Tag Archives: early start

Tuesday 19th September 2023 – A DECISION HAS …

…been made about my state of health. And considering that I only sent in the documentation on 24th July and was told that there’s a 4-month waiting list, that was extremely rapid, to say the least.

But to cut a long story short … “thank heavens” – ed … it has been decided that I have a Class II disability, which means that I am classed as between 50% and 80% disabled, with issues that impact my daily and social life.

As a result, I’m classed as a priority case, and shall (when they have been printed) receive a card to that effect and a disabled person’s parking permit.

Not that the parking permit will do me much good because if my mobility deteriorates any more, I shan’t be driving any more – and I won’t even be going out at all.

So all of this will give me something to think about when I’m in bed tonight.

There wasn’t much time to spend thinking last night because I was extremely late going to bed. I just couldn’t summon up the energy to retire.

As well as that, I was actually awake before the alarm went off and when it finally did start to ring I was sitting on the edge of the bed with some of my clothes already on.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages, dealt with a few bits of correspondence and then revised for my Welsh lesson. That passed off quite well today, much to my surprise.

When the lesson finished I had some fruit and then buckled down to work. I’ve booked my train for Paris on Monday, booked some assistance at the Gare Montparnasse (which I can now do, seeing as I have a certificate of entitlement while I await my card) and then booked a taxi to take me to the station –

As it happens, I’m not looking forward to the trip to Paris. My train is at 05:55 so the taxi is coming for me at 05:15 which means that I need to be up and about at … errr … 04:30. That is just crazy but it can’t be helped. I have to be at the hospital at 11:00 and unless I want to stay the night, there is just no other solution.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too, despite the short night that I’d had. 2 small boys went to the hospital in Athens – their parents had sent them there because maybe they were British and it was the English School there. Something had happened to one of the parents of one of these children and the children had to come back by bus which was a bit of an alarming trip for someone who had never done it before, especially in those kinds of circumstances.

There was something else about someone being involved in a kind-of internet game. There was a trap set in it that harvested everyone’s details off their computer, where they were etc, but I can’t remember very much about this at all

While I was at it, I transcribed a couple of days’ worth of notes from when I was at Alison’s. There’s still plenty to go at there but I’ll keep on plugging away at it ready for the next lot.

Tea tonight was a taco roll – quite delicious too with the stuffing. And I found something interesting today – which I should have known because I’ve used this technique before.

While the stuffing was still warm I put it in the glass storage container and put it straight into the fridge. And so the container sealed up with a perfect vacuum which was quite impressive.

With a few minutes that was left later on I went through and sorted out some more music, labelling stuff and disposing of duplicates. I’m slowly fighting my way through it all and one day I might actually be finished some day.

But now I’m off to bed. I’m going to be working on the radio stuff tomorrow and prepare a couple of programmes ready for the future. High time I got myself into gear and actually accomplished something. No-one else will do it if I won’t.

Saturday 16th September 2023 – I UPLOADED …

… all of the soundfiles from the dictaphone onto the computer this afternoon. You wouldn’t believe how many there are either that accumulated while I was away. I must have had a few really lively, mobile nights.

It’s going to take an age to transcribe them and there are also quite a few from when I was in hospital from last Autumn that I have yet to transcribe. I suppose that that will make a nice task for me when I’m away in hospital.

Strangely enough, there was only one soundfile from last night. And even more surprisingly, you don’t really want to know about it either, especially if you are eating your tea right now.

But there’s only the one because I had another bad night. Despite all of my efforts during the day I wasn’t in the least bit tired. It was long after 01:00 when I went to bed and I wasn’t in the least bit tired.

It took an absolute age to go to sleep and I was actually awake again at 06:30. I’d changed the alarm to 08:00 following my late night but I was already up and about by then.

The drive to the shops was a horror. My left leg is now giving out and I had some trouble even making it to Caliburn with one crutch and my shopping trolley. And then I had a great deal of difficulty climbing into the cab.

Trying to work the brake was difficult too so it was quite a slow drive to the supermarket. Unless they can work miracles at the hospital and at this physiotherapy place, I can see that it won’t be long before I have to abandon the idea of driving.

For obvious reasons, I didn’t go to Noz. I didn’t feel as if I could manoeuvre around on the car park and then walk around the shop with just one crutch. Instead, I went straight to Leclerc.

Being early, I was lucky enough to find a reasonable parking place. Even so, it was a desperate stagger around the supermarket leaning on a shopping trolley.

There wasn’t anything special on offer today but one or two things in the clearance bin were interesting, like vegan margarine and a pack of hamburger buns.

Another slow drive back home and I couldn’t manage my shopping trolley. I had to leave a few things in Caliburn to pick up another time. And someone going past from the other entrance to the building helped me by carrying my shopping trolley upstairs for me, which was very nice.

Having put everything away I made my coffee and cheese on toast, and then came in here where I crashed out for almost two hours. I suppose that it was the tiredness of the last few days and the effects of going to the shops this morning.

At Leclerc I’d bought 2kg of carrots because they were on offer. I cleaned them, diced them and blanched them. Later on I put them in the freezer – at least, as much as I could because the freezer is full to capacity. One of the two bags of carrots has gone into the ice-box in the fridge until I can make some space.

Tea tonight was strange. I found that I’d forgotten to buy a lettuce so in the end I made a potato salad. That would have been nice had I remembered to buy the salad dressing. Instead I had to make a vinaigrette dressing with olive oil, wine vinegar and herbs.

Now that everything is done, I’m off to bed. I’ve no intention of leaving my bed early tomorrow. I have a lot of sleep that I need to catch up and so I hope that I’ll have a comfortable, relaxing night back in my own bed.

After what has gone on over the last couple of days, I reckon that I’ve earned it.

Wednesday 30th August 2023 – AS SEEMS TO BE …

… usual these days when I have to go somewhere important, I was actually awake and up and about (in principle, at least) when the alarm went off at 07:00

That was despite having gone on several travels during the night. There was something about trying to download the course book for my next lot of Welsh lessons and then trying to find and download a mannequin and various poses for when we’ll be taking off a Welsh lesson but I can’t remember too much at all about this and I fell back to sleep afterwards.

And then I was with Rosemary. We’d been staying for a weekend with a couple whom we’d met somewhere who had 2 children, a young girl and a young boy. They were in the middle of rebuilding a house so I went up on the scaffolding to have a good look around. He didn’t really understand what he was supposed to be doing so I gave him a few tips from my experience and we actually did some work together. I told him of a few things that he needed to buy, one or two tips about sanding down the wood and filling gaps etc. He was very impressed. Sooner or later it became time to go so we had to climb down and say goodbye. For some reason this was a really heart-breaking moment. I remember saying to this woman and guy that I wanted to stay. Rosemary said that it’s not quite possible and we’d have to go which was certainly true but for some reason I was truly heartbroken about having to leave. That was what was most disturbing – not so much the dream about having to leave but how I was actually feeling about leaving

Finally I had to take the young girl to the station because she was going to Boarding School. When she’d been before, she’d been taken as far as the barrier and sent through on her own to look for her own school party. She was saying that that was really difficult so she asked me if I’d come through the barrier with her down onto the platform and help her find her group of people. I didn’t see any reason why not so I said that I would. She was talking about being sent away to school, basically to give her mother some free time which I knew but I had somehow to explain to the girl that it was so that she would learn a whole variety of different things that she’d never learn at home, how it would be a big experience for her and how much of a better person she’d be because of it, although I wasn’t convinced myself. On the way to the station we walked down the street past the University Library. She made some comment about how a pile of books had been arranged in a Y shape but we were talking about the library saying how untidy it was. I said that I was surprised that the librarians would let a University Library fall into this state. I was really enjoying my conversation with this little girl. again, it was another thing that I was going to be really sad when it was all over and she’d gone.

First thing was to dive into the shower and clean myself up ready to be poked and probed by a doctor, and then, having grabbed by backpack and crutches, Caliburn and I headed off to the railway station.

Luckily there was a parking space available outside the station so we managed to tuck ourselves in without having to walk miles.

The train was already in the station and, to my surprise, the coffee machine which has been out of order since Covid struck is now working so I could fuel up with a coffee in peace and comfort. I can’t carry a mug while I’m walking as I don’t have my hands free, so I had to drink it leaning up against the wall.

For a change, I was lucky with the train. The earlier train that had set out before this one had encountered a fallen tree across the line but the issue had been resolved by the time that we set out and we arrived in Paris on time.

Being limited to what I could bring with me, I didn’t have the computer but I did have a book.

Ages ago I’d bought a copy of Dashiell Hammett’s famous novel THE MALTESE FALCON but I’d never had the opportunity to read it so I brought it along.

Much as I like THE FILM which is one of my favourites and I can watch time after time, the book goes into the story in much more detail and answers several questions that were left unanswered in the film. Some of the action is quite different too and makes much more sense.

We pulled into the station on time for a change but I had to wait a while for my lift to arrive and then they drove me to the hospital, flashing blue lights through red traffic lights, the whole works.

At the hospital I had to wait around for some time but eventually I was dragged into a room where they gave me the works. It was another one of these electrical shock things that really hurts and I really hate, and it was much more thorough than the ones that I’d had before. It took much longer too.

The doctor spent some time examining the results and then we had a chat. He tells me that there are two reasons why I might be suffering. One is that my underlying illness might be eating its way into my nervous system, or else I might have a serious infection.

However, everything that everyone has seen in all of the examinations that I’ve had, the lumbar puncture included, don’t show any of the classic symptoms that they would expect to see in either of the two situations.

The net result of this is that at the moment they are puzzled. However "we can’t leave things alone and leave you like this".

What they are proposing is that I "would probably benefit from a stay here for a few days while we undergo some more exhaustive tests".

They’ve taken all of the details about the hospital in Leuven too in order to contact them about my case and compare notes.

And so we’ll have to see how the future unfolds, but at least I haven’t been abandoned to face my destiny on my own, and that’s a good thing to know.

There’s a café outside the building where I was being examined so I went and had a coffee before I was picked up again and taken back to the station. Here, to my dismay I found that my train would be departing from Vaugirard, so I had a long walk down the platform, during which I came within an ace of falling over.

There was a very long wait for the train back home and we didn’t pull into the station until 23:10. It was 23:30 when I finally sat down in my little apartment, thoroughly exhausted and wasted. It had been a very long day and, to my complete surprise, I hadn’t crashed out at all.

However I was far too tired to do anything else so I cleared off straight to bed. It’s actually 5 years to the day that I first encountered The Vanilla Queen and 4 years to the night that I’d had the first of a short series of the strangest, most bizarre nights that I’ve ever had

All of these were events that totally changed my perception of various aspects of humanity.

The artist Samuel Gurney Cresswell who had accompanied James Clark Ross on his Arctic voyage of 1848-49 and said of Captain Robert McClure, who had almost come to grief in the ice, that a voyage to the High Arctic “ought to make anyone a wiser and better man”. All that I can say is that it didn’t work for me.

But ask me if I want to change any of it.

That’s something on which I can dwell while I’m deep in the arms of Morpheus.

Thursday 24th August 2023 – REGULAR READERS OF …

… this rubbish will recall that yesterday I had something of a moan about how my Welsh course these days seems to go in cycles – one day good, the next day bad, and vice versa (and if there’s any vice involved, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m Your Man”).

And so today we had something of a better day on the course and I was actually quite satisfied for a change.

Mind you, I think that I’ve worked out the reason why this might be.

When I first moved to Belgium 30-odd years ago I would watch the football in Flemish. You don’t need much translation to watch a game of football so you pick up quite quickly a few words and phrases, and gradually you can pick out the individual words even if you don’t understand them.

Since SGORIO won the rights to broadcast the Welsh Premier League on the internet in Welsh, I’ve been watching it quite regularly whenever I can

Throw enough stuff at a blanket and some of it is bound to stick, and I’ve been noticing that after all of this it’s my oral comprehension that seems to be working well enough right now. All I need to do now is to work on everything else.

Like my sleep, for example.

Last night I was in bed at a respectable time and managed (just about) to beat the alarm this morning, which makes a change considering the last couple of weeks.

Once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I spent much of the morning going through and revising. I noticed that on the agenda for today was a quiz about verbs and their conjugations so I made myself a chart to keep handy.

That’s all very well, of course, but having made the chart I’ll probably lose it somewhere now.

As I said just now, the lesson passed well enough today which makes a pleasant change.

During the various pauses I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was in a film, a really, really vivid film last night about Armageddon – about how the end of the World was approaching and how everyone had to flee. Some people wouldn’t leave their possessions behind and were all swept away in the holocaust. They basically ended up being just half a dozen people still living in Los Angeles. Everywhere they went, they encountered chaos, queues of traffic stuck there with bodies all over the place how had died. Even after Armageddon and a few people had been saved, there were still some people performing hold-ups etc, people shooting each other until in the end there was just one family. The narrator was saying that in years to come people will ask him how he spent his years . He’ll say that he was just hanging out having a good time and not doing any work at all. His epitaph, he said, would be that in years to come in a Society where people are valued for their work it will be the cleaners and people like that who will be the richest, most wealthy and highest-praised in the land, except of course in the communities where the little old lady do-gooders will be holding sway. That’s how my film finished.

And even though I was asleep I remember that film very well. It really did go on for a good 90 minutes, or so it seemed and I reckon, would have actually made quite a decent film in the style of Neville Shute’s ON THE BEACH. I should really begin to consider a new career

Drifting back into that dream about Los Angeles or San Francisco or wherever again. There had been some kind of race between teenagers or something. When the winners were lined up in the end the guy who’d won went down the line to kiss a few of the people. When he reached one particular young girl he turned round and walked away. Everyone was totally spellbound that he had been so rude. admittedly it was raining and there was no cover where she was standing but it was still quite awful. I was down there doing something with the organisation so after he turned and left I went over to the girl and kissed her and said “never mind, you can have a kiss from me”. There was some comment like “he’s never going to miss the opportunity to kiss a girl when it arises” that brought a smile from her. Then I turned to the guys standing behind her and said “don’t worry, you’re safe. I’ve absolutely no intention whatever of kissing you lot”, something like that, in a light-hearted humorous way

We were in France next, going through a town. There was a kind of drone going through this town on behalf of an estate agent who had several houses advertised here for sale. We all ended up in a Square. I had my bass with me and an amplifier. Someone else had something else. We were waiting for someone to come to meet us but he didn’t turn up. In the meantime there was a flautist there who was waiting for people but they didn’t turn up either so we began to chat. It turned out that he was doing the music for local concerts at some point and had some musicians lined up but they weren’t very reliable so on the spot, we all agreed that we’d perform with him so we went off to an old pavilion by the lake where we could practise. We set up our equipment as best as we could but the place was old, ramshackle and mouse-ridden. I found that i’d forgotten my guitar lead. I had everything else but the guy who was the flautist said “hang on a minute” and went found one for me.

Later on I went back into that dream and had to take all my equipment back to Caliburn which was parked on the square in the snow. Climbing up the steps onto the car park I slipped and fell. A couple of people had to help me up. I had some kind of accessory for the guitar, a tuner or something, and it fell in the water. When I tried to dry it out I broke it. This German who helped me was very kind and considerate but a typical officious German who insisted that he knew best about what needed to be done. Eventually I put all my stuff into Caliburn and walked back across the Square. By now a friend of mine from Munich who had been in the music party was having a beer. I don’t know where my photographer friend from Vancouver, who had also been in there somewhere, had gone so I asked my Munich friend what needed now to be done because I was all for going home. I’d had nothing to eat. There was a Metzgerei at the side of the bar so I was hoping that I could go to fetch some chips or something from there. However my friend was busy drinking and chatting to all his friends and didn’t seem to be too involved in what I was trying to do at that moment.

After the lesson was over I had a try to contact someone in Paris who, I’m told, has a VSL. A VSL or Voiture Sanitaire Leger is the equivalent of a taxi but is equipped to handle ill or disabled people who need transport to and from medical appointments but who aren’t ill enough to need a proper ambulance.

If your doctor thinks that you need one, he’ll give you a bon de transport, a transport voucher, so that you can travel in one free of charge.

The medical specialist whom I saw the other week gave me one so that I could have a VSL from the station in Paris to the hospital and back next week.

However, to cut a long story short, no-one answered the ‘phone so that was that.

Tea tonight was more steamed veg and cheese sauce with a vegan sausage, and that was quite delicious yet again.

Tomorrow I need to pop into town before my lesson and as it’s late right now I won’t have much sleep. But it’s the last day of my course tomorrow and I’ll breathe a sign of relief.

What I can say is that over this last three weeks I’ve certainly learnt a lot. I just hope that I will be able to remember it.

Wednesday 9th August 2023 – THERE REALLY ISN’T …

… any point going to bed and trying to go to sleep early if I wake up at 03:00 and then can’t go back to sleep again. It really does defeat the point.

However, I did manage to go back to sleep again, but not for long and when the alarm went off I was already up and about (after a fashion).

Once I’d had my medication I attacked the dictaphone notes, of which there were more than just a few. I was down in the jungle last night with a pair of socks or something that wouldn’t behave themselves. It was like if I took them off they would keep on attacking me each tme that I turned over in bed or something like that.

Later on I did a lovely turn on the football pitch last night. A foul or offside or something was given in our favour so I went back to take the kick but the full-back decided that he’d take it and kicked it upfield. It was a really weak kick and 3 or 4 different players scrambled for it including me. I reached the ball and managed to flick it behind me. I turned and caught everyone totally unawares – including me – and had a shot at goal which hit the post, came back in but unfortunately broke back up the field. We were all caught out by a breakaway back down the field into our penalty area.

I was going away to a music festival at another point. I’d made enquiries and found out the pitch where my friend from the Wirral and his wife were staying which was one of the ones in the middle in a depression or hollow somewhere. I’d arranged to have a pitch very close nearby. We went down there and were one of the first to arrive. We had to sort through all our things to erect the tent. Then I decided that I wanted a shower. The only way to have a shower was to actually have a shower on your bed. My bed was in the middle of 2 or 3 others so I had to prepare for the shower, rig up a hosepipe or something then sit on my bed and wash myself with the hosepipe. The idea that this was going to ruin my bed and bedding never entered my head all at the moment. There was more stuff than this too, including something about the security arrangements. There was a company called Fitz Security that was doing it but I can’t think now what brought that into the conversation during the night.

Back at this folk festival again. It’s now mid-afternoon, everyone is arriving and starting to set up. There’s a food stall being set up somewhere and people are starting to queue for it. Again there’s much more going on than this but I can’t remember it. Some of it relates to the kind of food that was in some cases rather unpleasant.

Actually, if I were in the UK at the moment I would be on my way to a music festival even as we speak. It’s “Cropredy” this weekend, the Fairport Convention festival in Oxfordshire.

Did I dictate the dream that I was working for a taxi company? … “no you didn’t” – ed … A woman turned up and awoke me out of bed. I had to hunt around for my dressing gown. I was most uncomfortable but I let her in. She began to talk about another taxi company, how she’d seen their adverts everywhere and how she was looking forward to maybe working for them etc. I realised that she’d come for an interview at the wrong place. I let her carry on for a while. Suddenly she disappeared, I can’t remember how, during the dream and the interview finished. Then the boss came home and I told him about this incident. I also told him that the immersion heater wasn’t working again and I’d tried to fix it but I wasn’t able to. He was annoyed with having no hot water. he had a look around. The office was quite shabby. he asked “when are you going to paint it as you promised?”. I asked him what colour. he replied “lemon”. I said “yes OK. I’m glad about that. I don’t like white”. We made arrangements that I’d start to paint the place.

There was also something about a Zeppelin type of thing. It had a leak and there was condensation inside the gasbag that was leaking out in drips of water. We landed the Zeppelin, stripped down the valve and installed a new one, fitted it. That seemed to make the matter worse. In the end we went to a Government office where we could maybe find the parts. We were sitting around there for hours. In the end one of the women with us managed to buttonhole one of the clerks to ask him about it. He replied that these parts are special. They’re on the secret list and can only be sold to people who are bona fide citizens of the UK. The guy had a strange foreign accent so I went over to the woman and we had a laugh about the idea that the parts can only be used by bona-fide British people but can be sold by just about anyone in the whole wide world. It didn’t make any sense. We carried on chatting and ere there for quite a while talking about nothing in particular

We had a long rambling dream about being up in the Arctic ready to fly back. We had to wait for a couple of weeks while the weather ship went to pick up some weather information. It went all the way across to Greenland, round the Davis Strait and back. I grabbed hold of one of the officials and asked about the possibility of going out on the weather ship the next season next year. They said that it was simply not possible but I harassed and harangued them and generally tried to insist but it was no use at all. I was there for ages trying to convince them. Then we flew back. We arrived at the airport. I was with Nerina. As we left the plane she said that she’d forgotten something and she’d see me after Immigration. We had to run all the way round this spiral staircase thing going through different rooms, round and round to our left all the time down these stairs. We reached the bottom and had to board a bus. After the long descent down the stairs we boarded this bus. There was just one other man and me. He asked what I thought about the flight. I replied “I can’t remember anything at all about it. I remember boarding the plane and having a cup of coffee. The next thing that I remember was coming in to land at Fredericton and I had a cup of cold coffee”. He didn’t realise that we’d landed at Fredericton and was surprised when I told him the name of the town. He said “you’re wrong about the coffee. You had to go to the machine yourself and put a token in etc”. In the meantime the bus was going down the road at quite a rate of knots into the city. Suddenly it came to a spot where there was a car parked on either side of the road, a lot of cars on one side and just one on the right-hand side. They hadn’t left enough room for the bus to go through so it came to a grinding halt.

There’s no doubt about it – you’re certainly getting your money’s worth with this.

There was the Welsh homework to do and then we had the lesson. It passed reasonably well today, but we have a long way to go of course.

The strange thing was that while I was awake in the middle of the night I was working through my Welsh from yesterday. It’s preying on my mind, I suppose, and I hope that some of it might stick. I can’t remember any of the vocabulary though.

The cleaner came around too and we had a little chat in the middle of everything.

When the lesson was over I attacked another radio programme. I’ve chosen all the music, paired it off and even written the notes for about half of it. I really don’t know what’s happened to me.

Tea was leftovers with a half-helping of curry from the freezer and a naan bread. I won’t be bothered by any vampires for the next couple of days either – that new batch of garlic butter than I made is pretty good.

So now I’m going to try to go to bed early again, and hope that I can have a better sleep than last night. I haven’t paid all this money for this course not to take any benefit from it.

There’s plenty of other stuff going on too so I have my work cut out right now. At least it keeps me out of mischief.

Tuesday 8th August 2023 – TODAY WAS RATHER …

… better than it was yesterday.

At least I managed to keep on going without actually falling asleep at some point.

Mind you, it was pretty much touch and go at a couple of points during the day and I’m absolutely wasted right now, to such an extent that I’ll be off to bed in a moment, well before my usual bed-time.

In fact, last night I was in bed earlier than usual and despite another turbulent night, I was actually up and about before the alarm went off. Only a couple of minutes before, but it all counts.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I had a listen to the mountain of stuff that was on the dictaphone from the night. I was having the silliest of arguments in LIDL. I was there with my brother – we’d gone to buy a few things. I went up to the cashier’s desk to pay whatever I’d selected. I had to hunt for my money in my little bag thing. While I was doing this the machine began to spew out a load of £5 notes. I asked the girl what it was doing. She replied that it was preparing your change. I replied that I’d not paid anything yet. She replied “no but it prepares your change while you organise yourself”. I told her how strange this situation was. A security guard came over to see what the hubbub was about. I explained and he explained too to this girl but she didn’t understand why we found it so strange. I said that I could just take the money, say goodbye and leave my shopping here now, couldn’t I, and not pay you at all. She still didn’t get it. The subject came round about magic and magic beasts, demons, wizards etc. I said “would you like to see my demon?” and I indicated to my brother to to the the bag on my back and pull out STRAWBERRY MOOSE. Instead he came out with a giant stuffed rat. I asked “Isn’t Strawberry Moose there?”. He replied “no” so I wondered where he had gone because I was convinced that I’d brought him into the shop. It was the strangest argument that I’ve had for quite some time.

There was then a group of is in Crewe walking down Walthall Street. I was as usual chatting up a young girl who was with us. We walked past a group of people standing at the side of the road with a stock car. They were talking about North Carolina so I asked them if they came from there and if they raced there. They replied that they did. I went to ask them if they knew someone whom I knew there but I couldn’t think of his name. I asked them if they knew such and such a town where he raced. I couldn’t think of that name either. We had the most astonishing conversation. I was trying to talk to these people but I couldn’t remember anything. We talked about the towns, how they were scattered out and round, how one town was pretty much the same as the other. This chat went on for quite a while. In the end a couple of my friends had moved on down the road. I went on to catch them up. The young girl was having her watch adjusted by another member of our party. It might have been her mother or something. It was a kind of fitbit that gave a printout on a piece of paper like a till receipt. They were fitting a new paper in it. When she finished the woman patted her on the head and said “right, you can run along to Eric now”. That was a comment that took me completely by surprise.

Later on I was back with the group of people from earlier, including the young girl with the black curly hair. I finally managed to persuade her to come round to my apartment and maybe even spend the night with me. Much to my surprise her mother didn’t make all that many objections to the idea at all. She even had a quiet little word with her about one or two things. That was something else that took me completely by surprise.

So there I was, with my meal on the plate, all poised and at the ready, and I’ve no idea what happened that caused it all to melt away just before I had my fork stuck in it. Just my luck, isn’t it?

Finally I was down at the bottom of Middlewich Street by the funeral parlour at the Cumberland bridge and there I met my journalist friend from Philadelphia. She was expressing her dismay about the new manner of speaking where people today are so touchy and easily offended about things that people write that don’t even concern them, and I was agreeing. In fact, in real life, I’m sure that there are more than just one or two people with nothing better to do than to crawl all over the internet looking for ways in which they might possibly be offended.

The Welsh lesson passed quite quickly today and we made a few long strides forward.

Regrettably though, I seem to have miscalculated, or they have. My three months away, either in Canada or in hospital, were right at the start of this year’s studies, but we’re only doing half a year – the second half. I really wanted to go back and redo the beginning of the course.

When the lesson was over I had my hot chocolate and then finished off all of the radio notes for the programme I’ll be preparing at the weekend. I might even start the next one tomorrow – who knows?

For a change, I managed to eat all my tea – a taco roll with some of the left-over stuffing. There’s not much left so I’ll have a leftover curry with a naan bread for tea tomorrow.

But that’s tomorrow. Right now I’m off to bed. I’m thoroughly exhausted and an early night will do me good.

Here’s hoping for a nice little voyage or two in the company of some good friends. As Guildenstern said in “Hamlet”, “dreams indeed are ambition, for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream”

Thursday 3rd August 2023 – YOU CAN TELL …

… what kind of night I had last night simply by looking at the dictaphone and counting the number of times I dictated something. We actually reached double figures, and it’s not every day that that happens.

Furthermore, I was actually up and about before the alarm went off too.

Only by a matter of a handful of seconds, it’s quite true, but nevertheless, it still counts. When I opened my eyes and saw that it was 06:59 on the fitbit I thought that I may as well make the effort.

One thing’s for sure is that I won’t be up early tomorrow. We had football tonight – Hwlffordd v B36 Torshavn in European competition.

1-0 down from the first leg, they rode their luck all through the first half and with half an hour to go actually managed to score a goal that made the score equal over the two legs.

The game went into extra time but Torshavn scored what can only be described as a “controversial penalty” to knock the Welsh side out. Manager Tony Pennock was quite right to be incensed but I notice that he kept very quiet about the penalty that I and the commentators would have awarded against his team earlier in the game to which the referee waved “play on”.

The post-match interviews were quite entertaining. Pennock came out with a few comments that reminded me of Ron Atkinson and his famous quote of “I never comment on referees – and I won’t break the habit of a lifetime for that prat!”

Centre-forward Ben Fawcett, who scored Hwlffordd’s goal, reminded me of Jim Finks, one-time coach of the New Orleans Saints gridiron team who once famously said “We’re not allowed to comment on the lousy officiating”

So with extra time being played, the game didn’t finish until long after 23:00 so it’s going to be a long night tonight.

It’ll be just like today when it took me an absolute age to actually start work – after a very late morning coffee.

And the first thing that I did was to sort out the music for the next radio programme. That took much longer than it ought to have done.

One thing that took the time was that I had to track down a certain track that I needed. In this programme, whenever it will be broadcast, we’ll be celebrating the birthday of a rather obscure musician.

Her partner plays a major rôle in our radio programmes and she actually wrote the words for one or two of his more rare songs and played keyboards on a couple. We can’t actually celebrate her birthday without playing some of her music.

While I was at it, I wrote the text for some of the music that I’ll be playing and I’ll write some more tomorrow. With a bit of luck, God’s help and a Bobby, I might have two radio programmes to prepare on Sunday.

And then there was the dictaphone. And I couldn’t believe the amount of stuff that was on it from the night. I was at the football last night. The town where I was living was a small French town roughly the size of Granville but in the interior down south. They were playing a game of football. I went along to watch the match. There was a lot happening that I’ve forgotten but something that sticks in my mind was that I was chatting to a group of people some of whom were young girls, schoolgirls or whatever. At one point the ball came over our way. I got off my chair and went to pick it up to throw it back in but then I found that I had real difficulty getting back to my feet. When I did, some girl had sat in my chair. I made some remark about it. She said that she’d sat in there first. I thought “never mind”. There was a couple of empty chairs around here and there so I took one of those, sat next to them and continued to watch the game. There was much more to it than this but I can’t remember now.

When the alarm went off I awoke with a real start. I was in such a deep sleep. I didn’t know where I was for a minute. When I looked round I thought that the cleaner was here. She was trying to tell me that she has to cut down her hours because one of her family needed help. I was trying to get my head round all this information. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 04:00 and I’d obviously dreamt the alarm somehow. That’s really surprising. It sounded so real too. It goes without saying that there was no cleaner here etc, just me waking up spontaneously for no good reason so I turned over and went back to sleep. I really couldn’t believe it.

Then a surprise for a friend of mine. We’d heard from a restaurant in St Malo that a well-known brand of gravy actually contained animal products. I went to make further enquiries and discovered that it was indeed true. I swapped a meal of greasy sausages and things like that for another kind of meal but I can’t remember what the other meal was now. I’m having a real problem remembering my dreams at the moment. I don’t know why that is.

There was another dream where I was having to see a heart specialist. He’d given me an appointment at 08:10. I went to see him and was there early. There were a couple of other doctors’ surgeries in the same place. One woman came in to sit down. Someone else came in, probably a doctor because he went into one of the side rooms. He then came out and began to talk to this woman about Patagonia and going to have an operation done there. That immediately appealed to me. I began to think about life in Patagonia, how I would go there, how I was going to travel, what I was going to do. I was all building myself up in this dream for a trip to Patagonia on the basis of absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

We were wandering around a place in rural Spain. I wanted to go to use the bathroom. I set out to find it. I went past a guy who had a box. He had 4 small logs in it. Sitting across the logs was a French bread pizza. He was trying to light the logs presumably to cook his pizza so I told him what a wonderful thing it was. He didn’t understand so I tried to say it in Spanish. He still didn’t understand me. Everyone with me asked me what I was doing so I explained. I found the bathroom and walked in. To my surprise it was just a communal room with about 6 WCs in it, no partitions or anything. You just sat there or stood there in full view of everyone else and did what you had to do. There was no blushing or anything like that from anyone except from me of course.

That was actually the first time that I’ve had a dream in Spanish.

There was a sequel to this dream as well. A young Spanish boy whose father went to discipline him. He suddenly had a huge pain in his groin that doubled him up. He was rolling around the floor in agony. While this was going on his son was there. This pain didn’t ease off until the guy decided that he’d change his mind about punishing his son. Once he’d made that decision the pain stopped

There was also something about a football match in Spain. While the father was doubled up in pain the opposition team grabbed hold of the football and tried to take a quick free kick and roared off down the field before the referee stopped them and brought them back. It was those two new players from Hwlffordd, Crossdale and the other one … “Owen” – ed … who were doing this.

There was something about cricket too, trying to explain it to a new player about how he could learn the game by watching so when his team was in he’d be out there and he could watch what was happening, then get himself out and come back in, then prepare to go back out again when his team was in, all kinds of stuff like that, this particular dream that I can’t remember the fine details now

And finally there was another dream that I’ve had before. I was with Nerina who was on a bike and I was on foot. We were chatting as she was cycling. We were in Stoke on Trent and came to a steep hill. Something had happened that she had done something that had not been the kind of thing that I would do. People had believed that we had separated. Nerina had strung them on a little. When we came to the steep hill there was a short cut for people on foot so I took it and she continued along the road. She fell in with one of these people who then began to ask her questions about what she was up to. When the short cut re-joined the road we joined up again. By now I was running up the hill and she was cycling. There was a couple of people standing on the pavement ahead of us, one of whom I recognised. A car that was coming up the hill suddenly mounted the pavement and hit these 2 people knocking them flying and drove off again. By now we’d all arrived at this particular point and we tried to ask one of these guys what exactly had happened

It’s no surprise that there was no time to do anything else other than this. There was tea of course, a leftover chili sin carné that was as delicious as ever, and then I dashed in here for the football.

Now the game is over and my notes are finished, I’m off to bed. I’m nipping into town on the bus tomorrow for a little shop and then I’ll probably be flat out asleep in the afternoon recovering from the effort.

That assumes that I wake up in time to go to the shops. Another night like last night and I won’t wake up for a week.

Firday 21st July 2023 – I MADE IT …

… back from town this morning.

Actually, going down into town was the easy bit because I went on the bus.

Mind you, I nearly didn’t because just as I was stepping out of the front door I realised that I’d forgotten half of the paperwork that I needed so I had to come back.

These days I can’t move very quickly at all so I was afraid that I’d miss the bus. But luckily I managed to stagger aboard just before she pulled away.

Something else that might have made me miss it was another miserable night. What with the football and everything it was long after midnight when I went to bed and it took me an absolute age to go off to sleep.

Once again, I was up and on my feet before the alarm went off, and after I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages, I went and had a shower to make myself smell nice.

Before leaving for the bus I put the washing machine on the go so that at least I’d have some clean clothes for when I came back. I’m running out of clothes at the moment.

At the Carrefour I forgot the cherry tomatoes but I remembered everything else, and then wandered off to the Post Office to post a couple of letters, one of which was the demand for a disabled parking badge, and to pick up a registered letter.

At the chemist’s the staff were fighting over serving me and I ended up with the girl who lost the bout. She gave me the Aranesp, which cost an arm and a leg as usual, and then I set off for home.

The walk back was agony. It really was. It took me an age and I was exhausted by the time I returned. I had my cheese on toast but regrettably fell asleep almost immediately.

It’s no fun waking up to a cold mug of coffee. I’ve no idea how long I was asleep but it wasn’t five minutes – I’ll tell you that for nothing. It felt like an eternity and at one point I really was contemplating the idea of going to bed.

Anyway, instead I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I was during the night. I was with a friend of mine. We’d gone to some kind of sports hall place to do a job. As we left Crewe to join the motorway there was a policewoman at the top of the motorway exit watching the drivers join the motorway. She shouted “drive safely, watch your speed limits and don’t speed”, something like that. Of course my friend immediately shouted back some kind of comment as he would about “what do you mean? I’m not going fast. What are you saying? What are you implying?”. Of course I could see exactly where this is going so I said “come on mate, let’s get to work” but he still wanted to pick a fight with this policewoman. In the end I managed to organise him and I apologised to the policewoman. The last thing I wanted was for her to chase us down the motorway. So we did what we were doing and it worked quite well. There was a roulette table and a few one-armed bandit things there. He looked at his watch and said “we can spend an hour here and have a play on that”. I’d put all the money safe so I didn’t want to go bringing it out again. I should have put my possessions into some kind of safe but I didn’t fancy the idea of it because there was no lock. Everyone could go in and take the stuff so I kept them on me. I really wanted to go home but he was dead set on staying here wasting his money so I suppose we’ll have to. But I hope that he really is only going to be here for a short while and not spin it out for the rest of the night. I could see that happening quite easily.

Later on there was another group of us who had been out for a walk. I’d ended up with a man and a woman who might have been some friends of mine, I dunno. We met an American couple. The woman-friend of mine had gone off to do something so we were just wandering around when the American couple appeared. They asked if we knew where a certain café was. My friend thought that it was the one around the corner from where we were standing although I thought that it was the one where we had been earlier in the day. We went round the corner to this one and could see that it was a really expensive place. There was nothing special about it. The guy said “let’s walk up to some place or other at the end of the track”. I asked “what about your wife?”. There didn’t seem to be much of a reply. Off we set. It was slowly going dark. We reached the end which was by the water. There was a girl there. For some reason I was asked to take a photo of her so that she could be put on a poster. I had the little Nikon and went to take a photo but for some reason the camera wouldn’t take the photo. It might possibly have been too dark. I took the big Nikon which doesn’t need the light so much and I positioned this girl in the street light at a table in the café so that the light would fall on her to give the best possible view, went to take the camera but found that the battery was flat. This American couple had a bit of a moan to me about all my things etc.

Later on I spent some time back in Canada. I’ve left Cartwright and I’m heading down the Métis Trail back towards the Trans Labrador Highway.

The area around Cartwright and Sandwich Bay in particular is populated by the Métis.

When the early European traders came out here in the 18th and early 19th Century, those employees who opted to stay usually took a native wife, sometimes an Innu but mainly an Inuit. Their descendants are known as Métis

Almost everyone out on the coast is descended from probably about 20 distinct families and it’s interesting to read the Censuses of 100 or so years ago. Each cove or sheltered bay would have its own “family” who would work the salmon fishing, the cod fishing and then go off into the interior trapping during the winter.

Even more strangely, suddenly you’ll find that in a certain location there might be a different family than in the previous Census. Almost inevitably, one family might just have daughters. When she married, she would stay at home and bring her husband to her, and he would inherit his father-in-law’s cove and trap lines

Every now and again you’ll come across a French name – Michelin being one of the most common. For a while there was a trading firm from Montreal – Revillon Frères – out here on the Labrador coast trying to establish a foothold against the Hudson’s Bay Company.

There were also a few merchants from the Channel Islands who tried to establish themselves here but a big bank crash in Jersey in 1873 wiped them out.

The Métis did not have any rights at all until the 1980s. Being the children of native women they were never recognised as Europeans by Law according to the European settlers, and because they were the children of European men, they never acquired the rights of native indigenous people. It wasn’t until Section 35 of the Constitution Act was amended in 1982 that the Métis became recognized as one of Canada’s three Aboriginal peoples and began to receive their rights.

Tea tonight was falafel, chips and salad. Quite delicious but it’s given me stomach ache and I don’t know why.

But now I’m off to bed for a good night’s sleep ready to fight the good fight around the shops tomorrow. But before I go, I’ll leave you with the HIGHLIGHTS OF LAST NIGHT’S FOOTBALL. I hope that you enjoy them as much as everyone else seems to have done.

Thursday 20th July 2023 – ZAK JONES DOES IT AGAIN

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago at the end of the football season New Zealand International goalkeeper performed heroics in the Hwlffordd goal to drag his team from 7th place in the league all the way through the playoffs and into European competition.

Last week away in North Macedonia his young, unfancied part-time side lost narrowly, 1-0 to a team, KF Shkendija that contained no fewer than 5 international players

Tonight we had the return leg in Wales and with just a couple of minutes to go and Hwlffordd on the verge of going out, centre-half Lee Jenkins, pushed up into attack got his foot onto the end of a cross and poked the ball into the net.

So we had 22 very tired players playing 30 minutes of inconclusive extra time which led to a penalty shootout to decide who will go through to the second round and a trip to the Faroe islands.

So up stepped Zak Jones.

I forget now how many penalties he saved in the play-off matches during the penalty shootouts (and the one in open play) but however many it was, he can add two more to his list from tonight, one with his hands and another with his feet.

Consequently, the team managed by former Hull City coach Tony Pennock and led on the field by Welsh International Jazz Richards and who were written off by almost everyone before the European matches started now progress to Round Two

Every single one of them played like lions tonight.

As for me, I was more like a lamb this morning. I’ve no idea what it was that awoke me but once again I was up and about (well, sort-of) before the alarm went off.

Once more, I took quite a while to bring myself into the Land of the Living but my reverie was interrupted by a ‘phone call.

And the good news about this is that I have an appointment at this mega-hospital in Paris on 30th August at 14:30 where they are goign to try to sort out the nerves in my leg.

It’s only going to be a consultation – I won’t be staying over or anything like that, but it shows that things are moving rapidly. Much more rapidly than I can ever move, that’s for sure.

What with this Re-education place yesterday, I’m not sure whether they are going to do me any good but I’m certainly going to let them have a try.

How I’m actually going to get to the hospital is another question entirely and I spent a while “making enquiries”. These are rather inconclusive right now but something might happen sometime, I suppose.

For the rest of the day I was in Canada and right now I’m back from my sail out to sea and the abandoned settlements and I’m packing up ready to leave Cartwright in a few hours time for my trip down to North West River and another little boat trip.

There was a pause while I transcribed the dictaphone notes. There was something going on in a house last night. About moving or reorganising this property. We had a couple of security cameras filming everything frame by frame on a time-lapse photography thing. We were sitting there watching it and the changes in the season and changes in the weather during the day and how clear the images were at times and how unclear they were at other times.

Then there was some kind of ceremony taking place in a village hall or something like that. A priest was going to be there to bless us. Because I’m a foreigner I was going to be treated specially so I decided that I was going to wear some kind of Bishop’s robes so that I could bless him back. I mentioned it to one of the organisers who was one of my bosses. I knew that they didn’t take it seriously so I didn’t say anything. On the day when the crowds were beginning to assemble I asked someone official who I knew was nothing to do with our part of the event whether he had brought the Bishop’s cloak with him. He looked bewildered and pointed me in the direction of one of my bosses. I wandered over there and asked him. I could see the vacant look on his face as if he hadn’t realised exactly what I was wanting or what I was expecting of him. He took me over to a coat rail with loads of different sorts of clothes on it, wedding dresses etc but there was nothing on it suitable to be turned into a Bishop’s cloak. I knew that full well. My aim was just at that moment to embarrass him. It didn’t really make much difference whether I wore a Bishop’s robe or not – it was just something that I fancied doing.

Finally, we awoke in this car park on our coach next to this ancient, horrible, disreputable saloon of the 1930s or 40s like a Morris E or something. We were going to say something about it but decided that it probably wasn’t a good idea to brag about our own achievements and draw attention to ourselves like this. We tended to ignore it. As more and more people came to join us for breakfast we didn’t mention this vehicle at all which was quite a surprise really. It’s not the kind of vehicle that you see every day these days.

Tea tonight was a rather rushed chili sin carné with the leftovers lengthened with a small tin of kidney beans. And quite delicious too. I’ve really got the hang of making these.

So now that the football is over I’m off to bed, later – much later – than usual. I haven’t crashed out today but I bet that I will tomorrow, especially as I have to go down into town to pick up the Aranesp that I ordered.

That’ll be me done for the rest of the week, I reckon.

Wednesday 19th July 2023 – IT’S BEEN ANOTHER …

… day today that’s best forgotten. In fact, I’m actually so surprised that I’ve accomplished as much as I have.

But start as you mean to go on. I was actually up and about (well, sort-of) before the alarm went off. I’d had such a disturbing dream that it actually awoke me and I ended up sitting bolt-upright.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages it took me a while to come to my senses – after all, I have so few left these days that it takes a while to find them, I suppose.

Anyway, once I was there or thereabouts I pushed on with the medical receipts. It was quite a struggle because there were so many, but eventually they were all done and dusted. Just one more lot to send off but I’ll wait until Friday when I’ll have bought this next month’s batch of Aranesp.

The next thing that needed doing was to fill in this form about my disability. That was a whole rainforest of paperwork that I needed to complete, and as well as that, I had to print off some stuff from the computer, like copies of Identity cards and electricity bills and the like.

But going through these forms, I’m surprised at what I’m entitled to claim. There’s no doubt that the elderly and infirm are much better off here than in the UK.

However, it goes without saying that I’m not claiming for much because I don’t really need it. If I can have a parking pass and a public transport ticket that will suit me fine. My medical expenses are taken care of because I’m classed as long-term permanently seriously ill

Ending up with a pile of paperwork like this, that led to some tidying up in here. And that’s not like me at all, is it? I suppose that I ought to be more focused on things like this but it isn’t easy.

A little later I had a shower, and then while the cleaner was here I organised the music for the next radio programme, paired it all off and then actually wrote out all of the notes. And that took me an age because I fell asleep in the middle of doing it. And fell asleep definitively too.

At some point or other I managed to transcribe the dictaphone notes. There were a couple of people who were being besieged, rather like Murdoch and Lamb (I actually mean Murdoch and Guyler) of the Men From The Ministry. When they began to run away from their hiding place they found that their enemy’s ship was anchored no more than a couple of feet away. They tried to dodge into a building just as the ship opened fire. It practically obliterated the building in which they were trying to hide but they managed to go inside what was left of it. another point-blank broadside brought them back out of the building again and they were obliged to surrender.

There was also a film about 2 guys who were playing cricket. Their team wasn’t particularly good but they were doing really well. There was a break and these 2 guys disappeared and no-one knew where they had gone. The people who ran the club were devastated because they were the only 2 who were doing any good. Then it turned out that someone checked the contents of a dustbin lorry. There had been a film that had taken place there about some dwarf warning the population about the dangers of eating when there were seagulls about. One of the guys missing from this group was a dwarf as well. There were 2 people talking about the perils of being in a boat who resembled 2 of the persons from this group who were missing so speculation was that they’d all been caught out doing something that they shouldn’t be doing and were arrested. They were now having part of their punishment which was to talk out loud on the radio about these things that they shouldn’t do

I was in bed last night really hot and felt the urge to spread myself right out to make the greatest surface possible so that I could transpire better but for some unknown reason I was really worried about disturbing whoever it was who was asleep on the other half of the bed. Eventually after quite a while I realised that there wasn’t anyone asleep there and that I’d just imagined there being someone else there in bed with me at the time

Finally, I’d been staying in an Air B&B somewhere and was due to leave. The final account had been e-mailed to me to pay. Someone looked at it and told me “do you know that you have to pay 11,000 (whatever the local currency is) for your stay in that place? That works out at £2,000 per week”. It was only a single room in a small house. I was astonished by that, so much so that I actually awoke

And after last night’s escapades I managed to have some food tonight. Plenty of stuffing left so I had a taco roll, the one that I should have had last night. I know that my meals are all very samey but they are all very nice regardless.

Tomorrow, with all of my work done, I can finally have a day working on Canada 2017. But as usual, something will be bound to crop up to disturb me. I mustn’t forget to order the Aranesp either. When I go into town on Friday to pick it up I can post all of my letters.

There’s enough there to keep me out of mischief for a while.

Sunday 16th July 2023 – IF I EVER LAY …

… my hands on whoever rang my doorbell at 07:09 this morning they won’t ever do it again. I can’t even imagine why anyone would want to do that.

There I was, in the middle of an interesting dream too. That’s what was so disappointing about it all.

Even worse, I hadn’t gone to bed until late. After I’d finished my notes I dictated the dictaphone notes for the next radio programme and then loitered around for a while trying to tire myself out. It’s not easy to be tired when you’ve spent most of the afternoon fast asleep.

Regardless of the rude awakening I managed to go back to sleep again and it was a much more realistic and reasonable 10:30 when I finally saw the light of day.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And to my surprise we were going through talking about people and describing people -in Welsh. I was describing someone and somehow I made them to be 500 years old. Someone asked me if that was what I really meant. Then someone rang the doorbell of the apartment so I awoke at that point.

Later on I was with my friend from Holywell in North Wales. We were in a city somewhere. She had a list of places to visit to do various thinks like pay her taxes etc. I took her to a place where she could see every building. I pointed them out to her one by one but she must have been confused. When she saw that the Rates Office was a ruin she had a panic attack. In the end I took hold of her and brought her down to the rates Office. I helped her through the rubble and steps. There was a young guy there who made a few light-hearted comments about his building. My friend began to thaw. I told him that I thought that the building was magnificent but that my wife didn’t like it one bit. I didn’t realise that I’d said it until I said it. I expected her to throw a fit on hearing that but she didn’t. In the end we organised her rate payments for her then I set out to take her to the next building on the list. I thought that if I go with her to all of them it’ll be dome much quicker than her standing on a street corner panicking.

Actually, a similar thing happened to me when I went with Marianne to Rome. She didn’t speak Italian so it made no difference when I referred to her as mia moglia to whoever we met, but I was talking to an Indian guy and forgot myself so much as to mention “My Wife” to him.

And then there was the time that I took my Greek friend to the airport in Brussels. Standing by the gate seeing her off and she was telling me “make sure you eat decent meals” and stuff like that, and a woman standing behind her said to her “that’s right – we have to make sure that our husbands look after themselves when we aren’t there”

She was another lovely girl whom I liked very much and I even went to learn some Greek so that I could speak to her family, but she was another one who had far too much sense to be involved with me

Meanwhile, back at the ran …errr … bed I went back to a ship carrying my duffle bag and a pile of other stuff. I met a girl who was going in the same direction so we walked together for a while. We came to the traffic lights to cross the road into the port. She said that she was just going to run across regardless of traffic. I explained that that was rather a strange thing to do because for a start I was heavily laden down and I wouldn’t be able to cross. We waited for the lights. I told her that they change quickly so we couldn’t dawdle but we crossed with plenty of time to spare and walked down to the docks. We ended up on a cliff top quite high up looking at the sea. There was a large group of us there waiting for the ship. We could see all the way up and down the coast. The tide was well in and the promenade was under water but there was no sign of the ship. She began to organise the passengers. Someone asked “how come you’re doing that,” She said “I’m going to see the Captain about having this job”. They laughed and said that that would be most unlikely. She reminded them that someone had been taken on to do a job simply because he’d enjoyed doing it before he’d been appointed. I said “it seems to be the only qualification around here”. That made everyone laugh. But we were up there on this cliff in the dark. We couldn’t see our ship at all the entire way up and down the coast. We began to wonder what on earth had happened to it

Much of the rest of the day has been spent in a desultory kind of fashion making a radio programme and that’s all now finished, up and running and ready to go sometime at the start of next year.

There was some time off to make some fruit buns. And they actually came out really well which is a nice surprise. I’ve not tasted them yet but I’ll tell you all about them tomorrow.

On the subject of baking, tonight’s pizza was as good as usual. They seem to be doing OK now. The dough in the base didn’t rise quite as high as it has done in the past and that was surprising but it didn’t change the taste at all.

So in a few minutes I’m off to bed. An early night will do me good and tomorrow I can crack on with Canada. I have a whole two weeks to back something out before my next Welsh course and I have to make the most of it.

Wednesday 12th July 2023 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… one of the worst games of football that I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’ve seen some bad ones too.

It’s the Preliminary Round of the European Cup this evening and TNS have been playing away in Gothenberg against the Swedish Champions BK Hacken.

TNS lost 3-1 and really and honestly it could – and should – have been 13-1 and TNS would have had no cause to complain because they really were awful.

But it wasn’t the score or the difference in technical ability that upset me so much. What had me going was the fact that TNS sat back – not in their own half and let the opposition come onto them – but in their own penalty area. They simply camped on their own 18-yard line and tried to soak up the pressure.

If you’re going to play like that, you have someone always in the centre circle. It ties down a couple of defenders and you know where you can clear the ball. Whoever is up front can hold onto the ball while the wingers break free and you can start an attack.

But no. Everyone was in the TNS penalty area.

If TNS don’t have a dramatic change of plan for the home leg next week it’s going to be all over for them yet again. I don’t know what it is but they just can’t do it on the European stage. They seem to make a business of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

One thing that I could do today was to be up before the alarm went off. A good 5 minutes too this morning.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I went for a shower so that at least i’d be nice and clean. And then I revised my Welsh.

The lesson seemed to go much better today and I actually understood what was going on. That makes a nice change too. But when we finished we were way behind where we are supposed to be and I don’t know how they are going to fit in the missing work.

The cleaner was here this afternoon and she was still here when the lesson finished so we had a quick chat before she left.

There was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’m surprised that I had time to wake up early. With the consumption of alcohol falling off some bar owner had decided to go in for live music. He realised that this would cost him more than he might make but he was going to give it something of a go and hope that he could entice in a lot of patrons. His regulars had quite mixed feelings about the idea but he’d see how it would work out. There was more to it than this but I can’t remember now.

There was an important sports match taking place so everywhere was sold out. All the people were making all kinds of strange arrangements to see the game, drones being tethered to balloons, free-flying balloons, loads of people on these hydraulic platforms like skyjacks etc that were being raised up. Everything was having a problem. One guy’s daughter had bought him a kind of small dirigible to which he could attach his drone so that it wouldn’t leave the ground. He reckoned that it was probably 3 feet below the level of the ground. They couldn’t make the drones point in the right direction. All these platforms were breaking up and extremely unsteady. People weren’t falling out but they were having to lower the platforms down because they were so unsafe. It really was an absolute nightmare for people to manage to see this game with all of the tricks that they were trying to ba able to see over the fence into the ground. It looked like some kind of jungle with lots of trees in it all peering up and peering over the fence into the ground.

We were then out doing something around the offshore islands in Labrador last night but I can’t remember what it was. We visited several and checked the heights etc then flew the information back to the central point with a drone but that’s all that I remember

There was a dispute about an inheritance with 2 young boys who were inheriting from their grandfather. It was suspected that one of them was illegitimate so wasn’t able to accept. This led to all kinds of disputes. In the end he was packed off to school anyway but his DNA was sent off to somewhere. Some time later it came back. There was no formal announcement of the results but he was sent the coveted black sweater of his clan. It was sent to his school and I had to pack it along with the belt to hold up his trousers. This obviously meant that he had actually been recognised as a blood descendant and was now no doubt a member of the family clan and could inherit everything.

Actually, there was a real case like this going on in the USA. Some rich guy had died and left his estate to be divided equally between his sons, of whom there were two. Subsequently it turned out following a DNA test that one of his sons isn’t actually his – his wife must have been up to no good at some time – so the real son was suing the other one for the return of his half of the money.

Finally there was a programme on TV last night about taxi drivers saying that about 1 in 4 licences issued were bogus licences to people who aren’t going to be engaged in taxi driving but need them for some other nefarious purpose. There was a lot of talk about that and also some talk about a new differential for a black cab that seemed to improve the gearing and manoeuvrability. They were discussing that. I had to take a sample in to a garage. The asked about the sample and what I was looking for. I said that it’s the quality of the facing joints as far as I’m concerned. A few other people had different ideas but to me as long as the facings were of perfect quality then that would be a very good start for the construction and assembly of these differentials

With the football, tea was quite late tonight. With not much in the way of leftovers I had a half-helping of curry out of the freezer to go with it, and a naan bread. That was all really delicious and I’ll have to do that again. But I’m not sure what I’ll do for tea tomorrow. Probably invent something.

But I’ll worry about that another time. Right now I’m off to bed ready for a revision session in the morning before my lesson. I’m hoping that I can keep up this improvement. But I reckon that it’s only temporary. Nothing whatever is sticking to my brain.

Tuesday 11th July 2023 – TODAY’S LESSON …

… didn’t pass as quickly as yesterday’s.

In fact, we overran our allotted time and there was still some work left to do. It looks as if tomorrow I shall have to do some homework before the lesson begins.

And today was one day where I would have liked to have had a shorter day. I’d had a very bad night again and I wasn’t really in much of a fit state to do my course. To make matters worse, I had as the other half of my break-out pair the only person on the planet who knew less than me.

During the night I hadn’t had a great deal of sleep. What with the pain in my foot – that was something. And the amount of travels on which I’d been engaged was something else completely. I’d chosen 4 songs for some reason. At first I thought that they all came from the same album. It turned out that only 1 of them was from the album that I actually wanted. The other 3, although they fitted into the kind of mood of the piece that I was creating came from an album that had nothing at all to do with whatever it was that I was planning. I was rather bewildered about how this had come about

Having gone back to sleep I was using the cut-and-paste facility to chop the narrative and dialogue around so that it all fits together and runs together in some kind of sense and vague chronological order as much as I could

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were staying at someone’s house investigating some kind of crime. The guy had a sister. Dr Watson became quite friendly with her. The brother objected strongly and asked Watson to swear on oath that he wasn’t up to no good. Watson was quite happy to do. The girl then went missing from home. Shortly afterwards Watson returned. The guy accosted him, threatening and bullying etc. Watson pulled from his coat pocket the papers that he’d signed saying “I’ve just come back to the house to deposit my oath that I recently swore so that rather negates your argument doesn’t it?”.

Did I dictate the dream about driving through the forest and all these clearings? … “No you didn’t” – ed Some boys on a motorbike based on a Fordson E83W van. I stopped to talk to them but they moved off. I followed them and this took place 2 or 3 different times. Eventually I caught up with them at a clearing in the woods where they were wandering around. I went over to talk to them. I complained about them driving off every time I stopped to talk to them. I asked them about their motor bike. They really knew nothing about it, not even what it was. To them it was just some engine lying around so they’d put it in a frame. It was up for sale they said but they didn’t have a clue what it was worth. My thought was that it was either worth a lot of money because of its rarity value or it’s worth nothing because of its total impracticality. The only worth it has is for someone with some kind of nostalgia like me but I wasn’t going to give them an elevated price if I could afford it. I recommended that they speak to someone else and had some kind of figure from them, then come back to talk to me about it when they had more of an idea of what they wanted.

And I was impressed that I could remember the correct designation of the Ford van. When we were kids, my father had two of them – KLG93 and XVT772. We drove all over the country in those in the late 50s and early 60s before we upgraded to pure unashamed luxury and had a CA Bedford 967NVT

On the subject of my father, at some point he wanted to know if I wanted to go and do another job for a friend of his, taking his artic somewhere and coming back later. There would be a couple of hours break in the middle where I could go and play football if I wanted. It meant trying to find my hammer which was buried somewhere on the bed. I had to hunt for it and found it underneath the bedclothes in a suitcase in a pile of sand. I had to take the hammer from the pile of sand. There was a motor race taking place with small miniature lorries. The idea was that they were attached to fishing lines. People threw the lorries on the end of a hook down a hill. When the whistle sounded they had to reel in the lorries so they would come back up the hill on their 4 wheels. It was the first one past the finishing line that would win.

Just for a change I was up before the alarm went off. Only by about 30 seconds though. I awoke with a start at 06:59 and it was too good an opportunity to miss, with the possibility of beating the alarm for once.

Having transcribed the dictaphone notes I revised for my Welsh course today but it didn’t do much good because with having a teflon brain, nothing whatever would stick.

But then I grabbed a big pot of coffee and a fruit bun and went on the attack.

It wasn’t until about 16:20 that we finished so I went to grab my hot chocolate and the last of my chocolate biscuits. Tomorrow I can start on the honey and oatmeal ones that I made at the weekend.

Having organised that I did some work on my Canada 2017 trip and I’m out in the bay heading towards a fishing station. But I was side-tracked because I found another handy guide to navigation off the Labrador coast with a lot of useful information that isn’t in the other two that I have.

As well as that, I’ve written a couple of notes for the radio programmes and I’ve been rescuing data from the hard drive that I’ve repaired. I’ve been busy.

Tea tonight was another delicious taco roll but there’s not very much stuffing left. I’ll probably end up with a curry and naan bread tomorrow which should be nice

But that’s tomorrow. I’m off to bed right now and tomorrow morning I’ll have to have a shower because the cleaner will be round at some point and I don’t want to frighten her away. Here’s hoping that I can have a good sleep tonight them.

Wednesday 5th July 2023 – I MANAGED TO …

… beat the alarm clock again this morning, even though I didn’t feel anything at all quite like it. When it went off this morning at 07:00 I was sitting on the edge of the bed dressing

It goes o show that nothing in this life is permanent. I remember not so long ago going through a phase of not being able to get up out of bed at any price and I remember thinking at the time that it’s just going to go worse.

But the way that things have turned out, then I suppose that there are some grounds for optimism. I just wish that I knew what they were.

However, as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … being up and out of bed is one thing. Actually being at my desk and working is something else completely.

Isabel the nurse was the first to dislodge me from my reverie this morning. She’s supposed to be giving me a blood test tomorrow but apparently this one is extremely complicated and has to be done at the laboratory.

The laboratory opens at 07:30 and I need to be there before 09:00. And she hopes that I won’t be in a rush because these are “special” tests that take about 10 days before the results are ready.

Next person to ring was the nerve specialist’s secretary. I was wondering why I’d been copied into a blank e-mail but it turned out that the e-mail should have contained the copy of the prescription that he sent to me. He wasn’t available and his secretary needed it for her records so could I send it to her?

It all sounds quite bizarre to me, but who am I to interfere?

Having sorted out the playlist for the next few days, I wrote out a few more notes for a radio programme. It’s quite strange really but my heart doesn’t seem to be in it right now.

But to be honest, my heart isn’t really into anything much right now. All my get-up-and-go seems to have got up and gone at the moment – quite a change from that dramatic burst of energy that I had a couple of weeks ago where I was ready to take on the World.

Yesterday I mentioned that I’d revised half of my first Welsh course book. Today I looked through the other half. And I’ll keep on doing that through the summer, I reckon. The only difficulty is that with my teflon brain, nothing is sticking. I’m going to have to do something dramatic about that too.

The rest of the day has been spent walking around on the Furdustrandir, the beach where the Norse voyagers landed on their epic voyage down the North American coast – or, at least, where I think that the Norse landed.

Everyone has their own preferred location as to which beach it might be, and find 100 reasons why it won’t be anywhere else, and then someone else finds 100 reasons why it’s not where anyone else says that it might be.

The early writes on the subject, like Carl Rafn, Gustav Storm and Arthur Middleton Reeves put the beach as far south as Massachusetts and quote the number of daegr – or “days” quoted in the Sagas, and the average speed of a longboat.

However, no-one is going to sail a ship in unfamiliar waters full of shoals and rocks during the hours of darkness, and they weren’t in a longboat anyway but in a cargo vessel.

William Munn wrote a book in 1914 to suggest that Newfoundland was the likeliest spot for the Norse to have settled and when confronted about the problem of “vines growing in the neighbourhood”, Munn’s suggestion that “maybe the climate was different in those days” – the first ever reference to Global Warming – was loudly ridiculed by his contemporaries.

In any case Vaino Tanner, the Finnish anthropologist, whose ancient Norse language is bound to be more reliable that many other Westerners, tells us that “vinland was originally a nomen appellativum derived from the early Nordic word vin (pronounced vinn), plural vinjar, which signifies grassland or pasture suitable for cattle.”

And as for the critics who say “grassland or pasture suitable for cattle in Labrador?”, they’ve obviously never been to Greenland and seen what passes for pasture there.

So I suppose that that will be my next project, if ever I finish this one. To write up my notes of my visits to the Norse sites in Greenland.

There was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone again from the night. I had a couple of wax mannequins or dummies in my house that I used either for decoration or putting clothes on etc. What people didn’t realise was that they were in fact some old friends of mine, including Rosemary, who I’d somehow managed to kill and coated in wax as a way of disguising their bodies while I had a think about what I was going to do with them. They’d been around in my apartment now for a couple of years and I was beginning to wonder how long I could get away with it if none of these people had, say, featured on their social network in that time. Someone would be bound to ask me a few questions about them, where they are. One idea that went through my head was to use their mobile phones to establish some kind of connection so that their online presence would be noted but that would inevitably draw people in to where I was and that wasn’t what I wanted at all. I was in this enormous quandary about what I was going to do and how I was going to do it

My brother had his motorbike and we were planning on doing something with ours. We said that we’d meet at a certain pub after a music concert. He got onto the pub who said that we could leave our motorbikes there during the concert. We wandered slowly home to fetch the bikes. He had his and I told him to wait a few minutes. He said that his wouldn’t start so he’d have to push it. if we set off now we’d be there at the same time. Off we set. I went into the barn. It was filthy, untidy, dusty and dirty etc, a real mess. I even found 20p in the dust and an album cover from a Who album. Trying to get my motorbike down was really difficult. I had to pull myself up with my arms and elbows onto another half-floor above. I needed a great deal of strength to do that. I had to open a cupboard, the door opened upwards, take the bike out and somehow lower it down to the floor below. I wasn’t looking forward to doing this at all. I reckoned that it would be extremely difficult. Then I thought that I hadn’t run the motorbike for years so what if it doesn’t fire if the petrol has gone stale or something like that?

I had some cars that needed washing. They were all kinds but mainly ancients – stuff that you find that’s 100 years old that’s dragged out of a barn. I had them in this kind of workshop and coupled up the hose but it wasn’t long enough. It made life really awkward. Someone found an extension piece for the hose. I put that in but there wasn’t enough water pressure so it was taking just as long anyway. There were all kinds of stuff – vans from the 1920s rotten as hell. There was one vehicle that we couldn’t really identify at first. It was dark green and big like a furniture removal lorry with Yale locks on it. It looked as if it was from the 1930s. I thought that I could make out what was a Bedford plaque from much more modern times so we were sitting there trying to decide what kind of vehicle it actually was until we could get close up to it to have a look

Tea tonight was a vegan chili using the leftovers and a small tin of kidney beans. This time I used chili powder rather than tipping the tabasco sauce in and it worked well enough.

So now I’m going to bed. Exhausted yet again and I have to go out early tomorrow morning. And I don’t really feel like it, but then again I don’t really feel like very much at all right now. In fact, early though it may be, I’m ready for bed.

My cleaner did a good job of tidying up the place so at least I don’t have to worry about that. And that’s just as well. I have plenty of other things to worry about right now.

Friday 30th June 2023 – THAT WAS THREE HOURS …

… of my life that I’ll never ever get back.

It beats me (well, it doesn’t actually – it’s called “egoism”) why people come to these meetings and spend hours talking about nothing of any use whatsoever. There was even a lengthy discussion that went on and on and on about a Motion AFTER it had been defeated.

In my opinion, such as it is, all these meeting and others of a similar type should be held standing up, outside in a rainstorm. That would succeed in concentrating the minds.

My mind was sufficiently concentrated last night to have been up and about once more long before the alarm went off. But I really did wonder why because my head was spinning around for a good few hours. It really was quite uncomfortable.

After the medication I came in here to carry on working but knocked off at 10:00 to stagger outside and catch the bus into town. There was no way that I was going to walk into town.

Having stocked up on a few of the basics I came back on the bus and made myself some coffee and cheese on toast for brunch, and then I started work.

Today I’ve finished my exploration around Cartwright (at long last) and even as we speak I’m heading out in an open boat to go for a walk on what I consider to be the Furdustrandir, the “Wunderstrands” of the Norse sagas and to walk in the footsteps of Vaino Tanner, the Finnish anthropologist

His claim to fame is that during his expedition to the Labrador coast between 1937 and 1939 he made the observation, that has since gone down in history as far as I’m concerned, that

  1. Inuit girls are very keen to marry settlers of European descent
  2. they are the hardest-working of all of the Inuit people (and then goes on to list all of the household tasks that they are expected to do in the home)
  3. they have an extremely sensual nature

I was intrigued to find out how he discovered all of this, particularly the third point, so as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I went to the High Arctic myself in 2018 and 2019 to conduct my own field research into the matter.

There was a pause, for much longer than I was hoping, for this perishing waste of time of a meeting that could have been accomplished in less than an hour had everyone been of a mind to do so, but some people really like to have their money’s worth.

Back here, I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was down on the farm at one point and decided that I was going to stay here this time. That meant moving a lot of stuff from outside the barn door and moving some stuff around inside the barn so that I could put Caliburn in, then I could sleep in Caliburn and cook outside. It was dark and raining bit I did what I could. Then I went to get into Caliburn. Then I remembered that just before I parked him up I’d changed something over but hadn’t tried to see whether he’d start or not. I got in and turned the key. He took an age to start and when he did he wouldn’t fire up or run normally. he was coughing and spluttering. By this time I actually had him into a field where I planned to turn round. I thought to myself that I’m going to have a devil of a job now trying to move him to the path seeing as he’s not running correctly and I had my things all over the place.

There was also some kind of public meeting taking place with crowds of people. I had to wire up the PA system to broadcast to the hall. We had a row of 4 speakers down each side and 4 speakers either side of a corridor down the middle. It meant running wires to them. A friend of mine was cutting the wires and I was installing them. We reached one point where we’d had to move a few things around and the two wires were about 2 metres short. I had to go back to my friend who was busy talking to some young child and sorting something out for it, and ask him for some cables 2 metres long. He cut them. I thought to myself “should I give him back the old wire or should I just keep it and take it home with me at the end when everyone has gone?”.

I was back in that hall again later, this time in rural Canada. There was a big crowd of people in there whom we’d been investigating. A WPC had disguised herself as a citizen in order to infiltrate the group to find out what the private organisation was all about. One day she didn’t turn up so we went for a closer listen to the people and found out that they were concerned about how interested we were and didn’t seem to have had a hand in removing her.

Finally, there had been some kind of issue in an Army camp where I was. The junior staff was rather insubordinate. One of them had stood up to the Colonel and said something quite offensive to him on the lines of “well, you aren’t in charge of me; I am” which outraged the Colonel. He was fuming about it. he was planning on having everything all toughened up in the camp to re-instill some more discipline. There was much more to it than this but I awoke again with a massive attack of cramp in my left leg. That playing up now is all I need.

Tea tonight was chips and salad with some of the frozen sausage rolls, cooked with the chips in the air fryer. Just one more serving of those and then I’ll have to start on something else. But if I go to Noz tomorrow, which is debatable, they might have some more frozen vegan stuff on offer.

But actually there are plenty of carrot burgers, breaded quorn fillets, sausages and falafel so it’s not as if I’m actually going to be short of anything.

And thinking on, I need to make more space in there because I haven’t had a vegan pie for an absolute age. That thick onion gravy was delicious yesterday and some more of that, with steamed veg, new potatoes and a slice of vegan pie really would be delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

But that’s tomorrow. Right now I’m off to bed and hoping to have a really good sleep. Not that I will, I expect, but I have to keep on trying.

Actually, that’s something at which I’m quite good. A lot of people have said in the past that I’m very trying, which was quite nice of them.