Tag Archives: bouquet granvillais

Tuesday 5th December 2023 – IN ANSWER TO …

ginger and orange biscuits christmas cake christmas pudding Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo December 2023 … the thousands … "well, maybe not thousands" – ed … of requests, here’s a photo of my weekend’s efforts.

On the left is the figgy pudding and on the right is the Christmas cake. You can see where the edges of the cake were stuck to the baking tin but once the cake is covered with marzipan and icing no-one will notice.

Marzipanning and icing are planned for this coming weekend so now is the time to send me a few handy hints. After the debâcle last time, I’ll remember to put the cake in the fridge before I ice it. Icing a warm cake produces some rather interesting and artistic results.

In the background is my box of ginger and orange biscuits. And believe me – they do taste as nice as they look.

Thinking on, I should have stuck a couple of fruit buns in the photo too. There are a couple floating around in one of the biscuit tins.

Anyway, I ended up going to bed reasonably early last night and awoke again at some kind of ridiculous time. But at least the person with the hatpin didn’t come back.

Although I did drift off back to sleep, Zero didn’t come to visit me. And neither did Castor nor TOTGA. But the sleep did me some kind of good.

When the alarm went off I staggered into the kitchen for my medication and my half-litre of flat water flavoured with a dash of orange juice. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve run out of C02

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I had a photo and was trying to identify the subject and the folder in which it belonged. I was strolling through the directory that seemed to me to be the correct one looking at all the photos but just couldn’t identify the subject at all by doing that. I began to wonder whether it might have been from another folder but at the moment there was still some stuff in the first folder to wade through so I just ploughed on regardless but still couldn’t find it

Later on I was back in the same dream looking again through a pile of photos when just at that moment the alarm went off. We all had to leave. There was a girl missing. When I looked up I could see the small girl way up somehow on a pile of tubing that had been arranged like a scaffolding. She’d somehow climbed up there but was unable to descend. One of the boys in the room took it upon himself to climb up there and rescue her. At first I didn’t understand what he was trying to do so I tried to stop him but then it suddenly occurred to me what he was doing so I let him on his way and helped him as much as I could.

And then I was working for an express bus company last night. I was given a job to go from London to Swansea Docks and Carmarthen. When I was going through the paperwork there was a woman there talking about Swansea Docks. I found out that she was going on the same route as me with a bus but to Swansea Docks and Llanelli. We were due to leave at about the same time so we decided to travel together as far as Swansea Docks because I didn’t know where the pick-up point there was. We talked about Gloucester Services – what time we’d arrive, how long we should stop. I made the remark that I’d have to let Zero down again. She asked “what do you mean?”. I replied “this is the 13th consecutive time that I’ve promised to pick Zero up and my working schedule has been changed so I’m not going to be able to do it”. The woman asked “what did she say?”. I replied “she doesn’t know yet. We’ve only just had the work schedule. Someone else will have to pick her up”. We set out to pick up our vehicles, across a very busy main road. She was nattering away about her husband and tyres etc. We reached the place to pick up our vehicles. They were 2 mark I Cortina estates. I thought “this can’t possibly be correct, this”.

After I’d slipped back into oblivion later on I had exactly the same dream again, word for word.

Finally I went to look at the new shopping complex near Goodall’s Corner in Shavington. It was dark and I’d had the lights on the car but couldn’t see anything at all so I’d had to increase the brightness of the dashboard lights which increased the brightness outside. I reached where I thought it would be, climbed out of my car and went in. It looked like the door to someone’s house. I wandered round and there was a yellow French pillar box just inside the door so I thought that it must be somewhere around here. I went round and round all these corners until I came to an enormous Post Office with about 2 dozen clerks sitting around. It looked as if there were 1 or 2 members of the public in so I asked if they were closed. She replied that they were. I said “that’s a pity. Could anyone sell me a stamp?”. Someone had a rummage round on the top of a desk and came up with a 1st class stamp

There was some more stuff too but you don’t really want to know about that, especially if you are having your tea.

Once I’d finished that I had a couple of chats on line with a couple of different people and then sat down to revise my Welsh, stopping for a good wash in between seeing as I’m going out.

Armed with a fruit bun and a full pot of black coffee I sat down for the lesson and to my surprise it went quite well.

We were discussing extreme weather today, so I told the class about the time when we were on the trail of Sir John Ross and a group of us walked across Philpot’s Island about 800 miles of so from the North Pole to map the far side in a temperature of minus something ridiculous and we were caught in a blizzard.

My friend Mike who was leading our group decided that this would be a good time to have a yoga session so there we were in a white-out lying on our backs in a snow bank.

What worried me most about that was that you really had to struggle to see your hand in front of your face. We could have come face-to-face with a polar bear and it would have been too late to have done anything about it.

We did have an armed guard with us but his job, so he told us, was that if he saw a polar bear in a confrontation with a human, his job was to shoot the human. "It’s far less paperwork" he said.

Actually, it’s a fallacy to suggest that the best way to survive a polar bear attack is to run faster than the bear. You just have to run faster than one other person in your group. Since my mobility has been … errr … restricted, I’ve been asked on several occasions by Mike and Jerry if I would like to return to the High Arctic and go exploring with them again.

After the lesson the car came to pick me up and take me to the Centre de Re-education.

My ergotherapy session was cancelled again so there were just the two sessions. And Severine told me that she is noticing an improvement in my muscles in my legs. So she must be doing some good somewhere.

In the musculation sessions there was just an old man and me and the therapist had us using our strength (or what we have of strength) against each other with whatever aids they had lying around – things like giant rubber balls, elastic straps and so on.

My upper body strength was better than his but he had more power in his legs.

Severine is probably right about the improvement. Coming back up the stairs later, I could actually lift my left leg high enough without any difficulty and it was the easiest climb back up the stairs that I’ve had for a good while.

Nevertheless, I was still exhausted and crashed out for a while once I sat down.

The radio notes are now finished off ready for dictating and I went for tea- a taco roll with rice and veg.

Before I go to bed tonight I’ll dictate the radio notes and I’ll prepare the programme tomorrow morning. The car will come for me at about 14:30 or so if I’m lucky so it should be finished by then.

And then I want to press on with these photos that I’m supposed to be annotating. It’s taking for ever and it shouldn’t be this complicated.

Right now I’m short of things to fire my enthusiasm which is hardly a surprise given everything that’s going on right now but whatever the answer is, feeling sorry for myself isn’t it. It’s not going to be finished if I just sit here and look at it.

There is the rest of my Christmas cooking too. I need stuffing, of course, but that’s not available over here. I suppose that I could invent something with breadcrumbs, onions, garlic and herbs so I’ll have to find a decent recipe. I have some gram flour somewhere in the kitchen.

And then there are the hash browns. When I’ve made them before, they have been a dismal failure so I need to work on those too ready for Christmas.

Something else that I need to think about is to restart the ginger beer factory that I had running here at one time. I still have the bits missing out of the wall to remind me about how powerful it was.

It actually worked very well until I had to restart Leuven on a monthly basis a couple of years ago. Brewing ginger beer requires constant attention and you can’t leave it fermenting for four days while you are away, as my walls will testify.

A powerful batch, that. Shame I never got to drink any of it.

Monday 4th December 2023 – WHEN THE ALARM …

… went off at 07:00 this morning I was well on my way through preparing the radio programme notes for which I dictated on Saturday night.

The other day when I awoke at something like a ridiculously early time, I ended up going back to sleep and having a pleasant half hour in the company of Zero.

Today though, being awake at 04:30, I couldn’t go back to sleep no matter how hard I tried and in the end round about 05:10 I gave it up as a bad job and arose from the Dead.

Last night I’d actually had an early night for once and I don’t suppose that it took me too long to go off to sleep.

But then I hauled myself out of bed at 05:10 and went for my medication.

Back in here the first thing that I did was to transcribe the dictaphone notes. I was being taken somewhere, either on board or off a ship. I was in a wheelchair and like that Brazilian company that I knew, they had 3 groups of numbers and lots of individual ranges in each group. They were checking through one particular group to see if I was in there because I was either leaving or joining the ship. I was dying to go to the bathroom but that wouldn’t make them hurry up this task any quicker and it looked as if I’d be there for ever

Later on I’d been back to visit Alison again. I was with a guy and a couple of his children, girls who were probably aged about 5 and 6. Just a couple of doors away from where Alison was living was a sign about some kind of Theme park of “Enchanted Magic” etc. I often wondered what happened there so seeing as I had 2 small children with me we took ourselves off. Eventually we managed to find the entrance because it wasn’t straightforward. We paid for the entrances – we could either have paid or opened an account which we’d settle on leaving but I preferred to pay as we went round. I went for a glass of water. There were several carafes of water that were in the direct sunlight on the windowsill so I went to look for one that was in the shade. We even talked about staying the night in this place because it was possible and the girls would love it. I happened to mention Alison and the guy said “yes we could even go out for a meal with Alison tonight”. I didn’t know what his plans were and what his intentions were but they were his daughters so I let him decide what was going on.

Finally, some famous travel author or similar was going on a walking tour through the mountains of one of these South Asian republics east of the Caucasus. He was looking for volunteers. In the end I decided after much thought that I’d like to volunteer and was accepted. It was something of a cheat in a sense because we travelled extremely light and had a support vehicle that carried the luggage for us for our overnight stops. We were walking through the foothills of these mountains. It was something of a disappointment in a certain respect because if we wanted to follow his exact route and stop exactly where he wanted it was great but if we saw something that was a little off the beaten track that interested us, he wouldn’t stop. We would either have to go ourselves and then run after him, which was complicated, or else ignore it. It happened to me on a couple of occasions, things that I would otherwise have stopped to photograph were left behind. We suddenly came round a bend in the track and came across some headstones. Most of them were American Army headstones from 1977 but a couple were American Army headstones from 1844, in the days before there was really an American Army of course. We could understand the 1977 ones but the earlier ones were a complete puzzle. I was determined to photograph them even if it led to an argument. In the end he set off and I took out my camera to photograph them but somehow a load of mud had come onto the lens. No matter how I tried I couldn’t clean the mud off the lens. I was there for ages trying to do this and he was going further and further away.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that having dreams about camera failures was something that happened quite often at one time in the recent past but we’ve not had one for a while.

Armed with a mug of instant coffee to fire up my enthusiasm I made a start on the radio programme that I mentioned. And once I’d added in the final track and the speech it over-ran by 3.6 seconds. But that didn’t take too long to edit down

Then I took myself off to look at the results of my labours yesterday.

One lesson that I learnt was that I should have lined my cake tin with baking paper before putting in the contents. When I sprung the hinge it left a few lumps stuck to the side.

Not that anyone will notice once it has the marzipan and icing on it of course. And in any case, I’ve made it to eat, not to look at.

Another lesson that I learnt was that my pudding steamer doesn’t make a perfect seal and I hadn’t wrapped up the pudding sufficiently. Steam get everywhere, into the smallest gaps, and my pudding looked rather damper than I would have liked.

In the end, I put the oven on low for an hour and gently dried the pudding inside it. Now it looks much more like a Christmas pudding.

That’s one of the (many) reasons why I keep these notes. You’ve probably noticed that there’s an index with keywords for each entry and there’s an *.sql database that controls all of the keywords.

So next year, I can just search the database for “Christmas Pudding” and call up all of the notes that I’ve made on the subject, read them to find out how I could have done better, and hopefully improve on everything next time.

With a memory like mine, you’ve no idea how much of a necessity it is.

One thing that I can say, however, is that the Christmas Cake is delicious. Those bits that stuck to the side of the tin didn’t go to waste. They made a nice breakfast.

Much of the rest of the day has been spent, when I haven’t been sleeping off my early start, finishing off the tidying up from yesterday and then sorting out the music for the next radio programme that I’ll be preparing.

The music took longer than it might have done because the programme will be broadcast on Rinus Gerritsen’s birthday. As far as I can tell, he never sang the lead on any of Golden Earring’s songs and he only wrote one or two of them.

With it being his birthday I ought to include something. It took me an age to identify a track that he wrote on his own, and even longer to actually find it and convert it for radio.

When I moved to Brussels and started running again, I had a huge cassette tape with all kinds of Golden Earring tracks that were the right speed for my running, but can I find it?

When I started running again here at night after Covid began, I think that I ran to the accompaniment of the Dead March.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg – just as good as ever. And there’s stuffing left for a taco roll tomorrow and probably to go into a leftover curry on Wednesday.

But we’ve hit a crisis in that my gas cylinder is empty, so no more sparkling water for me. Cylinders are available on line of course, but you have to pay the full whack, not just the exchange refill. And I can’t ask my cleaner to struggle back on foot from LeClerc with a refill

Tomorrow there’s the Welsh class and if the car comes for me, the Centre de Re-education. There are three sessions organised for me so I’ll be fit for nothing when I return.

If I have the chance, I’ll finish off writing the notes for this radio programme. After I’d finally sorted out the music I wrote half of them so it won’t take me long to finish them.

But right now I’m off to bed. I still haven’t recovered from my early start and I need to be on form tomorrow. But coming back up the stairs after three sessions at the Centre de Re-education will finish me off for good.

Thursday 30th November 2023 – THE PERISHING CAR …

… never came to pick me up today to take me to the Centre de Re-education.

There I was, just like Martin Adey and "all revved up with no place to go", sitting on the chair in the dining area by the door wearing my coat and shoes and nothing happened.

After a while I rang them up. It seems that yesterday’s driver had forgotten to pass on to the dispatching the new schedule that I’d received because my trips for next week weren’t recorded either.

We had the issue about the trip to Paris tomorrow not being recorded and having to ring up to remind them earlier in the week. It seems that despite their ultra-modern fleet of Skoda saloons, the wheels are coming off their operation.

Mind you, it’s probably as well that I didn’t go out because the weather has finally turned. It’s freezing outside, threatening snow, and snow is promised for Paris tomorrow.

Mind you, snow round here is nothing like what we’re used to.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we lived back in the Auvergne temperatures of minus 18°C were not uncommon. We’d have a metre of snow overnight and be snowed in for a couple of weeks. Every year round about the end of October we’d go into the big city and stock up with supplies because you never knew when you’d be able to go out again.

And then into the forest with the chainsaw to cut your wood, store your water somewhere because your well would freeze over and then finally make sure that you had plenty of good books and films.

The winter of 2012/13 is the one that we’ll all remember. The first snow was 27th October and the last snow was 25th May. I went round to Cecile’s to help her hang a door and didn’t make it back home for 6 months. However, the snow didn’t have a great deal to do with that, I have to admit.

They were exciting times and I enjoyed every minute of it, and had I still had my health I’d be down there now. But I’m going all nostalgic again and I really have to stop doing this

But while we’re on the subject of nostalgia … "well, one of us is" – ed … I ended up going to bed quite late again last night. Once I’d picked up the guitar I carried on until quite late working my way through my old acoustic playlist.

That of course is the advantage of living in a building where the walls are 1.20m thick of solid granite – grès de chausey. I can make as much noise as I like and no-one can hear a thing. Much better than when I lived in Expo and the neighbours used to complain about the noise from my headphones.

But eventually I staggered off to bed and that was that.

When the alarm went off I wandered off into the dining area for my medication and then came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was sorting through my images and came across a folder. When I looked I found another folder with other photos in from the same situation. I was going to merge it in but found yet another one. I kept on finding all these folders. All the while that I was doing this I was hearing that “Jeeves and Wooster” music that was going on in my head. I wasn’t sure why. But this de-duplicating my backup drives is really getting to me at the moment isn’t it?

But the music is explained quite easily. While I was eating my tea I was watching a JEEVES AND WOOSTER episode starring Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie, and then back in here on the Old-Time Radio an episode with Richard Briers and Michael Hordern came round straight away.

Then there was one of these garden parties taking place. There were a lot of children there dressed in ball gowns etc. There was one particular small boy who was very keen on talking to a small girl but she didn’t want anything to do with boys so she kept on running away. It made everyone laugh which really upset him. As the evening drew on, up on the podium someone from the crowd began to recite a poem about a boy and a girl. At that moment a butterfly appeared. It hovered around the boy’s face for a while so he breathed out gently. His breath wafted it towards the girl. She looked at it and began to smile. You could feel the hush of anticipation from the crowd as they saw this. Suddenly the girl had an incredible fit of coughing and swallowed the butterfly. Once again, everyone burst out laughing and the boy and this time the girl too were extremely distraught.

And finally I was back at the kids’ garden party last night, going through the images. All of the sudden I gave a cough and wiped out a whole directory full of images that I’d taken of the young girl in her very nice ball gown.

Once I’d awoken I sat down to make a start on the next radio programme.

While I was in hospital I’d used the time to select the music for several programmes and this one was one of them. Consequently, it didn’t take long to pair them up.

And then in a mad fit of bravado that came from I’ve no idea where I sat down and wrote out the notes for all of it – well, all of the 10 tracks that have been selected so far. I don’t choose the last track and write the notes for that until the day that I assemble to bits.

Nothing nostalgic about anything in this one, which makes a change. In fact, I seem to have run out of steam in this respect.

The cleaner came round after lunch so I stayed in here and wrote out the notes for a few more photographs from Canada 2022 but I’ve run aground at the moment.

The big difficulty is that I can’t remember why I took a few of the photos. I always travel with a dictaphone and make a few verbal notes of most of them but sometimes some of the subjects of the photos are so evident that they need no contemporary notes.

But two things happen when you reach my age. The first thing is that you forget absolutely everything.
"And what’s the second thing?" – ed
"I don’t know. I can’t remember"

That’s how things are. I can remember verbatim the words to any obscure rock song from the late 1960s that you can care to mention, but ask me why I’ve just walked into the kitchen ….

My best friend in this apartment is my white board and washable markers.

With no Centre de Re-education I did some more work on the back-up drive and then went for tea. Something from the European Vegan Burger Mountain with pasta and veg in spicy tomato sauce.

Rosemary and I had a quick chat too. She’d found some wild mushrooms and wanted to know if they were edible. I explained to her that everything is edible once but I’ve no idea about subsequently.

While I was at it I told her about the delicious mushroom soup that Nerina once made for me
"This is delicious" I said. "Where did you find the recipe?"
"In an Agatha Christie novel" she replied.

Tomorrow I’m off to Paris for my appointment with Destiny. We’ll see how that works out but we’ll have to be pragmatic. An 8-hour car drive in bad winter weather is not ideal but at least I don’t have to do the driving.

There will be no medication, no breakfast and nothing to drink before I go, on the basis that what doesn’t go in won’t want to come out, but I’ll make some sandwiches all the same. My appointment is at 12:40 so there will be a moment for me to have a bite to eat before we set off for home.

There are plenty of cafés and restaurants there at the hospital but I won’t be able to walk there, especially if we have snow and ice covering the paths.

Wednesday 29th November 2023 – TONIGHT’S LEFTOVER CURRY …

… was the best that I’ve ever made. And I’m not sure why because there were just the usual ingredients in it and nothing else.

Mind you, having said that, the garlic naan was one of the best too. So all that I can think of is that the soya yoghurt with which I made it is different from the usual type, and that might account for it.

The naan bread was rather flat though, but as I mentioned the other day, I made the dough the wrong size and that will probably account for that. If it’s less dough, it’ll be less thick in the frying pan

Anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, I almost went to bed without dictating the radio notes last night. It was very much a last-minute thing and I ended up going to bed considerably later than planned

And there’s something going on that I can’t explain and which I noticed the last time I dictated the radio notes that even with the text right before my very eyes, I ended up once more making a total pig’s ear of it. I seem to be losing the ability to read out loud right now

When the alarm went off I was out of bed fairly quickly and staggered off into the dining area for my medication.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night. I was working on a 3D project last night, having to track down various poses that I needed to create for part of it. Someone had sent me a link so I was busy looking through these poses to find out which ones would be the best to incorporate that I could amend easily to give the effect that I wanted. All of this became some kind of confusion between what was going on with this project and what was going on in real life during the dream. The outlines became rather blurred about it. At one point there was a report that someone had reported one of my posts on the subject to a moderator but I couldn’t think of what it was that I’d posted that could possibly be contentious no matter how much I racked my brains. In the end I still hadn’t finished this project at all. I was a long way from the end.

And later on a new factory had opened. I’d obtained a job there in technology so I went along to start. The very first task was that the company had a fleet of old lorries and the idea was to fill in the seams with resin and put plastic beading in to prevent them from rusting. This was something that I’d never done before so I wasn’t very quick. The guy supervising was having something of a moan. I was doing the best that I could but I thought to myself “well it can only get better than this”. We carried on doing jobs like this. I ended up talking to another new recruit doing a similar kind of job to me. We talked about our home life and the usual things you’d discuss at work. All of a sudden I noticed that everyone was disappearing from the floor so I followed them. It was break-time and there was a canteen but the food in there was astonishing. It was like a wedding buffet. Of course there was coffee etc but there were cakes, pastries, sandwiches, cheese, etc. I thought to myself that I’d never seen anything at all like this in a factory or office setting. I was thinking of all the people whom I knew who would really like to be there and how much weight would I put on after having worked here for a couple of weeks with all of this.

While I was checking my mails I had a listen to the radio programme that will be broadcast this coming weekend, and then sent it off for inserting in the stream.

And then I attacked the one for which I dictated the notes last night and, as I expected, editing it took longer than it ought. By the time that I’d added in the final track and the notes for that I had overrun by 10 seconds or so but that didn’t take long to edit out

Although you won’t be able to hear it for 8 months, it’ll be one of nostalgia.

At one point not long after I’d left school I had a girlfriend whose father ran a pub in the wilds of South Cheshire. Her brother was a big pal of a guy who played drums in a local rock band that had a couple of LPs but never actually went anywhere.

A couple of years ago, quite by accident, I bumped into the drummer and he sent me copies of the albums. I’ve been gradually inserting the odd track here and there in my programmes as I go along and there will be one coming up in this programme

When I finished I had a good scrub up at the sink and then printed out the paperwork that I needed to give to the driver about my trip to Paris.

And, of course, no matter how many papers I actually produce, I’m always going to be short of one. But anyone who has ever lived in France will know all about that.

There were two sessions today at the Centre de Re-education. A physiotherapy session with Severine of course, but also a group relaxation session which struck me as being rather pointless but it costs me nothing so who am I to complain?

Severine had me working hard though and I was totally exhausted by the time that I returned and in fact once I’d had my hot chocolate I crashed out.

But despite being exhausted, I made it up the stairs with fewer issues than Friday so it can’t be a question of fatigue.

It can’t be a question of what’s in my backpack when I’ve been shopping either because taking it off last Friday made no difference. So I dunno.

During whatever time was left today I finished off the photos from Canada 2022 and I’m now busy writing up the notes. Right now I’m walking down from the Basilique through the old town to the port to watch the shipping sailing up the St Lawrence River.

Tea has already been mentioned, so right now I’m going to have a hot drink and then I’ll be off to bed.

Tomorrow the cleaner is coming (she swapped her day from today) and I have another couple of sessions at the Centre de Re-education. There are plenty of other things to do too and I’ll have to chase down this missing paperwork for Paris

A decent night’s sleep will do me the world of good, especially if I can have some pleasant company during the night. Not that it ever seems to work out like that.

One of these days Castor will come back to visit me so I’m going to have a bash on the guitar and let RICHARD THOMPSON HELP ME CHASE AWAY A FEW OF MY DEMONS

"It’s a dangerous game I played
I threw my soul and life away "

It was a mistake to rake up this nostalgia thing today.

Tuesday 28th November 2023 – MY BREAD AND BUTTER …

… pudding went the Way of the West this morning.

It was looking rather suspicious yesterday and this morning when I opened the cake tin my suspicions were confirmed.

Either it wasn’t cooked through thoroughly enough or else my cake tin isn’t air-tight or, more likely, it’s a combination of them both.

It has to be said that I’m actually baking with a cheap table-top oven and I’ve long-known that it’s pretty much hit and miss. To cook anything in it I have to increase the temperature 20° and increase the cooking time by 50%

What’s sad about all of this is that in the back of Caliburn not only do I have a proper built-in oven that I picked up in Macon from Jean-Marc last summer after he and Jacqueline remodelled their kitchen, I also have the units to fit it that I picked up from IKEA in Munich. It’s handy having friends who live next door to the largest IKEA in Europe.

But be that as it may, in the van they are and in the van they’ll stay because there is no way on this earth that I can bring them up here in the state in which I find myself.

As for airtight containers, I have quite a few more and better ones of those too but they are up on the top shelf in the kitchen and I can’t reach them. What kind of state am I in that I have a set of steps here but I can’t climb up them?.

Anyway, that’s enough of my moaning. Life isn’t all about being dealt a good hand of cards, it’s all about how you play the cards that you’ve been dealt and instead of worrying about problems, I ought to be thinking about solutions.

All of that will give me something about which I can think while I’m in bed tonight, so I’m hoping that it will be a longer night than last night because what with one thing and another (and once you make a start you’ll be surprised at how many other things there are) I ended up going to bed late last night.

And having spent all that time talking about garlic keeping away vampires and my three favourite young ladies, I had a visitor last night. TOTGA came to see me.

When the alarm went off at 07:00 I staggered to my feet and wobbled off into the dining area for my medication. And back here afterwards I listened to the dictaphone notes. I’d been a guest in someone’s house and had been interested on one or two items in someone’s collection. Every time I went to have a closer look at them I was suspected of stealing them. The whole situation in this country house-type of place became very complicated. There was one of the guests, a girl with one leg. She was wearing a pair of trousers. She asked me if I’d change the trousers and put a pair of shorts on her. Of course that would be something that I would find extremely difficult to do so I tried to hedge. In the end she explained to me that I was the only person here so it had to be me who would do it. The girl and I had to think of a way in which it would be possible to do it. Every idea with which I came up seemed to have a pitfall in it that wouldn’t make it work. And that seems to be par for the course these days.

And then later on TOTGA turned up, as I mentioned earlier. I’d gone with someone to some kind of club meeting because a guy had some Land Rover wheels and some kind of jacket for sale. My friend was very interested in them so I agreed to go with him to have a look and to help him. We arrived there and he found the person whom he was wanting to see so he wandered off for a chat. While I was wandering around on my own I came across TOTGA and we began to talk. What had actually happened was that there was some kind of snake slithering along the ground. All of a sudden its tongue darted out and caught a most enormous beetle, swallowed it, and slithered off on its way. I pointed it out to TOTGA and asked her if it was a snake or a slow worm. She didn’t know and neither did it. I’d taken some photos of it but the colours looked rather weak and insipid so we ended up talking about colours, palettes etc for photography and images. She told me that she used a palette that was called something like “City of Oklahoma”. I began to do some research and found out a few things about it but couldn’t find out how to load it up. In the meantime my friend came over to me, handed me his glasses in the glasses case and told me to put them in my pocket. I put them in my pocket but just the something hit me really hard on the foot. I thought that the glasses had fallen through a hole and dropped on my foot that way but they were still in my coat. It can’t have been them. I couldn’t see anything at all around there that might have dropped onto my foot. My friend gave me one or two other things, said “come on, give me a hand” and began to collect up the wheels and this jacket. Obviously he’d had a successful negotiation and was now prepared to carry away his prizes.

And wouldn’t I have liked to have carried away my prize too? But as I have explained before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … TOTGA always had far more sense than to allow herself to be swept up in my evil clutches.

Fighting off (sometimes unsuccessfully) waves of sleep I prepared for my Welsh lesson and to my surprise it passed off quite well, which took me by surprise. We spent much of the morning discussing shipwrecks and ocean travel, and I spent time talking about trailing along in the wake of John Ross.

Something else that we had to do today was to produce something from our day-to-day life and talk about it.

Of course, it goes without saying that I produced STRAWBERRY MOOSE and we discussed the events surrounding his confrontation with the Minister of Education, an unexpected death and the issue that arose with a group of students in Scotland, all of which led to his expulsion from the University.

Mind you, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, had he had different friends and companions, the eventual outcome would have been much different.

This afternoon, despite falling asleep on several occasions (and I don’t know why because it’s not as if I’ve done much) I finished off the radio notes ready for dictating later tonight, and then carried on with the photos from Canada 2022.

That latter task is taking far longer than it ought but I’m hoping that tomorrow after I finish the radio programme I can finish those off too. And then I have the notes to write, which will probably take me another 3 months.

And if you think that that’s a long time, I still haven’t finished the post-production of the … gulp … 6,000 photos that I took in the High Arctic in 2019.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with rice and veg, and there’s still some stuffing left to make a left-over curry tomorrow

So tomorrow I have a radio programme to prepare, photos to finish off, forms to print out and a physiotherapy session down at the Centre de Re-education. And then I have to think about what I’m going to do about Friday and my trip to Paris.

One thing’s for sure, and that is that you won’t get much sense out of me on Saturday. But then again, why should Saturday be any different from any other day anyway?

Monday 27th November 2023 – IT WAS A GOOD …

… job that I rang up the taxi company to tell them that the authorisation for my journey to Paris had been received from the Social Services.

It seems that the letter that I gave to the driver the other day hasn’t found its way into Head Office so they hadn’t reserved a car for me. But that’s now arranged and at about 08:30 on Friday I shall be on my way to the Haematology department at the Hôpital Salpetrière in Paris.

This is presumably when they’ll decide whether or not to take over the case of my cancer from Leuven. If they do, then all well and good.

If on the other hand they don’t, then we’ll be at an impasse. The last time that I was in Leuven was in September and the travelling was total and utter agony. Had I not had the support of Alison, Jackie and Hans while I was there I would have been finished.

My health has deteriorated since then and I won’t be able to undertake the journey.

It goes without saying that no matter how good the treatment might be in Leuven, it’s all totally pointless if the strain of travelling is going to make me worse. I’m quickly reaching the point where the best and most comfortable way of proceeding is to do nothing and let nature run its course

Obviously, staggering down the stairs into a taxi and being driven to Paris is the lesser of several evils, but then we have the climb back up the stairs when I return home that will negate the effects of whatever treatment I might have had.

At least, last night was rather less mobile than some have been just recently so I could have a good relax, even though I was quite late going to bed.

And there were some strange goings-on during the night too. I was awake early this morning and after a while I looked at the time on my phone – it was 06:00 so it must have been about 05:30 that I’d awoken. At some point I must have gone back to sleep because my brother awoke and asked me what time it was. I told him that it was 05:00 and to shut up and go to sleep. He obviously didn’t believe me because he got out of bed, switched on the light disturbing everyone else in the room and went to look. Once he’d satisfied himself that I was correct he went back to bed and began to listen to his radio. After a few minutes of this I told him to put an earpiece in. Then I must have gone to sleep in the dream because I began to dream about some child who was ill but at that moment the alarm went off and awoke me.

It’s actually been a while since I’ve dreamed that I’ve fallen asleep and dreamed that I was dreaming in a dream – if that makes sense

From the bedroom I tottered into the dining area and had my medication, and then came back in here to check my mails.

After a while when I’d come round into the Land of the Living I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was at a beach seaside resort with a small port last night with a couple of girls. We were standing on the cliffs watching the storm. There were some kayakers in the port, in individual or in North American canoes in which could fit several people. They were being tossed around like corks in there. It looked really interesting so in the end went to arrange for one of them. We climbed into two and were having fun in the storm. By now the boats had grown into more like canal barges and were having an enormous amount of fun either trying to ram each other or trying to pass each other. In the end it developed into a race on foot between me and someone else with a couple of shopping trolleys dashing through the centre of a town going through roadworks etc. I was in the lead but the other guy kept trying to overtake me. I was all like something out of a Formula 1 car race.

Later on I was in Crewe waiting to turn left into Nantwich Road at the traffic lights. As I pulled up to the lights an Austin Healey Sprite with Swedish number plates and huge tyres pulled up in front of me. The guy in it, an older type of guy with a young girl sitting next to him was doing wheelies in this Sprite and generally showing off. As usual I thought tl myself ‘this is a recipe for disaster”. With the lights being on red he left his car and went for a walk around. I was itching for the lights to change before he came back so that I could give him a full blast on the horn. Just then a load of Austin Cambridge MkII cars pulled up. There must have been 4 or 5 of them. They all looked in really good condition except that the paint was missing on part of the bodywork. I left my car and began to paint the bodywork with the old BMC maroon-type paint and a brush. I ended up painting the wheels with it too.

After I’d had my coffee and bread-and-butter pudding I sat down to make the next batch of hummus for the next few weeks.

And my new FOOD PROCESSOR really is the business. It made pretty short work of grinding and mixing everything up, much better than the little machine that I’ve been using up until recently.

There are now 5 small containers of hummus, four in the freezer and one in the fridge for current use.

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are a few just recently, a decent hummus is quite easy to make if you have a decent food processor or way of whizzing things up. The recipe is

  • 50% chick peas, drained
  • 25% tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 10% olive oil
  • 10% chick pea juice
  • A large handful of fresh garlic
  • some sea salt
  • plenty of black pepper

Whizz all of that together into a nice purée and then add your extras. Whizz that in just enough to break the extras into pieces but not so much that it dissolves into the purée.

Half of my batch has chilis added to it. The other half has olives and there should have been sun-dried tomatoes in there too but I didn’t like the look of them.

Having been to Transylvania and walked the parapets of Castle Bran (and I have, too) I can confirm that garlic is a very important ingredient in my cooking, for all kinds of reasons.

After lunch I had to telephone the hospital at Caen about this IRM that they want me to have on my heart and then to telephone the ambulance company about my trip to Paris.

The cleaner came by too to drop off my mail and we had a chat too. It seems that my neighbour who is ill isn’t going too well right now and people are becoming worried about her. The nurse also put in an appearance and we had a chat about my next Covid injection.

And in between falling asleep I made a start on another radio programme. I’ve chosen the music, paired it off and written over half of the notes. I can finish off the rest of them tomorrow and dictate them tomorrow night.

Tea was a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg and there’s plenty of stuffing left for my taco roll tomorrow and a leftover curry for Wednesday along with one of the naan breads the dough of which I made on Sunday.

Plenty of garlic in there too, and soaked in the garlic butter that I made the other week, that should be really good. I won’t ever be worried about vampires coming to see me in the dead of night, although it might actually explain why Zero, Castor and TOTGA have been keeping their distance.

So now I’m going to have a hot drink and go to bed. Welsh lesson in the morning so I need to be on my best form.

At least I can have a good sleep in the afternoon afterwards.

Sunday 26th November 2023 – NOW THAT WAS …

… much more like how a Sunday morning ought to be. I can’t remember a single thing about it.

Well, that’s not actually correct, because from about 00:00 until about 02:30 I remember quite a lot of it. But once I crawled quietly into bed, that was that.

In fact, it wasn’t until about 12:15 that I actually saw the light of day and crawled out of my stinking pit towards my medication. And as a result I didn’t have all that much time to transcribe the dictaphone notes before my porridge, cheese on toast and strong coffee.

That’s exactly how to start the day, in my opinion.

While I eat my meals at the table I’m either watching a film or reading a book. Films are usually in the evening and books usually during the day. And right now I’m reading THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK by Alfred Watkins, written in 1925.

He’s the author who developed the theory of ley lines and while some of what he wrote is discredited by many, a lot of it still holds good today and much of the criticism levelled at his work is erroneous.

But what caught my eye was a paragraph about vegetation, in which he comments that a change in climate may have accounted for a change in vegetation. For 100 years ago, that was a novel idea.

The first trace in print that I have been able to find that suggested the possibility of climate change was in Munn’s WINELAND VOYAGES : LOCATION OF HELLULAND, MARKLAND, AND VINLAND, written in 1914, and how Munn was roundly, and in some cases, viciously vilified by his contemporaries, some of whom, like Nansen ought to have known better.

And how many people have ended up subsequently with omelette sur le visage, as they say around here.

So back in here I carried on with the dictaphone notes. Mountains and mountains of them. I was still at school. It was coming up close to my A Levels. I’d been making all kinds of plans for things that I’d wanted to do. We had a young girl from India staying with us on an exchange visit. She was also at school. One day a coach pulled up at school and we all piled on. She was quite mystified. The coach set off but when it turned onto the motorway she began to panic. She said that school buses aren’t allowed on motorways in India. Anyway, everyone persuaded her and she finally began to understand that there was a play taking place somewhere nearby that was part of our A Level syllabus so we were going to see it, as we did at school on several occasions for different things. Gradually the discussion became rather more complicated than that. I suddenly began to understand that what was going on was that they were going to drop me off at the hospital or somewhere like that because my medical results and reports had come through. The hospital wanted to follow it up so everyone was taking advantage of this play idea by saying and doing nothing to me, just presenting me with a fait accompli when we arrived at the hospital. This was why the girl was quite worried – she’d actually heard the part about dropping me off at the hospital before she’d actually heard about going to the play.

And then I was back in this dream about that hospital – actually in the hospital. They were discussing physiotherapy arrangements. Someone said that there was an article available for me that I’d find quite useful. When they turned up I expected them to have brought the article with them but the person just came on his own and asked me to go with him to fetch it. That was pretty-much impossible because I didn’t have anything with me to help, like crutches etc. It turned out that there was nothing marked on their records for any patient at all who had mobility issues. I tried to convince him that maybe this was something that the hospital had to change because I couldn’t go anywhere to pick up whatever it was that he was offering to give me.

At another point I was down in south-west London staying with a couple. I noticed that the girl had a strange fancy for a certain type of car, a 3-wheeled vehicle but was one that I’d never seen before. She had one in which she drove around and occasionally another would turn up as she found it, and there was one parked down at the end of her street. One night as I was going to bed I heard some kind of commotion but I ignored it. Next morning when I awoke all the 3-wheelers had gone. There was a dark blue Ford Cortina MkIII down at the end of the street. The first thing that I heard someone say to her was “when did you have your new car?”. She replied “17:00 yesterday evening” and she chatted away about her new car. Then she began to talk about the one parked up down the end of the road. That apparently had a new chassis so she was planning to keep hold of it for a while and maybe use it at a later date. She was annoyed because she thought that she was going to go to church but apparently her boyfriend had other plans so we began to discuss these particular vehicles amongst ourselves.

While I was asleep I met up with those 4 gipsy girls who have appeared in my meanderings before. I’d first come across them somewhere else and when we were wandering around a fairground they seemed to be loitering around a few pill-sellers. My friend and I went along and tried to usher the girls away from temptation and try to organise them into going home. In the end the two elder girls began to hang around with my friend and me. The one that I particularly liked, I took her on a little exploration of the area and was pointing out one or two other things and items to her while we were walking around.

And that intrigued me. I scrolled back through several years of notes (I didn’t go back as far as the beginning of this project in 1999 by the way) to find an earlier reference to these 4 girls because it was evident that I must have known them from somewhere – but I couldn’t find a previous mention of them.

But interestingly, it wouldn’t have been the first time that I had discreetly steered a group of young people away from a situation that was on the verge of becoming unpleasant, and it wouldn’t have been the first time that one of the aforementioned had attached herself to me as a result either

Finally there was a football match taking place in the office between 2 teams. One of the players was very badly injured, a huge lump taken out of his back. When I looked, his shirt was a mass of blood. I suggested that I take him off to the Health Centre, have them have a look at it and decide what to do. I took the guy but I couldn’t remember where the Health Centre was. I went to the local switchboard on the floor where we were and asked to be put through to the Health Centre. Instead, she picked up an external directory and began to thumb through it trying to find the number. After about 2 minutes and I suddenly realised what she was doing I ripped it out of her hands and stuck what I thought was the Internal directory into her hands. It turned out to be another volume of the external one. In the end I ripped that out of her hands too and was busy having this major argument with her while this boy was bleeding to death at my feet. And I suddenly awoke.

You really don’t want to know any more about what went on during the night. Not while you’re eating your tea anyway.

A couple of people have been speaking to me on the internet during the day. Rosemary and I had had a chat (that I’d forgotten to mention) the other day that was interrupted so she called me back today and we carried on from where we left off.

Catherine spoke to me too. She was a lecturer at University who lives in Southern Germany but I know her through her mother with whom I served on various University committees. When her parents retired they went to live in Southern Germany too and as they live only couple of hours from Munich I usually pop in when I’m passing by.

Catherine was wondering how I was doing, and also wanted to tell me that her father was not doing too well, which is a shame. I hope that he recovers soon.

As well as that I made a big batch of naan bread dough, but I seem to have miscalculated. Instead of 8 balls of 100 grams, I made 10 balls of 80 grams.

Rosemary advised me to put my festering fruit in the fridge to stop it fermenting so I had to track down some containers with lids. I know where the containers are, of course, but reaching them, the way things are, is something else.

The rest of the day was spent on the radio programme. I don’t know what happened but dictating the notes last night was appalling. I made an absolute pig’s ear of it all and it ended up as quite a mess. Consequently it took me an age to untangle everything this afternoon.

However, it’s now all done, assembled and up and running ready for broadcast on … errr … 12th July 2024

Tonight’s pizza was excellent again and now that I’m fed, I’m going to be watered and then I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow I should in theory start the next radio programme but that’s going on hold for a while. It’s going to be quite complicated and will require a lot of research because 19th July is quite a significant day in the history of rock music, as far as I’m concerned. Instead, I’ll prepare the one after.

But I’ll worry about that tomorrow. Right now I’m off to bed.

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.

Wednesday 22nd November 2023 – AND THERE I WAS …

… sitting on a chair outside the doctor’s office and she asked me to come in – and I couldn’t stand up.

She had to help me up out of my chair and the two of us nearly went AOT onto the floor. What kind of state am I in?

However, it’s an ill-wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good and every cloud has a silver lining. After our struggle outside her office door she agreed to extend my stay at the Centre de Re-education until the end of January instead of the end of December.

Leaving the bed this morning wasn’t actually a struggle this morning. I had half a leg out of the bed when the alarm went off and I’m not sure why that might have been because I had another late night – having a bash about on the acoustic guitar before going to bed.

After the medication and checking the mails I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, who had come with me. In between everything else that was going on last night I was working on a website. I’d taken plenty ot photos of different railway installations and was making some kind of geographical record. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working properly and nothing seemed to be going right with it. As well as that I kept on being interrupted by all kinds of different things with my family. Eventually I found out the reason why it wasn’t working. In the past I minimised the images so that they’d fit down the column of a page with the text on the other part of the page. You clicked on the image to see a full-size reproduction. For some reason I was just including the full-size images directly onto this web page and it was distorting absolutely everything. There were some really nice photos in there including some of the electrification work of lines in the spine of England. Then my mother called me for something. After a couple of minutes I went to see. I saw on the table a great big parcel wrapped in brown paper addressed to our family in Canada, seeing my mother’s writing. She also gave me a parcel. Apparently it was my birthday but I’d forgotten. I unwrapped it and inside the parcel was a camera exactly the same type as one that I had already. I couldn’t understand why it was that she’d given me this as a birthday present.

I was also at some point in the proceedings last night clutching a hoe in my hand rather like a Roman centurion. Don’t ask me why because I awoke wide-awake at that particular point. Everything that I was dreaming just disappeared completely out of my mind.

later on during the night I was back in Crewe. I had to go back to our old family home in Davenport Avenue. When I arrived the whole site had been cleared and they were making preparations to build a huge housing estate on the site of several of the houses and the old petrol station and tyre depot that was at the back of it. I didn’t recognise anything. It had just so completely changed. In the end I went to Shavington to a house where a schoolfriend of mine lived at one time. That had all changed too and I couldn’t remember anything. In the end I found the house where it might possibly have been and talked to the neighbours. They told me about all the changes. They agreed that this was the house that I’d thought was the old house of my friend even though it was now submerged in the middle of other housing. There was still a tiny plot of land there that had not been built on, belonging to a guy called Bob Hope who I imagined to be my schoolfriend’s father although that wasn’t his name. In the end there were about 10 of us sitting around there chatting and reminiscing about things that had taken place in the area in the 1950s and 1960s when we were living in Shavington. It was really most unsettling and uncomfortable to see how everything had changed and how everything in Crewe where we lived had been swept away and was a demolition site.

And finally I met a girl somewhere during the evening – a big girl which is of course quite unlike me. We got on really well with each other. In the end we went back to her house and stayed the night together. Next morning we awoke. There was no alarm. I couldn’t understand why. We got up and I wanted to take a photo of the two of us together with me holding this girl off the ground in my arms. It was rather complicated with her being on the large side. Then we found that not one single telephone that we had between us had any charge left in it. Then the subject of breakfast came up. It turned out that she would go to eat breakfast at a local café. She set off first while I did a few things to prepare everything. I found half a bread roll on a table at a café just round the corner from where she lived. I thought that it must be for me. She wasn’t there so I picked up the bread roll and walked around the next corner. She was there with 3 or 4 other people at a table. There were all kinds of breakfast things laid out on this table. She was chatting to these people as if she knew them. I went and sat down but no-one said a word to me. I was there with this half a bread roll. I felt rather guilty that I was going to be eating a bread roll brought from some other establishment with the jam that this proprietor had provided and presumably not paying anything for breakfast. It didn’t seem right to me at all.

After a brief … errr … relax I carried on with the notes for the radio programme and they are now complete. I’ll dictate them later on before I go to bed. And then I paired off the music for the next one and I’ll start to write the notes for that one when I’ve finished making the current one.

The one after that should be quite interesting, but I’ll tell you more about that in due course.

While I was doing that I had a listen to the one that will be broadcast this weekend to make sure that it’s all correct. And then I could send it off to be added into the radio’s playlist.

After a good wash the car came to pick me up to take me down the hill into town and my appointments. I mentioned the doctor just now, and then I went off to Severine for some physiotherapy. Whatever it is that she’s doing, it seems to be doing some kind of good because coming up the stairs back here was easier than it was the other day.

After my hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits I came back in here where I went away with the fairies for over an hour and it really was a very deep sleep too. I was with Christian and we were talking about rock groups who were lost in the High Arctic. There was a map that someone had found that listed the routes of several rock groups who had disappeared and so we went to look but we had a lot of difficult trying to unfold the map. There were several tracks in all kinds of places, each one in a different colour showing the supposed routes and one on or two of the islands there were legends such as “no information”. But we had a real struggle to open this map correctly.

There was also time to carry on with the tidying of the shelves. And I came across two boxes of breadcrumbs and a small Christmas pudding that I must have bought when I was living in Leuven. But nevertheless I’m still going to have a go at making my own, starting over the weekend.

And while we’re on the subject of Christmas baking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had a chat on line with Liz about marzipan. It’s not available for delivery from LeClerc so I’ll have to see if I can find it in Carrefour on Friday. If not, I’ll have to order it on-line from an internet vendor. After all, you can’t have a Christmas cake without marzipan.

Tea tonight was a leftover curry with the last of my naan bread dough. I’ll have to make some more but the soya yoghurt has disappeared off the menu on the LeClerc delivery site. That’s something that I’ll have to check at Carrefour on Friday.

So now I’ve finished my notes I’ll have my hot drink and dictate my notes before I go to bed. Tomorrow I have the engineer coming and I also have to ring up about Caliburn’s Controle Technique too. It expired a long time ago now.

Not that I imagine that I’ll be using Caliburn again. I don’t think that even Severine’s magic touch can restore enough power to my right leg to work the brake. But I have to do something about it. I can’t leave things like this.

Tuesday 21st November 2023 – MEANWHILE, IN THE ….

… Social Services office –
Social Services Officer – "Do you have any problems with your hearing?"
Our Hero – "Pardon?"

Yes, I’ve been up to my ears in interviews today

And believe it or not, I prepared well for it today by crashing out on several occasions. Not that I’m sure that I know why because last night was one of the better nights’ sleeps that I’ve had quite recently, and I can’t remember very much of what was going on during the night.

When the alarm went off I staggered to my feet and went in search of my medication. A fine way to start the day.

Back in here afterwards I had a few letters to write and some information to pull together ready for people whom I’m likely to meet during the course of the day.

Once I’d prepared my papers I had a listen to the dictaphone notes and to my surprise and delight I was joined, at different times of course, by a couple of my favourite companions. And what a shame that I didn’t remember all that much about it. First out of the block was Zero, whose birthday it apparently was last night and there had been a big party. I’d been staying there for a few days and the morning after we decided that we’d make a start on tidying up. There were some things needed from the shop so they asked me if I would go to fetch them. The car there was a Chrysler Neon so I took it and drove away to the shops to do the shopping. Their driveway was between two pillars of brick and was fairly narrow but on the way back I just drove past and reversed in as I would normally do anywhere else. As we were walking in Zero’s mother said something about tidying up but I didn’t quite understand it – I didn’t quite hear what she said – so I sad to Zero “yes, go and put all the balloons in the cellar and jump around in there”. Her mother looked at me and said “that’s a much better idea than mine”. I was surprised because I thought that that was what she’d actually said but she must have said something different that I didn’t hear correctly. In the house when I went in there were loads of people sleeping around on sofas etc, dogs and cats etc everywhere. Apparently Zero had had a rabbit for her birthday and was playing with it somewhere.

As for the rabbit, I’m not quite sure where that fitted in, but I remember hiring a Chrysler Neon on a couple of occasions when I was in the USA 25 or so years ago and for a basic uncomplicated saloon car it was quite a pleasant vehicle

And then later on I was with Percy Penguin too. She’d finished work and gone home but she contacted me to ask me to come to pick her up. I thought that I’d go along to see what was the matter with her. When I pulled up she said nothing but just got into the car with a very depressed look on her face. After a couple of minutes she began to tell me her problems with her father – how when they go away on holiday he just lies in bed all day and doesn’t do anything. You could never force him out to do things etc. He’d completely lost interest in life and it was weighing down heavily on everyone. I set off to go for a drive with her and let her talk but for some reason, 2 or 3 times we ended up back outside her house and leaving again as if she kept on changing her mind then changing it again. We drove for a while as she told me all about these things. In the end we came into Shavington. There was some kind of fair there so we went for a walk around and came across some kind of craft fair that was proposing exhibitions and workshops. One was to make your own teddy bear and was on Wednesday at 17:30. I was explaining it to a father who was looking for some information for his daughter and noticed that Percy Penguin was listening too. I explained all about it to her. In the end we agreed that it was a shame that she knew no-one on Shavington because she could have gone there after work to wait until this course started, done the course and I would have taken her home after I returned from work. After a while of this she said that she wanted to go home. I asked why, if I could persuade her to stay out, but she said that she hadn’t yet done her homework for the week. I had the feeling that was an excuse rather than anything else but in the end I ended up taking her home.

Now there was someone who doesn’t feature half as often in these pages as she deserves. Her simple, uncomplicated, undemanding nature helped me through quite a few really stressful periods that I went through at one time or another and I wish that there were more people like her in this world.

Having transcribed the dictaphone notes I sat down to revise my Welsh ready for today’s lesson but regrettably I had the first of a couple of sessions today where I was away with the fairies for a while.

Armed with my coffee and my slice of bread-and-butter pudding I went for my lesson, which passed well enough although I’m convinced that I’m miles off the pace with this course. I just can’t concentrate on what I’m supposed to be doing.

However, as for my bread-and-butter pudding, it’s really turned out quite well and I’m very pleased with it. However it tastes quite differently from the bread-and-butter pudding that my mother used to make when we were kids, but that’s probably a good thing because my mother was not well-known for her culinary prowess.

In fact I had to wait until I met Nerina before I really began to eat well. And that’s no real surprise – anyone brought up by an Italian mother is bound to be at the top of the game in that respect and I was rather spoilt.

After I’d had a good wash and clean-up the car came for me and we set off for the Centre de Re-education where Severine put me through my paces. She told me that my sessions last week were cancelled because the ergotherapist had damaged her leg and was off work – not exactly the best recommendation for a Centre de Re-education.

With no ergotherapist I had to loiter around for a while before my appointment with the Social Services. She didn’t really have very much to tell me that I didn’t already know but she took copious notes which might serve some kind of purpose in the near future, I suppose.

Back here I had my hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits and then began the task of taking the inventory of what I have in store here.

And within a matter of a handful of seconds I came across 2kg of flour that I’d overlooked and also a tin of custard powder that I must have bought in the English shop in Belgium at some point when I was living in Leuven.

After about half an hour or so I was probably about a tenth of the way through the shelves but I’d already found enough room to store the food processor and its accessories. I’ll have another half-hour at it tomorrow when I’ll probably discover the 10 lost tribes of Israel, Lord Lucan and Martin Bormann.

Here and there when I’ve not been asleep I’ve been making a start on the next radio programme. The music has now been paired off and I’m halfway through writing the notes. I’ll finish that off tomorrow and dictate them tomorrow night. I have no visit to the Centre de Re-education on Thursday but the engineer is coming.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the stuffing from yesterday. And there’s plenty left to make a leftover curry for Wednesday night. There’s still some naan bread dough left in the freezer.

As well as everything else I’ve had the acoustic guitar out again for a good while. I’m not sure why because I don’t think that I’ll ever play again in public but I suppose that nevertheless I ought to do my best to press on regardless.

Having finished my notes I’m going to have my hot drink and then go to bed. I probably won’t sleep much tonight with having had several goes at it already but I’ll do my best. And I’ll wonder about who will come along to visit me tonight.

Saturday 18th November 2023 – I’VE HAD ONE …

… of those days where I haven’t really accomplished all that much.

Not that I can complain too much though. I accomplished everything that I intended to do, and with plenty of time to spare as well. And that’s not something that happens every day.

For once I was awake a long time before the alarm went off and had I really pushed myself I could have been up and about as well. But let’s not go getting ahead of ourselves.

After the medication and checking the mails I had a very slow start to the day and it wasn’t until I’d had my mid-morning coffee and soup that I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was a wedding taking place amongst the family. We were all assembled staying somewhere in a house for the night. Tea was pretty rudimentary so we all had tea in our room, a kind-of bedroom with about 12 beds in it and rubbish and mess everywhere. It really was untidy – much more untidy than anything I could ever come up with. While I was serving out the tea a cat came in. I offered it some of the tea but it promptly threw up everywhere which put a lot of people off their meal. I cleaned it up then we sat down to eat as best as we could amongst the debris and mess. Then I collected up the dishes to take into the kitchen to wash. My brother in law was there. His part of the room was the worst of all. He was saying “just take this for me – just take that for me – go and pick this up – go and pick that up” so I exploded at him and told him “instead of standing there giving orders if he went and did the jobs himself he’d find that it would probably be done a lot quicker” and stormed out of the room into the kitchen where I bumped into my mother. She asked what was going on so I explained that I’d just upset her son in law to which she made a remark to him too. I put the dishes down on the table.

Actually, to give you some idea, that particular member of my family actually tried to provoke me into a fight with him – at a family funeral in 2000, would you believe?

50 years or so ago another member of my family was marrying. I was living in the ground floor apartment of this building at the time. I remember having to look out of the window at something that was going on outside but I really can’t remember what it was. I had things to do to prepare myself for this event. Someone whom I knew but had forgotten now made some kind of derogatory remark about my appearance. I reminded them that I could probably give them 50 years in age and the idea of what is smart is set by convention rather than by just one person’s idea

And that’s nothing new either.

Everyone in the house was asleep. I was doing the accounts for the taxis. Roxanne was awake and came to see what I was doing. We had a chat while we were doing that. When we finished I suggested that we go downstairs and so something. She ran over to her slippers but instead she took her heavy clog-type shoes that were by the door by where her parents were sleeping. I told her to put on her slippers but she said that she might be going out. I told her to pick them up and bring them with her but she said that she wasn’t allowed bare feet in the house. She began to put on her clogs but made a noise so I told her to be quiet or she’d awaken her parents. She said that I’d awaken her parents by making a noise to her and that’s what always happens. I didn’t really explain to her that what was actually awakening them was the noise of her putting on her clogs, not me telling her off about it. She put her clogs on and went dancing off down the corridor and luckily her parents didn’t actually awaken at that moment.

Yes, Roxanne was a lovely, happy child. When she was 9 years old she and I were sitting outside a café in Ixelles while Laurence had gone to the shops. Roxanne was sitting next to me drawing a picture and we were talking about what she was doing. One woman sitting at the next table said to her friend, in one of these stage whispers “you can see whose daughter she is” and I’ll never forget the big beaming smile on Roxanne’s face.

When she was 6 I taught her to ride a bike and to swim and by the time she was 9 she was riding my Honda scooter up and down the street and steering the car (sitting on my knee of course) down the country lanes around Virlet.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, while I was out walking last night something came along and hacked all my dwarf or gnome followers into bits. When I returned it was like a huge jigsaw puzzle and I had to spend hours slowly matching up the bits to remake the bodies. Eventually I began to make one or two correctly and even one or two of their house animals correctly. It was taking a very long time but I could see that I was going to be able to solve this and end up with all of my dwarves and gnomes reassembled.

My father asked me to drive over to the Shetland islands for a job that he had lined up for me. Full of mystery and suspense I set off. I eventually arrived. It turned out that one of his friends who lived on this particular island had had the opportunity to sponsor a lamp post outside his house and wanted to talk about it to someone. All this sounded extremely vague to me and the directions that my father gave me to the guy’s house weren’t of any help but he produced a couple of photos and that at least gave me some kind of idea where the house might be situated. I set off and eventually found it. It was a house in a dip with a great big street light right by it that was shining over the dip so it was really as if the house was completely floodlit. The old guy had the idea that he would sponsor it as a form of advertising. We had a lengthy discussion about the Shetland Islands, the Faroes, etc and even touched on the islands in the Arctic archipelago – strangely enough, ones of which I’d dreamt, not ones that actually exist. In the end her persuaded me to go to see his neighbour, an elderly Colonel. I went off to see him. He was completely bewildered. I explained that it’s certainly the aim of several counties in the UK to have their street furniture sponsored as a way of raising money and a way for people to advertise themselves or their possessions etc. He thought it rather strange which it probably was. he showed me around his house which was full of all kinds of different things, hardly anywhere spare of clutter on the floor or walls etc but it was all neatly arranged. After this guy left me alone for half an hour I began to sit and wonder that this was probably the strangest thing in which I’ve ever been involved. If this Colonel guy has to start moving around all his things for any particular reason we’ll be here for ever organising it. I just wondered what was going through this old man’s mind.

I went into a pub in Crewe for a drink – something that I haven’t done in years. I found to my surprise that I’d been barred. I had absolutely no idea why. It must be 40 years since I last had a beer. The next day I was at work. There was a kind-of complex confrontation going on about my timesheets. At one stage my manager took my phone and began to scroll through it. I asked him if he had a search warrant which made him immediately drop it so I immediately went onto the offensive and we had the most amazing row. I left and decided that I’d go to another pub to see if I could have a drink there. I asked for half a pint of mild but she served me half a pint of milk. We laughed about that and she gave me a drink. I began to drink it. As I was leaving I overheard a couple of conversations. One was a barman talking to one of the girls sitting at the bar. There was definitely something not correct about that conversation. He was trying to persuade her to do something and I could tell that she wasn’t all that keen at all. The other one was some people discussing councillors. A guy came in and began to talk about the building work taking place next door. Some guy had had several thousand pounds to do some digging there but as soon as he had received the money he dismissed the contractors and had the gipsies in to do it for cash. They were discussing the guy and how crooked he was. It was someone whom I actually knew so I stayed to listen to the conversation. As it happened, the guy was a Conservative Councillor so as I left I asked “what was that you were saying about councillors earlier?”. There was still a few minutes left before my bus so I thought that I’d walk through the shopping precinct off Victoria Street. I’d heard some depressing stories about it. They were right. all of the buildings were flaking, the paint was coming off, many were closed and areas of the precinct were in complete darkness as the street lights weren’t working. It looked like something from Chernobyl. I thought that I’d walk around for a while then go back to the bus station to catch my bus home.

Actually, that’s a slight exaggeration. The last time I had an alcoholic drink was in 1994. We’d been skiing up in the mountains on the border between Bulgaria and Greece and the fog came down. When we finally arrived at the gondola to take us back down to the valley it was all locked up and everyone had gone home.

We had to pick our way down the mountain on skis, completely off-piste and when we eventually reached the valley the only place open to relax was a bar and all that it had was beer.

That was the year that there was an oil embargo on Serbia and a friend (who figures occasionally in these pages although not as much as she did a good while ago and for the benefit of regular readers of this rubbish, didn’t feature in these pages anything as often as she deserved) and I were standing on a railway bridge over the main railway line from Thessaloniki watching oil train after oil train after oil train heading north.

Greece’s imports of oil tripled during that period.

Claire came on line too and we had a chat for a while. She’s been seriously ill for the last three or four weeks with something that has compounded her underlying health problems but she’s slowly feeling better and in a couple of weeks she might be up and about.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … we’re all pretty much of a similar age and we are all growing old and infirm together.

Something else that I did was to finish off all the notes for the radio programme that I’ve been preparing. I’ll dictate that tonight before I go to bed.

Much of the rest of the time has been spent trying to bring order into chaos and tidying up some of the directories. That’s an ongoing process what with having to merge 30 years-worth of hard drives together and it won’t be finished any time soon either.

There was time to have a good play on the guitars too. A couple of songs that bring back memories of those 3 missing nights in the High Arctic were of course THE FIRST SONG THAT WE SANG TOGETHER.

This was also ANOTHER ONE that we worked on together on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

There were plenty of others too so I’m going to restart my playlist. I even managed to find time to work on the bass lines for WIND UP and, of course, not to mention the track WITH THE GREATEST OPENING 1:20 EVER

Anyway, that’s enough nostalgia for now. I can’t see me ever playing in public again if I can’t ever hold a guitar and I can’t stand up And sitting here with a guitar on my knee means that I can’t sing.

And even if I could sing sitting down with a guitar on my knee, I no longer have the breathing to do it.

What kind of state am I in?

Tea tonight was a breaded quorn fillet with salad and backed potato, delicious as usual. And now I’m going to dictate the radio notes and go to bed.

Tomorrow I have pizza dough to make and I intend to attack the bread and butter pudding to see what damage I can do to that so a good lie-in will do me good.

But we’ll have to see about that. It would be nice if some nice people came to visit me rather than the endless stream of relatives who keep turning up.

Even The Vanilla Queen coming along TO HAUNT ME IN MY DREAMS would be a great improvement. I wonder how things are these days on Baffin Island.

Friday 17th November 2023 – AND I WAS DOING …

… so well too!

While I was out at the shops I really noticed some kind of improvement in my mobility. Not a lot, it has to be said, but definitely something.

And then, back here, I couldn’t climb up the stairs to my apartment. I really couldn’t. To make my way up 13 steps it took 20 minutes and a pile of gymnastics and I’m really not cut out to do this any more.

There had been plenty of gymnastics during the night. I didn’t go to bed until late because once I’d finished off everything I had a bad fit of nostalgia and fetched the acoustic guitar.

The last time that I had played CAREY seriously was on a windswept airstrip in the High Arctic when Castor and I were chilling out before her ‘plane came in to take her away – away for good after one of the most bizarre periods of my life and I was never the same again.

And, believe me – there have been more than just a few of those.

Of course after that there can only be ONE SONG THAT CAN FOLLOW THAT and it’s really strange that it wasn’t until a couple of years later when I was standing on an airport somewhere else that I realised that sometimes, goodbyes have to be said like that.

The painter Samuel Gurney Cresswell who had the unfortunate experience of accompanying Robert McClure during his expedition in the Investigator said afterwards when being interrogated by the Admiralty that "A voyage to the High Arctic ought to make anyone a wiser and better man".

That doesn’t seem to have worked for me, but then again we were only beset in the ice for 48 hours, not 18 months.

So having had a bad attack of nostalgia I went to bed with my legs strapped together in my elastic hoping that maybe Castor would come to pay me a visit during the night, but no such luck there. I’ve definitely lost the knack of summoning up people

When the alarm went off this morning I was in South Wales with a group of people who may well have been some kind of Welsh learners’ group. The discussion centred around sport – mainly rugby but also football – and one woman was talking about a “rugby trail” around South Wales, a tourist attraction to visit all of the famous sites in Welsh rugby that passed by her home in Merthyr Tydfil. Some of us were talking about football and the subject of a famous footballer who had had a difficult time in his youth with a couple of clubs came up. We had at one point to go out into a field, mark out a path and lay down some supplies but when we arrived we found that the field hadn’t been mown for years and was really just like wild hay. When we reached the spot where we had to leave these items it was impossible to see anything but the guy with me asked “should we just leave the things here now and come back for them again?”.

Nevertheless I struggled to my feet and went off in search of medication.

Having done that I came back here and transcribed the rest of the notes, of which there were more than just a few. For some reason I’d been on a voyage around an apartment during the night. The apartment was equipped with every kind of device known to man, to help someone handicapped raise themselves to their feet and move around. There was of course nothing that I saw that was of any use to me in my predicament but it was interesting to see what my subconscious in a dream thinks would happen to people in circumstances like this.

Some boy whom I’d known at school had phoned me and asked me to stop doing Hamas’s job. I asked him what on earth he was talking about. It turned out that we were all a big group of people from school working together for some organisation and someone had been phoning him with all kinds of strange phone calls while he was in the bath. He thought that it was me but I tried to reassure him that I hadn’t done anything at all like that. In the end the conversation gradually drifted round into something more light-hearted and friendly. He went through the whole list of phone calls on his phone for that afternoon and asked me if I knew any of the locations and if I’d ever been to any of them during the day. Of course I had to deny everything. But there was something in this dream that when I saw him leaving work that afternoon he had with him a double-necked 6-string guitar and amplifier so I wondered what on earth was going on with that but it had nothing whatever to do with these phone calls, I was sure of that and I knew nothing whatever about any of them.

There was another dream similar to the first one where someone complained that I’d been ringing them at all strange hours of the day and night. When we looked at the phone records I was nowhere near wherever these phone calls had originated. I’d never lived there and certainly hadn’t visited that area during that time so I’d no idea what he was talking about and why the guy thought that it might have been me.

At another moment it was as if a length of coiled spring had been inserted into the pavement every so often and you came along and stuck your crutch-end into the hole in one of these statue things and it tipped you off down the road to the next one. I thought that this was the strangest thing I’d ever heard but once again I had to go to great lengths to deny having made any of these phone calls that were so disturbing this guy so much.

Shavington, outside the Post Office on the corner, was another place where another one of these statues had appeared. Once again people were thinking that it was me but I had no idea why they thought so. I certainly hadn’t done anything about erecting any statues and I was sure that if they’d checked the phone number and the e-mail it would be totally different from any that I could access. I really didn’t have any idea as to who was doing all this, why they would want to do it and why they would want to use me as a victim.

I was back last night in that dream about Roosevelt, the baseball player. I’m not sure if I dictated it but there was a group of RAF pilots in South Wales during World War II right at the start. They’d heard that a Luftwaffe fighter had fetched up in Ireland and had been put on display by the Irish authorities. They took off on a scheduled flight with about 10 other people to fly to the airfield. The part across water went well but the part across land was complicated and ended up running out of time. It was a struggle to get down to the airfield at the correct moment. For some unknown reason I was flying behind on my own. They touched down and went into this hangar. There were some statues of American heroes who had come from Ireland. One was a guy called Roosevelt. Everyone immediately thought that it was the President but I explained that there had also been an American pilot in World War I called Roosevelt who came from Ireland and was a famous baseball player. I bet that the statue was of him. That led to all kinds of discussion and argument sand no-one would believe me. But there had been so much time spent messing around and trying to organise things that when it came to the flight back not only had they not actually seen the aeroplane but they were still nothing like ready to depart. You could see that everyone from the passengers down to the crew down to the airport staff were extremely annoyed about these RAf pilots who want to go to look at this aeroplane but just couldn’t organise themselves to do so. What didn’t help was that one of them knew a girl who happened to be there at the airport and spent far more time talking to her than he did to the rest of his colleagues.

Actually, the pilot referred to was an American of Dutch descent, Quentin Roosevelt, who was shot down and killed on the Marne in 1918 and regular readers of this rubbish will recall that on our shuttle between Brussels and Virlet that we used to undertake regularly, we always drove past the memorial at Navarin Farm near Chalons sur Marne.

He had an airport on Long Island named after him and we went there to see the site of it over the New Year of 1999-2000 and where I was lucky enough to be allowed to sit behind the controls of the replica of Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St Louis”

Later on I was whisked off in this programme of investigating people’s immigration status, I suppose. There was a pink aeroplane that came along on which I was put. When we landed somewhere we were all ushered into a certain area where we had to produce our nationalities etc. I was extremely confused as to what was happening and couldn’t understand a thing. Of course quite naturally I’m of British birth and origin and have been all my life

After a good wash and setting to washing machine off on its travels I went out and caught the bus.

And on arriving at St Nicolas a most extraordinary thing happened.

Someone came over to me. "I see you at the Centre de Re-education" he said, and began to chat with me about our illnesses.

When I told him that I have a terminal illness he reached into his pocket, pulled out a phial of Holy Water, dipped his finger in it and made the Sign of the Cross on my cheek.

Marianne had gallons of Holy Water that she had collected from just about every Holy place in the World and she even blagged herself an Audience with the Pope when we were down in Rome for Holy Week 20-odd years ago, but it didn’t do her any good and I don’t suspect that this will do me any good either.

But sometimes, I’m quite amazed at the generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness of ordinary people whom I encounter on my travels around.

That Holy Week though was quite interesting. Apparently if we visited 7 particular religious sites scattered around the Seven Hills, we would be assured of permanent Absolution. Of course, that means nothing to me whatsoever but she was really keen to go so we went.

It was in the middle of winter too and the sites were really scattered about – one of them several miles outside the city on the Via Appia Antica but I insisted that if we were going to do it, we were going to do it properly so just like the Pilgrims of years ago, we walked all the way, past the catacombs and the tombs and everything else.

Mind you, there were many more cafés along the road than there were in former times.

So now, just to let you know, I am assured of permanent Absolution – not that it will do me any good.

At the Carrefour they had some bread that was going out of date, on sale for a pittance. As it happened, I’d seen a couple of days ago a recipe for bread-and-butter pudding made in the air fryer and seeing as I now have some dried figs to go with my raisins, sultanas and desiccated coconut, I reckoned that I’ll give it a try.

Loaded up with stuff and having had my coffee I made my way back to the bus stop and home, and my nightmare climb back up to safety.

First thing that I did was to hang up the washing, and you’ve no idea how difficult that is these days. Then I put away the stuff that I’d bought and made myself some soup to go with the crusty bread that I’d also bought.

Back here afterwards I was absolutely fit for nothing and spent much of the afternoon asleep. It’s really taking it out of me, all of this work and I know that I’m going to regret it before much longer.

In between everything I was having a chat with Alison. I asked her how the renovations were going on at Alison Wonderland so she sent me a few photos to show the latest developments.

Apparently the new kitchen will be there in a couple of weeks and she’ll be moving in in January

Whatever lese was left of the day I finished the radio programme that I started earlier and then paired off the music for the next radio programme and writing the notes. I’ve done over half of them and I’ll finish the rest tomorrow so that I can record them during the night on Saturday when it’s quiet outside.

Tea was salad, chips and some of those veggie nuggets, and that is that for today.

Now that I’ve finished my notes I’ll make myself a drink and then go to bed. I’ll try to avoid playing the guitar just before bedtime though. Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

Thursday 16th November 2023 – I AM ABSOLUTELY …

… exhausted.

You have no idea just how tiring even putting away the shopping can be. And what didn’t help was having to clean, dice and blanch 2 kilos of carrots for the freezer.

Actually, today was just one long continuation of how the night had been because at one point I’d been lying awake for several hours in the middle of the night trying to go back to sleep after a really bad attack of cramp.

Last night I tried a new approach.

When my legs were functioning properly, I had some tough rubber bands that I used to build up my leg muscles when I was going running. Last night I dragged one out, put it around my two ankles and went to bed like that.

My nights are really quite mobile, as you can imagine, so while my legs are moving around in my sleep they are actually acting on each other and that might do something about the leg muscles. It can’t do any harm

And it actually seemed to work – ay least, judging by the way my legs were moving during the night.

At some point I must have gone off to sleep because I was flat-out when the alarm went off, and I staggered to my feet before the second alarm.

After the medication and checking the mails I ended up having a chat on the internet with one of my neighbours. There are several things around here that need attention and there will be one or two workmen coming into the building. As I’m here for most of the time these days, would I be a point of contact to let people in and out of the building?

In theory, it’s no problem to me but as usual, it’s the kind of thing that will happen just at the moment when I’m likely to be busy.

Next thing was to order a few things off the internet. Usually I would go to the shops for things like this but even if I could travel there on the bus, I wouldn’t have the strength to bring the stuff home.

Then there was the shopping from Leclerc. And such was my surprise when I found out that this week there were only the pears that weren’t available. I ended up having to take some stuff out of my on-line basket.

There’s a minimum order of €50 for delivery so I have my priority list and my “extras” list and I move things around depending on availability. So when almost everything in my priority list is available, I put some of the “extras” back ready for the next time in case the next order falls short

The problem was that there was no delivery window until the afternoon.

And so what I did was to go through some of the drawers in the kitchen, sort things out and … gulp … throw some things away that I no longer need. I’m clearly not feeling very well.

What prompted this was having ordered some ground ginger 2 weeks ago as I had run out, while I was filling up the cumin seeds last night I found three packets of ground ginger at the bottom of the box in which I keep the spare spices. High time that I sorted that out and made a list of what I have – and what I don’t have.

Luckily I have plenty of Indian spices so I’m not going to be short of spices for a while but with not going to Leuven and “Exotic World” – the Asian wholesalers – any more, things might become complicated in the future.

But anyway, I ended up with one kitchen drawer completely empty, and I have much more of an idea about what’s in stock here. Quite a few people have “made remarks” about the amount of food in stock around here, but there have been several times in the recent past when I have been totally unable do do anything about buying in food and the stock has come in useful.

While I was having a drink I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. There were all kinds of things like food crumbs all over the bed because I’d strapped my legs together and had gone to bed like that so that in the exercise that I’m forced to do during the night, one foot would affect the other and give it a kind of workout. It wasn’t quite as easy as that during the dream because I could hardly move and wasn’t able to tidy up or clean up and the place was deteriorating quite rapidly. I was extremely dismayed but there was nothing much that I could actually do about it.

When I saw my mother gliding across the room I asked her if she was on her way to dictate her first thought of the day, which was a silly thing to do because she replied that it was her second or third. The act of actually asking her made me completely forget what it was that I was going to dictate. But this thing about keeping my legs tied together is working to a certain degree but not to a certain other. I had a terrible attack of cramp in my left leg at that moment but it will ease off after I’ve had a few agonising moments. We’ll see how it goes on.

And later we were building some kind of framework to go in a gap in the bricks, like a window frame. Because I was unable to do anything someone else was helping me. It was so frustrating because he was doing this kind of thing in a very slapdash way trying to cut out lengths of wood with a cheap tooth-saw etc. When it came to trimming 20mm off something or other he did it by eye and it looked as if he was cutting off a whole centimetre. That would have defeated the whole purpose of this framework. In the end I had to stop him. I asked “wouldn’t you be better with a jigsaw doing that?”. He replied “if you have one” so I immediately produced one. Then I produced a battery-powered circular saw and asked “wouldn’t this be any better?”. I sat down and began to measure everything up and put a batten down to follow with the circular saw so that it would cut accurately. I was just so astonished by this guy trying to do this job without measuring properly or without any kind of proper tools – something that was so important.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that my DiY skills are nothing to write home about, particularly right at the beginning when I made a start on rebuilding the farm, but at least I knew how to measure up and cut with guides.

And some of the stuff that I was doing just before I fell ill was really impressive. My bedroom down there was magnificent.

It was really quite funny, actually. When I finished rebuilding the walls and putting the roof on and I began to fit out the attic and I thought that it was really good. But the further on I pressed, the more I wanted to go back to where I started, rip it all out and start again.

That’s one thing that I can say about the farm – I may not have been much good but I certainly learnt a lot.

When the shopping came I was … errr … resting, so it was a rather rapid struggle to my feet to open the door to let him into the building.

After I’d put away the frozen food I attacked the carrots. I hadn’t expected them to be available – the 2kg “econopacks” aren’t there all that often – so I was rather caught unawares. But the big soup tureen thing comes in handy for that.

They also had the econopacks of peppers so one went into the fridge for next Monday and the other was cleaned and trimmed and put in the freezer for another time.

To my surprise, the econopacks of aubergines were availabile too so now that there is some space in the freezer I did something that I haven’t done for ages and made one of my mega aubergine and kidney bean whatsits

There was enough for 5 meals so I had one for tea with pasta and veg, and the other four were packed ready for the freezer.

The freezer is in something of a disreputable state so I took out the vegetable drawer, cleaned it, repaired it and packed everything back in it, including the carrots that I’d blanched. It’s amazing how much room there is in the freezer when you tidy it out.

Here and there, I’ve been editing those radio notes that I dictated before going to bed last night. I was hoping to finish the programme today but I was overwhelmed by events as you can tell.

That should be a task to finish for tomorrow and then I’ll have to start the next one, hopefully to record on Saturday night.

Even though there’s some time before bed though, I’m not going to do it tonight. I’m thoroughly exhausted and after my blackcurrant, honey and lemon I’m off to bed.

While I’m asleep I’ll be trying that trick of the elastic strap around the ankle. Exercising in my sleep seems to be the way to go right now.

Saturday 11th November 2023 – THINGS TODAY WERE …

… somewhat different from yesterday.

in fact it was the morning when I was crashed out on my chair. And I was totally out of it too. I find it very hard to believe that yesterday took so much out of me.

Admittedly I was later in bed that I would have liked to be, but I was determined to dictate the notes that I’d been preparing for a future radio programme. They were all done and dusted and I crawled into bed.

When the alarm went off this morning I have to say that I have never felt less like moving – at least, not for a good while anyway. But I did make it to my feet before the second alarm went off and I staggered into the kitchen for my medication.

Back in here I settled down to do some work but ended up drifting in and out of sleep for much of the morning and I really didn’t feel like anything at all.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’d been invited to a wedding in Nantwich so I set off. As I pulled up outside the church there were all these people milling around with huge banners and floral decorations etc. It looked like a really sumptuous wedding. All the people with the banners went inside and I hung around outside. I had a good look round but didn’t recognise anyone. After a while I mentioned to someone “I hope that I’m attending the correct wedding”. They didn’t really say anything. Just at that moment a group of people appeared carrying a huge tray above their heads, full of beer. They swooped down onto the outside of the church and began to put the tray down so that everyone outside could have a drink. I thought that this is not like the kind of wedding that I would ordinarily attend, that’s for sure.

I didn’t mention that going to that wedding I actually walked some of the way, and walked some of the way without crutches. That astonished me, even in the dream.

There was a story about two people, a man and a woman, working in a kitchen. For some reason the man misunderstood a comment made by the woman. As a result the situation in that kitchen became extremely uncomfortable for a while. There was a lot more to it than this but it was another one of these dreams that disappeared the moment that I reached for the dictaphone.

However I don’t need to know how this ended. I know all about misunderstandings like this

Finally last night I was with a girl whom I knew for a while in Brussels, living in an apartment somewhere. She had go out out to sell some kind of Employee Management software database to a company. I tagged along with her. When she began her discussion the elderly woman in charge of the situation was extremely aggressive. My friend was talking about this product and the woman said “it’s not something that you have to use every day, is it?”. My friend was there patiently explaining “it’s a dispute-management system, yes, but it has lots of underlying parts to it. You only need the disputes part infrequently but everything else is important”. She replied “we’ll strip that out for a start”. The discussion continued and the woman found that it was based on Word-Perfect. “We can strip that out too”. I remembered smiling at 2 girls sitting at a nearby desk looking as horrified as I was. I whispered to them “I think that I’d have been long gone from here at this point”. My friend kept going patiently and the woman kept interrupting her. Every time Nicole tried to insist on speaking the woman went “interrupting me! How rude!” even though she was the one doing al the interrupting. I thought that I would never ever make a career in sales because I wouldn’t have put up with this kind of comment for a minute.

Following that I made a start on editing the radio notes that I’d dictated last night. It was a very slow process, for reasons that I mentioned a little earlier, but the programme is now finished and ready for broadcast on … errr … 7th June 2024.

With plenty of time on hand despite the fatigue I carried on editing the blog entries from last autumn. I managed to do a pile of them, and I’m now having a good drive around various Ford agents in Eastern Canada trying to find a sunroof to fit the only Ford Flex that was ever imported into Europe.

It’s quite true that I sometimes end up with doing some most unusual tasks.

There was some football on the internet later. It’s Welsh Cup weekend and the match that was featured for live commentary was Llanelli v Penybont.

Llanelli have a good history in Welsh club football but unfortunately it is nothing but history. There have been some very hard times down in South West Wales but the club is slowly rising back up the pyramid and is currently leading the Southern pool of the Second Division

Penybont on the other hand is a fully-established Premier League club that qualified for Europe this season.

The gap between the Premier League and the Second Division is immense under any circumstances, as clubs like Flint, Airbus and Afan Lido will testify over the past few years so no-one was under any illusions.

And that was how the game started, with Penybont rampaging forward. Consequently everyone was taken completely by surprised when Ethan Cann’s brilliant finish out of nothing from the edge of the penalty area put Llanelli ahead.

By half-time however Penybont had restored sanity and were 2-1 to the good.

A brilliant point-blank save by Scott Coughlin in the Llanelli goad right from the second-half kick-off kept them in the game and then up popped Ethan Cann again with one of the best goals that you’ll ever see from a Second-Division player.

Even more surprisingly, Llanelli went ahead later, only for Penybont to equalise in the dying seconds of normal time.

We ended up with a penalty shot-out in which Scott Coughlin was once again the hero as a couple of excellent saves saw the Second Division side through to the next round, totally against the run of play and totally against the odds.

Tea tonight was a baked potato cooked in the air fryer, with a vegan salad and one of those breaded quorn fillets that I like so much.

And it seems that I’ve cracked the system of baking potatoes with the air fryer. First, give them a couple of minutes in the microwave to cook the interior. That worked really well

So tomorrow I can have a day off. I’ve done all of my work.

All that remains to be done is to make my fruit buns for the next fortnight. For a change I have everything that I need so they should turn out really well, I hope.

But in the meantime I’ve been reading up on what I need to make my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. The Christmas cake that I made 2 years ago turned out really well and I’m keen to make another one.

A Christmas pudding will be a new experience but Jackie told me what steamer to buy and sent me a recipe for a vegan pudding. One or two things I’m short of but I’ll order what I can and invent the rest.

When I was in Canada last year I was lucky because I found some brandy and some rum essence and that should give my Christmas baking a lift. I’ve no mixed spice but my friend in Munich thinks that he might be able to find some German gingerbread spice and that might actually work too.

One thing that I mustn’t forget to do though it to check my marzipan and make sure that that works too. I didn’t use it last year, with recovering from my hospital efforts so I hope that it’s still good.

if not, I shall have to think of a Plan B.

Friday 10th November 2023 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… miserable afternoon when I’ve spend a good proportion of it fast asleep on my chair in here.

You’ve no idea just how much it takes out of me, staggering two or three hundred metres on crutches and then climbing up 25 stairs back to here, all of which with a very low blood count and a leaking valve in my heart. I was dead to the world for a good couple of hours.

For a change, I’d actually been to bed early. And that’s not something that happens every day. And although I didn’t go far during my travels, it was still quite a restless night.

When the alarm went off I staggered to my feet and went off in search of my medication. And then back here I made a start on my shopping list from LeClerc for next Wednesday and to see what I need from the shops this morning.

In the freezing cold I crawled downstairs and over to the bus and although the driver was on there sitting comfortably she didn’t let me on until departure time. I know that she’s well within her rights to do that, as she’s on an official break, but it was still freezing.

At St Nicolas I alighted and the first port of call was the Post Office. I’m having “issues” at the moment with my bank in Canada and the only way to wind them up is by mail. Phoning them is a waste of time as I proved the other day.

In the Carrefour next door I bought some of the worst mushrooms that I’ve seen for quite a while – I have to say that the fruit and veg at the Carrefour at St Nicolas is nothing like as good as the one at the Port – and a few other bits and pieces.

While I was packing my backpack I dropped something on the floor and as I remembered what happened the last time I bent down to pick something up when I had a backpack I had to ask someone to pick it up for me.

My coffee was quite nice while I waited for the bus, and then I wandered off outside to the bus stop.

While I’d been in the supermarket the weather had been reasonable but the moment I set foot outside the weather changed dramatically and I got the lot.

As soon as I climbed onto the bus the sun came out but as we pulled up at the bus stop outside we had another downpour.
"The rain falls down upon the just
and also on the unjust fellow
But mostly on the just because
the unjust steals the just’s umbrella"

The climb up the stairs was agony as you might expect, and then I made some soup to eat with the crusty bread that I’d just bought.

Back in here, when I wasn’t asleep, I transcribed the dictaphone notes. One of my favourite rock groups was playing in London so I went down on the train to see them. When I arrived in London I couldn’t remember the name of the venue or the place to go to pick up the tickets. I knew that a friend was in London so I thought that I’d phone him so that maybe we could meet somewhere. I began to walk towards the centre but I didn’t recognise anywhere. It was nothing at all like anything I ever knew about the way into the centre of the city from where the train would bring me in. We ended up talking on the phone. He asked me to say where I was but I couldn’t. He asked if I was at such-and-such a place. I didn’t know. Then I found myself standing alongside one of the sections of the old London Wall. I told him that I was here and to come to meet me . This whole affair was really one of total chaos again. Everything that could possibly go wrong seemed to be going wrong at that moment

And later on it was time to return from London. We were round at a girl’s house and she had lent us a Ford Transit diesel. It was quite a mess. The exhaust pipe on it stretched out about 6 feet at the back with a kink in it. My friend had changed the oil, the oil filter etc in it. When we started it there were clouds of blue smoke, it was burning that much oil. I remember a plane going overhead and we couldn’t see the plane because of the smoke. We put everything in the van and set off. My friend was driving like a maniac. It’s not very often that I’m concerned but I told him to slow down as he drove it flat out right past the turning where we were supposed to go. I told him to slow down and he replied “this is how you drive your office car, isn’t it?”. I really didn’t know what to say about that.

While I was at it I finished off the notes that I’d started yesterday for the next radio programme and I’ll dictate them before I go to bed. if I complete the programme tomorrow I can actually have a day off on Sunday – the first time for ages – but I do have some fruit buns to make.

The estate agent turned up this afternoon too. He came “to value the apartment”, apparently. I did ask if the owner was planning on selling it because I have a cunning plan, but apparently not. “It’s being valued for his personal reasons and he has no intention of selling it”.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there are at least two prices for every property on sale in France. The first price is the price that it is advertised and which is aimed at British people and Parisians. The second price is the realistic price that the owner will sell it to a local person and it’s usually much less than the first price, especially if you can stump up the cash.

Following that, I carried on updating the notes from last Autumn. I’ve done all of those that relate to the hospital and I’m now sitting in the Place Gamelin in Montréal making the most of the last of the Canadian sunshine and the really beautiful autumn colours on the trees.

Montréal, and Canada in particular, is really beautiful in the autumn and I really miss my annual visits to pay homage to the land of my Grandmother. I’m hoping that one of these days my cousin Sandra will come over from Ottawa and bring some autumn with her.

It’s all well and good that I’m pressing on, especially as I’ll have much more time on my hands following the death yesterday of one of the largest social networks.

We always suspected that this “it’s free and it always will be” was a load of nonsense and so it has proved. Now, you have to automatically agree to have your personal information sold off to anyone and everyone, or else pay to opt out.

So if anyone wants to chat to me from now on, you’ll have to use the Social network that works with reference to the telephone system.

If you want my phone number you’ll have to write and ask me for it – unless you have a G-mail account in which case I won’t be able to reply.

That’s another issue, isn’t it? Google is blocking its mail-servers to all “minor domains” like mine, unless you include in your webserver a few lines of code that Google sends you.

And if anyone thinks that I’m going to include any form of Google coding on my webserver without them telling me exactly what it does, then they are mistaken.

It’s fair to say that with all of this turbulence going on right now with these major players in the tech world, it looks as if we are beginning to see the start of a technology crisis. They are obviously sensing a danger of losing their grip on things and maybe the revenue coming in isn’t what they would like it to be.

It makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing a renaissance of something like Myspace or whether we’ll be going back to the good old days of 30 years ago when people like us were cutting our teeth on Local Area Networks, Bulletin Boards and the anarchy and chaos that was Usenet.

Tea tonight was chips, vegan salad and some of those strange veggie balls based on kidney beans. And it was actually quite nice.

So now it’s nearly bedtime I’ll go and make myself a hot drink, dictate my radio notes and then go to bed.

We’ll see what tomorrow might bring.