thought that I’d better run back to her room to collect all my things and hurry back to my room. One of the things that I had in that room was STRAWBERRY MOOSE and he wasn’t very easy to smuggle down the corridor so I was looking for a towel in which to wrap him so that I could pretend that he was a bundle of clothes. As usual, every time I organised something it created 2 other problems. Going forward to gather my things and leave the room as quickly as possible, there were just more and more things coming along to delay me. I felt that at any moment now I’d be caught and have to explain what I’m doing.

We were back in that hotel where I’d been just now. We were preparing to leave so we effectively left, but we’d left behind all our things. In the end we went back. The room in which my sister had stayed was an absolute mess. There was all amount of stuff everywhere. My brother had been sharing the room too so there were things of his there. At that moment the receptionist knocked at the door to ask about breakfast. She saw the state of the room and made some kind of commentary so I thought that we’d better start to pack it up. I was holding up clothes etc asking “whose is this?” and throwing them to the person concerned. By now my sister had transformed into Zero and she was now being an extremely busy bee, dashing around getting all her things together. Every time she had a bag prepared she’d rush off downstairs with it and then rush back upstairs again for the next one. This was going on quite quickly and the room was being emptied quite quickly. I had a smile, and her parents saw me smiling. They asked me why so I explained that I’d met a girl a few years ago who would have been Zero’s age now. I could see exactly the same characteristics, exactly the same behaviour and it’s really funny to think that even though they come from opposite sides of the World they seem to have become clones of each other. That was what was making me smile.

So hello again to Zero. It was nice to see her again. And strangely enough, when I was on a ferry across the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundland and Labrador, I did bump into a girl who would have been the spiting image of an “a few years-older Zero”. And there was also the girl in the café in Brussels.

For the rest of the day I finished the radio programme that I’d started yesterday. That took an effort to align because it ended up over-running by quite a distance and I had to do some hefty editing

In between, I went to have a shower and to meet my fate as I climbed out At least, though, I’m nice and clean. But what I’m going to do is to look for some plastic boxes that I can use as steps to climb in and out of the bath until I can make a better arrangement. I’m disappointed that I’ve had no reply as yet to my letter to the doctor.

While the cleaner was here I wrote the notes for part of another radio programme. But we also had a good chat, part of which was that I’ll tell her and the other housebound inhabitant of the building when I’m next about to order from the supermarket.

If I can persuade them to add in their orders to mine, I can make up the €50:00 without having to go mad myself, help out everyone else and the delivery charge is the same no matter how much I order so it makes no real difference to me.

For tea tonight I had a left-over curry, and I made some naan bread dough seeing as I now have some soya yogurt. And it really did taste nice too

So much later than usual, I’m going to bed. Tomorrow I have a few letters to write and a few radio programmes to prepare. The if the doctor isn’t going to reply, I’ll need to sort out a train and a couple of taxis to go to the hospital. I don’t want to leave myself stranded.

Tuesday 10th October 2023 – I WISH THAT I …

… hadn’t bitten the bullet and sent off that mega-food order this afternoon.

No sooner had I pressed “send”, received the acknowledgement and watched the money go out of my account when along came an e-mail

“Dear Mr Hall. You are requested to come to the hospital for 11:00 on Monday 23rd October. Please set aside one week”.

And so that, dear reader, is that.

As it happens, it was nice to have some good news for a change. After all, I had quite a dreadful night.

It was rather later than I would have liked to have gone to bed but an ache in my foot made it difficult to sleep. The pain slowly spread up the leg until by about 02:00 my entire lower right leg felt as if it was on fire.

Consequently I spent most of the rest of the night rubbing mint-tinted cold cream into my leg in the hope that the sensation would die down.

At some point I must have gone to sleep because there was something on the dictaphone from the night. I was with my friend from the Wirral and someone else last night. I don’t know what we were doing at the start but we’d ended up at Middlewich and gone to see my father’s factory. We went in through the back door of course and worked our way round through the garage. My father was working at a vice. I asked him if he’d seen (someone). He replied “yes, he’s upstairs” so we went up the stairs onto the gallery while whoever it was was doing what he had come here to do. My father came up a few minutes later. He had a razor and a few other things. It looked as if he was going to shave someone. Then I realised that someone was going into hospital for an operation that afternoon so I imagined that the shaving is due to that so he was there with the razor. He turned to me and asked “are you ready?. I asked “ready for what?”. He replied “you’re donating the tubes, aren’t you?”. I answered “I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to discuss it, I don’t want to be involved or anything. If you want to take something out of my body just hit me with a piece of wood and do it while I’m unconscious, and don’t say anything. I don’t want to know about the procedure or anything else that happens”.

Not very much but I was surprised that there was anything at all on there.

When the alarm went off I went and had my medication and then checked my mails and messages. Having then transcribed the dictaphone notes I sat down to revise my welsh but regrettably fell asleep at the computer.

Armed with my coffee and fruit bun, I joined the lesson and to my surprise it seemed to pass quite well. However, my brain is still all churned up with rubbish and nothing seems to stick.

After the lesson I went through the shopping list to update it and have several goes at sending it. Some of the stuff that I wanted wasn’t in stock, and then the order fell below the minimum £50:00 limit so I had to track down some more supplies that I might need.

My weekly shopping bill for food usually runs out at about €35:00 and I was buying for a fortnight, so I was bewildered as to why I couldn’t reach €50:00 with ease.

What I should have done, I suppose, is to have asked one or two of the other housebound people in the building if they needed anything that I could have ordered for them.

And then I had the e-mail from the hospital. They want me to have a blood test before I go, so I had to ring the nurse to arrange for him to come round on the Saturday before I go to do the necessary.

But even though I’m looking forward to the stay in the hospital and the likelihood of having some kind of treatment that might possibly help me, I’m not looking forward to the journey. In fact, I have the feeling that the strain of the travelling is wiping out all of the benefits of whatever treatment I might be having, and more besides.

Next task was to ring up the people who handle the Autonomy issues. I spoke to them almost a fortnight ago and they promised to send me a form, but it’s never been received. I rang them back to hustle them along and they agreed to send me another one.

Let’s hope that this one arrives.

Rosemary rang me too and we had a really good chat about all kinds of things, but it wasn’t one of our usual marathon chats because the doorbell rang – the delivery guy with my food. Some of it was frozen and there was a lot of chilled food so it all needed to be put away as quickly as possible.

So right now, not only is there not even one cubic millimetre of space in the freezer, there’s not even one cubic millimetre of space in the fridge either. At least I won’t be going hungry for several weeks, even if I don’t go out again.

While I was doing all kinds of stuff with the food, Rosemary had texted me back. She has one of these small Land Rovers so I’d asked her to raise the seat to its highest position and then measure the height of the seat from the ground. The answer was “60 centimetres”.

My chair here is 50 centimetres off the ground and it’s something of a struggle to rise to my feet. If I’m to buy a different car, it needs to have a seat more than 50 cms off the ground to make it easier for me to stand up so I need to have a few measurements lined up.

What’s annoying is that Strider’s seat is exactly the right height for this kind of thing. It was so easy to get in and out of him. I suppose that in theory I could have him shipped over here but he’s as old as Caliburn and salt on the roads in Maritime Canada haven’t been kind to him.

As well as that, his engine is an old-generation V6 “Cologne” engine of 4.0 litre and drinks petrol like there’s no tomorrow.

With what time remained (and there was some, after all of that) I edited the notes for another radio programme and that’s now ready to be assembled and completed, but not tonight. I’m exhausted.

As I had my wraps delivered I could have a taco roll for tea, with some of the leftover stuffing. There’s a little left so I’ll make a curry tomorrow. But now that I have some soya yoghurt I can make some naan bread to have with it. I’m not quite sure where I’ll put the leftover dough rolls but I’ll worry about that tomorrow, I suppose.

So now I’m off to bed now that I’ve finished my notes. I’m hoping for a much better night tonight and tomorrow I’ll have to put away the rest of the food. There isn’t any room right now to put anything.

But give me a week or so and there might be some space somewhere – and then I’ll be off to the hospital. I hope that they will be able to do something that might improve my situation and I can go back to have something like a better quality of life.

Mind you, I do have to admit, I can’t complain too much. At least I seem to be doing OK for food right now.