Tag Archives: home made bread

Thursday 30th May 2024 – SO HERE WE GO.

Yes, by the time that some of you (but not others, of course) will be reading this I’ll have been tucked up all nice and cosy in bed by a bevy of beautiful nurses at the hospital at Avranches.

Some hopes.

Knowing my luck it will be a retired female Bulgarian weightlifter or hammer-thrower and she won’t have tucked me up at all; never mind smoothed my fevered brow. I shall have to do that by myself.

Before I leave here in the morning I’ll have done all that I can and the rest is in the hands of the Gods.

If it’s anything like last night, it’ll be extremely difficult, that’s for sure. The lethargy about which I spoke … "at great length" – ed … carried on and I couldn’t summon up the energy to leave my comfy chair until almost 01:00, well after my usual bedtime.

It’s difficult to explain what’s happening to me right now. I can’t seem to find the effort to do the simplest of things and it’s so dispiriting.

At least, getting into bed was so much easier and apart from the difficulties that I’m having with my legs right now, even turning over and over in bed was much easier too. Things seem to be pretty much back to normal … "for now" – ed … in that respect, and aren’t I grateful?

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed to switch it off and then crawled off into the bathroom.

After that it was the medication. 13 different capsules or potions if we count the anti-potassium stuff. I must be reaching a world-record of some kind at some point. I hear that the French Government is putting up taxes quite soon. It’s all my fault.

For a change, the nurse didn’t have too much to say for himself. But he couldn’t make his card reader connect to the internet to read my health card so after much binding in the marsh he said that he’ll do it next time. I hope that there will be a “next time” anyway.

After he left I had a “rest” for a while and then transcribed the dictaphone notes. Last night there was a group of young girls taking part in a singing competition. While the singing was absolutely excellent they made life extremely difficult for the judges by crowding the backstage and confusing themselves with the other groups so people lost track of who was who because there were so many of them. In the end the judges had to ask several groups to perform again which led to a lot of chaos from some of the groups of parents whose children were feeling excluded by this. All in all, what should have been a simple singing competition turned into absolute chaos coupled with the fact that some jewellery went missing at some point. Of course The Saint was in the audience so everyone suspected him. Some of the parents wanted him involved in helping to find it. It all went on throughout the night in the usual turmoil and complete mess. Nothing was ever decided.

These “Saint” DVDs are a long way from being finished too. I’m about halfway through the black-and-white episodes and then I have all of the colour ones to go at. And all these wonderful British cars of the 1950s and 60s too. Not a single mainstream British car anywhere these days. Hard to believe that at one time the UK led the World

There was another thing about being on the roads of Maine in a snowstorm on I-98 going north. There was a huge pile-up and they were announcing things on the radio “2 women injured” then the total went to “5 women injured” and gradually increased. I heard someone in the background say “what the heck is going on there? Aren’t there any males in that traffic queue?”. I thought to myself “that’s a really nice thing to say, isn’t it, seeing as I’m stranded in this queue but near the front nowhere near where these collisions are taking place?”.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve been on Interstate 95 in Maine on numerous occasions, but rarely in the snow. But we’re back to this theme of “token womanism” again where “x people were hurt, of which Y were women and children” Imagine the outcry if they had said “X people were hurt, of which Z were men”.

We once did a study of “minorities” listing all of the people from different classes of minority and subtracting them from the total population. We eventually reached the conclusion that a white middle-class middle-aged man was very much a minority when it came to today’s scale of things. Of course, our report was … errr … mislaid.

After my coffee and flapjack I fell asleep again but this afternoon I’ve been packing and making myself ready for the road tomorrow and the hospital at Avranches as well as doing some stuff for the radio. I’m not sure what they want of me but I know what I want of them and I’m hoping that they can do something to alleviate my suffering.

On that note, I’ve baked a loaf of bread and I shall take half of it with me. My invitees can share out the rest amongst themselves. But with my half a loaf and half a flapjack I’m hoping that at least there will be some food for me to eat somewhere.

That’s the big problem – who do I know who can bring me some food parcels?

But I’ll worry about that in due course. I’ve had a nice tea tonight of baked potato (seeing as I had the oven going) sausage and beans.

It’s been ages since I’ve had baked beans so, listening to my stomach right now, I won’t need a taxi to get me to Avranches in the morning.

Friday 24th May 2024 – “THERE’S NONE AS THICK …

… as them as wants to be” as my old grandfather used to say in his old Maelor-border accent

And so for the past few days finding it more and more difficult to rise up from my chair in here? I’ve been thinking about buying one of these chairs where there’s some kind of pump-action that raises and lowers the sear.

The last couple of days or so I’ve been discussing it with my cleaner but when she’s been in here this afternoon she asked me “what’s this handle for underneath the seat of your chair?”

You really couldn’t make it up, could you?

It’s a shame that there’s not one on the bed though. It’s all very well “going to bed” but that’s no earthly good if it takes 20 minutes to actually climb on. Honestly, I ache in so many different places it’s simply not true. There’s my groin, and my back, and regular readers will recall the stabbing pain in the sole of my right foot that goes all the way through my body. Well, that’s back too, as if I don’t have enough.

So last night was absolutely wretched. If there hadn’t been stuff on the dictaphone I’d have sworn that I hadn’t slept a wink all night

When the alarm went off I was a little quicker out of the blocks and not needing to dress saved me some time, so after I’d had my medication I began to make the weekend’s bread

After the nurse had been I carried on with my bread and I do have to say that it was perfection itself, which is nice. However it took a lot longer than it ought and so breakfast was quite late today.

Once breakfast was over I set to and made a mountain of hummus. One lot is chili flavoured and the other is olive and dried tomato, and most of it is in the freezer

Having done that I came back in here were I didn’t actually crash out but I was in some kind of vapid daze, not able to function at all but fully conscious of my surroundings.

The cleaner came round and awoke me from my reverie, and we had this chat about my chair. And then I transcribed the dictaphone notes. Someone was following the trail of her father at work. He had died and she had been following in his footsteps to find out more about his life. She went to his factory and found that he was given certain things. They gave her two of them. Then they all went for a meal at the restaurant where he used to go. They proposed soup, which was what he always had but mine was white creamy stuff like cottage cheese yet they insisted that it was soup, the soup that this guy always had though it looked nothing like soup to me. I was just on the point of tasting it when I awoke

It beats me as to why I would be there, but things sound right about the soup. No-one seems to care about my diet here.

A roll of insulation had fallen off a lorry on the M50 and had completely blocked the motorway for several miles so the whole motorway was closed while they thought of what they would do to roll this back up. There was a group of kids camping near there. The police wanted them moved on but when I saw the girl’s rucksack was absolutely full to the point of bulging yet weighed as light as a stone as if there were just bags of air inside it made me wonder what on earth was going on with these kids. What did their choice have to do with anything and why were they being pushed around like this

And young girls being pushed around by the police. Would you believe it?

While we were discussing the closing of the road by this insulation and how they were going to move me the engine on a cabin cruiser than was being towed and had stopped because of the police suddenly burst into flames. There was smoke and fumes everywhere while this happened.

There was also a good old-fashioned knock at the door at 06:00 but there was no chance of my opening it at all. Probably phantom knockers now, I reckon.

Then I paired off the music for the next radio programme but was interrupted by a ‘phone call. It was the hospital giving me appointments for Tuesday 11th. It looks as if I’ll be staying over when I go on the 10th. But apparently they’ve found an issue with my heart

They want a blood test too so I had to print off a pile of stuff including the prescription

Tea tonight was vegan nuggets with chips and vegan salad, and now I’m off to bed, if I can manage to climb onto it. But at least it’s not as bad as when I was married and I swapped our bed for a trampoline. Nerina hit the roof!

Friday 17th May 2025 – I’VE JUST HAD …

… to defrost the freezer.

The build-up of ice in there was so much that the doors wouldn’t close correctly, which was making the freezer freeze up even more.

So, armed with the electric kettle and a saucepan with a heavy, thick base I went to work. It’s not perfectly defrosted, because the time that it would take, the frozen food wood melt, but at least the drawers fit better and the doors close, which was the aim of the whole exercise.

Mind you, it’s just about the only productive work that I’ve done all day. The other day, I mentioned that the partner of my friend in Munich had gone into palliative care. Unfortunately she didn’t pull through and just after midnight she left us to join the angels.
"Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee"

as John Donne wrote 400 years ago. I remember the delight that she felt when she came out of hospital a few years ago after just having her catheter port removed. For her it signified the end of the cancer treatment that she was having, that she was now fit and rehabilitated.

The removal of the catheter port was a symbol of victory back then. But how rapidly and wickedly fate can turn upon you. Rest in Peace, Ulli. It was a pleasure and a privilege to have known you.

As for myself, I’m not doing much better. My body is swelling up with all of these water retention issues that I’m having. And when I say “all” my body, I do mean “every bit of it”. I shall be looking like Bibendum, the Michelin Man, before too long

But last night anyway I managed to make it to bed and although it was a late night again, it was a decent sleep for a change and I can’t remember being interrupted at all, not even by a phantom alarm call. It was the Sleep of the Dead.

When the real alarm went off I fell out of bed to switch it off and then made my way to the bathroom for a clean-up, not that it did much good, I reckon.

Once I’d had my medication I set out the dining area for the nurse. My right leg is much better now, with the pain having diminished even more. But as I mentioned earlier, I have other issues with which to deal now that are causing me greater problems

While I was waiting I made a start on the bread dough for the weekend, mixing it, giving it a knead and then leaving it to proof for a while.

The nurs didn’t have much to say for himself today and was in and out quite rapidly After he’d gone I gave the bread its second working-over and divided into three lumps, one for each day.

Just for a change it went up like a lift, the best that I have ever made I reckon, and it baked really nicely too. My breakfast cheese-on-toast, which was almost lunchtime cheese-on-toast by the time that I’d finished, was delicious.

Back in here I crashed straight out despite the strong black coffee, and it was 13:00 when I finally rejoined the Land of the … well, perhaps not.

First thing was to check the dictaphone to see if there was anything on it from the night. And to my complete surprise, there was. This was before the Fall of France and we had a bomber aeroplane in Normandy. We’d given it a name. First of all we’d called it “Billy Jones” after the boy who was a dancer … "That was Billy Elliott. Billy Jones was guitarist with the Outlaws who committed suicide" – ed … but then we gave it some other name later but I can’t remember what it was. However the ‘plane was shot down on a flight over to the Channel Islands before the Channel Islands were invaded and unfortunately we lost it and the crew

Just a little reminder for the British people who criticised the French for not resisting the Occupier in World War II, the Channel Islands were occupied in June 1940 and no effort at all was made to free them until after the end of the War, never mind at D-Day or when the battle for Normandy had passed them by.

Of the eight ‘planes two were shot down taking off and the other six were shot down along the route but this dream continued lots of things – there was a young lad who was a store person who was enamoured of this girl who volunteered to sing a requiem but was not very good at at, dozens of things like that all through this dream that seemed to go on for ages

And if you are thinking that the one dream leads straight on to the other there was a three-hour gap between the two, according to the timestamps.

Having had my lunchtime fruit I checked over my order from LeClerc and then sent it off. It’s an expensive one this weekend but there’s stuff like coffee, olive oil and champagne on it.

Champagne, yes. It’s a neighbour’s 80th birthday on Sunday and I’m invited, not that I’ll be drinking any of it of course. Last time I had any alcohol was in Bulgaria in 1994, and that was due to force majeure.

Back in here again I was reading something on the internet when the next thing that I remember were the dulcet tones of my cleaner awakening me. I’d had another one of these crashings-out where the light simply goes off and I can’t remember a thing.

She came round this afternoon to do her stuff again and it was a good job that she was here because the delivery came early.

The frozen food went into the freezer (which was when I noticed the door issues) and the rest I put away after she had left. Well, most of it anyway. There’s still some to do

But after I’d had my hot chocolate I blanched the florets of the broccoli that I’d bought ready for freezing and saved the stalk and the water for a broccoli stalk soup tomorrow

Back in here and the light went off again just as dramatically as earlier, and how I am sick of all of this. It was 18:38 when I awoke, but at least that gave me some more time to work on the next radio programme.

Tea this evening was a vegan salad with chips and some of those vegan nuggets done in the air fryer, and it was delicious as usual. My salads are works of art, and I really do seem to have the knack about these air-fryer chips now

So tonight there’s one more extra star in the sky looking down on us from above. It just goes to show that there’s no escape for any of us. The Grim Reaper will get us all sooner or later. I just hope that those who have gone on ahead have paved the way for the rest of us.

And as I said the other night, this is not the time for levity

Tuesday 7th May 2024 – I’VE HAD A LOVELY …

… evening with a visitor who has come all this way to see me.

The youngest daughter of my niece from Canada stuck her head in to say “hello” this evening as she passed by on her peripatetic perambulations.

One thing that I’ve always tried to instil into youngsters is the importance of doing something different, as every student’s CV is identical these days, with the same courses, the same pastimes, the same interests and so on.

Foreign travel is one of the ways to go and some universities offer foreign exchange student programmes. After Liz (“that” Liz, not “this” Liz) died I made sure that her daughter was accepted onto a foreign exchange programme in 2010 and I actually took her to her University in Ontario from London.

St Francis-Xavier University in Antigonish has one too and my niece’s middle daughter ended up in Madrid but the youngest one was accepted onto an exchange in Edinburgh and she’s been there since Christmas.

She’s off to visit Mont St Michel and the Christian Dior museum tomorrow so she thought that she’d catch an earlier ‘plane and come to see me

Even though it’s only – quite literally – a flying visit, there was a lot of preparation to do and as a result I was in bed quite late last night

It was another peaceful night where I completely lost track of time, and no-one was more surprised than me when the alarm went off. Anyway I hauled myself out of bed and headed for the bathroom, and then into the dining area for the medication.

Having done that I arranged the dining area for the nurse but for some reason she was late coming today and I had to hang around for a while. None of this “not quite dressed” lark of Sunday when he came early.

After she’d finally arrived, changed my dressing, fitted my puttees and cleared off I could come in here and revise for my Welsh lesson. And then armed with my coffee and flapjack I joined in the lesson.

The lesson was like the curate’s egg – good and bad in parts. I was quite happy with some of the stuff that I did but disappointed with other parts. I put it all down to my failing memory but I forgot to mention that.

At the end of the lesson the first thing that I did was to make the dough for a loaf. I wasn’t sure whether my great little niece (or is she my little great niece?) would want to take advantage of my comfortable sofa and if so, we’d need something for breakfast

Then I came in here while the dough was proofing so that I could transcribe the dictaphone notes. I’d been arrested for something that I’d said but managed to talk my way out of it. Then I was arrested a second time that happened to be during a period when I was having a dance with another girl. She thought that me being arrested was funny. I had a key in my hand but lost it. It fell down and became mixed up in the bed. The soldiers who arrested me wanted the key and access to one of the store cupboards and were surprised that I was playing difficult, although I wasn’t – it was simply because they didn’t believe that I’d dropped things. Anyway they wanted to carry me off to the castle where presumably I’d be tortured, although they didn’t say what or why it was that I was going. I was simply arrested and bullied out of any kind of sympathetic position.

Then I was with a former work colleague. Again, it was a similar kind of situation. There was some kind of rack of calculations in the formula on it that these people wanted but I had. I wasn’t going to hand it over so someone came down to interrogate me and maybe arrest me but they didn’t cart me off. They had a full search of everywhere and then they left. Id been standing in a very peculiar position, sort-of propped up with a support behind me. My ex-colleague made some kind of remark such as “had I ever been an italic cursor?” or something so we laughed. I explained that there were all kinds of photos of me and maybe we ought to have a look. I noticed when we were talking that he actually had that paper in his hand. I wondered why he’d never admitted having it and never shown it to whoever it was who was interrogating me.

That’s not how things usually work, is it? Normally people will take every conceivable step to drop me into the soup at every possible moment.

Later on I stepped back into that dream, and in it the girl had taken away the bottle … "which bottle?" – ed … to wash it. She then brought it back, saw me being man-handled, threw away the bottle and hid the formula

And that’s most unlike people I know too.

By now the dough had risen and so after a second working-over I put it into the oven to bake while I made my hot chocolate.

The bread baked deliciously. It rose up like a lift and it is quite soft and fluffy. We’ll call this one a success.

While I was waiting for my visitor I finished off the radio notes for the programme that I started the other day and then began to select the music for the next one.

And then having fought her way through the underground system in Paris she turned up.

It’s hard to believe that when I held her in my arms back in that winter of 2003 when I was in Canada she was such a tiny little new-born thing. She’ll be 21 soon and it’s hard to believe that the time has gone by so fast.

She’s not stopping though. She didn’t know how ill I was and didn’t want to put any strain on any facilities that I might be having, which was very nice and thoughtful

We had lots to talk about – after all I haven’t seen her since I drifted by her house after my return from the High Arctic in 2019 – and it was nice to catch up with the latest news from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

She’s quite confident that she’ll pass her current year and will go back to St F-X for her final year and receive “the Ring”. Alumni of St Francis Xavier receive a special ring to wear and it’s apparently the equivalent of a Canadian Freemasonry handshake.

Of course, over the last 20-odd years there have been loads of jokes about people going “My preccccccc – ious” whenever the subject of the St F-X ring has been mentioned and that’s not really any surprise.

It was quite late when she left but nevertheless I made my taco roll with rice and veg for tea and it was just as nice for being late.

So now I’m going off to bed and make some investigations about that huge bloodstain that appeared on my pillow overnight. It looks as if someone has butchered a pig on there, there’s so much blood.

But it’s nice to see a member of my family here where I live. One of my nieces from Crewe came over in 1994 and then two of my three little great-nieces from Canada have been to see me. And would you believe – that’s the only contact that I’ve had with any member of my family since I left to live on the mainland of Europe

They were much more loyal than that when we all lived together. One of my sisters once told me "some boy at my school told me that you weren’t fit to live with pigs"
"Ohhh really?" I asked. "What did you say?"
"Oh I stood up for you" she replied. "I said that you were"

Friday 3rd May 2024 – I’VE HAD A …

… bad day today.

Actually, it was a bad afternoon, to be honest. In the morning I was extremely busy, as you’ll find out in a moment or two.

But it’s no surprise that the afternoon wasn’t very good. It was yet another night where I ended up in bed much later than I would have liked, and the night was somewhat turbulent too. There was a huge pile of stuff on the dictaphone.

When the alarm went off though I was fast asleep so I fell out of bed and switched it off before staggering off to the bathroom

After I’d had the medication I made a start and began to prepare the dough for the weekend’s bread

While the bread was busy proofing the nurse came round to see me, to change the dressing on the foot and to put on my puttees. He was actually born in Flanders and so we spent some time talking about Belgium and in particular the linguistic war between the Flemish and the French

After he left I gave the bread its second kneading and then baked it. And for once I have some perfect bread rolls, exactly as they ought to be and I’m well-impressed. They are without doubt the best bread rolls I have ever made.

While the bread was baking I was busy making some broccoli stalk soup with the aid of a couple of small potatoes, a large onion, some garlic, herbs and, when it was almost finished cooking, a tub of soya yoghurt.

The soup with some nice fresh bread was absolutely delicious. There’s nothing quite like it, except of course my carrot and ginger soup. I’ve not made one of those for ages though, and maybe perhaps I ought to have another go at that in due course

That was when my problems began because I fell asleep at the table while drinking my coffee. Yes, don’t let anyone tell you that coffee keeps you awake. There have been many times when I’ve fallen asleep with a mug of coffee in my hand, half drunk.

And that, regrettably, is how it’s been for most of the afternoon, fighting off wave after wave of sleep, sometimes not successfully. And I’m really fed up of it. I can’t do anything at all when this kind of thing happens and there’s so much to do

My cleaner came down for a whizz through the apartment and while she was doing her stuff I transcribed the dictaphone notes -all of them. There was something going on with our Welsh group. We’d formed a band of some description and were being led by someone. We ended up somewhere in the countryside and had to go somewhere so everyone set off. They were going at a much more rapid pace than I could keep up but that didn’t seem to matter. I was just falling behind all the time carrying these two huge cymbals. They went down a hill at one point and then climbed up the side of a bank. I thought that I’m never ever going to climb that bank at all but in the end I worked out that if I began to climb the bank at a much earlier point I could traverse my way across and make it to the top and even save a little time that way. I managed to get very close to them but they went off down this farm track at a really rapid rate of knots. I was staggering on behind, tangled in barbed wire and other kinds of wire etc. The we eventually arrived at a stadium-type of place. I had no idea what was happening or what we were supposed to be doing, how we were going to be doing it, but they’d come here in such a determined fashion that they obviously knew about it but I didn’t. I was having a feeling that I was being somehow squeezed out

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have in fact fallen way behind the rest of my group and that’s how it’s been for a while – since I went to Canada in 2022 in fact. One month there and then two months in hospital knocked a big hole in my learning and not being able to concentrate afterwards hasn’t helped in the slightest. I wish I knew what I was doing but at the moment I’m just stumbling along

Later on we were doing some kind of disco. We were all there and the music was playing. One or two people were dancing on the stage but not many people were there at all really. They asked me why I wasn’t dancing but I didn’t really have a reply. In the end I climbed up on the stage and began to dance about which seemed to satisfy them. There were still not very many people there. Just as another girl began to climb onto the stage the record ended and they switched to a waltz. I grabbed hold of the girl and waltzed with her. At first it was complicated as I tried to remember the steps and I tripped on her feet but eventually it all came back. I began to waltz with her and it was really quite a good dance. But then the record ended and I thought “what’s going to happen now? How are things going to pan out? Who’s going to do what, when and where?” It seemed that the evening wss just being left hanging in the air like that

That reminds me of a night on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. Someone struck up a waltz so I picked one of the females (it wasn’t Castor) and waltzed off with her down the deck. I don’t know who was more surprised – she who didn’t think that I would be the type of person to waltz or me that I could actually remember how to do it without stepping on her toes.

Then it was necessary to change my clothes. I’m not sure why even though I was dressed in a convicts uniform type of thig I was still quite comfortable but gradually people were changing out of their uniforms into civilian clothes, plain clothes so I thought that I would too but there was really no possibility of escape. All I wanted to do was to sit down and have a great big relaxation somehow but it wasn’t going to happen with all of this going on. I was still going to be quite wound up going in towards breakfast

Then the alarm went off and I was about to haul myself out of bed when it suddenly cut out. We had the “ladies and …” bit it stopped before it said “… gentlemen”. Then I realised that everyone was helping the children in the nursery which was probably why they didn’t want any men about the premises so I went outside. I couldn’t see anything happening. It didn’t look to me as if the children were leaving the school but it was all about the statistics so I’ve no idea what had gone off and awoken us if it wasn’t this alarm

As you can imagine, it wasn’t my alarm at all. For a start, mine doesn’t go “Ladies and gentlemen …” but it’s the good old Billy Cotton WAKEY WAAAA…. KEY that wakes up not just me but the rest of the building and half the street.

Then a voice was crying “a third! A third!”. I’ve no idea what was going on but there were a couple of empty banana-flavoured Alpro cartons lying around. For some reason I wasn’t allowed to drink anything so I started to look for a pair of scissors to cut into them so that the patients who were in the ward that I was controlling could drink them themselves.

At 05:20 I had to work out which woman had lost her bloomers in one of the dances because the bloomers fell to the floor and you could see them in the middle of the dance floor but no-one seemed to own up and accept responsibility for it so I thought that I’d go to have a look to see if I could work out whose they were. They’d obviously want them back and of course if they could actually find them.

It beats me why I noted the time here, but it’s certainly interesting that someone should lose her bloomers and then ignore the fact. It brings insouciance to a whole new level.

The whole thing dissolved into a St Trinians-type of farce with the buses pulling up in Gresty Road and all the kids streaming out and going off down Claughton Avenue towards the school. There were several new teachers there, one of whom was clearly disorientated so he’d have to sort himself out but another one seemed to be at least vaguely interested, a big, heavy guy so in a group we all swarmed down with the children. At the corner of the street where there was a turn-off for the hall there was some person who was a kind-of teacher, a male organiser who was taking everyone’s name and finding out which alternative subjects they wanted to do, being friendly and cheerful, chatting to everyone. The big, heavy new guy turned up and the light-hearted teacher-type of person said “I can see that you have a great big frame. You’re obviously right for the rugby team”. The fellow admitted that he played rugby so he was immediately signed up. On the way down the avenue these new teachers were extremely perplexed because they couldn’t work out why we were going down there and couldn’t work out why the school would be down there. Of course they clearly had no idea what kind of school it was and why it should be situated in such a very poor area and that so they were going to be in for a dreadful shock when they finally arrived there and met the other teachers and the children.

My opinion is that if they were to have a girls’ school in Claughton Avenue in Crewe it would make St Trinians look like a kindergarten. And it wouldn’t need teachers either but wardens. It’s not exactly the calmest and most peaceful street in Crewe.

Later on, after another wave of sleep, I went for tea. Some of those delicious vegan nuggets with salad and chips thanks to my cleaner who brought me some potatoes today. It really did go down well and I was good and ready for it too. At least I have my appetite back.

So now I’m going to make a really big effort to go to bed early. I might have visitors tomorrow so I need to be on form.

But talking to the nurse about the linguistic wars reminds me of an incident that took place on the linguistic border between Waterloo and St Genesius-Rode.
As you drive into Waterloo there’s a sign that says the town name. Underneath it they fixed a plaque "You are now in Wallonie. Here we speak French"
On the other side of the sign it said “Sint Genesius-Rode” and following the posting of the Wallonie plaque the citizens of Sint Genesius Rode put up a plaque that said "You are now in Flanders. Here we work"

Friday 26th April 2024 – IT’S FLAMING DIFFICULT …

… trying to explain something to someone who doesn’t want to listen but only wants to speak.

The doctor’s surgery rang me up at the end of the afternoon to tell me that the blood test this morning had failed and needs to be done again, so he’s prepared a prescription and it’s stuck on his noticeboard to be picked up.

Ordinarily what would now happen is that I would ask my faithful cleaner to pick it up tomorrow. I’d then show it to the nurse on Sunday and she’d have to go away to fetch the equipment and come back on Monday to take it

However I had an idea.

The nurse’s office is in the same building so I rang her up to see if she was going into her office before coming here. If so she could pick up the prescription, fetch what she needed from her office and the blood test would be done on Saturday morning, two days earlier.

Simple enough?

You have absolutely no idea how complicated and involved the whole procedure came once the nurse answered the ‘phone. A simple “yes I am going into the office first” or “no, I’m not going into the office first” was all that was required.

Instead it turned out to be more like “War and Peace” and I’m still not convinced that my message was understood. We’ll find out in the morning, I suppose.

Last night I was in bed early for a change, which was very nice, but once more it took an age to go off to sleep which was a shame.

Once I was asleep though I didn’t move an inch. Not even to reach for the dictaphone because there’s nothing recorded on there from during the night. No-one came to join me on any nocturnal ramble, which is a pity.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed, switched it off and then staggered off to perform the usual morning routine.

More medication than before, of course. I swear that you can hear me rattle as I walk with all of the pills that I’m taking.

Once I’d washed down everything I laid out the dining area as she likes it and then made the dough for the batch of bread for the weekend. Very important, that.

For once, the nurse missed her aim with the blood test and had to have a second go. She’s usually quite good at finding the vein compared to her colleague who struggles. She then dressed my wound and put on my puttees.

Next stop was to prepare a shopping list for my cleaner. Mushrooms, cucumber and one or two supplies from the chemist’s. The nurse told me that we were running low of certain things

When the bread was ready and baked I made myself some cheese on toast in the air fryer and had it for a late breakfast / early lunch along with a nice, hot, strong coffee. That ought to cheer me up.

This afternoon I’ve been going through my shopping list because at some point next week I need a delivery and I’ve forgotten half of the stuff that I need. I bet that there will be a few items missing too when I finally send off the order because I’m really confusing myself these days.

Fighting off (sometimes unsuccessfully) several waves of sleep, I finally wrote the blog entries for last week when I was in hospital and didn’t have the travelling laptop with me. Thanks to what’s available at ARCHIVE.ORG and various other similar sites. I have a huge library of films and books on the computer and what with all of the music, I’m never short of things to pass the time, apart from all of the work that I need to do.

While I was doing all of that, the cleaner came round and whizzed through the apartment. Now it looks as if someone respectable lives here, and we can’t go having that.

Tea was a vegan salad with chips and some of these vegan nugget things. Really nice it was too There’s nothing like a good salad

So if I’m lucky I might have an early night tonight ready for the battle with the nurse tomorrow. She’s not going to be too happy, but I can’t help that.

But nurses are never very happy anyway. I remember once seeing a nurse walking down the corridor of a hospital with … errr … part of her upper body uncovered
"What’s going on here?" I asked
"It’s the trouble with these Junior Doctors" she said. "They never put anything away when they’ve finished with it"

Friday 12th April 2024 – TODAY I HAVE HAD …

… probably the worst day that I have ever had in my whole life.

Most of the day has been spent in a state of semi-consciousness curled up on my chair, hunched over the computer in a fit of total and absolute fatigue.

It goes without saying that I have never felt so tired in my whole life.

Last night I was quicker than normal running through the jobs that needed to be done and I was actually in bed for 23:20.

And when U awoke, at 06:20, for some reason I was convinced that it was Sunday – really convinced – and looked forward to the extra hour in bed. So when alarm calls started going off at 07:00 my initial response was to reset all of the alarms to 08:00, and I was well on my way to doing that when it clicked.

So somewhat later than usual I raised myself from the Dead and went to check the blood pressure machine. 15.9/10.0, compared to last night’s 14.1/10.4. The heartbeats were interesting too – 80 this morning compared to 72 last night. The heart has beaten as low as 61 before though, and that’s interesting.

After I’d had the medication I started to make the bread before the nurse arrived so that it would be proofing while she was here.

She was impressed with it and that’s no surprise because it was another good batch. She managed not to put her finger in it anyway But regrettably I had the first of many crashings out and it was 12:15 when I could get to it again. That really was a crashing out.

Having prepared my bread for baking I crashed out again and as a result breakfast ended up being well after lunchtime.

And then I crashed out again

While the cleaner was here later on I managed to do half of the Welsh homework for this week. I’ll have to dinf some more time and enthusiasm to do the rest one of these days.

And than I started the dictaaphone notes, of which there were more than just a few. I was changing a cylinder head on a Cortina mkIV or mkIII or mk V. One of the things that was useful was lining up a few bolt holes in the back of the exhaust. I was lying there trying to line up these three bolt holes and it seemed to be taking for ever. I hadn’t realised at fist that one of the bolt shad been body-fillered over so I had to chisel that free. Then we were encountering all kinds of other difficulties like that. It was becoming really dark and it had never taken me so long to do it. In the end we stopped for a cup of tea but I was determined to go back outside, crawl underneath and carry on. One of the guys there said that he didn’t think that it was necessary to do what I was doing. I reminded him that I’d met him the very first time few years ago and we’d had an interesting discussion about changing heads on Cortinas in those days and I’d remembered almost everything that he’d said, word for word so I was perfectly sure that I had to line up these boltways perfectly before I could finish off the job of changing this head. It was just becoming really so complicated and awkward. There was no need for this. It was just that everything on these vehicles was so old and rotten. Nothing was lining up at all in the way that it ought to because of rust and rot etc

Anyone care to guess how many cylinder heads I’ve changed on a Pinto-engined Ford? And I’ve never had any cause to play about with the rear end of an exhaust. However it’s true to say that rust and rot were responsible for a great many difficulties that were encountered when working on old Fords. You’ve no idea how much more comfortable it is working on modern cars, assuming that you actually can work on them

And then we had a dream completely in French Il y a l’histoire d’un jeune adolescent qui est mort. Il a été grand fan des groupes de rock et que sa copine ecoutait tooutes des émissions de rock pour des nouvraux groupes à coté de son temps pour reaconter l’histoire et jouer comme l’hiver et expliquer comment va aux festivals et théatres de sa parte pour continuer le rock mais son père n’est pas du tout content qu’elle continue le schedule

And then the next dream is the story of a young boy who is confined to his room etc. His father has died and his mother had collected up all of his music and things like that and is giving into a charity shop. The boy thinks that it’s terrible that all this history is being lost like that. He wants to have it and wants to continue the tradition of his father but his mother is dead-set against it and it’s causing an enormous amount of conflict within their house, who’s going to do what and how.

That’s my big nightmare too. All of the stuff that I’ve collected and created, all of which is of real importance and it will all br discarded and forgotten after all the time that I’ve spent assembling it all together. I really need to appoint as my literary editor someone who knows what I’m trying to do and realises the value of it all.

But that’s going to be next to impossible. No-one will care half as much about my work as me myself

This is a story about someone called Fileul ere was a passenger, Amy with her Uncle Peter who ended up at the airport. Peter arranged to be dropped off at the main building, said “excuse me” and disappeared. Amy was waiting for quite a long time, holding up the traffic like that, making people outraged. In the end she decided to move her vehicle somewhere else and went to look for a piece of paper on which she could write a note. Instead she found, crumpled up on the floor, for “Peter Fileul, flying to Amsterdam” that very afternoon. She parked up the vehicle and went inside the airport where she actually found a friendly policeman and the two of them caught Fileul just as he was about to pass through the departure gates,

And there was a rock musician called Peter Fileul too. He played keyboards in The Climax Blues Band, East of Eden and The Parlour Band. I’ve featured quite a few pieces of music by his groups in the past

Finally I was running a class of creative writing, consisting mainly of girls wanting to write chicklit. It was a very full class and the students could be identified by the colour coding of their machinery in order to work out which speciality they would be following during the course. But it was all a very high-intensity course with a lot of screaming adolescents who would go berserk at the drop of a hat.

Could you imagine me running a class like that? I’d be deafened within a week with all of these over-enthusiastic adolescents all trying to be the next millionaire But it’s an interesting idea.

Fighting off yet more waves of sleep I struggled on until teatime when I had a baked potato, salad and vegan burger. I wasn’t feeling like much.

But now I’m going to bed. It was a horrible day so here’s hoping for a better one tomorrow, a Saturday, starting at 07:00.

It’s necessary to tell myself these things just so that I know. But at least all those people who keep saying that I don’t even know what date of the week it is can be proved right.

It’s like the guy with a heart issues who was told not to make love to his wife when the day of the week ends in …DAY.
To put temptation behind him, he sleeps in a separate room from his wife
After about a week he’s awoken by his wife shaking him
"What day is it?" he asks, disorientated
"Tuesdray" replied his wife
"Nonsense" retorted the husband. "You’ve come in here to kill me, haven’t you?"
"Not at all" replied the wife
"Good" said the husband. "In that case I’m coming into your room to die"

Friday 5th April 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a rather better day today, which is a surprise.

In fact I’ve gone the whole day without crashing out once.

Mind you, it’s been a near thing once or twice with wave after wave of sleep washing up on my own rocky shores but I’ve managed to fight them off so far.

Mind you, there’s still 90 minutes before my official bedtime so still plenty of time to follow the family tradition and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. No-one else can manage that quite like us.

It was a lot longer than 90 minutes to bedtime last night what with everything that needed doing. It never used to be as complicated as this, I’m sure.. It was certainly closer to midnight than it was to 23:00 when I finally hit the sack last night, and glad I was to do so too. I was thoroughly wasted.

It was another really deep sleep and when I awoke with the alarm going off at 07:00 I was actually away somewhere doing something, but it completely evaporated the moment the alarm went off. As long as it wasn’t involving Zero, Castor or TOTGA, it’s OK.

So first things first. I fell out of bed and went off to check the blood pressure. 16.4/10.4. That’s quite a lot higher than last night’s figure of 15.5/10.6 so I wonder what has pumped it up. But the instructions for the machine say “take your blood pressure when you are sitting calmly and quietly and there are no distractions”.

Seriously, whenever is that ever likely to happen around here?

Having done that I went off to take the medication – all the piles of it – and then lay out the room how the nurse likes it to keep him happy while he’s here. He mentioned a shortage of large plasters so I added them to my cleaner’s notes for her shopping expedition

And while I was at it I sent her an order for some mushrooms and a cucumber.

In between everything else I made some bread for the weekend, and it turned out really well for a change I’m getting the hang of breadmaking after all this time

Once I’d managed to usher the nurse off the premises I had a listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night There was another false alarm call at 04:24 this morning. There was a group of four kids who were having a wrestling tournament. They were each wrestling against someone or other and being substituted during the match, one for another for another for another etc. This was just at the moment when they were having to make a substitution and one of the players was having to leave and another one was coming onto the field to join in with the wrestling as the alarm went off

And if you think that the idea of kids fighting for sport in wrestling rings and even cages is appalling and never likely to happen, you just have a look on Youtube. There are some utterly crazy people out here in the real world

But I’m interested to know why it should suddenly appear in my subconscious. I can’t recall anything that might lead to that and even if it did, years of trying unsuccessfully to make Castor, Zero or TOTGA appear in my dreams are proof that nothing would follow from it.

It took a good while to fire up the enthusiasm today but I eventually managed it, later than I intended and not by 5 minutes either. And no sooner had I started than I had a parcel delivery.

That meant assembling my new coat hanger that hooks over the top of the door and then I had to configure my new fitbit, seeing as the old one has managed to die a death.

This new one has loads of added accessories, such as a bluetooth connection to the phone and all that. Somewhere on it that I have yet to find will be the button to press so that it makes the coffee.

One thing that I do like about it is that it has an optional analogue watch face. That’s something that I’ve really missed.

But the coat hanger means that all of the coats and so on that were loitering around here have at long last found a home and I hope that they’ll all be very happy together

So I was finally able to make a start on my radio notes and in the time available I managed to do a little over half of them

And then after my hot chocolate I pressed on with more of the outstanding Welsh homework and made quite good progress with that.

Tea was some of that home-made falafel with salad and chips, thanks to my cleaner who came this afternoon and brought my mushrooms and cucumber with her. And they really were spicy too. I shall have to make some more like that if I can.

But that’s it for tonight. I’m off to bed, where I’ll wish that I was like Warren Zevon.

He was an American singer who, having been diagnosed with a fatal illness, decided that instead of sitting at home feeling miserable, took to the road with his I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD farewell tour and pressed on. That’s exactly the attitude that I ought to have, but it’s extremely difficult when I can’t seem to master this fatigue at all.

At times it seems that all of the fates are conspiring against me and that’s an uncomfortable feeling

Warren Zevon and I have something else in common too. We both have (or had) a weakness for red-headed girls. Warren Zevon’s red-headed girl wore "a red silk dress
You know I’m asking her to dance with me – she might say yes"

but I don’t know if mine ever did. It’s been years since I’ve seen her in real life and she doesn’t even come to see me at nights now

And there was another one with loads of red hair too but she fell off the radar a good few years ago which is a shame.

But that’s it anyway. I’m off to bed, hoping for a good sleep and an even better day tomorrow.

But while we’re on the subject of Warren Zevon … "well, one of us is" – ed
"Knock knock"
"Who’s there?"
"Rarrrh"
"Rarrrh who?"
"Werewolves of London"

Friday 29th March 2024 – THIS MORNING AT …

… 04:30 I was up and about making bread, would you believe?

And I’m still up and about now. In fact, this is probably one of the very few times that I’ve actually sat down today.

Not that I’m complaining about the early start though. I made the nicest bread that I have ever made. It actually looked and felt (not to mention smelt) like proper bread, and I do have to say that it was a triumph.

If I could make bread like that all the time I would be more than happy. Especially as, being short of money, I would knead the dough.

Earlier this morning, at 04:11 to be precise because I looked at my watch, I awoke. And I couldn’t go back to sleep no matter how much I tried so in the end I abandoned the idea and went into the kitchen.

It didn’t take too long to knead the dough but what I’d done differently was to use a little more water than usual, and warmer water at that. and then rather fighting it, I folded it over and over, just as gently as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles.

And not just once either but a couple of times to make sure that it was properly kneaded. And off we went. And up it went too. It rose faster than my blood pressure when I realised later in the day that I had forgotten to take it this morning. Last night’s was 18.1/10.4 by the way.

While it was rising I put it carefully aside. I don’t want any nurses poking and prodding it. But I tidied up the kitchen area a little because it’ll be busy in a couple of hours.

When the nurse arrived she put on my puttees, had a chat and then left, pleased that we’d ordered her supplies for her. And then, as LeClerc’s home delivery was now open, I sent off my order. “Delivery between 10:00 and 12:00”.

Next task was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night. There was some kind of art school taking place last night with human models being used in the sculpting and painting classes etc for people to practise drawing or working on human figures. When they began to introduce a second model to work as a pair with the first one there were quite a few people who objected and there were obvious reasons too. It caused a great deal of unrest and unease amongst everyone because many people believed that art was pure and could not be corrupted and other people who believed that corruption was everywhere in the world and this was just another part of it. There were two extremes of people who were busy arguing over what the models were supposed to be doing. Everyone else was really quite bewildered that someone could make such an issue about something that was so ordinary, familiar and so straightforward.

And that’s a common occurrence these days. I’m convinced that there are some people who have nothing better to do except trawl the internet or their immediate neighbourhood to find ways in which they might be offended

And when they do find something that offends them they spend all their time and effort actually aggressively trying to upset everyone else by forcing their viewpoints on the World and expecting the 98% majority to suppress their own interests in favour of those of the 2%

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have every sympathy with minority groups but sometimes consider that some of them go way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable behaviour.

When you see people complaining about what they see as pseudo-eroticism, like girls wearing bikinis and the like, and saying how indecent it is, that tells me far more about what’s going on in their mind than it does about what’s going on in the mind of the pseudo-offender.

And then I went back to sleep and this argument was still continuing. No-one was making any progress at all about either performing the piece of art or about having their points of view agreed. I quite simply didn’t understand the whole issue because there’s no objection to the art being displayed in museums etc and that’s where you’d think that people would be most upset but I dunno. I just didn’t understand it.

Later on I was still in this dream but I was actually dreaming it in Welsh. At one point while I was watching something on the TV there was a big crowd. I took something out of my pockets, some paper and rubbish, and simply threw it on the floor which was greeted by a barrage of heckling from the various people standing nearby. I didn’t just do it once but did it twice as well, I seemed to think, and it may have even been three times but I was having this dream in Welsh at that point.

So there I was, back in the same dream three times all told. And had I stayed in bed there might have been even more. But it was interesting that I was dreaming in Welsh because I’ve been thinking – and talking to myself – mainly in Welsh today which has surprised me. I must really have enjoyed that course.

As for talking to myself, of course I do. I’m reminded of Gandalf in LORD OF THE RINGS when he said "For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to".

When the LeClerc delivery arrived I put away the frozen food and then had breakfast. And my hot cross buns are superb. They were a definite success too – well worth waiting for.

After putting away most of the food I set about blanching dicing and blanching the carrots, followed by the broccoli, ready for freezing.

And the cleaner caught me in flagrante delicto. She came in to tell me that I can’t have my injections any more.

The situation is that according to the prescription they can only be given if the blood tests show a result of less that a certain figure for something. But seeing as the prescription for the blood tests has run out and the tests aren’t being done, they can’t check the figure.

That sounds quite logical to me, but it meant that I had to sent an e-mail to the hospital to ask for clarification

So tonnes of carrots and broccoli to freeze, and there’s a broccoli stalk to make a soup tomorrow for midday – dipping my fresh bread into it too. It should be delicious.

There was football this afternoon – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth Town. Both teams propping up the table and they played like it too. Having seem the beautiful, flowing football of TNS last weekend, ths game was a disappointment.

Mind you, played on a swamp in a monsoon, that was hardly a surprise. Colwyn Bay have a beautiful ground as far as the grandstands and terracing go, but the pitch is awful.

Aberystwyth took the lead early on with a scrappy goal that was really the only exciting moment of the first half. Things improved for Colwyn Bay after the break and they looked more lively but it was the introduction of a couple of substitutes by each team on 75 minutes that livened up the game.

From then on, each team was throwing the kitchen sink at each other with gaps opening up everywhere in the defence as each side went on the attack, only to be caught out by a quick breakaway

Just as the game was going into stoppage time Colwyn Bay scored a dramatic equaliser, but blow me if Aberystwyth didn’t roar up the other end and score immediately.

So Aberystwyth won and move up above Pontypridd United, but things look dark for Colwyn Bay. And they’ll be even darker as they’ll be without manager Steve Evans next game. I don’t know what he said to the ref after the final whistle but it was worth a yellow card.

And then he must have said it again because he received another yellow card. So that’s him out of the dugout and in the stands for the next game.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m fed up of these petulant football players having crises all over the place during a game, and when the managers begin to do it, that really is the end.

The cleaner came not long after kick-off to do her stuff, and she left so quietly that I didn’t hear her go. But I now have a clean kitchen again which is nice.

The rest of the afternoon was either spend working on my Canada 2022 stuff or else, regrettably, asleep in my chair. Not that I’m complaining about that either. I’m surprised that I’ve kept on going as long as I have.

Tea was a burger on a bap, one of those burgers that I made from the stuff that my friend in Munich sent me. With chips and salad too, and it wasn’t disagreeable. It was rather gritty but that’s the ingredients I reckon and you can’t like everything absolutely

But it worked, and that was what counts.

Fighting with the freezer to put away the carrots and broccoli I dropped the carrots all over the floor. But picking them up (I’m glad that the floor is clean) I found the clip for the other puttees that I’d lost. Having found yesterday the other one that I lost a long time ago, I now have all four for each set which is just as well.

But I’ve also been busy booking Welsh courses. I’ve booked a week at the start of July with Coleg Cambria (and I hope that my own tutor isn’t tutoring it because doing a course with her two levels down would be embarrassing for both of us) and a two-week Summer School with Coleg Morgannwg at the end of August. So more “gyda” instead of “efo” for when I go back on my main course in September

It beats me though why Coleg Cambria’s courses are so early in the Summer break. I would have thought that they would have run their Summer courses just before the restart to set people off running when they start their next course.

But that’s enough from me for tonight. I’m off to bed. But doing all of these courses reminds me of the famous poem about Crawshay Bailey and his "engine
which was always wanting mending"

so
"he went to Cardiff College
for to get a bit of knowledge"

With this course at Coleg Morgannwg I’ll have been to most Colleges in the whole of South Wales "for to get a bit of knowledge" and it’s still not working, just like Crawshay Bailey’s engine.

It just reminds me of the small boy at school who had to repeat Year 6 three times. When asked how he felt about it he replied "I’m not bothered"
"Why’s that?" asked his parents
"At least I’m cleverer than my teacher"
"Why’s that?"
"Well" he replied "she was in Year 6 when I started at this school, she’s been in it all the time that I’ve been here and she’ll still be it again next year after I’ve left!"

Friday 22nd March 2024 – I’M NOT HAVING …

… much luck with my footfest this weekend. Cymru’s Under-21 match against Lithuania isn’t being streamed on a foreign carrier either tonight.

It’s just my luck, after last night’s stunning victory of the senior team against Finland following on from Cymru’s “C” team against England on Wednesday night. I was really looking forward to some football tonight. Watching Stranraer slump to a controversial 2-1 defeat to Elgin City on the swamp that is Stair Park was hardly any compensation

It’s been a really long time since I was at Stair Park – almost 50 years in fact. I was coming off the ferry from one of my trips to Northern Ireland when I saw crowds (well, perhaps not “crowds”) of people heading all in one direction, all wearing blue and white scarves. So I had to follow them to see what was going on, as if I didn’t know.

It’s so long ago now that I can’t remember who they were playing. Probably someone like Arbroath or Montrose or something. And as I don’t have my photos here from that period, I can’t even tell you the colours. But one thing that I can tell you is that the ground hasn’t changed one iota in that time. It still looks the same as it did back then.

Mind you, that’s a relief. The Taylor Report swept away many traditional football grounds and with football attendances in Scotland being what they are, we were left with far too many of these modern, soulless one-sided wonders with “room to build the other three sides when attendances improve”.

Yes, quite.

The problem in Scottish football can be summed up in two words, “Celtic” and “Rangers”.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous versions will recall that I stood outside Albion Rovers’ ground in Coatbridge where the average attendance was about 300 watching busload after busload of people wearing green and white or blue and white scarves all heading into Glasgow.

And then I was at Broadwood in Cumbernauld once watching a game between Glasgow Rangers reserves v Celtic reserves, both teams full of players that would have been a boon and an asset to any other club in Scotland. Rangers and Celtic had signed them not because they needed them but because they didn’t want any other club to have them and become a competitive threat.

And absolutely nothing whatever has changed, except that Albion Rovers have been relegated from the Scottish pyramid into the Lowland League. But as former Spurs manager Terry Venables once famously said, "if history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again"

However, I digress … "again" – ed

Last night was another one of those nights where I couldn’t tear myself out of my chair and into bed. It was something like 01:30 when I finally moved a muscle and set about doing my nightly chores. I’ve absolutely no idea what’s happening to me right now about this.

Anyway it was another really deep sleep like last night where I can’t remember a single thing until the alarm went off

When it awoke me I really was dead to the world and I had quite a battle to raise myself from the dead. They talk about “the quick and the dead” in Biblical terms but there was nothing whatever quick about it.

First thing was to check the blood pressure. 15.9/100, pretty similar to last night’s 16.0/10.1, taken when I was feeling rather stressed out trying to exert myself to go to bed. So what was winding me up during the night?

Anyway I wandered off into the kitchen to sort out the medication. I’m beginning to run low on certain things again – just supplies of a few of the tablets for a couple of weeks. I need to keep an eye on everything to make sure that I don’t run out.

Next task was to make the bread. And I put a lot of thought and effort into this lot and tried my best to knead it correctly, which is not easy.

After that I went for a good wash, scrub up and shave and all of that kind of thing, as well as washing to shorts that I’ve started to wear in bed. But I didn’t get as far as I would have liked because for once in his life the nurse was here early.

When he came in, he saw the bread buns slowly rising, said “oh look, bread!” and poked one, which promptly sank

He eventually managed to find a vein and extract some blood. And I’ve had the results already. The red blood count is slowly rising, which is no surprise given the amount of stuff they are injecting into me every Wednesday, but so is the carcinogenic protein. It should be between 59 and 104 and it’s increased from 267 to 275.

So if the red blood cells are increasing, what is the protein attacking? The answer is that it’s now attacking the platelets. They should be between 140 and 380 and they have decreased from 108 to 92. That would seem to indicate that the cancer is now moving into my bone marrow.

So what’s the next move going to be? Someone will tell me something in due course, I imagine.

Having switched off the heating in the apartment, I checked the bread again and it had risen really well and for once I was impressed, especially as I’m making hot cross buns on Sunday and I need some confidence and encouragement.

The bread baked perfectly too, lovely and soft. It made some really nice cheese on toast and there is bread for the next couple of days too

Later on today I went to pay the Property Taxes on my place in Canada. I tried for an age unsuccessfully to log into my bank account, only to discover that I was trying to access Scotia Bank Trinidad and Tobago rather than Scotia Bank Canada.

Once I’d found the correct bank, everything went really smoothly. I do like how easy it is to make payments and so on in the Canadian banking system

It’s not so easy making payments on-line in France to the French Government.

The French Government has at long last started a system of on-line payments where you can pay your bills via internet rather than sending a cheque. I went to set it up for me this afternoon, but it’s not easy.

The logical way to organise payments is to index everything by reference to a person’s identity card number, so you can log in, see your account, see what’s owing and pay it off all at once with just one payment.

Instead, everything is indexed by invoice number, so if you have more than one bill to pay, as I did, you have to log in more than once, entering all of your details, including card details, more than once, and it takes an age.

What makes life even more complicated is that it asks you to enter certain details from the invoices into certain boxes on the computer screen, and the names don’t correspond. You have to use some intuitive guesswork to figure it all out.

But what am I going to do about my place in Canada?

it was an inspired decision to buy it because all you need when dealing with Canadian administration is a Property Tax Assessment. I could open bank accounts, buy pick-ups, obtain insurance, have mobile phones, all of that, simply on production of a Property Tax Assessment and it eased my passage (if you’ll pardon the expression) around Canada.

But I’m never going to use it now and it’s just going to sit there with the apples falling off the trees year after year until the cows come home unless my niece goes up there to pick them up.

But while we’re talking about Canada … "well, one of us is" – ed … I wonder how Strider is getting on with his new owners. We travelled miles together, him, me and STRAWBERRY MOOSE. I hope that they are looking afer him.

And that reminds me – I told my niece to dispose of most of the stuff that was in there – tools, camping gear, expedition equipment and so on – but there was a Fender bass and amp in there that I used that I wanted her to keep for me. I need to think of a way of bringing them over here.

The cleaner came round this afternoon for her Friday cleaning spot, bringing my mushrooms and tomatoes with her. I retreated into my bedroom while she was here but I actually had a fall while I was in the bathroom. Luckily the chair was in my way and I fell onto that, otherwise it could have been nasty

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too, surprisingly. I had several Ford Corsairs in my drive last night. One of them was driven away and I can’t remember where it went. Someone else borrowed a set of my number-plates but hadn’t brought them back and I was becoming rather concerned about that. Anyway there was some more car-swapping that needed to be done. I had to bring another Ford Cortina into my drive. That was parked in Gainsborough Road so I had to go down there to it, start it and bring it back. That was a Safari Beige colour but I was thinking that if I were to paint it blue I could put on the number-plates that this guy had borrowed because they belonged to a blue estate. I could make a set of plates but what would be the position if someone saw both vehicles, mine and the one on which presumably the guy had put the plates, and noticed that there were two vehicles with the same set of plates? What would my neighbours say if I were to turn up with yet another car after I’d just had one taken away somewhere? I got into the Cortina Estate. The clutch was right down on the floor and it was difficult to start. I thought that I better hadn’t leave vehicles lying around for so long without actually starting them up otherwise I’m just going to make myself a lot of problems

This is something of a recurring dream, isn’t it, having Cortinas scattered all around the town. It’s just like in real life when I actually did, including a beige Cortina estate and a blue one too.

But swapping over number plates from one car to another? And VIN plates too? I look back on those years with amazement and wonder how on earth I managed to keep clear of some serious trouble. Six months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure would have been nothing. I had to stop and leave the country because those years were catching up on me rather rapidly

My excuse was though that when you are up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to realise that you are really trying to drain the swamp. Taking drastic and rapid steps to solve short-term issues can lead to some really long-term problems further down the line.

It’s a surprise though having Ford Corsairs around the place for a change. I didn’t think that it would be too long though before a Cortina or two appeared.

So this afternoon I’ve chosen some more music for another radio programme and began to pair it off before tea but I ran out of time, mainly due to going away with the fairies for an hour or so. And miles away too, it has to be said.

But tea was lovely – the last Kale and Quinoa burger from Noz, and I’ll have to find a way of making those because they were nice, especially in breadcrumbs.

Last of the home-made mayonnaise too, although it might not have been had I used a more convenient container. Still, you live and learn.

However, the mayonnaise was an unqualified success. It was too thick and I’d used too much garlic, but those are minor problems. The principle was perfect and tomorrow, I’ll make some more, having learned from my first batch.

So what with that and making hot cross buns on Sunday it looks as if I’m going to be in for a busy weekend. And it’ll do me good right now because I seem to be doing too much of nothing right now.

So what else can I make while I’m at it? I shall have to pick Liz’s brains, and I’ll welcome any suggestions from anyone else too

But before I go, the story of my mayonnaise in the wrong bottle reminds me of that aerosol that came onto the market in the 70s. The publicity for it went something like "enough paint to cover 70 square metres of panelling"
And someone wrote underneath the advert "and enough propellant to get just about a quarter of it out of the can"

Saturday 16th March 2024 – AFTER I’D FINISHED …

… doing what I have to do in the evening I didn’t hang about and was in bed quite shortly thereafter. I don’t seem to be able to last the pace like I used to, especially if I didn’t have any sleep the previous evening.

But of course I have to admit that my bed is extremely comfortable. Seeing as I spend about a third of my life in it it went through some pretty rigorous tests, as in me lying down on every combination of bed and mattress that was on display in the IKEA in Caen.

The sofa too is extremely comfortable. That underwent the same series of tests and has been put to good use on several occasions when I have company, but that’s another story.

So last night I climbed into bed and that was that until the alarm went off at 07:00.

At that point I fell out of bed and went off in search of medication – the usual morning round of things designed to keep me going until we have the night-time’s helpings. 10 different types, and each one presumably treating the side-effects of the one that was prescribed immediately before.

In fact, as I take all of this medicine I’m singing to myself THERE’S A HOLE IN MY BUCKET because that’s exactly how I feel.

Having dealt with the medication I made the bread rolls for today and tomorrow and left them there to fester while I went and took down the puttees and rolled them up ready for the nurse. They are still wet but that can’t be helped.

When she came round she burst the blisters on my feet, put all the cream on everywhere and wrapped the puttees around my feet and legs. She’s told me that there’s no need to wash them tonight as they don’t seem to be soiling any, which is good news.

After she had left I checked the bread rolls. And for once in my life they had actually risen as I hoped that they might. I’m not sure what I did correctly today – I can’t recall doing anything any more different than I usually do and which up to now has proved to be singularly ineffective.

But anyway I had a lovely cheese on toast for breakfast which was really nice.

Back in here I checked the dictaphone and to my surprise there was actually some stuff on there. “Surprise” because for the first two dreams I remember nothing at all, which quite possibly explains why they seem to be a pile of gibberish. Anyway, There was something about being in a rock group in North Wales called Achmarchnad – “Supermarket”. We all spoke to each other in Welsh and I introduced the songs in Welsh too. We climbed up onto the stage and there was applause but when I began to announce what we were about to play plenty of people dashed off as though they were heading for the bathroom. I made some kind of comment about everyone going to the bathroom. They also turned off all of the microphones so I had to wait for someone to restart everything again before I could actually carry on. But I was dreaming in Welsh as I had to wait for these people to go as we all sit around here, phrases like that to the other members of the group.

Yes, there I was, dreaming in Welsh and presenting the music of a rock band. I’d give all that I own, and more besides, to be able to do that in real life. But as I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … dreaming in a foreign language is nothing new. Besides Welsh (which isn’t a foreign language of course) we’ve had dreams in French, Flemish and Spanish in the past.

It’s actually quite ironic really. Here I am, learning a language that I probably won’t ever speak, in practical terms, and yet during the night I’m speaking it quite fluently and can’t even remember a word of what I’ve said and could certainly never repeat what I said when I’m awake.

There was a story once about this – about some guy who had had a knock on the head and came back to consciousness speaking a language fluently that he had never learned or even heard before. I wonder if it’s some kind of similar phenomenon.

It’s a shame though that I’m no longer going to Leuven though. I enjoyed revitalising the Flemish that I learned when I lived in Brussels and was glad that I was able to put it to some use after all these years. I just speak it now sometimes with Ingrid.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed – when we had fully loaded our ambulance we were ready to leave and go back to current times but the ambulance hit a stone causing injury to Orly and someone in the back and we haul up and treat our injuries etc before we could head back and try to cross the border. Rooms were booked for us in a hotel a a place on the Welsh side of the river just before you cross the river into the English part …fell asleep here

The above two dreams I have absolutely no recollection whatever of them. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … although I’m asleep when I’m dictating my notes, when I’m transcribing them I usually have some kind of very vague recollection of them.

But not those two. They mean absolutely nothing to me

Finally, I was doing something about the radio last night, recording all my programmes. I needed a tenth track. After much messing about I actually chose the track but when it came to using it to join up the rest of the music I couldn’t find it. I was searching everywhere but it just wasn’t there. The last time that I remember, it was still attached to a set of stereo headphones with the wires dangling everywhere but I couldn’t find it at all. When I awoke I was actually searching the bed for it.

But can you imagine it – searching for a digitalised audio file in the bed last night. Sometimes I really do shake my head.

This afternoon I’ve been a busy boy. Firstly, Rosemary rang me and we had a chat. Just a short one today – only one hour and three minutes. We’re losing our touch, that’s for sure. Whatever happened to the ones that used to go on for several weeks?

Then I’ve been working on my photos from Canada 2022, writing the notes for another big pile of stuff. I hadn’t yet fallen ill so I was still getting about and doing things, like ordering the sunroof for the only Ford Flex ever imported into Europe, and having fun with STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

The dramatic collapse in health is yet to come, and it will be interesting to see how the events of that period unfolded and led to a two-months stay in hospital and totally wrecked my health.

The stuff for a couple more days was completed and I could have done so much more except for a major crashing-out – another one of these total black-outs that last for several hours where it’s as if I just switch off without any warning.

Finally there was the football – Pontypridd United v Barry Town. Both teams are languishing near the foot of the table – Pontypridd due more to administrative errors than standard of play – but they will basically safe from relegation as heaps more woe and misery pile on Colwyn Bay and Aberystwyth below them in the table.

The league position of the teams was reflected in the play – scrappy and at times rather agricultural – but playing football in a tropical monsoon as they had this afternoon down in Pontypridd can’t have been easy.

The game seemed to go in spells. Firstly, Pontypridd would have a good five minutes and then Barry, and then Pontypridd again and so on. The result, a 1-1 draw, was probably about right.

If you want to see the rather one-sided highlights of the match, they ARE HERE

You don’t need me to tell you what I had for tea tonight.

That’s right – breaded quorn fillet with baked potato and salad. Those fillets really are nice and I’m glad that, at the moment at least, they are available in LeClerc’s on-line shop

“At the moment” because even over the short time that I’ve been using the service, I’ve noticed a few things that I would buy that have been withdrawn from the range and that is more than just a pity. It’s a tragedy

So now I’m off to bed, ready for my … gulp … 08:00 start so that i’m ready for when the nurse comes. Can you imagine that too – me having an alarm call at 08:00 on a Sunday? But I need to show willing

It reminds me of the time when a girl who I knew once said to me "will you awaken me at 08:00?"
To which I replied "What should I do? Knock on your door or give you a nudge?"
There were times when I wasn’t very popular.

But as yet an alarm call might be unnecessary. Where the nurse burst my blisters, every now and again (more “again” than “now”, as it happens) there’s a stabbing pain that goes right through me and if it doesn’t subside I can’t see me sleeping tonight.

However, I’m away to finish off what I need to do before going to bed. The last task for today will be to cover myself in boot polish and eat several packets of yeast. That way I’ll rise and shine in the morning

Saturday 9th March 2024 – GUESS WHO …

… forgot to switch his alarm back on last night?

It goes without saying that Bane of Britain was up to his usual tricks.

But what was so surprising was that I awoke at 07:35. None of this stuff that we experienced last weekend. And I was wide awake too – to such an extent that I was actually up quite quickly. And that’s even more surprising.

First thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. 16.7/9.4. and don’t ask me what it was last night because I forgot to take it.

But next time that I go to the hospital I’ll be taking my blood pressure machine with me. The figures at the hospital are nothing like the ones that I’ve been recording here. They are much more normal. So I wonder if there’s a fault in my machine or I’m not using it correctly.

If we can compare readings when I go back, that might help. And so will a little practical instruction. It’s not actually very likely that things will be worse here than at the hospital – that is, in respect of anything that’s likely to adversely affect my blood pressure

But fancy forgetting to record it last night. It was actually quite a relaxing late evening watching the football highlights from the games that took place. Nothing really exciting, except that TNS continued their monotonous, relentless march by stuffing second placed Connah’s Quay 5-1 – at the Quay’s home ground.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’d be really proud of TNS’s achievements in the domestic game in Wales if only they would transfer some of that form to the European games that they play. But regularly and consistently (or should I say “monotonously and relentlessly”?) they are knocked out in the first round.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they could make it to the group stages of a European competition some time soon, and give us all something about which we can cheer? I mentioned the other day that depressing, dismal game in Sweden where we had to sit through 90 minutes of tactical ineptitude by a manager who is out of his depth at this level of competition.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

In the kitchen I collected the medication together and shovelled it in, piles of it. And it’s going to be even worse on Monday after my cleaner has been to the chemist’s with the new prescription. As if I don’t already have enough stuff in here.

But I’m glad that it’s the cleaner who goes to the chemist’s these days. I’m too embarrassed after the last incident that we had.

That time, I’d been to buy a pack of condoms. "What would you like?" she asked. "Ordinary? Or the new washable ones?"
"I’ll try the new washable ones" I said.
A week later, I went back to the chemists
"Can I have another pack of condoms, please?"
"What happened about the washable ones you had last week?" she asked
"Well, I’ve had this rather offensive letter from the laundry"

Having taken my medicine I went to make the bread for the weekend. And I forgot that it wasn’t Friday and that I wasn’t here, so I made three bread rolls as usual. So anyone who says that I don’t even have a clue what day it is is actually quite correct.

John Bongiovi TELLS THE DAY BY THE BOTTLES THAT (HE) DRINKS but I tell the days by the medication that I take, I reckon.

The bread still isn’t rising as well as it ought to, even though I’ve now moved on to a new type of flour. However, it wasn’t the abject failure of a couple of weeks ago and I suppose that we can be thankful for that

I tried baking it for slightly less time too, and that seemed to make a difference. But of course my oven is very much hit and miss so I can’t say with any certainty that it will be like that next week.

But anyway, it made a really nice toasted cheese sandwich, which was the name of the game anyway.

And that reminds me – me waxing lyrical about air fryers combined with a special offer on sale at LeClerc means that Rosemary has now joined the little air fryer community. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’d be lost without my air fryer.

Next stop was to transcribe the dictaphone notes, not that there were all that many. There was a cute little girl at school who for some unknown reason seemed to attach herself to me, not that I minded particularly because I never did much at school except roam around. She caught me one day coming out of the school canteen. I asked her how she was. She wouldn’t say at first but in the end said that she’d failed her exam which I thought was something of a shame so I gave her a few encouraging words. Then she told me that she’d failed another one too so I didn’t think that things were going too well for her so I tried to boost her morale a little but I could see that she was rather sad. Then she asked, out of the blue, “do you want to be a GE?” which is the first level of work as a British diplomat in the Foreign Service. I asked why and it turned out that there was a meeting for schoolkids to hear a talk given by someone in the Foreign Service about careers with them. I thought to myself “I have to do something after I finish my exams, haven’t I?” so I said “yes, OK, I’ll come with you. I’ll be your invitee”. She said “you’re my second”. I asked “who’s the first?”, fearing the worst. And sure enough she mentioned the name of a student with whom I didn’t get on at all, who I thought was completely and utterly pretentious etc. She said “I’ve invited him”. I sighed and said “ohh well, OK” and said that I’d go with her to make her feel better. At least if she had two people coming with her it would do her some good in her exams which aren’t going too well anyway.

There seem to have been a few cute young girls attaching themselves to me during the course of the last few nights. I’ve no idea what’s going on here. I wish it had really been like that when I was at school.

And I wish that I knew who they were, so that I could see if it’s the same girl coming back, or a different girl each time. I’m intrigued to see how this serial ends, as I’m sure that you are. Doubtless though, one of my family will come along and shove le baton dans la rue at a crucial moment.

Like my brother, for example, who was “teacher’s pet” at school
"Why? Did teacher like him?" – ed
No – she kept him in a cage at the back of class.

But really – could you imagine me in the Diplomatic Service? It wouldn’t have been a shoe that I’d banged on the table as Nikita Khrushchev is alleged to have done, it would have been the heads of a few of the delegates.

It’s all very well these leaders pronouncing wars and all of that, but they aren’t the ones who have to fight them. It’s always the young and the poor. As the Communist Party once said about the First World War, “a bayonet is a weapon with a worker at each end”.

In my opinion, if someone wants to start a war, there should be vote. And all those who vote in favour should be given a rifle and tin hat and sent to the Front to fight it while everyone else stays at home.

Next on the agenda was the football. Y Bala v Caernarfon.

Two teams challenging for fourth place but it didn’t look much like it. The gale-force wind had something to say about the standard of play, I suppose, but in all honesty it will be one those games that will be forgotten quite quickly.

There was a good crowd there, as there always is when Caernarfon play, but I think that they were probably expecting more for their money than a tame, lacklustre 1-1 draw.

The rest of the day, apart from 10 minutes when I was away with the fairies, was spent chopping up sound tracks. Only about 30 or 40 hours remain before I can start to attack the stuff that the Shrewsbury Folk Festival sent me at the start of the year.

And I shudder to think of how much there is to do there. I’ve told you before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … that i’m far too busy to die

Tea was baked potato with salad and one of the breaded quorn fillets that I like. And my home-made mayonnaise from the other week is still keeping on going. The garlic in there hasn’t dissolved the bottle, despite how muc I put in it. I really should put somewhat less in there than I do.

So having finished my notes, I’ll wait for it to go quite than do my dictating. Two programmes that need re-dictating and a third that I prepared last week. It’ll all be a right mess when I finish

Tomorrow there’s an alarm call – 11:00, which might be late for some but it’s early for me on a Sunday. I always stay up quite late because it’s only when the streets are perfectly quiet that I can dictate the notes properly

And then there’s pizza dough to make, and anything else that I can think of. I’ve not made any biscuits for ages, have I? Chocolate biscuits are always good but it’s been years since I’ve made any oat and honey ones. I might think about that.

Right now though I’m going to relax for a little while and find something interesting to read, like that friend of mine who read all of these horrifying reports on the effects of smoking.
"They frightened me so much that I gave up" he said
"Gave up smoking?" I asked
"No" he replied. "Reading"

Thursday 7th March 2024 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not sitting in a rainbow but up on the ceiling of my hospital room in Paris. The doctor has just missed his aim with the lumbar puncture and found the central nerve

So if ever you want to find out what pain is all about, I advise you to try that and you won’t have to ask again.

Seriously, that was the most painful thing that has ever happened to me and I sincerely hope that they don’t do that again.

At least he found his target the second time around and extracted enough nervous fluid to last a good while.

So anyway it was another late night last night as I was finishing off the things that I needed to do, leaving half of them undone as usual. There never seems to be enough time to do anything these days, so I’m finding.

At least it was a peaceful night, without too much disturbance. In fact I can’t recall anything even dreaming

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and went to check the blood pressure – 14.1/9.1, which is very close to what they want to see. Last night it was 17.1/11.7 so it really must have been a peaceful night.

Next stop was the kitchen to sort out my medication I made some bread, kneading it gently as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles.

While the bread was rising , I began to make a flapjack from a recipe that I found last night on the internet before going to bed. I didn’t have half of the ingredients so it was a very inventive one too but it’ll probably still taste as nice.

In the bathroom I had a good wash and washed the shorts that I wear in bed, forgetting that I’d left my elastic musculation bands in the pockets. Ahh well …

By now the bread was cooked so I made my sandwiches while I was waiting for the flapjack to finish cooking but the taxi driver caught me by surprise by coming early so I had barely time to finish packing my sandwiches.

And the flapjack? That’ll have to finish cooking on its own and it’ll be nice when I come back.

And the stuff that I left all over the worktop?

The driver was the woman who had taken me once before and true to form, she complained and vented her frustrations on the other drivers for every metre of the 344-kilometre route. A proper olde-worlde taxi driver as I said last time

We had time to stop for a coffee but wished we hadn’t when we reached Paris. The Prif was blocked solid so we ended up coming off and finding our way through the back streets of Paris with the result that instead of being 10 minutes early we were 10 minutes late.

This time I’m in The Land of Blue and White. My room is quite nice and so was the receptionist who showed me the way. She made a friendly remark about my eyes, which cheered me up.

So the plan is a lumbar puncture almost immediately and a brain scan tomorrow. If the results show no further spreading of the cancer into the nervous system I can go home tomorrow afternoon

However, if there’s a spreading of the cancer, then “we’ll see”.

He thinks that I ought to continue at the Centre de Re-education and will give me a prescription, and he’ll also give me a prescription for the nurse who comes to my house to deal with the leaking ankle.

Before leaving, he slapped this freezing patch on my back.

The young nurse came back to wire me up and take a blood sample. And poor thing – she had several goes before she could find a vein. My arm ended up full of holes and it reminded me of the old joke about the difference between a hedgehog and a police car and which is far too coarse to repeat in these pages.

By now the doctor came back with two nurse, one to help him and the other to hold me all curled up and to stroke my arm in reassurance.

And then they began.

And it was just as well that they had a nurse holding me down. I was suspicious before when I saw this second nurse come in, and now I know why. I had a feeling that he must have had a go before and with the same result

When he hit my central nerve I think that the whole hospital knew about it and the best that could be said for it was that the second attempt was much less painless. He managed to draw off plenty of fluid anyway.

In between all of the comings and goings I managed to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night, such as they were. It was a very poor crop last night. We were all in someone ‘s house having a party. Someone had prepared a huge meat pie or huge pie of some description. There was someone who was going away so he said “I’ll have a slice of this pie”. He decided that it was the nicest pie that he had ever tasted and arranged to take it with him. He asked about any more on any other days. The woman said “Tuesday” which was the previous day she’d had a day off so nothing had been made. He was extremely disappointed with that because he was hoping that he could lay his hands on another pie like the first one but not with any luck

Abd that reminds me that I ought to be thinking about baking another vegan pie sometime. They are really nice with potatoes, veg and gravy and its been a while since I’ve had one.

But as I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I need to make more room in my freezer. It’s full to the brim yet again and I still have the sausage rolls that I made the other week resting in the ice box of the fridge.

It’s no use either saying that I should have bought a bigger freezer either. I’d have just filled it up just as quickly with all kinds of other stuff and there still wouldn’t have been room in there. I always found that the amount of possessions that you have always expands quite quickly to fill the space available, regardless of how much that is, and you always never have enough room.

While all of this was going on I was having a perfusion. It finished quite quickly and blood was being drawn back into the pipe. When the nurse uncoupled me she swung the pipe round and this place looked like a slaughterhouse as the blood from the pipe went everywhere.

What an unholy mess that was. She cleaned up most of it but missed some and the place doesn’t look much better.

Tea was an assortment of whatever they could find for me and it ended up, to my surprise, being quite substantial, which makes a change. I’ve eve been able to lay in a store of supplies for the leaner times that lie ahead.

So now that they’ve finished with my feet I’m off to bed, and I’ll try to sleep if I can manage it.

There’s so much noise in a place like this, and that’s the problem. I’m a very light sleeper, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and the slightest noise disturbs me. I can’t ever sleep in here.

The noise in fact reminds me of when I was out one night with Percy Penguin and we drove past her local village hall. There was all kinds of shouting and yelling coming from within.
"What’s going on there?" I asked.
"Not much" she replied. "They are holding a Young Farmers Ball"
"And what’s all the noise then?" I asked. "Can’t he get them to let go?"

Friday 1st March 2024 – DYDD GWYL DEWI HAPUS …

… to everyone who can understand that.

And a happy St David’s Day to those of you who can’t.

It didn’t occur to me until this morning that I ought to be making a leek and potato soup, or maybe some bara brith or lava bread. It completely slipped my mind until it was far too late to do anything about it.

However, I did remember to prepare a “St David’s Day Special” for the radio featuring nothing but Welsh rock musicians. People like Man and Deke Leonard pumping out the stuff, but also stuff like Kim Simmonds from his heyday with Savoy Brown.

And also The Neutrons, desperate for a female voice for one of their songs on TALES FROM THE BLUES COCOONS, and someone drags in this young dancer who they found in ballet school down the road, Caromay Dixon, who was only 15 at the time but whose voice hypnotised all of us there.

They even WROTE A SONG for her to sing on the album.

But anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

Last night was another late night and I didn’t have much sleep yet again. No football match to keep me awake – I was busy doing other things.

However for a change, it was good night’s sleep and I felt much better for it when the alarm went off. I still didn’t want to drag myself out of bed when the alarm went off, but it couldn’t be helped.

First stop was the blood pressure, and after all this time it seems that this part of the medication is working. Last night’s was 16.3/13.5 but this morning’s was 13.5/7.8, well within the parameters that they sent me at the start.

In the living room I had to track down some medication and then I could fuel myself up.

This morning’s task was to make bread for the weekend – three bread rolls. And even though I did exactly the same as I did last week, the dough didn’t rise today like it had done then.

The only difference was the yeast. Is this cheap yeast no good then? And ought I to be using the more expensive yeast that seemed to work last week? That’s an interesting idea.

My cheese on toast was still nice though so I’m not complaining too much.

While I was at it, I made a large rice pudding again to last me for the next couple of days. I’m becoming quite a fan of those too.

Having had my breakfast I came in here to listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, who had come with me. There was a group of us at some kind of athletics meeting last night. We were the ones putting out all of the hurdles etc for the athletes to jump etc. This went on for quite a while and then they announced the winner. I wasn’t paying that much attention but they also said that he’d won the student games and the National Indoor games in the summer. I was very keen to find out who he was so I decided to use the internet so I could look it up. We drifted on from there and were on our way home. Liz – the “other Liz” was with us and I was with Percy Penguin. We came out of High Street in Crewe and walked up Market Street in the pedestrian area. Percy Penguin and I had a very happy air about us as if something important had happened.

we were actually turning into Victoria Street at that moment from Market Street.

Next weekend it will be 15 years since the “other Liz” shuffled off this mortal coil. We served on the same University committees so we often found ourselves travelling together from one end of the country to the other – from Milton Keynes up to Newcastle upon Tyne and then down to Bristol for meetings of the Disabled Students group.

On one occasion, stopping off at Shrewsbury for a meal on our way from Bristol to Newcastle upon Tyne we encountered an old girlfriend of mine from school. On another occasion we came across a Wishbone Ash concert so we hung around for a while until it started.

She came to Brussels as a guest of the Belgian Association and attended a couple of meetings of the North European Students in Cologne with Jackie and me.

After she died I took her daughter to Canada to install her at University there and, leaving STRAWBERRY MOOSE to take care of her, I went off on my EPIC JOURNEY ON THE TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY

But anyway, all that was a long time ago.

After breakfast I made a start on finishing off the radio notes but I had another one of those cataleptic-like trances again – sitting for a couple of hours totally unable to function. It was just as if I had switched off. It was really strange.

But at some point I must have gone off to sleep because at some point in the proceedings I was changing the clutch cable in a Ford Sierra – and what a messy job that was having to route it through the bodywork. We ended up with most of the front panelling out of the car to fit it.

Being miles away like this, it took an age to come back into the present world but when I did I hauled myself off into the kitchen to make it look a little more respectable for the cleaner

While she was here I finished off the notes and then began to convert a pile of the music in the queue into an appropriate format to use on the radio. There’s tons of that in the waiting list and it will take an age to convert.

But at least I’ve managed to salvage a couple of albums that had become lost in the technological piles of spaghetti and I’m sure that there will be others hidden in there too.

Tea tonight was salad and chips with some of these nuggets. The air fryer came to the rescue again. I’m nevertheless going to have to look to see if I can make better use of it.

There must be dozens of things that I can be doing with it that I’ve not even explored yet. Cake-making, for example. I have a small cake tin that will fit.

And what else?

But as long as I can remain awake long enough to make them. I’m completely fed up of falling asleep at the drop of a hat. It’s really getting on my nerves.

Our old friend Gotthold Lessing said about some other subject "A man who does not lose his reason over certain things has none to lose" and I’m certainly going to lose my reason over this.

If I had a spleen I would vent it, that’s for sure.

And that reminds me of the doctor in that hospital in Verdun in 2017 who said that he wanted to check my spleen and began to undo my shirt
"I hope that you have good eyesight" I said
"Why’s That?" he asked
"Because my spleen’s in a glass jar on a shelf in a hospital in Montlucon 300 miles away from here"

Friday 23rd February 2024 – MY DAY OF …

… baking was quite a success.

And it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that

Yes, everything that I did today seemed to work and I’ve ended up with some pretty nice stuff. I’m quite pleased.

Ad for a change I actually had a good night too. In bed nice and early and I didn’t have much that kept me awake . And once I’d gone to sleep, I stayed asleep until the alarm went off.

Billy Cotton made me leave the bed and the first thing that I did was to take my blood pressure. 15.1/8.6. That’s low compared to how it has been. You can tell that I didn’t have a visit from Castor, Zero or TOTGA last night.

Before I went to bed it was 17.5/10.4 so the sleep did me some good by the looks of things.

After the morning medication the first thing that I did was to make the dough for the bread. And kneading it gently, as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles, I was careful not to overwork it by resorting to violence.

When I was quite satisfied that it was ready, I rolled it out into a long sausage, cut it into three equal sections and then flattened it all down.

A handy small baking tray with a piece of baking paper was called into service upon which they could repose and hopefully rise.

Next step was to make the vegan cream filling. Whizz ip some milk until it’s quite frothy, add sugar, a little butter, vanilla extract, cornflour, and whizz it all up while slowly heating it in a saucepan.

That was complicated. I had the hand-whisk whisking it all over the kitchen until I managed to rig up a saucepan lid as a shield.

Meanwhile, melt some chocolate in the microwave and when it’s melted, whisk it well into the mixture

When It’s all whisked and nice and thick, leave it to cool. And there’s my chocolate cream filling.

Then the chocolate cake. A mixture of flour, sugar, oil, water and cocoa powder with a few extras. All mixed up into a kind-of batter-like goo, poured into a cake tray and then baked for 40 minutes.

By now the vegan cream was cold so it went in the fridge and I put the bread in the oven to bake.

They had risen quite nicely and were baked to perfection too so I had some lovely cheese on toast.

Rosemary rang me in the middle of everything so I phoned her back. Just a short chat today – a mere 58 minutes during which we put the World to rights but I also ended up going for a virtual drive around Montlucon.

Once everything was finished and the chaos was over I had a listen to find out where I’d been during the night. I’d started work but there was still a girl at school who I happened to like. For the last few mornings I’d been taking her into school. One particular morning we were running really late. It meant that I was going to be late for work if I dropped her off at school but nevertheless I was going to drop her off. We were preparing everything and panicking a little – I wasn’t dressed even. One of my friends came along and asked me what was happening. The girl briefly explained. He immediately said “I can run you into school to save Eric some bother”. I said that it’s no bother because I was quite interested in spending as much time as possible with her but he absolutely insisted and insisted until in the end she went off with him. I was furious. I sent him a text message “after all you promised me last time …” (because we’d had a similar situation a while ago where he’d done exactly the same thing and spiked my guns with a certain young lady. So I was set to go to work but there was a whole crowd of schoolkids around. I was in my Ford Cortina estate. I had to make the kids move so I could leave the car park but for some unknown reason they didn’t want to go. At that moment the car turned into a kind of cross between a bus and a taxi. All the kids were pleased because that was what they were waiting for. They said that they’d been waiting for a bus but the school had produced something else so there were some issues. I had to watch them safely aboard. I wasn’t sure which school they attended or where they went so in order to prevent a stampede I said “Primary School children first”. A few came on. Then I had to think of another way of dividing up these schoolkids so that I wouldn’t have all of them on board at once. But I was absolutely furious with my friend for spiking my guns with that other girl. It’s exactly what has happened before with him and it’s exactly what has happened in loads of dreams before this. Any time I’m anywhere close to getting the girl someone comes along to spoil it

Looking back at what I dictated, I was surprised that I’d been able to express myself like that during a dream. They must have been things that I felt quite deeply.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it’s usually my family who appear during the night and forestall all of my plans, sticking the baton dans la rue of whatever project I’m undertaking. They are always appearing at the crucial moment just as I’m about to Get The Girl and blow my chances out of the water.

But in the past, there have been a couple of friends who had the habit of doing that. One of them pretended to be looking after my best interests, as if I was senile or something, but in actual fact he had another agenda completely.

The second one, the one in the dream, he couldn’t stand to see anyone Get The Girl, whether he had already got a girl or not. He was of the opinion that only he should ever Get The Girl, no matter how many other girls he already had and that’s not an exaggeration either.

Anyway, this is all water under the bridge. There’s no point really in raking up stuff like this. Ambrose Bierce said "A year is a period of 365 disappointments" and we should all simply be resigned to it

It’s as I said though, there are some things that drag you down. Instead of trying to rise up, people simply want you to be down at their level. And in the end you either sink in with them or cast them all aside.

In Matthew 10:14 the Bible tells you "if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet"

So abandoning another good rant for the moment, the cleaner was here again so I finished off the radio notes and hacked a few sound-tracks about to extract and convert a few tracks that I need for the next programme.

While I was at it, I hacked around a few sound-tracks of Louis de Funès films to collect a few more sound-bytes. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that although he’s been dead for several years, he and I have some interesting chats on my radio programmes.

Of course, having served on the Students’ Executive Committee and on other committees dealing with the various University bodies, I’m quite used to communicating with the deceased.

But Louis de Funès is my favourite French actor. Who will ever forget the MUSKATNOOS, HERR MULLER? or the NUDISTS sketches?

His sound-bytes really fit in well with my programmes and I keep on looking out for more in order to enlarge our conversations.

When the cleaner had gone I went into the kitchen, took the cake and cut it into 3 equal sizes. The took the cream from the fridge, whisked it again and used it as a filler in order to layer the slices. It was then wrapped in baking paper, clingfilm and put in the fridge.

And from what I tasted from the crumbs that were scattered around, it will be a world-beating cake. Nice and rich and chocolaty. I hope that it will last a while too. I’m fed up of things going off so quickly

Tea was chips from the air fryer with some of those vegan nuggets. There was a salad too which was delicious, and it would have been even more so had I remembered the mushrooms. I really don’t know what’s happening to me right now.

The vegan mayonnaise that I made though is holding up really well and was delicious.

So no alarm in the morning, a nice lie-in with a cooked breakfast and chocolate cake for my afternoon snack. It doesn’t get much better than this. A nice lazy day is planned with a football match in the late afternoon and a cooked tea with vegan wellington and roast potatoes.

That should give me something to celebrate, right enough. And i deserve it. I never thought that I’d ever arrive here. But as Mae West said, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

However, it’s too late to do anything about that now. I’ve managed to live to a ripe old age, and there’s no doubt that as I’ve grown older, I’ve certainly grown riper.

Anyone nearby will tell you that.