Tag Archives: fcpsh

Wednesday 25th October 2017 – FIRST TODAY …

… in the freezer are some packs of lentil pepper and carrot curry. I made a huge batch this evening.

So many thanks to Terry who came round this mornng and helped me drag everything up into the apartment and drag all of the old stuff down into the back of Caliburn ready for the tip tomorrow.

And I’ll tell you something – and that is that Terry had to do most of the lifting on his own because I’m out of it. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t all that long ago that I was hauling engines and gearboxes out of cars all on my own. Nowadays I can’t even walk up the stairs, never mind carry anything up with me.

Just for a change just recently, this morning I was awake long before the alarm went off. At 05:09 in fact. And I was up before the second alarm went off. That’s been a while since that happened.

I reckon that going for a walk before going to bed might be doing me some good.

And I was on my travels during the night too. In the company of TOTGA who made a welcome return. She was on her way to a hospital appointment in Munich but part of the motorway was closed off. As a result, she was hours late for her appointment, which mean tthat she wouldn’t be finished in time to come home. As a result I had to ring around to find a hotel for her to stay during the night, and then contact her to tell her what to do and where to go to stay the night.

For breakfast I made a pot of coffee. But here’s the bad news. The machine has a timer on it that switches off after 40 minutes. So when you go back for another cup at 09:00, it’s cold. That’s no good at all

When Terry and I had finished our efforts with the moving I invited him to lunch. There’s a fish and chios lace down in the town where we went for a coffee on Sunday, so we went today to try out the food. Good it is, but it’s flaming well expensive.

After Terry went home I crashed out. And a proper crash out it was too. I was in agony in every joint. Ingrid awoke me with a phone call and we chatted for nearly half an hour. Things aren’t going so well for her in the Auvergne and I hope that they improve.

With tea out of the way I went for a walk again. I hope that it tires me out and I can have another good sleep. Tomorrow, I’m off to the dechetterie and then to buy some frozen food.

Monday 16th October 2017 – I MEAN, YOU HAVE TO LAUGH.

There has been the most astonishing weather here today. In fact, pretty much the same as in the rest of Western Europe. Devastating high winds, pitch-black at 14:00, the sun a mere orangey thing somewhere behind a dark black cloud.

Loads of people have passed comment on it today, but it was all killed off by one poster who said “Everyone banging on about weird light and a strange orange glow in the sky clearly didn’t spend the 1970s in Teesside”.

It’s this Storm Ophelia that is doing it, a storm named after Ophelia, the daughter of that Labour politician Ed Balls, and I’ll bet that it will take you a minute or two to think about that.

He was famous for writing a speech for Gordon Clown, the-then Prime Minister, which prompted William Hague, leader of the Tory Party in Opposition, to rise from his seat and say “that sppech – typical Labour, it’s all Balls”.

The storm isn’t though. Half of BUT was closed off while they were dealing with something big and heavy that had come crashing down through the roof into the shop during the night.

During my night though, I went on my travels again. But I don’t remember where and it wasn’t for long because it was almost 02:00 before I ended up in bed. Jet-lag strikes again, I reckon.

The alarm went off at 06:00 but I was … errr … somewhat tardy in leaving my stinking pit.

LIDL was the first port of call for me today. And here I did the usual shopping, but plenty of it seeing as I’d let the stocks run down somewhat. It was the same story in Auchan.

In bewteen the two, I went to BUT, negotiating the debris in the store. The stuff in there was better quality and better price than in the Auchan and I was almost ready to sign on the dotted line.


I asked if they had a delivery service and installation service and if they took away the old appliances, which they did. But it’s not free.

“It’s €30:00” siad the guy in the shop.
“Per delivery?”
“No, per appliance”. And they are bringing in three and taking out two.

So “sodomisez ça pour un jeu de soldats” as they say around here. We need a Plan B.

But Plan B won’t be the Auchan as their stuff is rubbish.

And here’s a thing.

After months of hassling, the Bio-Coop is now starting to sell Vegan cheese. It’s not the best by any means, but it’s a start and it goes to show you the power of persuasion. You’ll remember that I did the same at Amaranthe in Montlucon.

So I bought some, and some sausages. And that also meant pizza for tea seeing as how I’d missed out on Sunday.

I half-unloaded Caliburn and then I had to go for a sit-down for … errr … a while. That meant a very late lunch. And a bit of desultory tidying up – not very much of that.

Right now I’m feeling the strain so it may well be an early night for me. I’ll be like this for a week or so until I find my rhythm.

Saturday 1st April 2017 – CALL THAT A …

… Division d’Honneur match?

I’ve seen more exciting and more competent teams playing down in Division 2 of the Puy-de-Dôme League than what was served up here at Granville tonight.

La Patriote ST Jamaise were pretty miserable – another team that spent far too long hanging on to the ball instead of playing it out wide or over the top. But as for US Granville, they have to be one of the worst teams that I have seen. Far and away the worst at this level.

They had a red-headed guy playing right-back who was thoroughly, totally and completely useless. He was substituted after 30 minutes and judging by his contributions up to that point, he was on the pitch for 30 minutes too long.

But the centre-forward – a big bulky 20-stone guy that would make Akinfenwa look like a lightweight – I’ve never seen anything like it. He was easily the worst player that I’ve seen on a pitch in a competitive match. He didn’t run after the ball – just a leisurely saunter around when he could be bothered to move – and never looked as if he was going to do anything at all. US Granville could have played without him and no-one would have noticed the difference. Xavier, who used to play up front for Pionsat’s 3rd XI will be the first to admit that he was playing up front to enjoy himself rather than in respect of demonstrating any skill, but I would have had him on the field leading the attack any day of the week rather than this guy.

It goes without saying that, being the worst team that I have ever seen, Granville were 2-1 up at half-time. Two free kicks, two shots at goal, 2 goals. But honours were restored in the second half as La Patriote ST Jamaise scored two more goals – one from a dreadful defensive howler where they all stood around waiting for the keeper to come halfway up field to head a ball away. I hardly need to mention that he headed it just as far as a La Patriote ST Jamaise attacker who calmly lobbed it over his head into the net. And the winning goal was … well … I estimated about three yards offside from my perfect position in line with play.

But US Granville can’t complain. They were dreadful.

I’d had a much better sleep today and a steadier start to the day. With a few things to do (loads of files to update) and then I went for a walk around the market. Nothing of interest unfortunately, and the prices are, well, not what I’m accustomed to paying.

But going for a walk to buy bread, I found a notaire with a few letting properties in the window. One looks quite suitable so I have an appointment to see that on Wednesday.

This afternoon I was chatting to a few people on the internet and then Caliburn and I went off to LeClerc for a look around. Strawberries at €0:90 for 500 grammes and cheap soya cream too – that will make for some exciting puddings for the next few days.

There’s an electromenager bit there too and prices seem to be reasonable. That’s one-up on Montlucon.

Afterwards, I headed for the footy and then came back here for tea.

It’s a late night but it’s Sunday tomorrow so no alarm. Let’s see how well I can sleep.

Saturday 25th March 2017 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… the most extraordinary football match.

Puy-de-Dome League Division 4 and two teams – St Gervais d’Auvergne III at home to Charbonnières II. Charbonnières were streets better than St Gervais – they missed a sitter almost from the kick-off but took the lead after about 5 minutes with a soft goal through the St Gervais keeper’s legs.

All one-way traffic it was with Charbonnières making it look so easy, and only some last-ditch outstretched feet and some astonishing saves by the St Gervais keeper who, I reckoned, knew absolutely nothing about any of them, just being in the right place at the right time and diving the right way, prevented Charbonnières from running riot.

But it was all too easy for Charbonnières and after about half an hour they eased off for some reason or other, and I don’t know why. And then the inevitable happened. A harmless cross into the penalty area, the Charbonnières keeper palmed it away, the loose ball hit one of his own defenders on the back and rolled across the line into the net.

Stunned silence from the crowd.

In the second half, Charbonnières struggled to get going. St Gervais were quite awful but they were slowly growing in confidence, with the opponents becoming more and more frustrated.

And then it happened.

A cross from the wing into the centre of the field, a St Gervais player hitting it on the half volley, and there we were, a most unlikely 2-1 for St Gervais.

Even more unlikely was that St Gervais scored a third just minutes later!

As the game progressed, Charbonnières finally awoke and went back on the rampage, with some more outstretched feet and some very fortunate goalkeeping keeping them out. But they did pull one back from a free kick with just minutes to go.

In the final minute or so Charbonnières threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at the St Gervais defence, and then we had a wild clearance out of the defence. The Charbonnières defenders had the idea of stepping up three paces to catch the St Gervais attacker offside.

But ohhh woe! Woe!

They were in the St Gervais half, and an attacker can’t be offside if he’s in his own half. The attacker picked up the ball, advanced totally unopposed on the Charbonnières goal and slotted the ball underneath the isolated keeper. 4-2.

And that was that. And the crowd are still shaking their heads even now.

The second match was between the St Gervais Second team and the First XI of Charbonnières, and this was much more evenly matched. Charbonnières took the lead with a good header, and as the game wound down towards the end, they slowed down the game. But two dramatic late goals from St Gervais turned the match around and Charbonnières then tried to speed up the game. But they couldn’t come back.

We had a few little niggles but all-in-all it was a good game.

But I’ll tell you something. I complained the other day about the lack of solidarity that I have received from most of my “friends” in the Auvergne. Today, there were several people whom I knew from Pionsat’s football team and while they all said “hello”, not one of them came to sit with me for a little chat, even though it’s been 18 months or so since I was last at a match and they all know about my health issues.

I’m really disappointed about that.

So last night was another bad night for me – awake in the middle of the night and then wide awake definitively at about 05:45. Up here in the attic (with a fire burning) long before the alarm.

After a brief rest I took a pile of boxes downstairs to Caliburn and loaded him up, and also put in some stuff from the verandah. Then I nipped off to the Intermarche at Pionsat for some bread and so on.

I didn’t do much when I returned, and after lunch I crashed out for an hour or so.

But before going to the football I removed almost all of the boxes from the attic and put them in Caliburn. That was heavy work and exhausted me completely. There’s still stuff to pack up here, but that’s Tuesday morning’s job.

And now I’m back from the footy I’m going to be doing the washing-up and then going to bed.

Sunday is a day of rest, but I bet that it won’t be.

Saturday 18th March 2017 – LAST NIGHT …

… was something of a restless night for me. For a start, I wasn’t hungry and so I didn’t have anything to eat. And then I couldn’t go to sleep for ages either. By 06:00 I was wide awake and working on the laptop.

Nevertheless, I did manage to go on my travels during the night. I’d been to some kind of city where the railway lines had been moved out of the centre to the edge of the place, and the interior where the rails and the stations had formerly been was now all overgrown and being used by the locals as a kind of park. There were some arches over where the railway lines had been – brick arches of the kind that might have been built by the Romans and in very poor repair. I kept trying to take a few photos of them but people kept on getting in the way and it was just so difficult to have a clear shot.

Anyway, I had breakfast, in company with plenty of other people and a pile of dogs – it seems as if there was some kind of Canine Convention going on here just now. And then, as usual, I had things to do on the laptop.

Having survived the initial attempt to turf me out of my room, I decided not to push my luck and by 10:00 I was on my way. First stop was the LeClerc supermarket for bread and a few other bits and pieces to set me up for the next few days. I had a chat with Ingrid on the telephone too and we arranged to meet up on Monday for a chat and so on.

And then – I’ve put this off for so long but I can’t keep on doing it. I headed for home. It’s been a long time since I’ve been down these roads. For the last 18 months or so I’ve been something of a disciple of Wilfred Grenfell, who sais that “when two paths are open, always take the more venturesome”. But I have to go home sometime.

When I finally arrived, I could see that it was clear that the gales and tempests that have battered the centre of France have given here a pretty good battering too. But there’s no real damage or anything and, to be honest, it was good to be back. The good news is that the rodent-proofing that I carried out here in December seems to have worked and there’s no obvious signs of any damage. It was 16.1°C in here too so that was good – saved me having to light a fire.

But the bad news is that the storm has done something to the internet connection and that is down. It looks as if I’ll be taking Ingrid to Montlucon on Monday to swap my Livebox over for a new one. Anyway, I had a nice sit-down and relax for the afternoon, and kicked my mug of coffee all over the floor breaking off the handle of the mug, as well as washing the floor..

One of my plans for tonight was to go down to Pionsat to watch the football. But to my astonishment, not only is Pionsat running just one team this season (instead of the two last season and even three a couple of seasons ago), the team has declared a general forfeit and abandoned all of its matches. I don’t know what to make of this. It’s all rather astonishing as far as I’m concerned.

So anyway, I made myself something quick out of a tin to eat and then settled down on the sofa tonight, trying to sleep amid the sound of the animals scratching away in the roof.

As Golden Earring once famously sang, “You know it’s good to be back home” but I have been realising day by day while I’ve been away that with my declining health (because I can see it declining every day) my long-term future lies away from here.

Friday 27th January 2017 – THAT WAS A …

… game of two halves and no mistake.

38 minutes gone and OH Leuven 0-3 down. And lucky to get nil too, I can say. It was embarrassing.

Mind you, the first goal was an absolute stunner and well-worth the price of the admission on its own. A quick ball into the penalty area (and how I’ve been going on and on about getting these balls in quicker) behind the front two attackers, but a superb overhead kick from the centre-forward put it into the top corner. It’s just not possible to defend against a goal like that.

The second goal was a breakaway up the field from an OH Leuven attack. Three Lierse SK attackers against two OH Leuven defenders, and the keeper dived at the feet of the overlapping attacker to block a shot not once but twice, but nothing that he could do about the third shot.

The third goal was silly. Everyone, including the goalkeeper, standing around watching the ball 15 yards out. The hoots of derision from the OH Leuven fan behind the goal as that went into the net could have been heard back in Lier.

lerse sk stadion den dreef OH leuven belgium january janvier 2017We had a couple of substitutions at half-time, and quite rightly so if you ask me. On came a left-winger called Loemba and the enigmatic centre-forward Casagolda. But the second-half started as it ended – with all of the action up towards the OH Leuven goal, where we had a new keeper.

But as the match wore on, it became obvious that the wind was slowly starting to change. Loemba was having a superb game and Casagolda was playing like he sometimes does. And this seemed to breathe some life into the big Macedonian striker Kostovski and it looked as if we might have a game on our hands.

And sure enough, after about 60 minutes, we had a goal. And it was OH Leuven. Good play down the wing, an early ball right across the face of the goal and there running in at the far post was Loemba. A few minutes later, Van Hamel in the Lierse SK goal had to palm a fierce shot around the post.

With OH Leuven pressing, it was Lierse SK’s turn to break up the field and they did manage to put the ball into the net for a fourth. But after much debate, discussion and deliberation, and a lengthy consultation with the linesman, the goal was disallowed for offside.

Back up at the Lierse SK end, we had a goal from OH Leuven. Kostovski battled and barged his way into the goal area to sidefoot in, but that was ruled out for offside too – much to the uproar in the crowd. In fact there were several bizarre decisions in this match, none of which seemed to go OH Leuven’s way.

But deep into injury time, with OH Leuven pressing and pressing, we had an incident in the Lierse Sk penalty area where a defender fell on the ball. Did he fall? Was he pushed? Did his arm touch the ball? Was it intentional?

The referee decided on a penalty and Casagolda scored. And there was hardly time to restart the match before the final whistle blew. It’s a shame that OH Leuven hadn’t played for the whole match like they had played the final 30 minutes of this game.

But it’s a shame that I’d had such a bad night. Ages and ages to drop off to sleep again, and then I was off on my travels. Working in an office and I’d reached retirement age, but instead of leaving work, they gave me a new job, cutting the hedges, checking the trailers, all of that kind of thing. But I’d done nothing and it had all caught me up all at once with the hedge sprouting and budding and all of that, and I was starting to look rather silly.

I had my two German ladies with me for breakfast, and later on they said goodbye to me. Are they leaving? I dunno.

The morning was spent having a doze and doing some more research, reading my Finnish expedition notes and chatting on the internet. I had lunch and then carried on with my snooze and my reading.

lerse sk stadion den dreef OH leuven belgium january janvier 2017At About 19:30 I headed off down to the footy, calling at the fritkot on the way. It’s Friday, not Saturday of course, and so the fritkot on the square down at the back here is open this evening.

However, it was a big mistake to be wearing my yellow and black clothes. Lierse SK play in yellow and black and as I made my way into the “home” end of the ground I was asked three times by OH Leuven officials if I was a Lierse SK supporter.

lerse sk stadion den dreef OH leuven belgium january janvier 2017We had a minute’s silence too before the kick-off. I’m not quite sure why, but there we are anyway. And then the match kicked off.

I told you all about what happened earlier so I shan’t repeat it. But at least the crowd here is very friendly and that is always nice. It does me good to get out and about, and you are all always saying that I ought to get out more often.

On the way back here, I stopped off at Caliburn to pick up some soya milk and soft drinks, and now I’m having a late night.

I hope that I’ll sleep well too.

Sunday 18th December 2016 – I’VE BEEN …

train railway station leuven aarschot antwerpen centraal antwerp central belgium december decembre 2016… out and about on my travels again this afternoon.

A little saunter up into town took me to the railway station and my train, but I wasn’t going to Aarschot and neither was I going to Antwerp Central railway station either, but seeing that it’s nearly Christmas, I’ve actually just been to Nazaret.

I consider that to be a highly appropriate place to visit at this time of year.

nazaret belgium december decembre 2016You’re probably wondering just where Nazaret might be, and what there might be to see in Nazaret to attract my attention.

The fact is that Nazaret can be reached by train from Leuven and a good brisk half-hour walk at the side of the railway line and then along the road in the direction of Lisp, and I’m sure that you think that I’m joking too.

But I’m not

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016What there actually is in Nazaret, or actually in Lisp because it’s apparently across the commune’s border, is the Herman Vanderpoortenstadion, otherwise known as Het Lisp, and that’s the home ground of Lierse SK, the football club of Lier.

That’s my destination for today, because OH Leuven are playing there today. Everyone tells me that I ought to get out more, and so going to watch OH Leuven fits into that plan.

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016The stadium is quite a modern stadium and there was a fair crowd in here today. The atmosphere was good – quite noisy, which makes a change from Tubize the other day.

I was sitting in the stand at the back of the goals with a pile of old men (somehow it seemed quite appropriate) and there can’t be anything more Belgian that sitting in a stand at a Second-Division football match clutching a bag of fritjes

It’s another place where there’s no fritkot between the station and the football ground and that’s a rather desperate state of affairs here in Belgium.

cheerleaders lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016I’m glad that I arrived at the ground in plenty of time because one of the most exciting features of the game is the pre-match entertainment.

We actually had some cheerleaders out there dancing away. Something of a motley crew rather like the ones whom I saw in that diner on the Interstate near Bangor, Maine, a few years ago, but cheerleaders just the same.

It was a shame that their routine was rather sedate, but nevertheless it warmed me up a little.

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016We also had a parade and a triumphal arch with enormous flags to welcome out the players to the pitch. It reminded me like something of a Nuremburg Rally in the mid 1930s.

But I did have a little smile about the standard bearers. And I’m sure that you don’t need me to describe them because you can imagine them yourself, but I will do all the same.

They were all probably in their late 20s and 30s, large, overweight and wearing glasses and you’ll see them in every similar organisation carrying buckets and that kind of thing.

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016As for the match itself, it started slowly but gradually through the first half OH Leuven began to impose themselves.

The more pressure that OH Leuven applied, the more apparent it became that it was the Keystone Cops playing in the Lierse SK defence. If you thought that Pionsat’s defence was chaotic at times, you haven’t seen anything yet.

But if Lierse SK had the Keystone Cops in defence, OH Leuven had Laurel and Hardy playing up front. To give you just one example of many, Casagolda missed a free header into an empty net from three yards out and his striking partner, the big Macedonian striker Jovan Kostovski following up, shot into the side netting when it was far, far easier to score.

The only surprise was that it took OH Leuven to score. While two Lierse SK defenders dillied and dallied about clearing the ball, Kostovski stuck out a boot in between them and lifted the ball over the keeper into the net.

And as you might expect, we had two different teams out there in the second half. I was expecting OH Leuven to go out there and score three or four more but instead, sat right back and allowed Lierse SK to bring the game to them.

By about 60 minutes, Lierse SK started to play good attacking football and from then, they went on the rampage and it all began to look rather uncomfortable for OH Leuven.

We had a couple of penalty calls and despite some rather weird decisions that the officials had been calling, they had the penalty decisions just right.

The most controversial was a loose bouncing ball in the penalty area that Gillekens dived for and pushed away. There was a collision with a Lierse SK attacker but in my mind, there was no doubt whatever that Gillekens was playing the ball – in fact he had managed to have both hands to the ball in order to push it away – and the collision was after Gillekens had played the ball.

No doubt in my mind whatever that it was not a penalty, but he didn’t half receive some abuse from the crowd for the rest of the match, particularly when on two occasions he was over the goal line (but the ball wasn’t) when he caught the ball.

lierse sk Herman Vanderpoortenstadion lier lisp belgium december decembre 2016But it was inevitable that Lierse SK was going to score, with the amount of pressure that they had been applying.

Right on 90 minutes too and it was a penalty as you might expect. The ball definitely hit the arm of a defender from a cross on the goal line, and it did indeed divert the ball, but it was one of these harsh decisions where the player’s arm was right by his body and there was no intent whatever to play the ball with the arm.

A penalty, yes, but just sheer bad luck.

railway station lier belgium december decembre 2016And so I walked back to the railway station at Lier in order to come back to Leuven.

And as I walked down the side of the railway line I noticed a train leaving the station. “I bet that that’s my train” I mused to myself, and when I arrived at the station, I found that it was too!

Ordinarliy I would have had to wait another 55 minutes for the next train but a friendly neighbourhood guard on another train told me how I could go to Leuven on the Liège train, changing at Aarschot.

christmas decorations leuven belgium december decembre 2016And so what else have I been up to today? While you admire some more photos of the Christmas decorations at Leuven I’ll tell you about it.

Despite a somewhat-disturbed night that involved a trip down the corridor, I was fast-asleep when the alarm went off this morning.

But I’d been on my travels too, to the abandoned communities of Hebron and Okak on the day that they were being abandoned (which, or course, was not the same date but never mind). And I’d entered into a “relationship” with a young Inuit girl, just as many kablunas did when they arrived on the Coasts of Labrador.

And after breakfast, I had to get a wriggle on. Alison was planning to go to the English Shop after lunch and did I want to go?

It meant that I would be in a dreadful rush to catch my train and so I went for a walk uptown to the railway station so that I would have my ticket all ready for what I reckoned would be a dash to the train.

kids in bakfiets leuven belgium december decembre 2016And on the way back, we had another one of these “Only in Belgium” moments.

Here in Belgium and in the Netherlands, we have what is called a bakfiets, a bicycle built to carry goods. And here we have a mother who has decided to go out for a bike ride with the kids on a Sunday morning, and what she has done is to simply chuck the kids into the bakfiets.

barrel organ man leuven belgium december decembre 2016The barrel organ singer from yesterday was there too, but this morning he wasn’t singing – just turning the handle of the organ.

I had a good look at his barrel organ, and it’s one of these sheet music things where the sheets are rather solid and have punched holes so that the pegs that work the notes of the organ that are required to be played are operated by the holes in the sheets. Spring pressure keeps the pegs inoperable, but the holes allow the corresponding pegs to open, and that’s how the music was played.

christmas decorations town square leuven belgium december decembre 2016Alison came round as arranged at 12:45 and by this time I was outside waiting for her – the quicker we get away, the quicker we come back.

It was quite crowded in the English Shop but there was a really good selection of products that had just come in and I was able to stock up with some very useful articles.

They are stored in Caliburn right now, and I’ll show you a photo of them after I’ve been to rescue them.

Shock! Horror!

christmas illuminations leuven city centre belgium december decembre 2016The train was two minutes late, which is most unlike Belgium, and as we unloaded at Aarschot the train from Liège pulled in bang on time so we had to run to the next platform. This train was absolutely packed and I had to fight my way into a seat.

And I crashed out too for 10 minutes on the train. It had been a long walk.

But the train arrived back in Leuven bang on time and we had the usual tidal wave surge up the street into the town and passed the Christmas decorations that by now were all lit up.

christmas illuminations leuven city centre belgium december decembre 2016It’s certainly much nicer here in the city centre with the illuminations, isn’t it? And as it wasn’t all that cold right now, I hung around to take a few photos.

As we’ve seen, the camera on the telephone is nothing like as good as the Nikon D5000 but as you know, we can’t take “professional” cameras into football grounds these days and so the phone is the best that I can do.

christmas illuminations leuven city centre belgium december decembre 2016So having spent a good 20 minutes walking around the city centre and the lights, I came back to my little room in the hostel.

It’s Sunday night, and that means pizza. And with my little trip back home when I was able to pick up some more stuff, I’d come back with my pizza tray and in my new cooking mode, I decided to make my own pizza.

And having bought a packet of these half-baked half-baguettes, I made some garlic bread too.

christmas illuminations leuven city centre belgium december decembre 2016But it didn’t work out too well. The oven here doesn’t seem to work – only the grill – and so my pizza was burnt on top and uncooked on the underside. I’ll have to rule this out.

The small table-top oven works reasonably well and I’ll have to use that the next time, although a pizza won’t fit into it. I’ll have to cook it in two halves.

After pizza, I had plenty of things to do, but I just crashed out.

I’d had a long, hard, busy day.

Friday 29th July 2016 – LAST NIGHT …

… was very much like the other nights just recently. Going to sleep fairly early and then waking up at regular intervals during the night. This is wearing me out and how I long for a really good sleep.

I did however fit in a little nocturnal ramble somewhere. I don’t remember too much about it except that it involved FC Pionsat St Hilaire, a shot at goal that hit the post and rebounded back into play and then the backspin on it that took it just over the bar and onto the roof of the net.

And I learnt something new about my room-mate – not only does he snore occasionally, he talks in his sleep too. But then I shan’t be troubled by any of that tonight because he left hospital this afternoon. I’m on my own tonight so I hope that I’ll be able to take advantage of it.

07:30 was when I awoke this morning, thoroughly exhausted, and it took me a good hour or so to come round. I had my breakfast much later than everyone else – apparently they wanted me to have a blood test this morning.

Hermione the doctor came to see me a little later on. The infection is going down now so they are going to keep me on the antibiotics until Monday. On Monday I can have yet another session of Mapthera and provided that there are no unpleasant side-effects, I can go back to my little room in town.

Talking of little rooms, the girl from Social Services came to see me a little later this morning. And she had quite a job because, as tired as I was, I was absolutely stark out. Well and truly crashed. She’s come up with another option of a place to stay. It’s further out from the centre where I want to be, but it seems to have private facilities (and kitchenette) and it’s slightly cheaper than where I am now. I shall follow that up in due course when I’m out of here.

I managed a good lunch, except for the diced swedes that were in a cheesy milk sauce and the soup which tasted of nothing but salt. I seem to be eating a little better now, which is good news.

This afternoon I had a chat with Liz and with Rosemary on the internet. Rosemary has invited me to England for a few days which is really nice of her. But I’ll need to be in good shape if I go. I don’t want to take a pile of microbes and viruses with me.

Later on after tea I crashed out again, only to be awoken by a nurse who wanted to take my temperature. This is what usually happens when I make myself comfortable – someone always comes along to spoil it. And I had a couple of attacks of nausea this evening. I don’t know why that was.

And so I’m on my own tonight. No room mate to distract me, keep me awake or to awaken me after I’ve dropped off. What this means in real terms is that there will be half a dozen nurses coming along to awaken me instead.

That’s what usually happens, isn’t it?

Sunday 13th March 2016 – PHEW!

When was the last time that I was up and about and eating breakfast long before the alarm went off? And on a Sunday too! And what has surprised me more than anything else is that after all of the travels that I was on last night, that I managed to make it back here in time.

But start as you mean to go on. And before you start, I perhaps ought to warm you that the sum total of my travels last night comes to something about 2200 words.

You have been warned.

I started off last night by falling asleep watching a film on the laptop last night and it wasn’t long after that at all before I was on the road. It started off at first as if I hadn’t done a great deal because I’d been away with a group of people. There was a timetable for us and on the first day we had to inspect half a dozen countries and on the second day another half-dozen, on the third, yet another half-dozen and so on. This didn’t leave me much time to be going off on a nocturnal ramble but then I found myself in Chester. I don’t know exactly where I was living but it was on top of a bunk-bed somewhere and this was quite a long way off the ground and difficult to climb on to. There had been a young girl that I had quite fancied in the past when I was younger, and so had a few of my friends, but she had started to go out with a boy who was older than us and quite a bit older than her. There was some kind of correspondence that had taken place between the two of them, and one of these letters had fallen into my hands. I was busy parcelling up this letter into a brown envelope and trying to write a letter to one of these friends of mine to tell him about this letter. Obviously the contents of this letter were interesting and I reckoned that it was worth a couple of quid for me to give him this letter to read and I could buy myself a pint of beer. The difficulty that I was having was to make my letter sound sufficiently encouraging and interesting to make him part with the money and it was taking me hours to think of the ideal form of wording.
The next port of call started off to be quite amusing. I was out and about with a dwarf and we were trying to book ourselves into a hotel. While we were there at the reception desk, a message came downstairs to the effect that a woman in one of the rooms required a companion. Of course, the ears of the dwarf and I pricked immediately up, imagining full well what might have been meant by that and so as soon as we had finished registering ourselves into our room, we shot off to the room that had been mentioned. In the room we found a girl who was totally surprised by our intrusion because that wasn’t the kind of companion that she meant. She wanted a companion to talk to and confide in. All three of us were taken by surprise at what had just unfolded. The dwarf then left the room to go back down to reception and arrange a room for himself I started to chat to this girl and it seemed that she was intending to stay not for just one night but until the middle of next week and so I jokingly suggested that I could check myself into her room for a couple of nights and see how it goes. I slid quietly into her bed (it was a big double-bed)while she was adjusting her hair and her night attire and she didn’t seem to mind at all.
I’m clearly going to have to keep up these injections and anti-allergy patches and so on if this is the kind of thing that happens to me during the night. I’ve never had this kind of luck when I’ve been on my travels in real life.
Anyway, after all of this, I made a guest appearance as Sherlock Holmes (not for the first time just recently either) in the case of a girl who had been murdered. There were five people who had been arrested in connection with this and the newspapers were making ever such a fuss about all of this, how there was some really rough street in Leicester (why Leicester?) where all of the criminals seem to live and how this case was connected with this. But it turned out that only one of these five people was connected with this street
I next found myself out and about with Terry and Liz, but it wasn’t Liz but my friend Helena from when she was quite young (and making her debut in these voyages too). We’d all been for a drive out and had stopped somewhere in the salubrious surroundings of somewhere that looked like a gent’s restroom and changing rooms for a sports ground, but somewhere that had clearly seen better days and was creosoted rather like an outdoor toilet of the 1950s. We were all hot and sweaty, having been for a really good walk and we were all thirsty. Terry produced a tangerine for himself and Liz (or Helena) said that she was going to have something else and no-one asked me what I wanted. This depressed me a little, but then Helena produced an orange, a really nice juicy one, peeled it and gave it to me, which I thought was really nice. She asked me to save her a segment, which of course I was only too happy to do. While we were here, we were listening to the radio. Speaking was Mike Harris, the chairman of the TNS football club. The club used to play at a ground in the village of Llansantffraid but had moved up the road to the old army football stadium at Park Hall near Oswestry. He’d offered to sell the ground to the local community on some kind of share basis, £10 per share. This was of course about 10 years ago and property prices had risen dramatically since then and now the local council was trying to buy the ground at the price that Mike Harris had asked for it 10 years ago, presumably to sell on for redevelopment and make a profit based on today’s values. It goes without saying that Mike Harris was not at all willing to sell it under those terms and conditions, and this discussion was the basis of the radio programme that was being broadcast. What was interesting about all of this is that from where we were, we could see the old football ground across the valley behind a shopping precinct in the distance (which incidentally bears no resemblance whatever to the actual site or situation of the ground). I immediately dashed to the car to fetch my camera because what was going through my mind was that if this broadcast was live, everyone would be down at the football ground right now and the ground would therefore be open. After all, the old ground at Llansantffraid is one of the places that I’ve yet to visit while I’ve been on my travels around the various Welsh football grounds (this is in fact actually the case). The others saw my camera and wondered what I was going to do, and so I explained. But I had to go to the bathroom first, and this was when I awoke – right at that moment, because I actually did have to go to the bathroom. And once more, I found all of my bedclothes all over the floor. Rushing to the car for the camera must have been the reason for that.
After the bathroom break, which was actually the Easter break for me, I found myself back at work. The first thing that happened was that one of my colleagues said “hello” to me, which took me completely by surprise. And all of the new vehicles had arrived – new white vans of various shapes and sizes (and “H”-registered too, which was something of a complete surprise). We were to swap our vehicles for the new ones but I couldn’t find the one that had been allocated to me, and I couldn’t find a place to park my own either as the car park was full. So I went back to my desk and started to chat to Anne-Marie, a chat that went on for ages while I was trying to do some work. And someone had put a pile of files on my desk with all kinds of post in there dating back to 12 months and even more, all kinds of legal stuff and so on, a problem that I solved in the good old-fashioned and well-tried way of simply “losing” the post somewhere inside the file and filing the file away on the filing racks, where they would be lost for quite some time. Once Anne-Marie had wandered off, I went to take my coffee things back but I couldn’t leave the office by the front as it was all closed in with windows rather like the front end of the upper deck of a double-decker bus. Walking back up the other end I came upon Anne-Marie and her two friends Caroline and Theresa, lounging about on one of the side-on seats that you find over the rear wheel of the lower deck of a double-deck Lodekka type bus. I said “hiya, girls”to them but they all turned their backs to me which I thought was rather impolite. What had I done now? So downstairs with my coffee things, I found myself out on the edge of a cricket ground where a match was due to be played sometime soon, somewhere out towards Stafford. There was a huge discussion taking place about this match and about the players. I hadn’t been selected (I don’t think that I expected to be) but it seemed that a couple of footballers from FC Pionsat St Hilaire, Gregory amongst them, were going to be playing and the person who was organising it, none other than Mark Dawson, was urging the rest of the team to welcome them. Mark had been waving around a yard brush which had a plastic handle, but people had been stubbing out their cigarettes on it and burning the handle, so I took it from Mark and put it back up against the wall. “It wasn’t me” said Mark. “I don’t smoke”. I replied that I knew that he didn’t, but nevertheless it was marked and so I put it out of everyone’s way. There was someone else there with a Velocette Venom which had become the subject of some discussion. The owner said that it had cost £129 new but now it’s worth about £66,000. The bike was being pushed around and so I put it up on a piece of hard-standing right by this little building where we were congregating. Someone said that we had been told not to park motorbikes up there but I replied that it was OK because it had its centre-stand up on a paving slab. From here I was heading off onwards down south past Stafford and I noticed that Mark didn’t have transport and so expecting him to be heading now for the cricket pavilion, I asked him if he wanted a lift. I was in my big old Senator so I opened the door for him and he told me to drop him off near the town hall in Stoke on Trent, about 10 miles away through the traffic in the opposite direction and that will cost me a couple of hours in time. But a promise is a promise so I bit my lip and set off.
And I still haven’t finished yet either. Because all of this ramble about me being at work seemed to have started off with me being on a wide-bodied jet aeroplane (and I do mean “wide” – it was rather like a cinema auditorium). I seemed to be the first on board so I chose my seat in the central part but against the aisle, and put my black fleece there. There were four air hostesses in a bunch over on the other side in the aisle and they waved me over, so leaving my jacket behind, I went over to see what they wanted. “Ohh, come over here and sit by us” they said. “Why? What’s up?” I asked. “Am I the only passenger on the aeroplane?” “Ohh no” they replied. “But you’re first on so you can sit here if you like”. And so I went and fetched my jacket, and then came back to sit by these air hostesses. I’d boarded this plane by chance, really, just looking to get away for a few days and this was the first plane in. It was flying out to the Channel Islands somewhere on this Friday late afternoon and was coming back on Sunday evening, which suited me fine for a short break.
No wonder it was a surprise to find me up and about so early this morning after all of that.

So with all of this effort I had another day of sitting and vegetating. I mean – it took me all morning just to type up my notes from through the night.

But this afternoon, I finished all of the notes from September 2015 and I’ll soon be ready to start on the ones for August. And then, I have 2014 to do. Then, I can take the 2013 notes and merge all of them together in the appropriate places. It’s not going to be something that will be over in a day or so.

But with it being Sunday, Liz has been cooking. For lunch, we had home-made mushroom soup (made with real home-made mushrooms of course), followed by vegan carrot-cake for our afternoon snack, and then for tea we had home-made nut roast followed by home-made vegan chocolate chip ice-cream. As I have said before … "and you’ll say again" – ed … whenever (if ever) I’m fit enough to leave here, I’ll immediately try to find something else wrong with me.

And so on that note, I’ll leave you all. I’m not even going for a walk because I need the early night as I’m off to Montlucon and the hospital early in the morning and I’ll be doing more than enough walking while I’m there.

And if you’ve managed to read down this far then congratulations because it’s a mere 2474 words, a new record posting for a blog entry, and by a country mile as well.

Good night!

Thursday 3rd March 2016 – WHAT A NIGHTMARE!

The first person to put in an appearance during my nocturnal ramble last night was, would you believe, my mother. I was so surprised, if not shocked, to see her that I sat bolt upright in bed. What on earth was she doing there? I can’t remember what role she was playing last night because the whole memory of whatever I was doing at the time was immediately wiped away.
And if that’s not enough to be going on with, the next person to put in an appearance, once I’d calmed down and gone back to sleep, was my father. I was living back in my house in Gainsborough Road, but in the front room that had been converted into a bedroom. And when my father turned up (he was apparently living somewhere else in the house) at about 6:30am, he brought none other than Percy Penguin with him. She was wearing a pair or pyjamas in a kind of flanellette material, pink with a white waistband, collar and cuffs. She hopped into bed with me for a while and then I left the bed to start to tidy up the room (as if that’s ever likely to happen anywhere where I’m living), totally ignoring her. And then I’d be back in bed again, and then back tidying up and ignoring her and so on it went.
But then I had a sudden flash of realisation about something. Out here in St Gervais there’s a proposal for one of these social cafés for the Alternative Community – not just a café but a “meeting place and social centre with board games, debates and discussions as well as food, including a vegan and vegetarian option” to quote just some of their advertising. While it’s an idea that receives my fullest support, it’s all very utopic and I’ll give it 6 months at the most. But anyway, last night, while I was in my bedroom with Percy Penguin in my house, I suddenly realised that it was the Opening Night of this café and so abandoning Percy Penguin yet again, off I went to St Gervais – a mere 850 miles or so from Crewe but since when has that ever bothered me during a nocturnal ramble? I’ve travelled much greater distances than that. When I arrived, I found that one of the people who was in charge was one of the footballers of FC Pionsat St Hilaire. He was talking about using he venue for boxing matches and training and the like, and so I asked him if he was aware that a boxing venue needed to have a doctor present at all times if there was action of any kind in the ring and who was going to pay for this. he was clearly unaware of this – he just shrugged his shoulders and wandered off into the crowd. I had a wander around, admiring the nice, shiny and polished wooden floor, and ended up at the buffet in an annex at the back. Most of the products were chocolate-based and so I asked the two girls who were serving which ones were the vegan option, but they just looked at me helplessly.
The moral of this story – particularly the latter part of it – is that leaving aside my natural cynicism (and I am the first to admit it) many of these so-called social projects are all very well and good but in 99% of these cases they lack the professionalism, the foresight, the staying power and the finance to be successful, being far too detached from reality to see what is going on. Once the initial enthusiasm wears off, they run out of ideas and can’t keep the momentum going.
Mind you, I would love to be proved wrong.

As for the moral of the first part, I cannot think for the life of me what my parents were doing during the night appearing on my travels like that. One of them is bad enough but both of them – that’s enough to put me off going to sleep for the rest of my life. I still shudder when I think about it even now, and I fled from home almost 45 years ago.

So while I was slowly coming round this morning after the alarm went off, I heard a car pull up outside. Yes, it was the nurse, so I half-ran, half-fell downstairs at something of a rather indecent turn of speed for me these days. But the news – whether this is good or bad, I dunno, is that my stitches aren’t there. I asked him to look and so he did. Either they have fallen out on their own, they have dissolved, the skin has grown over them, or there weren’t any in there to start with. Only time will tell and I’ll have to wait until Monday when I see the surgeon.

Today, I’ve had a day off and done nothing at all. I reckon that I deserve some time for myself. I have plenty to do but a day here and there won’t hurt (I wish that I didn’t). I have however made myself a pizza and in a few minutes I’ll be off for another slow walk to see how I do. I’ll try to push a little farther on.

But here’s a thing – and I forgot to mention it yesterday which is a surprise because it made such an impression upon me.

When I was in the hospital yesterday, I was in the room next to the office – and in the chair underneath the hatch which was open so that I could quite clearly hear everything that was going on in there. And one thing that did happen was that the chief nurse was ringing up people about their blood results.

One call she made to a woman was clearly answered by the woman’s partner and went something along the lines of “we have her blood test results and they show that she has a blood count of 6.8. She must be very tired so she will need to lie down right away and we’ll send an ambulance for her”

Sure enough, when she did arrive here, not only was it an emergency ambulance that brought her in but she was on a stretcher.

When my blood count dropped to 6.8, I didn’t have this treatment. Not a bit of it. I was made to come under my own locomotion over 50kms, park Caliburn up somewhere in the car park and then walk all the way across to the hospital and up into the ward.

I dunno whether it’s whether your face fits, or whether she has some other illness of which I am unaware, but there’s certainly some kind of two-speed hospitalisation procedure going on here. maybe I’m just unlucky, or maybe I’m made of more sterner stuff.

Tuesday 12th January 2016 – I REALLY DON’T KNOW …

… why they pay some of these people. If I were in charge, they would be paid in washers.

It’s no surprise to anyone to learn that neither of the two letters that I was promised, by two different secretaries of the hospital at Montlucon, has been prepared – let alone signed and posted. And so we had another fifteen minutes of unpleasantness at the reception counter when I went to collect my droit d’entrée to go to see the anaesthetist.

However, this was resolved in rather dramatic fashion while I was talking to the head of the accounts department. She told me (again – because she had told me this three or four weeks ago) that I needed to have the authorisation of my insurance company for the hospital to send the bills for consultation directly to them, and for this, I needed a letter from the doctor who was treating me.

I then (rather patiently for me) explained that I was in total agreement, but having asked for those letters on 23rd December from my Doctor and again on 4th January from my Surgeon, I had still received nothing despite the re-assurance on the telephone the other day, and in fact the letters hadn’t even been typed out.

At that news, the head of the accounts department picked up the telephone, dialled a number and had what can only be described as “a frank exchange of views” with someone on the other end of the line, including the phrase “do you realise that you are holding up the work of the hospital?”. And after she hung up the receiver, she gave me the form that I needed.

I don’t need all of this stress, and even less so when I’m ill like this. And I just go back to the very first day that I was admitted to the hospital, back in late November, when I handed my insurance card to the hospital. As you may remember, the hospital refused (and on a couple of occasions too) to telephone the insurance organisation as I was admitted. Hod they done so, they could have opened a file ON THE SPOT and established all of the information necessary to establish the necessary procedures and coverage ON THE SPOT and all of this unpleasantness could have been avoided. I don’t know enough about hospital procedure to be able to explain to anyone else what is happening and what to expect (from an accounting point of view), and the procedure in Belgium (where my insurance organisation is based) is so much different from that in France.

It’s all so unnecessary.

But abandoning yet another really good rant for the moment … "thank God!" – ed
let us retourner à nos moutons, as they say around here.

The alarm went off at 07:00 and I crawled agonisingly out of my bed. I’d had an early night and crashed out really quickly.

And during the night, I’d been trying to go to a rock concert somewhere but I had never managed to make it. And so I was at home somewhere or other (a house that I actually know but I can’t put a name or address to it, although it strongly resembled Davenport Avenue), and the musicians arrived! The three of them fitted into my tiny bedroom and started to play, just for me. The group might have been “Rush” or it might even have been “Strife” (I’ve been talking a great deal about them on my social network account just recently) but one thing was sure and that was no matter who it was, there was just one musician – the bassist – from the group and the other two members were the guitarist and drummer with whom I used to play back in the 1970s. And when they finished, the bassist said something along the lines of “that’ll teach you to come to our concerts next time”.
So from here, the drummer, guitarist and I had to catch a bus back to Crewe (we were in Chester at the time apparently – scene of many of my earlier musical successes) and so we waited – and waited – and waited – and no bus came (back in those days the C84 ran every hour). Eventually another bus came. This was a bus of the type of the mid-60s – an early Bristol RE single-decker with a green lower and white upper, but with large windows and very curved rather than angular corners – and on the headboard it was indicating “Whitchurch”. Buses heading from Chester to Whitchurch usually travel down the A41 through Christleton and that way but this bus was on the road out of Chester in the general direction of Tarvin, so I assumed that it might be going to Whitchuch via Nantwich, from where there were buses every 15 minutes to Crewe. But chatting to the driver, it appeared that he was only going so far down the Nantwich road, turning off just after Tarporley somewhere in the general area of Bunbury. And so we were there for a good while – the guitarist, the driver and I debating whether or not to take the bus, alight where it turns off the main road and wait for the very late C84. But what if the C84 overtakes us along the route? We’d then be even later and that would clearly be no good (the idea that if our C84 wasn’t running, we would be stranded wherever we were hadn’t entered our heads at all, apparently). The driver said that he could as a favour, pass by Aston Juxta Mondrum (which is nowhere near where we want to go and in any case didn’t have a bus service to anywhere) and drop us there, but we stood for ages at this bus stop, haunted by indecision and being totally incapable of making up our minds.

I was on the road by 07:30 and pulled into Pionsat at more-or-less the same time as the nurse (she who runs the pie hut at the footy) and so paying for my consultation from the other day was quite straightforward.

I arrived at the hospital in Montlucon at 08:30, having found a good spec to park Caliburn, and despite having had a little adventure on the way. It was pouring down with rain and round about St Gervais, the driver’s side windscreen wiper became attached from the arm. Luckily, I was able to rescue it and replace it but it came loose again and so I drove all of the way there without wipers (once you go through the initial 5 minutes of blindness, you’ll be surprised at how clear the view is through a “liquid windscreen”). Subsequent enquiries in the daylight revealed that the blade hadn’t been fitted correctly and I was able to deal with that.

It was just as well that I was early at the hospital. Once more, I had the choice of seats (the one in the corner by the power point) for we ended up 5 people in a room made for two and they were turning people away, to wait in the waiting room until there was a space for them. It really is no surprise that they couldn’t fit me in last Monday afternoon if this is how busy they are in the day hospital.

It was the efficient nurse who dealt with me today. Not only did she fit my drain at the first attempt, it hardly hurt (in comparison to all the others who have tried). And then we reverted to the marvels of modern 21st-Century technology, warming up the blood by stuffing it up my jumper.

I took advantage of my stay there by having a browse through www.archive.org. I discovered a while back that they are now grouping as *.zip files many of the old-time radio programmes instead of having them as individual downloads, but 1.4GB is beyond the capacity of my internet connection at home or here chez Liz and Terry. But not at the hospital where a real (as opposed to “notional”) 600kb/s is readily available, and so I downloaded all of Beyond Our Ken, all of the Sherlock Holmes radio shows of the 40s and all of the Philip Marlowe radio shows.

If I’m back next week (which is more-than-likely) there’s the Clitheroe Kid and the Navy Lark to download. And then I’ll be keeping an eye out for ITMA and Much Binding In The Marsh. And if it keeps on and on and on, I’ll end up with more radio shows than the BBC.

I declined the lunch that was offered, and for two reasons too.

  1. The food in the hospital is disgusting
  2. I was hoping to be in and out long before I became hungry

and wasn’t all of that a silly mistake?

I was indeed finished early – at 12:45 in fact. So much so that I had time for a coffee in the café, but I won’t be doing that again. Coffee from the machine is just €0:60 but in the café it’s €1:70, and it’s not as if the surroundings are any more pleasant than the hospital foyer. It did give me an opportunity to spy out the land there and check the food on offer (I need somehow to supplement the hospital diet) but there was, as I expected, nothing there that I could eat.

Then it was time to deal with the anaesthetist, and this is where we had all of the nonsense mentioned above. By the time that I had finished, it was almost 15:00 and how I wish that I had had lunch in the hospital earlier.

I gave the usual spiel to the anaesthetist. “I hate tubes, injections, internal cameras and all of that kind of thing. I don’t want to know what you are going to do to me – just do it and get on with it. if you find anything else when I’m opened up, do that too because I don’t want to come back a second time. But when I wake up, I want to have both my hands and both my feet, and I don’t want to see any tubes, pipes and cameras”.
“Both your hands and both your feet?” said the anaesthetist? “Not your head?”
“I lost my head years ago” I replied.

So we had a nice friendly chat. He’s an old guy, probably my age, with a sparkle in his eye and a devilish sense of humour which makes a change from most French people whom I know. I wish that there were more like him. And then I went for another spy around the 3rd floor to see what I could see. There seems to be a nurse there who would love to sooth my fevered brow, but I’ll be b*gg*red if I let him.

I did some shopping at Amaranthe, the health food shop. A pile of vegan cheese (we’re running low here) and a few other vegan bits and pieces. I bought myself a big pile of vegan muesli biscuits for lunch and nibbled them throughout the afternoon Liz didn’t give me a shopping list for the Carrefour so I had to improvise, and ended up forgetting a pile of stuff that would have been useful to us.That’s a shame, because I feel that I ought to be paying my way while I’m here, and a load of shopping each week would certainly help.

A new pair of slippers and a few pairs of sock was on my shopping list though. The slippers that I have are falling apart and my socks are … errr … quite religious. There was a special offer of 6 pairs of socks at €5:99. Terry asked me if they would last any kind of distance, to which I replied that maybe I only need to worry until the 27th January.

I didn’t feel like much in the way of tea. Too stuffed up with muesli biscuits I reckon. And then I had an early night, leaving you to digest a mere 2000 words this evening.

And serve you b*gg*ers right too!

Thursday 7th January 2016 – EEEUUURRRGGGHHH

Talk about dart boards. I’ve had no fewer than 6 injections today. That’s right – SIX, and I’m thoroughly fed up of it all. For a start, there was my twice-daily injection of anti-coagulant and the one thing that I’m really looking forward to about this operation is the ending of this particular circus.

And then we had the blood test. I’m fed up of that too, but that’s something that I’m going to have to suffer for the rest of my life, I suppose. I imagine that even when they’ve done this operation they will still be wanting to check that, to make sure that they cut out the correct bit. And as an aside, my blood count has gone up to 8.6 following the recent transfusion that I had. It’s not been this high for a while, but it’s still a long way from normal and it’ll be going down again even as we speak.

But the final straw that has broken this camel’s back are the other three injections that I needed to have. When my spleen is removed, it will remove a good deal of my immune system too and so I need to be vaccinated against certain illnesses and diseases, starting before the operation. I’d picked up the injections the other day and so I phoned up the doctor’s surgery after lunch, 13:30 to be precise. The receptionist – she who runs the pit hut at Pionsat’s football club – told me that the doctor would see me at 14:30, so off I went. It has to be done at a doctor’s surgery because, apparently, there could be some side effects after the injection so I would need to sit somewhere for a good half hour afterwards, somewhere where there was medical surveillance to hand.

I’ve complained in the past (and I’ll be complaining again – wait and see!) about the lack of formal information coming from the hospital. However, it appears that I am not alone because the doctor has received nothing either, despite me having to fill in a form each time I visit, when I’m clearly asked the name of my GP.

So I’m in the dark and she’s in the dark too. And when she saw the three injections, her eyes rolled too. “Are you supposed to have these three together?” she asked
“Apparently so” I replied. “That’s what I’ve been told”
It was news to her and so she had to sit there and read the instructions to make sure.
“Well, it doesn’t say that you can’t, so I suppose you can. Are you right-handed or left-handed?”
“Good. So that’s your left arm and your two legs we’ll use then. Better not do everything in the same place”.
So now you can see why I’m totally fed up

“What have they said about what is going to happen after the operation” she asked.
“No idea” I replied
“Didn’t they tell you?” she asked, with an air of astonishment.
“I didn’t want to know” I answered. “What is going to happen is going to happen anyway without me spending all this time worrying about it. I’m trying to push the lot of it out of my thoughts”.

It was quite fun in the waiting room after that, watching the world go by. And I really do mean that, because it was spinning around at quite a rate of knots. It was much longer than half an hour before I felt fit to leave the room.

But while I was there, I was reading a magazine, and this answered a question that has been puzzling me for a while. There’s a team in Division 3 of the Puy de Dome football league that has suddenly started to win its matches by some … errr … interesting scores, and now I know why.

There’s an empty old-people’s home in the village and it’s been converted into a temporary hostel for asylum-seekers, where they go while their papers are being processed. And currently in there are a former Syrian football league goalkeeper and a centre forward who was a Nigerian under-17 international, as well as one or two others with an interesting football pedigree. While they are awaiting processing they aren’t allowed to earn money or travel very far so they can’t play professional football. But they still need to train, keep fit and keep their match-fitness, much to the delight of the local football team and its supporters.

A flash in the pan it may be, but who says that refugees are nothing but a negative influence? It’s a really ill wind if it doesn’t blow anyone any good.

When I left the doctor’s, I went round for a while to my house to see what was going on and to relax a little. It was here that I realised that Bane of Britain didn’t have his laptop with him. And it was cold up there too. 8.4 degrees in fact. I’m glad I wasn’t planning to stay there long.

After tea, I managed to stay up until almost 22:00, but that was mainly because we watched a good film on television. My Darling Clementine, which is a highly-fictionalised story of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. What’s interesting in this film is not so much the film itself or the stars who act in it, but the supporting cast. We have Grant Withers, who played the Police Inspector in the Boris Karloff’s James Lee Wong films (of which I have all, downloaded from www.archive.org), Walter Brennan, who plays Stumpy in Rio Bravo and which bears more than a passing resemblance to the OK Corral, Ward Bond, who has played second-fiddle in dozens of leading westerns and several other names that ring great big bells with me.

The film itself is rather over-dramatised, which rather cuts up the action needlessly (thank heavens that by 10 years later this kind of thing had gone) but enjoyable all the same. Even more enjoyable was that much of the action takes place over an area over which I have driven in the past and which is probably amongst the most spectacular scenery in the world.

And so off to bed – not so early this time. And I doubt if my travels tonight will be anything like as interesting as last night’s, because I sat bolt upright at about 06:00 with it all ringing in my ears, and I dictated it almost immediately so that I wouldn’t miss a moment of the action.

Last night, I was planning on setting off to London in my car and I had the most unusual travelling companion. Her name, I think, was Lynn, but she didn’t resemble the Lynn whom I thought that it might have been. She did however strongly resemble someone from one of my previous existences – someone fairly similar to the Sue who shared my apartment for a week or so not long after I came to Brussels, young, quite vivacious, small, thin-faced and mousy blond hair in a pony tail. Anyway, we were getting ready to, and I was changing into some clean clothes and put on a pair of jeans, but this Lynn vetoed them. Although they were washed and cleaned, they still had faded oil marks upon them. The next pair of jeans that I found were perfectly clean and quite new although they had holes in them. And although they were clean, they had all kinds of things in the back pockets too – a CD, some papers, all kinds of stuff. And then I had to change my shirt. I’d been in a white dress shirt but I wanted to wear a tee-shirt. And I finished off with that light blue jumper that I had bought in the USA years ago and which I wore for years as people said that it matched my eyes. In the meantime my elder sister and her husband (them again???) were busily tidying up my room and sorting through a pile of stuff that I had in there. But in there was a pile of stuff that I rather wished that no-one knew about and they were working their way frightfully close to it. They’d already uncovered a pile of stuff (some of which, incidentally, featured on these pages a short while ago) without realising the significance so I needed to distract them. I told them to hurry up because we were about to go. We should have left the house at 16:45 – that was the usual time – but it was passing 17:00, 17:05 and we still weren’t on the road (as if 15 or 20 minutes was here or there on a trip from Crewe to London down the M6 at that time of day) and there were still one or two things that needed doing. It was at this point, as they were leaving, that my sister’s husband found one of my bank statements so we had all kinds of grumbles and groans and so on that you might expect. Anyway, after they had left and we were finally preparing to leave, I said to Lynn that my sister’s husband wasn’t very happy, and she explained to me a couple of reasons why he wasn’t so happy – a few things that had happened before he found this bank statement and not a thing about this bank statement at all. So we were finally ready to go and piled into the Cortina. Now a Cortina has a range of about 250 miles or so and I noticed that on the fuel gauge we had three-quarters of a tank of fuel and that might just be enough to get down to London. But we were going to the west side of London – Shepherd’s Bush or Hammersmith or somewhere like that – and I knew a way, a kind of short cut that I’ve taken on numerous occasions during my previous nocturnal rambles. You drive down the M1 almost to Luton and head south on this nice, wide A road round by High Wycombe, and there across a field you can clearly see a big BP petrol station, which you reach by carrying on half a mile to a major road junction and turn right. And that was where I was planning to fuel up. However, if we didn’t have enough fuel to make it to there, there’s another fuel station that I’ve also used on many occasions on my night-time voyages somewhere round about the A5 or M1. Here, you pull off the main road up to a roundabout and then turn into what looks very much like a motorway service area, with the fuel on the right as you pull in, and them a big rectangular car park with the buildings right ahead of you way across the car park. We couls always fuel up there if necessary.
But what puzzled me in all of this was this girl, Lynn or whatever her name was. I’m not used to people being so fond of me like this, although of course anything is possible during the night. But even more so, is that I know her, and I know who she is too. Her face, her build, her features seemed just so familiar to me but I just can’t recall her at all. I’ve no idea who she is, although I feel that I ought to know her, and know her so well. It’s bewildering me, all of this, and I do recall it bewildering me while the action was taking place.

So why did I say earlier on that you would hear more about the lack of news?

The answer was that when I was at the doctor’s in the hospital at Montlucon back on 23rd December, I asked the doctor for a letter setting out my illness, what treatment was required, all of that kind of thing, the doctor promised that she would do it. But I still haven’t had the letter, some two weeks later.

Being rather fed up of this, I telephoned the hospital and spoke to the secretary in order to find out what was going on. And she asked for my name.
“Ohhh yes – Mr Hall. The doctor did dictate a letter for you. I’ll type it this afternoon”.

Totally unbelievable.

I’ve often said before … "and you’ll say again" – ed … that all civil and public servants should be given 6 months unpaid leave after every ten years of service, and made to find a real job in the private sector. Then they would have to learn what life is like in the real world.

It would probably wake up quite a few of them – and probably kill off all of the rest.

And 2114 words – something of a world record this. I clearly have nothing better to do.

Friday 20th November 2015 – AHH WELL!

So here I am.

It’s 08:00 in the morning and I crawl (and I do mean crawl) out of bed. I can safely say that I’ve never felt as bad as all of this. Getting down to Caliburn was something of a struggle and I’m sure that I couldn’t see straight as I drove down to Pionsat for my blood test. A surprise awaited me at the reception of the medical centre – on duty was one of the girls who runs the pie hut at FCPSH.

So having dealt with the blood test, I staggered back here and had my breakfast (luckily I’d prepared it before I went off) and then crashed out on the sofa.

I managed a coffee at about midday and then crashed out again, to be awoken by the telephone at 14:30. It was the doctor. “You have a very bad case of anaemia and you need to go to the hospital at once. I’ve prepared a file for you and there’s an ambulance voucher here at the office”

An ambulance voucher is one thing, but finding an ambulance is something else. In the end I ring up Terry and Liz, but they are out, but Rosemary is in and so she comes to the rescue. I have just about enough strength to throw a few things into a bag and then we are off.

At the hospital I check in, but I don’t even have enough time to find a seat before I’m whisked off into an emergency room and stuck on a bed. They couple me up to a vitamin tube and give me a good interrogation – and after about an hour, the blood arrived.

I had one “pochette” of blood in the emergency room and then they took me up to a room where they gave me two others.
“We have to check your blood pressure every 15 minutes during the transfusion process” explained the nurse.
“I’m a very light sleeper” I replied
“Well you are going to be in for a very long night” she answered.
And she was right.

Sunday 15th November 2015 – I SHOULD HAVE …

… gone out this afternoon.

I had planned to go out to Menat for the football today. Two matches – one of the 2nd XI who play at the same level as Pionsat’s 1st XI, and the Menat 1st XI who play a couple of divisions higher. But then last night’s Pionsat 2nd XI match had been postponed until today and so I was wondering whether to go down there instead.

But then I had something of a late start today (well, it IS a Sunday) and then I had a bad attack of Writer’s Block and couldn’t make a start on what I had to do today. By the time I could tune myself into whatever I was going to do, it was too late to go anywhere and do anything. But at least I’ve finished the radio programme, eventually.

I’ve also emptied the beichstuhl today. The first time since I’ve been back home. And it needed it too. So that’s one job well-done. And with the temperature in the verandah being 19°C and then temperature in the home-made 12-volt immersion heater reaching 49°C, that was the cue for a shower. And gorgeous it was too.

Rosemary rang up for a good chat later, and we were on the phone for an hour or so. It seems from local gossip that our little ex-pat community is going to be thinned out even more, something that is surprising us because, by all accounts, it’s going to be an enormous backward step for the people involved. But then, what’s it all to do with us?

And in other news, we have had a definite candidate for not just “Quote of the Year”, or “Quote of the Decade” or even “Quote of the Century”, but what will probably end up being “Quote of All Time”. One of my “friends” on my Social Network who lives near Guildford posted, in relation to the events in Paris this weekend “… it could happen in Guildford or Bristol …”. it appears that the poster has totally forgotten that it DID happen in Guildford

And this just goes to prove a point that I have been saying for years. Atrocities committed by white-skinned Christian terrorists are totally forgotten, conveniently swept under the counter even by people who were exposed to the acts, whereas the mere threat of an attack by brown-skinned “terrorists” brings them out all in a cold sweat.

And why “terrorists” in inverted commas? That’s because one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. As a good example of this, certain white-skinned Christian terrorist swho had conducted a bombing campaign all through London in 1974 and 1975, convicted of 7 murders as well as a whole string of other serious crimes, were described as ‘our Nelson Mandelas’ by an MP who had served in the British Houses of Parliament for over 20 years and who was indeed a serving MP at the time he made the remark.

However, history conveniently overlooks all of this.

Saturday 14th November 2015 – IT SHOULD BE NO SURPRISE …

… to anyone that after the amount of time that I’ve spent just recently discussing Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England, last night I was on my travels up to the Wall with a huge load of uniforms for the soldiers based there. But strange uniforms they were too, nothing at all like the contemporary styles that they would have worn, and it didn’t escape my attention either that they would all look quite bizarre up there confronting the Picts and Scots in what I had fetched them. From there, I went back home by train (my nocturnal rambles are superb, aren’t they?), the kind of multiple unit with lateral seating. This train took me I’m not quite sure where and I came across a huge digger crawling into a railway depot. I reckoned that the engine in this digger would be ideal for my lorry and so I alighted from the train and chased after the digger but couldn’t catch it. I had a great discussion about the engine with the guy on the gate and we agreed after much discussion that it ight have been a Cummins. He eventually let me into the depot and I had a good hunt around the huge hangar without finding it. Never mind though. Back with my friends, I dropped my bombshell. I was going to stay on in the USA for all of five months while I changed the engine over in my lorry. From here we went back to my old flat in an old building in the city centre (and we’ve been here before recently) and I went downstairs to meet some girl friend outside the ladies hairdressers on the ground floor. We arranged to go off somewhere else in the town but I had to leave my huge moose behind so I asked the hairdressers if I could leave it there instead of taking it up to my apartment. They had a little smile and a little bit of a moan about me always leaving stuff with them.

It’s no wonder that I was exhausted before I had to get up, what with all of this going on.

After breakfast I had to turn the place here upside down to find my cheque book. It’s time to renew my web hosting services and this is about the only time that I need my cheques. And after all of this I found it in the glove box of Caliburn, and so I nipped into Pionsat to post off my renewal.

Back here I spent most of the rest of the day working on the new series of programmes for Radio Anglais. I lost my motivation halfway through but I managed to pick it up and I’m about halfway through the Radio Arverne sessions tonight.

I went off to Enval too in order to watch the footy. Pionsat were well-beaten and I shan’t dwell on the match too much, except to say firstly that Enval scored only one goal that contained any kind of skill. All of the rest were presents from the Pionsat defence with some of the worst defending that I have ever seen. It was embarrassing to watch and I was ashamed. Secondly, Pionsat received three or was it four yellow cards. One was for pushing an opponent, an off-the-ball incident, and all of the others were for arguing with the referee. This kind of thing is embarrassing too. It’s all childish, juvenile stuff and counts for absolutely nothing. Stupid bookings that you might think that the Pionsat players would have grown out of by now, especially when one of the yellow cards is shown to the team captain and another one to the President of the club. What kind of example is this?

All in all, what it boils down to is that 4 or 5 of the players aren’t up to the standard required, and four or five others aren’t “grown-up” enough for this level of football. Pionsat needs an under-11s team for players like these until they learn how to behave like grown-ups.

But at least I had my pizza as promised.

Apart from that, almost all other news has been overshadowed by the night’s events in Paris. What I have to say on the subject will be well-known to many regular readers of this rubbish because I’ve said it all before.

Firstly, what are European forces doing fighting in Asia anyway? What has it all to do with us? Who cares if these people kill each other anyway? It’s nothing to do with us. We should stay on our side of the world, let them stay on their side, greet each other with a polite nod and leave it at that.

Secondly, I can’t believe how naive and innocent all of these people are. When you declare war on someone, you expect them to fight back. Surely everyone knows that? And when your opponents fight back, you should expect casualties. Surely everyone knows that too? And so why the surprise and shock that there are casualties in Paris? I don’t understand.

If the politicians were possessed of courage, they would have warned their citizens that WAR = CASUALTIES and the population should have been prepared. But politicians everywhere have no courage and have behaved like ostriches with their heads buried in the sand, hoping that the problem would never arise. And then we have the mock outrage and the crocodile tears. It really is shameful.

But going back to the question of waging war against guerilla forces, it’s a fact that even with the gloves well and truly off and using the most horrible reprisals, no regular army has ever succeeded in defeating a determined guerilla force. The Nazis couldn’t overcome the French, the Yugoslav and the Greek resistance, the French couldn’t overcome the Algerians, the Septics couldn’t defeat the Viet Cong and the Soviets couldn’t overwhelm the Afghans. Why does anyone think that the situation has changed?

After the American defeat in Vietnam the USA government held an enquiry into the war. Here are a few quotes from the report –

The alternative – no matter what we may wish it to be – is almost certainly a protracted war involving an open-ended commitment of US forces, mounting US casualties, no assurance of a satisfactory solution, and a serious danger of escalation at the end of the road – UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE GEORGE W BALL, ON VIETNAM 1st JULY 1965

No-one has demonstrated that a white ground force of whatever size can win a guerilla war – GEORGE W BALL ibid

The war could well become an albatros around the Administration’s neck – ASST SEC OF STATE FOR FAR EASTERN AFFAIRS WILLIAM P BUNDY 16 APRIL 1966

We will find ourselves mired down in combat in the jungle in a military effort that we cannot win -JOHN McCONE, DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE TO DEAN RUSK AND McNAMARA – 2 APRIL 1965

The USA found itself at the end of August 1963 without a policy and with most of its bridges burnt – PENTAGON REPORT ON SOUTH VIETNAM

While tendentious reporting is irritating, suppression of news leads to much more serious trouble – WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN 17 SEPT 1963

A feeling is widely and strongly held that the Establishment is out of its mind – JOHN T MCNAUGHTON, US ASST SECRETARY OF DEFENCE 1967

The feeling is that we are trying to impose some US image on distant peoples we cannot understand and that we are carrying the thing to absurd lengths – JOHN T MCNAUGHTON, US ASST SECRETARY OF DEFENCE 1967


You would have thought that with all of these comments, what on earth would the USA be doing, dragging itself and its “Imperialist running-dog lackeys” into other similar wars? It’s as if the Septics have learnt absolutely nothing from their involvement in Vietnam and they are simply making the same mistakes. And as the events unfold and the opposition fights back, the west is sucked deeper and deeper into the maelstrom. You only have to look at all of the incidents here in the West – under attack, overwhelmed by fleeing refugees, all of the border, airport and train controls – to see just how much the opposition has us on the run.

And our politicians won’t tell us the truth either. Brits will recall that over 400 British soldiers died “freeing” Helmand from the Taliban. What most Brits don’t know, because the Government hasn’t made an official announcement, is that most of Helmand has been retaken by the Taliban. So those deaths were really useful, weren’t they?

Just to repeat, “The war could well become an albatros around the Administration’s neck” and ‘We will find ourselves mired down in combat … in a military effort that we cannot win”.

“A feeling is widely and strongly held that the Establishment is out of its mind” – at least, from this particular point of view.