Tag Archives: bus

Friday 29th December 2023 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what has happened but I awoke this morning in a more positive state of mind than the one in which I’ve been for the last few weeks.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I write down things like this because, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … controlling my mental health as this illness unfolds is just as important as controlling my physical health

Many people, health professionals and the like, think that I ought to have counselling to prepare me for my fate, but I’ve declined. I don’t want to be pumped full of pills and quizzed about my childhood and all of that. My childhood was ghastly and that’s all that need be said about it. All the details are, like Kate Bush, HIDING IN A ROOM IN MY MIND and there they can stay.

And apart from that, what about the poor person who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious? There are places in there where I daren’t even go.

But anyway, I digress. I took my blood pressure before going to bed and then slept the Sleep of the Dead until the alarm went off at 07:00

First thing that I did was to take my blood pressure and, as is normal, it’s higher than what they want to see. But it’s always been high so there’s no difference there. Nevertheless not as high as when SID JAMES MEETS NURSE BARBARA WINDSOR.

After the medication, all 15 tablets of it and which takes much longer than it ought, I came in here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been and, more importantly these days, who came with me. I was back in that bus garage from the other night. A company called Ferodo that worked nearby needed some kind of 12-seater minibus to run people around their factory premises. The local newspaper approached whoever was in charge to find out how it possibly could be done bearing in mind the fact that the firm was stretched to capacity already and they were having to hire in coaches and drivers from other companies in order to complete the services that they had.

And then I was in Nantwich at the gym. A battle broke out and bombs began to fall. The first thing that I thought of was my patient so I ran to the hospital and began to move them to a safe place but the receptionists caught hold of me and told me that there were people much worse than him who needed help so I spent that night under bombardment ferrying injured persons around the hospital. In the morning the crowd quietened down and we were able to slip out for things. I spoke about this medical examination that I’d had to have for my patient. They agreed that it was essential and sent me on my way through these crowds of people to a place that was quiet where I could have the ECG test.

Later on I stepped back into that dream. I’d finally had the agreement to take these patients away from the wards and the next building later on and the Social Services would pay me 2 chestnuts or I’d pay the Social Security 2 chestnuts for every patient whom I moved to safety. So I picked up my equipment and set out for the Centre ready to begin the evacuation

Yes, I can step back into dreams like that at a later date, so why can’t I do it when Castor, Zero or TOTGA feature in them. Last night, there wasn’t a single person whom I recognised (or would have liked to recognise).

After a good wash and scrub up I went outside for the bus. And I do seem to be moving a little easier. It’s not my imagination.

The bus threw me out at St Nicolas and I went off to do my shopping. However I bumped into the guy with whom I’d had a long chat a few weeks ago and we had another discussion. People out here are starting to recognise me.

At the Post Office I posted off a letter to pay a bill and bought a pack of pre-stamped envelopes. They are handy because if there’s anything urgent I can write the letter, put it in one of those and give it to my cleaner to post without any money changing hand.

When the Christmas cake is finished it looks as if we’ll be having bread-and-butter pudding again for breakfast. There was a loaf of bread in the Carrefour reduced to half-price so I added that into my usual shopping list of mushrooms, lettuce and potatoes.

This time though I’ll make two smaller ones and freeze half of it so that it doesn’t go off like it did last time. And I’ll bake it for longer than I did too and see if that improves it any.

There’s a long wait for the bus back home but there’s coffee available in the Carrefour so I had a cup while I waited. And when I saw it go past in the opposite direction towards the terminus at this end of town I went out to wait for it to come back.

Back here, after an easier climb up the stairs than a few weeks ago, I made my coffee and cheese on toast and came back in here where I regrettably crashed out.

The telephone roused me from my slumber. It was the hospital. Apparently they check up on all of the serious cases once per week to see how they are developing, and now I’m on the list for that. I reassured them that, to date at least, everything was as it should be.

The firemen awoke me later too, asking for access to the building. Over here, it’s the firemen who handle the emergency ambulances so I was naturally interested in why they should be here.

My cleaner made her enquiries of “the usual suspects” and all of us were OK apparently so it’s a mystery

This afternoon, when I’ve not been away with the fairies, I finished off writing the notes for the next radio programme, which I’ll dictate on Saturday night.

That is, if I’m awake. The morale might be better right now but physically I’m exhausted and can’t keep my eyes open. Another early night is called for and I hope that this time one of my favourite young ladies comes to join me on a nocturnal ramble.

It doesn’t really matter which one it is. And in fact it could be a few others who have figured in my peripatetic adventures and who have come out of it in a favourable light. I know that it’s not many but as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it’s not the quantity that counts but the quality.
"Set sail before the sun
Feel the warmth that’s just begun
Share each and every dream
They belong to everyone"


Friday 15th December 2023 – YOU HAVE PROBABLY …

… already guessed what has happened today.

At roughly about 11:40 when I was comfortably settled deep down in the Arms of Morpheus, the telephone rang.

"This is the hospital here in Paris. We’re doing our planning for next week. Can you come on Monday instead of Tuesday? You’ll still be staying for several days."
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we started off with Tuesday, and then it was already changed from Tuesday to Monday a few days ago, and then changed back again to Tuesday at a later date.
"I shall have to see what the taxi company has to say about it. I’ve messed them around enough with all of these cancellations and it is rather short notice"

And so I phoned the taxi company to chat to them about the situation. We had an “interesting and illuminating” discussion which eventually led to them agreeing to take me on Monday instead. The appointment isn’t until 13:15 which means leaving at 09:00 instead of 04:30 and hitting the rush-hour head on, so that might have helped to persuade them. And the lie-in will be useful for me too.

Having had the agreement from the taxi company I phoned back to the hospital and confirmed the situation. So that is that.

When the cleaner came round, we had a discussion about the situation, as we do.

With my usual air of optimism I added "well, it’s 16:00. Still plenty of time for a further change of plan"
"Not at this time of the afternoon. Everyone will be ready to go home" she replied.

And I must admit that I really did admire her confidence. Five minutes later the telephone rang.

This time it was the taxi company. "Would you possibly consider doubling up and sharing a taxi with someone else going to Paris on Monday, leaving at 07:00?"

So much for my lie-in then. But considering how they’ve been messed about by all of these changes to the programme, I have to show some bonne volonté I suppose. My cleaner hopes that it will be a belle blonde travelling with me, but my money is on a retired Bulgarian female weightlifter

They probably won’t say anything to the Social Security about the car-sharing and charge for two trips, but in that position I’d probably do the same too.

But anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, I had a good play around on the guitar before going to bed, something that led me down another road to somewhere deep in the past.
"She moved her hips
And swayed in my direction
I thought we could make it yet
And beat the isolation
But in that gentle dark
We tore ourselves apart
Through fire and rain
Through wilderness and pain
Through the losses, through the gains
On love’s roller coaster train
I call your name"

So hauling myself out of the pit wherein lives the Black Dog, I hauled myself off to bed where I had another turbulent night. And although there was quite a lot going on, I didn’t have any special visitors.

When the alarm went off this morning I already had the bedroom light on and was just about to swing my feet out of bed, so effectively I fell short of an early start by a matter of a handful of seconds. Still, a miss is as good as a mile.

After the meds I came back in here to print off a justificatif de domicile – a certificate issued by the Electricity Board as proof of your occupation of your premises, and then transcribed the mountain of dictaphone notes. It seemed to have been “quantity” last night, not “quality”.

I started off busily organising my bread, dividing it into portion-sized helpings for the future when I awoke this morning. The ambulance had already come for me and there was something going on there too about organising a wholesale supply of food and daily helpings for different people but I wasn’t actually involved in what was going on down there. They’d just come to pick me up and at that moment I awoke.

And then I was doing my English homework at home. I had a list of words and had to find their equivalent in the second column of this list and then insert them in the correct place in the test that I was reading. It was about an American guy from the Mid-West who was finishing work and coming home. Some of the language in this text was extremely dubious so I wouldn’t read it out loud because we had a young girl staying with us. Then my father came home from work. He asked what I was doing so I explained. The girl explained a little too. My father then began to say things like “do they have an equivalent in there for ‘stripper’?” – words like that. As a matter of fact they did but I didn’t want to read them out because of the young girl. My father didn’t seem to care at all. We began to make tea. On the table, there were all kinds of stuff on this table that you wouldn’t believe. There I was with these hot dishes and there was nowhere to put them. I went to move some things out to the side but someone grabbed hold of it and began to use it. Someone else asked me if I wanted a slice of apple pie. That had been put on the floor because it was the only place to put it. This was in my opinion a completely unacceptable way that everything was just scattered about everywhere

Continuing on that dream later on, there was some of my mother’s cooking there and that was something of a mess. No matter how much I actually like hummus I decided that when my mother presented a bowl for the evening meal, I’d rather give it a miss.

My mother’s cooking was legendary, but for all the wrong reasons. When I used to go round to a friend’s house in Nantwich after school his German mother always served me up with piles of food. When I was in Munich with him last year, we talked about it and I asked him why.
"Don’t you remember?" he asked. "I stayed for tea once at your house. Only once."

To be honest, it wasn’t until I met Nerina that I began to eat well

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed it was a Monday morning and I was slowly preparing to go to work. Suddenly I looked at the time. It was 08:20. I had to rush around and find everything really as quickly as possible. I hadn’t even had a wash and probably smelt to high heaven but had to do the best that I possibly could. All the time there were the usual interruptions, people in my way, not being able to find anything. There was a discussion going on about why Manchester United hadn’t done as well as everyone had expected over the last couple of seasons so I had my three ha’pence-worth as I was going around. But I was really fighting a hopeless task and was nothing at all like ready when I realised that the bus had gone and that I’d be late for work. In a fit of exasperation etc I stormed into the kitchen, dropped my things onto the floor and said “this is it! I’ve missed the bus again! I’m not going to miss this bus again whatever happens”.

Believe it or not, I actually laughed in the middle of the dream when I dictated that. I’ve heard those promises before.

A short while later I had exactly the same dream again about preparing for work or for school. Exactly the same thought about never being late went through my head again with exactly the same response from my subconscious during the dream. I ended up storming off out of the room, bad-tempered. I spent some time doing some Welsh revision while I was waiting for the alarm to ring

While I was in Munich I’d gone to see something or other on the outskirts. When I was driving back I came to a roundabout where there was some evidence of bomb damage still – burnt-out buildings etc. I stopped and took the camera but I couldn’t find a good spec to photograph it, where I could fit everything in without the sun interrupting me. At one stage I was trying to cross the road when 3 BMC 1100s appeared one after the other and performed some kind of pirouette around me as I tried to reach the other side of the road

Finally I came across some people who had a Bristol Lodekka double-decker bus, a green one, in their barn in the centre of France. The destination blind on it read ROUTE 929 – LEEDS to OPORTO. They told me some of the story of the bus but not everything. We’d recently come to settle down there. Before leaving someone had given me a box of things with fish in it. I made a little pool for these fish but instead it turned out that they were some giant cormorant birds. They looked quite ridiculous sitting on my little pond. They, at least, one of them, could actually talk and I had some very interesting conversations with the cormorant about laying eggs and hatching, etc. But it was the bus in the neighbour’s barn that intrigued me. I’d love to know what it was doing and how it had ended up there when it should have been somewhere in Oporto

When the bus (the local one, not the 929 from Leeds to Porto) came, I clambered aboard, declining a lift from a neighbour because I have to push myself onwards on the bus whenever I can, and we set off for St Nicolas and on the way, the driver forgot to stop at the Ecole d’Hotellerie to let off the High School baking class

At St Nicolas the first stop was at the Post Office where, armed with my justificatif de domicile, I jumped through various complicated hoops in order to open a bank account.

So shortly I’ll have a bank card and actually be able to draw some cash at some point. As I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … there’s not another cash point in the town accessible to me because I can’t climb back onto the bus afterwards.

It took so long that I didn’t have time for my coffee at the Carrefour but at least I have tomatoes and mushrooms and a few other things. I met the guy with whom I’d had a long chat the other day.
"A British guy who likes our bread and our coffee " he said. "That’s a rare sight"
"If I’d only wanted tea at four o’clock" I replied "I’d have stayed over there".

At the bus stop I had a long chat with a local guy also waiting for the bus, and then with a woman on the bus on her way to the doctor’s.

People are starting to notice me. I’m not sure that that’s a good sign.

Back here I had another chat with a neighbour and then climbed up the stairs to my apartment where I made my coffee and cheese on toast

Despite phone calls, the attentions of the cleaner and the occasional drift away into nothingness I finihsed off the radio notes that I’d started yesterday, and they are now ready for dictation, which I’ll do tomorrow night as usual.

Rosemary rang up too and we had another one of our lengthy chats that seem to go on for ever when we talk about almost nothing.

However, I have made an executive decision, and for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than a few just recently, an executive decision is a decision that you make which, if it goes wrong, the person making it is executed.

And that is that I’ve decided what to have for Christmas dinner.

For a while now I’ve been thinking about making a vegan pie because I haven’t made one for ages. But this one is going to be different – I’ve ordered some puff pastry rolls.

Making pastry like that from scratch is difficult. You have to roll it out thin, coat is with oil, fold it over, roll it again, coat with oil, fold again ad infinitum. I can imagine exactly how mine would turn out.

However the LeClerc poverty-spec pastry rolls are vegan so that’s what I’ll use.

  • Put a cup of lentils in the slow cooker, cover with water and slowly bring to the boil.
  • When they begin to boil, drain them out and rinse them thoroughly, then put them back on the lowest heat with more water, plenty of herbs and spices and leave them overnight on the lowest heat
  • Next morning, cut up your tofu into small squares and fry with onion, garlic, mushrooms, whatever else you like and plenty of herbs and spices.
  • When they are nice and golden brown, tip in your lentils and stir it round, and then add a few spoons of oats to absorb the liquid and make a glutinous mass
  • Empty it into your pie case, add the top, brush with soya milk and bake until golden brown

As usual, any other suggestions and ideas are welcomed.

Tea tonight was salad, chips and some of those nugget things, something that went down really well.

So having finished my notes, I’ll carry on with the guitar for a while. I’ll have another go at trying to sing MOONAGE DAYDREAM while playing the bass.

At least I’m not the only one how finds it difficult. Grahame wrote that he doesn’t find it easy either. Maybe we ought to hold a “Ziggy Stardust” masterclass at some point.

But if anyone else wants to write and say “hello” or exchange ideas, there’s a link on the bottom right of the page. But if you use Gmail, I can’t reply to you.

In Google’s quest to take over the internet the company wants webmasters to embed its code into all minor domains and until I know why and what it does, I’m not putting it in mine. Consequently Google is blocking me from writing to anyone with a Gmail address.

Tomorrow I have no plans, but as usual, something will probably pop up to distract me. And then on Sunday, I’m baking bread and biscuits and a few other things besides, I reckon.

That means that I’d better remember to order some more vegan butter. I’m going through it at an alarming rate.

Friday 8th December 2023 – AFTER THIS MORNING’S …

… efforts I’m totally exhausted. I really don’t know how long I can keep this up .

At least last night when I went to bed I fell asleep quite quickly, judging by the timestamp on the first of the sound-files on the dictaphone.

It was another restless night though and once more I was up and about long before the alarm went off.

After the medication I came back in here and had things to do.

Firstly, there was a bill to pay. That involved writing out a cheque, finding a pre-paid envelope, etc – and that involved some tidying up of my stationery drawers.

Secondly, there was everything that I needed to print off for my demand for intervention from these Autonomy people. Having had the Social Services help me complete it the other week at the Centre de Re-education I now had everything that I needed.

Even down to the A4 manila envelopes. Fed up of trying to squeeze a whole rain-forest of papers into a standard-size envelope, I went berserk on the internet earlier in the week and ordered a packet of 50 envelopes into which I could fit every tree on the planet.

Thirdly, there was another letter that needed writing. This one was rather complicated because rather a lot depends on it, it has to be worded precisely and accurately, and in French too.

After a quick wash I headed out for the bus where I was swamped by a load of young teenagers heading from the High School across the square to the Ecole d’Hotellerie out at the Pointe de la Crête between Granville and St Pair sur Mer.

At St Nicolas I alighted from the bus and first port of call was the Post Office to send off all of my letters.

And there was some good news there too. They see no reason why I can’ open an account there, pay in some money from my Credit Agricole card, have a bank card and then draw cash out of their cash point outside whenever I need it.

Having been stranded for a day or two in Flagstaff in Arizona 20-odd years ago when my bank card was paused for “unusual expenditure” even though I’d told the bank where I was going and what I was doing, I’ve always had a couple of accounts and bank cards on the go “just in case”.

But with not being able to go any more to my bank in the town centre because of the lack of access to the bus back home, I need some way of laying my hands on some cash every now and again, even if it’s only to pay my cleaner for whatever she buys for me at the shops.

At Carrefour I had some luck. I was sure that I’d seen some gas cylinders tucked away somewhere on one of the shelves so I’d taken the empty one with me. Sure enough, they did have them on exchange, although they did cost les yeux de la tête as they say around here.

Imagine that – the highlight of my day is finding a gas cylinder in a shop.

As well as the usual stuff I bought another packet of icing sugar too. I’d had a quick look in my baking box and wasn’t sure if I had enough in stock.

But the cylinder was heavy and walking back for the bus after my coffee I was thoroughly exhausted even before I reached the bus stop.

The climb back up the stairs was another difficult problem that I found it had to solve but once in here and with everything put away I made my coffee and cheese on toast and came back in here.

Fighting off waves of sleep (quite unsuccessfully at times) I transcribed the notes from the dictaphone from last night. And “hello” to Nerina who put in an appearance last night. We I had been living together and for the first time for a considerable period I went through and carried out an inventory of the food that was on hand. I discovered to my surprise that we had almost next-to-nothing. When she came home from work I told her about the situation and that we’d have to be very careful about what we would do and what we would eat over the next few weeks but she went down to the kitchen and pulled out a box that was full of vegetables that I hadn’t seen before. I don’t know how I’d come to miss it. I was busy there examining the contents thinking about exciting things to make with it when she pushed two straws into a navet"turnip" – ed. I thought “why has she done this? What is this going to be used for now?”.

I was in Scotland last night as well. I came across a family who had a couple of girls aged probably just in double figures, I suppose. They’d moved into a big new house and invited me to see it. It really was lovely, a quite modern 1960s-type split-level house, all square with flat roofs. The younger girl told me that they’d been living with the Scots in Glasgow prior to this. She was telling me all about her house and that didn’t seem to be quite bad afterwards. The subject of preparing the older girl for boarding school came up. She had to go to pack her things. I asked her if she needed help because I wasn’t actually doing anything at this time. She said “yes” so I answered “first of all, is there anything that you DON’T want me to touch?”. She replied “yes, my sister’s notebook”. That sounded like a strange request to me, why that would be the most important thing not to touch. I went down a corridor and through a maze of rooms, including the younger girl’s bedroom into the older one’s. It was huge. There was a lot of stuff lying around. She picked up an object and asked me what I thought it was. I replied that it was a bed cover. She began to fold it up so I found some similar ones lying around and folded them up too. She had some kind of plant like bamboo or something. It had obviously seen much better days. She said that it was 3 years old but she kept it because it was very nice and made an interesting shape. We carried on tidying up her room and putting aside the things that she was taking to boarding school.

These two girls actually had a history. The family reminded me very much of a woman and two girls whom I met at that Folk Festival in Scotland where I used to be the camp site Night Security Guard for a couple of years. That was where Louise, with whom I’m still in contact, had her first encounter with STRAWBERRY MOOSE

I was in that freight yard again, on the lowest level when the girls came past on the highest levels on a railway locomotive pulling a couple of lime-green coaches piped with yellow. And then we had exactly the same conversation that we’d had in the previous version of it. And if you’re wondering why that seems to make no sense whatsoever, don’t worry. You aren’t alone because I don’t understand it either

There was something about several files relating to a Paul Temple mystery that I had on my laptop or whatever that I’d transferred onto my watch. One of them was something to do with him him being in a cloak like a superhero so I had ideas about renaming all of them. However that was when I awoke with a severe attack of cramp so I can’t remember now where it went after that

And then I was with a girl from school last night. I can’t remember who she was but she lived out Audlem way, Buerton somewhere on the way to Newcastle under Lyme. I was wearing old clothes because I’d been doing some work. I’d ended up in that village where I met her, and we were chatting. We’d encountered a couple of yokels who had an old recoil-starter type of electric generator that you could carry around in one hand and would power a radio. They’d rigged up some kind of 1930s-type of valve radio and were trying to start this generator to power it. After they’d been playing with it for about 10 minutes I went to look as they wandered off. I could smell straight away that the petrol was probably 20 years old. I drained out the petrol, cleaned the carburettor, put fresh petrol in and fired it up. It ran, and we had the radio playing so I took it over to them. We carried on chatting. We were pointing out a Tudor house in this village that had been left to ruin, how the roof had sagged etc. Then the girl came back. We went into her house to continue to chat, just the 2 of us. All of her family was there except her mother and father. I was just sitting there, quietly listening to them talking, feeling very uncomfortable being in working clothes. When her mother came back they began to talk about knitting. The girl had been spending a lot of tie knitting just recently and just had one line to finish off on a cardigan that she’d made. One of the others in the house said that they’d finish it off in exchange for her doing something else which seemed to be a good idea for her. But time was dragging on and I was wondering how I was going to be able to leave but of course I was quite interested in this girl too. After a couple of minutes she looked at me and said “should we go?”. I thought “yes, we’ll go if she wants” but then I was going to have to think about what would happen. Obviously I would want to spend the evening with her, doing something exciting, going for a meal, going to the pub, going for a walk, but not in the clothes that I was wearing. I was stuck in a quandary yet again – how was I going to organise going home, changing my clothes and generally tidying myself up etc while I had the girl with me. But a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush, she was there, she wanted to go so why would I argue with that?

Not that that would ever have stopped me in the past. No-one has had more experience than me for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

There was also a dream at one point about I’d been walking and had come to a set of stairs, up which I just walked normally without having to cling on. I was so surprised that I went to find another set of stairs and walked up there normally too without hanging on to the handrail. I thought “if only I’d realised yesterday that I could do that”. That was of course quite obviously a dream and I wish that that had happened when I encountered the stairs on the way back to the apartment here after my shopping trip.

After I’d transcribed all of that I attacked the radio programme and finished off the notes for that ready for typing tomorrow night.

With the time left I carried on with the Canada 2022 photos. We’ve climbed out of the St Lawrence valley, over the Appalachians via the Matapedia Pass and we’ve now just rattled into Campbelltown Railway Station on the banks of the Baie des Chaleurs.

Jackie and I had a chat on the internet too. She’s actually quite worried about me, as are many people, so it seems. But there’s really no need to worry. I know what my fate is and I’m quite resigned to it and comfortable with the idea. I’m not worrying about it and there’ no reason for anyone else to either

Right at the beginning I was told that this illness has a lifespan of between 5 and 11 years and how long I keep going depends on how long my heart can keep on going, which is why there’s now all this concern about my cardiac issues. It’s now over 8 years so I’m “well in” and one day it will catch up with me.

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap with chips and salad – really delicious too.

For the rest of the evening I won’t be doing too much. Everything seems to be wearing me out so I’ll sit with my feet up.

Tomorrow I’ll be marzipanning my cake. Liz reckons that I should leave the marzipan to set for a while so that it doesn’t bleed through the icing and I seem to remember that I had that problem last time I made a Christmas cake.

Something else that I’ll be doing is to track down some recipes for vegan stuffing. I can’t have Christmas dinner without sprouts, roast potatoes and stuffing now, can I? I shall have to throw something together.

With not being able to buy my Seitan slices these days (I used to buy them at the Asian wholesalers in Leuven) I’m not sure what I’m going to have for a main course. I’ll probably have to throw something together there too.

Saturday 25th November 2023 – I WAS HAPPY …

… that it was today that I went on the bus to the shops and not yesterday.

Yesterday was a cold, wet windy miserably day but today was one of the nicest days that we’ve had for ages and it was a real pleasure to be out.

It was the kind of day where, had things been different, I’d have made a flask of piping hot coffee and gone for a nice long walk northwards along the coast with the camera, but how things have changed in that respect.

Things changed a little in bed last night too because I seem to have had something of a rather more relaxed night. That’s a good thing from the point of view of sleep but a bad thing from the point of view of adventure. The only adventures I have these days are these rather vicarious ones at second hand as my ethereal spirit goes walkabout during the night.

At the hospital they keep on asking me if I want sleeping pills, and I keep on turning them down. My little nocturnal voyages are about all the fun that I have, given the way that things have turned out.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and struggled to my feet, and then having dressed, I toddled off into the dining area to take my medication.

Back here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night – and it didn’t take me long. I was with a bunch of pirates last night. We’d gone ashore in the High Arctic somewhere amidst all the snow and the ice. Some of the descriptions that the crew was giving off about the are in which they found themselves were extremely poetic, including things like “if it wasn’t for the cold you’d never realise the danger” etc. A couple of the crew wandered away during the night to explore and we didn’t know if we’d be lucky enough to see them next morning etc. As it became light next morning we were rounded up into some kinds of fishing parties. We’d tried to do some fishing the evening before and had caught some cod but this morning we were going to go out on a full-scale fishing operation to revictual the ship. That involved a couple of the rowing boats with a net spread between them and the two rowing boats rowing round in a circle towards each other to tighten the catch inside the net. We were busy organising this when I suddenly awoke

It’s a shame that it ended at that point because I would have loved to have seen how our fishing expedition unfolded. When Richard Hakluyt transcribed John Cabot’s notes in order to include them for publication in his “Principall Navigations” in 1589 he came across Cabot’s delightful description of the Labrador coast and "The cod were in largeness and quantitie … that they stayed our ships".

When my book about the Labrador coast finally hits the shelves, you’ll notice the difference. Constant over-fishing by industrial trawlers decimated the cod fishery so much that in 1992 the Canadian Government imposed a moratorium on cod-fishing. And so all the big industrial trawlers moved off elsewhere and the small subsistence fisherman along the coast was deprived of his livelihood and fell into desolation and despair.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall us working our way down the Nova Scotia coast on our voyages of 2003 and 2010 when we picked our way through the decay and dereliction of piles of abandoned fishing equipment.

strawberry moose, buccaneer, near moyock, north carolina, usa, eric hall, photo, 30th september 2017But while we’re on the subject of pirate ships … "well, one of us is" – ed … we’ve encountered pirate ships before.

In 2017 when we were on our way back from visiting Rhys in South Carolina STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I came across a pirate ship. His Nibs quickly recruited an ad-hoc crew and set sail for the Spanish Main in order to wreak havoc amongst the treasure ships heading back from New Spain to the Old World.

And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, his antics on the High Seas on his way home from looking after Kathryn at University in Ontario in 2011 led to questions being asked in the Canadian Parliament.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed there was a story about me being at some kind of formal party with about half a dozen other people, having an enormous amount of difficulty trying to keep still, having to keep moving my legs quite regularly. This led to some kind of commotion about food but I can’t now remember very much about this issue of food except that it was something that had caused it.

There was time for a quick wash and brush-up and then I headed for the bus. He was late arriving and with not being able to move around it was quite cold.

However there was a really beautiful blue sky. Jersey stood out really clearly on the horizon this morning and it looked as if I could reach out and touch the Brittany coast across the bay, it was so clear.

There was no ice or frost on the car windscreens which is no surprise as we are only 50 feet from the sea here and in the face of the prevailing westerly winds, but once we were out of the wind, all of the cars parked at the side of the road were iced up.

At St Nicolas no-one made the sign of the Cross today, but after I’d done my shopping I had a pleasant chat about historic buildings with the guy drinking coffee next to me as I waited for my bus home.

The only marzipan that they had was this tricolour stuff but I don’t suppose that it matters under icing. I have to use what I can.

They did have soya yogurt to make my naan bread but it’s only sold in packets of 8 so I’ll be making a lot of naan bread dough tomorrow.

Coming back up the stairs was another nightmare. There’s no doubt that I’m actually moving easier – that was quite evident today and I’m pleased about that – but I can’t lift my leg high enough to climb the steps and we had another gymnastics morning.

But I’ll have to have a word with Severine when I see her again and find out what she can do for me.

Having put the food away I made my cheese on toast and then came in here, where I promptly fell asleep.

A ‘phone call awoke me. The paperwork has come in from the engineer and the co-property committee has decided that they want a couple more quotes. Could I organise it?

When I lived in Expo, that was a co-property and there were enormous issues about an apartment owner who would launch himself into all kinds of unauthorised adventures and then bombard the committee with all kind sof paperwork, and I remember very well many of the issues that arose.

Consequently, I told them that if they give me an authorisation I’ll do it quite happily but I’m not doing it without any authorisation.

This afternoon I soaked all my fruit – and found that although I had all kinds of things in my baking box I didn’t have any glacé cherries, or bigarreaux confits as they call them around here. They had some advertised in LeClerc’s home delivery catalogue so I hope that they’ll still be in stock when I send off my order.

So we now have currants, sultanas, raisins, figs, cranberries, some of that dried gelified fruit, desiccated coconut, ground almonds, banana chips, dried orange chips and the odd partridge in a pear tree divided into two lots – a small one for the pudding and a big one for the cake – soaking in a mixture of vanilla, fleur d’orange, rum essence, brandy essence, all kinds of spices and probably a few other things too.

It’ll be in there for a week or 10 days, being stirred and fed with more liquid over that period ready for a baking session next weekend.

But the essences of rum and brandy are interesting. It’s not available in France – after all, if you have the real stuff, why use artificial? But there’s a chain of shops called “Bulk Barn” in all of the big cities in Canada – something like an old UK “Weigh and Save” on steroids.

Rural Canada is just like the 1950s which is why I really like it, and home baking and that kind of thing are major occupations. And when I was in the one in Fredericton last year I made a wonderful discovery and several bottles of essence found their way into my suitcase for future use.

And by God is it strong!

Back here afterwards I crashed out again, for ages this time, and since then I’ve been de-duplicating one of the backup drives.

Tea tonight was baked potato with salad and a veggie burger in breadcrumbs and that was as delicious as usual.

So now I’m off for a hot drink or two and then I’ll dictate the radio notes ready for tomorrow when I’ll prepare the programme. There’s naan dough to make as well as I’ve now run out.

Something else that I’ve run out of is chocolate biscuits. However when tidying up the shelves the other say I found a couple of packets of industrial ones about which I’d forgotten. I’ll finish these off and bake another batch of biscuits next weekend.

That should keep me out of mischief for a while.

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.

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.

Friday 3rd November 2023 – SO MUCH FOR THAT …

… idea about having a good night’s sleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 20th october 2023 – I’M ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED …

… that some people have been put on this earth for no other reason than to cause as much inconvenience, chaos and disruption to people’s lives as they possibly can.

This saga about these documents that I have to send off for my hospital visit is rumbling on and on and on.

When I returned from the shops this morning I found an e-mail that had been sent to me with a request for a whole pile of documents. It ended up being a pile of 19 documents that they wanted, several of which had already been sent.

Having collected the ones that I had and scanned in the rest I sent them off, only to receive a reply asking for more and more.

And so it went on during the day until 16:47, 13 minutes before the Assurance Office closed, asking me
1) why am I going to the hospital? What are they planning on doing to me
2) why am I going to a hospital so far away.

And so I replied
1) "On page 5 of document 2 it clearly states ‘we propose a further stay in hospital to supplement the investigation ….’" (and then a whole list of tests that they propose).
2) "If your doctors would be so kind as to look at page 2 of document 2 they will see that I have ALREADY been to a local hospital who were unable to identify the problem and the condition has since deteriorated. Therefore there needs to be a further investigation in depth"

By the time that my reply was ready the Assurance Office had closed – which means that they won’t now reply with a decision until after I’ve left – and so, being in a totally foul mood, I added a few other bells and whistles to my letter and finished it off with a "if there is anything else by which I can waste even more of my time by repeating to you information that is already in your possession, please don’t hesitate to let me know".

Many years ago, I was totally and utterly stressed out and would lose my temper at the slightest provocation. You’ve no idea what used to go through my mind back in those horrible days and it took an enormous effort to get a grip of things.

Living in splendid isolation in the mountains of Central France miles away from all kinds of interaction with people worked wonders and although things would occasionally crop up, I’d just fly to Canada, hire a car and go and sit in the wilderness and the peri-arctic tundra until sanity returned.

Back in 2019 I was walking along the old Emigrant Trail through South Pass in the Rockies, thinking just how peaceful and calm things are around here, and how I ought to spend more time in places like this. But unfortunately, these days, I can no longer run away and hide

Meanwhile, back at the ra … errr … apartment …

Last night was a slightly better night. There was still plenty going on but I managed to ignore a lot of it.

It was still a struggle to raise myself from the dead, and after I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I had a listen to the dictaphone. I’d talked to a few people about how I was going to change the kitchen round in my house. One of my friends began to talk to me about the kitchen that I had, what it was like etc so I explained. I explained that I’d probably be wanting to dispose of it completely, even down to the pipes etc. he said that he would like to have it. I said that that was fine by me. He asked if he could come to pick it up the next day. I burst out laughing and said “I haven’t even organised anything yet or ordered anything, let alone had it delivered etc”. He replied “your niece’s daughter is going to be rather upset because she’s planning on taking a day off tomorrow and coming to help me do it”.

And later I was going through the collection of solo poses for my 3D characters, picking out the individual poses and making some kind of giant collage with them all superimposed. I’d done three and was on the way to finishing off a fourth when someone came to the door. They asked me what I was doing so I explained. They thought that it was a pretty pointless task because I wouldn’t have the benefit from doing it. I’d be long gone before this project was particularly finished

Finally I’d been out drinking (so that was obviously a dream) with a couple of people from Crewe and we were on our way home. We called at a pub on the way back and outside the pub next door was a guy whom we all knew. We had a chat with him. I asked my two companions what was happening this weekend. They didn’t really come out with much. I needed to use the bathroom so I went to find it. It was in a terrible mess with toilet paper everywhere etc. I tidied it up as best as I could. I found that the door wouldn’t close. There was no bolt so in the end I teased a nail out of the wall and slipped it in where the bolt should be. That managed to close it. The next step was to sit down but the toilet seat fell off. In the end I thought that I’d abandon it as a bad job and just go home.

Deciding last week to go to the shops at St Nicolas was a really good decision. The bus whisked me off and dropped me off on the raised kerb, and then I had a slow wander around the Carrefour just picking up one or two things that I need quite quickly, like tomatoes, lettuce and mushrooms.

With plenty of time before the bus came back for me I had a nice hot coffee and then sat and watched the world go by.

As I said before, I think that I’m moving a little easier after the exercise so I can’t wait for this rehabilitation course, that should have started last week, to begin.

After my bread and soup we had this totally shambolic afternoon of dealing with all of this paperwork and fielding probably about a dozen phone calls for one reason or another.

The only one that was really welcome was Rosemary, and we had a good chat for a while.

Last night I’d dictated the notes for one of the radio programmes but when I listened to them I decided that they weren’t up to much so I re-dictated them. They are no edited and in the process of being assembled.

If I’m lucky, I might finish it tonight and even dictate the notes for the next programme in the list.

Tea was a baked potato, salad and one of those breaded quorn fillets that I like so much.

So when I’ve finished what I need to do, I’ll go to bed. I have my blood test tomorrow and then I crack on with the notes that I’ll dictate in a minute.

Many years ago, “Bomber” Harris used to greet members of the Air Ministry whenever he met them with “and what have you done to impede the War effort today?”. I had so much to do, some of which was quite important, but I’ve not done any of it, what with one thing and another.

So who’s going to come along and impede my efforts tomorrow?

Friday 13th October 2023 – THAT WAS A …

… really good decision that I made for this morning.

As I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I can no longer climb into the bus at the Port because there’s no pavement at the bus stop so I’m having to climb in from street level.

Consequently, if I want to go out (and I ought to go out at least once per week) I have to think again.

Right out on the edge of town off the beaten track is the quartier of St Nicolas.

It was formerly a village in its own right but was absorbed into Granville during the regrouping of communes some time ago, and so it has all of its own services which, to most people’s surprise, have remained intact.

There’s one of these typical small 1960s-type of shopping centres which is only 100 metres from a bus stop on the bus route that starts and finishes outside my front door. When I was out there on Monday, I checked the bus stops and to my delight, the pavements at both are raised to exactly the correct height.

There’s a chemists and a Post Office right next door to each other and then there’s the Carrefour supermarket. Much bigger than the one in town with a greater variety of produce.

There is a downside to it, in that the time between the bus dropping me off, completing its run, turning round and coming back is only 12 minutes, and that’s not enough.

However, that’s not a problem because there’s a bakery in the supermarket that bakes fresh bread and sells coffee. So I had a lovely rest with a nice hot coffee while I waited for the next bus.

There’s a lot going on there with a lot of people about and they all seem quite friendly too, so it was a really good idea to go there and I’ll be doing it more often.

Yesterday evening I’d psyched myself up for it by going to bed early but it made no difference because it took ages to go off to sleep. At least the night wasn’t as restless as some have been just recently.

When the alarm went off I was in the middle of a dream about someone who had quite a few cats. For some reason he’d locked them up into one particular room, gone away and left them. The cats succeeded in breaking down one of the things that he’d erected to block off the fireplace. By means of the chimney they were then able to move around the entire house. There was much more to it than that but that was all that I can remember when the alarm went off.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a dream about cats, hasn’t it?

After the medication I had to finish off the letters from yesterday and print off some paperwork to go with them, and then I hit the streets.

The bus was already here outside so I staggered on board and we set off for our journey. At St Nicolas I went to the Post Office to post the letters and then off to the supermarket for the shopping, followed by a nice hot coffee while I waited for the bus.

Climbing back on board was much easier, for which I was extremely grateful, and the climb back up the stairs seemed to be a little less difficult. In fact, I think that i’m moving about a little bit easier that I was before I set out. Mind you, that’s not saying too much because things have been difficult just recently.

For a very late breakfast I eschewed the cheese on toast and had some soup with the crusty bread that I had bought. It really was delicious, and I’ll have some more of that.

Back in here, I crashed out – quite definitively too, and for at least an hour. That’s no surprise at all.

Once I’d recovered I sat down and bashed out another radio programme. That’s the last one of the four that I dictated last Saturday night. Tomorrow I’ll carry on with the next one in the pipeline. I’m going to try to do two next week as I’m in hospital the week after.

There was stuff on the dictaphone from last night too. I’ve been packing up a room where I’d been staying for a few days ready to go off on an expedition. I’m going to have to go through all of the stuff because I’m going to be limited on what I can take. When I looked through the stuff I was surprised at all of the things that were there, all kinds of stuff that I’d been dragging around with me that I must have emptied out of a vehicle – glass bottles, jars, tons of papers etc. I had to be really severe about disposing of it all. Some of it is quite valuable in an intrinsic or sentimental way but the fact is that I simply can’t carry it so I’ll have to dispose of it and just take what I need for the journey and maybe one or two other things that would come in handy for the journey that I could use again. If it won’t be handy for the journey I’d have to throw it away whether I like it or not and that is filling me full of depression. Not that that’s any surprise because I have a hard time throwing things away.

There was something going on about a house party with a lot of people there, a few who were disabled. While I can’t remember very much about this dream I remember that some kind of cards were distributed among the people – you took your chance and took a card. The receipt of a disability card entitled you to certain things. The first person who pulled out a disability card was someone who was extremely able-bodied and active. That caused quite a gasp around the place as they tried to work out what it would mean for this extremely active person to have a disability card.

So now I’m dreaming about disabilities and handicapped people. That’s a pretty sad state of affairs for me to be in. Realisation sinks in slowly, but it sinks in deep.

Tea tonight was chips and salad with some falafel. Nothing special but nevertheless quite nice. Tomorrow I have one of those breadcrumbed quorn fillets, and I’ll probably go for a baked potato with that.

So now I’m off to bed, flushed with success about having made a good decision for my shopping. It’s not all that often that things that I plan seem to come off so I shall bask in the glory of that until I probably fall out of the bus next weekend.

By the way, you did all listen to my radio programme on Friday night, didn’t you? If not, you can hear it on Saturday evening.

Friday 6th October 2023 – IT’S NOW OFFICIAL.

In the post this morning came my two disability permits. One for me and one for any car in which I might be travelling. It’s a sign of the times of course and something that will inevitably happen to all of you at some time or another. All I can say is that I’ve had a good run for my money

All I need now is a car which I can drive, but that’s not going to happen any time soon. For that, I’ll have to see what these people at APA have to tell me, but even now they STILL haven’t sent me the forms that they promised a week ago. This is going to be a lengthy process.

My sleep last night was a lengthy process too. For two nights on the run now I’ve slept right through until the alarm went off. And then I had a struggle to get to my feet before the second alarm went off.

There was time to listen to the messages on the dictaphone before I did anything else. There was some kind of uprising taking place. All the citizens were required to rally to the defence of their city. Someone was suspected of being behind all of this so hat they called for was to examine the metadata of a couple of files on his computer to see whether they had been altered in any way that might give grounds for some kind of suspicion. When they asked for this information he did everything he could to defy them, delay them etc until in the end they were all swamped by all the mails that were coming from the citizens so it was going to be so it was going to be something much more complicated than it might have been had they done it a day earlier.

And then I was working for a company last night and had to go round to collect a debt from someone that was owed. I went round to their house, and it took some finding. When I arrived I knocked on the door but it swung open so I walked in and shouted. Eventually an old woman came into the kitchen and asked why I was there. I explained that she had a bill to pay. She apologised and said that she’d pay it so I went back to my office. There was some kind of building project taking place that needed to be done quietly so we decided that we’d do it in the dark. At night we dressed in clothes, it was a wet and windy November night. When everything was quiet and everyone had gone we set out. It was then that I realised that I didn’t have my gloves. I was told that I had to have them. They were on the floor by the washing machine in the laundry room So I’d have to run back to fetch them while everyone waited for me. That was quite a long way but I thought that it would really be uncomfortable working in this without gloves so I’d best set off.

We were back in Davenport Avenue later. It wasn’t exactly like it but a mirror image. Nerina and I were tidying up a few things because we were having visitors. It turned out that my friend Malou and her friend were coming to visit and we were going to hang around together and then go off out. Nerina was busy planning in her mind who she’d allocate with who and decided that I’d take Malou in my car. I didn’t want to explain to Nerina that there was no tax or MoT on my car but in fact it was probably a wise idea to go in Malou’s car but she was quite insistent so when it reached the time to go outside one of our party (I can’t remember who) was at the front of the house and saw Malou pull into the drive with her friend. We walked down from the bottom of the drive up to the street to meet them. I remember thinking “my house is so untidy, such a tip, that i’m not sure that this is a good idea to go inviting people to my house” … "nothing new there" – ed

Finally I was with Alison and another girl walking around Brussels. We ended up around a section that was really modern. There were all these huge aeroplanes flying overhead and it really looked like something out of another world. It was dark and misty and these aeroplanes were so impressive flying through the low clouds at night like this with all their lights on. Then we decided to carry on walking but there was a really good view there so I stopped to take a couple of photos. Then I wandered off to take some photos of my bedroom window which was only a couple of hundred yards away. I dashed off and took the photos. I could hear some people talking outside as if their conversations weren’t being overheard. That was really interesting. In the end I set off back out again. I hadn’t gone far when I realised that I’d forgotten my camera. I carried on anyway. There was a woman on crutches with a couple of kids, and lots of other people. I couldn’t see Alison. I thought to myself that maybe we should have made better arrangements to meet than this. Suddenly she was at my elbow and told me that she’d put on the shelf all the information concerning our trip. I told her that I’d been keeping a log for the whole month and that was all together too. We sat down to work out where we want to go

Then I headed out for the bus as I had things to do in the town. I’d taken with me the letter that I’d written yesterday to the doctor, with the intention of giving it to the receptionist. But as you might expect, the way things are these days, there was a strike on and the receptionist wasn’t it.

Round at the Carrefour I did the shopping and made it back in time for the bus. It was a struggle to climb aboard, as I imagined that it would be.

However, there was some good news. I’d interrogated the driver and he told me that the bus stop at St Nicholas does indeed have an elevated platform so boarding the bus for coming home shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

The big difficulty though is that there is only 12 minutes between the bus dropping me off and it coming back again, and that is going to cause a few problems of its own.

Mind you, after how I felt after my trip out today, I don’t think that I’ll be going anywhere again. I can’t keep this up. it’s really hard to believe that it wasn’t all that many weeks ago that I walked back from town after a shopping trip.

Back here, having staggered up the stairs under my heavy load, I made my coffee and my cheese on toast, and then came back back in here where, in a marvellous fit of bravado, I finished off the arrears of the dictaphone notes from when I was in hospital last autumn.

My cleaner came round to see me afterwards. I’d sent her a message about my failure to leave the letter at the doctor’s. I’d asked her if she would take it for me on one of her forays down to town next week. I realy and honestly don’t think that I could do it, and it’s quite an important letter.

Something else that I did this afternoon was to bake a loaf of bread. With not going out tomorrow I won’t be having one of my lovely crusty baguettes so I need to do something about that if I want my cheese on toast.

In fact, going back to baking isn’t a bad idea really. At some point in the proceedings I have to make more fruit buns and more pizza dough so it seems like a good moment to have another go at making a vegan pie. I picked up some potatoes today so I have enough to keep me going for a while.

Finally, I chose all of the music for another radio programme and paired it off. If I can write the notes for that tomorrow I’ll have four sets of notes to dictate and that will give me something to do over the next week

Tea tonight was a burger on a bun with salad and a baked potato. Nothing special at all but quite nice for a change.

So now I’m off to bed. I’ve had a really busy day as you can see, and I’ve crashed out once this afternoon already, but only for a few minutes. Now I want to crash out for a good while and sleep until the morning.

Then I’ll see what can be done about all the things that need resolving. There are plenty of those.

Friday 29th September 2023 – DESPITE ALL OF …

… my exertions yesterday, I was actually up and about before the alarm went off, and no-one was more surprised than me.

So having had my medication I had a very slow start to the day before wandering outside at 09:00 for the bus. And there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s becoming more and more difficult.

Climbing aboard was one thing – getting off was another. But I managed not to fall over and had a very slow stagger to the supermarket.

They had a few things of interest in there that I bought and another customer helped me at the checkout and packed my backpack for me. Yes – things have really deteriorated to that extent.

Climbing back onto the bus was quite an effort. They haven’t extended the pavement out to the road where the bus stops so I have to climb in from street level and that’s not so easy at all.

The climb back up the stairs was agony and I was glad to make it back to my apartment. I put everything away and then made myself some coffee and cheese on toast for breakfast.

First thing to do was to check the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was something to do with a local cricket club. They hadn’t had their ground mowed so while they had a pause in games they’d spoken to a couple of people. As I was walking out of town one day I bumped into one of the people heading that way with all his equipment. He said that he was going to be mowing the grass. It was a hot, heavy day and he said that he wasn’t looking forward to having to do it but they’d paid him £400 so he was going to give it his best shot. I walked further on and ended up by the Sugar Loaf Corner in Shavington. I saw the lad talking to a few people who knew the guy who had gone to mow the cricket field. he was sitting in a great big sit-on mower with very extending blades. He was saying that he’d just earned¨£1500 for doing nothing but he supposed that he’d better go and see what was happening so headed off on his mower up the hill towards the cricket ground.

Later on I was with Cecile. We were having a really nice domestic arrangement going. I’d been working on the radio and had invited a couple of people for interview. I’d turned up at the rendezvous but they hadn’t so in the end I came home. Tea wasn’t ready yet but there was a box of cornflakes lying around for quite some considerable time. She asked me if I’d try them. I did and told her that they were very nice. There was nothing wrong with them so she said “put them in with the other cornflakes”. I went to put the waxed bag inside the box of cornflakes but I noticed that she’d already poured milk in there. I said “that’s probably not a good idea to put the milk in the cornflakes. Then we were discussing food and recipes, shepherd’s pies etc when the question of the radio came up. It turned out that I hadn’t sent off a radio programme to one of my contacts for at least 3 weeks. She wondered how they were getting on. I explained that they really don’t form part of our circle any more. She said that we’d end up regretting it because they paid us some money. We could do with the money because there was some good stuff in the Charity Shop. She ran through a few of the things. There was a perfume that she mentioned . I said “that’s funny because it’s an expensive cream”. She replied “yes, we need to come back so we can buy it and I’ll see what else is there for you too. I reminded her that there’s no point going there unless you have things to sell them. She said “well, never mind. We’ll have to work out something on the way down. She asked me to look at her skin and how wonderful it was since she’d baan taking products and creams like this ointment and it did actually look quite nice.

Did I dictate the dream about the guy who came with a whole pile of second-hand cars? … "no you didn’t" – ed. By “old”, I DO mean “old” like Morris Minors etc. He parked them in the street in our village and put price tags in the window. The problem was that this was right outside my barn. I shouted out of my window at him but he took no notice. Someone let loose the sluice dam. It flooded the area where his cars were parked and completely flooded his cars. After the flood had subsided I went downstairs. I had a look at his vehicles. They were all wrecks, just having been tarted up quickly. I told him that he needed to move them because they were blocking my garage. He said that I could manoeuvre around his cars. I said that I had a lorry that tows a cement mixer and I’m not manoeuvring around for anyone. This is my way out of my garage. Reluctantly he moved all of his cars to the side of the road

There was then something about the school bus. I had to run to catch it. Someone was already sitting in my seat so I had to sit somewhere else. The bus driver asked me where I was yesterday. I replied that I was sure that I was still in school. She asked “are you really sure?”. I replied “yes. I remember distinctly having to do my homework last night”. As I walked down the bus I remembered that I wasn’t at school at all. I was doing something else. So In the morning I didn’t go into school until the afternoon. I sat down but there was a dispute about seats on the bus. In the end the children from one particular school all had to alight, line up and were allowed back on in order of seniority. I thought that this was probably the strangest thing that I’d ever witnessed about a school bus but I didn’t say anything – I just let them get on with it.

Finally I was round at a former friend’s last night. Zero was there and she brought me some kind of card where you put stickers on. I asked her why and she said that I had to put stickers on it. It turned out that as of whenever you were only allowed one card per family or per person. They used a lot of this particular product so they always had plenty of stickers. They wanted to do one in my name. It made no difference to me so I agreed, especially as it was Zero who asked. It turned out that they were about to go on holiday. There were going to somewhere in Canada but they said that all the flights had been changed and muddled up. They began to talk about small towns whose names I didn’t recognise. In the end it turned out that they would have to fly to Boston (which I called Bangor in the dream) and then take an aeroplane to fly north. I jokingly asked Zero if there was any room in her suitcase for me. She laughed and said “no”. We all piled into my former friend’s ancient Land Rover ready to go to the airport. Jerry turned up. My friend said “I have another vehicle to show you”, hopped out and the two wandered off. It turned out that he had not only another Land Rover but also some really old lorry of some description and had taken him to see that.

It was nice to see Zero again after such a long time, but regardless of that there was quite a lot going on last night and I’m surprised that I had time to go to sleep.

As well as that I’ve been making a few phone calls. According to the hospital I qualify for help from the APA – The Allocation Personnalisée d’Autonomie.

That’s an official branch of the French Social Services Department and it’s crated to provide help and support for pensioners to enable them to remain autonomous at home rather than be carted off into an Old People’s Home. Such are the depths to which I’ve sunk this last 12 months or so.

As you might expect, I’ve no intention of being carried off to live amongst a bunch of old fogeys any time soon. I love my little apartment – it’s the first place in which I’ve lived in which I’ve ever felt at home – and I’m not going to move out of this building for any reason whatsoever.

Tea tonight was chips – sweet potato chips as well as ordinary ones – vegan salad and some of those nugget things that I bought ages ago. It was all really nice and I really like my meals these days. I seem to be doing quite well with my cooking.

So having done that, I’m off to bed. I’m shopping tomorrow at the big supermarket although I’m not looking forward to it – staggering around the supermarket and driving there and back.

And then there’s the stagger up the stairs with my shopping trolley. I don’t like the idea of that at all.

Friday 22nd September 2023 – I MADE IT …

… down into town and back today doing a round of various places that I had to visit. And strangely enough, I felt much better for it too.

It rather reminds me of the time in my late teens when I was staggering back home after a visit to the Lion and Swan in Crewe and stopping at Crewe Bus Station for “obvious reasons”.

“Phew!” I said. “Just made it!” And the guy standing next to me said “blimey! Can you make me one just like it?”.

Unfortunately, Crewe Bust station and the public conveniences that it housed have been demolished, and that’s a shame. It was thanks to a careful study of the helpful diagrams on the wall that I passed my Biology “O” Levels.

They were at one time planning on giving guided tours of the public conveniences on the Bus Station. The cost would have been 2/6d per visit, or 2/7d if you wanted to see all of it.

Last night was one of those extremely turbulent nights where I travelled miles and consequently didn’t have much in the way of sleep. And so what with my trip into town today and my long walk around, I’m surprised, really surprised, that I kept going.

When the alarm went off I staggered out of bed and went for my medication and to read my mails and messages. Once I’d done all that I headed off for a shower to make myself look pretty.

When I awoke there was an enormous torrential rainstorm going on so I was really thinking about abandoning my trip out, but by the time that I hit the streets it had stopped.

The bus dropped me off at the Port and my first call was at the Credit Agricole to have them sign a form. The Belgian Government is starting to pay Old-Age pensions directly into bank accounts and I need a rubber stamp and signature on the bank details form.

And for such a simple task as that, I was there for about 15 minutes while they tried to work out how to apply a rubber stamp, a signature and a date to a form.

Next stop was the Post Office to post off a few letters that I’d written just recently, and then to the chemist’s to pick up the Aranesp that I’d ordered yesterday. And there I encountered my cleaner picking up some medication for another one of her clients.

At the Carrefour I did some basic shopping and then headed back for the bus home. It’s quite a climb into the bus because there’s no pavement where it pulls up but for some reason it was easier to climb in today.

Back here I put everything away and then made my coffee and cheese on toast. The Amazon fairy had been too and left me a package, the stuff that I’d ordered on line earlier in the week.

Apart from the silicon bowls that fit in the air fryer and the Christmas pudding steamer, highlight was my new waist bag. I’ve had various ones over the years and they are very handy when you go travelling, but the one that I’ve used for the last 12 years or so is falling to bits and one of the zips doesn’t work properly.

They had them on line that were bigger than that one, with more pockets and a holder for a bottle of water so I treated myself. And it really does seem to be the bee’s knees. It took a while to pack it because I wanted to make sure that it has everything that I need.

One of the most important items in my waist bag is a couple of sheets of … errr … tissue paper. I was caught out once in Romania 30 or so years ago and I won’t be caught like that again.

A little earlier I mentioned that it had been a turbulent night, and I wasn’t exaggerating. There was another long rambling dream that I seem to have lost. It concerns some things involving a lot of girls. They aren’t really what they seem to be, these things. There was one situation where we were on a train, a works train going back to the station after doing some work. On a train that was coming in behind us they loaded up some furniture. One woman said that she wanted it but I was hopeful of having it, a nice metal two-door cabinet. When we finally pulled in at the station we’d had to wait for a few minutes at a platform. Had I known, I would have nipped off there. When we pulled in, the train had caught up with us and they were wheeling the cabinet away. I woman in front of me was racing after it and of course I couldn’t go as quickly as I ought to do so I didn’t make it to have the cabinet. There was much more going on than this, including people, the kind of things that we’d bought. Someone came out with the name of an author – it might have been Richard Graves. I said that I knew his grand-daughter. She was a girl whom I knew and was hopeful of being friendly with her. They were asking if anyone wanted any torture equipment, but it was more like practical joke things, whoopie cushions etc rather than torture equipment. When I found out what it was I was rather disappointed. There was much more than this but it’s all melted away from this dream that went on for hours and was really exciting.

Did I dictate the dream about chasing after this furniture that was being brought into the station behind us on a works train, someone beating me and going ahead to the kiosk for it first? … “yes you did” – ed.. We’d then been out in town shopping. Everyone had his own chair that the restaurant or café kept. It had their name on it. Luckily the girl I’d brought with me was extremely new and only had an old T-shirt like that with a name on. It was called Carol or Caroline, just looking at this girl’s number, She told Caroline to go home and let the world know about your new hobby of collecting these T-shirts.

Did I mention that there was a story about some chairs of some description? … “yes you did” – ed. We had to sit on them in this café, some special luxury leather chairs. Someone would come over from one of the islands to the mainland, our friends, and treat us there instead of a workman (… at this point the dictaphone went quiet, except for my snoring …)

Something occurred that reminded me of something similar to the Lords of the Rings – 5 Lords of Darkness, a giant, an elf, a dwarf and a few others. They had cornered whoever was the hero and his friends on an island. The evil people decided that they wanted to capture them so they chose 3 of their number to assault the island. They were met by a rain of arrows from one of the party who was on the island. In the end 2 of these 3 people looked like pin cushions but the arrows weren’t particularly hurting them. In the end they charged the island. The biggest one of the 3, he was struck by a pike that one of the defenders was holding which ripped off his head from its socket. A second one was killed with a sword and the third was taken prisoner, the one who was mostly affected by arrows. The other 2 and their supporters were then disillusioned and disheartened and weren’t really sure what they could do now to resolve the situation.

Something else to do with this dream concerned the recital of a poem. I can’t remember how the poem went. It was something like “it’s not the eyes that provide the allure of …” (whatever it was). Once again it was something that evaporated immediately

At another moment I’d committed a robbery and stolen millions of Pounds. I had it hidden under the floor in the basement in the house where I was living in London, a 3-storey terraced house with the living room on the first floor, the bedroom on the second and a kind-of cellar/laundry room etc on the ground floor. The Police obviously suspected me. They were around searching my house. I was convinced that eventually they’d find it but I’d give them a run for their money in looking for it. I’d been outside somewhere and was on my way home. Word must have gone round Gangland – I’d noticed several people whom I’d not seen before loitering around. As I went to try to put the key in the door a couple of these people approached me quite quickly but discreetly. I turned to them and said “oh no you don’t!”. That slowed their tracks and I closed the door behind me. What I then did was with these people now loitering outside my door I told the police in my basement that there was some kind of street issue going on outside. A couple of policemen went out, took these people by surprise, harangued them and made them go away. I thought that it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. When they came back in we had a really good laugh about it. I told them that that’s really the first time that I’ve ever felt uncomfortable living in this particular house

Meanwhile 4 medieval soldiers had been trapped inside a gatehouse to a walled city for several days. With nothing else to do in a desperate situation they quite simply roared out of their building and charged the attackers and actually managed to drive them away which took everyone by surprise.

Finally, there was a group of us living in a house. We had to leave it quite quickly so I began to pack my basic essentials and there was still some stuff left over. I had a pile of small cardboard boxes. I told one of the guys living with us that he was far better placed than me that he could have the boxes and someone would have to take my stuff with him while I went to fetch Caliburn and come back to pick it up. At first he was being extremely difficult about it and I couldn’t understand why. In the end he asked “could I see these boxes?”. I showed him and his eyes lit up. He said “that’s no problem at all”. I explained to him that certain stuff was for throwing away, certain stuff was stuff that he could keep and the rest was mine. He should take everything away and I’d be round for my stuff again when I’ve managed to pick up Caliburn

Having done that, I transcribed another day’s worth of arrears and then finished off the notes for the radio programme.

In between everything I baked a small loaf of bread. I’m not going shopping tomorrow so I need something for my cheese on toast and for sandwiches on Monday. And then I made tea. Some kind of burger – I don’t know what it was – and a salad and baked potato seeing as I had the oven on to bake my bread.

Tomorrow will be a quiet day without very much excitement. It’ll do me good to have a quiet weekend ready to Fight the Good Fight on Monday morning. I’ll be ready for Paris, but will Paris be ready for me?

Friday 15th September 2023 – AS BARRY HAY …

… once famously said, "there’s just one thing – IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK HOME".

And you’ve no idea the size of the sigh of relief that escaped from my lips when I collapsed into my chair here in my office.

Hardly surprising since I’ve been on the road since 05:20 this morning. That was when my alarm went off and I was already packed and dressed. It didn’t take too long to load up the car and then hit the road.

Alison dropped me off at the Kortenberg railway station and it took me a while to work out how to reach the platform. It’s not like a conventional station and things take some hunting down.

nevertheless I was soon on the platform and in time for the 06:28 to Brussels. And it was just as well that I chose that train because these are low-line commuter units where the floor is level with the platform, not like the urban express double-deckers where there’s a climb up into the carriage that I can no longer accomplish.

The rain pulled in bang on time so I had about 75 minutes to wait.

However, what I’d learnt so far today was that the 65 minutes to traverse Paris isn’t going to be enough. I need to think of another plan.

At the booking office they wouldn’t let me change my ticket, but up on the platform, speaking to the train manager I had better luck and she let me hop aboard one of the casual seats at the back of the bar, which I thought was very nice of her.

And it was just as well too because with the renovations taking place at the Gare du Nord they have moved the taxi rank from just outside the door and now it’s a real marathon trek to the rank. I really was finished long before I reached it.

As luck would have it, the taxi marshal waved me to the front of the queue and I had a really nice and chatty lady driver who drove me to Montparnasse.

There was 33 minutes to wait for the departure of my train so it was just as well that I’d caught the earlier train. I was able to grab a cup of coffee which was also just as well – that’s all that I had to eat or drink on the journey because I’d forgotten my bottle of ginger beer in Alison’s fridge.

The train was packed and we were crammed in like sardines. I managed a brief five minutes of … errr … relaxing, but that was all.

It was on time pulling into the station and I was lucky in that I only had to wait two minutes for the bus to the town centre. And from there I had a horrible, miserable walk to the bus stop at the port for my bus up here.

There’s no kerb there and the buses don’t kneel down very much so climbing in was a real effort. And then climbing up the stairs to here, I just couldn’t do it. In the end I had to take off my backpack and drag it on the floor behind me. I am not ever going to do this journey again.

Back here when I finally arrived I made myself an ice-cold drink and came in here where I crashed out on the chair and that was really that.

Tea tonight was sausage chips and beans (I’ll end up looking like a sausage after this week) and then we had football on the internet – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth.

The match was a real bottom-of-the-table shocker that Colwyn Bay won 3-1, and I have to be honest and say that they won’t ever have a victory as easy as that again. After only 40 minutes the commentator said “Mae Aberystwyth yn siomedig” – Aberystwyth are disappointing – and that was aun understatement.

One bright spark for Aberystwyth was that at half-time they brought on a left-back called Akeem Hinds. I hadn’t seen him before. He certainly livened up the team with some good interceptions and some beautiful crosses into the penalty area.

What with Colwyn Bay’s Nigerian forward Udoyen Akpan who has come to the club from Cyprus, here are two players on whom I shall be keeping a very close eye.

Mind you, I said the same about Okera Simmonds who played for Y Fflint last season, and he disappeared without trace. I must be the Kiss of Death.

Surprisingly, despite the short night there were tons of stuff on the dictaphone. I don’t know what was happening here but I was pulling nails and plastic skewers out of my foot. I took one out and it didn’t ‘arf hurt. I just wondered whether that was symbolic of the pains that I’m having in my feet or something at the moment.

The next thing was that the alarm went off so I trued to turn off the dictaphone and tried to turn off a couple of other things. I suddenly realised that it was the phone. I fell out of bed and crawled across the floor to turn off the phone. For some reason my brother wouldn’t leave the bed so the girl with me was wondering what on earth was the matter with him. Suddenly I looked at my watch and saw that it was 01:27. I’d awoken and actually dreamed of the alarm going off.

I was with my mother and brother. We pulled into Paris. We left the train and walked outside the station ready to walk across Paris to the next railway station. There were kids on bikes and scooters having fun in one of the squares. My mother said something like “we need to be careful around here because of all these kids” but they looked fairly harmless to me. For some eason we became separated. My mother and brother went off down one street and I went off down the other. I was sure that I was correct. This road took me to the top of a hill where I could see right over Paris. It looked miles away but the way my mother was going was even further away. I shouted for my mother but couldn’t hear anything so I carried on walking by myself in a field. I shouted again and this time she answered. The fence was quite high and I couldn’t climb it so I had to walk back to where the fence was low and then climb up a bank to go over the top. As I climbed up the bank the top kept falling down and I kept sliding down to the bottom again. This happened several times. In the end there was a vehicle, some kind of army lorry buried in the bank. Suddenly it gave a lurch and rolled over, throwing me onto the floor near where my mother and brother were . They said “quickly, grab that guy …” and mentioned someone’s name “… and he’ll take us”. But I couldn’t see who it was that she meant because I couldn’t see anyone around

I was with my friends from the weekend. We’d just left the train and gone walking. We came across a big bush that was on fire. We tried to stop the fire by stamping it but it burnt me. The fire gradually burnt itself out. All the climbing ivy over this object died so we scraped away some of the ivy and that was a job and a half of its own. We found a woman sitting there. Apparently she was with some kind of Social Services and had come to check up on us to make sure that we were all OK and not up to mischief. Of course we caught her like this.

When we finally did leave the house we ended up at the end of the drive and across the road into the chemist’s, nearly being knocked down by a big old Humber that stopped to let us through. I handed a form to the chemist and said “four dailies”. He said “this isn’t the correct form. Where’s the rest of it? It should be twice this size”. He showed me a full example of a form. The last thing I wanted was an argument so I took the form back and said “just give us four dailies”. She rattled off four dailies. One of my friends went to pay but it was £30 and something. That horrified him but I thought that this job of getting to the station to catch his train was just so complicated that we weren’t ever going to manage this at all at this rate. All we want is four tickets and it was turning into a right pantomime

I was in a butcher’s buying food for tea for about a dozen meals that I needed. He sat down with some huge piles of meat and began to give me things like brains of DH Lawrence etc. I wondered what on earth was going on because I was a vegan and he was giving me all these cuts of meat to eat for my tea

Anyway, I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow and I don’t feel at all like it. As I said, I’m not going to be doing this journey again. I just can’t.

Friday 8th September 2023 – THAT WAS A …

… horrible journey and I don’t ever want to do it again.

As usual, when I’m going away, I had a bad night’s sleep and spend much of the hours of darkness tossing and turning.

Nevertheless I was up and about (in principle) before the alarm went off

First thing that I did was to grab a shower and then I did a few last-minute things before going out for the bus.

The bus was there but the driver wasn’t so I had to wait a few minutes before he turned up. And then we set off with a bunch of kids who were staying at the youth hostel in the town and who had been for a morning run.

The bus threw me out at the port and I had a 200-metre walk to the bus stop around the corner where the next bus would pick me up. And it was this 200 metres so early in the journey that convinced me that my travelling days are over.

There was a 20-minute wait for the bus during which time firstly my cleaner went past and rearranged my backpack on my shoulders, and then one of the girls from the radio came past and said hello.

The bus didn’t drop me off at the station but across the road so it was a long walk. And with my carriage being right down at the far end it was something of a scramble to be seated before the train pulled out

Updating all of those files took an age, not helped by the fact that I had a little … errr …relax at some point, and we were late pulling into Montparnasse too.

What with one thing and another I’d decided long-since that I was going to throw caution to the wind and have a taxi across Paris, but the walk to the taxi rank was about as far as the walk to the underground, which is regrettable

The ride with a friendly taxi driver wasn’t as expensive as I thought, but my leg had collapsed again getting into his car so I wasn’t enjoying it one bit

To make matters worse I staggered into the Disabled Persons’ room and asked for assistance to board my train to Brussels but they told me to clear off because I hadn’t booked 24 hours in advance.

So four of the assistants there sat and watch me make my slow weary way all the way down the platform to my carriage right at the far end of the train.

There was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night. We were back at school – some kind of sports day with competitions etc. We were with our own House and had to stay with our own House all day. There were all kinds of things going on in the way of competition etc. The final one was a football match so we all had to go to our various common rooms afterwards to prepare. It was then that I realised that in all my things I didn’t have any shoes with me do it looked as if I would be playing in my socks. I didn’t really fancy playing too much because of that so when they began to talk about goalkeepers someone asked a girl “have you ever tried to be rather rough with a goalkeeper when you have the ball in the penalty area. I replied “you can always try it with me and see what happens” but no-one seemed to pick up on it so I didn’t bother all that much. I went up to the common room to prepare. One of the girls was closing the door so I had to insist and make some kind of rude comment before she’d open it again. There was a girl there from about 2 years younger than us whom I knew. Her boyfriend was in our year. The two of them were together and there was another girl in a green check dress – our colours were blue so I don’t know where she was from and what she was doing in there.

Back into this dream again, I eventually made it into the room when they let me in and sorted out into houses except these two girls and I don’t know what was happening with one of them. The other one was with her boyfriend, and we were joking about the football with my ingrowing toenail on my right foot and wasn’t going to be very happy for it especially as I didn’t have my shoes etc with me.

Back once more into the same dream and we were all back in our groups again, going back up Welsh Row towards the Grammar School dressed in our school uniform. Something happened and one of the boys pointed to another one in our class and called him names because he was more interested in eating a bar of chocolate than playing football. There were a few other things like that too.

This was another dream that took place in connection with a school. This time I was in a bath and the water was coming out with such a force that I was sure that it would break the porcelain fittings etc so I was prepared to be dumped into the middle of the bathroom. Somehow the contraption kept on running which surprised me greatly.

still on the theme of children, there was something going on about therapy for children who had been troubled. It was like a drawing and colouring class. What they had for adults was like a painting-by-numbers where you could go along and paint yourself a picture and hope to get rid of stress and tension by doing that.

This final part looks as if it might be something to do with the previous one. There was something about a clinic, people who have financial health problems. Part of the therapy there for children is drawing. For adults they had a few of these huge “painting by numbers” outfits with pictures even taller than the people themselves. The adults could spend as many hours as they wished simply painting the image.

At Brussels I didn’t have long to wait but climbing into the train was next-to impossible on these double-deckers with their steep stairs. Next time I go to Leuven I’ll have to wait around for one of the local stopping trains. These are all on the same level, and a level that is level with the platform so there’s no trying to climb in.

Leuven was roasting hot when I arrived and the walk along the platform to the lift finished me off.

And for some reason my phone wasn’t receiving messages so Alison and Jackie didn’t know that I’d arrived.

Eventually we met up and roared off to meet Hans at the Airport.

Alison knew a lovely Indian restaurant in Sterrebeek so we went there and had a delicious meal. Then we cam back here and sat outside in the heat until God Knows what time chatting.

My sofa is comfortable so I’m going to get in it and sleep for a week. I don’t ever want to do that journey again. Not on any terms.

Friday 1st September 2023 – FOURTEEN MINUTES …

… of added time was played at the end of the second half of the game between Caernarfon and Connah’s Quay this evening.

When a spectator ran onto the pitch after 53 minutes I thought “here we go again. A repeat of what happened at the game of Y Fflint v Caernarfon towards the end of last season”.

However, it was slightly different this evening. The fan was wildly gesticulating at the Medics’ bench and they suddenly got the message because they sprinted over to the supporter with their medical bags.

After much confusion and a lengthy waiting period, we saw the two medics helping from the ground someone who was clearly in a great amount of distress. And then the game could restart.

When I awoke this morning I was in great distress too because I’d had another turbulent night, as seems to be the pattern these days. I managed to beat the second alarm, but not by much, and then gradually dragged myself into the Land of the Living.

The 09:10 bus was late this morning and so I had to hang around in the wind for a while. But I made it to Carrefour with enough time to do some shopping for the weekend. A few bits and pieces including a couple more small peppers.

The freezer is now full of those but that’s just as well because I can’t ever find them when I want them. Giant peppers I can find by the dozen but they are too big for my air fryer. and there is too much of them anyway for a small appetite like mine.

Back here I had my coffee and cheese on toast and then attacked this back-up task that I’ve been planning.

And by now it’s all ready in principle. I just want one more hard drive for the images which I want to keep separate from everything else. There’s a spare drive bay (in fact there are two) in the array on the shelf so there’s no problem there.

While I was waiting for things to happen I transcribed the dictaphone notes. And I had a surprise visitor. I’d been round to Stoke on Trent to talk to someone whom I used to know. Just at that moment Zero came back home. She went into the house and came out on a scooter, a 3-wheeled thing where you put both feet on and push yourself off and go whizzing down the hill. Her mother ran after her and I ran after her too. Then her mother was on a bike and I ran. She shouted at me “come on Eric, keep up”. I thought “there’s no way that I could keep up with people going at this speed the way I am”. She reached the bottom of the hill, turned round and came back up, came up alongside me, stopped and jumped off She said “get on, we’re going to ..” I thought she said “Meir” so I replied “that’s miles away”. “No” she replied” My house nearby”. She shot off and I chased after her on the scooter thing.

Mind you, I didn’t catch her. Even in the ethereal world she manages to keep well out of the way of my evil clutches as, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, so does TOTGA.

That wasn’t the only excitement of the night either. I’d been away somewhere and then come back with a load of clothes etc all of which I’d washed and hung up. We were a big family living in this house, sleeping anywhere. We didn’t so much have bedrooms allocated. I slept on the sofa in the living room and my chest of drawers of clothes was behind it. Someone whom I knew came and began to disrupt my entire routine. I had to go to have a shower. The first thing that I needed was some clothes so I went to fetch some but the only top that I could find was a thermal vest top. I thought “never mind – I’ll take that”. My mother asked me if I was taking that. I replied “yes”. Once I’d climbed over this rubbish and back to my settee I had to climb back because I needed my deodorant etc to take with me into the bathroom. The visitor was ever so confused about what was happening and so I think was everyone else including me.

Later on I was looking for clothes for one of my 3D figures. I’d just uploaded a whole pile of brand-new stuff and the folders weren’t sorted out correctly as I would like so things were in a bit of a mess. I wasn’t quite sure where I should be looking to find the item of clothing that I wanted my figure to wear. This meant that I was going to have to start to do a big organisation of all of that but I certainly didn’t feel like it at this time of the morning when I’d been asleep.

I’d also invented some kind of leg brace to improve the posture on young girls, like a V_shape with holders at the open end of the V in which you’d put your legs so your legs were always a constant distance apart and could only go forwards and backwards so much. This was intended to keep their composure and poise while walking. They could buy one for use at home if they didn’t have access to one during the day

Finally, and depressingly, I was with my family last night, a whole bunch of them. Everyone was there and many more besides. My youngest sister was marrying and I’d been invited to the wedding. I didn’t want to go but I couldn’t find a good excuse to turn it down. There was some pre-wedding meeting. I’d finished doing a taxi job so I went. From the freezer I brought some things that I’d cooked to take with me as some kind of offering, only to find that they’d leaked in the car. I arrived and everyone tried to hoist onto me the job of giving my sister away. I flatly refused, saying that it’s my father’s job. He was unwilling because he wasn’t very confident. I just didn’t want to become involved at all in any respect other than to be there and then only reluctantly. I was telling my father that he’d been working up his life for giving away his daughter and there he was, “bang!” she’s gone and I’ve given her away. Everyone looked at me, outraged, when I said that. But I added “well, that’s what the gist of it is, isn’t it?”. It wasn’t very popular at all but then again neither am I.

So much for all of that. After the sunshine comes the rain, as we all very well know.

Tea tonight was chips from the air fryer with vegan salad and some of those nuggets. Eaten quickly because of the football.

Caernarfon were second in the table, unbeaten so far this season, and Connah’s Quay were uncharacteristically quite low down having been swept aside by TNS the other week and then beaten by Y Bala. So we were expecting a really tough match

The Cofis, having been known for their flaky defence for the past few seasons, had been playing much better this season and had been the main reason why their team was second in the table, so no-one expected them to fold up so dramatically.

Although they had their moments in the attack, they didn’t amount to anything and conceded four of the sloppiest goals that I have seen ever since Aberystwyth shipped a miserable bagful against TNS 9 months ago.

A 0-4 home defeat was a disaster and they are going to have to do much better than they did tonight.

But not right now because I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow but I won’t need much Rosemary gave me a quick ring this evening just before kick-off so she’s going to ring me tomorrow. I’ll have to lay in some supplies though as it will be a long phone call.