Tag Archives: bouquet granvillais

Monday 29th May 2023 – I’M GOING TO HAVE …

… to stop watching all of these HARRY POTTER films.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, while I’m eating my tea I’ll be watching a film on the DVD, gradually working my way around my collection of DVDs. Right now, the film that’s on the machine is HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE.

And so during the night I had to go to a wizards’ conference to learn something or other on a course. Wondering how I was going to go there, someone turned up and said that they’d take me. They had an umbrella that was like a helicopter blade. I hung onto them, they hung onto the helicopter blade and off we went. We flew past the house of someone whom I knew. I always suspected that they were rather strange and there were 5 people hovering over their house on broomsticks. I waved. Suddenly we came down to earth. The guy said “I’m going out of my area now so you have to get off and walk”. I asked “how go I come back?”. He replied “you come back to this spot and I’ll pick you up”. “So how do I come back here?”. he replied “you could always call a taxi”. I said goodbye to this guy and set off to walk. When I arrived at this place they were burying a cat that had been hit by a car. I thought that the collar might have special magic powers so I was wondering if I could have it. But they were obviously intent upon burying the cat wearing the collar so it was probably inappropriate to ask. They carried on with their plan to deal with the cat while I prepared myself for this weekend course.

It’s actually a film that I remember very well, having been to see it with Marianne when it was doing the rounds of the cinemas. And I remember thinking, when Dumbledore took out his wand to clean and rebuild Professor Slughorn’s house, that I would give all that I own and more besides to have a wand that would do that

A couple of weeks ago, it was the 10th anniversary of her voyage to meet her maker. It’s bizarre how quickly time flies. It seems like only yesterday but a lot has happened since then.

So retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, and in particular, about today.

It all started off with me once more raising myself from the dead before the alarm went off. And once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages, I made a start on the radio stuff that I’d dictated on Saturday night.

There wasn’t any rush today so it took a while, but in the end I finished up with two more programmes completed. There are only notes for two more, and then I can begin work on the next batch. But I’ll have to take it easy because I’m now 9 months in advance of broadcasting. I know that I want to be well ahead, because you never know when the bell might toll for me, but this is becoming rather excessive.

Being that far ahead isn’t really a good idea. I remember back in the old “Radio Anglais” days when I wrote and recorded a programme about Chris Squire, only for him to shuffle off this mortal coil the morning the programme was due to be broadcast. I don’t think that there’s been a radio programme rewritten as quickly as that one was.

Anyway, eventually I managed to finish the programme, despite the interruption from the nurse who came to give me my injection this morning.

One thing that I was going to do was to take out the rubbish to the bins but we have another hurricane blowing around outside. That’s the problem with living in what is one of the windiest places in Europe.

Mind you, it used to have its compensations. In this kind of weather I’d be out on the headland with the camera taking photos of the sea roaring over the sea wall into the harbour but these days I can’t even open the door of the building.

Instead, I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I’ve already mentioned one of them but there were still several others. I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard the physiotherapist shout to me. I don’t know what happened there but there have been a few times here and there over the years that I’ve had this phenomenon of people calling my name when I’ve been asleep and it’s awoken me with a start. I’ve never worked out why.

But strange things happen when you are asleep. I knew someone who dreamt that he was awake, and when he awoke, he was!

Later on I had to take my overtime sheet to the supervisor to have it signed so that I could submit it for payment. She began to ask me all kinds of strange questions about my hours etc that really weren’t anything to do with overtime. Then she asked me about lunches. How did I cope with lunch?. I replied “every so often I’d go to buy some meal tickets and hand over a meal ticket when I picked up my lunch”. She said something like “your brother will buy a spaghetti with his lunch money. Why don’t you do that?”. I couldn’t understand what was the issue or why she was making such a fuss out of something like this. All I wanted was my overtime sheet signed and none of this had anything to do with that.

At another moment I made a start writing a humorous book about an estate agent as well during the night but I didn’t get very far with that unfortunately. And when I awoke I couldn’t remember any of what it was that I’d written in my sleep.

With what time has been left, I’ve been sorting through the notes for 2017. It’s going to be a very long and laborious effort because Strider, STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I travelled about 12,000 miles during those 5 weeks.

Right now I’m in Pictou in Nova Scotia on my way to see my niece’s daughter who was at University in Antigonish at St F-X.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg. And we had something of a calamity in that the pepper was too tall to fit in the air fryer. That’s something that I need to watch for the future. Frozen peppers wotk well enough in the air fryer but the microwave makes them sodden and the oven would take years for them to bake from frozen.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t the disaster that it might have been, and there’s still plenty of stuffing left over for a taco roll for tea tomorrow.

There’s no Welsh lesson tomorrow as Coleg Cambria is having a week off. I might do some revision for a change and then continue with my 2017 notes. I’ll be pushing on up the Cape Breton coast towards Sydney and the ferry to Newfoundland.

And then I’ll be pushing off.

Thursday 25th May 2023 – I’VE BEEN HAVING …

… a day of nostalgia today (as if I haven’t had a few of those just recently).

They say that music is something that is capable of moving you to another place. That’s certainly true. Anywhere that puts on a “Smiths” song anywhere near where I am and I’ll certainly move to another place.

But that’s not what they really mean, of course.

Today while I’ve been choosing music for my radio programmes I stumbled upon a Golden Earring album. Everyone knows “Radar Love” of course but in the Netherlands they are much better-known than that.

Back in the Summer of 1993 I was lucky enough to stumble upon them quite by accident on the beach at Scheveningen playing an acoustic concert when I was out for a ride on the old CX500 that I had, and it was one of the most enjoyable evenings that I’ve had, even though dawn was breaking by the time I arrived back in Brussels.

Then a few years later when Roxanne went off on a sleepover one night, Laurence and I went to Oostende in my old Merc to see them at the Kuursaal.

And of course, regular readers of this rubbish will recall the significance of “The Vanilla Queen”.

If that’s not enough to be going on with, Tom Petty came round on the playlist.

Back 20-odd years ago I was in Montreal in a heavy snowstorm and had to drive to Bar Harbor in Maine, all the way through the Appalachians.

As usual, I’d brought a pile of cassettes with me but this was the first car that I’d ever hired that had a CD player. So down the road from my motel out at Jarry was a second-hand shop where they had INTO THE GREAT WIDEOPEN, DAMN THE TORPEDOES and a few others.

So steaming all the way through the mountains and the snow, taking a ferry across the Bay of Fundy and going via Halifax to the accompaniment of various Tom Petty albums on continuous play in this Chevrolet Cavalier.

Those were they days of course, and we shan’t see their like again The way things are, it’s an achievement if I can manage to get out of bed.

But get out of bed I did this morning, and before the alarm went off too.

And we had a calamity last night, as I found out once I was up and about.

For my little project about doing my own “Hawkfest” on the radio, I’d collected about 6 hours’ worth of music from obscure space-rock bands. With having a friend whose son was sound engineer for The Pink Fairies, it’s amazing the stuff that turns up.

Anyway, it was all in an obscure recording format so it needed to be converted to *.mp3. It’s not like trying to convert a standard audio or video converter. The “estimated time” was something like 57 hours so the computer was on through the night the other night but last night Bane of Britain forgot and switched off the computer with just 9 hours to go

So no use crying over spilt milk. I went and had my medication instead.

As well as choosing a pile of music and writing out some notes, I’ve been looking at cameras. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we no longer have the NIKON D500 due to certain controversial circumstances, the NIKON D5000 has never been the same since I DROPPED IT in the ferry terminal in Québec waiting to cross the St. Lawrence, the NIKON D3000 is showing its age and I’ve never been a big fan of the mirrorless NIKON 1 J5.

Anyway Nikon has launched a new camera this week and my friends tell me that very soon they will start to clear out all of the previous models. I’ve been chatting with my friend in Vancouver who works for Nikon and he reckons a NoS NIKON Z6ii is the way to go. At least it has an eyepiece viewer that the Nikon 1 doesn’t have and which I miss.

And the advantage of that is that with an adapter that is easily available, I can use all of the old AF-S lenses.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too referring to my nocturnal perambulations. I was with one of my friends last night but I can’t remember who he was. He was feeling rather thirsty but instead of actually buying a can of drink he set about actually taking the back off the drinks machine in the hall and taking the drinks out of the back. Of course while he was doing that the headmistress and one or two teachers came along. They were discussing what was happening with the drinks machine, that things were missing etc, and wondering how it was being done. And there we were right behind it dismantling it. I expected there to be an investigation and we’d be discovered straight away but the more they kept on talking about it, the more we dismantled the machine. In the end he went to grab a can but he missed. It fell down into the chute round the front. No-one of all the people round at the front actually noticed. he quickly put his hand round and took the can of drink, opened it and poured it into another can so that it looked as if it hadn’t come out of our machine and slowly started to reassemble it. By this time there were people going past etc and no-one for even a minute noticed what it was that we were doing and that we were behind the machine and that the machine had been pulled out from the wall a couple of feet.

Nothing about my family last night, and nothing about cats either. But something happened during the day concerning cats. There was a link that popped up on my social network about an elderly cat that is going to be put to sleep because no-one would adopt it and in a fit of weakness I contacted the shelter.

Foolishly, I made the mistake of saying that I was glad that it was an older cat because I didn’t want a circus around here at 03:00. And that led to a really bizarre rant from whoever it was to whom I’m speaking, a rant about
“and what would you do if it awoke you at 03:00? What would happen then?”
My reply was “I didn’t say anything about being awoken. I mentioned “a circus””
“I don’t know what a circus is!” went the person, in one of these indignant, belligerent tones.
“Well, I’ve made my offer. It’s up to you now”
“What offer?”

It’s really too much hard work to try to help people out, isn’t it? I have a nice comfortable home that would suit an elderly cat for a couple of years but I don’t have time to engage in a debate or to put up with people’s attitude. If they want to pick a fight they can pick it with someone else.

Tea tonight was pasta, veg and some of those mini vegan bread-crumbed things that I bought from Noz a couple of months ago. They are actually quite nice and it made a nice meal. But the freezer is emptying quite nicely now and if I’m not careful I’ll have to start to restock it.

Alison and I had a chat on the internet later, now that she’s back from her perambulations in the real world. She has some exciting news to impart but more of that anon.

Tomorrow I’m off to the doc’s to tell him the news about my injections and to have a few prescriptions prepared. When I come back I’ll have to make plans. I’ll be eating the last of my ginger biscuits and I’ll have to bake some more. I could remake a type that I’ve made in the past (like those delicious chocolate ones) or try something completely new, in which case I’ll have to check to see what I have and what I need.

While I’m at it, I might have a go at making a vegan pie. I’ve not made one for ages and the last time that I tried, I had forgotten the knack about how to make pastry. At one time I had it going really well but since I stopped eating pudding I haven’t made anything like as many.

There’s no pizza dough left either so I’ll have to make some more. And if it turns out as well as the last batch, I shall be one very happy bunny indeed.

And it’s about time that there was some happiness in my life. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

Monday 22nd May 2023 – WHEN I AWOKE …

… this morning, I was actually fully clothed flat out on top of the bed. I’ve no idea what happened there but I must have been really tired.

However not so tired that I didn’t get up early. Once more, when the alarm went off at 07:00 I was already up and about.

Yes, that was one strange night.

Once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I started work. And by the time I finished at tea-time, I’d finished two radio programmes.

Had things been different they would have been finished a lot earlier too but there were plenty of interruptions.

Firstly, the nurse came round and gave me my fortnightly injection. It’s supposed to perk me up and keep me going for another two weeks but it doesn’t feel like it. The effects of the product are definitely not working as well as they did at first and wearing off quicker.

They’ve already increased the dose from 40mg to 60 mg and I suppose that the next step will be to have the injections every 10 days instead of every 14.

The “release and retained” lists for the clubs in the Welsh pyramid were released today as well – 9 days early and already, players are on the move around. Consequently I’ve had to start to update my lists earlier than usual.

And then someone with whom I wanted to have a word came on line so we were chatting for some considerable time too.

Going back to the radio programme, when I was in France during my schooldays I met a Swiss bassist called Walter Fröhlich. He was one of the bassists who, along with Felix Pappalardi and Gerry McAvoy, inspired me to play bass in the days before I heard “Quadrophenia”. Wandering around in the depths of my back-up drive I came across one of the songs on which Fröhlich played so of course I had to include it in one of the programmes.

All in all, I accomplished a lot today although it doesn’t much look like it.

Tea was a stuffed pepper with pasta and vegetables. Yes, pasta. I said I would, and there was some nice spicy tomato sauce to go with it too.

There was the dictaphone too. I had my own apartment in Granville somewhere last night. It wasn’t by the sea at all but in the St Nicolas area. I’d spoken to Percy Penguin (who doesn’t appear in these pages half as often as she deserves) about coming round but she was with another guy and said “the two of us would come round”. She put her boyfriend on the phone and he spoke to me. We agreed to meet up at 20:45. He asked what the weather was like because it was pouring down with rain. I said that it’s really wet under foot but not waterlogged or anything like that so it’s OK to move around. He replied “yes but the big difficulty is that Percy Penguin is the same height as you so we’d end up with 3 of us on my motor bike”. My response was “that’s OK. We can go out in Caliburn. I decided that the best thing was for me to go round at 21:00 and pick them both up. They were living here in this building at the time so I thought that it would be nice for Caliburn and me to come back.

And later on I was at a strange kind of roundabout or road junction somewhere. To negotiate it was extremely complicated and I ended up flattening a couple of trees that had been planted because of the way that some vehicles had been parked on it. A car and I merged in together on this junction but the other driver felt that he should have had priority although there wasn’t a road sign anywhere. It certainly wasn’t clear. When I stopped he left his car and came to start an argument. I explained the situation as I’d seen it but he carried on and on and on. I said “look, something happened there and something wasn’t correct but it doesn’t make any difference. No-one had any problems. The vehicles didn’t touch each other” but he still carried on. I went on saying “if you become upset like this every time you see something happen that’s not what you think is correct then I’m surprised that you ever get anywhere”. But so it continued.

The interesting thing about it was that all of this took place in French.

So I’ll be off to bed in a minute. There’s a Welsh lesson tomorrow so I need to do some revision and be ready to go. But I don’t feel like it. In fact I don’t feel much like anything right now. But I dunno. It’ll all work out in Boomland, as T2 told us back in 1970. And that reminds me – where the heck is my copy of that? I haven’t seen that around for absolute ages.

Sunday 21st May 2023 – HAVING A LOOK …

… at the timestamps of some of the files on which I was working last night – 03:25, 03:33 etc, it was a very late night. Or more like an early morning. I was still rewriting some radio programme stuff and re-dictating it at some silly hour of the morning.

Consequently, being wide-awake at 10:30 and up and about at 10:45 is really quite astonishing. I can’t even usually do that on a Sunday when I’ve had a GOOD night’s sleep.

Ahh well. Life is full of surprises.

Not that I actually did very much. I have to confess that for at least part of it, I was flat-out on the chair in here instead of working.

Another thing that I did this afternoon as I didn’t feel much like working was to telephone Ingrid and have a good chat. It’s been ages since we last spoke to each other and so we were on the ‘phone for a Rosemaryesque marathon.

She’s not doing so well with her own health problems so we spent quite a long time commiserating with each other.

But the conversation was quite interesting. The subject of “small-town mentality” came up in our discussion.

Due to her father’s work she spent a lot of time as a child in the far-flung corners of the Dutch Empire as a child and encountered all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds.

My own background was exactly the opposite. Small-village, small-town mentality, totally unprepared for what the big wide world had to offer and it was an enormous culture shock when I was 16 and first set foot in the big wild world.

However, how are you going to keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree? I was itching to break away from that kind of mentality and the Big City didn’t work out. I didn’t enjoy my spell living in Manchester in 1974-75, although on reflection I should have stuck it out.

No mistake though about deciding to emigrate. I left all of the negativity behind me and I was glad about that. Life in Crewe was really dragging me down.

It was somehow difficult for Ingrid to understand things like that because she’s never experienced it, but meeting different people from different cultures and background was exciting as a child to her as it was to me when I moved to Brussels.

Thinking about it, there’s still the story about that Burmese girl going round in my head. And on further research, I found that she’d appeared in my nocturnal rambles on a previous occasion, and once again it had been a whole series of recurring dreams on one particular night.

While we’re on the subject of dreams … “well, one of us is” – ed … there was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. There was something going on at one point but as usual I’ve forgotten most of it. But there was something that made me sit up when I accosted someone and said “this is something that YOU voted for so you can own up and accept the ownership of this sh*tshow. It wasn’t about Brexit either but to do with something personal involving me but, as I said, I can’t remember what it was.

We were talking about Cortinas again last night, all of the Cortinas and bits and pieces in my garages, thinking that it might be the time to start to liquidate everything. People were saying that they didn’t really want anything that’s been lying around rusting in a garage for years. Someone else replied “it’s been lying around abroad and brought back to the UK so that’ll make a big difference”. We went into one of the garages that was heaving with stuff. My mother found a few bags of children’s clothing. She said “here, you can take these to the tip”. She gave me 2 bags, and then gave me a third. I said “I can’t go to the tip if you’re going to give me all of this”. I thought “I suppose I could go in the van”. She said “yes and I’ve seen some more too” and there was another pile by the front door still on hangers so she picked up all of these clothes still on hangers and handed them to me too to take to the tip.

And while we’re on that subject too … “well, on eof us is” – ed … whoever gets the short straw and has to clear out the stuff left down on the farm will have their hands full. But judging by the prices that things are fetching these days, it’ll be worth their while.

In between everything else I’ve been editing the stuff that I dictated before going to bed. I haven’t got very far because I ended up going out socialising. Someone here in the building was having a little soiree so I went for a couple of hours.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m not usually the socialising type but I actually like the people here and we have a nice and friendly little community. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … this is the first place where I have ever lived that has felt like home.

Consequently it was a rather late tea and having left the pizza base to fester for quite a while it had risen perfectly and it was another candidate for the title of “best pizza ever”.

Anyway, I’m off to bed in a moment ready for tomorrow. I have a radio programme to finish and the nurse will be round in the morning to give me my fortnightly injection.

And that reminds me – it’s the last injection that I have here so I’ll need to see the doctor some time to order some more. And with having to see the nerve specialist on Thursday I’m going to be having a busy week.

It’ll keep me out of mischief, I suppose.

Monday 15th May 2023 – AFTER ALL THAT …

…I said last night about my radio programme, I did actually finish it today, and before tea too.

Mind you, it was a case of “only just”. There wasn’t all that much time left.

As I said yesterday, the trip to and from Leuven is really tiring and trying to do it in three days instead of four (missing out on my day of recovery following my treatment) is just contributing to the problems.

However, knowing that the walk from the hospital back to the station is possible, the shorter walk to and from the old place where I used to stay will become theoretically possible. The major issue though is that it’s far away from places to go to eat, and even farther from the shops if I wanted to buy my own food.

However, there’s bound to be a solution somehow, I reckon.

Anyway, when the alarm went off this morning at 07:00 I was stark out and isn’t that a change? In fact, by the looks of things I must have had a good night. I can’t really remember too much in the way of disturbances.

After the medication I made a start on the radio programme. But I wasn’t really in the mood and there seemed to be plenty of distractions to divert me from the job at hand.

One of them, which will come as a huge surprise to many people, is that I rearranged things in the bathroom.

Having gone overboard at the weekend stocking up on bathroom products that I didn’t really need because I’d stocked up the last time that they’d had a sale, I was running out of place to put them. And so that was a nice little job for a while.

And I do stress the word “little”. The way things are at the moment, I can only work for about 10 minutes and then I have to go to sit down for an hour to catch my breath.

No physiotherapist today. he sent me a message to say that he’ll be coming on Tuesday and Friday this week. That’s despite me saying to him that I’d like him to come on the same days and at the same time all the time. I can’t do with this continual disruption. Of course, I didn’t get the message until I’d had a shower and a good clean-up, but I don’t suppose that prettying myself up is a bad idea.

Another thing that I’ll have to do tomorrow, straight after my Welsh lesson, is to bake some more biscuits. I used the last ones today. I have plenty of fresh ginger and plenty of honey, so I might go for some kind of honey and oatmeal biscuits. But I don’t think that anything will be as good as those chocolate biscuits that I made a while back. They were special.

So with the radio programme finished, I had a listen to the dictaphone. But that was rather disappointing. There was something to do with a calendar and some cats last night but that’s really all that I remember. I can’t remember a thing apart from that.

And then I was on my travels again later on and that evaporated too as soon as I took hold of the dictaphone. I’m really not doing very well at the moment remembering all of these and I’m really puzzled as to whether any of my favourite companions have been coming to see me and slipping away without me remembering. Wouldn’t that be a tragedy?.

Finally, I’d heard a noise outside my apartment so I went out to see. There was a small kitten in the gutter, a tortoiseshell kitten that was crying. It looked as if it had been abandoned and was starving. I went over to look at at and while I was looking at it, another one appeared. A group of people assembled. They said that they hadn’t noticed these kittens around before. I went to go back into my apartment but noticed that I’d left the front door open. I walked in and could see kitten footmarks in the hall. I followed them into the living room. These 2 kittens had come inside and had started to make themselves comfortable. I couldn’t grab hold of them and put them outside so I had to sit down and ponder my next move. One of them came to sit on me and began to purr. I thought to myself “it looks as if I’ve acquired a couple of cats, doesn’t it?”.

One of the plans that I have for my new apartment is to think about whether I can have a cat. If I’m not going on any more mega-voyages to North America and not going so often to Leuven, it’s something that wouldn’t be impossible.

But the amount of time that my subconscious has been dwelling on the question of cats, maybe there will be one or two here sooner rather than later. Some people whom I know in the USA have a Serval, an African savannah cat, and that would be something really interesting to have around the area. Have you seen the size of them? It would scare the tourists and holidaymakers to death.

Tea was a stuffed pepper, the pepper coming from out of the freezer again. But in the air fryer at a lower temperature but for a longer iime, the stuffing wasn’t cooked sufficiently. I’m going to have to spend more time working on this to do it properly. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But that’s enough for tonight. I’m off to bed, later rather than earlier, and I’ll probably dream about cats again, I dunno. It would be nice to have some kind of company round here seeing as I don’t go out very often these days, and cats certainly aren’t demanding.

Sunday 14th May 2023 – AFTER ALL OF …

… the excitement over the last day or two, I was expecting to have a really decent sleep last night and probably not raise my ugly head from the pillow until midday or something like that.

And so you are probably just as surprised as I am that I was actually up and about at 09:30 this morning.

Considering that I didn’t go to bed until after midnight either, it’s something of a surprise.

In actual fact, I was awake quite a good deal earlier than that and if I’d have applied myself I could have heaved myself out of bed quite a while earlier than 09:30. But it IS Sunday after all.

Anyway, once I was up and about I didn’t do very much at all today. I’ve paired off the music for the radio programme I’ll be preparing and I’ve made a start – a slow start – on writing the notes. I’ll finish it off tomorrow but I shan’t be breaking any records. I’m still not wound up sufficiently after my gruelling few days on the move.

And that’s another thing. Rosemary has asked me if I’d like to go down to the Auvergne for a while to recover but 500 kilometres down to Menat and then 500 kilometres back in Caliburn is totally out of my reach, the way things are right now.

There was something on the dictaphone from last night. I’d been to collect Caliburn from the garage after he’d had his starter fixed. There was a young girl there. I knew her from the Auvergne. They were discussing the signing of the certificate for her controle technique. Because her vehicle was registered in the Auvergne it had to be someone from there who signed it. She was wondering whether if the guy here signed it, if it would be valid. He replied “no-one checks up on things like that”. I asked “has it passed now?”. She looked at me and suddenly realised that she’d been with me at the garage in the Auvergne when there had been some kind of issue with her car when Caliburn had passed his controle technique. We began to chat. She was very curious about the electric cable coming down my arm. She asked what it was for. I showed her a clip on my belt and said “that’s where my mobile phone normally goes. It plugs into this wire here at this end and at the other end where you see the cable I can put a solar panel on my back and plug the phone into the solar panel while I’m walking around. When you’re on an expedition that’s how you keep your phone charged”. She thought that that was a wonderful idea.

When I’d finished that I made some hot chocolate and came back in here where I regrettably … errr … relaxed for a while.

After I’d had lunch I’d taken out some pizza dough from the freezer and it had been defrosting during the afternoon. Later on, I kneaded it and rolled it out to put on the pan

However, it didn’t seem to want to spread out correctly and began to shrink. In the end I had to roll it all back up, knead it again and roll it out a second time.

When it was cooked the dough had risen to perfection and it really was a pizza as good as the one that I’d made the other day. Cutting these cherry tomatoes in half and putting them on top of the vegan cheese instead of slicing normal tomatoes and putting them on the bottom underneath the rest of the toppings is really the way to go.

So now, having emulated my namesake the mathematician and done three fifth of five eights of … errr … nothing all day, I’m going to bed. I’ll tackle the radio programme tomorrow but don’t expect it to be done quickly. I’m just not in the mood.

But it’s really nice to be back home. In the words of Steve Marriott, I’M SICK AND TIRED OF HOTELS, HARD BEDS

Monday 8th May 2023 – AND THE ANSWER …

… to yesterday’s question was indeed “not very much”.

It’s actually a Bank Holiday here today when the country celebrates VE Day and strictly speaking I ought to be having a lie-in as I try to do on as many Bank Holidays as I can, but with the threatened arrival of the nurse to give me my fortnightly injection, that’s out of the question.

What usually happens is that when I try to lie in on a day that he is due to come to visit, he usually has a blood test to carry out in the building so he’s here before breakfast. Consequently, we had an alarm set today for 07:00 as usual.

Mind you, I needn’t have bothered because when the alarm did go off, I was sitting on the edge of the bed dressing. we’ve had another one of those nights – and mornings.

It was about 08:50 when he came round to give me my injection. And here’s a thing that’s totally unexpected – the database paperwork that he has to keep to record the injections that he gives me is now full.
“What happens now?” I asked.
“I don’t know” he replied. “It’s never reached this stage before”

So clearly I’m continuing to defy all expectations. No-one with this illness has lived longer than 11 years and I was diagnosed in 2015, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall (and I expect that I had it a good while before then) but while it’s true to say that I know all about ill-health, I’m still fighting on. Not exactly fighting fit, just fighting for breath and fit to drop.

With it being a Bank Holiday I’ve had a very relaxing day doing too much of nothing at all. I did finish the radio programme today, as I said that I would, and listened to the one that is to be broadcast this coming weekend but that’s about it.

There’s just one more now that is half-done and I’ll do that this coming weekend. And then I’ll have to start off again. I’m months ahead, which is good news, but there’s always this feeling that some of it will have to be done again as some of these artists can’t go on for ever. I remember back a few years ago in the old “Radio Anglais” days when I spent quite some time waxing lyrical about Chris Squire, only for him to begin to manger les pissenlits par les racines the morning the programme was due to be broadcast.

There was also the stuff on the dictaphone that needed transcribing too. We’re back on the Sherlock Holmes murders again. A couple of people had been struck down in a park by someone dressed entirely in black. There was some woman who dressed herself in black ready to go out just as 2 people were starting to walk on a common in Balham. These 2 people were talking about their past, the girl saying “wasn’t it to this common that you brought such-and-such a girl with whom you used to go out, but she was rather strange?”. The name that they used was the name of this girl. There were police loitering in attendance. They arrested someone dressed all in black in the vicinity of this couple and dragged him away. It turned out that he was actually a mime artist dressed in black ready to perform his act to collect money. As the camera panned to see him dragged away it panned through a figure in black sitting in a café on the common overlooking the events that were taking place

Later on I was going on a coach trip with work for some kind of sports event. One of my colleagues asked me if I went on the previous one two weeks ago to Carlisle. I said no because I had something else to do that evening. While we were waiting for the coach back on this draughty bus station it just didn’t appear. We sat there waiting. There were several tomatoes rolling around, coming and going. One of them came back so I asked it if it had come to pick us up. Someone said “I’ve already asked him and it’s not him” so we sat there and waited. Suddenly I realised that I didn’t have my watch or my key to the office. I’d left them at home. I was wondering what I was going to do. I thought that I’d better take a gamble and go to fetch them. I ran, which was the first time in ages, all the way home to our house in Vine Tree Avenue. All the lights were on. I could hear people moving around. The front door was unlatched so I walked in and ran lightly up the stairs. The taps were all dripping in the bathroom but no-one was in there. My brother was asleep in bed with the light on so I walked quietly in, picked up the key card and my watch that was on the bed, came out and came downstairs again. I could hear my parents in the front room talking about me but I didn’t have the time to stay and listen. I managed to open the door again without making too much noise and set off to run back to the bus station.

It’s a total mystery to me why it is that my family keeps on intruding into my nocturnal voyages. During my waking hours I don’t even waste a minute thinking about them so what’s going on in my subconscious? I don’t mind Nerina putting in an appearance every now and again – after all I invited her into my life for better or for worse, but one of the reasons of leaving the UK was to escape the negativity of everything that was weighing me down and I thought that I’d left them all behind.

But it was interesting to read the bit about “running”, given how I’ve not been out running for a couple of years and I couldn’t do so these days anyway. When we started this programme at University we had all kinds of people recording their dreams, one of whom was a girl who was born without legs. She would tell us that although she’s never walked a single step in the whole of her life (for obvious reasons) she still dreamt about herself going for a walk. So clearly, dreaming isn’t completely tied up with your own personal experiences.

Finally I’d had some issues at work about sick leave, that kind of thing. In the end what I used to do was that at night I’d take a van from work without authority and do furniture removals etc. On one occasion I came back with my Luton Transit. We dropped it off at Zero’s father and began to strip it for spares so we could sell the bits and move on. It wasn’t until we had it pretty much dismantled that it suddenly occurred to me that in the back of it was an old Volkswagen estate, another estate car, a motorbike and lots of other bits and pieces. I’d been using it as a shed I went round to see his wife and said “you’ll never guess what I’ve just remembered” but she told me. She asked me what the plan was. One thing going through my mind was to hire a vehicle, put the Luton Transit on the back and drive al lthe way to France, unload it, drive back and carry on. I said that it would probably take us about a week. If you like, you, your husband and Zero could come along as well. She looked dubious at that point and asked “could it be done in a weekend?”. I replied “we could get there and back in a weekend but unloading it is something else”. She said “the difficulty is with Zero. She could go to her grandfather’s who could take a day off work to look after her but I don’t think that we could do anything else. Are you sure that it couldn’t be done in a weeked?”. I had to describe the journey to her etc. She said “the next question of course is whether we have any money”. I repled “you won’t need any money. Everything will be on me of course”. We had this huge discussion.

Interestingly, I do have a Luton Transit, as regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous versions will recall. I bought it for scrap because I wanted the box off the back to use as a garden shed and it’s still down on the farm 20-odd years later. And there is a Volkswagen estate in the back of it too, albeit in pieces. A diesel estate that was crashed in Spain and which I recovered to use for spares for mine.

And even more interestingly, while I was waiting to take it down to the farm, I did use it around Brussels doing furniture removals at night and weekends. No tax, no MoT, no nothing in fact. But back then in those days no-one really cared. I remember reading the story of Sir Daniel Gooch, Chairman of the Great Western Railway, reminiscing about the experiences of the way that the GWR operated in its early days, and commenting “what would be said of such a mode of proceeding today?”.

And, interestingly, once more as Tom Petty would have it, “HOW COULD I GET SO CLOSE TO” ZERO “AND STILL BE SO FAR AWAY?”. I’m not sure how many times this is just recently that she’s just been tantalisingly dangled out of reach during one of my nocturnal rambles. It seems that I can summon up members of my family at the drop of a hat but Zero, TOTGA and Castor are totally eluding me. And the Vanilla Queen dropped off the radar a long time ago.

Looking back on things, each time that I’ve been up in the High Arctic, and each time I’ve been trying to edit that Colosseum live concert late at night on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR I’ve had a strange encounter with a mysterious young lady of the opposite sex. First there was The Vanilla Queen, and the next time there was Castor. Jamais deux sans trois as they say around here, but the way my health is going, there won’t be another trip out there. 700 miles from the North Pole we were in 2018 and it looks like that will be that. No Rensselaer Harbour, no Thank God Harbour (where my namesake is buried after they poisoned him 150 years ago) and no Fort Conger.

All of this reminiscing probably means that I have too much time on my hands. But nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

So having crashed out here and there, I went for tea. Steamed veg with falafel balls and a vegan cheese sauce. It’s amazing just how different things have become since mainstream French supermarkets are now selling vegan cheese. It’s expensive of course, but it saves me having to bring back a rucksack full every time that I return from Leuven.

Tomorrow is a Welsh lesson of course, so I’m off to bed early. I don’t want to go crashing out in the middle of my lesson. And then I’ll have to pack my stuff ready for Leuven. Three hospital appointments I have on Thursday so I’m going to be busy.

Sunnday 7th May 2023 – TONIGHT’S PIZZA …

… was by far and away the best that I’ve ever made. For once in my life I had the base at exactly the right thickness and the the cooking time absolutely spot-on. And that produced a masterpiece. I shall really have to remember these settings and try again next weekend.

Another thing that I’ll have to try to remember for next weekend is to have a sleep like the one that I had today. With staying up late to dictate the notes for the radio programme and one or two other things that turned up in between (as they usually do) It was 02:15 when I finally crawled into bed

And that was where I stayed until, would you believe, midday.

There was plenty of tossing and turning during all of this though, and I don’t suppose that I was really settled. Checking the times of recordings on the dictaphone, there wasn’t really a very long period of constant unconsciousness.

While we’re on the subject of the dictaphone … “well, one of us is” – ed … there were tons of stuff on there from the night. I’d really had a busy time. I started off being in the middle of a dream, something to do about a house or something like that, when I awoke and at that point it disappeared completely. I was recovering so instead of being in my normal room I was in a room upstairs at the front. There was much more to it than this but I can’t remember.

Tubes, all kinds of feathers and dice and everything that happened to go with plastic tubing, so when am I going to play rugby? Anyway, I had to clean up my fridge and I hadn’t cleaned up for 50 years. I found some instructions on the internet and began to sit down to read them as I went, to see who would take the final place and private profits. And if you have any idea what that might be all about, I hope you tell me because I don’t have a clue. It’s just another load of gibberish that appeared on the dictaphone from during the night.

Some woman was very inquisitive last night. She wanted to know why we were going to the YWCA. Eventually, when we stopped laughing, we had to explain that we worked for the company that dealt with the HR of the employees of the YWCA in Paris. We were going there on official business like that. She wanted to know what we were doing at the moment and other questions that I forget. We basically told her to mind her own business.

I was with Zero’s father (but, regrettably, not Zero) last night. He’d just bought a new electric drill combo set and was trying it out at home with someone. I just happened to be there and they weren’t talking to me. They were busy trying to make this drill work. After about an hour they decided that there must be some kind of fault with it. He and I took it back to the shop and picked up another. We noticed that by now they were in a clearance sale and just disposing of the remaining stock. Back at his house he unpacked it and tried again. He was there for the rest of the day trying to drill a piece of wood correctly. All the time there were these problems. In the end he decided that the second drill was faulty too. I’d have to take him back to the shop to swap it yet again. That was really the only time that they acknowledged my existence, when it came down to me taking them to the shop. I was rather disappointed with this because they weren’t even engaging me in conversation. While this was going on they were just intent on getting this drill up and working. I may as well not be there except that I was the one with the car running them around.

I also went out on a blind date last night. It turned out to be with Caroline. We ended up back at her house in bed. This was really the last place where I wanted to be. I was thinking about how I would get out of this. While she was distracted with my arm around her back I pressed my watch rhythmically. It buzzed and I pretended that it was a phone call. I had to come out with an excuse that with being a chauffeur I had to go out to pick up my director and bring him home. I’m not sure whether she swallowed it but that was what I did. I felt rather guilty about it but I thought that the last thing that I want to do is to end up in bed with her, or with anyone for that matter.

Finally, some small boy had been killed. An investigation pointed towards the father so he’d been arrested. It was one of his golf clubs that had beaten the boy to death. Ultimately the father was detained in some kind of mental institution because he was a psychiatric case. He was there for years. There were all kinds of people who were doing all kinds of studies on him with regard to the effects of incarceration. I ended up going to see him with someone else. All he had of course was his cell and a red plastic set of golf clubs with a plastic golf ball. he was playing golf around his cell all day. We interviewed him but we had to be very careful what we said because we weren’t sure even after all this time that he knew that his son was dead and whether he grasped the seriousness of what had happened. In the end we came to leave. I remember saying to him “you’ve no idea how sorry I am for you”. We went outside and found his bright red plastic razor on the floor in the washroom. It seemed to sum up everything about his life, the razor just sitting there on the floor doing absolutely nothing while he was moving on in his cell just sitting there playing golf all day

Actually, not really “finally” because there was more stuff than that but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are in the middle of a meal.

With not raising myself from the dead until quite late, there wasn’t much time before brunch. More porridge, cheese on toast and strong coffee to fire me up for the day. Then I sat down to transcribe the dictaphone notes and I was glad that the coffee was strong.

There were a few other things that needed doing so I didn’t have all that much time to deal with the radio programme. The notes are a bit of a mess because I can’t have been concentrating last night so they are taking more than the usual editing. But the nurse is coming to give me my fortnightly injection in the morning ready for my trip out to Leuven so I’ll finish things off afterwards.

After lunch I’d taken out a lump of dough from the freezer (I’m glad that I made that earlier in the week and didn’t wait until today) and that had spent the afternoon defrosting.

Later on, I kneaded it and rolled it out, then after it had finished proofing I assembled the pizza. And as I said, it was really delicious.

There’s still some time left before bed so I’ll carry on with the radio editing. And tomorrow I have some forms to download and one or two of those need filling in. I mustn’t forget those because it’s important, especially now that the SNCF application has somehow failed to work.

So when I’ve had my injection, we’ll see how energetic I feel. Not very much, I bet.

Friday 5th May 2023 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a slightly better day today. Towards the end of the afternoon I started to feel a little more like it and actually managed to do some work.

Not that I was expecting to of course, because we had another depressing night. I was rather later than intended going to bed, and then although I was asleep quite early on I awoke a couple of times. Once at 06:30 when I couldn’t go back to sleep so by the time that the alarm went off at 07:00 I was up and about already.

Well, sort-of. I wouldn’t have said that I was wide awake.

Something that I’ve done today that I haven’t done for quite some considerable time was to have some breakfast. Over the past year or so I’ve been cutting down considerably on what I’ve been eating as I’m not as mobile as I once was.

Desserts and breakfast were the two things that were struck off my list but this morning I’m not sure why but I went for a bowl of cornflakes.

That actually led to a late lunch of my fruit bun and fru it. It did me good to wait for a while before eating. I’ll get to my target weight yet.

This afternoon I had a listen to the dictaphone. I was with a couple of people last night. We were planning on going somewhere in Wales. I was going t drive and take these 2 other people with me, a man and wife, but the wife insisted that we went via Reading instead of via Chester. I said that that was stupid because it’s hundreds of miles out of our way. She explained that she knew the way via Reading. I said that I knew the way via Chester. I lived in Chester (which I did, between 1972 and 1974) and I travelled through Chester dozens of times. She was absolutely adamant. This led to the most surprising argument etc. She was really in a fury. In the end her husband said “look, let’s go with you. I’ll persuade her and talk to her”. In the end they agreed to go with me but she said “he’s not having anything when he arrives”. I thought that at this stage I couldn’t really be bothered. We set out. When we were in Chester fuelling up at a petrol station I asked “what time did I say that we’d be in Chester?”. Someone replied “09:35” so I asked “what time is it now?”. It was 09:36. I said “it just goes to show, doesn’t it?”. On the way back we came to a road junction on the Calveley Straight. I turned left and found myself going back to Chester. I thought “God, here we go. She’s going to go off”. Everyone else thought it quite funny. We had to find somewhere to do a U-turn. There was a house with a large drive up ahead but I was going too fast. I ended up on the lawn and it was wet and slippery. I said “for God’s sake don’t let the car stop now”. But we did stop and slid up to the edge of the lawn. We all had to exit the car and lift it up over the edge onto the driveway so that we could drive away again. We were then in a garage of some description, all having to tidy it up. It seemed that the more we tidied it the more rubbish we found. In the end we were just brushing stuff into bins and bags etc. I had one guy brush a whole load of nails and tacks into a big plastic bag.

There was something else later about a debate as to whose car we would go in. In the end we agreed to go in mine so we all piled into it. It was when we had to be fully clothed to be outside. I remember thinking how lucky we were to be mainly together. On the way home my partner’s husband had died so she wanted to go that way to see him. I explained how they made the shine on but she wasn’t in the least bit interested. I said “but you’ll be finding out soon about this once you qualify” but no-one paid much attention …. and at this point I fell asleep. I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m actually asleep when I’m dictating but at this point in this dream (which was actually in places a meaningless jumble of indistinct words) there was dead silence followed by me snoring.

Finally, I was in work last night in an office, and this is a recurring dream, isn’t it? For some reason I just wasn’t accomplishing anything – rather like my life at the moment as it happens. I couldn’t concentrate. In the end I gave it up as a bad job. It was coffee break so I went to the coffee room. There was some kind of party there with lots of food. It took me ages to get a coffee by which time most of the food had gone. I picked up something to eat and sat down. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing that I knew, the room was empty, everyone had gone and all of the food had been taken away. I had to redress myself quickly. I couldn’t find my clothes at first, then I couldn’t find how to switch off the TV. For some reason the remote control wasn’t working. In the end I left it and walked to the head of the stairs. I leapt over the handrail and dropped down onto the floor below. Then I couldn’t remember where my office was. I had a pnaic attack at that moment. I walked down the corridor and someone nearly ran me over with a trolley. A guy smiled at me so he obviously knew who I was. I thought he looked familiar but I couldn’t remember who. I eventually found my way back to my office where the people weren’t really concentrating. They were singing at their desks etc. It was all extremely weird. I thought “I’m just not getting anything done at all. I can’t concentrate. I’ll have to sit down, put my head down and work, maybe work all the way through my lunch break to make up for the time that I’ve wasted so far this morning”.

The rest of the day was spent finishing off the notes that I started the other day for a forthcoming radio programme. There wasn’t much to do but finding the motivation was the big issue here. Anyway, that’s all done and dusted and I’ll dictate them late tomorrow night when it’s all quiet.

Tea tonight was a salad with chips and some of those miniature vegan sausage rolls, the latter two cooked in the air fryer. And there’s definitely something wrong with my palette because they didn’t taste as they normally do either.

And then we had the football. The first of two semi-finals that shall eventually decide who’ll accompany TNS, Connahs Quay Nomads and Penybont into Europe. After their mauling at the weekend Y Bala were hoping to gain some consolation and we had quite an exciting match against Y Drenewydd.

The latter were the better team but Bala never stopped running and pushed them all the way. The big difference was that a coupke of shots from Y Drenewydd that hit the woodwork found their way into the back of the Bala net, whereas a couple of shots hitting the Drenewydd woodwork went out for goal kicks.

4-2 to Drenewydd was the final score and although they deserve their win, the scoreline was rather flattering. The winners will go on to play the winners of Saturday’s match between Cardiff Metro and Haverfordwest.

But that’s tomorrow. Tonight I have one or two more things to do and then I’m off to bed. Shopping in the morning and I don’t need much as I’m off to Leuven on Wednesday. Here’s hoping that I feel better.

Wednesday 3rd May 2023 – SOME STUPID PSEUDO-JOURNALIST …

… is telling me that the events that took place in Wrexham over the weekend are the most important things to have happened in Welsh football “for decades”.

So a club’s promotion from the fifth to the fourth tier of a foreign football league is more important than the country getting to the semi finals of the European Cup …checks notes … seven years ago, or getting to the World Cup just recently?

To be honest, I’m finding this hysteria and sycophanty to have reached the levels of total absurdity and insanity, and I’m totally astonished to see all these supposedly well-informed people blindly leaping aboard any old passing bandwagon. They have totally lost touch with reality.

Anyway, enough of that. Let’s talk about more exciting things. Like the night that I had last night, for example.

It was another late night and yet another where I took ages to go off to sleep. And I awoke in the middle of events and took ages to go back to sleep again. But I must have done at some point because when the alarm went off, I was stark out and it was something of a battle to leave the bed.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages and so on, I set to work.

And I was at it for ages but it was all well worthwhile because I now have a biscuit tin full off rather overdone coffee, orange and almond biscuits.

Somewhat on the strong side unfortunately (note – put less coffee in next time) and rather overdone (must buy a new oven) but nevertheless, here we are. I tried a few with my afternoon hot chocolate and I’m still alive so I suppose they are OK.

As well as all of that I made a batch of dough for my naan bread and some more dough for the next round of pizzas. The naan dough didn’t rise at all but the pizza dough went up like a lift. I wonder why the difference. It’s the same flour.

And while I was at it I finished off that big bag of flour that I bought a while ago. A good job I bought another one the other week.

While the cleaner was here cleaning up, I carried on with the notes for the next radio programme and they are well over halfway through. I’ll finish them off over the next couple of days and dictate them through the night on Saturday when it’s quiet. With all of the baking done already I’ll have nothing to do on Sunday so I can edit and assemble the radio programme

After she left I had my hot chocolate and biscuits and then had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was a passenger on a double-decker bus last night going from South Wales up to the North going through all these little by-ways, country lanes and alongside canal towpaths, disrupting football matches etc. I ended up driving it at some point. It took 1 hour 20 minutes. There was a big campaign for 3 buses to go across Wales to link up bits of the country. They would all meet and interchange in the centre. Somewhere along the route I stopped and went to a chip shop. The people with me had written down an order, I think that it was for 2 chicken and chips or something and I was going to buy something else with chips. When I was finally served the guy told me “there’s something over there already cooked”. I said “I’ll tell you what I want and you can see what you can do”. But he took the paper from me which was an old order that had been printed out with the new order written in biro on the blank side. I thought to myself “this is going to end up in a right mess and confusion now he’s doing this”.

And later there was a game of football going on between 2 villages. I went along as a spectator. I was chatting to a couple of the guys on one team. They went 1-0 down almost straight away from the kick-off so I decided that I’d give them some coaching from the touchline. There was 1 lad who was really quick. I had him do a beautiful diagonal pass and run on for the return. He got in right behind the defence and hit the post. On another occasion he missed an open goal in pretty much the same fashion. 30 seconds later he scored one and 30 seconds later scored a second, all the time with me standing on the touchline telling him what to do. It looked quite straightforward and simple for me. Then I thought to myself “now we’re 2 minutes into the game, he’s hit the post, missed a sitter and scored twice. I’d better go to sit down and shut up before I’m accused of ruining the game.

It reminds me of a game that I saw years ago when Pionsat’s 3rd XI was playing somewhere. They had a young lad playing centre-forward who was completely out of his depth but trying very hard. When Pionsat won a penalty and the centre-back went to take it I shouted at the lad to follow it in. Sure enough he did, and sure enough, the keeper spilled it and he had a simple tap-in. No-one was more pleased than he was.

Tea tonight was a leftover curry, and the naan bread wasn’t as good as the previous batch. That first batch must have been “beginner’s luck” but I’ll persevere. I’m sure that I’m on the right track somewhere and it’s just a case of fine-tuning everything until I arrive at where I want to be. We won’t be discouraged.

So I’m off to bed. Tomorrow I have my appointment with the house agent about doing something about my new apartment and to see where I stand. In the meantime I’ll read up about Peter Rachman and see if I can find out a few tips. He was, of course, a stateless person and with me having no right to vote in any country in the World right now, we have more than just a few things in common.

Tuesday 2nd May 2023 – TODAY WAS A …

… day that I really want to forget.

Not that there was all that much to forget because it was what I would call a very short day today.

Last night however was a lot longer. Bright sunlight streaming in through the windows, birds chirping around outside and kids on their way to school and I hadn’t gone to bed yet. 07:10 and I was still up and about.

That’ll teach me to have an unscheduled lie-in on a Monday morning.

It was some time later than that that I finally went off to bed, with the alarm set for 13:00 just in case I happened to fall asleep deeper than I was expecting.

However that was a waste of time because although I did end up going to sleep at some point it was only for a couple of hours. I was back awake again at 10:00 and at 12:00 I’d given up any thought whatever of going off to sleep. And that was that.

After what might have been a breakfast or was probably more like a lunch, I had a listen to the dictaphone. There was something going on while I was asleep certainly but when I awoke it completely evaporated and I couldn’t remember anything at all about it. I certainly knew that I’d been away somewhere.

Next step was to listen to the radio programme that I was to send off for broadcasting this coming weekend.

It was one that I’d prepared last September before going off on my voyage to eternity, one of the batch when something must have happened to the tone controls because there was just far too much bass on it and it sounded really muffled.

Having spent a while trying to edit it, I gave up and redid it. It sounds much better now.

There was an interruption when the physiotherapist called. He had a look at my right leg, checked on my exercises and then that was that. he wasn’t here long. But I wasn’t happy when he went into my bedroom to grab a pillow. I don’t like people wandering around in my apartment like that.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with rice and veg, all very nice and tasty. There’s not a lot left over for a curry tomorrow night so I might have to lengthen it out with a potato or something.

And while we’re on the subject of tomorrow … “well, one of us is” – ed … I’m having to have a bake-in. I’ve run out of my delicious chocolate biscuits, run out of naan bread, and I also used the last of the pizza bases on Sunday too.

Nice as my chocolate biscuits were, I’ll have to think of a new type of biscuit to make. I should have bought some fresh ginger at the weekend but there’s always some sort of stuff lying around that I can use as flavouring in a regular 4/8/10 mixture.

But the naan bread will be interesting. I shall have fun with another batch of those.

Thursday 27th April 2023 – WE ARE HAVING …

… a disaster.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that Alison and I have a favourite restaurant in Leuven where we usually end up in the middle of our walk around the town. She passed by there earlier this evening for a portion of the beautiful sweet potatoes, only to find that it’s closed down definitively.

We started to go there because another vegan restaurant that we used, “The Loving Hut”, closed down a few years ago. We’ll now have to look for somewhere else, always assuming that there IS somewhere else to go.

We shall have to make further enquiries.

Further enquiries too about my sleeping issues because it was yet another depressing night when I took an absolute age to go off to sleep.

And once more, I awoke in the middle of the night and spend a miserable couple of hours trying to go back to sleep. However at one point I must have dozed off because I sat bolt upright wide-awake (well, sort-of) at 06:59, a minute before the alarm went off, so I fell out of bed just for the sake of saying that I beat the alarm once again.

When I was checking my mails and messages I found out what had awoken me. It was the nurse sending me a message to say that he’d miscalculated and it’s tomorrow when he needs to come to take my blood sample.

Once I’d organised myself this morning and awoken properly I bashed out another radio programme from the stuff that I had lying around. I’m getting nicely ahead of myself now, but it will all go pear-shaped of course because someone whose virtues I’ll be extolling will drop dead just before the programme will be broadcast.

And that reminds me. Some of the more legendary figures of the rock world are reaching the kind of age when fate will overtake them. I suppose that when I have time I really ought to prepare a couple of programmes that relate to people like Bob Dylan and keep them on the back-burner “just in case”.

It was while I was on my way to la Haye-Pesnel in Caliburn yesterday that I thought of a really good idea for a programme in this respect. What provoked the was when Spirit came onto Caliburn’s playlist and played “All Along The Watchtower”.

This afternoon I had a ‘phone call. Would I like a lift to town?

It was raining outside quite heavily and although I did have things to do, I didn’t fancy walking down there in this so I grabbed a lift. A couple of my neighbours were going off to the shops.

They threw me out in the town centre and I went to the letting agency. That’s a good place to start, I reckon, with my quest to gain vacant possession of my new apartment. However, there was only a receptionist there. The agent was out on a mission.

She took my details and said that the agent will call me back. And, as you might imagine, I’m still waiting. I’m also still waiting for the return phone call from my visit to the property management company yesterday. I have a rather uneasy feeling that I’m going to end up with a bunch of je m’en foutists.

That’s a beautiful French expression. Je m’en fous is rather a vulgar French way of saying “I couldn’t care less” (I’m sure that you can think of an English equivalent, but this is a family website) and so a je m’en foutist is an employee who is only interested in collecting his salary and doing as little as possible to actually earn it.

It was 15:05 when I went in, and by 15:10 I was back out again. The rain had quietened down considerably so I decided to walk back. It didn’t take me long and I didn’t have to stop for breath too often. But one thing that I noticed was that trying to squeeze into the back of the neighbour’s car, my right leg wasn’t comfortable whatsoever – not one little bit.

Back here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was in the middle of having a dream but I awoke (that was the time in the middle of the night). The dream evaporated completely and everything went except for a vision that I had about coffee in Malta or Cyprus that cost £3:00 per ounce. That’s all that I can remember about it.

Again this next one is another one of which I can only remember bits. I was at a talent contest last night. There was a couple of girls singing in Inuit. One was an older girl and the other was a younger girl. What happened now I forget, but later on someone else at this concert contacted me. They had a house to let in Greenland. They were quite fed up of the type of tenant they were having. They tended to be the younger, trendy type of person and they wanted someone more traditional. It turned out that they were writing the adverts in the newspaper in Inuktitut, the more modern style of Inuit language for people looking for lets. I suggested that she write the adverts in Sisu, the more traditional type of language, and that way it would be the more traditional type of person who would understand the advert and would make more of an effort to reply to rent it. She thought that that was a good idea. She turned over in bed and squashed me. She said “I’m hitting you, am I? It’s most uncomfortable lying here in bed with all these people” but this was the way of life up there and we just had to accept it. I walked out to Caliburn. He was up on a jack for some reason. I noticed that one of his rear tyres had a bald patch. That was strange. It had only done 8000 kms, these tyres. Most of the tyres were in really good condition but just this one bald patch. It started to worry me for it meant that there was something wrong somewhere with Caliburn’s suspension or brakes. I needed to try to sort it out but there was this expensive tyre that had just gone to waste.

After that I made some hot chocolate and had a few of my delicious chocolate biscuits – and then I rather regrettably fell asleep for a while.

As for tea tonight, I couldn’t think of what to have. In the end I settled for steamed vegetables with falafel in a vegan cheese sauce.

That was really delicious yet again, but I have to say that this other type of vegan cheese is nothing like as tasty as the vegan Cheshire Cheese. Even though the Cheshire Cheese is much more expensive, I think that I’ll be sticking with that in future.

Tomorrow the nurse is coming to take my blood sample, and then I don’t have anything planned for several days, except the football over the weekend of course. I’ll have to start to plan for my trip to Leuven though because that’s important. It seems that all kinds of things are unravelling right now.

And who knows? I might even have someone return one of my phone calls about the visits that I’ve made. If that happens, there won’t be any notes tomorrow night. I’ll have passed out from the shock.

Tuesday 25th April 2023 – MY CHOCOLATE BISCUITS …

… are absolutely delicious. I’m well impressed with how they have turned out.

It’s a simple biscuit recipe of sugar, butter and flour in a ratio of 4:8:10. And then I ground up some almonds in a whizzer, added some vanilla and some of that concentrated orange essence and off we went.

And when it was all mixed together I added in a few tablespoons of cocoa powder and mixed it in. And then I rolled it out and cut it into small squares.

When they were baked, there was one that was distorted so I tasted it and I really do think that I’ve hit the jackpot with that. I’m tempted, when I have time, to make some chocolate-flavoured buttercream and make some bourbon-like sandwich biscuits. They should be extraordinary.

But that’s for maybe tomorrow. I’m more interested at the moment about what happened today.

As usual it started off pretty badly. Once again I took ages to go off to sleep. And I was wide awake again at 03:30. However I did manage to go back to sleep at one point because the alarm awoke me at 07:00.

It was a struggle to leave the bed but I managed to beat the second alarm, and after the medication, mails and messages I prepared for my Welsh lesson.

Once again there weren’t all that many of us there but nevertheless it passed off quite well and I was surprised about how much of the comprehension exercise I managed to complete. I actually had all of the questions correct but there was one where I’d guessed the answer from what I heard.

After my lunchtime fruit I had a baking session.

There wasn’t just the biscuits but also a pile of fruit buns. I’d run out of fruit bread this morning so I need to stock up. And they came out quite nicely too. I’ll definitely make some more of those. Some have gone into the bread tin and the rest have gone into the freezer where they can be pulled out as and when required.

While I was waiting for everything to bake or cook or to rise up I tidied out the food shelves in the kitchen to make sure that I knew what I had. Some stuff found its way into the bin. It was stuff that I’d bought from NOZ and I was surprised that the sell-by date was in 2020. It wouldn’t have been so bad had they been in tins but they were in fact in glass bottles.

A pile of stuff found its way into the bins outside too. The bag with the glass and plastic was overflowing so a little walk around outside would do me good.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night. Not very much though. I’d joined the Army last night. I was obviously not cut out for the basic training. We’d all started, checked in and found out where we were sleeping. Next morning we had all the stupid army routine then we all had to assemble to go off on a bus somewhere. The sergeant in charge was reminding us to do this and do that but of course we hadn’t done it because we didn’t know and no-one had said. He said “turn your room keys in now because you should have all your possessions with you”. Most of the platoon had left their coats in their room so he was haranguing everyone. We all had to go back. I said “I’m sorry sarge” but at least I had a smile from him which I suppose was something or other.

With the time that was left I was editing down the final batch of notes that I have recorded for one of the radio programmes. It’s not finished yet of course because I wasn’t as focused as I might have been. Things are going to start to become complicated from now on because I’m now reaching the stage where I’ll be changing the format and content of my programmes.

Tea tonight was a delicious taco roll, and there’s enough stuffing left over to go into a nice curry tomorrow, with naan bread and yoghurt.

And while we’re on the subject of tomorrow … “well, one of us is” – ed … I’m off to sign for my new apartment tomorrow morning. It’ll be a while before I move in because I have to give the tenant three months notice to leave and then I want to have the bathroom and the kitchen done.

So whatever, I’m going to have my work cut out once it all goes through.

Monday 24th April 2023 – THAT WAS DIFFICULT!

With nothing much better to do today, I decided that I’d do this radio programme about the 14th July.

It wasn’t easy because I had all of the music, including the very, very last track already in my mind so I had to make sure that the speech fitted all of the gaps in between the music. I know that with the way that I speak, 300 characters of text is the equivalent of 17 seconds of speech so I can make sure that I’m always somewhere in the right kind of area, but that doesn’t take into account the fact that song lengths are often not as published and there’s quite often a silence at the beginning or end. And so it can quite often be rather hit-and-miss, especially if my maths aren’t up to much.

So no-one was more surprised than me to find myself almost a minute short of where I needed to be.

Luckily, when I’d been preparing the programme I’d made a reserve selection of appropriate songs of various lengths and so with a little judicious editing I managed to fit in Lindisfarne’s “Bring Down The Government” with some explanatory text.

It still wasn’t right though and I ended up having to re-dictate a couple of speeches and then do yet more editing. What with one thing and another (and once you get started you’d be surprised at how many other things there are) it was 21:00 when I finally finished.

It was some real good fortune that I actually felt like doing it too because I had another wretched night. I was in bed reasonably early but once again it took me an age to go off to sleep. I awoke again at 04:15 and couldn’t go back to sleep. I watched the dawn slowly rise but I must have gone back to sleep at some point because when the alarm went off at 07:00 it was a real shock to the system.

With the nurse coming today to give me my injection I had to have a shower otherwise he wouldn’t have come in through the door. So of course he has to come quite early today while I’m still soaking myself. That was rather embarrassing.

And he has to come back on Thursday to take a blood sample, so later on this week I’ll be doing another dartboard impression. At this rate I’ll be more comfortable sleeping on a bed of nails but I bet that someone would tell me to fakir off.

Next task that interrupted me was the dictaphone, to see where I’d been last night. Nothing like what I’d been up to on previous nights but then again it wasn’t as if I’d had much sleep. I was out with Steve Winwood last night for some strange reason. There was talk of forming a group but nothing ever came of it. We went to an Indian restaurant somewhere, one that I’d been told was good. As I didn’t know how to go to it, it was in a completely different town, we had to go all around the houses. We arrived and they began to serve us. It was a very strict place. Everything was very formal. We ordered our starters and he went to go to the bathroom. Someone on another table obviously recognised him and asked him what numbers he was going to perform with his new band. He mentioned a few songs and then walked off. I could hear him talking to someone in the distance but I couldn’t see him, going on about the restaurant and how he didn’t expect such a posh, formal place etc. One of the things that I asked him was that I read somewhere that the very first chord he ever played on a guitar was Dflat. I asked him why. He said that it sounded good. I asked if it was the opening chord maybe to a song. he made a very non-commital reply to that which I thought was bizarre.

Later on a group of us was walking up a mountain pass. At the side of the road there were 4 or 5 cars that were parked. Then there was a very sharp bend. Round this bend coming towards us was a cattle wagon, a big heavy thing that was fully-loaded. he took the bend really wide because of his length and almost knocked the wall down into the valley then drove straight into the back of one of these vehicles. he didn’t stop. He kept on trying to push this vehicle forward into all the others to push them to give him more room to turn. Someone shouted “camera” so I took out my camera and began to take a couple of photos. It was only then that he stopped and got out to inspect the damage. By now he’s transformed into a yellow school bus. 3 people came with a huge bag and had to clamber onto the roof at the back of the coach in order to put the bag on the roof rack. Another girl appeared. She went round to the front and said to the driver something like “I was on this bus yesterday and I think that I might have left something on board”. This was probably the most surreal thing that I’d ever witnessed

And then, in between everything else, I dealt with the radio programme.

Tea was a delicious stuffed pepper. And what I did was to turn down the air fryer 20° and to cook it twice as long as I did last week. That cooked it to perfection.

Plenty of stuffing left over for a taco roll tomorrow and for a leftover curry on Wednesday. That’s what i’m looking forward to more than anything because, of course, I have a naan bread awaiting me. I’m really impressed with the naan breads that I made and I’ll make another batch of them.

What I’ll have to do though is to remember that the dough expands considerably so instead of making the batch into three lumps, I’ll have to make it into four or even five.

But never mind – it’s still delicious.

Tomorrow I have my Welsh lesson so I need to be on form, and then on Wednesday I go to sign the purchase agreement for my new apartment.

And then the fun will begin.

Sunday 23rd April 2023 – THAT WAS A …

… horrible day today.

With it being Sunday it’s supposed to be a day of rest during which I can lie in bed for as long as I want.

Certainly much longer than 09:30, but by that time this morning I had given up trying to go back to sleep. I’d awoken about an hour earlier and was just lying there tossing and turning to no good purpose.

So after the medication and checking my mails and messages I didn’t do very much at all for a while. Being up and about is one thing but actually being active is something else completely.

Once I’d finally joined the Land of the Living I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I had a cat, a ginger cat last night. As I was going somewhere I took the cat with me in its carrier. We boarded the ship, I parked the car and took the carrier with me ready to go into the lounge. That meant climbing up a row of steps to the top deck so I threw the carrier up to the top so that I could pull myself up with both hands but the wind caught it and blew it over the side. That was the last that I saw of it, carrier and all. The cat was gone. A couple of minutes later there was a similar situation but this time with the laptop. I was doing almost exactly the same thing and that went over the side too

There were also 2 old women living together. I don’t know why but it was night-time and I was sleeping there. We heard a strange kind of noise so we listened. We couldn’t work out what it was so we ignored it. About half an hour later we heard the noise again. We came to the conclusion that it was one of these old women. We awoke the other one and had her go into her sister’s room to find out what was happening. From there the dream jumped to me at the doctor’s, arguing with him to try to have him come out. He was being extremely unco-operative. In the end we persuaded him to come to this girl’s house. We jumped again and it was in a court. It could have been a coroner’s court. Whoever was presiding asked the doctor the question “if he had reacted 10 minutes earlier would the deceased had still been alive?”. He had to admit “yes, she would have been”.

We were also out on the taxis last night. I was at my little workshop. I had someone with me and we had to leave so I went to get into a MkIII Cortina estate that was there. I put the key in and turned it but there were no lights on the dashboard. I said “God! Don’t tell me that the battery is flat. We’ll be stuck here for ever with everyone being busy”. Just then the ‘phone rang. It was Margaret. She asked “is there no dashboard light on the MkIV a problem?”. Whoever was with me explained to her that if there’s no battery or alternator connected you won’t have a light anyway but there’s no reason why the car won’t start. She tried it and it started so she went off to do her jobs. We hung up the ‘phone, I turned the key and the MkIII estate fired up and we set off.

And then I was with my friends from the Wirral. We were going to look at some houses that were damaged by fire or something and just left. We decided to go to have a look at them. There was another old woman living there who had a rather depressing kitchen and people had offered to help her improve it. She kept on turning them down and wasn’t very nice about it either. We came to these houses. The husband was in his Land Rover. Just then as we were on our way to go around the block to look at the back someone in a taxi that had been dressed up as a Carnival float reversed it out of a side street into the road and he just drove straight into the rear of it. This was his 4th accident in 2 weeks that I knew that he had been involved in but he wasn’t bothered in the slightest. I would have despaired if there had been so many for me. What he needed to have done was to have stopped and he could have avoided it. We managed to see one of the houses that had been fire-damaged. He was going on about how £12,000 to repair it was probably an exaggeration. He thought that it could be done for half. I couldn’t understand why the thought that because it may not have needed £12,000 but it wasn’t going to be far off to put this place right. It was simply not going to be saving thousands.

Later I was working in an office with John Cale, but which John Cale I don’t know. John Cale of Velvet Underground or John Cale the mate of Eric Clapton? We were working for an insurance company. Every now and again when the pressure of work became too much, we’d stop. He’d bring in some coffee and I’d bring in some biscuits and we’d have a little 10-minute coffee break. Anyone passing by at that moment could come in for a coffee and chat. management didn’t like it. They felt that we were wasting time. We explained that a morale-building exercise like this was doing us good. The funny thing about it was that this particular dream I dreamt in Welsh, so seeing as Velvet Underground’s John Cale was born in Garnant, it may well have been him.

I had exactly the same dream about an hour later. This time it was still John Cale but which one again? It was again in Welsh. I remember the ugly call and walked out when my grandfather became ill. I said that we’re invited for coffee and biscuits. They replied some kind of sarcastic comment that I didn’t have the time to mess around while they were paying me

I ended up on a holiday. We were coming back and had to unpack. That was the awkward bit because Caliburn was so full of stuff that in the end I had to reverse him out of the garage into the street and start to unload that way. I was talking to Jimmy Page. The subject of “Stairway To Heaven” came up. We ended up having a jam – me on bass and him on guitar. We had a lead guitar solo right at the very end of “Stairway” that went on for probably 20 minutes. It was the most incredible thing that I’ve ever heard. Strangely enough Jimmy Page said that he didn’t like it all that much but I thought that it was magnificent. When I awoke I wished that I could remember how it went because I really enjoyed playing that. However, it wasn’t “Stairway to Heaven” because when I awoke I was playing another Led Zeppelin song going round in my head but I forgot which one it was straight away.

Some of the rest of the day has been spent completing another radio programme. I’m now well ahead of where I want to be. I try to be about 6 months, or 25 programmes, ahead of where I am at the moment but tomorrow I’ll be sending off programme 176 and today I was completing programme 208.

That’s a good plan because if I end up stuck in hospital again like I did last autumn or if I go off on another long voyage, or if the worst ever comes to the worst then I’ll be covered for quite a while.

It’s all quite surprising really because I didn’t expect to be still going after all this time. I remember the hospital telling me back in 2017 when I talked about leaving Leuven and finding another place to live that I’d be wasting my time and money buying an apartment. That didn’t age well, did it?

The rest of the afternoon was spent flat-out on a chair. There can’t have been too much sleep during the night with all of that travelling around that I did and my early start in the morning so it’s not any surprise. It’s still quite dismal though. I wish that I could have a decent sleep at some point, with a few of my favourite visitors coming to see me.

And that reminds me. The final track that I chose for the radio programme that I prepared today was AIRPORT by my old partner in crime from my days stamping around Manchester in the mid-70s.
“Already it’s too late, you’re through the boarding-gate
And walking on the tarmac.
Already you are free, already you’ve left me
And cannot bear to look back, can you?”

And she didn’t look back either. How long is it now since Castor has put in an appearance during one of my nocturnal voyages?

Tea tonight was another pizza of course, and once again it really was an excellent pizza with putting the tomatoes on last and using that expensive grated vegan Cheshire Cheese.

So now I’m off to bed. With having prepared a couple of radio programmes this last week I don’t need to do any work for the radio tomorrow so I’m leaving the alarm set for 07:00 instead of 06:00 and I’ll have a little extra sleep, if I can.

The nurse is coming tomorrow morning to give me my injection so I’d better have a shower at some point early in the morning before he arrives. And I’ll have to tell him about the blood test that I need to have later in the week so he can come round and do the necessary.

So, see you in the morning.