Tag Archives: hans field

Tuesday 14th May 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… yet another candidate for “worst day ever of my life”.

It really has too. In fact I’ve spent almost all the afternoon fast asleep on my chair in the office and I’m totally fed up of all of this. I haven’t done a stroke of work.

Last night I actually made a really good effort and tried my best to be in bed early. Not that I succeeded but I did find a much better way of getting into bed that didn’t hurt my painful hip anything at all like it has been doing.

Once I was in bed I settled down for a nice, comfortable sleep but there wasn’t much hope of that. Although I fell asleep quite quickly we had another phantom alarm call in the middle of the night

When the real alarm went off I staggered off into the bathroom and then into the dining area for my medication. But the bathroom was hilarious from the point of view of dressing myself. I’m beginning to lose all of the basic skills. However, the pain in my hip has lessened a little.

The nurse came round later. He helped me put my leg up on the stool and when he did it, it didn’t hurt at all. I wish that I knew what his secret is.

After he left I began to revise for my Welsh lesson. And having collected a slice of flapjack and made myself a pot of strong coffee I joined in later.

The lesson actually passed quite well today but there again we weren’t actually stretched. We had to talk about our home and then about music. Of course, I can do both those things for hours.

As i’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … in all the places in which I’ve ever lived, this is the only place for which I’ve ever felt homesick when I’ve been away. It’s the first place that I’ve ever called “home”.

By the end of the lesson though, I was flagging quite badly and once it was over I crashed out completely Totally and absolutely, and for ninety minutes too. I felt totally awful too when I awoke

Once I’d come back round into the Land of the Living (and that took longer than it ought) I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been just recently. So I was there with some young girl, a member of our family, and were taking it in turns to be treated by the opposition, one team at a time, about something or other. I was putting my feet up on a stool in front of me but suddenly there was no stool there and the table cloth with cups of coffee etc set out began to fall to the floor. I had to grab hold of it and hold it. I had no idea what I was going to do next because I couldn’t move and there I was, holding this table cloth with all of the crockery and cutlery all set out for tea etc. There was absolutely nothing whatever holding the table cloth except my two arms.

Later on at Cardiff we put the ball up there but elected to push on because that was our strength but Cardiff also relied on our strength to defend. They managed to hold out and push us backwards out of a decent range Our players were young and inexperienced and weren’t able to take the ball in a way that they might have been if they’d had more experience. In the end that left the field open for Cardiff to come on and score the winning try.

That was just like in the previous match where they’d waited until I’d replaced Findi (whoever Findi is or was) and they took advantage of that change of line-up to swarm all over our front line and push it back down out of range again and into their own half

For the final couple of minutes and we had possession but weren’t able to advance. We didn’t have our kicker on the field so we couldn’t kick, so it was a case of having to persevere with the attack by running as much as we can. In the end we ran for miles, it seemed, just to make a small amount of ground to find a crack in the defence and swarm through for that goal in the final two minutes. We scored a touch-down but it was so lucky and we did so well to win it

A phantom alarm at 04:10 this morning. At the time I was busy instructing my girls’ rugby team about how to advance that final yard to have a pushover try if it were to become necessary in the match against Cardiff.

So what am I doing involved in a rugby team? And a girls’ rugby team at that? Rugby is a game that holds no interest at all for me. It’s just a silly game played by men with odd-shaped balls

It’s true however that one of the daughters of my niece in Canada played for a girls’ rugby team at school, and at school they tried to make us play rugby instead of football but we were having none of it. Our tactic was that our scrum would win the ball, pass it to me and, because I could kick with either feet, I’d kick for a drop goal from just about anywhere on the field within range.

"You don’t play rugby like that!" bellowed our new games master

Well, we did. And in the end, he gave up, went back to the staff room for a coffee, we began to play football and that was the last we ever heard about playing rugby. And quite right too.

Finally it was the final day of this end-of-season sale in this camping and sports shop. The whole world was in there looking for stuff. I found one or two things that I liked. As the evening drew to a close I was hovering by the till waiting. When they announced the closing of the store we all stampeded to the tills. I reached a till. The girl said something to me that I didn’t understand but it carried on until the person in front of me was served. Then she just switched off her till and walked away at that point. I found the people with whom I’d come and told them – I said “you won’t believe it but they’ve done it again, switched off the till right in front of me when I’m ready, willing and able to buy stuff. There’s absolutely no accounting for British people these days. Turn down a pile of work just so that they can be away from work five minutes earlier and not have to deal with any particular work.

And it wouldn’t be the first time that that has happened to me either, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

When I was asleep in the afternoon I had another one of these series of hallucinations with all kinds of stuff briefly flitting through my mind. One of the things that I do remember from when I was asleep in the afternoon was taking a girl out in one of my old vans. We went for a walk in a field and then back at the van to go somewhere else she put her hand through the flap to open her door but her hand became stuck in the aperture.

What with all of this I was rather late going for my nice hot chocolate drink. Something simple but it really does cheer me up. And I would probably have been even later had the cleaner not awoken me bringing in yet more medical supplies

But than back in my chair I crashed out again, and that’s how I stayed until, would you believe, 19:10. I’d missed a whole afternoon with being asleep. But while I was asleep this time it was the school dance. I was asked to take everyone home by train at 16:00 so was warned to have nothing to eat or drink beforehand. But the dance rolled on and on, a long time past 16:00. I was starving hungry and thirsty so I went to look for the headmaster to complain. I couldn’t find him but instead came across my Geography teacher. I told her of my difficulties but she dismissed me rather unpleasantly. I wandered back into the building and found a group of people, including a good friend of mine, taking my PA mixer board from my room. I told them to put it back but they carried on taking it out with a laugh and a joke, but I grabbed it from them, put it back into my room and closed the door, using a few very choice words to describe my anger. My friend called me “a miserable old fart” but I didn’t care. I was incandescent with rage by this time.

And “incandescent with rage” was quite right too. Incandescent with rage that I’d missed out a whole afternoon flat-out like this for no good reason.

That was really disappointing too because I’ve spent all these years and all this effort and made all these sacrifices to bring my anger issues under control and to try to make myself a nicer person, and here I am being undermined by something as stupid as falling asleep

My whole life is falling apart right now with having to fight these health issues and I’m at the stage where I can’t fight any more. I just don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going.

It’s making me feel like Gwyneth Glyn and
"I DON’T KNOW WHERE I’M GOING
I DON’T KNOW WHERE I’VE BEEN
I’VE NO IDEA WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW
AND GOD KNOWS WHERE I’M SUPPOSED TO BE"

My rice and veg to accompany my taco roll were cooked by the steam coming out of my ears tonight, not by electricity. I really need to get a grip of myself but I can’t believe that I have to do it all again. I don’t even know why I’m bothering to struggle. It’s not as if my health will ever improve and I’ll get better.

Many years in Belgium a solicitor who had been trying to contact me made the remark "Mr Hall! We all thought that you were dead!"
"Not at all" I replied. "I just smell like it"

9th May 2024 – I’VE HAD A …

… horrible day today.

And I’ll tell you how bad it’s been when I say that I actually took painkillers this morning and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that is not something that I usually do at all.

Last night there wasn’t all that much wrong with me, apart from the usual, of course, and apart from the fact that I’d twisted my back a little sitting in an unnatural way on the arm of the settee

It was extremely late when I went to bed and I didn’t have very much sleep at all. But what I did have was some really deep satisfying sleep where nothing whatever disturbed me until the alarm went off and Billy Cotton gave HIS RAUCOUS RATTLE – and how I would have liked a good eight hours plus of that.

When I awoke and moved my right hip I had this searing pain that nearly sent me through the ceiling. I couldn’t move my leg at all, walking was almost impossible and washing and dressing were a nightmare

With a great deal of effort I made it into the dining area where I gave up nd took two painkillers with my medication. And then I set out the dining area as the nurse likes it, to keep her happy.

She was on time today but I made her late. I couldn’t pick my leg up and put it on the second chair for her to treat and bandage, the pain was far too much for that. She had to do it down on the floor which was extremely uncomfortable for her.

After she left I made myself a coffee and then made it back into here and went to transcribe the dictaphone notes, but all I found was the dreaded “this folder is empty” on the machine. My sleep was deeper than I thought during the night.

Later on I went for breakfast. Now that I have a loaf of bread I made myself coffee and toast with loads of vegan butter, and how delicious was all of that? The coffee was beautiful and the toast and butter even nicer.

One other thing that I needed to do was to make some more garlic butter as I’ve run out. I chopped up a few garlic cloves and mixed them with about 150 grammes of vegan butter, put it all in a special jar and then put it in the fridge ready to use.

Back in here the painkillers kicked in. They didn’t numb the pain – not at all – they simply sent me to sleep and I was asleep until about 14:00.

It was a really groggy, incoherent me who tried to continue after that. I managed my lunchtime fruit and that was about it as far as I was concerned. I came back in here and I was gone away with the fairies again.

While I was asleep at some point in the afternoon I was reading a book on the War poets. But onr of them appeared and came into my room. He took the book from me, saw what it was that I was reading, and then dropped it contemptuously into my lap.

That’s not really a surprise because before I crashed out I was reading something about Charles Sorley, he who wrote –
"When You See Millions Of The Mouthless Dead
Across Your Dreams In Pale Battalions Go"

– and was killed in the Great War

We had to study the War poets for our English Literature ‘O’ Level and quite frankly having the sentimental, flowery and melodramatic verse of people like Wilfred Owen, Sorley and Siegfried Sassoon rammed down our throats totally destroyed any love that I might have had for poetry.

If we had to learn War poetry why couldn’t it have been interesting stuff like “The Battle of Maldon” or “The Battle of Maldon”? The stuff we had to learn was like listening to Jimi Hendrix when Malcolm Morley could produce the same effect WITH JUST THREE NOTES.

Give me the simple, naïve poetry of AE Housman and A SHROPSHIRE LAD any day of the week.

But eventually I awoke and managed even to write some of the notes for the next radio programme. Not many, because I was labouring under a great difficulty.

Tea tonight was the leftover curry and naan bread that I usually have on a Wednesday night but it’s so good and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I don’t “do” sharing. In our house as children, when it was “first up, best dressed” we never ever really had anything of our own and a childhood like that can scar someone for life, something that many more lucky people don’t understand.

So right now I’m going off to bed and to try my best to sleep. But it’s late, I’m in pain, and I’ve had some very bad news. The partner of my friend in Munich, who has been battling with ill-health for several years, has been taken into palliative care this evening.

This is not the time for frivolity.

Saturday 23rd March 2023 – A FEW MONTHS AGO …

… I bought a cheap hamburger press, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. It was rather like an old flat iron made of plastic, with all kinds of sizes that fit inside each other like a Russian doll

It was rather cheap, both in price and quality, so I didn’t think that it would be all that much good. However I have to say that despite all that, I really am impressed with it. Almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin, and that will stir a few memories from times long-gone.

Actually my friend in Munich sent me ages ago a packet of dried stuff that he’d found in a vegan shop down there and posted it to me. So today I added water and mixed it, left it alone to do its thing and then out came the hamburger press

It actually made a nice, professional job of the rehydrated stuff and I now have four big, really solid burgers and as I said just now, I’m almost as impressed with them as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin.

“Whatever happened to that?” I asked myself. The last time that I saw it, it was being used as a brazier to burn a pile of weeds down the garden when I used to have my raised beds and vegetable plots. It’s probably now thoroughly and completely overwhelmed with weeds and been pulled into the soil.

It’s 10 years ago since I last planted any veg down on the farm. I had quite a lot of stuff there that year too. The following year I cracked on with the bedroom all the way through the spring and summer ad finished it – and actually moved in.

But we all know what happened in the autumn that year, don’t we?

It was almost 10 years that I lived full-time down on the farm and despite the primitive conditions I really enjoyed it. I keep on thinking – and hoping – that I’ll go back to live down there once more but I doubt that I’ll ever see it again.

For a start, I can no longer drive, and that’s always going to be a serious consideration. And then regular readers of this rubbish will recall the photos of when I was last there and it was overwhelmed by brambles. I no longer have the energy to fight my way to the front door.

Last time it took three of us – Rosemary, Ingrid and Yours Truly – a whole afternoon to reach the front door, and the time before that it was with Terry and he had brought his industrial-scale equipment to clear the path.

Still, as Dan Quayle once famously said, "It’s a question of whether we’re going to go forward into the future, or past to the back"

So I shall go past into the back and say that for a change I was in something of a hurry to go to bed last night. I didn’t hang about at all.

It was another good sleep as well and I was fighting fit (well, sort-of) when the alarm aronsed me from my slumbers.

First thing was, as usual, to check the blood pressure. 15.1/9.0 this morning, up from 14.5/9.3 last night. So something must have annoyed me last night. And if you want to know what it was, you’ll have to read on.

After the medication I came back in here, but not for long. The nurse, having been late yesterday, was early today. Today’s moan was that the plastic bag I’d put out for him wasn’t big enough and that I need to wash my puttees. I wonder what tomorrow’s will be

The bread for my cheese on toast was delicious. I had a really nice breakfast later this morning. And then I had a pleasant relax and watched a film.

Another film that has come out of copyright is HELLZAPOPPIN’ so I spent a very pleasant 85 minutes watching it, and it was nice to relax for a change.

It’s not a film to everyone’s taste because it’s partly a musical and "YOU’RE NOT GOING INTO THE SONG WHILE I’M HERE" but where its interest lies is that if ever you want to know where all of the humourists of the 1960s and early 70s like Monty Python and Marty Feldman obtained their ideas, it’s all here, everything and much more besides, and it was done in 1941.

As far as comedy and humour goes, it was light years ahead of its time and will still run the course today.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. We’d all gone out as a family together. We all had lifts with various different people so we were all spread out amongst the cars etc. A guy in a mobile home, the type that’s a shell that fits onto the back of your vehicle, took a fancy to one of my sisters. He persuaded her to travel with him. They disappeared but the rest of us kept going in a kind of convoy. We ended up stopping for the night somewhere at the side of a river. Just then this guy appeared with his camper. He wound down his window and said that he was terribly sorry but something had happened to our sister – some other people had come along, taken her, kidnapped her and carried her off. My mother said “I bet that she’s in the back of your camper”, just strode over there and wrenched open the door. My sister was in there on the bed lying down. She began to tell her tale of woe about everything that had happened to her, with my mother and brother becoming more and more angry as the story unfolded about this kidnap.

So there you are – that’s the reason that my blood pressure was up. I had the family round last night. I don’t ask them to come to visit me during the night but they always seem to, far too often for my liking. Why can’t I have Zero, TOTGA and Castor round as often as them?

But kidnapping my family members one by one sounds like a good idea. But you can all think of an idea for the ransom note – "pay us £5,000 or we’ll send them back".

That reminds me of the time when I fuelled up in Stoke on Trent only to find that I’d left my wallet behind at home. I had to leave my friend at the petrol station as hostage while I went to his house to fetch some money

When I told his wife what was the problem she told me not to bother going back, and to leave him there for good

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed we had a taxi job to do, to drive someone up to Newcastle upon Tyne for a meeting and then take them on to Edinburgh later. There was only one daytime driver and me about. The receptionist left a note for the daytime driver “be in the office 04:40 ready for a long trip”. I thought that long trips and office workers all on account etc don’t pay very much in tips if anything so I’d go to do that and let the driver carry on doing normal jobs. The only car we had was an old two-door Japanese thing from the late 1960s or early 1970s. It made something of a racket but I’d been out a few times in it and it seemed to do the job. A good long run like that would probably do it good. Of course Edinburgh – I had my niece in Edinburgh so I could go to see her. I tried to contact her but there was no luck. I thought “should I just turn up at the University there and speak to her?”. I thought that that’s probably not a good idea. But I was impressed that we had this job, going all that way but I was really disappointed that we didn’t have a better car available other than this old Japanese thing.

And that was an age-old problem too. We’d occasionally have some really high-quality work to do but never seemed to have a decent car available to do it, and when we did have a really decent car we’d never have the work. At times I despaired.

This afternoon I went a food-making.

Firstly, as I said, my friend in Munich had sent me some burger mix so I added the water, stirred it all in and then left it to fester for 20 minutes as according to the instructions

There was a box of do-it-yourself falafel powder on the shelves as I discovered when I did some tidying up a few weeks ago. So I added some water to that and left that to fester as per the instructions.

While that was doing its stuff the first lot was ready so with the hamburger press I made four really good and solid burger-types of things. They are busy freezing even as we speak.

As for the falafel, I divided that up into little balls and they are busy freezing too, along with a couple of balls that I made from the left-over stuff from the first mix.

But I’m pleased with this hamburger press as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … It’s really simple and cheap but it made some really solid burgers and it gives me much more confidence about making more burgers from ad-hoc ingredients.

Finally there was the home-made mayonnaise. And once again, that seemed to work in spades. I made it rather more liquidy than before so we’ll see how that works out. It ended up making quite a lot more than I can use in its shelf-life, so I’ve sealed to top on the jars quite tightly.

Yes, having learned my lesson, I’ve put the mayonnaise in a better container or two.

Then we had the football – Y Bala V Connah’s Quay Nomads in one if the Welsh Cup semi-finals, played at Llandudno’s picturesque ground. And it was actually being broadcast on foreign carriers too after the disappointments of the last few games.

The first 75 minutes of the match were nothing to write home about, but it’s really hard to play creative football in a tornado.

However both sides made a couple of substitutions with 15 minutes to go and that kickstarted the game dramatically. Those last 15 minutes wee much more like the football we’d expect to see and Aron Williams scored a late winner to push the Nomads into the finals.

But spare a thought for Josh Ukek of Y Bala, who will probably go down in the record books as being on the field for the shortest period of time ever.

He came on as a substitute for Bala late in the game but almost immediately Kieran Smith, a central defender, was sent off for two bookings. Now a central defender down, Colin Caton, the Bala manager, now wanted to send on a central defender off the bench to shore up the defence.

And Ukek, who had only just come onto the field, was the man who was withdrawn to make way.

Tea was as usual a salad, baked potato and breaded quorn fillet. I know that it all seems to be the same, but I happen to like it so I don’t care.

And now rather late this evening, I’m off to bed. There’s an alarm in the morning for the nurse is coming (so I’ve washed my puttees already) so I’ll feel like death for the rest of the day. Today, I actually fell asleep for five minutes during the football.

But before I go, that story about tightly closing the lid on the mayonnaise jar did remind me of the guy who rang up his doctor
"You know those pills that you gave me to give me strength?"
"Yes" said the doctor. "How are they going?"
"I don’t know" replied the man. "I can’t get the top off the bottle".

Monday 11th March 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… one of those rare days when nothing at all has happened.

In fact I felt like erecting one of those signs that I saw in Fredericton a few years ago – “On 12th April 1894 On This Site, Nothing At All Happened”.

After I’d finished my notes last night I had half an hour or so to unwind and then went off to bed and that was it as far as I was concerned.

The excitement continued this morning. When the alarm went off I staggered out of bed and checked my blood pressure – 16.1/10.1, compared to last night’s 17.8/10.3 when I was supposed to be relaxed.

After the medication this morning I went off to the bathroom. First thing was setting the washing machine off with a full load. Such is the exciting life I lead this days that doing the washing is considered worthy of note

Second thing was to thoroughly clean my lower legs as well as I can and then apply some more of this vaseline cream that I borrowed from the hospital. And although I’ve only applied a couple of coats and there was an earlier one applied by a nurse at the hospital, I can see an improvement.

That’s not difficult because they were in a shocking state. I don’t think that the doctor had ever seen skin as dry as mine.

Back in here I tidied up a little and arranged a few things. I’ve actually lost the phone charger that was plugged in by the bed. It’s been missing for a few weeks now and the more I look, the less likely I am to find it.

It seems to have come unplugged in the confusion round about the time that I had my very bad fall but I’ve no idea where it went from there.

Having done all of that I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’ve been during the night. It was coming up to weekend on the taxis. We were organising the work. On turning the page to the Saturday night there was a note stuck there – “phone Mick, Crewe 1110”. I phoned the number and it was Mick Gorton who answered. He said “you have my book, haven’t you?”. I asked “which book” and he replied “The Private Lives”. I had to think for ages and I suddenly realised that he meant “The Private Lives of Sherlock Holmes”. I remembered that I’d been reading it. He asked if I could drop it off some time. I told him that I had piles of other books of his too so he hummed and hawed about what he was going to do about all of those because he didn’t think that he had the room, he hadn’t planned on them right at the moment until he was organised so that was something else that was left up in the air fir the moment

He was actually a strange guy. I don’t want to say too much about him though, merely that he wasn’t the kind of person ever to have wanted to read a book.

And as for the handle of my trolley jack that he borrowed once, that was produced in evidence a short while later at Chester Crown Court during a hearing of a charge of “grievous bodily harm” and I was never ever given it back by Cheshire Constabulary’s finest. Until I bought a new jack I had to use a length of piping and a screwdriver.

Yes, when I had my taxis I knew some very strange people. It made life so much more interesting.

It all actually reminds me of the time that I was giving evidence at Mold Crown Court
"I’ve listened to your evidence for three quarters of an hour, Mr Hall" said the judge "and I’m still none-the-wiser"
"Maybe not, m’lud" I replied. "But you’re certainly better-informed"

We were then working out the publicity for a friend’s radio station. I was thinking that maybe there would be people who had said things about the radio, chop them out and use them as publicity snippets, such as if someone had said that the radio station was rotten, you’d have “So and So, the Rotten Radio Station” and have the people themselves talking during the adverts, and trying to find people who have something to say that correlates with something about the radio, for example with the radio station of our radio we had someone who played football for the club on certain dates and part of his appearance date and about his shirt number and the date all seemed to tie up with part of the phone number, and use these snippets as publicity to drop in every now and again through all different programmes that would be running so that people will pick them up and use them with their own everyday lives without realising that it relates to the particular radio, thinking of other things that we used to say like calling people “Brain of a Duck” or that sort of thing. There were plenty of ideas and plenty of possibility of doing something interesting and novel for the adverts.

The fact that I can run an advertising campaign for a radio station in my sleep is something of which I ought to be proud. Quite often you hear people say “I can do that in my sleep” but here, I really can.

By the looks of things, I’m clearly in the wrong job.

The thing about phrases becoming everyday sayings is not a new idea. How many people use a “Hoover” regardless of which company made the vacuum cleaner? And here in France we’ll use a piece of Sopalin regardless of who made the kitchen tissue paper.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s there was a whole series of cult films with memorable phrases that worked their way into the English language from those films. And it was the thing (and still is, in some places) to quote this cult film dialogue at appropriate moments.

For example, whenever anyone said "it’s over there!" another person within earshot would always reply "What? Behind the rabbit?"

And if anyone ever came out with an intelligent fact, they would always follow it up with "Well, you have to know these things when you’re king, y’know"

The very first thing that attracted me to Nerina was that she spoke in film clichés too. I felt that I had a kindred spirit who was on my wavelength. I hope that, regardless of everything, she’s still managed to retain it

Finally, I had a visit from a nun. Apparently there’s something about me going into a rest home run by nuns. They wanted to assess me. It was all about how I could walk, how I could pick up glasses, how I could carry things, how I arranged all of my food on the edge of the worktop so that I could pick it up so much easier than if it was set back a little and whether there was any risk of knocking it off as I went past. This carried on for quite a while. Then the question of the meat pies on Sunday came up. I said that in all honesty I didn’t really enjoy the meat pie on a Sunday but because it gave the person who made it so much pleasure to make it I pretended to enjoy it and to appreciate it. He replied “actually I hated making the thing. The only reason that I made it was because you seemed to love it so much”. I said “well, we know where we stand in the future then, don’t we, the two of us about this meat pie”.

The food in places like that isn’t much to talk about. There are only two men allowed to work in a nunnery and they are also of a religious order too. In the kitchens you’ll find them – the chip monk and the fish friar.

The hardest work in a nunnery though is in the laundry. That’s where the nuns try to deal with their filthy habits. And in many of these places there’s work to be done on a commercial basis where the nuns actually bottle their own water.

Apart from that, most of the rest of the day (when I haven’t been asleep) has been dealing with radio stuff.

The notes for the final track have been written, the music for the next programme chosen, paired off and joined, and I’ve even started on choosing the music for the programme after that.

That final programme is for 27th December which, apart from a few holes, shows you how far ahead I am. This is where I want to be because if I fall ill, detained in hospital or even worse, I want to make sure that my radio shows roll on

After all, if I can run a radio advertising campaign in my sleep, no reason why I can’t run a series of radio shows from beyond the grave. Barclay James Harvest HAVE GREAT OPTIMISM FOR US
"Like brave Explorers bold and free
We sail forever on the sea!!
Above the seven seas is one
The sea of life we drift upon
Our spirits living in the waves
Survive beyond the grave!"

The cleaner stuck her head in the door and passed me some of the stuff that she’s been able to buy, following my hospital visit and changed prescription. The rest will come on Wednesday.

But she tells me that she’s having a week off work for a rest. And that’s hardly a surprise – I’ve worn her out with all these endless trips, I reckon.

One thing that I forgot to mention was that the dreams, that I had forgotten to add into LAST FRIDAY’S EPISODE, are now on-line and ready to read.

Tea tonight was a really nice stuffed pepper. And it would have been even nicer had I remembered to add the peanuts to the stuffing.

Honestly, if it’s not one thing it’s another, isn’t it? And once you start, you’d be surprised at how many other things there are.

However right now the only thing in which I’m interested is my bed. It’s time that I wasn’t here. I have a Welsh lesson tomorrow and I need to be on form

While we’re on the subject of nuns and lessons and schools … "well, one of us is" – ed … there’s quite often a school attached to a nunnery. At some point the girls who are about to leave are interviewed by the Mother Superior.

At the school run by the nuns in Crewe (there was one and I knew a couple of girls who went there) one day the Mother Superior asked a girl "what do you want to be when you leave school?"
"a prostitute, Holy Mother"
"Ohh you wicked girl!" exclaimed the Mother Superior. "Wash your mouth out with Holy Water"
The class teacher took the Mother Superior aside. "It’s all right, Holy Mother" she said. "The girl said ‘prostitute’, not ‘Protestant’"

Saturday 24th February 2024 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

… to me.

yes, and it’s one of these “significant milestone” birthdays, as several people have been quick to point out, thank you very much.

Not that I’m celebrating too loudly because at my age it’s not how many birthdays you have but how many you have left

However I did like the card that my friend Robert in Shetland sent me – "Seen it all, done it all, heard it all – just can’t remember it all". In my case though, I can’t remember anything these days.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … two things happen to you when you reach my age. The first is that you forget absolutely everything
"what’s the second thing?" – ed
I don’t know. I can’t remember.

Last night I remembered eventually to go to bed. Round about 02:00 it was because I didn’t set an alarm this morning. I decided to have a lie in. and I would have had one too apart from the barrage of text messages that started at 08;02. It’s actually quite nice to be popular for once.

Anyway it was 11:15 when I finally arose from the Dead and that’s about right for a lie-in.

This morning’s blood pressure – 17.7/10.0. Last night it was 18.3/10.8 so there was nothing exciting happening during the night to make my blood boil

After the medication I came back in here and began to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. We were in some kind of competition or something like that to try to reach the end of the obstacle course. We had several difficulties. The first thing was that we had two young people with us who were perhaps not as committed as maybe I would have liked them to have been. One was a famous singer and she kept on having her photograph taken. She had it once taken at a very inconsiderable point when she should have been singing something for us and a group photograph was taken of us and then, say, the two of them singing or the two of them dancing when they’d been performing a completely different task that the rest of us have been performing, usually on their own. We didn’t win, which was no surprise with those two young people but it was an extremely stressful occasion. But one thing that we learned was that we weren’t the only people who cheated by a long way. The other people cheated by much more than we did. They cheated in real terms and real figures. We of course used to fly the odd stranger in and dress him in uniform, a fire brigade uniform or school uniform or whatever and infiltrate them into the group as a whole, but only after they had died and it had all been over and there was still plenty of work to do. I’d engaged a drummer and he … fell asleep here

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m actually asleep when I’m dictating these notes. So when I say that I fell asleep, what I mean is that everything suddenly goes quiet and after a few seconds I hear a low, sleeping breathing.

Or occasionally a deep snoring sound, and I’m sorry for not believing you, Percy Penguin

Another thing, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, is that even though I’m asleep, dreaming and dictating, I usually have some recollection of a dream that comes back to me as I’m typing it.

But sometimes I have absolutely no recollection at all of them, like the one above. I could recall nothing whatever of it.

In complete contrast to the one below.

I’ve forgotten most of this dream thanks to having to look for the dictaphone that I’d lost in bed. We’d had a foreign girl staying with us. She was one of these people who knew everything and made sure that you knew that she knew everything. I can’t remember anything about it except that we all went to bed at the end of the night. She was sleeping in my room as a child. All of a sudden her alarm clock went off. I had a look at the time and it was 08:02. I suddenly realised that it wasn’t an alarm clock at all but someone sending a message and it was my phone that had given its message signal

In this dream I was in Worcester. My German friend and another guy were busy picking out a tune on a guitar. I was wondering all the time whether to go and fetch my acoustic bass to join in. They carried on picking out this tune but it was winter and we were outside and I was freezing and so was everyone else. Gradually they worked it out and gradually we walked up a hill with the two of them playing this song. We had a small child with us and it was complaining about how cold it was. I was wondering when we’d go to find some food as I was starving. But we carried on walking up the hill. We reached the top and my car was there. I opened the door to my car and a charity collector turned up. He was collecting money so I asked him what for. He replied “for taxi passengers to wish them a happy Christmas and they’d give the money back as tips for the driver”. I put my hand in my pocket and threw in what change I had- about 5.5p. he said “that’s more then 10p” and pulled some strange object out of one of the collection boxes. “I’ll give you the change for that next week”. I couldn’t see what it was. Now this situation i the town is becoming crucial. I thought that we’d drive into the town and go to the railway station to look around for a while. But I was picked up in this dispute by Worcester Council. They, or some other people wanted to change everything from “Wulfrunian” to “Worcester” o the grounds that no-one knew where Wulfrunia was. But I was opposed to that idea because it’s just another “dumbing down” exercise for the UK and they’ll sink to the level of the Americans at this rate.

It looks as if “dumbing down” has already commenced because, as any schoolboy might know, “Wulfrunian” related to Wolverhampton, not Worcester.

And as it happens, I do have an acoustic bass. In all of the various apartments in which I’ve lived in Belgium, I don’t think that I ever had the electric bass out. I probably didn’t play it for 20 years.

Instead, I had the Ibanez acoustic and I could play that anywhere, including in a van and occasionally at Folk Festivals like the one on the Scottish Borders where a few of us from University hung out and did voluntary work.

It was there that I met a few people and had a great deal of fun playing bass with a few different people here and there.

It wasn’t until I was set up in Virlet that I had out the EB3, and of course I play it here along with the 5-string fretless electric bass. Not for nothing have I found an apartment in a building with solid granite walls 1.20m thick.

But the EB3 is a genuine Gibson guitar from the early 1960s, totally original. It’s exactly the same model as played by Jack Bruce. I bought it in 1975 when the group in which I played was going on the road after a couple of months of rehearsals.

It cost me an arm and a leg back them but I’ve been offered a King’s ransom for it and turned it down. They’ll have to take it …. errr … “from my cold, dead hand”.

Later on I’d been on a University course and we were at Nottingham. It was a course that I didn’t like for some reason. There was something about it that irritated me. At the end of the course we were all assembled, given a closing speech and then dismissed. I set out to walk to the railway station. It was along a public footpath that wends its way out of town and crossed over a railway bridge of this really elaborate cast-iron railway bridge that had been a railway bridge a long time before but was now part of the footpath. There was a girl in the distance who had been on the course. She shouted at me and pointed “what’s this area here that looks all desolate?”. That’ son the other side of the bridge, a huge flat area. I replied “that would have been the marshalling yard for the old railway line on which we’re walking”. She made some kind of disparaging remark about Nottingham and said that she didn’t know why she was walking this way because she’d understood from the University that if she’d been on this course you’d have to stop in your own time and look around areas like this. I couldn’t remember any such instruction in the instructions that I’d received but if that’s what she’d received then fair enough, I couldn’t see why she was arguing about it.

This reminds me of an on-line course I was studying. It was an aeronautics course provided by Oxford University. I had immediate misgivings when they began to talk about the Messerschmitt Me109.

Although colloquially it is often referred to as an Me109 it was actually designed by the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke before it was reformed as the Messerschmitt company in 1938 and so the correct description of the model is the Bf109

Not that a thing like that would normally bother me but a University teaching a course ought to get it right.

This morning to celebrate (although I’m not quite sure what I’m actually celebrating) I made myself a cooked breakfast. Some of the hash browns from the freezer, tinned mushrooms, a vegan sausage and some beans on toast with my porridge and coffee.

For once I decided to treat myself, and why not? It’s not every day that you reach a milestone like this.

This afternoon there was football on the internet – Pontypridd United v Colwyn Bay. The bottom two clubs in the League desperate for points to overhaul the teams above them and scramble to safety.

But for a few administrative errors and subsequent penalties, Ponty would have been clear already but they had ground to make up

And they played like it too. There was no-one special who caught the eye but they played as a team, which is a strange thing to say seeing as when I saw them 18 months ago they played like a clueless, leaderless, headless rabble.

On the other hand, Colwyn Bay played like a team already dead and buried. There was no leadership out there today and in fact (for I timed it) it was just over 60 minutes into the game before I heard one of the commentators mention the name of their captain.

Colwyn Bay certainly had a couple of chances and the crossbar will long be rubbing itself where Owen Cushion’s shot hit it, but they spent most of the time trying to walk the ball into the net, without the skill to do so, when they have players like Creamer and McCready who can launch screamers towards the net.

And height! High balls into the penalty area from corners and free kicks that sow panic and confusion into the defence instead of low flat balls easily and monotonously cleared away by the first defender ….sigh

The final result was 4-0 to Pontypridd, a margin that was rather unfair to Colwyn Bay but just underlines the size of the mountain that they have to climb. If you are going to make mistakes at this level you will be punished for them.

At the end of the match I went for a slice of my chocolate cake. I lit the candles on the top but a couple of icebergs in the Arctic immediately melted so I was obliged to extinguish them

But it was nice, chocolatey and gooey. And the cream certainly worked, which was very nice to know. I was worried about that for a while in case it had given up the ghost during the night.

Tea tonight was a slice of my wellington from the freezer, with roast potatoes, steamed veg and gravy, followed by rice pudding. The air fryer did a perfect job on the wellington and roast potatoes.

A real birthday treat that, and I reckon that I deserve it.

So here I am, another year older and deeper in debt as they say. Uma Shanker said "Life teaches us two important things – we are careless when we are young and by the time we get old, it is too late to be careful!" and that’s certainly true.

It was a long time ago that I passed the stage of caring about anything. I’m going to grow old disgracefully.

What consoles me is that half the population of the UK my age or older are dirty old men and I’m going to be like them.

And why can’t I be like the other half? That’s because they are dirty old women of course.

So when I’ve dictated the two radio programmes in the queue I’ll go to bed and plot the course of my life for the next 10 years – my next 10-Year Plan – knowing full well that it will be something that will never ever be fulfilled.

I’ll be pushing up the daisies a long time before then.

Sunday 11th February 2024 – MY VEGAN SAUSAGE …

… rolls are not quite the success that I was expecting.

Either the sausage filling has expanded during cooking or the pastry that I used has shrunk, but they have come apart where I thought that I’d joined the pastry, so there’s a slit up the middle

But we live and learn, hey? Rome wasn’t built in a day. I shall just have to have more practice with this rolled-up puff pastry stuff.

While we’re on the subject of thinking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had plenty of time to think while I was in bed last night.

It might have been 02:00 when I finally staggered off to bed but when I opened my eyes this morning and looked at my fitbit the time was 11:42. That’s much more like a respectable time to awaken on a Sunday

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’ll get up at any time you like six days per week without a problem (well, in principle anyway) but on Sunday don’t call or message me on a Sunday unless …

  1. … the building is on fire
  2. … the fire brigade is in the building trying to fight the flames
  3. … and the firefighters have given up all hope

So 11:32 was when I opened my eyes. That is of course not to say that 11:32 was the time that I left the warmth and comfort of my bed.

When I did raise myself from the dead I took my blood pressure. 17.8/9.9, a little less than last night’s 18.9/11.2. The hospital asked me to collect all these readings but no-one has told me what to do with them.

After the medication I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. The game of rugby was invented in the late 19th Century and what we know about everything of the game dates from 1915 when they abolished the machines that surveyed the touchlines as humans did it, on the grounds that when there was a human call that differed from that of the machine it sounded as if the integrity of the sport was all wrong. Of course not everyone had a machine * it was only a few clubs so it was why these differences in calling in just a few clubs was quite different between the males and the machines on several occasions

And I’ve no idea at all what that’s all about

Later on I was out somewhere. I’d had a lot of money given to me as a discount for something. It was exactly the same price as a large teddy bear so I had the large teddy bear instead. I carried it around with me for a short while. Then I had to go off to do something else so I put the teddy bear in the common room by the entry into my daughter’s school – my daughter might have been Roxanne. Later on my partner and I had to go to pick up Roxanne from school. When we did I told her that she had this new friend. When I explained that it was too large to bring home we’d have to bring it home another time. I explained to her where it was. She asked his name but my mind went a total blank. I’d given it a name when I’d bought it but I just couldn’t think of it at the time of this dream.

It goes without saying that STRAWBERRY MOOSE can see himself in part of this, but no-one who has seen Sid James and Peter Butterworth in CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER won’t eve rforget his name.

Finally, we’d been to Munich and ended up staying in a hotel – one of these hotels where the staff is extremely superior etc. I found the hotel to be quite reasonable and didn’t have an objection to coming back here again but one of my friends didn’t like it at all. I couldn’t understand why. When we were cleaning the rooms ready to leave we came across all kinds of things like envelopes, photography paper etc in a kind of welcome package that made the deal even better but one of my friends said that he wouldn’t stay in this hotel even if they gave him a printer that he could sell to have his money back. I was really puzzled as to why. I tried to ask him but he was quite evasive about his replies. I didn’t know how the situation could advance if he wasn’t going to answer correctly. I found the hotel to be good value and quite reasonable. I’d be really happy to return here.

This is an argument that I’ve had on quite a few occasions. When I look at the comments on some of these booking websites and see what people have written, it bewilders me. I’m usually on the budget plan when I’m travelling and I don’t expect there to be much in the way of facilities for the money that I want to pay.

It seems to me that some people expect to pay bus fare but travel in a Rolls-Royce the way that some of these comments go.

There was that dreadful motel in Flagstaff in Arizona where I stayed 20-odd years ago but it was the cheapest motel that I could find so I wasn’t complaining.

That was the time that I was attending a Biodiesel course in Colorado and then going down to pick up up a couple of wind turbines in Flagstaff.

Knowing how things worked, I paid a credit to my credit card supplier and also told them where I was going and where I was going.

However after picking up the wind turbines and paying for them, I went to fuel up the Mustang only to find that my credit card was now blocked for “unusual spending patterns”, despîte having told them.

And so I had to rely on the small amount of cash that I had on me until next morning when I could telephone the bank and have the situation resolved.

In those circumstances, you don’t complain about the quality of your accommodation.

However, it’s these kinds of things that teach you a few lessons. I now have three credit cards from three different banks in three different countries.

That kind of thing can lead to some kind of excitement. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall MY STAY AT THAT MOTEL IN FARMINGTON, MAINE where I was asked to prove my identity so I produced …

  • Identity – British passport
  • Proof of address – French Driving Licence
  • Vehicle registration – New Brunswick plates
  • Mobile ‘phone – Québec number
  • Payment – Belgian credit card

That’s the kind of thing that will keep them occupied for a while.

After lunch I dealt with the radio programme for my Hawkfest. That was a really complicated thing to assemble and took me well into late evening before it was up and running. And up and running it is too.

Much to my surprise, considering that I was working it inside-out and all at once instead of doing as I usually do and adding the final track later, it was just 13 seconds too long. That kind of editing is no problem at all and it was soon down to one hour in length.

There was a pause while I made the dough for the next few pizzas. And I don’t know why but the dough rose up like a lift, quite the opposite of my cannon balls from the other week. So why can’t I make my bread rise up like this?

While it was rising, I was making the stuffing for my sausage rolls. The vacuum-packed chestnuts worked perfectly with mushrooms and in principle it all went very well indeed

The final result was maybe less than I was expecting but you can’t win a coconut every time. They’ll still freeze nicely and finish off quite well in the air fryer with a portion of chips and some baked beans.

The stuffing tastes rather sweet to me but I suppose that it’s meant to be like that.

There was enough stuffing left to make a kind of burger or patty so I’ll fry that and have it with a baked potato at some point in the near future.

The pizza was absolutely perfect. The dough was lovely and soft and crumbly, and I remembered the cherry tomatoes this week.

So all in all, a busy day today and one that was quite successful. I accomplished a lot today.

Those chestnuts will be on the menu again now I know where they can be found, so my cooking will go up another notch. I have plenty of vegan recipes where chestnuts are an important part of the recipe.

A few more busy and productive days like this will be really good, but it won’t be next week. Monday and Tuesday I have this Welsh course, and then on Wednesday I’m off to Paris for my important meeting with my specialist.

THis is where we’ll decide what happens to me in the future. Will they still deal with me? Will they abandone me? Will they refer me to a hospital closer to home?

But what does it really matter? As Jacqueline de Bellefort once said, "one must follow one’s star, wherever it leads – even to death itself."

But I shan’t be dying alone and unloved. At least the French medical service seems to care about me to some degree – probably just until I’ve paid these bills that I owe them.

Friday 2nd February 2024 – JUST FOR A …

… change, I’ve had a very quiet day today, with little in the way of interruptions.

In fact, apart from my cleaner coming in to bring me my mushrooms and to start this extra hour per week on deep-cleaning the place, that’s been about it

There were however two telephone calls from the hospital. One was asking why they hadn’t had the blood test results. Had I had the blood test and did I have them.

The answer to both questions was of course “yes” so I sent them off to them

The second conversation was much more useful. “You don’t need to take this anti-potassium stuff”. That’s what I call good news. I hated that stuff and the effect that it had on me.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … office after I’d finished last night’s notes, taken my blood pressure, had the night’s medication and so on I came back in here and played the guitar.

Bashing out quite a few tunes it was quite late when I finally crawled into bed.

No-one around to awaken me either. Just Billy Cotton on the alarm as usual and that was that.

Just after I’d finished my medication and stuff like that my cleaner stuck her head in the door (I’d forgotten about this one). Was it just mushrooms and what about the anti-potassium stuff? Has the new prescription arrived?”

“Yes and no”.

So she went off to do her work and to the shops on her way back home and I came in here.

Then I went back out again. I’d forgotten that I hadn’t made the weekend’s bread so I had a very pleasant hour or two making some bread rolls.

But once again, no danger of the dough rising very much. You can use these things for cannonballs they are so heavy. Bread is supposed to be light and airy and I’ve no idea where I’m going wrong but no matter what I do, the dough doesn’t seem to want to rise.

But still, the toasted cheese sandwich was very nice even if it was rather heavy on the stomach.

Then I came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes, of which there were more than just a few. I was married and had a little cottage somewhere with my wife. We were both young. It was in rural France somewhere, in the depths of it. Just a little further down the road was another house that was quite old and had been abandoned. A single woman had bought it. She seemed to be slowly doing up the inside of the house although the outside of the house was a total mess and swamp. You needed wellingtons any time of the year to go to her front door. One day she came over and told us that the inside of the house was finished and was ready to start work on the outside, which would be good news for everyone. A short while later I needed to know something so I thought that I’d go over and ask her. I waded my way through the swamp and went to the front door. I knocked on it and when she opened the front door I noticed that all the inside was a total mess again. It was still far from finished. This went on, that every time she came over to out house and told us how her house was going on, it was finished inside. Every time I went over there it wasn’t. On one occasion she had some post for me and was going to hand it to me. I made sure that I stood away from the door so that she’d have to come out. She did, and handed me three envelopes. She’d crossed off the address on the front and scrawled our address on the back in black biro but in huge untidy letters. I thanked her and left. This was something that was totally bewildering me and my wife – why it was that every time she came over to us her house was finished yet when we went over there it wasn’t. It was as if there was some kind of magic or mysterious power gripping everything that was causing all this problem and her house was somehow possessed, or maybe she was.

People using magical or mystical powers during my dreams is exciting, that’s for sure

Back into this dream later. For some reason I received a message on my telephone. Instead of the usual telephone message it was another message alert sound that went off with the Monty Python “what is it, my good man? Do you have a message for me” sound. That bewildered me. We seem to have made it into some kind of big time with my guitar and her violin. My wife and I made it onto this folk circuit that was managed by this guy who used to do festivals. It looked as if the two of us would be doing festivals every summer which was very good news indeed. But we were still puzzled by this message that went off first thing after I’d gone back to sleep just now

And when the World is ready to hear it and the Statute of Limitations clicks in, I’ll tell you all a story about that

And while we’re on the subject of stories … "well, one of us is" – ed … that story that I told yesterday about the Byrds and SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO. It seems that I’m not the only one who likes the album.

Grahame sent me a “thumbs up” for mentioning it. I’m glad that it’s on your playlist too. It really is a most extraordinary album and well worth a listen

If anyone else wants to write to me, please feel free to do so. There’s a “contact me” button on the bottom right. Just be aware that if you’re writing to me on a Gmail address then it will be STRAWBERRY MOOSE replying to you.

Another reminder that, if you haven’t read the notice in the sidebar to the right, I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on one of the Amazon links in these pages and subsequently order something via that link, I receive a small commission from Amazon. It doesn’t affect your purchase price but the commission helps me pay some of the costs of hosting these pages so it’s quite welcome.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed a friend and I were working on someone’s house. We were tiling the work surface in the bathroom. He’d already made a start but was having a lot of trouble. When I came to join in to carry on I looked at what he was doing and asked him if he’d started from the back or started from the front. He said that he’d started from the back so I told him that normally you’d start from the front and work backwards. After some complainin ghe took up what he’d put down already and made a start. I had to cut a tile so I used the small angle grinder with a cutting disc on it. Someone else came over to me and asked how good I was at cutting tiles. I said that I could cut L-shaped bits out but I wasn’t any good at any fancy work. Anyway he brought a tile to me and asked me if I’d cut a piece out of it so that it would fit around the sink somewhere in another job that was being done in the house. I said “fair enough” and cut out this piece and it actually worked.

Can you imagine it? me with a delicate touch with an angle grinder? I ask you!

Finally, in our building we had a bunch of kitchen assistants who were a really good laugh. We also had a colleague who was extremely tight with his money. He’d pick up the offcuts of carpet that we’d sold and sell them, and at strange prices like €19.83 or €20.41, something like that and I’ve no idea why. I’d been away from work for a while on holiday. I’d come back and it was break-time, and I’d found myself in the lift with this guy so we went down together. When we reached the bottom the door wouldn’t open. Jokingly I told him “well perhaps we’re out of linoleum and it’s €12:43 so that we can leave”. We heard someone at the other side of the door so we shouted “go on! Get this goddam door open!” in a voice of, like, impatience. Eventually the door opened and it was the two cleaners. In a kind-of mock anger one of them said “trust it to be you to give grief to people who are trying to solve questions about your sport and have them correct” so we made up and she asked me how my holiday went.

It wasn’t the kitchen staff with whom we had the best time. It was the staff in charge of dealing with the rubbish. They were a good bunch of guys and we always had a laugh and a joke with them.

They would always let us look through the skips and on one occasion I salvaged a complete computer and monitor that had been binned.

When I brought it home and got it to work I found to my delight that the operating system was GEM – Graphics Environment Manager, the forerunner to Windows. One of the languages in which I’d learnt to program was GEM (T223, anyone?) so I had loads of fun playing around with it

But that was all a long time ago of course.

This afternoon passed so quickly and I can’t think why. I wrote out most of the notes for the next radio programme and there are only a couple to do now, but I can’t think where the rest of the afternoon went.

But I’ll tell you where it didn’t go. No anti-potassium stuff so despite feeling tired, I haven’t crashed out today. And that’s a novelty. I wonder if I can keep that up or is it just luck and there’s another medication causing the problem.

Tea was air-fried chips with vegan salad and the last of that pile of vegan nuggets from Noz. The freezer is emptying rapidly now and I really do need to think long and hard about making burgers, baking pies and the like. I reckon that it’s time.

Then after a quite chat with Liz and a write-up of my notes I’m ready for bed. And quite right too. I’ve had far too many late nights just recently and I’m beginning to get a stiff neck.

It’s not because I’m sitting in a draught or anything like that. It might be in anticipation of one of my favourite visitors during the night and I haven’t swallowed the Viagra quickly enough

Saturday 30th December 2023 – IT DOESN’T TAKE …

… much for me to descend into the pit of darkness and despair, and here I am again after hauling myself out yesterday.

That’s right – someone has sent me a soundtrack of the final Lindisfarne concert at Newcastle upon Tyne City Hall in 2003. “Here – play with this” – all 2 hours and 21 minutes of it.

So in a short while I’ll have a message – “can you do a 57-minute concert for me, with a 3-minute commentary in German?”. My German isn’t what it ought to be unfortunately but I’ll do my best. After all, I do owe someone a few favours, especially as rather a large amount of concert soundtracks have appeared in this way.

However, I have another idea for my purposes. Many of Lindisfarne’s songs were written by “Jimmy” Alan Hull, alas no longer with us, and many others were written by Rod Clements. Now if I were to go through the soundtrack and pick out the songs from each of the two, I might be able to make up a couple of concerts, one for each musician, and play it on their birthday or something.

But Lindisfarne …

If ever there were two groups that shaped my teenage years between 1970 and 1972, it would be Jethro Tull and Lindisfarne. Jethro Tull’s BENEFIT, STAND UP,AQUALUNG, THICK AS A BRICK and A PASSION PLAY have been on my playlist since they first came out, and witll always be there.

But then again, so will Lindisfarne’s NICELY OUT OF TUNE? FOG ON THE TYNE and DINGLY DELL

These were the groups that were played non-stop by my friends and me during that period but Lindisfarne were special. There was quite a big Lindisfarne fan club at my school and one of them follows this blog from the Shetland Islands (hello, Robert).

At Christmas 1971 I actually saw Lindisfarne. They played at a private members’ club in Crewe and I remember it very well, and for several reasons too.

Firstly, this was the occasion when Ray Jackson did his harmonica solo in the middle of WE CAN SWING TOGETHER, which usually lasted about 10-12 minutes.

However at “Up The Junction” in Crewe that night it went on, and on, and on, and was probably about 25 minutes long.

The story was that the rest of the band nipped out and went across the road to “The Barrel” for a quick pint. While they were out there, it was 23:00 and being a private members’ club, no-one was allowed in after that time, so the door was locked. The rest of the group was thus locked outside and they were banging on the door for 10 minutes trying to catch the attention of someone to let them back in.

The second reason was that I was 17 and my girlfriend at the time was … errr … not quite 14. Ordinarily, being under the age of 18 we wouldn’t be allowed in but my elder sister and her husband were both members and had cards of admission, and they weren’t photo-ids in those days of course.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … "thank God" – ed … my girlfriend hadn’t ever drunk alcohol before, as I found out far too late to do any good. And it’s no use, you can’t take it out once it’s gone in.

Taking a girl of … errr … not quite 14 home steaming drunk a long way after her curfew time did not go down at all well with her parents as you can imagine and so as far as that relationship went, that was regrettably that.

Funnily enough, whenever I went out with a girl during that kind of period, something always went wrong and incited the ire of a set of parents. I never seemed to have any luck in that respect.

But as you can see, Lindisfarne has a special place in my heart and brings back quite a lot of memories from the period 1970-72 when I was finding my feet as a young proto-adult. It certainly did today.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, when the alarm went off this morning I was reminiscing about my stag night before my wedding. And I’ve no idea why because it wasn’t anything earth-shattering.

In fact, all that happened was that a group of friends (yes, I did have friends in those days) and I went on a tour of the decent pubs in Crewe (I used to drink in those days) and finished up in an Indian restaurant on Nantwich Road for a curry after kicking-out time at the pubs.

There were a few pubs in Crewe that were what I call decent – an old-world type of atmosphere and served proper beer.

iI’s 31 years since I left the UK so of course I can’t remember many of them now but we had the Horseshoe up in Coppenhall and the Crown in Earle Street that served Robinsons’s beer, the Lion and Swan in West Street that served Boddington’s and the Express in Mill Street that served real Tetley’s.

However the Express was a pub where you had to be careful. It was a pub frequented by a certain type of person and a friend of mine had an uncomfortable 5 minutes in there when he went to pick up a passenger when he was driving a taxi for me.

It reminded me of the time that I was in Berlin with a coach on my way to Moscow. I decided to go for a walk that evening and one of the passengers decided to accompany me – a young Canadian guy.

At one moment we went into a bar for a beer and after a couple of minutes the guy with me asked “what do you notice about the customers here?”

“Well” I replied, “there are plenty of couples in here but I don’t see any women at all”.

And so in the best traditions of the News of the Screws, we “made our excuses and left”.

The Crown was another pub that I only visited on rare occasions even though it was one of the best pubs in the town.

That was because there were some customers in there who used my taxis. They were always in there every evening and there was something not quite right about what was going on with them, their friend and their children. And they were the clingy type.

There were a couple of other pubs in Crewe too that were worth a visit but I can’t remember them now. It was all such a long time ago.

So after taking the blood pressure I went for all of my medication – 15 tablets of it and then back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. One of my dreams about dreaming, a really long, involved one with about 8 or 9 different phases in it, part of which involved a school. I’d come to the attention of the local newspaper and in collaboration with the local radio station they wanted to broadcast it with me reading it, explaining it as I went along and could copy it into the newspaper. But of course, how do you explain dreams? How do you interpret them as you go along? Regardless of what Freud and these other people said, there’s absolutely no connection at all between the dreams and anything in particular so it was totally impossible, but they were insisting so I went to read it but I couldn’t remember what had happened, I couldn’t remember what went on and I couldn’t remember what I was going through at that particular time when I dreamt it. They were still harping on about this flaming dream and I was totally lost and submerged in all kinds of problems associated with trying to repeat it and interpret it.

And I’m impressed that I can come out with all of that during a dream when I’m asleep.

Later on I read somewhere in some kind of paper that there was going to be a dance at the school on Friday evening next week starting at 16:00 to celebrate the death of the headmaster Mr. Morris. I knew nothing about this and no-one had said anything so I didn’t know what was happening. Usually someone would mention something about a school dance to me because of obtaining all the PA equipment, disco deck etc but nothing had been said. So on the way back to class after lunch I was with my classmate who now lives in Munich. He had his satchel draped over his shoulder but not actually fastened but extremely casual and pale grey trousers instead of dark grey ones. I went and found one of the teachers whom I know organised a lot of events for the school and asked her when she was going to let me know about the dance on Friday week. She gave a very non-committal answer and someone else shouted at my friend to go and organise himself and dress properly, put his satchel on etc. Anyway, not knowing what to do I left and thought that the simplest thing to do of course is to force their hand. I went into my form room and quite a lot of my form-mates were there and I just announced “by the way, there will be a school dance a week on Friday” and gave them all the details as far as I could. I asked them if they could spread the word around their classes this afternoon. I thought that that is going to be the easiest way to deal with this situation – to take charge of it straight away anyway rather than leaving it until the last minute.

That latter dream was another one of those comfortable, warm dreams that I have occasionally that sound so real. No girl involved in it this time though, which is always a shame.

For the rest of the morning I’ve been doing something that I haven’t done since before I went to Canada at the end of September last year, and that is that I’ve been playing the 5-string fretless bass.

It’s complicated to play because it’s quite heavy, so I can’t play it standing up, and with it being a standard scale bass rather than a short-scale bass like my Gibson EB3 or the Fender in Canada, everything gets in the way, my arms and fingers aren’t long enough and of course my finger fall into different places because of the extra length and width, and there are no frets to guide me.

The 5th string is actually lower than the low E. It’s a low B but I had plans to take off the B string, move the others down one and add a low E guitar string to the top and tune it as I would the lower 5 strings on a 6-string guitar.

Back 20 or so years ago I played (briefly) with a female acoustic folk guitarist and so if there was a solo to play, I had to play it on the bass. And quite often, I would run out of frets so a bass with an additional upper string would have been perfect for that.

So on the bass I’ve been working through my running list and also trying to work my way through the bass lines for THE BARRICADES OF HEAVEN – including the organ riff – and Jethro Tull’s CROSS EYED MARY.

But imagine trying to play “Cross-Eyed Mary” in today’s PC sanitised world. That’s a song that, along with songs like Ted Nugent’s JAILBAIT, Grand Funk Railroad’s SHE GOTTA MOVE ME and Led Zeppelin’s SICK AGAIN, has been consigned to the dustbin of history and we aren’t allowed to mention them any more.

It all reminds me of the book-burning of the 1930s or the smashing up of alcohol in the USA in the 1920s by the Temperance movement.

Seeing as we were talking about Lindisfarne just now … "well, one of us was" – ed … there are plenty of their numbers on my playlist too and I enjoy playing them and singing along. We did a few with the aforementioned young lady acoustic guitar.

Of course, we have to have NO TIME TO LOSE

"Had more than my share of people giving advice
on the way that my life it should be
But look at the country man it’s looking so nice
it’s feeling so good to be free
No time, no time to lose"

Yes, that’s a verse that really strikes a chord with me. “Been there, done that” you might say.

So this afternoon I’ve been playing around with a Lindisfarne concert trying to make some kind of sense of it – a running order or set list would be a good idea for a start – and then I’ve been out gallivanting.

Yes, me socialising! One of my neighbours, the President of the Residents’ Committee, invited me for a chat and to my own surprise I was there for almost 2.5 hours chatting. That’s not like me at all, is it?

Back here I had chips (some were sweet potato too) vegan salad and one of those breadcrumbed soya fillets that I like. And it was delicious as usual.

Now that I’ve finished everything, I’ll dictate the radio notes ready for tomorrow when I’ll edit them and assemble the programme

But there’s a lot to do tomorrow. I’ve run out of pizza dough so I’ll have to make some more. There’s some bread to make too and also that bread-and-butter pudding so I’m going to be busy.

There won’t be much time to play the bass so I might have a go at that tonight. Walls of solid granite 1.2 metres thick have their advantages when it comes to soundproofing.

So I’d better clear off if I want to play the bass "I have no one to call my friend
The road I travel has no end
And so I turn my face up to the sun
And walk on down the road to kingdom come"

Yes, I’m certainly heading that way – sooner rather than later if I don’t cheer myself up.

22nd December 2023 – BYE BYE STRIDER!

strider centreville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022Amongst the fall-out from the developments over the last 15 months is the parting of ways from one of my faithful companions.

Strider will be off to a new home as soon as his log book arrives here and I sign it and send it back to New Brunswick’s Motor Vehicle Bureau.

He’s not going far at all, as it happens, but even half an inch is too far to be separated from someone who has served me well for 9 years and God alone only knows how many thousands of miles.

strider ford ranger centreville canadaHe first appeared on the scene in November 2014.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the disputes and arguments that I’d had with car hire companies in North America who found it impossible to believe that “unlimited mileage” meant that mileage was unlimited and you could go as far as you like.

After 2010 when I’d taken CASEY, THE CHRYSLER PT CRUISER over the TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY one of the first vehicles to travel across 1800 miles of the worst roads in the World when the final 300 miles over the Eagle Plateau and through the Mealy Mountains were finally opened, I was on some kind of blacklist.

labrador city 813 kilometres canada september septembre 2017So when someone turns up with a lightweight 4×4 pick-up with off-road pack, how can you say “no”?

STRAWBERRY MOOSE And I found our soul-mate and we set off on our adventures that took us thousands and thousands of miles all down the Eastern side of the North American continent.

And apart from a gearchange linkage falling apart in Québec in 2019, he never gave a moment’s trouble. And even then we still limped home after a fashion.

We’ve been as far north as it’s possible to go by road or trail in Labrador and Northern Québec … "and on several occasions too" – ed … as far south as Georgia in the USA and as far west as several miles beyond Ottawa

But we aren’t going any further. I can’t travel over to Canada any more and it makes no sense having him sit around when someone else can use him.

The total irony of all of this is that his seat is exactly the right height for me with my disability, his brake pedal can easily be operated by the left foot and the cruise control will move him along without using the accelerator.

There’s no reason at all why, if he were over here or I were over there, I couldn’t continue to drive him.

He drinks petrol like it’s going out of fashion though … "well, it is" – ed … being an old-technology V6 4.0 litre, but down at the bottom of my field I have another scrap Transit with a 2.5 diesel engine that would drop straight in.

However, if I were fit enough to change an engine over these days, I wouldn’t need the vehicle in the first place.

"What do you want us to do with the stuff that’s still in it?"
"The only things of interest to me are the Fender bass and the Fender combo amp. Share the rest out amongst yourselves and bin the rest"
Tons of tools, camping equipment, vehicle maintenance stuff, expedition equipment, all gone just like that that. But what can you do?

Here’s hoping that Strider has a good home.

Luckily, I have a good home, and I’m glad to be back in it.

Last night I finally went to bed at 02:30 and with no alarm, I was still awake at 07:15 and up and about by 07:45. There’s not much point in having a lie-in these days.

As usual, it took an age to wind myself up ready for work and I began by unpacking my backpack and sorting out the washing.

And if anyone tried to listen to “The Mountain Queen” and Hein Mars and Paul Weststrate last night or early this morning, I posted the wrong link. I’ve corrected it now and it’s THIS LINK that you want.

Sorry about that.

Armed with a coffee I had a look at all of the papers that I’d brought back. I couldn’t make head or tail of some of them so my cleaner said that she’d come round later to help me look.

And so I went off to listen to the tons of stuff on the dictaphone. Firstly there was a continuation of a dream that I’d had a couple of nights ago. It concerned some kind of exhibition of ancient vehicles or something or other. I was going through my photographs trying to identify the people, the location, the vehicle that they had with them etc. I came across a photo where I recognised the person. He was a radio presenter. It just so happened that at that very moment he came out of the building towards the car park so I ran after him and caught up with him as he was standing by his car. I showed him the photo. he replied “that’s not me”. I replied “the car’s a Rover 90” – it was a red Rover 90. He suddenly said “ohh yes, 1954, that”. I asked “what? The car, the photograph or you?”. He replied “no, the car. The photograph was probably taken in 1974. It’s the car that’s 1954”.

Later on we were spread out on a desk in a laboratory obviously run by this doctor. A girl was going through, counting off so many. When she arrived at the number that she wanted, the person she was standing next to, she pointed out and that person was taken away. She said that she was preparing a table and discussion for, I think, her brother who was obviously the psychiatric doctor. As it happened, the people with me and I were saved. We attracted his attention when we went into the boudoir to be interrogated

And I’m doing it again – dictating into my hand. We were going to have a practice with our rock group so I went round to pick up our singer. She was a young girl, and wore one of these party/ballroom dresses type of the 18th Century when she came out. I had to practically lift her up to climb into the van because it was so high up. I climbed in afterwards. She asked “what’s new?”. I replied “we have a gig on Tuesday”. She asked where so I told her “Nantwich”. We set out from her house and drove, and ended up at the back of Alvaston Hall going over a bridge that had been built to keep the vehicles off what was a prehistoric settlement on the ground. We were heading for the recording studio where our group practised.

And this is really strange (or maybe it isn’t). Talking about Simon House yesterday, and the times that I’ve played the bass to some of those tracks, something came into my head yesterday about a girl at our school. She was 4 years or so younger than us, quite small, long dark brown hair, brown-rimmed glasses and a round face, but she sang and played the violin and piano, and to a really good standard too. I was actually imagining her weaving her web around me playing her violin as I played the bass lines to Damnation Alley or Steppenwolf.

Bizarrely, this isn’t the first time that she has come up in a discussion. In Munich 18 months ago my German friend, who was in my class at school, and I were discussing her and her violin for some reason, and neither of us could remember her name. And I still can’t.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was in the gold 2000E estate that’s in the barn in Virlet. I was driving to Stoke on Trent. I had to be there for 18:00 but was early. There’s a place that I know where you can park where there’s a good view of the city (if ever there’s a good view of Stoke on Trent from anywhere). I parked on there with about 3 or 4 other cars. It was just underneath a pub. By now the gold estate had transformed itself into a service bus. I was sitting in the seat behind the driver. The door opened and a couple of people came in. One was a young girl. She was obviously waiting for someone but she had her phone and was describing the passengers on board this bus to whoever was on the phone presumably for security reasons. She looked at me and said “there’s an old guy with a small face” so I stuck my head up and said “yes, and extremely handsome” which made her laugh. She moved on to another guy there. She said “he’s the guitarist from the pub”. Another couple of people came on and everyone began to chat. It became quite friendly. Someone asked me why I was there. I replied “I have to be here because I have to be at someone’s front door at 18:00 on the dot and not be early”. They thought that that was an extremely strange command which I suppose it was but if that’s what the person wants, that’s what the person is going to have “so I’m just sitting here killing time”. After a couple of minutes I had to make my excuses and leave. It was time for me to be heading off.

Having done that, I set about photocopying all of the paperwork that I’d received from the Hospital. There was a whole rain-forest of it too, and it all has to be distributed amongst the appropriate recipients.

Anyway, the cleaner came round and we sorted out everything that needed to be sorted out. And then she set off for the Chemist’s.

When she came back and gave me the stuff, I arranged it on my shelf. And now I’m well over into a second shelf of medication.

And do you want to know how much a month’s medication is costing? If you do, then I’ll tell you that it’s €7104:00 and I know because I’ve seen the bill. And my contribution to that is nothing whatever (I almost said “Zero” but that could have been misconstrued).

On top of that I’ve been issued with a tensiometer and a heart monitor.

My blood pressure needs to be measured 3 times a day, morning, noon and night, when I’m sitting calm and comfortable without stress. And when is that ever likely to happen?

The aim is for the blood pressure to be below 14.0/9.0. And when has that ever happened?

There’s to be an injection of this Aranesp substitute every Wednesday by the infirmier ambulant and it has to stop if my blood count rises to 12.0.

And how do we know if my blood count rises to 12.0? That’s because the nurse has to take a blood sample every week. He’ll enjoy that because he can never find my veins.

With the heart monitor, I have to send off the readings and the blood pressure figures every day to the hospital for further instructions – keep on doing what I’m doing jusqu’à nouvel ordre in fact.

There’s another couple of IRMs that needs to be arranged – one for the heart and another for something else that I forget now.

And then there’s the medication. When I walk around in future, you’ll hear me coming because I’ll be rattling. Honestly, I have never seen so much anywhere except in a chemist’s, and then not all the time.

At this rate, sorting out all of this paperwork and medication and keeping all these records, I’ll be far too busy to die.

In between all of this I prepared an order for food and sent it off to LeClerc. It was shockingly expensive today but I’ve bought presents for everyone who has helped me this year, to express my gratitude.

Nothing really exciting because LeClerc’s home shopping isn’t blessed with a great deal of choice. Just boxes of chocolates and also a bottle of champagne for my cleaner. Anyone who comes round tidying up after me thoroughly deserves it.

Tea was a salad with burger and chips, some of which were sweet potato chips – LeClerc’s home delivery won’t deliver less than 1kg of sweet potatoes and I only needed a few hundred grammes for the wellington. And it was all delicious too.

So tomorrow I’m going to start on the vegan wellington. I don’t have everything but I’ll do what I can with what I have. It should be delicious anyway, whatever goes in it. I have all kinds of vegetables to go with it – 7 varieties of different veg in fact.

Yes, there was more broccoli on offer so I bought another one. Once more it’s mostly stalk so I’ll be having broccoli stalk soup again tomorrow.

So there is broccoli and 2kg of carrots to blanch in the morning, and the vegan wellington in the afternoon – if I’m still here after taking my first tablet.

This is all beginning to look rather uncomfortable to me.

Friday 15th December 2023 – YOU HAVE PROBABLY …

… already guessed what has happened today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As usual, any other suggestions and ideas are welcomed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 3rd December 2023 – IF MY CHRISTMAS …

… cake tastes as nice as did the bits that bubbled over the top of the cake tin onto the base of the oven, I shall be extremely pleased. It was phenomenal!

And yes, Liz, “bubbled over”.

Trying to bake a cake with no self-raising flour or eggs and just using sodium bicarbonate and red wine vinegar to produce a chemical reaction is very much a hit-and-miss process.

The last time I tried, when I made my bread-and-butter pudding, it exploded in my face, presumably because it was insufficiently cooled and mixed before I added the vinegar, but today it went perfectly and I was so impressed

But I was also so tired too.

Not that a really late night had much to do with it, but the fact that all through the night I had the Return Of The Stabbing Pain.

It defies my understanding, all this that goes on with my body. I’ve mentioned in the past … "and on many occasions too" – ed … the fact that at times during the night there’s a stabbing pain in my right foot as if someone is pushing a hatpin into the sole of my foot, and last night it occurred probably almost every 5 minutes

It went on for ages too and when I finally brought myself into the Land of the Living today at about 11:40, it was still going on.

After I’d had the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. A group of resistance fighters of undercover British soldiers had been parachuted into the Occupied Territories to attack the headquarters of a German General. One of the people who worked in that office was a member of the Allied resistance and had been feeding them information. What they did was to make sure that this person made good her escape. Then they walked in and hauled a hand grenade through the door into the other office where the German General would normally work. The hand grenade exploded and there was a cry of agony from in there so they dashed inside. The General’s secretary was there. She’d been very badly injured by the bomb. She staggered out of the room into the office and saw that the office was empty save for these British soldiers. Her first thought was “where’s Madame So-and-so?”. It quickly became clear to her what had happened but no-one in the party of Allied soldiers had the courage to finish her off. 5 minutes later the German General came back in his car with a load of companions who’d been out somewhere. They stepped right into the middle of this carnage, rounded up the soldiers easily and led them away to be shot. During the whole of this dream the British soldiers made absolutely no effort whatever to resist capture and no effort whatever to try to escape or evade.

Several young children, both boys and girls, who had been dancing had come together under the tutelage of a well-known ballerina and were planning to put on a concert. It was called “The Icepedia of Madame Clifford”. She was busily arranging them into groups and teams etc, choreographing dances etc. These children were due to start any day now having their formal tuition in whatever this Madame Clifford wanted to do but just as they began, I awoke.

Later on, a group of 4 or us, 3 girls and me, had been away for a while on a kind-of touring holiday or road trip. As usual there was one girl whom I particularly liked but she was far too busy being friendly with the other 2 girls than she was spending any time alone with me, which was rather disappointing. When we reached the end of our journey there was some kind of issue or confrontation. The girl whom I liked ended up having lost her clothes so she was there basically with all that she had on. I noticed that she was wandering off to the car of one of the other girls so I went over to ask her if she was going to borrow some clothes from her. She replied “no” so I wondered if there was anything that I could do for her or to help her, give her a lift somewhere as she had no clothes, no money etc but she assured me that she’d be OK. I couldn’t actually see how but she was quite adamant. In the end I could hear the 3 girls making up some other kind of plans to meet somewhere on the way home. I felt rather annoyed that I was being left out of everything but I didn’t say anything. I got into my car, and then realised that I was going to be rather short of money for going home. Someone passing by pointed out that one of my tyres had a slow puncture so I wondered how I’d manage to resolve that too. Then the girl pulled up in her car alongside me so I began to talk to her. I had it in my mind to say that I was jealous of the fact that she spent more time with the others than she had with me etc but for some reason I just could not push the words out of my head and out of my mouth to say them. It ended up really unsatisfactory from my point of view. Then the other 2 girls turned up and talked about meeting somewhere in Munich or wherever. I realised that my timetable was going to be really tight and I couldn’t even make it if I was invited. I wondered how these girls were going to do it too. It turned out that they were going to be flying so where was the one with no clothes and no money going to find the money for that? I set off anyway, disappointedly and came to a road junction where there was a car waiting. I waited behind it but it didn’t move. I suddenly realised thet there was no driver in it so I pulled around it, checked that the road junction was clear and began to drive away.

A disabled boy with whom I used to work appeared in a dream somewhere and we talked about my illness. I told him that I had a lot of appointments unofficially registered on 22nd October and I was going to go to the hospital to talk to a few people about how things were going on. We’d been parked in Shavington outside the small parade of shops talking, then he pulled out of the parade without looking and nearly hit another car that was coming our way. Luckily he managed to stop in time but the car carried on driving. We ended up following it for a while then both it and we turned into Chestnut Avenue and began to go down the hill. He’d completely lost the thread of what he’d been saying and told me that that was a problem when his concentration was disturbed. He lost track of just about everything.

And then I was with Alison, Hans and Jackie. We were in Germany somewhere going for a meal. We all piled into one of the cars and someone drove to this restaurant out in the countryside. We went in and the restaurant was actually up some stairs but I struggled up. We eventually managed to find a place to sit. We had quite a good time talking about all kinds of different things. When the bill came mine was €30:06. While I was sorting out my money everyone disappeared. I heard them downstairs. Someone was saying something to Jackie about “shall I run you to the station now?”. That took me by surprise because I understood that we would all be staying together for the weekend. I went downstairs and to my surprise I walked down the stairs without my crutches. We were all milling around in the cloakroom gathering our clothes together. Hans told a joke that made everyone laugh. he said “that was one of Eric’s”. We collected all our coats and set off outside. It was pouring down with rain. Hans made a remark about how lucky we were that we had hats with us. He would be soaked to death walking to the car.

A group of us from the radio had gone to watch Man play in Brussels. The auditorium was packed but I managed to find a little place at the side of one of the mixing tables to put the ZOOM H1 so that it would record the sounds of the group. I wandered off to do something but when I came back there was a family sitting around this table so I went up to tell them that they needed to be very quiet because there was a live microphone recording taking place. They apologised and said that they hadn’t known that it was my seat. They stood up and left. Taking advantage of the empty seat I sat down. I suddenly realised that I hadn’t brought any spare batteries for the Zoom. it it goes flat I’ll be having a real problem. I switched off the machine while the preliminaries were taking place but just them all of the musicians came onstage. I had to switch it on again hurriedly. I’d done it so quickly that I wasn’t sure whether it was on or off. I had the feeling that this was turning into another complete mess. After the first couple of numbers I was chatting to one of the guys from the radio. I told him that if we have issues about space there are only two numbers that are absolutely essential in the recording. I told him of one but I couldn’t remember the name of the second. At that point the dictaphone began to go flat so I gathered up my things and left. After I’d been walking home after 10 minutes I realised first of all that I still had the elastic strap around my ankles and secondly, I didn’t have my crutches. I walked past the street fair and the place where people left food out for the live slugs and fish. I came to a set of steps but I thought that I better hadn’t push my luck too much with these steps without my crutches. I walked the long way round and headed home. I remember thinking that I hope that everything would be fine from now on because if I lose my crutches that’s really the end of everything. I’ve no idea what I’d do then. That was the thought that was worrying me for the rest of the way home.

Something like that actually did happen to me once while I was recording an outside broadcast. The batteries in the ZOOM H8 went flat and the spare batteries were just as dead.

Of course, I haven’t done any outside broadcasts since last Summer before I went to Canada, and for obvious reasons too.

Another reason why I’m exhausted, and probably the most relevant one, is that I’ve been on my feet all afternoon. So much so that my back, my thighs and the muscles in my calves are aching in places where I didn’t even know that I had places.

Firstly, I prepared the mix for the next batch of biscuits. Fresh ginger, fleur d’orange and ground almonds together with the usual spices

And anyone who has been following these pages for any length of time won’t need to be told about what happened just as I was up to my elbows in flour and vegan margarine. For the benefit of new readers, the telephone rang.

There was no other option but to answer it. It was my neighbour, the President of the Residents’ Committee, wanting to know how I was and what happened on Friday so I cleaned myself up and had a good, lengthy chat with her.

She was the one who tipped me the wink about the apartment downstairs. At one of the residents’ meetings the owner of the apartment just happened to mention quite casually that he was thinking about selling up.

She told me and the owner and I had negotiated a price, agreed a deal and I’d paid the deposit to purchase all before he’d even had time to consult an estate agent.

All I have to do now is to wait for the lease to end and the tenant leaves the property, and then I won’t have all these stairs to climb and I can install a proper kitchen and shower. And, it goes without saying, find a cat to adopt me

Of course, the tenant can always leave before the lease expires. “Negotiations are proceeding”.

Next step was to make my Christmas pudding. That was quite straightforward and it was all placed in the steaming container that I’d greased and lined with baking paper. Three hours of steaming in a bain marie to cook it, and seeing as I didn’t have one, I had to invent something.

But that’s now steamed and it’s currently cooling down before I open it to see how it’s looking. And I hope that it works.

Then there was the Christmas cake. That really took some mixing too but I do have to admit that my soaked fruit looked and smelt delicious. Anyway, it all went together, thanks to everything that I’d bought from LeClerc and fitted quite nicely into my moule à charnière.

You’ve no idea how difficult it is to find proper cake tins here in France so when LeClerc had brought in a pile of stuff for a baking sale a couple of years ago I bought two – a large one and a small one that fits into an air fryer.

Yes, I have a cunning plan about that.

Earlier on I’d taken out of the freezer the last of the pizza dough, and while the cake was baking I was busy defrosting and then assembling my pizza.

When I was satisfied that the cake was baked properly I put the pizza in to bake and while it was baking I rolled out the biscuit dough and cut out the biscuits.

Once the pizza was cooked I put the biscuits in the oven and while they were baking I ate the pizza.

So now I have a Christmas Cake, a Christmas pudding, 40 ginger and orange biscuits and a partridge in a pear tree and I’m totally exhausted. I really am.

What I should have done today is to edit a radio programme but I’ve not had time as yet and right now I don’t have the energy to even move. I’ll have a hot drink and then go to bed.

But while I was making my hot drink the phone rang yet again. For several years in the early 1970s I had a girlfriend whom I knew from school. However we ended up going our separate ways, as you do when you’re that kind of age.

In 2006 Liz (not “this” Liz but “that” Liz”) and I were on our way from a meeting of the Disabled Students Group in Bristol (Liz was in charge of Student Support and I was on the Disability Committee) to a University Region 9 Meeting in Newcastle upon Tyne.

We stopped off at a pub in between Shrewsbury and Oswestry for a meal, and who should walk in?

Quite honestly, you could have put her in her school uniform and she would have been exactly as I remembered her – not a single day older.

Since then, we’ve kept in some kind of desultory touch.

So now that I’ve had my hot drink I’m going to go to bed. A good sleep will do me good, as long as I don’t have the person with the hatpin again.

Tuesday 28th November 2023 – MY BREAD AND BUTTER …

… pudding went the Way of the West this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 7th November 2023 – I HAD PLENTY …

… of time to recover from my exertions this afternoon at the Centre de Re-education. The vehicle that came to pick me up was 90 minutes late.

What I expect actually happened was that the vehicle that should have come for me picked up someone else because there was a driver from another ambulance company wandering around for ages trying to find her passenger.

And it’s just as well too because after the night that I’d had, I needed a good rest, although I doubted if I would be so lucky as to have one.

It was another one of these extremely mobile nights where there was a lot going on here and there. Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone as I was to discover later, and I was sure that there was much more to it than that which I recorded too.

Anyway, when the alarm went off I staggered to my feet and went off in search of my medication.

Back in here afterwards I did the very final version of this important letter that I have to write, and then I had to print off the details of my medication to take to the Centre this afternoon.

Surprisingly, there are 14 medicaments on the list, but I’m actually only taking 10. I know about 2 that I’ve stopped taking, but I’m quite curious about the others.

It’s not easy to double-check either as the prescriptions are in Flemish and the trade names of medication in Belgium are quite often different here in France. It’s pretty much some kind of inspired guesswork to fathom in out.

For example, there’s a product that I have to take that contains “Natrium”, which is unknown in France. However, the chemical formula Na refers to sodium and once you realise that, you can work it out. My ‘O’ Level Latin didn’t go to waste. But if only all of it was so easy.

After that I prepared for my Welsh lesson. I took my time at it too but regrettably I crashed out while doing so. The strain of last night was obviously far too much.

In between all of that I was having a chat on the internet with Alison and with Claire. It’s totally bizarre but everyone whom I know seems right now to be ill.

However, that’s not really all that much of a surprise. We’re all pretty much of a similar age and it’s catching up with all of us.

It reminds me of 5 years ago when I was in Liège and met a guy with whom I went to school years ago and who now lives in Munich. We were in a restaurant eating a meal, surrounded by tables with all these cute young girls sitting there eating, and we were talking about our medication.

That was when I finally decided that I was getting old. Prior to that, I always understood that someone who was old was someone 10 years older than me, no matter what age I actually was.

But kids have a habit of deflating your ego. I remember when I started to see Laurence 25 or so years ago and she brought her daughter Roxanne along with her. We were playing guessing games.
"Guess how old I am" I asked six year old Roxanne
"A hundred" she replied, without even drawing breath.

Much of the Welsh lesson passed quite well and I was quite pleased with that, but not so the rest of it.

We usually stop for 10-15 minutes for a coffee break after a couple of hours and so I went for a strip-down wash, seeing as I’m still quite wary about going into the bath for a shower.

And have you any idea how long it takes me to put on clean socks? I am really having the most extraordinary difficulty in performing even the most simple of tasks these days.

The car came for me bang on time and so I struggled down the stairs and outside, and we set off for the Centre de Re-education.

It’s a fantastic place, formerly one of the biggest and most luxurious hotels in the Baie de Granville.

It was requisitioned by the Germans in 1940 and after the Americans captured the town in 1944 it was badly damaged during the infamous German raid from the Channel Islands in the early Spring of 1945 when a detachment of German troops landed in the town and stole a freighter laden with coal from right under the noses of the Americans.

After that it was left semi-derelict until it was converted and it is probably one of the most impressive places that I’ve visited.

As it happens I actually know one of the girls who works here. She was one of the physiotherapists who worked on me in the days when I could walk and used to go twice a week to that centre by the station.

But anyway, a young girl gave my legs a workout and spent some time searching around for damaged nerve ends and the like. And I have to say that she can massage my clavicles any time she likes. There have to be some benefits of being ill.

The next session was a series of “time trials”. They have a kind-of obstacle course and the equivalent of a “measured mile” and I had to negotiate all of it against the clock.

And then I had to wait.

But I now have my programme for the next couple of weeks and it includes a chat with a social worker and also a representative of that body about which I’ve talked previously that it concerned with autonomy and keeping people in their homes as long as possible.

Strangely enough, climbing back up the stairs to here was probably the easiest that it has been for a couple of weeks. It’s probably just a coincidence or maybe even wishful thinking, or maybe it’s that the trousers into which I changed earlier today aren’t as tight as the previous ones.

On the way up I bumped into one of my neighbours, and I was glad to see him. He’s also disabled and has had his car converted to hand controls. I wanted to pick his brains about where he had it done.

After my hot chocolate and biscuits I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was being interviewed by someone who was wearing some kind of badge that wasn’t the usual badge that I would have expected someone in that position to have been wearing. Just as the interview began and before I could ask too many questions about it I had a falling sensation again in bed and awoke with a frightful start.

It was exactly the sensation that I have when my right leg gives out and I cascade to the floor, and it was really strange that I had exactly the same feeling when I was lying horizontally in bed. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … there aren’t ‘arf some strange things that go on during the night that have been brought to … errr … light during this project.

And then I’d had a whole pile of homework to do – an enormous amount of it. It was all in various textbooks and on line. I needed to make a start on it but as usual there were all these different distractions etc that were preventing me until I finally managed to sit down at the computer and open one of the workbooks. There was something else happening in this dream about moving around in Shavington and something yet again about a group of us children being divided up into 2 teams by some kind of teacher for a game of rounders. Where that all fitted in I really don’t know but I do remember quite a lot about this trying to sit down and make a start on all of this homework that I had to do.

Later on I’d been out to do some shopping. I was back home in my apartment trying to sort it out and put it away. There were some things that were confusing and I didn’t know exactly where to put them. There was also some flour that i’d bought to make some kind of fruit bread so I threw the flour across to one particular pile on the table but it didn’t arrive. I thought that I must have miscalculated the weight and while it was in the air it must have fallen to the floor. I had a good look round but couldn’t see anything at all around that related to the food that I’d just bought.

Back with this dream about shopping again. I was trying to put everything on the correct shelves but there was so much that needed to be sorted out, things that I hadn’t actually bought before but there was no room for it. I had to start to shuffle everything around and squeeze things up in order to make more room to spread out and sort out my shopping that I’d just received.

And with the manoeuvres of just now, when I’d organised my things I fell over onto the ground but no-one noticed. Once I’d caught my breath I put my hands up to the table to try to raise myself up but at that moment a woman who happened to catch sight of me and hadn’t realised what was going on let out a great yell. She was really shocked. And interestingly, this was something that I dictated in French by the way.

Finally there was another one of these Government safety reports published during the night that laid bare a lot of the failings of the Government with regard to security breaches etc. Most importantly it continued on to say how the Government was trying very hard to shift the blame onto the ordinary people. Of course it wasn’t the people who were talking indiscreetly and the people don’t know any of the secrets anyway. If the people did know any secrets the fact would be that it would have been from leaks in the Government security system that those leaks had come into the public domain. A couple of journalists were tearing quite savagely into the Government last night with this report that they had published.

Later on I wrote out a few more notes for the radio programme on which I’m working, and had a chat on line with my cleaner. We need to change her hours around, what with me having to go out tomorrow afternoon.

And I’m having a visit on Friday afternoon too. I wonder what that’s all about.

Tea tonight was a taco roll made with some of the stuffing left over from Monday, with rice and veg. Tomorrow I’ll have another leftover curry and naan bread.

But let’s see how things go tomorrow down the road. The hard work is going to begin and as long as they can make some progress – or, at least, retard the deterioration – I’ll be happy. But with the Social Services and APA being involved, things are starting to happen.

And that can only be a good thing.

Friday 3rd November 2023 – SO MUCH FOR THAT …

… idea about having a good night’s sleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 7th October 2023 – HAVING HAD MY …

… first of what will probably be many Saturdays without going to the supermarket, I’ve been quite busy again nevertheless.

It actually all got off to a good start too with me being up and about before the alarm went off. Not by much, I have to say, but all the same it was still an early start.

And yes, there will still be an alarm on a Saturday morning. I have to keep up a routine otherwise I’ll just melt away into oblivion.

After the medication it took me a while to come round into the Land of the Living and then I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. There was some kind of dream about an old couple who had a young baby living with them. They were all living in squalid circumstances. Some man came along to try to take the baby away to give it a cleaner existence but he had to be extremely careful in the way he approached and tackled it. If the grandparents thought that the baby was being taken away for ever then they wouldn’t be quite so co-operative in letting him come in and see the baby. This evolved into my being at my sister’s old house in Gresty Road. I had to leave there and go home. It was a 7-hour drive. The bathroom was really insalubrious and I hated that end of the house so I wasn’t going to go there to have a wash. I’d wait until I’d reached home if I could. All of the stuff that I needed to pack into Caliburn which otherwise would have to go out of the back through the bathroom and down the fire escape and out through the back yard to where the car was parked wasn’t going to happen. I’d have to take it out of the front. I’d need to fetch Caliburn round to the front but there was no waiting or no parking there. I’d be interrupting everyone and risking a parking ticket by doing that. While I was thinking about what I was going to do I found a huge, enormous box of Quality Street chocolates so I took a large handful and went and sat to eat them. I realised that I couldn’t wait because with an extremely long journey, the longer it too to sort myself out the longer it would take to reach home. I really wanted to be on the road as quickly as possible.

And later I was in a pop group playing drums last night. I only had a really cheap beyond-basic kit but I didn’t do too badly and I could keep the beat of the songs. We were sitting there rehearsing once and there was another drummer there. he began to play some kind of drum beat music and I joined in. Much to my surprise it was quite accurate. The guitarist joined in, playing a guitar piece that I recognised but I can’t name it. The guitarist said that he was playing this particular track because it was one that he’d like to work out. By now I was playing the guitar but I wasn’t at all confident in the idea that I’d be able to master this song to a sufficient standard to be able to perform on stage.

Nerina and I were then running our business last night, going through the cars cleaning them from top to bottom to within an inch of their lives etc, having them really sorted out. Another taxi driver from a different company came round to see what we were doing and for a chat. It slipped out in the conversation that I’d won a contract with a major motor vehicle repair place in Northwich. He asked whether that was the place that dealt with rebuilding cars after accidents or after they’d been out on lease. I replied “as a matter of fact it is but I’m far more interested in their military vehicles”. he said “you mean training vehicles?”. I replied “no. I mean vehicles that have been used by Generals being chauffeured around etc”. We were busy washing one of the cars at that point. When we scraped away the years of grime and washed it we found that one of the doors was distorted and there was paint of a different colour on it. We wondered how that was happening. In the meantime Nerina was having trouble with a jug of warm water. She shouted so I went in to see what she was doing and to juggle with this huge jug of hot water. The other driver said that he’d like to see me for a while sometime if I could spare him the time. he wanted to talk to me about his business. I didn’t really understand what he meant by that but I’ll talk to anyone so I said that I’d let him know when I was free, something like that.

After that four of us were going off to watch car racing somewhere. We stopped off at a motorway service station to have a coffee. Here we bumped into my friend from Munich on his way there so we had a really lengthy chat with him and talked about his plans. We then went back to our motor bikes. It really was a beautiful afternoon made for motorbiking. We thought that it would be lovely to be out on the road in this beautiful weather. We could have a nice leisurely ride up the drive of the place where this hotel had been built.

At another point I was sitting on a beach somewhere and a vendor came round selling mugs of hot coffee. I’m not sure why I wanted a hot coffee in the middle of summer but it was £1:30 so he poured me a mug of coffee. While I went through my pocket for the money he wandered off somewhere. Just then I heard a voice behind so I said “£1:30” but it was in fact a man asking me if I’d seen his wife. Of course I hadn’t so I said “no” so he wandered off. The coffee vendor came back. He stood there for quite some time waiting for me to sort out my money while I had it in my hand. parked right opposite me was a Standard 10 which had a Canterbury registration number so I must have been in Kent at that particular time.

Finally, there were several of us wandering around the London Underground, some of us who knew each other well and one girl who didn’t. When we arrived at a main underground station we found all the doors locked and we were effectively locked inside. I saw a door open and someone emerge so I went to grab the door before it closed so that we could leave but it turned out to be the door of the gents’. We all then decided to make for the main-line platforms and go home that way, my group going one way on one train and our lone friend another way on another. We all agreed to meet here at some other time. I asked “whereabouts here,” and someone else replied “here – on this spot”.

As you can see, it was quite a mobile night and I didn’t have much sleep at all. It’s no surprise therefore that I fell asleep again at some point later in the morning. And for an hour or so as well.

But I also spent a lot of time this morning making a start on updating the blog entries. I hadn’t added the dreams that took place when I was in Leuven just now so I edited all of those and brought them up to date.

This afternoon I wrote out the notes for the music that I selected yesterday for another radio programme. They are now complete and tonight before I go to bed I’ll dictate as many of them as I can.

It’s the kind of thing that has to be done late at night because there’s too much noise outside during the day with traffic going past and buses idling at the bus stop.

There was football on the internet later on early in the evening – Pontypridd v Hwlffordd in the Welsh Premier League.

It was a proper basement battle that in the first half was quite agricultural and Pontypridd were well on top. Hwlffordd improved quite considerably in the second half but the sending off of Tyreese Owen for two yellow cards put paid to any hopes of a revival, even if they did have a couple of excellent chances.

The final score was 2-0 for Pontypridd and that was probably about right. It’s difficult to explain what has happened down in south-west Wales. Hwlffordd did really well in the latter half of last season and performed quite well in Europe, but the fire has gone right out.

Tea tonight was salad and chips and one of those vegetable burgers of which I bought a supply a while back at Noz, along with a vegan salad. Of course, with Noz being off the agenda now I’m not sure what I’ll be doing when the stockpiled stuff from there runs out.

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’ll dictate the radio notes and then go to bed. A nice lie-in tomorrow will do me god so I hope that it actually works.