Tag Archives: caliburn

Tuesday 28th November 2023 – MY BREAD AND BUTTER …

… pudding went the Way of the West this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 23rd November 2023 – HAVING SAID …

… the other day that I was thinking about getting up before the alarm went off, I actually managed to make it out of bed this morning before the alarm went off.

A few months ago I went through a phase of early rising, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but just recently it’s been just a distant memory.

Mind you, at one point I didn’t think that I’d ever go to sleep, never mind awaken. For several hours starting shortly after going to be I was wracked by attacks of cramp, one after another after another.

But something must have awoken me this morning and I’ve no idea what it was but I couldn’t go back to sleep afterwards. So I spend 15 or 20 minutes doing some exercises in bed with the elastic strap with which I sleep, wrapped round my ankles, and then I raised myself from the dead.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone. And considering that it was a short night, it was quite a lively one. There were some huge problems about confrontations between the Government, the University and the Students’ Association. The Students Union magazine that was sent round for that month had dozens and dozens of cases in it where students claimed that they had been provoked by the Government or University into a whole variety of things. As members of the Executive Committee we had to sit and examine these cases. I was on my way to a meeting, walking through a street where all these ragged children were playing around telling each other jokes etc. When they were running around they were leaving their shoes all over the place. I had a couple of particular pairs of shoes that I’d encountered and had been playing football with them up and down the street as I was walking. One of the kids noticed and began to chase after me, making a few remarks. I was distracted because there was another instance taking place right before my eyes of the goings-on between the Government, the University and one of the students. I was in a hurry to go along and actually witness it first-hand so I couldn’t stop and sort out this boy’s shoes for him.

strawberry moose bill rammell open university Eric Hall photo April 2002And that brought back a few memories from the time that the Minister of Education was invited by the University to address the student body, and being forewarned by one of our “moles on various committees” we laid an ambush with STRAWBERRY MOOSE and the Minister fled. Such was Strawberry Moose’s fame in those days.

But of course, Strawberry Moose had the final say, as you might expect.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bedroom I was going off by road to the far north of Canada. We set off in a big double-decker express coach. I had my huge suitcase with STRAWBERRY MOOSE in it. I handed it to the driver, boarded and found a seat. There were a few other people sitting near me and we had a chat every now and again but I spent a lot of time dozing off. We eventually pulled into a service area with a restaurant etc where we had to alight because this was where our different buses came in to take us further on our way. I alighted from the back along with these other people whom I’d met. The driver began to take the cases out of the coach. We were checking times with each other and discussing our plans etc. One of the girls with us asked where the restaurant was. I said “it’s behind you” … "ohh no it isn’t" – ed … so she turned round. Of course by this time the bus had gone so you could actually see the service area. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have my case and the bus has gone. It’s dark and I could hardly see anything on this motorway service area. I certainly can’t remember my case being taken off the bus and now he’s disappeared.

And later I was with a girl who might have been Roxanne. She wanted to know if she could borrow my big Bosch hammer drill to drill a hole through a piece of wood. We had a look at the wood and saw how thick it was. We ended up having to tape a couple of drill bits together. I put them in the drill and was busy giving her a lesson on how to drill wood and how to drill deep lengths etc.

Nerina and I had had some friends round at one point – another couple. We were chatting away and it was becoming quite late. I said something to Nerina about going to bed. It caught her unawares and she sked me exactly what I meant. I explained that I was having to go to the bathroom so if she was planning on going to bed at some point in the near future I’d switch on her electric blanket for her so that her bed would be nice and warm. I switched it on and the evening carried on. I wandered off to do something. later on I went upstairs and she was there in bed with the bedclothes thrown back. I asked if the bed was warm enough. She replied that it was too warm. I asked why she hadn’t switched off the electric blanket but she didn’t say very much. We ended up having a lengthy discussion about Christmas and birthday presents.

Later on there were 3 of us. We were having a virtual tour on the internet of Yeovil, getting into a virtual car and on one of these map sites having a street view out of the town. We decided that it looked fairly sophisticated so we found another way back into the city. I went a strange way because I said that it’s one way of seeing what’s in people’s gardens. We came across a nouse where behind a tarpaulin were dozens and dozens of police motorbikes all with white fairings. They were a model that I hadn’t seen before so I imagined that they had been imported from somewhere obscure and were slowly being prepared for sale. This visual programme was incredible. We ended up on the very top of a hill really high up looking over this really beautiful valley with a river and viaduct in the distance etc. We climbed out of the car to look and the car just accelerated away on its own down the hill. I could feel the wind whistling through my hair as Nerina, this other guy, another couple of people and I stood there watching it. All 5 of us seemed to go at the same time. The woman of this other couple completely forgot who she was with and took my hand as we walked away which of course had everyone bursting out into laughter.

The last time that I was in Yeovil was with Sue from Swindon. I moved her from Brussels when I had my Luton Transit and we saw each other a few times after that if I happened to be in the UK. We celebrated the Solstice together at Avebury one year but like most things involving the UK it petered out.

Thinking about it, I was in the UK for half a day in 2013 to pick up a lorry-load of slates to deliver to the South of France and Rosemary and I went in Aberdeen in 2019 to pick up THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR instead of flying to Greenland to meet it there, and they are the only times that I’ve been in the UK since 2011. And, to be quite honest, I’ve no intention of ever returning.

Having finished the dictaphone notes I carried on with the radio programme and that’s now finished and up and running, ready for broadcast on … errr … 5th July next year.

In between all of that, I had my coffee and bread-and-butter pudding and phoned the garage to talk about Caliburn and his controle technique. He actually has a vacancy and he’ll send someone round “shortly” to pick him up. And Caliburn will soon be 17 too.

The lift engineer who came to chat with me was a woman – not that that’s a surprise in itself these days – but I wouldn’t go doing any lift engineering in the clothes that she was wearing. And she was wearing enough perfume to pole-axe a bactrian camel. It reminded me of the story about the guy spreading white powder outside his front gate and his neighbout asked him why.
"It’s to keep Polar Bears off my cabbages" he replied.
"But there are no Polar bears within 5,000 miles of this place"
"Powerful stuff, isn’t it?"

This afternoon I’ve been sorting out more of my Canada 2022 photos and I’m now about to board my train in Moncton ready to travel back to Montréal. And what a journey that was.

As well as that I’ve been going through one of the backup drives checking duplicates and disposing of yet more.

Tea tonight was steamed veg and veggie balls in vegan cheese sauce, delicious as usual. Tomorrow’s tea with have to be sausage and beans, not salad, as I’m not going shopping in the morning. At some point the garage might come by for Caliburn and I’ll probably be out at the shops or something so I’ll stay at home and wait, which will mean that he won’t come.

But I’ve plenty of other things that will keep me out of mischief. At some point I’m even going to soak my fruit ready for Christmas baking and that’s the kind of thing that will be exciting.

My first ever Christmas cake a couple of years ago, coached on the internet by Hannah from Batley, was a resounding success but I put that down to beginner’s luck. And in any case Hannah is no longer in our Welsh group so I’ll be on my own for this one.

But I learnt a lot last time. Here’s hoping that I can remember it.

Wednesday 22nd November 2023 – AND THERE I WAS …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 28th May 2023 – A BIG HAPPY …

… birthday to Caliburn. He’s growing up – sixteen years old today.

And we’ve had plenty of adventures together, usually accompanied by the third member of our team, STRAWBERRY MOOSE. We’ve been to about half the countries in Europe together, battled our way through snowdrifts and mountain passes, towed mini-diggers all the way from North Lancashire down to the south-ish of France non-stop on a 34-hour journey, gone off to photograph a suspension bridge 2 hours down the road and not come back for almost 3 weeks and endless shuttles from Brussels to Virlet overnight in the early days of our relationship

At his last controle technique the examiner told me that he still has a few years left so it’s likely that he’ll outlast me, so here’s to many more years of happy Caliburn motoring.

The only regret was that I never succeeded in taking him over to North America for a run around. We had all of our ducks in a row at one time but then Strider came along and he was a much more appropriate vehicle with which to attack the sub-Arctic byways. Caliburn, good as he has been, would never have got down to that abandoned iron mine at the abandoned town of Gagnon.

It seems that I’m being overwhelmed with nostalgia over the last few days and I’ve no idea why. It’s probably because I have too much time on my hands right now. Perhaps I ought to do something about that – like “go back to bed and sleep it off”.

Last night was one occasion when staying in bed sounded like a good idea because it’s a Sunday and that’s always a lie-in around here. I’ll get up at any time you like for 6 days of the week, but never on Sunday. Everyone’s entitled to a day of rest.

So even if I awaken at something silly like 09:00, 10:30 is much more like a realistic time to show a leg.

It took me a while to gather my wits which, seeing how few wits I have these days, is quite surprising. But once I’d entered the Land of the Living the first thing that I did was to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. We started off with something happening about oil filters on vehicles, yellow heavy-duty plastic spin-on ones rather than filter cartridges that you’d have to change but I can’t remember very much about this dream at all.

And then I was working as a lorry driver for someone. We were extremely busy. Someone had gone off sick and I’d had another spell of ill-health so I ended up taking a couple of days off. He had a lorry loaded with waste that needed tipping somewhere so he rang around and ended up speaking to a woman who was a lorry driver and asked her if she would do it. He explained the urgency of it, which I thought was strange because it would give this woman a lot of power over him if she knew how urgent the job was. I could hear the conversation because I was in bed in the next room. She sounded dubious and asked him “what had happened to so-and-so?”. He replied that there was something the matter with him. She asked what was the matter with me. He gave some sort of reply that basically he thought that I was malingering, which I thought was a horrible thing to do because I’d never ever missed a shift as long as I’d worked for him and had volunteered to do all the extra stuff.

After breakfast, or lunch, or whatever you might call it, I sat down and made a start on work.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was going to go on the attack with my Labrador stuff so I sat down and reviewed the directories that I’ve been keeping.

Up to 2015, everything is all shipshape and Bristol-fashion. But then I had all of my hospital issues and then went to live in Leuven and since then everything went haywire and it’s just a complete mess.

For a start, I can’t find any trace whatsoever of any of my notes from my 2017 trek around Labrador so I’ve decided that I shall have to go back to basics and start from the very beginning.

There are the dictaphone notes – well, some of them – and then the blog notes from the relevant periods and that seems like a very good place to start.

But then you won’t believe this but I had to have a really good hard think because I’d forgotten how I write my websites. Back in the old days I’d be churning them out on a regular basis but since my health issues over the last 8 years I’ve not written more than half a dozen.

That’s the problem with growing older thought. Two things happen to you when you reach my age. The first thing is that you forget absolutely everything.
What’s the second thing?” – ed.
“I can’t remember”

Anyway, even just collating the stuff from 2017 is going to take an age, never mind adding it in to the earlier voyages.

What’s worse is that I can’t find the mileage notes.

With travelling several years over the 2100 kms of the Trans Labrador Highway and taking a couple of thousand photos, it’s important to have them all in the correct order and in the correct positions. And although I noted the mileages because I anticipated this problem, I’ve travelled the highway in both directions so the eastbound mileages are not the same as the westbound mileages of course.

Back in the past (or past in the back if you are George Bush) I managed to identify a couple of identical views taken from each direction on different occasions so I used them as reference points and calculated all of the mileages of every photo from every trip to correspond with those marker references. But if I can’t find my notes I’ll have to go back and do it all again, I reckon. That’ll take a while and no mistake.

There was a break while I made s batch of pizza dough, seeing as I’d run out. It rose quite nicely too. Two lumps went into the freezer later on and I made a base with the third. And once more, we had a magnificent pizza. Using these small cherry tomatoes cut in half and putting them on top of the cheese is definitely the way to go.

So before I go to bed I’m going to make a start on editing the radio notes that I dictated last night. I had a go recording them directly onto the computer now that I’ve configured it, however the quality was really poor and it all ended up in the bin and I redictated it using the ZOOM H8.

Had I been of a mind, and had it not been 01:00 when I finished, I suppose that I could have filtered out the interference and enhanced the quality, but I’ll have to work on that for another time.

Tomorrow I’ll finish off the radio programmes and then carry on with the Canada 2017 stuff. Right now I’m on a bus heading through the mountains to pick up Strider. There’s a really long way to go yet.

We haven’t reached the funny part of the whole trip though and I’ll dine out on this for ever, I reckon. That year I went to see my friend in St John’s so that meant the long sea crossing across the Gulf of St Lawrence to Argentia instead of the short (as in 9 hours) crossing to Channel Port aux Basques.

“Roaming” was switched off on my telephone of course because it’s quite expensive in North America but as we were sailing along the southern coast of Newfoundland the phone suddenly went berserk with missed phone calls, messages and all of that kind of thing and at first I was bewildered.

However there’s a French colony – St Pierre et Miquelon – on an island in the Gulf of St Lawrence and obviously my French mobile network supplier provides the service to it. For a brief moment my telephone connected with the network and caught up with everything that I’d been missing.

That explains all of that, but it still doesn’t explain the situation in 2019 when we were in mid-Atlantic, 1000 miles from just about everywhere on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR, and I suddenly picked up an internet connection out of nowhere. I’ve never been able to explain that.

Friday 3rd March 2023 – HERE I ALL AM ..

… not sitting in a rainbow but sitting on my comfy seat in my bedroom. I’ve made it back home.

With just the usual problems, such as losing my keys on the train and having to rouse the staff that was asleep in the office at the station. A good job that it was at the terminus and there was still another train to come in otherwise I would have been well and truly snookered.

And that reminds me of the old French joke –
“Frappe! Frappe!”
“Qui est là?”
“Lost”
“Lost qui?”
“Oui”

Anyway, after another miserable night’s sleep, I was awake yet again before the alarm went off. And after the previous night there was nevertheless plenty of stuff on the dictaphone to be going on with

I was out with an American policeman last night driving around California. he was showing me all these mountainous areas where people had moved in and put cabins. These were in some of the routes taken by wolves during their migration and the cabins were blocking the routes. I awoke quickly after that.

Later on I was at one of these competitions on TV about 2 items. There was an explosive shell. For some reason I began to look inside the shell casing. I dropped it and all of the gunpowder went everywhere all over the film set. We tried washing it away with water but of course that didn’t work. It froze immediately. Some girl was about to skate off and go right through it

I took a girl to the airport last night in a taxi. I don’t know who she was but I ought to. We were discussing the airport, saying how handy it was for us. She said that her father ran some kind of taxi service in the airport area. He’d bought a couple of limousines, a black one and a silver one with the idea of trying to get hold of some high-quality airport work. The chat went on for quite a while. We arrived at the vicinity of the airport. I grossly undercharged her for going and I’ve no idea why that would be. I only ended up charging her £6:00 or something like that. Going to the airport cost a lot more than that back in the day. It was an extremely interesting chat about her father and his 2 silver K135 cars

We were in Walsh class last night reading a paper on changing roles in society. It listed probably 10 roles like mending a fence, mending your roof, taking money to the bank etc. The discussion was about how modern people are now changing their way of thinking. The key word here was “remuneration”. We’re all older in our Welsh class. I was saying that I was up on my roof in August. Someone else said that they’d fixed their own fence the other week. It seemed that we were bucking a trend about this question of changing DiY into paid remuneration.

And so I was up and about and ready to go out of the door at 07:00. The train that came in at 07:10 was another push-me-pull-you double decker and I have a hard time climbing on board them. Someone having chained his folding pushbike to the disabled handrail didn’t help matters at all.

At Brussels Gare du Nord I left the train and found my way onto the concourse but the lift downstairs was out of order so I had a very delicate walk down the stairs. I’ll tell you something for nothing and that is that no matter how much better I’m feeling, it’s a totally different kettle of fish with a backpack on my back.

My bus was due to leave at 08:20 but there was no sign of it. All the others were in and gone, and ours finally staggered into the loading bay 40 minutes late. But there’s one thing about being a disabled passenger and that is that even though it’s difficult to climb up the steps into the bus, they let me on first so I can have the pick of the seats.

Between Brussels and Lille I had a very charming young lady sitting next to me and we had a lengthy chat all the way. It’s a long time since I’ve had such an erudite companion so if you read this, Pauline, un grand bonjour.

She alighted at Lille and I had another companion as far as Rouen. He didn’t have much to say for himself but he picked up my phone for me when it fell to the floor.

From Rouen to Caen I was on my own but we did have a moment of excitement when we were stopped in a police barrage and the bus was searched for drugs. Two people were taken off the bus to be interviewed but they were allowed back on afterwards.

It’s no surprise to anyone that I missed the 16:10 train to Granville. But there’s another one at 17:10 so I was able to grab a nice hot coffee. I hadn’t had too much to drink on board the bus, on the basis that what doesn’t go in won’t want to come out. 8 hours on a bus is a long time and the toilets are really inconvenient for people with mobility issues.

As we pulled into the station at Granville I checked my keys and put them into the outside pocket of my coat so that they were handy. When I reached Caliburn on the car park I no longer had them. In the confusion of organising myself to leave they must have fallen out.

It took a while to awaken the people in the station. Presumably they had gone off for a coffee before the next train comes in, but eventually they arrived and we did the necessary so that I could collect my keys. Serves me right for being disorganised.

Back at Ice Station Zebra I made a drink because I had a thirst that you could photograph. And then I watched the football. Connah’s Quay Nomads v Y Bala in the Welsh Cup semi-Final.

The Quay took the lead after just 35 seconds and from them on we had a right full-blooded cup-tie that was played with an extraordinary amount of skill. A really good advert for the Welsh Premier League.

In the second half Bala scored 2 quick goals to take the lead but with 10 minutes left the Quay equalised. We were heading for penalties when Bala popped up with a third and despite Connah’s Quay throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Bala in the dying seconds of the game they couldn’t find an equaliser.

They did actually have the ball in the net right at the end but with Jack Kenny holding down Alex Ramsey in the Bala goal, there was no way that the goal would be allowed.

And how I wish that Jack Kenny, who is one of my favourite players in the WPL, would stop moaning and protesting every time a decision is given against him. He’d be a really good player, one of the best in the league, if only he would stop being so petulant.

On the bus I’d eaten some of my butties so at half-time I fetched the leftovers and demolished them with a pear and a banana. And now I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow I’m shopping, and as I missed my St David’s Day, when I return I’m going to make some leek and potato soup for the weekend to vary my diet a little. I’m quite looking forward to that.

And I’m looking forward to my own bed as well. The hotel bed was comfortable, but it’s not mine.

And just a word before I go. Travelling everywhere on crutches is difficult, yet it would have been much more difficult without all of the help that I received from all kinds of people who showed me some extraordinary kindness as I went around on my travels.

It’s the kind of thing that restores my jaundiced faith in humanity and I am really grateful to everyone who helped me along the way.

Wednesday 1st March 2023 – THAT WAS A …

… loooooooooooooooooooong day today.

14 hours I was on the road in total, give or take a few minutes. I left my home at about 07:10 and arrived in Leuven at just about 21:00.

Yes, I’m in Leuven. I’ve heard nothing from the heart people and nothing from the people who are dealing with my cancer, but regardless, the kidney people contacted me for an appointment.

Not that I’m all that bothered, because as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, after the events of October and November I’m pretty-much resigned to the inevitable, but I was interested in seeing, as well as I could, how I could cope with the travelling.

And so having gone to bed rather early last night, I was up with the lark at 06:00 and made some sandwiches and so on, and did a little organising.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone last night. My mother was a policewoman last night. She was interrogating a suspect or witness or something similar but was doing it at home. This was dragging on into the night and we as kids couldn’t go to sleep. In the end there was no real point going to bed so we were just sitting up waiting for her to finish. But it just went on and on. We’d go in regularly to ask how she was doing. She said that she wasn’t ready yet. We’d go in to pick a banana or something to eat. In the end one of my sisters went in. My mother said quite sharply that it wasn’t going to be finished before 05:00. This was the final straw as far as we were concerned. That was a ridiculous time for children to be still up and about waiting for their mother to finish her work.

This dream continued later on. We were crying out for toilet paper or tissues etc. Some guy came into the apartment where we were living with his arms full of rolls of toilet paper and just dumped it on the floor in one of the rooms and then left. We kids had to go in there to sort out what he’s just brought and check what we had then organise the bathroom with it.

Plus tard nous avons eu l’idée de reintégrer le chasson dans la famille qu’on a du faire alors le chef s’est adapté assez rapidement et le chat de la famille est poussé en dehos du groupe alors celà a provoqué une investigation comment on a fait commencer et c’est à ce moment-là qu’on a eu la série de la pied d’entre nous

So, a dream in French yet again. And I haven’t translated it because it’s total nonsense that makes no sense whatsoever.

Just after 07:00 I headed for the hills and Caliburn and we drove to the station where I was lucky enough to find a parking space almost right outside the door.

When the train came in, I headed off in the direction of Rennes, but only as far as Avranches where I alighted. Public transport is so messed up here that you end up going all round the Wrekin to get anywhere.

The bus came in at 08:55 and we drove through the snow (yes, the snow!) and ended up in Caen where we had a half-hour wait for the next bus. This was packed to the gunwhales but I found a seat eventually and we roared off to the big underground bus station at Bercy in Paris.

This time a wait of 45 minutes before the next bus came in. This was likewise packed but the driver made sure that I had a comfortable place by the door. We called at the airport and then all the way to Brussels, making a stop at a service station where I grabbed a coffee.

Stuck in the traffic for ages, we eventually arrived in Brussels rather later than planned so I’d missed the train that I wanted and had to catch a later train. The escalator up to the platform wasn’t working so I had a long walk to find the lift.

The train was a push-me-pull-you double-decker and climbing into these proved to be quite difficult as the steps in are quite high. I had quite a bit of difficulty and it was extremely awkward.

Having eaten my sandwiches on the way to Paris, I tucked into my potatoes and lentils on the train and that was a really good plan because they went down a treat.

Leaving the train at Leuven was difficult too but I managed in the end.

The hotel where I’m staying must have been wonderful 100 years ago. It’s certainly seen better days. It’s not one of my usual haunts but it’s right outside the railway station so I don’t have far to stagger. It’s expensive too, hence I’m only staying for two nights and coming home on Friday.

And the verdict?

It’s quite difficult and I’m glad that I did bring two crutches, not just one. When things are on the level I’m fine and I could in theory go for miles but carrying a backpack up hills and steps is quite complicated and I have real difficulty trying to carry a coffee cup too.

At one point I was thinking that I might be ready for another adventure with backpack and airline ticket but having done all this today, maybe I’ll leave it a while before making more plans.

But I got here, and that’s a miracle in itself

Thursday 9th February 2023 – CALIBURN IS BACK AGAIN …

… and with a Controle Technique certificate too, which has cheered me up. And seeing as he now seems to start properly whenever I want him to start, it looks as if I’m back on the road again.

Mind you, climbing into the cab is a real issue If I’m at street level when I need to climb in, it’s extremely difficult. I need to find a kerb against which I can park so that I can climb in easier and at LeClerc the kerbs are quite high and it’s a struggle to climb up that high.

One thing that I do have to remember is to exit with my left leg first. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when I tried to exit Caliburn the other day “right leg first”, the leg collapsed underneath me and decanted me onto the floor.

But there’s a strange phenomenon going on with my legs right now. For the last couple of weeks I noticed that when I awaken in the morning parts of my legs and feet are quite numb. I wonder if it’s because I’ve been lying on a trapped nerve.

And so it was this morning. And apart from that it was another night of going to bed early, falling asleep early and then waking up and tossing and turning for a while. I was actually awake before the alarm went off at 07:30 and had I exerted myself I could have left the bed. But that was too much to hope for.

But when I did leave the bed,, I had my medication and then checked my mails and messages before wandering off for a shower. And climbing into the bath for my shower was the easiest that it’s been since I came back. This physiotherapy seems to be working.

Although the Controle Technique was arranged for 11:45 I went out quite a bit earlier than that. With not going far these days I was worried about how Caliburn would get on with the pollution test so I took him for a good run – several laps around the dual-carriageway by-pass to get him nice and hot

Anyway, he sailed through with no issues.

Armed with a valid certificate I went to fuel up and then for a good shop at LeClerc. There wasn’t a great deal that I needed but nevertheless I still ran up quite a bill. I’d bought plenty of frozen veg and some more carrots so after I’d brought up most things from Caliburn and had some food and coffee I peeled, blanched and froze 1.5 kilos of carrots. That will keep me going for a while now.

After all of that I fell asleep and was awoken by the physiotherapist who came round earlier than usual. He had me walking around the apartment with just one crutch and wants me to practice that for the next few days until our session on Tuesday next week. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

It’s been a day of interaction too. Apart from having lengthy chats with customers at the garage, I met a neighbour as I arrived home and she kept me chatting at the door for a while. And then another neighbour had a good talk with me as well. If that wasn’t enough, the people with whom I’ve been trying to arrange this money transfer rang up to tell me that they now have everything that they need. And that’s good news.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night and that needed transcribing. I was with 2 girls last night. They had some kind of cupboard and were hanging up something in front of it like a system of chains etc to make it look attractive. It was obviously a project that was doomed because they couldn’t make anything hang horizontally. The wire that they were using wasn’t strong enough. Instead of pulling on the metal tubes that were supporting it, the tubes were pulling the wire and going all out of shape. Nothing was in the vertical. They were having to do all kinds of tricks to try to make these wires go vertically but the more tricks they did on it the worse it became. I had a feeling that this was going to be a project that was doomed to fail from the start. Sooner or later they would realise it but I gave them a hand just the same.

There was also something of which I had a vague recollection was taking place in a Prisoner of War camp where there was some kind of committee that was set up to investigate infractions against the prisoners who broke the camp rules or to investigate possible escape attempts etc. This committee wasn’t very successful. There was a feeling going round that the Germans had infiltrated a couple of people into the camp to serve on the committee and sabotage the work of the prisoners while they were there but I can’t remember very much at all about this.

And then there was me, a young girl and a rather large woman trying to lift an enormous suitcase into the back of an estate car. The young girl was at the front trying to do the lifting and we were at the back trying to push. It was very difficult to make it fit so I suggested that seeing as it was the other lady’s possessions she shoudl go to the front because she would be much better able to lift it. She could decide how in, what articles could be squashed and what couldn’t. For some reason the girl was reluctant to relinquish her position at the front of this line even though she was having an extreme amount of difficulty actually doing anything there.

Tea tonight was a vegan burger with pasta and veg in tomato sauce. Nothing particularly exciting but I am allowed to have a boring meal here and there every now and again.

Having fallen asleep already this evening I finished off typing out my notes for the day and now I’m off to bed. I have to go into town tomorrow on the bus and pick up some medication and my fresh mushrooms and peppers. I didn’t want to buy them today because the later I leave it, the longer they will keep.

But despite what the physiotherapist says, I’m not going down there with just one crutch. I’ll keep on using both when I’m out and about until I’m confident about it all. It’s not going to be something that will happen overnight.

Wednesday 8th February 2023 – CALIBURN IS BACK

But not for long. When I went to pick him up this morning I discovered that they had forgotten to take him for his Controle Technique – the French equivalent of the MoT safety examination. The earliest the testing station can fit him in is tomorrow at 11:45 but I wasn’t going to struggle back home on the bus and come back out tomorrow to pick him up again, so I brought him home and I’ll drive him back tomorrow.

Hopefully I’ll have a better night’s sleep than I did last night. I was in bed at some kind of realistic time and was asleep quite quickly but I didn’t stay asleep for long. I was drifting in and out of semi-consciousness until the alarm went off and it would be wrong to say that I was sleeping.

There must have been times that I was asleep though because there were several little voyages during the night when I went off on my travels. There was me, a couple of girls and a young family with a small daughter. I’d cooked tea for everyone and made a big, sickly ice cream for afterwards. I doled out the ice cream between all of us. As I was handing it out I suddenly found out to my horror that I’d forgotten to make ice-cream for the little girl. I had to dash back into the kitchen and took my ice cream from the fridge and speedily divided it into half. I put her half into a smaller dish so it looked as if it was overflowing the bowl the same as everyone else’s and took it to her. Her eyes lit up and she was absolutely delighted by this. That made me feel much better but then I was going around afraid that I might have forgotten someone else’s ice cream. What would I do if that were the case?

And then I was back at work in another one of these recurring dreams where I was on the point of retiring. I had tons of work stored in my cupboard. Someone made some kind of strange remark about “we don’t know what you do all day”. I thought that they’d be surprised if they found out that I did nothing. I was going through some files and found some information about people whom we knew and one or two people who’d actually worked for us, and prison sentences that they’d received, for one person, defrauding an insurance company and another person for something else. We wondered why they had all gone quiet after leaving. There was some old guy in there who’d been sent to prison. Everyone blamed a friend of mine at work because he’d told a fellow to confess everything rather than keeping silent and making them have to prove it. Again it was a case that I could leave this job tomorrow and leave all this work undone and not have to worry about anything. If they were to talk about me behind my back I wouldn’t care.

Later on I was taking my passengers to the station in the yellow Cortina estate. We were driving through Shavington. There was a vehicle parked on the opposite side on the road. Suddenly 2 vehicles pulled out from behind it and I hit them head-on in the car. When I came to I was wandering around the area of Shavington trying to regain consciousness. I went into a big Department Store to buy some clean clothes. The staff was busy trying on a new uniform. They had T-shirts on etc while they were experimenting with these new clothes and weren’t interested in serving customers. Eventually I managed to track down a server who came to see me. I told her that I needed some clothes and needed to report this accident but she started to take me off in her direction where these clothes were

And finally I was in my new house last night, a house very similar to Gainsborough Road. There was a survey being arranged for it to decide whether or not I could buy it. I was already in there so I hoped that the survey was satisfactory. The house was a lot nicer than I remembered anyway. I was busy organising some things that I’d brought with me. I had my mother and father with me. My mother went into a cupboard and asked me to pass her some cheese and pork etc. She asked what I wanted to eat. I replied that I hadn’t yet decided so she told me to hurry up. Then my father came in. He’d been working outside and his hands were dirty. he had some hand cleaner with him that he’d brought. he went to put it down on the windowsill by the sink while he washed his hands.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages and then did a little tidying up ready for the cleaner. I phoned up the garage to check that Caliburn was ready and then caught the bus out to the garage to pick him up.

he actually started, despite about three feet of frost all over him, so something works, and I headed back to LIDL where I spent a King’s ransom on stuff that I needed for the next few weeks – and forgot the blackcurrant syrup.

Back here I made some coffee and while it was brewing I made a couple of trips down to Caliburn to bring up what I’d bought. And then I … errr … had a relax. I’m clearly not as fit or as well as I think I should be.

The cleaner awoke me when she came, and while she was doing her stuff about the place I paired off the music for the next couple of radio programmes and began to write the notes. And after she left, I fetched the final stuff up here from out of Caliburn, thinking all the time to myself about how much easier it will be when I move to the ground floor.

And that’s taken one step closer to the end today, because I gathered up all of the stuff that I needed to complete these forms about transferring my money for the purchase of the apartment. Hopefully they can now go ahead and create the transfer paperwork so that I can credit the money whenever I receive the final date of completion.

And then the fun will begin.

Tea tonight was another one of my leftover curries. And it was just as delicious as all of the others, although I’m still not sure why the rice and veg is going more soggy that it used to in the past even though I’m not cooking it any differently than I always have.

Tomorrow I have to take Caliburn back and if he passes, I’ll have a little trip to fuel up and go to LeClerc to do some shopping there. Make sure that I have a good supply of stuff on board.

And then probably have a little … errr … relax again when I come home because all of this effort is wearing me out much more than it ought to do. I’m clearly not as well as I should be and I shudder to think how I’m going to manage if they want me to go back to Leuven.

Monday 30th January 2023 – I’VE FINALLY FINISHED …

… these radio programmes that I’ve been trying to do since Thursday.

Much to my own surprise, and probably yours too, I was up and out of bed quite quickly when the alarm went off at 06:00. And after I’d taken my medication etc, I was soon back at my desk.

Mind you I only wish that I’d shown as much energy and enthusiasm working though as I had in leaving the bed. I was quite easily distracted unfortunately and what with one thing and another (and once you start, you’d be surprised at how many other things there are) it was just about midday when I was finally finished.

Mind you, these two that have have finished today are pretty good ones and the choice of music is quite impressive.

This afternoon I was intending to make the necessary arrangements about organising some kind of payment in respect of this apartment. But the solicitor who’s handling the sale STILL hasn’t sent me the information that I need to complete the forms that I’ve been sent. From what I’ve seen and experienced, he’s even worse than me at postponing everything until beyond the last moment. It’s not a very good advertisement for a solicitor, that’s for sure.

However, not that I’m short of a few things to do. For a start, I had to pay my cleaner. She’s not doing this job for nothing. That didn’t take me too long. She’d worked out for herself how many hours she’d worked and what was her hourly rate. I just had simply to fill in an on-line form and that was that.

And then there was the dictaphone. I’d had a dreadful night, tossing and turning all over the place. But even so, I’d been off for quite a few rambles during the night. I was making tea at one point. I was looking around for a tin of vegetables but couldn’t find one in my cupboard. In the end I had the cupboard out with almost everything moved so I could have a good look through. I found lots of stuff that I’d missed but I couldn’t find any vegetables. Suddenly I remembered that a few weeks ago I’d bought a couple of tins of really expensive peas and carrots that had been on sale at Noz at some ridiculously cheap price. I knew where they were so I went to look for those instead.

Later on I’d been wandering around some town somewhere. I can’t remember where now. It was where I was living and I was working as a sort-of odd job delivery person. One Saturday morning I had a few things to deliver. I had to go round to the house of one of my old taxi clients to pick up the facade of a piece of wooden furniture to take to somewhere else. While I was there I picked up a piece of chipboard that I’d had for years that I’d wanted for another project. I was roller-skating down this hill to a road junction and suddenly remembered that I didn’t know how to stop. In my anxiety I fell over. I picked myself up, picked up the facade of this piece of furniture and set off again. After I’d gone about 200 yards I suddenly realised that I’d left my piece of chipboard in the middle of the road. I was quite attached to this piece of chipboard for some reason. It had followed me around in a variety of moves so I went back to find it. I picked it up and came back again. I could hear some kind of arguing between a mother and two children. I recognised the voices as yet more people whom I’d taken on the taxis years ago. I glanced over the hedge as I went past. It was indeed this family but in the intervening years they had put on a lot of weight and were scarcely recognisable. While I was setting off again I was thinking that with walking to Chester that I’d done the other night, why didn’t I go on roller skates? That would only have taken me half the time, I reckon, and for a lot less energy too. “I shall have to look further into this travelling to places on roller skates” I thought.

As well as that I’d been in London somewhere. I had to go out to the East End. I’d picked up a printer on the way. For some reason it was much later than usual so I was running out of time. In the end I booked a room at a hotel out there so I could finish my journey next morning. On the way back I was walking and ended up in this countryside with these fields and hills somewhere in North London. There were some kids playing around. I suddenly realised that I didn’t have the printer with me. I had to make a detour somewhere else to pick up the printer. Then it wouldn’t all fit in the box. I realised that I had to dismantle it because I’d assembled it when I’d bought it. Then I could just about fit it into the box. I set off and was going past this row of terraced cottages. I had something to do in the back garden of one of them. I ended up borrowing a drill and a large bit. As I walked away from there they told me that I needed to be careful when I left. I walked away and ended up going down this alleyway out into the lane from where I’d come. I suddenly realised that the sun was over on my right which meant that I must have been walking back east again. I had to stop and have a think. Someone caught up with me and asked if I’d borrowed a drill from such and such a place. I replied “yes” so he asked if he could take it back as he needed it. I showed him the drill. He replied “that’s not exactly what he was looking for”. Then I thought that I’d pack everything into my rucksack that I was carrying. It was rather pointless having an empty backpack and my hands full of stuff. The first thing I noticed in my backpack was my bag of money. I thought “why was that in there when it’s going to be completely inaccessible. It should be in my pocket”. While I was arranging everything these 2 girls came up as well and started to talk to me about something or other. When the first one finished the second one said to me in a foreign accent that she wanted to talk to me about napalm. I didn’t know exactly what she meant by this. She said that she’d written to me a few months ago, which I didn’t remember. She asked me where I was living so I replied “in Normandy”. She asked “are you travelling?”. I replied “no” which stunned her for a moment. I turned round to the boy and whispered “if anyone else asks me another silly question I’ll go berserk”.

Finally, I had ended up with an orange somehow and had to take it back to the market stall to have my money back on it. Then I noticed that they had a net of 6 oranges for €2:00 so I was going to ask if I could swap and pay the difference. It took me a few minutes to be served. When the stall holder came up to see me he was extremely cheerful and laughing. He told me to speak very slowly so I could understand him. I wasn’t sure whether he was actually taking the mickey out of my accent or not

Talking about the radio programmes, which I was earlier, it’s going very soon to be the 200th programme that I will have prepared. For my 100th, I did a special series of concerts. But this time I’m going to be doing something quite different and that involves a lot of work. Consequently I made a start this afternoon and that’s what I’ve been doing for the rest of the day.

Of course, you’re all dying to find out what it will be but you’re going to have to wait a couple of months before you find out.

In between all of this I took Caliburn out for a spin. He’s going to the garage tomorrow to have this electrical fault checked over and I wanted to make sure that he would start. It was something of a struggle into life but off he went all the same. I hope that tomorrow he’ll start just the same.

Tea tonight was another delicious stuffed pepper with rice and veg. I’ve got the hang of this stuffing now and there’s plenty left over for a taco roll tomorrow evening.

While we’re on the subject of tomorrow … “well, one of us is” – ed … I’m going to be extremely busy. I have a Welsh lesson that needs preparation, then a quick run with Caliburn to the garage and back on the bus, then the physiotherapist. As well as that, I have some fruit buns to make as the last one will disappear at some point tomorrow.

In that case I suppose that I’d better go to bed. Despite having a bad night and being up early, I’ve managed not to fall asleep during the day today. I don’t want to fall asleep in the middle of my Welsh lesson or miss Caliburn’s rendezvous.

Tuesday 24th January 2023 – I’VE BEEN, GORN …

… and dunnet now. And there’s no backing out from this.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m having some severe mobility issues right now and that I can’t go on like this much longer.

Regular readers of this rubbish will also recall, going back to the days when I moved from Belgium, that I sold my old apartment and had some money left over after everything was paid off.

When I moved here in 2017 I rented this apartment with the reasoning that I could look around the area and find somewhere nice to buy, but I love this apartment, this building and this little corner perched up here on the rock in the middle of these old Army barracks on the clifftop that I didn’t want to move anywhere else.

However, back at the end of November an apartment on the ground floor went up for sale and I made an offer on it. After much horse-trading we agreed on a price and this morning I went to the solicitor’s and signed the formal binding offer, having paid the deposit at the bank on Friday.

The story hasn’t quite ended yet. Everyone knows that Byzantine nature of French Civil Service and so I’m not expecting the formal exchange of contracts to be any time soon

Secondly, there is a problem in that the property is tenanted right now. But here I have a slight advantage over any other purchaser in that I’m a tenant here too and can negotiate with my own landlord for the tenant to take over this apartment in exchange if necessary.

And so when the alarm went off at 07:00 this morning I fell out of bed fairly quickly. Having had a good shower last night (and I can climb into the bath a little easier now as well) I didn’t need to hang about very much. On the way out of the building I put the wheeled shopping trolley in the back of Caliburn and then walked over to catch the bus.

The bus dropped me off at the terminus at the other end of the line and then I had a long walk down the hill to the LeClerc Hypermarket (why they can’t run the bus to what is the obvious terminus of this line instead of a roundabout 400 metres away completely beats me).

That walk took me long enough with my crutches and I was glad to reach the car hire offices at the back of the building.

After having gone through all of the paperwork I left the Hypermarket in a little Fiat 500. After having driven Caliburn and all other kinds of big vehicles, it was like being in charge of a roller skate but what did I care? Having made brief enquiries about the cost of a taxi to where I wanted to go, hiring a tiny car was a much better option.

First stop was Noz where I had a look round and ended up with some vegan chocolate and a bag of crisps. Next stop was the Biocoop where I bought some vegan sausages. But even though they have moved into larger premises, there is still no vegan cheese.

It was time now to head out into the sticks and the small town of La Haye-Pesnel. There’s a railway line here, the railway between Granville and Rennes, but the station closed a long time ago which was a shame.

Our appointment was for 10.30 but it was more like 11.00 when we were called in. And there was so much to read (and correct because some it it was incorrect) that it was about 13:00 when we left. And now I’m legally committed to purchase the apartment downstairs. No more steps to climb and, when I’ve installed a walk-in shower, no more bath to climb into.

And a much better kitchen too, which will be even better still when I’ve finished.

On the way home I stopped off at LeClerc and went berserk, spending just about €100:00. There was that much stuff that I needed that I didn’t have in stock, as well as the fact that there was a lot of stuff on special offer. I was in there for 90 minutes and the car was overloaded when I left.

Back here I put most of the stuff in the trolley and the bags in the back of Caliburn (I didn’t have to carry them far but it was a struggle all the same) and staggered up the stairs with the frozen food to put in the freezer.

And then back downstairs into the car and back to the Hypermarket to drop it off. I had travelled 48 kilometres, put in 3 litres of fuel to fill up the car, and paid would you believe €15:00 for the car hire. So €20:00 or so for 48 kilometres and a delivery of a huge load of shopping. You wouldn’t have had that with a taxi.

Mind you, how I’m going to get all of this stuff upstairs is another question entirely.

It was another cold walk back up the hill to the bus stop and I was exhausted – going uphill on crutches is not easy, I’ll tell you that. And then the bus to bring me home was late and I only just managed to beat the physiotherapist into the apartment.

He gave my muscles some manipulation … “PERSONipulation” – ed … and after he left I came in here and promptly crashed right out. It was a struggle to haul myself out of my chair to make some food. And now that I had a pepper, I stuffed it.

Liz and Rachel were both on line later so I had a really long chat with each of them and then I can sit down and write out my notes from the day.

And my journeys from the night too. I was busy working on and freezing a pile of carrots when the phone rang. It was the people whom I was going to see this morning ringing up to cancel the meeting as they had a cold. Of course, after all the arrangements that I’d undertaken to prepare I wasn’t in the least bit happy with the idea. I insisted that the meeting go ahead. It was such a shock that it awoke me.

Later on I was standing in the dining room with half a baguette in my hand. I wanted to speak to one of the big football managers who was in there. I had to wait a few minutes. Eventually he became free. I asked him pointing to this half-baguette “do you know whose this is?”. He mentioned a name, almost as if I should know immediately who that person was but it didn’t click with me. I thought “thanks” and wandered back to my seat. He said “he’s here, you know” and brought me back, pointing to the desk where this guy was sitting. I asked “do you mind if I eat your baguette because I’ve forgotten to bring mine”. He replied “go ahead and we can revise a page of our French together because this is our last week and our last lesson is on Friday”.

Well, now it looks very much like I’m going to be a householder again and I can’t say that I’m sorry about it. Caliburn will have to keep on running a little longer because there’s now going to be an enormous hole in my finances but that can’t be helped.

However a decent kitchen, a walk-in shower and no steps to climb will change my life dramatically and is worth far more to me than any value anyone else can place on it. I just hope that I can last out until I can finally take possession of the premises.

Wednesday 18th January 2023 – I HAVE BEEN …

… really busy today.

So much so that I’ve not had time yet to transcribe the (pile of) dictaphone notes from last night.

Being … errr … somewhat later than the alarm didn’t really help matters too much. But as soon as I was finally sitting at the computer, the telephone rang. Someone was obviously checking up on me.

It was the guy from the radio on the telephone. On the 5th February there’s something going on at the local theatre and the radio needed some music doing. And I’m at the stage where if I don’t do something as soon as I have the instructions, I’ll either forget it or run out of time or something.

And so there is no time like the present to get on with the task.

At midday I took myself off outside as the rain had stopped for a short while. Caliburn struggled into life so we went for a good drive for about 25 kilometres. It’s still not enough to put a decent charge in the battery so when I returned home I started trying to track down an auto electrician who can put his equipment onto Caliburn’s starting and charging circuit.

It doesn’t seem to me to be the charging circuit or the battery that’s at fault because the battery doesn’t seem to be getting any worse. It’s either the starter that’s on its last legs or else there’s a bad earth somewhere. In the old days I’d be underneath Caliburn checking everything over but I’m really not up to that right now. For a start, if I were to lie down, I wouldn’t be able to stand up again.

Anyway, there doesn’t seem to be an auto-electrician anywhere in the vicinity. I shall have to ring up the guy in the garage and see if he knows of anyone or whether he has the equipment to do it.

The cleaner came round this afternoon and did some work on the place. She’s not impressed with the microwave and, to tell the truth, neither am I. Once I get myself organised, the microwave here will be going to the great kitchen in the sky and I’ll be having something decent.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, when I moved here in 2017 I bought everything new at the cheapest possible price on the grounds that I would have everything all at once, and then little by little I’d replace it with decent stuff as it wore out.

And then I had a ‘phone call from the UK. I mentioned the other day that I was having to sort out my finances and somewhere along the line I need to sort out the Royal Bank of Scotland. Their bank charges are somewhat exorbitant but there’s a way around this and it’s not the kind of thing that you can do on your own.

Tea tonight was a leftover curry. There were plenty of leftovers and so it was quite a decent curry. I’m getting the hang of these curries now and they really are delicious. Tomorrow night’s tea though will be a vegan pie, I recon. I found a slice in the freezer while I was looking for something else and by the looks of things it’s been in there for a while.

At some point in the future I managed to deal with the dictaphone notes. This was something to do with a football match where I was. The winger of one side and the full-back of the other side put in a really crunching tackle on each other and the ball ricochets out and goes into the back of the net of the attacking side. The commentator seemed to think that that was violent conduct, should be disallowed and a free kick given to the defence. Nevertheless the referee gave a goal. I could understand why he did it although I thought that there were many clubs who wouldn’t have been so lucky as to have the benefit of a decision like this go in their favour.

Watson and Holmes were in bed when a carriage pulled up outside, a big black open carriage the kind in which you would imagine Dracula riding. Someone alighted and awoke them both. He invited them to come with him for a consultation at some silly hour of the morning. They piled into this carriage. It turned out that they were going to somewhere near Chesterfield. They set out but Holmes was not impressed. They were dodging the traffic – these old 1950s Ford Anglias etc. Suddenly the guy with them started to panic pointing out “the red spot! The fourth red spot!”. It was only after they were able to focus, Holmes and Watson, that they could see floating in the air above them 4 tiny red spots like pieces of confetti as they headed out of north London. These were keeping just ahead of them, probably about 30 feet above the ground.

Then about half an hour or so later we had this Holmes and Watson story almost word-for-word again coming along.

Crewe Alex were playing in the Cheshire Senior Cup final against a team from Audlem called something to do with Geoff Barnes, the Geoff Barnes Thrash or something. Barnes was a former Crewe Alex player who could probably have been Eric Barnes who played centre-half for the Alex for years and then retired and owned a gents’ outfitters in the town. But in the dream he had this formidable amateur side that went on to win just about every competition that they ever entered for a year or two. I can’t remember any more about this dream than this

Finally I was at the BBC last night preparing a meal for the radio. We were making some kind of chili con carne with everything in it. There was a rat and we cut it into squares and started to add it but at the very last minute I decided that maybe this wasn’t a very good idea. I started to fish out all of the bits. It was a shame that I’d added it because it was looking so nice up to that point and fitted nicely into the saucepan but once I added these chunks of rat it overflowed so I had to grab a bigger saucepan. That was what made me ralise that there was too much and the rat ought to go.

So bedtime now. Tomorrow I have a radio programme to prepare and a few phone calls to make. Things are hotting up around here right now, and in more ways than one.

Friday 30th December 2022 – I HAVE BEEN …

… out and about this evening socialising.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there’s something going on in the background here in this building that might burst out into the open at some point in the future. Consequently I’ve been out to see one or two people in the building for a meal and for a good chinwag while we work out a cunning plan.

It certainly pays dividends to have the right people on your side at moments like this because you end up on the inside track when it’s all filtering through. But how things develop, we shall have to see because there’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip.

One of the slips was that I nearly didn’t make it. When it was time for me to go I was actually asleep on the chair in the office and I had quite a job to drag myself out and upstairs.

Not that you would have thought so because I was in no rush this morning to leave my bed. WHen the alarm(s) went off I could hear the howling gale roaring around outside. And so in the words of the old song, REMEMBERING MORNINGS, SHILLINGS SPENT, MADE NO SENSE TO LEAVE THE BED.

It was actually about 09:00 when I finally did leave the bed and for a change I had no pangs of guilt whatsoever. It’s clearly getting to me, this strange mood in which I find myself.

First things first – I had to do the finances for the end of the year to see how I stand. And to my surprise, I can actually afford my little project without making too much of a special effort.

And no-one is more surprised than me. When I embarked on this plan back in early November while I was lying in hospital I thought that I might be pushing out the boat a little too far but apparently not. So let’s get on with it. Unfortunately it doesn’t really depend on me – I’ve done all that I can for the moment and I’m waiting on others to extricate their digits.

When the streets had quietened down for lunchtime, I went out for a play in the pouring rain with Caliburn. He struggled into life again so I took him for another good run, but it’s still not made starting any easier. It sounds to me as if the starter motor must be on its way out. I’ve put the spare battery on charge and at some point I’ll swap them over to see whether that improves things.

In case you are wondering (which I’m sure you are) I’m not going far in Caliburn in busy times because with having no force in my right leg, braking is proving to be something of an issue. I’m having to leave plenty of space in front of me just in case an emergency arises

This afternoon I’ve had to register with URSSAF, the body that deals with minor self-employed people. My “cleaner” (and how embarrassing is it for me to admit that I have one?) is actually employed under these regulations and so I have to pay URSSAF for her services and they deal with all of the paperwork and any tax liability for all of her clients.

There’s some good news about this too (and it’s been a long time since I’ve had any) and that is that because I’m over 65 and suffering from a serious illness, I can actually claim part of my payments to be offset against my income tax. The French Social Security system is certainly up to the mark.

Although it had taken me ages to go off to sleep last night, I must have fallen asleep at some point because there was this huge, long rambling dream about me being in Crewe with STRAWBERRY MOOSE, my three sisters and all their kids and dozens of cats etc. I even ended up at a couple of their houses. I’ve no idea what was going on there but it was one of these things that went on for just about ever.

And then I’d been on my travels later on last night. I bumped into Claude and his daughter and her kids. It turned out that there had been some kind of water fair near where I’d been living and they’d been to see it that morning. They’d even bought some boats and had been sailing around on the canal. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t gone, never mind not seen them. One of the things that was taking place was the throwing of some kind of mechanic’s tool like a set of Stilsons and embedding it in a door. This had all finished but I was throwing one or two things about and having some good results. I felt a shame that I’d missed the early part of this where it had been competitive and I might have had a good score. In the end after much messing around someone gave me a set of Stilsons to try. I threw it and it bounced off the door into the canal. I had to go to fish it out. Eventually I had to leave. It was like leaving one of these spaghetti western type of things with the plains and the shot in the distance, riding on a horse across the plains up the side of a hill into the mountains and disappearing out of the shot.

When the alarm went off for the first time I was with Beth I used to know from my time on the Scottish borders trying to relax her for an interview that she was due to take. I would have loved to know how all of this unfolded.

When I came back from my evening out I watched the football. Y Drenewydd were playing Aberystwyth and the least said about this the better as Aberystwyth were simply swept aside. It was really no contest and how the score was only 1-0 at half-time was one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

But 10 minutes of madness shortly after the restart saw Y Drenewydd rattle in 4 more goals and they scored a sixh later in the game that was the result of some of the worst defending that I have ever seen in my life. Aberystwyth scored a goal out of nothing in the dying minutes of the game but the game was long-since finished by then.

Tomorrow I’m having a little shopping done for me. Some mushrooms and peppers ready for my meals next week but that’s about it. Walking around today, I seemed to be moving a little easier and I might have been tempted to have another go on the bus into town had it not been a day when we might have the crowds out in the streets doing their shopping for the New Year.

And i’ll try to make an effort to haul myself out of bed at some reasonable time too, except that its already much later than it ought to be. I’m going to have to organise myself much better than this.

Tuesday 27th December 2022 – I HAVE BEEN …

… a little more motivated today.

Not by very much, I have to say, but at least I’ve managed to do a couple of things today.

Not that you would have thought so the way the morning unfolded because I spent more of it in bed than I ought to have done. No chance whatever of me leaving the bed when the alarm went off at 07:30. It was much more like 09:00 when I finally broke surface today.

Mind you, that’s not a surprise judging by the amount of travelling that I did during the night. I was running some kind of school but it wasn’t a boarding school, it was a front for something else. However it was such fun having this boarding school teaching the kids English etc that it actually became the principal occupation rather than whatever it was that we were intending to do. We taught the boys and girls poetry. We had a couple of them write out poems. I had to go to print them so I sent one boy down to the printer while I printed them off so he could bring them back. For some unknown reason I couldn’t remember the key combination to print and the screen was too far away for me to read. It took me ages to remember the CTRL+P shortcut to make these things print off

Later on, I stepped back into this dream, took the school up again and these pupils there. One of the pupils had to write out a poem so I let him do it. He was comfortably over the limit of words but it sounded so good that I tried to have him write another. His parents were away with the British Civil Service so he was staying at our boarding school. He sat down to write a second one but was shot in the rigging as he did so and all his possessions that he’d found had all been wiped out and broken

Then later still I was back in there yet again. We were checking photos of these kids at this school. There was one of a boy and girl. They each had a sticker in their ear. One had a green sticker, one had a red sticker in it. The girl’s said “gaffer” or “boss” and I can’t remember the boy’s but it implied that the girl was in charge and he was just her servant or something.

And now for something completely different. When I went into the shed after having been out for a day or two I found this motorbike and sidecar in there. It was an old fore-and-aft V-twin that somehow I had an impression that it was a BMW although it wasn’t. I was trying hard to identify it but but I couldn’t see any maker’s name on it at all. It was black and quite old, probably from the 60s and looked as if Laurent and Xavier had dropped it off on me. It was really the most impressive beast that I’d ever seen. I’d been talking to them about motor bikes a few days ago. I’d no idea how come this had appeared in my shed but it was an unidentified V-twin fore-and-aft. Everything about it said BMW but there was no plate on the engine or on the frame or tank to say what it might be. It was completely blank.

After that I was with a boy and a girl. We ended up at a cottage. There was a huge pile of Mary’s paperwork. While the boy and girl were sitting in front of the fire keeping warm I was going through the paperwork finding all kinds of things. I sorted out as much as I could but there was still a big pile of unsorted stuff. It was 03:00 and I said that I had to go. I said to these two “whatever you do, you mustn’t leave until the fire had gone right down because we don’t want the place burning down”. They agreed to stay. I couldn’t find my guitars. They thought that they had been taken by someone else into the hall so I had to hunt around for them at the very last minute before leaving. It was about 03:15 before I was finally ready to go.

Surprisingly, I stepped back into this dream too. One of the things that we found in these papers was a document dated April 1940, a handbook for farmers issued by the Farmers’ Union. For a start, the back pages were in Dutch so it was intended for an audience of Dutch farmers coming to settle in Nantwich. It included articles like “love your slave” and all kinds of outdated stuff like that which even for the 1940s was extremely near the knuckle. I read it out to these people with me and they were astonished. Then it became time for me to go and do a couple of deliveries and then I’d been told that I could go home after that so I prepared myself to go. But this document was astonishing, 1940 as well and aimed for everyone in the Farmers Union in the Nantwich area.

Once I’d finally managed to drag myself round into the Land of the Living, the first thing that I had to do was to deal with the questionnaire that I had been sent yesterday.

That involved printing it out, completing it, scanning it, scouring around for the supporting documents and then sending off everything. By e-mail of course because I can’t walk down into town and the Post Office.

You’d be surprised how long all of that took to do as well. Nothing is as easy or as straightforward as it might be and I have a variety of good and valid reasons why my information is not as easy or as straightforward as anyone else’s.

Next stop was the bathroom and a shower. And you have no idea how difficult it’s becoming to climb into the bath in order to take a shower. This can’t go on for much longer and something certainly needs to happen in order that I can deal with this, and quite soon too.

There is plenty of rubbish that has accumulated around here and that needed to go to the bins across the road. It was a nice sunny day, if a little windy, so I decided to have a bash. It was a little easier to head that way but I was soon exhausted and the rest of the trip was a nightmare. But I made it in the end.

On the way back I passed by Caliburn and wound him up. He struggled into life so I let him run for a while. While he was ticking over I disconnected all of the ancillary electrical circuits that I wired in when I bought him. I want to see if the battery will charge better with it all disconnected.

We had a few bright sparks while I was doing it, and shame as it is to say it, a job that would usually take me just 2 or 3 minutes with no complications whatever took me half an hour.

The woman who lives upstairs who does cleaning too was in the corridor so I mentioned to her that I’ll be needing her services in due course. She’ll make arrangements to come to see me.

Back in here I sent off that incendiary letter that I’d written a few days ago, mentioning in passing that I’m not going for my appointments next week. Half an hour to the bins is longer than it used to take me to walk to the station. How on earth can I make it as far as Leuven, and on a Bank Holiday too?

The physiotherapist came round later and gave me a little work-out. He thinks that he might have found something and gave me a few instructions about massaging a muscle in my upper thigh.

Tea tonight, power cuts included, was a little different. Stuffed pepper with veg and rice but with no mushrooms I tried a small tin of kidney beans. It certainly made a difference, and a pleasant one too. I’ll try this again.

But I’m running short of onions now and that’s fatal. It looks as if another struggle to the Carrefour is on the agenda at some point.

However that’s for again. Right now I’m going to go to bed for (hopefully) some pleasant dreams. Tomorrow is a day with nothing planned so I might go round to see my neighbour and pay her for the shopping that she did for me last week. I need to pay my debts.

Friday 16th December 2022 – I’VE DONE SOMETHING …

… today that I’m very probably going to regret doing, but I can’t go on like this much longer. Going downstairs took me an absolute age yet again, nothing on my body is freeing off and nothing is becoming any easier. And to give you an idea of how hard I tried, I’ve done 15% of my daily activity today.

And it’s been a very long time since I’ve done anything like that.

So what I have done today is that I have bitten the bullet – and if it comes off it will be for the largest sum of money that I have ever spent at one go in my life. And that’s not like me go go around spending any money, is it?

You’ll have to wait for a while to find out what it is because nothing is ever completed, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, until the ink is dry on the paper. But if we ever do reach that stage, then believe me, you lot will be the first to know.

We were a long way away from there though this morning.

It was another early night and for a change I managed to fall asleep quite quickly. But round about 01:45 I awoke and that was that for at least an hour and a half. And I know that because I checked.

Consequently when the alarm went off I was dead to the world once more and it was only the need to visit the bathroom that saw me beat the second alarm.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone and a welcome return for TOTGA who put in an appearance during the night. As I said yesterday, it’s been a long time since she paid me a visit during the night so it was very pleasant to see her again. I was on my way home down the Boulevard Lecampion and I saw her going past on the far side of the street. I stopped outside my apartment which was actually in Boulevard Lecampion, went into my building and started to unload my car, leaving the door open so that she could go past and see, which she did. She came over to talk about something or other. Alison was there and saw her, not saying anything at the time but after the conversation had finished and I’d gone upstairs she asked if that was TOTGA. I replied “yes”. She said “she’s only my age but yes! She was obviously appoving of whatever it was she approved. Something then was happening and I had to go out somewhere in the evening. Of course as soon as it was the case that I had to run this errand I dashed off outside because I was hoping that I could get to go to somwhere like Halifax and have a really nice evening meal and then come back. The times of trains made it extremely difficult for that. I reached the bus station just as a bus for Stockport pulled in. I thought that I could at least go to Stockport and have an Indian meal but that pulled through and drove round onto the other side of the bus station and I wouldn’t have time to walk over there before it would drive off again. I was sitting there then wondering what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to go to the office but that closed at 20:00. If I set off even then I wouldn’t be there for 20:00 so it seemed rather pointless in the end actually going out because there wasn’t really anywhere I could actually go that was of any real interest to me at that particular moment.

And later, I was keeping shop somewhere in an old industrial town. I’d had a Press Release that some camping gear and exploive equipment had been found on an industrial estate at the back of an arms manufacturer and one or two other places like that. I was busy writing out a note to display in my shop when some guy walked in. I asked him if he could hang on for a minute while I wrote out my sign and he made some comment. Then he asked for the “big gasket” for a tractor. We eventually found out what tractor it was but he was being extremely vague about the gasket. I had to run through all of the gaskets with him and talk to him about them and what he might find where, everything, to try to satisfy myself exactly what gasket he’d want. To make things worse I hadn’t taken over this shop long. There was a pile of gaskets of all sorts and I hadn’t had time to go through them and find out to what they related. There was probably one in this pile somewhere but heaven alone knows which one it was.

Once I was up and about it took me, as you might expect, a good while to come round to my senses which, seeing how few I have these days, is rather remarkable. But I eventually struggled to some form of life and even managed to make some bread dough because I’m right out of bread.

And then I had a phone call. A few weeks ago I’d heaved a stone into a rather large pool and the ripples were still rolloing outwards. Nevertheless I was surprised to receive the call and it ended up being something of a considerable amount of horse-trading that took quite a while.

So now we’ll see what happens.

The weather had warmed up dramatically today and we were in the balmy semi-tropical realms of 5°C. Caliburn once more struggled to life and wo I went on another one of these 20km runabouts in the hope of pumping some life into the battery. I don’t know whether or not he would have started again had I stopped at the shops – I didn’t want to tempt fate.

But I have managed to work out a way of getting onto the pavement by the bus stop so at a push I might be able to board the bus. Now if only I could walk we might be back in business in this respect too.

Back here I had another ‘phone call to make. If you’ve experienced any difficulty getting into this site just recently, there has been a major server change that involves a new mainframe host and there’s always a lag between changing the DNS settings and them actually taking effect. So that will explain that.

And that phone call took much longer than it ought to have done too, but for reasons which you really don’t want to know. I certainly didn’t.

After tea, we had football on the internet. In the Welsh Premier League most of the matches were postponed because of the freezing weather in Wales, including the featured match, but there was one match taking place, conveniently just down the road from “Sgorio” headquarters in Cardiff.

We had Cardiff Metro v Haverfordwest in minus 2°C and everyone, including the referee, was feeling the cold. The Met went one goal up early one through a penalty but honestly neither side looked as if they could hit the nether regions of a ruminant animal with a stringed musical instrument.

In fact the commentator made the point that in the Met’s last 6 home goames, they have scored 4 goals, namely – own goal – penalty – penalty – penalty- and only three of their players have actually had their names on the scoresheet all season.

And how cruel is your luck? Former Hull boss Tony Pennock finally managed to find his team’s on/off switch with 5 minutes to go and they sprang into life, only to be undone again by a breakaway down the whole length of the field with just 30 seconds remaining on the clock.

A 2-0 defeat was something of an exaggeration.

But I’m off to bed now anyway. I have to think of several cunning plans to raise a few quid here and there. I shall probably end up selling my body on Boots Corner. Not like the lady who tried it once and came home with £19:10.
“Who gave you the 10p?” asked her husband.
“Why, all of them” she replied.

Tuesday 13th December 2022 – WHAT A STATE …

… to be in! Downstairs on the front door there’s a notice “if anyone is going to the shops, could they take me with them?” Can you imagine how things have worked out for me over the last few months?

This afternoon I went out to try to start Caliburn and eventually after much coaxing, he staggered into life. I set off for a drive and probably went about 30 kms trying to warm him up and charge up the battery.

However it didn’t seem to do much good because when I pulled into LIDL car park to see whether I could stagger over to the trolleys, I tried the starter and it was a desperate moment as I almost ended up walking home.

That was enough for me and I decided that if I didn’t leave the engine running and go home now, I never ever would get home. I can’t believe that I’d gone so far and the battery was even more dead than when I started.

As well as that I had to park where there was a kerb because I don’t have the strength to haul myself into the cab off the ground.

And so you can see, there’s a very fine line to walk between discretion and valour and God knows where it is right now.

Last night was another miserable, depressing night with me tossing and turning and I really don’t know what’s happening here either. When the alarm went off at 07:30 I was in no fit state to leave the bed and it was a real struggle for me to sort myself out.

The Welsh lesson though went reasonably well because I managed to prepare for it and I feel so much better when I can do that. However I’m not making the kind of progress that I would like. I’d be the first to admit that.

After the lesson I went for my run around in Caliburn and then came back to listen to the dictaphone. And there was tons of stuff on there from the night. There was a group of us packing to go somewhere. The conversation drifted round to all sorts of things. Several of the people were being extremely difficult in my opinion. One woman was really taking her time filling out a form. Everyone was explaining the difficulties that she was having but I didn’t think that they were anything at all. A few of us were talking about insurance and how it was sometimes quite catastrophic. I told them about how I worked in an insurance company (… and I did too …) and someone a few years later had T-boned my car. They actually worked for that insurance company and had their insurance there and how it was an endless tale of delays. We were discussing this. Suddenly I remembered the girl’s name who I worked with who this girl who was talking knew. I said her name and of course it cut the conversation. I felt extremely guilty about this. We were all sitting there trying to organise this and that one woman was taking so much time filling out a simple form. I was of the opinion that we weren’t ever going to get away at this rate
This meeting where there were people on about this insurance company and everything like that was where that guy stood up to make that announcement that his girlfriend was pregnant or they were getting married or something. That was really raining on everyone else’s parade at that particular moment. They were all disappointed that their thunder had been stolen.

There was some kind of tropical storm hitting the Carolinas and everyone had taken shelter. I’d gone with a news party to have a look at the situation inside one of these bunkers because the roof was damaged and water is getting in. I found several women, one of whom I knew very well, busy rolling up tissue and cloth in order to make some kind of something or other that would pass the time. This particular girl was working so quickly that she was way ahead of everyone else. While I was talking to her I looked up. A young girl who had come with her into the shelter was walking past on her way to the corner to lay down. I drew this woman’s attention to it. She invited the other one over to come along and join her to fold up tissue. Of course they started chatting like a couple of people in this situation would.

It was Friday night. I’d finished work and gone home. There was a story on the radio about how business was suffering from big bankruptcies and P-registered Cavaliers were being sold for as little as £3,000. I was wondering whether to go round to see a friend of mine and his wife, and of course Zero but thinking that I’d been round there every night this week I imagine that they must be becoming pretty fed up. The last thing that I wanted them to do was to stop me going round at all. So much as it hurt me, I decided that I’d stay at home tonight and start to sort through my toolbox. While I was doing that the TV was on. There was something happening about relief supplies involving DiY equipment. A whole pile of Opposition amendments were taking place to ensure that the Queen paid VAT on everything. They were all being passed so obviously there was some kind of mini-revolt going on in the House of Commons. Ordinarily that would have been just the kind of thing that I would have talked about with my friend but with having made a vow not to go round tonight I decided to keep to it and stay at home. I started to go through my toolbox making up kits of things that I might need in the future like electric sockets and so on

But imagine that? How many times is this that during the night I’ve turned down an opportunity to go and see Zero. I must be ill or something.

Tea was falafel with pasta and veg. I was hoping to have some potatoes so that I could have sausage, beans and chips tonight but that was something of a failure due to the issues that I had at LIDL. I hope that some good comes of my sign because I can’t go on living on my stocks of food. Rosemary and I talked about that on the ‘phone earlier and this was one of the things that galvanised me into making my sign.

And so we’ll see. It’ll be nice if it works and I can get some stock back in. The cupboard will be bare before I know it if I’m not careful.