Tag Archives: hospital

Wednesday 24th April 2024 – THAT WAS AN …

… adventure!

Right now I’m back home sitting in my favourite chair and you’ve no idea just how grateful I am. It was the last thing that I expected today but as Paul Peña wrote and Steve Miller sang, YOU KNOW YOU GOTTA GO THROUGH HELL BEFORE YOU GET TO HEAVEN

Last night though, after I’d finished my notes etc I went straight to bed and spent a very pleasant hour or so listening to “Alquin” on the computer. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, THE MOUNTAIN QUEEN is one of my favourite albums of all time, especially since I met the group, a band from Delft in the Netherlands, in a dingy damp cellar underneath an old hotel in Crewe in 1975.

It was something of a disturbed, turbulent night. I can’t recall too many interruptions from the staff but there’s a huge pile of stuff on the dictaphone that you will discover as you read on.

By 08:00 I was wide awake and as no-one had come past by 08:30 to awaken me, bring me breakfast, take a blood sample etc, I left the bed, did what I had to do and then washed my clothes.

Just as I was hanging up the sodden rags to dry out, the doctor came in and handed me my leaving pouch.
"Am I leaving then?" I asked
"Ohh" she replied. "Hasn’t anyone told you? Anyway, your taxi will be here at 13:00"
What a shame she hadn’t come 5 minutes earlier when my clothes were still dry

She went through the documents with me and made sure that I understood everything.

And then I went through my requirements, including the fact that she needs to apply to the Securité Sociale. for another series of authorisations, but I don’t think that she understood. That’s important of course, so I’ll ring up the taxi company and have them involved in the proceedings.

"By the way" she added "You have a consultation at ‘Imagerie’ at 10:30" so bang goes my idea of a shower. It’s a good job though that I had a good wash and changed my clothes.

At 10:00 the driver turned up to take me to “Imagerie” and off we set.

When we arrived I was told that they wanted to take a few scans of my heart so I had to strip off, clad myself in some paper overalls and then lie flat out on a bed while they clamped all kinds of strange devices to me and pumped me full of some kind of fluid.

Once I was ready they passed me through one of these Stargate time-tunnel things, back and forth for half an hour or more, taking all kinds of strange photos while the machine made all kinds of strange noises and I had to do all kinds of breathing exercises

Eventually they dragged me out and with my head spinning and body shaking (and it still is, even now) I went and dressed ready for the ride back.

And whose stupid idea was it to take my blood pressure as soon as I’d come back from all of that?

Batman and Robin weren’t on duty today – I must have scared them off – so another young nurse came in to ask me "we need to have your room ready for another arrival at 13:00. Would you mind waiting in the waiting room?"

So that’s why they want me gone. "Well, if it’s a nice young lady, I don’t mind sharing the room" I replied but she told me to clear off.

They brought me my lunch to the waiting room – bulghour with chicken followed by pork and courgettes. The peaches with almonds for dessert were nice though.

The taxi was booked for 13:00 so of course he turned up at 14:40. With the A13 being closed it’s total chaos in the outskirts of Paris right now.

Once in the car we had to go on a TRAVERSÉE DE PARIS, with no Bourvil to carry my suitcase, to another hospital to pick up another passenger. The trip across the city was a nightmare and finding the correct entrance was something else too.

And then there were “parking issues” while the driver went in search of his passenger.

Eventually we set off for home, going a very tortuous way via Rungis and Versailles to avoid the queues on a journey that seemed to take for ever and after a pitstop near Caen, we had first to go to Bréhal to drop off passenger number 2. We eventually arrived back here at 19:45.

My faithful cleaner was waiting for me which was lovely. She helped me up the stairs (and I needed it too) and into my room, where she went through the papers and took what she needed for the chemist. I had an energy drink – and I needed that too.

There was one jar of vegan pesto remaining and I’d saved it for some special occasion or other. “Now” seemed like a special occasion so I made a big dish of pasta with assorted vegetables and smothered it all with half the jar.

And it was delicious too.

So this is all that I’m doing. I’m totally wasted and I’m going to bed. With luck I’ll have a really good sleep ready to face Isabelle the nurse tomorrow morning

As for the dictaphone notes, there are quite a few of these. I was with my brother (so I was right) and we were having to go to Shavington. We set out to walk but it was really late at night. Our parents had gone to Sandbach but we wondered why. They were supposed to be doing something but we reckoned that it was really an excuse for a party and a drink. As we walked it was the biggest moon that we had ever seen. There was only probably about a tenth of it that was bright but we could make out the shape of the rest of it above the horizon. It was absolutely enormous. As we walked we looked at the houses and the Christmas lights. We wondered whether one of them was actually on fire because of the way the lights were working. Then we cut off to Shavington down that track that I take frequently in my dreams, a long, narrow track, but I’ve not been down it for a while but at one time I’d go down it once per week. As we started to go down there – we’d gone maybe a quarter of a mile – we noticed someone leading some horses. My brother made some offensive remark about me being unwilling to spend any money. It seemed that his idea would be to hire a couple of these horses and go to Shavington on horseback to save having to walk. I thought that there’s nowhere to leave the horses, you can’t just tie them up in the street like in a Western. You’re going to need someone to hold them while we were at the doctor’s. It’s all going to be just far too complicated to even think about hiring a couple of horses to go there and come back.

That’s a track down which I’ve walked, or skied, or climbed on many occasions during the night and I’ve no idea why it keeps on cropping up like this. I’ve no idea if it exists in real life and I’ve certainly never encountered it for real as far as I’m aware.

Later on I was with a girl and her sister. There was some kind of event going on in the village but it was really poorly attended. There were very few people there. There were two beer tents and most of the people with me, because we were a large group, preferred one tent but I thought that the beer in the second was much better. I tended to patronise that one. In the end I managed to persuade people that that one was best and they came over. They were wondering how everything worked so I explained that I bet that he was really disappointed with the attendance. I explained that when I used to put on rock concerts I’d hire a complete bar and just buy the beer etc but I needed about 80 or 90 people to make a profit at the bar and that rarely happened. They were surprised by that. In the end we set out to walk home. I’d sold everything that I had in rural France except for one plot of land where I had four Cortinas parked. My friend’s sister was planning on moving too. I had my old J4 so she told me that when we reached her house, to back it into the drive and do something useful but I’d no idea what she meant by that and what her plans were. There was a big house for sale with lovely gardens that had been empty for years. We were admiring that on the way back. My friend said that she’d enquired about buying it but it needed more money than she had. We carried on walking and talking back to my friend’s sister’s house but I’d still no idea about what was going on and there were only a few more hours left before the end of the day. if she was planning on moving today she was leaving it extremely late because we’re never going to fit everything of hers into my J4 van.

Cortinas as usual, and my old J4 van has started to make regular appearances just recently too which is bizarre. But it’s true about the bar. We could rent the bar and staff for free if the turnover was over a certain amount but the owner needed a guaranteed minimum to cover his expenses and that had to be made up by the hirer if there was a shortfall

And then I was watching two girls, one of them a ward of mine, fighting over a boyfriend using broadswords. It was an extremely tame affair with the two of them jabbing at each other. Most of the wounds with broadswords according to modern autopsy were like overarm slashes down onto the head yet these were just poking at each other. The ward of mine asked permission to go out with this boy. I gave it because I didn’t see any reason why she shouldn’t but the other girl was extremely upset. This led to the fight.

And overarm slashes being the common cause of death in medieval fights with broadswords. I was impressed that I could remember anatomical details like that during a dream.

There had been some dispute between two men over something too. One had gone into a second-hand shop, changed his clothes and hid in the shop in the hope of escape of his pursuer but that didn’t work. They had a fight too. Somewhere in the middle of all of this I was walking through Crewe planning on going for an ice cream with my brother’s wife (as if that would ever be likely to happen) when I bumped into a guy who told me that he was going to Birmingham for the best ice cream in the UK. I knew this guy from somewhere but I couldn’t think where so I decided to go with him. We dashed to pick up my brother’s wife but she wasn’t in so we headed for the railway station. I boarded the train with this guy and went to see the conductor about buying a seat but my friend told me that there were no seats available on this train. It was completely full. I had to reluctantly disembark and go back to my original plans.

There was something else but I only remember a small part of this. I was with a guy who was going across the Channel on a ferry so I thought that I’d go with him. We went in his car, drove to the ferry terminal and joined the queue but we couldn’t understand why all these people were standing around so strangely. We suddenly realised that each person was about twelve feet apart from the one in front and behind. That was how their cars were going to be parked on the ferry. There were no cars there though, just the people standing in position. We had to go to the back of the queue then walk twelve paces behind the person who was there and then stand and wait around. God knows what was happening to the vehicles because there were none about at all. Everyone else kept on turning up, people having fun in the ferns and bracken that were all around this car park. It really was the strangest thing that I’ve ever encountered, all of us just standing there twelve feet apart in our own little family groups etc and not a car in sight.

So after transcribing all of that I’ll probably go back to sleep again.

While I’m doing that, I can reflect on my conversation with the photographer as I left the Stargate
"Did you manage to find my heart?" I asked
"Yes I did" she replied
"Thank heavens for that" I replied. "I’m not turning into a Conservative after all"

Tuesday 23rd April 2024 – OUCH! THAT HURT!

And if you read on, you’ll find out what and why. I’ve not had a very good day.

Anyway, last night after everything had finished I sat down and READ A BOOK about an American sailor and his family, including his 6 year old daughter, captured in the South Pacific in 1917 by a German sea-going raider and who spent 10 months as prisoner on board before being shipwrecked off the coast of Denmark.

After that I settled down, fully dressed because I was freezing, under the covers and that was that.

A few times during the night I was awoken by a few comings and goings but for some reason or other I was so tired that I was back asleep almost immediately and ended up not awakening until they came to take my blood sample at about 09:15.

Actually it was the little student nurse who came on her own so I told her that if I leave here alive she’ll have earned her diploma. Anyway, she managed to find some blood. I still have some left, apparently.

Once she’d gone I went for a wash and brush up as best as I could and then a driver came to collect me. It was the rock music fan who has taken me before so we had a good chat before he dropped me off at Neurology.

While I was waiting for my appointment I had a good chat with the receptionist and another patient and saw several photos of cats and dogs before being ushered into the room where the examination was due to take place.

It was the doctor who had seen me before on two occasions. He and his sidekick gave me the electric shock tests to my arms and legs and I was right – there is a further deterioration. So no surprise there. We had a good chat and now he’s gone away to think about a Plan B.

The same driver came to pick me up for my next appointment but that’s not until tomorrow so he brought me back here.

While I was eating lunch a doctor came to slap a freezing patch on my lower back and we all know what that means. She took an age to find the correct position so I asked her "can’t you see the scars from the previous attempts?"

When she told me that she could, I told her that they ought to paint an “X marks the spot” or even a target in the correct place.

A short while later, Batman and Robin, the young ward nurse and her little student who follows her around like a shadow, came to prepare me.

It was the little student who drew the short straw and had to hold me down and I bet she wished that she hadn’t when the doctor missed her aim with the lumbar puncture and found the central nerve.

Eventually, but not soon enough by any means, the torment was over and I could go to lie down. “You’ll just need to be flat out for an hour” but she was joking. After an hour or so a nurse came round to make sure that I was still alive and to take my blood pressure, with predictable results. But in fact it was several hours before I crawled out of bed, and then only for a particular reason too.

Once I’d settled down in my chair I transcribed the dictaphone notes. Yesterday’s are now on line and then I started on today’s. I was going to start at a new school but the morning that I was due to go I had a ‘phone call that began speaking in Welsh. It was a young girl saying that she was glad to go back to live in Easingwold. I couldn’t understand who it was but the conversation became more and more intimate until in the end, I had to go, I said plenty of encouraging words and finished with “I love you” but I had no idea who this person was at all. Absolutely none. I arrived at the new school but couldn’t find out how anything worked, the system of how lessons were organised etc. In the end I stumbled across a lesson from one of my class so I asked the teacher where all the other lessons for our year were being held. He gave some kind of nebulous speech abut how I should have looked at the newspaper. Of course I knew nothing about this. I found a copy of the newspaper but didn’t understand it. In the end I found some kind of paper print-out with the details on it. It was headed with the most extraordinary offensive message that had nothing whatever to do with the subject matter. I thought it totally astonishing that they’d pin this on the wall. I couldn’t find any paper then. Every piece of paper on which I tried to write, I was making no impression with a ball-point pen. The writing was just not sticking as if it had one of these shiny surfaces. I kept on coming across paper that had already been used, carbon copies of the ‘phone call that I’d had earlier in the day from that girl etc, but nothing that I could do would be able to reproduce anything on any kind of piece of paper. It was just so frustrating because I wanted to crack on and organise myself as this was just not working at all.

Then this conversation that I’d had in the morning had completely shaken me. I didn’t have a clue who on earth it was to whom I was speaking and I really wish that I knew because it had all the air of being something really interesting. The only Welsh-speaking girl I knew at school was only in passing and it certainly wasn’t her so who on earth was it?

Then we had a boisterous kind of office party where everything was going out of control. The sad part about it was that these were all middle-aged people. The boss there had picked on someone else’s wife and was making life really uncomfortable for them. They were trying to work out a moment in which to disappear such as when the boss went to the toilet but they’d brought the PA with them so putting that into the car in the space of a couple of minutes was going to be complicated. There were all kinds of things like this. Some woman was making some very plain and clear hints that she wanted to dance etc with me but of course I was having absolutely none of this and sat stoically at my seat in the dining room watching the events unfold, taking absolutely no notice of any of the extremely broad hints that she was dropping. All in all it was an extremely sad evening watching these people behaving like this

There have been more than a few parties like this where everyone makes a fool of themselves and I note that I even made a remark about it while I was asleep, which shows you just what I think about it all.

Then I was going through the videotapes looking for a blank one but came across a football match that took place years ago that I hadn’t seen. It involved one of these obscure South American republics playing in similar colours to Portugal and who had qualified unexpectedly for the World Cup after beating a selection of prize teams from other parts of the World to make it to the finals. I’d obviously taped their opening match but I couldn’t remember how it went or what the score was so instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing I put on this videotape and settled down to watch them. I got as far as watching them come out onto the pitch before I awoke. I’d no idea who their opponents were in this particular game.

And despite what I said the other night, Castor put in a very brief appearance last night. And wasn’t it nice to see her? We were on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR rearranging the dining arrangements. I was passing the cutlery and crockery and glassware from one table to the next. There was the final piece that I picked up to take round to the other table and who should be sitting there but Castor? She was talking to someone else about their life, I suppose. She was saying that she was born into a policeman’s family. I’ll tell you that that didn’t ‘arf ring a few alarm bells with me finding out that she was the progeny of a policeman’s couple.

But even if it were true and I had known, nothing of what happened back then would have changed for a minute. As I said at the time, I would have accepted any consequence. And as Joni Mitchell sang, YOU KNOW I’D GO BACK THERE TOMORROW BUT FOR THE WORK THAT I’VE TAKEN ON

And fancy the dream stopping there! I suppose that it was the shock that awoke me.

While I was asleep in the afternoon I was going for a walk. I had all of the four cats coming with me, following in my footsteps, climbing and jumping over each other as they used to do etc. There were a few members of my family with me. I had to take some money out to pay for something or other, housekeeping or whatever. I needed €60:00. I walked as far as the cash machine but when I went to look through my wallet I couldn’t find the bank card that I usually used. In the end, looking through everything I found a selection of other bank cards but I wasn’t sure which ones would work and which ones wouldn’t. There was one from the bank in Belgium so I put that in the cash machine. It seemed to read the card because it asked for the PIN. I typed in the usual number and that seemed to accept it but that was as far as I reached in the dream.

Tea tonight was salmon lasagne with creamed spinach so some horse trading was undertaken but I’m not doing too well for food which is a shame, but not unexpected.

So right now I’m off to bed to try to recapture Castor and to hope that they try to check my blood pressure at calmer moments.

But while the little student was preparing me for my lumbar puncture I asked her why doctors always wear masks
"Is it to do with infection?" she asked.
"Not at all" I replied. "It’s in case the procedure goes all wrong. Then they can’t identify the guilty party"

Monday 22nd April 2024 – MEANWHILE, HERE IN …

… The Land Of Grey And Pink, or Ice-Station Zebra as it ought to be called, I’m tucked up in bed in the cold awaiting my doom.

And also awaiting my evening meal, but that’s another story.

Last night after everything finished I hauled myself off to bed quite early and tried my best to settle down to sleep but as usual these days it didn’t quite work out like that. However later on I must have managed to drop off because there’s some stuff on the dictaphone. I was with a girl. She had a big box of something or other. It was a case of having to pass it through a hatch. Going up and down this hatch with this box was extremely complicated. One day I happened to find it in the way so I asked how come I found it in the way. It suddenly occurred to me afterwards that I must have pushed it in behind me then moved it round, then somehow managed to work my way round past it as I passed through the hatchway. Once I’d worked out exactly how I’d done it, it became a lot easier to go up and down past. It was less of an inconvenience. What actually happened was by leaving it at the bottom of this hatch I couldn’t actually close off the draught-proofing. I had to sit and think to try to work out exactly how I was going to do that. Then she told me that it was a packet that the Post needed to collect and send away, in which case it’ll be out of the way. I couldn’t thus understand the problem but she explained that if she left it outside it was raining and the package would be wet. I hoped that the Post Office would come quickly because this is proving to be so complicated. It doesn’t need to be this complicated at all. The quicker we can resolve this issue the better it would be for everyone.

I was at one of these Alternative Technology meetings last night too. It was a big meeting discussing the manufacture of some kind of alcohol for fuel. I had to go along to add the oats to it but of course I had no idea how to do it. There was a huge retort stand with everything being heated by a bunsen burner. It all looked quite complicated. They said “add the oats” so I had to ask the meeting how to do it. The answer was quite simply “just stuff it down one of the holes into the test tube”, no preparation, no cleaning, no nothing. I thought “if that’s how they want it doing, that’s how I’m going to do it. If they want it doing before the full meeting I’d simply do it the best that I could”.

As seems to be usual when I’m keyed up for something important like this I was awake and out of bed before the alarm went off and I took the opportunity to wash my puttees and my nightclothes so that everything will be nice and clean and ready for me when I come back home, if I ever do.

And that’s not like me either, is it?

What else isn’t like me is that I had MY BAGS ARE PACKED AND READY TO GO, as Peter, Paul and Mary would have sung, so I just had to wait around for the driver to come to collect me.

Bang on 07:00 she turned up as well, my favourite taxi driver, so we were going to be in for an exciting trip. Anything to relieve the boredom.

She had a couple of errands to perform around the town on the way and then we hit the highway.

The journey was quiet to start with but being stuck behind a dithering driver at the péage seemed to switch her on and the running commentary began for the rest of the trip.

That was just as well – I couldn’t stand the quiet.

The autoroute that we usually take into Paris is closed at the moment so we had to go another way.

That led to all kinds of confusion but luckily she was rather more restrained than last time and when we ended up in the wrong lane we simply went with the flow this time instead of performing some kind of dramatic U-turn as you might see on American “cops and robbers” TV.

We were ages late in arriving which is no surprise given the conditions, and once I was registered in I was shown up to my deep-freeze on the second floor where I dived fully-clothed under the bedclothes. And where I still am.

The nurse threw a bottle of water at me which was just as well after my marathon fast, and then we had the pantomime about fitting a catheter in my arm.

They offered to let the little student nurse do it, poor thing. I did admire their optimism. And we gradually went up and up the respective grades. At one time there were no fewer than 6 nurses of different ranks in the hierarchy standing around my bed until in the end someone let out a cry of joy.

My lunch (an omelette) that had been growing cold on a side table was then brought over to me and no sooner did I have my fork stuck into the accompanying salad when the doctor appeared. It’s all just one more distraction.

While I was trying to doze off after lunch the whole world and his wife came in to interrupt me just as I was starting on some kind of dream of something to do with wartime. No sooner had it started under way when everyone came in and it immediately disappeared which was a shame.

The nurses did a few more things before clearing off and I crashed out yet again.

The funny thing about all of this was that no sooner had I set foot in my room that they went to check my blood pressure.
"Blimey! That’s high!" said the nurse.
Well, of course it is. I’ve just come 360 kms with my favourite taxi driver
"I’ll come back in an hour to check it again"
So she came back to do it again immediately after 6 nurses had just finished poking and prodding me – with predictable results.

So now that I’ve had my meal I’m going to try to go to sleep again, this time until morning. And hope that I have some better results than of late.

They’ve offered me a sleeping pill but I’ve turned it down. It’s like the young girl who, on her wedding night, propped herself on a chair by the window
"Aren’t you … errr … coming to bed?" asked her husband
"Ohh no" she replied. "My mummy told me that this would be the most exciting night of my life and I’m not going to miss a minute of it"

Friday 19th April 2024 – YOU HAVE NO IDEA …

… – or maybe you do, I dunno. I know very little of your personal habits – just how absolutely wonderful it is to be standing underneath a constant stream of hot water out of a shower outlet after all these months of being without.

Now that my emergency backpack has arrived, complete with wash kit, spare pair of undies and the like, I closed the door to my room, put something to stop the bathroom door being opened, and away I went underneath the little shower tucked away in the corner of the bathroom.

Of course, it stopped my little student nurse from coming in to scrub my back and massage my clavicles, but it also stopped the retired Bulgarian female weightlifter from doing the same, and also stopped the nurse from coming in to remind me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom

And I’ll tell you now that it was heaven.

While we’re on the subject of the massaging of clavicles … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had a visitor during the night.

Actually, I had several because it was quite a mobile night but the most important of them all was Zero. It’s been a while since she’s put in an appearance, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but there she was last night and wasn’t it nice to see her?

All I need now is for TOTGA and Castor to come back to see me but I have a rather depressing feeling, at least about Castor. As for TOTGA, it’s not quite two years ago that … well, never mind.

So last night after I’d finished the notes and put them on line I had a pause and then attacked the notes for Monday, which are NOW ON LINE in a basic form. I’ll add the dictaphone notes in due course, whenever that might be.

It was after midnight when I went to bed and what with 05:00 diabetes checks and the like I was expecting a turbulent night.

And I was right too, but for totally unexpected reasons. As I mentioned, Zero came to see me. We’d been going to the local pub, a group of us of all ages of people. I’d made a few enquiries along the way and I’d worked out which was everyone’s favourite biscuit. There was a young girl, probably about 9 or 10 or so who loved chocolate, there was Zero who loved a certain type of biscuit etc so what I’d done ready for when we’d be going that Saturday was that I’d been to the pub on the way home from the shops and dropped off the biscuits. We rounded up everyone and prepared to go down to the pub at lunchtime. The first thing about which we talked was “a drink for the little one” – of course, she wasn’t that little. She wanted something or other. I asked her what she wanted to eat so she mentioned “biscuits”. I pulled out a pile from under the counter and had a chocolate in my other hand. I said “right, which biscuit do you want to swap for this chocolate?”. I wasn’t given any choice because the chocolate disappeared immediately. It was the same with Zero. She chose her favourite biscuit and had that as well as the other ones that were there and wolfed it down. I began to talk to her then after everyone else had had their biscuits. Zero and I began to have a really good chat. There was some paperwork involving her that needed doing so I thought that I may as well sit down there and do that while everyone is busy and maybe persuade Zero to come over and help me fill it all in.

Then another girl who has appeared once or twice in this rubbish previously puts in an appearance. It’s as we thought, with all this turmoil going on during a school dance or something we’d all been separated because we can’t behave ourselves. I’ve been put over one side and ended up dancing with this girl but I’m busy fighting her for a little more than she’s prepared to give me, like most teenage boys back in those days. There was something else going on with one of the other girls etc so in the end the teacher called a halt to the proceedings and dragged the lot of us, the entire group, down to see the headmaster and began to recount all of the problems that she was having with us and who’s been doing what wrong. Of course he picks on me and begins to give me a really good lecture as if it’s all my fault but it’s probably only some of it and everyone else was probably to blame for a lot.

And there’s nothing new in any of that either. Whatever was going on wherever it was always seemed to be my fault, even though it was nothing to do with me.

It reminded me of a tale of woe that a friend’s daughter in the USA once told me. She was 11 and had a 7 year old brother.
"Whenever I do anything wrong, my brother tells my mom on me and she yells at me" she said once. "But if he does anything wrong and I tell my mom on him, then she says it’s my fault for not watching him properly and yells at me"
That story has a very, very familiar ring as far as I’m concerned.

But there’s a funny story about a similar situation with the children of my friend Erika in Georgia. Her two kids were about 6 and 2 and the time.
"Mom!" shouted the 6 year old. "… (the two year old) … has a choking hazard in her mouth!"
So mom dashes to the rescue and removes the offending article
"Mom!" said the 6 year old in a tone of admonishment "I think you really MUST watch us better!"

Anyway we we were back in that dream again. The teacher was giving her report. One of the younger girls was up to some kind of mischief. That girl from just now was still there. It was obvious to the teacher that there was some kind of … errr … inappropriate behaviour (especially as she was a couple of years younger than me) between the girl and me that was beginning to get out of hand in the middle of one of the songs. There was a third thing happening so in the end she decided to call it all to a halt and drag us all before the headmaster who hopefully would lay down the law and even more hopefully we might all listen to what is being said and take note.

I have to admit that I admired the optimism of some of these new teachers who came to our school straight from University

It was as I said. I was messing around with this girl. There was someone else there messing around and Zero put in another appearance doing something – I think that it was she who was singing falsely at the end. Anyway we were all passing through a group of china and the Headmistress was annoyed in case we fell over and broke it all so she read The Riot Act to us all. Generally, it was the kind of place where we wished that we’d all gone home because we’d really all been getting out of hand just then and making the teacher’s life difficult.
(…And if I’ve been fooling around with another girl – no matter who it is – when Zero is there I ought to be ashamed of myself and go home in disgrace…)

But there was no sense of shame or guilt about any kind of interaction that took place between the teachers and the pupils. It was the Law of the Jungle, them or us even when it came to a group of a dozen boys bodily picking up a teacher’s car and wedging it between two brick walls. “That’ll teach her! Get out of that one!”

My own preference was a War of Nerves, but the less said about that the better in an open forum.

They awoke me for the blood test at 05:00 and also for the diabetes test, which I passed, and so I could go back to sleep.

But not for long because I soon had the morning chorus of people around doing all kinds of things and stopping me doing anything else for a while.

Breakfast then came, complete with jam, so I was left alone to transcribe the dictaphone notes for a while.

My faithful cleaner asked me if they had told me whether I could go so I told her “no news” and 30 seconds after I sent it, they came to tell me that they’d ordered my taxi for 15:00. That was when I hit the bathroom.

Doctor n°1 came to see me when I was packing and told me that I could go, seeing as my results had improved. So I told her goodbye and thanks, that I was sorry to leave and that I hoped that I’d see her again. She blushed again and I kid you not, she skipped – really skipped – out of the door as if she was about 7.

As usual, the taxi was late coming but the driver was someone who had taken me to Paris once so I knew him. We were back quite quickly and my faithful cleaner was waiting to help me up the stairs. I really don’t know what I’d do without her.

Once inside I had a hot chocolate and apart from the banana-flavoured soya drink that I’m currently drinking, that’s it. I’ve not moved from my chair, not even to make any food. I just can’t.

Liz was on line so we had a good chat and now I’m off to bed in my nice clean bedroom – my cleaner has been busy while I’ve been away. It’s probably taken her all week to do what she’s done.

So after Zero’s dramatic reappearance last night, who’ll be coming to see me tonight? My money is of course where it usually is – on one of my family coming along uninvited.

It’s hard to believe though that Zero turned up a second time and I was …. errr …. busy elsewhere. I’m clearly losing my grip. But at least I noticed her. Just imagine if I hadn’t.

Still, I’m not alone there. A friend in the Army was once selected for camouflage training. He simply didn’t go and was later commended for his disguise and attention to detail. It fooled everyone apparently

Thursday 18th April 2024 – APPARENTLY I MIGHT …

… be able to go home tomorrow, so they say.

But simply to pack my bags ready to go to my next hospital.

Apparently I’m being passed from hospital to hospital quicker than in a game of “pass the parcel” in a bar in West Belfast

Mind you, I can’t say that I’m sorry, for I might be able to have a little peace.

Not that I’m complaining about the service. Not at all. In fact, quite the reverse. There’s far too much of it. So much so that it’s overwhelming the other services that follow on.

This morning I was awoken at, would you believe, 05:00 because they wanted to check my blood sugar. At 05:00!!
So "help! Your blood sugar is too low. Drink this orange juice! Eat this jam!"
"Eat this jam? Eat it neat? What do I eat it with?"
A couple of minutes later "Here’s a ‘madeleine’ to eat with your jam"
"You’re quick enough to spot that I’m at risk of diabetes. And at 05:00 too! But not quick enough to spot that on the same page just 2 lines down it says that I’m a vegan."
Eventually we agree on some biscottes

And then at breakfast "Where’s the jam for my bread?"
"It says here on your notes that you’re diabetic. You aren’t allowed it"

While I’m actually eating (with my jam that I have now negotiated) –
Person n°1 comes with my medication
Person n°2 comes to change the plaster on my foot
Person n°3 comes to inject me in the hip
Person n°4 comes to remind me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom
Person n°5 comes to take my blood pressure and temperature

Eventually everyone clears off for a couple of hours and leaves me at peace with just the usual interruptions

And then round about 11:00 the doctor comes to see me. And while she’s soothing my fevered brow (and believe me, she can soothe my fevered brow any time she likes) –
Person n°1 comes to make the bed
Person n°2 comes to give me a clean nightshirt
Person n°3 comes to talk to the doctor
Person n°4 comes to tell me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom
Person n°5 comes to take my blood pressure and temperature

"Blood pressure’s rather high today" said the doctor, looking at the figures
"Surely not" I said. "Perish the thought!"

Eventually everyone drift away and leaves me in relative peace

But then I do need the bathroom and so I set off. And it’s odds-on, and you would have bet your money on it, that as soon as I’m in the bathroom the blasted phone rings

So I make it back to the phone just in time (which surely must be a ‘first’) and while I’m listening to radio business with the phone at one ear there’s the nurse in the other ear reminding me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom.

And so it’s gone on (and on, and on) all day. But at least I saw two friendly faces today. A couple of my neighbours, my devoted cleaner and the President of the Residents’ Committee, came to say “hello” and to bring me my emergency backpack, including the travelling laptop, and so I’m saved. The solidarity in my building is impressive.

After they leave, Doctor n°2 comes to see me. She’s from the Nephrology Department. Apparently she’s spoken to Paris and they’ve decided that as Nephrology is where my current problems lie and as there is no-one special at Paris handling my case from that point of view they can do it here so she’ll be taking over.

What I reckon is that she just wants to get her teeth into my kidneys – preferably wrapped up with mushrooms in a puff pastry.

Then Doctor n°1 came to tell me what Doctor n°2 had said so I told her that I was sorry.

She asked why so I told her that it was because I wouldn’t see her again – and she blushed!

And so it’ s gone on. It’s now 21:00 and I’m still being injected and I really ought to be running a sweep about how many more times tonight a nurse going to come round to tell me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom.

But as I said, I’m not in the least complaining. Had I been in the UK I’d have had to wait 18 months for an appointment to go to the bathroom. I’d have been pushing up the daisies a long time before this

As for my part, I’m like Mona Lott on ITMA and "it’s being so cheerful as keeps me going"

There’s some stuff on the dictaphone that needs transcribing too. I was doing something with a group of people, one of whom was a young girl whom I quite happened to like. It involved changing my clothes and I had to carry them across the room to the sink. I just about dropped them but managed to catch them just at the point where I awoke. It was, I think, the shock of dropping the clothes that made me awaken. I thought that I had a really good reflex action of catching them while I was half-asleep and there weren’t any real clothes there anyway.

It’s not bad, is it? Being able to catch non-existent clothing with a lightning reflex action when I’m asleep. Not for nothing did I keep wicket for one of the local cricket teams when I was younger.

And then I had to think of some good adverts for a bus company so we took it in turns to sing a rhyme of doggerel. One girl who was very much like Whats’ername who used to appear quite a lot on “Just A Minute” … "Sheila Hancock" – ed … sang a rhyme basically to say that she knew nothing at all. The boss who drifted onto the scene in the middle of a snowstorm in an old double-decker bus came along and told me as I was watching “that’s the way, Eric. Baffle them with nonsense”. Of course he couldn’t see where he was going because of the snow and ended up driving over the pavement and falling over the pavement head-first with his bus and ended up on the grass sticking upright. He was delighted because there was a part that had been damaged previously and they’d fitted a replacement panel. You could see a perfect reproduction of the panel in the snow even down to the makers’ name and date. He thought that if we could cast on that we could make some brilliant replacement panels ourselves of the one that he’d damaged ages ago and just had replaced. I thought that it was a strange idea but most good ideas like this always start off being strange.

It seems that I have several hidden talents, so well-hidden that I can’t find them anywhere during the day. Planning battles and military campaigns, catching non-existent clothing and running advertising campaigns during my sleep.

This isn’t the first advertising campaign that I’ve run in my sleep either. It’s a shame that no-one is actually paying me for the services that I’m providing during the night. I could afford to retire on the proceeds if this kind of thing carries on.

While I was asleep in the afternoon a new girl had started work in the office. There wasn’t really very much that we could do except to send out the new instructions for the new year. As nothing had been printed yet etc it was a case of having to do everything manually so I was running around looking for a 500-roll of stickers. She told me that they were in someone’s second drawer down. The girl herself was saying that “well no-one has recalculated anything so we’re going to have to do all that by hand too” which I thought was amazing considering that she’d only just started. We were trying very quickly to collect everything together so that at least we could have something that needed to be done and could set things under way so that at least she would feel that she was doing something on her start at the office.

That’s not everything that there was but you don’t really want to know the rest.

So this is all that I’m going to do for now. There are tons of arrears still to do but I need to be in the mood for it

But talking of blushing just now … "well, one of us is" – ed … this morning the little student nurse came to help me change my nightshirt and as she lifted the old one over my head she said, jokingly "ohh la la! Striptease!"
So I whispered in her ear "to tell a little secret, you aren’t the first female to undress me" – and she blushed too!

All of the foregoing is probably why I’m leaving tomorrow. I think that I’m actually being expelled, not discharged.

Wednesday 17th April 2024 – AT LEAST I THINK…

… that it’s Wednesday 17th April. I’ve lost track of time and I couldn’t care less.

I’m still here and for the foreseeable future too for all I know.

It’s actually been “all go” today. And not just during the day either because it was a very disturbed night as well. At about 23:45 I definitely heard someone shout an enquiring “hello” as if from the front door of my apartment being open while I was in bed. I replied with a “hello” but I didn’t hear anything and I didn’t leave the bed at all – I just lay there. Somehow I knew that it was imaginary but it really WAS real and I could quite easily have been mistaken into thinking that it might have been a real person who had opened my door and stuck his head in to shout “hello”.

Thinking on about the matter though, what I reckon that it must have been was a nurse putting his or her head around the door of my room and thinking that I was still awake. I can’t think of what else it might have been, but it was certainly something that sounded real to me.

But while we’re on the subject … "well, one of us is" – ed … there’s plenty of other stuff on the dictaphone too. I was having a long, complicated dream about how a friend’s daughter was a big star of Mexican football, a very controversial star but how in the end she admitted to being involved in all kinds of bribery scandals. This only seemed to enhance her reputation and became one of the most popular female footballers of all time. It was a long, complicated dream that seemed to go on for ever about the matches in which she’d played, some of the goals that she’d scored, how she’d scored them and how aggressive she was.

But leaving aside the fact that the friend in question doesn’t actually have a daughter, I’ll have to stop watching all of these Mexican women’s football matches on the internet.

And then in the Regional Accents programme on BBC Radio there was a story about a girl who had started to play her football with Chelsea and then moved to live in some remote rural region of the area. She was afraid at first when she mentioned that she’d played at Chelsea that everyone would think that she was a superstar whereas in fact she’d really just played for amusement and wasn’t of any particular quality etc. She was just doing it for fun. When they were interviewing the people with the regional accents I didn’t understand a single word that these people were replying. It was such a remote and rural-type of setting that they had an accent all of their own that meant that no-one could understand the English that they were speaking.

Finally, whenever I’d been away on my business, which was very top-secret, I’d always come home by parachute. I’d plan my landing so that I’d bale out of the aeroplane and land in through one of the windows of the barn. Then I’d lower myself down to the ground, roll up my parachute, stash it away and sort out the stuff that I’d brought back. This proved to be useful on a few occasions when hanging from the parachute inside the barn waiting for things to quieten down, I’d hear the plans about what was going on with my family, what they were talking about, why the kids were unhappy etc. My brothers and sisters weren’t a very happy unit. It all proved to be very useful. The problem was stashing away all of the goods that I’d brought back. I kept on bringing back small-sized seat covers for the cars which although fitted, were quite a stretch. It would have been much easier had I brought back medium-sized seat covers that would have gone on and off a lot easier and could have been washed better. But whatever it was, I kept on bringing back small ones. That was a mistake.

So after all of that I decided to go to the bathroom.

On my way someone stopped me to give me a message, then once I was safely installed, a whole stream of different doctors and nurses came to see me, including a nursing assistant who asked me if I needed a toothbrush.

All of which went on while I was … errr … riding the porcelain horse and I began to think "I ought to be selling tickets for this performance. I’d make a fortune". It really was quite embarrassing.

However I’ve had more blood tests, been whizzed through a Stargate time tunnel, seen a couple of doctors and even had a dietician come to see me.

That latter visit wasn’t all that much use either as she told me that there’s not much they can do about my diet with their hospital food. It won’t be the first time that I’ve been told to “bring a picnic” but of course, with this being an emergency admission there was no time to prepare anything.

So having eaten what I can and done what I can, I’m going to go to sleep and dream of happier times.

All of this makes me wish that I’d brought my emergency bag and my travelling laptop. Thank God I have some decent music on my phone and good friends sending me lots of nice messages.

But the question of hospital food reminds me of my time at Riom when I exclaimed quite loudly "I haven’t eaten anything for three days".
And a rather obese gentleman in the next bed responded "Blimey! You’ll have to tell me your secret!"

Tuesday 16th April = I’M IN THE …

… cardiac unit of the regional hospital at Avranches while they try to work out why my blood results have gone so berserk just now.

To say that things are not unfolding as well as I would like is proving to be something of an understatement.

It goes without saying that last night I didn’t have much sleep. These hospital beds such as the one on which I was trying to sleep aren’t actually made for comfort and then of course the surroundings weren’t actually comfortable.

To my great surprise though there was something on the dictaphone so at some point I must have dropped off into the Land of Nod. At one point I was dreaming that I was thirsty so I opened my mouth and grabbed hold of a hose but it was the green house of the car and I think that that was where air came out. I felt so stupid not knowing that the green hose was not water at all but it was something else and I didn’t know it.

When the alarm went off (yes, an alarm. Bane of Britain strikes again!) I was a dispatcher for the US Air Force arranging their planes to go off on bombing missions against the Germans in their big Superfortresses … "actually B-17 Flying Fortresses" – ed … etc. It involved finding crews, preparing the crews for departure, putting them in their aeroplane, making sure that when they took off they knew where their meeting point was, over which beacon etc, generally keeping up with the thousands of changes that would take place during the course of the preparation of the mission

Of course they would actually be Flying Fortresses. It would be extremely rare to say the least to find a Superfortress flying on combat in the European theatre of operations. An expensive aeroplane such as that would have been a luxury when its advantages (super-long range and extremely high altitude) wouldn’t be reached anywhere where it would be required to deliver a bomb-load in Europe. Dollar for dollar, a Flying Fortress could drop many more bombs on Germany.

Of course, dispatching would be nothing new as far as I would be concerned. By air though would be a totally new medium but the principle would be pretty-much the same as by road.

However, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, and things developed as I expected. I’ve been here before, once in Verdun and once in Winnipeg and the results were the same.

Luckily, with having expected it, the necessary precautions had been taken and it wasn’t as embarrassing as it might otherwise have been.

Naturally, I refused any food for breakfast while things tried to settle (a forlorn hope) but at least they moved me to a more convenient location, a little side room off the emergency treatment area, where things could evolve in comparative peace.

Nevertheless a few people came to see me, including the duty doctor. She told me at first that they were planning to keep me under observation for 24 hours and then send me home, but when she saw what was going on, she went away for another think.

In the meantime my blood tests came back. Something in my blood that should be less than 100 and I’ve been living with figures in the 260-270 range for the last few years has suddenly shot up to 316 in the period since my last blood test.

Apparently those kinds of figures won’t usually support life and they are quite concerned. Consequently an ambulance pulled up and I was bundled on a stretcher and stuck in the back.

So here I am at Avranches, 30 kilometres down the road where there’s a regional hospital.

Strangely enough, this was where it all started in March last year when the neurologist sent me here for tests and they couldn’t find the problem – hence my visits to Paris.

The hospital is an old monastery by the looks of things at the front, but there’s a whole huge new extension built on the back and it’s really quite nice and modern. The rooms are small but it’s not as if I need much

So here I am, being cared for and cossetted by a group of nurses. Actually, for the most part they are quite brusque and business-like which differs from most of the nurses in Paris who are much more patient-orientated, but I suppose that they have much more work to do and can’t find the time to be as sociable

While I was asleep at some point during the afternoon there was a dream about a lorry driver who was saying something about how easy it was to set himself up in business. He had a tanker lorry but I remember him having an old “D”-registered ex-RAF tanker before that one. He had several trailers that ere quite substantial trailers and I was saying that he didn’t pick these up for peanuts, and by the looks of things were specially-made. It was quite obvious to me that yes, you can set yourself up in business but you need to have the kind of capital to ba able to do that kind of thing. That’s not just available to everyone at all

And that reminds me of someone I know who lives in the countryside a few miles south of Nantwich, who made a fortune simply by being willing to go crawling and climbing where other people dared not go

The food here is the usual hospital rubbish, I have to say, so it’s a good job that I’m not feeling in the mood to eat anything right no, which is just as well.

And so I’m going to try to sleep – a forlorn hope, I reckon. I’m feeling a little better, but not that much.

I’ve set the bed fairly high so it’s easier for me to get out and in without any help (something that will be quite important as the night develops) but they aren’t happy about it and keep on trying to lower it. I’m winning the fight at the moment but things will almost inevitably change as the night goes on.

It’s “visions of Bernard Bresslaw” in CARRY ON DOCTOR hobbling around with his leg in plaster
"What’s the matter with you?" asked Frankie Howerd
"Appendicitis" said Bresslaw
"So why the plaster on the leg?"
"I fell off the operating table"

Monday 15th April 2024 = I’M IN HOSPITAL

The emergency department of our local hospital in Granville. I made a brave face of it just long enough for the nurse to take one look at me as she came into the apartment.

After she’d dealt with my puttees and the plaster on my foot she sent me to bed and sent for the doctor.

The rest is, as they say, history.

What’s disappointing about all of this, from my point of view is that I’d made a special effort to be in bed really early and so at 22:00I was tucked up in bed with STRAWBERRY MOOSE to keep me warm hoping for a really good sleep.

As it happens, I can’t remember very much at all about last night. I was totally out of everything. There is some stuff on the dictaphone too and it’s certainly one of the strangest things that I’ve ever dictated. One of my failures was a failure of politeness and whoever was in charge of issuing the politeness had failed to endorse me so I’d fallen down on that, which meant that the Controle Technique on the van had failed as well and I didn’t know what I was going to do about it. I pretended to ignore it and went out anyway one day. I was in the van looking for this Minister of Politeness and went past the Police Station. A police car pulled out from the side of the road to perform a U-turn but stopped to let me go past. I stopped to let him pull out because I thought that I’d rather have him where I could see him in front of me and know what he’s up to. He drifted off with his superior and they went off to look for something else. A few other people had gone to look for this Minister of Politeness which left me there without my certificate and I was going to be in quite a few problems

When the alarm went off I staggered off for the medication and then for a wash and brush up to look pretty for when she arrives. Not to mention setting out the room as she likes
"setting out the room as she likes?" – ed
Didn’t I just tell you not to mention that?

So she came, she saw and she complained. Off I went to bed like a rather naughty child and tucked myself in.

One thing that I did do was to tell my cleaner that I was tucked up in bed. I sent her a message. She pops in every now and again to drop off something and I didn’t want to frighten her.

Actually, she stuck her head into the bedroom later on to see how I was doing and if I needed anything, which was nice of her. She told me later that the sight of me frightened her to death – by which of course she means about how ill I looked. I usually frighten people to death every day for other reasons.

The nurse rang me and told me that she’d seen the doctor’s secretary and he’d be here after his morning surgery closed, which was fair enough.

Sure enough, at about 13:00 he turned up, and he was horrified by my sight too. He gave me a good going-over and then recommended the hospital.

Once I’d agreed (there’s no point having his advice and not taking it) he called the taxi company that handles my affairs and they said that they’d be here in an hour.

Just enough time to sort out my papers and pack a bag (which I didn’t take because I didn’t know if I’d be staying) and then Antoine from the taxi company took me to the Hospital’s Emergency Department.

Having been categorised by an Emergency doctor as “non-urgent” by which they mean “not about to die” judging by the state of some of the others, and having been given a blood test I was put on a bed in the corridor to wait my turn.

There was soup and coffee being passed down the line (not like at Riom where Liz had to run out and purchase supplies) but it didn’t reach me and I was in no mood to ask. And when I’m off my food, you know that here’s something wrong.

There was plenty of time to observe the goings-on and I was glad that I’ve not been arrested. The French Gendarmes don’t mess about asking people to “come quietly”. There were at least two detenus brought into Emergency in handcuffs for a check-over after helping the Gendarmes with their enquiries.

They didn’t actually get round to me that night and I was pushed, bed and all, into an empty office where I was left alone in the dark with the occasional visitor to check on me.

As for me, I felt like death and I could feel that I was going to be worse.

But my faithful cleaner sent me a lovely message – "Courage! The whole building chez nous is with you!"
To which I thought "Blimey! It must be a pretty big bed"

Friday 19th January 2024 – GUESS WHO …

… has been in the Urgences at the hospital in Granville again this afternoon?

This morning at about 10:45 I had a ‘phone call. "Mr Hall, you need to come back to the hospital. We’ve picked up something on the X-Rays that might be important. Can you come this afternoon?"

So having arranged transport (which was a story in itself, which you’ll find out in early course) I arrived at the hospital.

They shoved me through one of these Stargate time-tunnel machines, one made by my former employer, General Electric, and then waited around for the results.

When someone finally turned up, it was "sorry, it must have been a false alarm. You can dress and go home". So off I went home, driven by a mad taxi driver (which was a story in itself, which you’ll find out in early course).

But it reminded me of the time after my bad car accident in 1986 when I was taxiing in Sandbach, and they gave me a brain scan.
"How did it go?" I asked
"No need to worry" the doctor replied. "We found nothing"
Well, quite …

But I digress … "again" – ed

So there’s nothing wrong with my leg, they told me. They would have had a different opinion if they had been in bed with me during the night because I was awake for hours in agony. It’s not getting any better – in fact it seems to be getting worse.

And with a late night and all of these sleeping issues I felt like death when the alarm went off. And I forgot to take the ‘phone with me when I went to walk the parapet so the whole building was probably awoken by the second and third alarm.

Dressing was a struggle yet again and then, having taken the blood pressure, went for my mountain of medication.

Back in here I eventually managed to summon up the energy to transcribe the dictaphone notes, such as they were in the short time during which I was asleep. I’d somehow found myself at a dance and had ended up in the company of an Inuit girl to whom someone had introduced me. What I didn’t realise was that there was another girl whom I liked much better and who was actively trying to find me to begin to talk to me but of course when she found me with this Inuit girl she backed away. I didn’t find this out until later so I was rather annoyed with the person who presented me to this girl. Of course it was all my fault for getting together with her but anyway I was still annoyed. Eventually the girl began to chat to me so I explained to her about the confusion. She asked what had happened later on. I explained that the person responsible for the mix-up getting me together with this Inuit girl had ended up dancing on the floor with a group of people or someone or other and was quite happy where he was but they announced that they were going to divide the room into two – there would be a dance for the people from the reseau urban – the urban area and another one for the people from the pays lointan – the distant rural areas. He ended up being in a different area than where he actually wanted to be, or, at least, away from the people with whom he wanted to be. He was not happy at all so I thought that there was some kind of justice being served somewhere and that made me feel a little better

But why would I be upset about finding myself a nice Inuit girl?

Vaino Tanner, the Finnish anthropologist, went between 1937 and 1939 to Northern Labrador to live among the Inuit in order to study their lifestyle, customs and habits, and to report on the area in which they live.

In his report, “Outlines of the Geography, Life and Customs of Newfoundland-Labrador” published in 1944 he tells us that the Inuit girls –

  • are very hard-working around the house (and then goes on to list the tasks that they enjoy performing)
  • are keen to marry men of European descent
  • have an extremely sensual nature

It intrigued me how he discovered the third part of that trilogy so, believe me, having read his report, I was off on the next trip of the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR to the frozen North to conduct my own in-depth field research.

It was shortly after this that the ‘phone went berserk.

Throughout the morning I was negotiating my shopping list with my cleaner who was wandering around town carrying out her various errands.

The hospital at Paris rang up to find out how I was doing so I told them of all of my complaints here and there. After an extremely long and complicated telephone call, made harder by the fact that she dragged me back from being away with the fairies so I didn’t have both paddles in the water at that particular moment, she said that she’d speak to the specialist.

Next was the local hospital as I mentioned. I had to negotiate a taxi voucher from them but they could only do it for the return so they rang up my doctor to issue it. And I forget how many ‘phone calls I must have made to his secretary to confirm it

It still wasn’t ready when my cleaner, poor lass, went by to see and she broke the bad news to me when she came to bring me my shopping.

Nevertheless I phoned for a car and told them that we’d have to stop at the Medical Centre to pick it up. But when he came he said "I’ll pick it up later when I have more time". He’s not come back to me so I imagine that it must be OK.

The poor guy. Being quite busy he was in a hurry but he had to spend an age hunting down where I was supposed to go. Everywhere seemed to be closed. In the end, after what seemed to be a geological age and several phone calls, he found out that it was the Urgences, which is what I’d told his controller and I’m sure that I told him too.

One there I had to undress and wait a while before being put through the Stargate, and then wait a while for the results.

And now I know where the Grinch goes when it’s not Christmas. He works for the rival taxi company to the one that I use.

Bad-tempered and miserable, he told me that he didn’t have time to help me up the stairs so I had to telephone my long-suffering cleaner.

We hurtled through the 30kph limit of the harbour area at 75 kph and eventually screeched to a halt outside my building.

And his car – it was a “EA” plate, meaning that it was registered in March or April of 2016 and it had, would you believe, 320,000 kilometres on the clock. My next car (if there is one) will be a Peugeot 508 diesel.

My long-suffering cleaner helped me up the stairs to my apartment where I crashed into a chair and couldn’t move for 20 minutes. Then I made a hot chocolate and that was that for the day.

Tea tonight was wonderful. I had a raging fancy for a potato salad with my salad and vegan burger so

  • I diced some potatoes quite small and put them to boil
  • Half-way through I drained them to dispose of the starch, and then carried on with the boiling with fresh water and some dried chives
  • Meanwhile I took some vegan mayonnaise, added some garlic paste, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil with some herbs (and there would have been some finely chopped raw onion in there too if I had remembered)
  • I whipped all of that up into a nice liquidy mix
  • Then I drained the potatoes, rinsed them to cool them down, put them back in the pan and added the sauce and mixed everything up together
  • When it was done I tipped it out onto the plate with the salad and burger – and ate it

And do you know what? It was absolutely out of this world delicious and I’ll make this again.

So now, much later than usual, having had a short (only 48 minutes) conversation with Rosemary, I’m off to bed hoping for a better night.

But hospital again? It’s really going beyond a joke. I’ll be moving permanently into a hospital at this rate.

And I know which one it will be. It won’t be one that we’ve encountered so far. They don’t have wards like that in general hospitals.

Sunday 14th January 2024 – GUESS WHO…

… spent several hours in the Casualty department of the local hospital here in Granville last night?

What at first had appeared to be just a dull, throbbing pain though the part of my right leg that can actually feel anything, I could feel it going worse and worse as the evening continued and I began to freeze.

Once in bed, the pain increased and I began to shiver violently. I can recognise the symptoms of severe shock just as well as anyone else and with no improvement with the passage of time (quite the reverse, as it happened), in the end I gave up and phoned my cleaner who lives upstairs.

She was down here in an instant and one look was all that it took. She phoned up the emergency number and we all had a very lengthy chat with three different people before they decided to send an ambulance.

While we were waiting she, following my instructions, packed my emergency bag which she promised to bring during the day, and then she helped the ambulancemen, one of whom I knew, take me to their vehicle. And that wasn’t easy either, 25 steps and no lift.

Once I arrived, I told my story to four different people, one after the other after the other, while the pain was increasing and increasing, and then I was x-rayed with my leg and foot being twisted into some of the most painful positions imaginable, without even the suggestion of a painkiller.

Wheeled out of the x-ray cabinet on a stretcher far too small for me, I was told to “get some rest” which, as you can imagine, on a tiny stretcher with a painful leg overhanging into a void and with no painkiller or anything, was pretty much impossible.

Eventually, they came back, told me that the x-rays showed no breaks, gave me a couple of painkillers and said that the ambulance will be back shortly to pick me up and take me home.

And lifting me up 25 steps with no lift was no laughing matter either for the poor ambulancemen, but I was back in bed in a state of semi-comatose stupefaction (and drugged up to the eyebrows too) by 05:00.

Liz had a chat with me at about 08:45 on the internet but I was talking utter nonsense and fell asleep again, to awaken at 12:45.

The painkillers had worn off by then but I had some more around here. I hate using painkillers because while you’re walking around on damaged bone and tissue, you don’t realise the damage that you are doing. But in my case, the right leg is damaged enough so it makes no difference.

It’s a good job that it’s not my left leg that I hurt. I really would be in difficulty. But even so, the damaged nerve in my right leg that gives me those stabbing pains in the soles of my foot that I thought that I’d dealt with is now back again, and in spades too.

After my delicious soup, bread and coffee (and it really was too) I transcribed the dictaphone notes. Yes, to my surprise there were some, but none of the young lady who was here or hereabouts last night. But we did have various musicians with us, including someone from IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK, un autre groupe … "dreaming in French again, are we?" – ed … who played in front of us. I leant over too far for something and ended up with my right knee totally collapsed just as the football was finishing. I had to watch the first two chapters on my foot but my right arm was really depressed and unstable. I’ve not able to be visited by my mother-in-law about the cables everywhere yet but when I’m too ill to see The Land Of Grey And Pink … fell asleep here … and the chairwoman as I said called the meeting to order and sent me off for these things

And then some woman was being investigated by the Tax Office for some kind of irregularities in connection with a hairdressing salon. It turned out that many years ago she’d also been the subject of an investigation in respect of a chip shop somewhere in Bradwell in Newcastle under Lyme. Quite naturally, having fallen foul of the Tax Office twice they were being quite severe with her. This investigation had been going on and I’d been asked if I would like to take part in part of it. I went along to see the people there at the Tax Office but for some reason they were extremely busy and never had the time really to talk to me. I just sat there and listened. I knew that the information that they were discussing was wrong but what business of it was mine? The interesting part about this was that they came out with something that was called “The Secret Root”. I didn’t have a clue what the Secret Root was. It turned out that it was some kind of secret and unofficial percentage that the Tax Office uses to bind all transactions together, bearing in mind of course that people have business relationships with each other and that all transactions are somehow interlinked. Back several years ago the figure of the Secret Root was 3.9 but now it was 3.1 and that made a difference to some of the calculations that had been made. I was sitting here really interested because I’d never heard of this Secret Root before. I was intent on finding out more about it because it sounded quite so interesting so I didn’t even bother to mention what it was that I’d come along here to discuss. I just sat there and listened while they were discussing this Secret Root.

One or two people who follow this blog know about my relationship with the local Tax Office in Crewe and I’d tell the rest of you about it, except that a certain law called the Obscene Publications Act is still in force. As well as that, there are certain well-enforced Laws of Libel in the UK and the site that deals with the administration of this blog has terms and conditions about its use.

So instead, let me just ask you what the Tax Office and a pelican have in common.
The answer is that that they can both shove their bills up their @rses

There was no pizza dough left in the freezer so I had to make some more. But Rosemary called me just as I was starting and I ended up being all behind. To make matters worse, I used the wrong flour so the base for the one that I baked wasn’t as good as it might have been.

It was still quite delicious though, as I found out when I came to eat it. And I’m sure that the two in the freezer will do just the same.

So doped up to the eyebrows in painkillers and falling asleep, I’m off to bed. And I’ll try to keep out of mischief while I do it. I can’t go through this again.

But final word on the subject of last night must go to my cleaner.

Having called her at some silly hour to come to my rescue, I apologised for waking her.
"Ohh, I wasn’t asleep" she said. "I was watching TV when you phoned"
"Then I hope that I didn’t make you miss anything interesting" I said.
"Don’t you worry about that" she said. "What goes on in your apartment is far more interesting than anything that I could see on TV."

Tuesday 12th December 2023 – THE DOCTOR CAME …

… round here at the end of the morning, with a student trailing along behind.

As he walked into the apartment he looked at me and said "it’s getting worse, isn’t it?"

Considering that when he saw me a year ago after my torrid three months away from home he told me quite frankly that he thought that I was dying and that I wouldn’t pull through, his comments today weren’t exactly encouraging. How much worse can it be?

It has left me with the feeling that the clock is winding down rapidly now and the first thought that came into my head when Frodo and Sam were staring despair in the face near the end of LORD OF THE RINGS
"Have you thought of an ending?"
"Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant."

He was insisting yet again that I ought to see a therapist (read “psychiatrist”) to help me come to terms with “events” but as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … anyone who sees a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.

And I really would feel terribly sorry for whoever it is who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

Actually, I don’t honestly think that he’s too far off the mark because I haven’t had a good day today.

It was another disturbed night and an early start in the morning because I ended up not being able to sleep all that much.

After the medication I had a few things to do and it ended up being another nostalgic trip down Memory Lane. And as PG Wodehouse once famously said, "memories are like mulligatawny soup in a cheap restaurant. It is best not to stir them"

Eventually I managed to sit down and transcribe the dictaphone notes. I was going through editing my blog last night. As well as that, I was comparing a few web pages to check on things. I came across 2 that were absolutely identical so I deleted one of them. It wasn’t until later that I realised that one of them was actually the copy on the hard drive and the other was the copy on the server. I needed to have the two copies of course but I couldn’t remember the name of the file. I then had to go all the way through, count the files and compare each of them one by one. This led to its own complications because the only way to identify the different web pages was by the images on them but I kept on losing count. A couple of people there were trying to help me but they weren’t particularly helpful. There was one occasion where I missed an image and just wanted to go back a short way but she reset the machine that she had so that it went right the way back to the start so we’d have to start all over again. I had a feeling that this is a job that is never ever going to be finished because no matter how many times I make a start on it I can’t keep my concentration going long enough to count all of the web pages and images correctly (and doesn’t this sound so familiar?) and I’d just keep on slipping up every time. I’d never find this missing file that I deleted in error.

I was then doing something different with the blog. I was trying to prepare a report of each and every football match that had taken place over the last 4 or 5 years. I had some notes and we had some old newspapers. By going through them we were able to make some kind of rough approximation of what had happened the previous season and were able to make some kind of report of each game that had taken place so that with the aid of a couple of very small children I went back and did a couple of years. That seemed to work fine. I set a little task and sent the children away to do the previous years but I was rather over-ambitious with that and the children weren’t able to do it. A couple of parents came to see me and in the end we all sat down, had a talk about it and went to work it out. One woman complained in a light-hearted way that I was speaking Geordie to them but another one replied “no, that’s Scots” and they were all being rather confused by my accent. I actually awoke before we finished it. But someone had asked me about how many years back I was going to do. I replied that that would be the last one because we couldn’t rely on having copies of the newspapers any further back than that. Without access to any records it was going to be practically impossible to complete.

Later on last night I was in Leuven, preparing to go to do my shopping. Then a flyer came round from LIDL. I thought to myself “I haven’t been to LIDL for months and this would give me a good opportunity to go”. I didn’t know where the LIDL was in Leuven. I’d have to have a look at the map to work out a route. 5 minutes later found me out in the street and I’d forgotten to look at the map. I was wandering off, daydreaming as usual down the road and almost ended up driving through a red traffic light. All kinds of traffic came to join me at the next traffic light. There was a while MkIV Cortina saloon full of people etc. Then I suddenly had a brainwave about where there might be a LIDL – miles out of my route but I may as well go while I’m out. I began to plan my itinerary about what I was doing, where I was going and what I was going to buy while I was sitting in the van at the traffic light.

Rapidly changing country, I was at the Centre Normandy, somewhere like that, standing at the reception when a giant rat scurried across the room. I picked up one of these pointed letter-openers and threw it at the rat and skewered it straight away. I felt really impressed with that, except of course that the idea of a rat running around somewhere like that is horrible.

Finally, we were in Virlet preparing to come back north. Someone had already heaved a brick through the windscreen of the Ford Escort so I wanted to make sure that everything was properly burglar-proof. One of the windows was rather badly-damaged and was easy for anyone to try to come in that way so I was trying to find some string to secure it but I found a piece of wood that was exactly the correct size to blank it off. I went looking for my drill, screws and bits. I found them lying around on the floor in all kinds of places where I’d left them the previous day when I’d been working and been too tired to put everything away. I began to collect everything together to prepare. I can’t remember who I was with now but Percy Penguin was also there.

There was some more stuff than this but you really don’t want to read it, especially if you’re eating your meal.

After a good wash I prepared for my Welsh lesson and it was a disaster. Nothing whatever would sink into my head today. And being disrupted by the visit of the doctor didn’t help at all.

The car came for me later to take me to the Centre de Re-education and I don’t know why, but I fell into the pit with the Black Dog. And fell quite deeply too.

Not that that usually bothers me because I’ve fallen in there many times before, and sometimes much deeper than this, but I’ve always consoled myself with the thought that when things are really bad, they can only improve. However, at the moment, it’s difficult to see quite how.

Severine pulled and tugged me about for half an hour and then I had the ergotherapist who discussed her report with me.

Back here later I made my hot chocolate and biscuits, and then promptly crashed out.

The hospital and I had a chat at some point. My visit on Monday is now cancelled and I have to come on Tuesday, as previously advised, instead. However it still involves a stay. But that’s next week. There is still plenty of time for further changes before then.

My cleaner came round too. The doctor had given me a prescription for more medication so I’d sent her a message to ask her if she could fetch the products. I warned her that she’d need a shopping trolley

Tea was a taco roll, and there’s enough stuffing left over for a leftover curry tomorrow.

There’s the Centre de Re-education again tomorrow and then I’ll finish off the radio notes. I waded through a pile of them earlier before tea and I’ve done about 70% already.

But right now I’m exhausted again so despite how early it is, I reckon that I’ll go to bed. Not that it’ll do me much good but I have to show willing.

Friday 27th October 2023 – THE PREVIOUS DAYS’ …

… completely entries are now all on line.

That’s because I have now found a decent internet connection – yes, I’m back home.

And getting back home was an adventure all of its own as you will find out as you read on.

Last night I’d gone to bed early ready for my early 05:30 start but as usual, I couldn’t sleep. I awoke at 12!50 with a start. I had the radio on and was still listening to it. Somehow the dictaphone that was by the side of the bed fell on the floor. I couldn’t find out where the noise that I was listening to was coming from. I searched round the bedroom for a minute or two until I suddenly regained my senses and found that it was my radio. I took off the headphones ready to go back into this dream and carry on.

And so I dictated into my little machine.

At some point I must have gone back to sleep but I awoke again at 03:00 and that was really that. By 04:30 I’d given up any attempt to sleep and ended up listening to the old-time radio programmes.

At 05:40 someone came round to take my blood pressure and then I had the breakfast that I was promised.

After everyone had gone I had a really good wash and then carried on with selecting the music for the next series of radio programmes. Nurses came and went of course but I battled on and I’m now up to 29th November 2024, with several holes in between such as my Isle of Wight Festival and my Hawkfest programmes for which I’ve yet to decide on the music.

The Hawkfest should be exciting though. There have been a whole variety of Spacerock groups from all over the world who have performed at the various Hawkfests and I managed to talk to a few of them at some point or another. I’ll probably end up with a couple of hours of music and there will still be a lot that I’d have to leave out.

At 11:50 I was whisked off to the IRM unit (in a wheelchair – how the mighty have fallen) where they injected me with a radioactive substance and left me to simmer for an hour, and then they stuck me in another Stargate where I went back and to for 20 minutes.

Back at my unit I was eventually allowed to eat my lunch – several hours later – and the doctor came to see me.

She told me much of what I already knew – about how the cancer is spreading through my kidneys, my heart and into my nervous system via a few other parts of my body.

She thinks, as I have been told elsewhere, that I wouldn’t be able to survive a heart transplant in my state of health so that’s out of the question. As a result she advised me not to buy any long-playing records.

However, she wants me to have an IRM done of my heart, and that can be done locally. It may be that some tweaking can be done to it to keep it going.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that right back at the beginning of all of this in 2015 I was told that I had a coeur de champion – the “heart of a champion” and that’s what will keep me going, but if ever my heart begins to give out, it’s the downhill slope.

And so her comments weren’t any surprise.

She did have some good news. She’s talked to the Haematology department and they may well be willing to take me on instead of my having to go all the way to Leuven. I’m entitled to transport to any hospital within 500kms of home. Paris is 334 kms and Leuven is 650 kms, so continue to go to Leuven means going by train and really, I just can’t do it any longer.

And that’s a disappointment. I had quite enjoyed my spell at Leuven because firstly it’s a beautiful city secondly, I get to see Alison, and thirdly it awoke all of the Flemish that I’d picked up when I lived in Brussels.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I first met Alison at that weird American company where I worked for almost a year after I left General Electric.

The doctor took my telephone and spent the next hour or so reading all of my reports from Leuven and translating them from Flemish to French. She’ll take them to the Haematologist and have a chat.

Presumably they’ll look into the other things that are going wrong with me.

The car pulled up for me just over an hour late and then we set off into the traffic.

Paris and its outskirts were nose-to-tail all the way, and we crawled slowly out of the city. Once we hit the countryside we could put our foot down and began to make good time, only to be pulled over in a Gendarme control.

It’ s obviously near the end of the month and the Gendarmes don’t have enough victims so they went over the car with a toothcomb until they found something for which they could write out a ticket.

It was 21:00 when we finally arrived here and my cleaner was waiting for me. She and the taxi driver helped me up the stairs into my apartment for which I was grateful. It was an agonising climb.

Once I’d recovered I made myself baked potato, baked beans and vegan sausage and that was that.

Now I’ve written my notes I’m off to bed. There’s no alarm in the morning and I’m going to have a lie-in – if I can. There’s usually always someone who comes along to interrupt me.

Thursday 5th October 2023 – I’M HAVING TO …

… go back to the hospital at Paris in a couple of weeks. They rang me up today to tell me.

The original proposal was to give me a series of intravenous antibiotic perfusions that I could take at home over the period of a week. However they’ve had a close look at my medical results from my last visit and decided that my medical state is far too fragile for the perfusion to take place without medical supervision.

Therefore they are calling me in and moving on directly to the next stage of the proceedings, whatever that might be.

It’s nice to see that they aren’t going to let the grass grow under their feet and that they are pressing on regardless. One thing that I’m sure of is that I can’t carry on like this much longer.

The big question is though “how am I going to make it to the hospital?” because I don’t want to have to go through that journey again. As I’ve said before, I can feel things slipping away day by day.

Something that I didn’t actually go through today was the stress of an early start. I was flat out when the alarm went off, miles away in the Land of Nod.

Nevertheless I struggled to my feet and went to take my medication and to check my mails and messages.

Once I’d dragged myself round into the Land of the Living I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was a new boy on a way to a class on board an old double-decker bus. I was the only passenger. The bus stopped to pick up a teacher. Apparently something had gone wrong somewhere and he was looking for the culprit. For some reason he fastened on me although it was nothing at all to do with me. I told him what I knew about anything, which wasn’t much, and he grudgingly accepted. In the end he said “drop me off at (such and such) bus stop”. I had no idea where this bus stop was, being new, so I just rang the bell for the next stop. Sure enough the bus stopped. He alighted first and I was about to alight second. The driver had obviously seem the person alighting in his mirror and he put his foot down at that point to move off. I was half on, half off the bus so the back of the bus hit me on the top of the pelvis and spun me off onto the ground on my face. It didn’t half hurt.

Later on I was round at someone’s house having a coffee, chatting to him and his wife. He asked me to tell them a limerick. As usual, I couldn’t think of one on demand like that. It took me ages. In the end I went to the bathroom and came back with a really weak effort. They guy then began to tell me a joke about another man who had come to his house. This joke went on and on and on. When he finally reached the punchline I thought that it wasn’t funny at all. he looked at me and said “you’re a case apart, you are”. This joke that went on for ages just fell completely flat.

And then we’d been camping somewhere. I’d had to leave Nerina and return home for something or other. I drove back all the way. I ended up going a strange way that I didn’t recognise. I suddenly found myself back on the road that I knew and couldn’t work out how I’d reached that particular point. I drove home and ended up talking to a few members of my family. I then emptied my vehicle and prepared to go back to pick her up to bring her home. It was about a 7-hour trip each way so I was effectively going to be driving 21 hours out of 24. Back at home I’d been into the house, which was our old one in Vine Tree Avenue. Someone had been in to feed the cats because the key was still in the lock in the bathroom door. On the way out I had to close the barrier. A little baby girl who was there told me how to close it. I’d seen some shoes that were really caked in mud and it turned out that they were my aunt Doreen’s. My father began to chat to this little girl about her. When we were about to set off the discussion came round to my yellow Cortina estate, about how it needs to go for its MoT etc. I wasn’t very optimistic be he said that he’d take it anyway. I wasn’t looking forward to having the fail certificate for that to tell me everything that needed doing. He was telling me about his own car, another Cortina where he’d had to change a couple of bushes in order for that to pass its MoT. In the meantime I was about to set off to go back to where we’d been camping to pick up Nerina and bring her home ready to go to work next morning. Looking at my watch I was going to be cutting it fine to have her back here in time to go to work.

Once I’d finished the notes from last night I cracked on with another batch of arrears and if I keep on going like this, I’ll have them finished by the end of the weekend. And then I can set out to update all of my notes. It’s high time that I did my best to catch up on various arrears of work that are hanging around.

Over the past few weeks or so there has been quite a large amount of correspondence piling up. I went through all of that this morning and filed away a pile of stuff. A few other letters needed scanning so that I can have copies, and there are one or two forms to fill in that I’ll have to complete quite soon.

And while we’re on the subject, I’ve heard that my disability cards have now been printed and are on their way. They should be here by the middle of next week. Not that the driving permit will do me much good because of course I’m no longer going to drive – unless something rather dramatic crops up out of this hospital treatment.

There have been a couple of very long messages to write too. One of which concerns Strider, my Ford Ranger in Canada. I’ve decided, for obvious reasons, that he’ll have to go the Way of the West.

It’s a shame really because the seat is exactly the right height for me to slide into and it’s an automatic too I could in principle drive him as I am. There would be no issue shipping him to Europe but with an old-technology V6 4.0 litre engine he drinks petrol like it’s going out of fashion, which it is, but that’s not what I mean.

Had I been healthy, it wouldn’t have been a problem because I have a variety of diesel engines down on the farm that would slide right in. But if I were well enough to change an engine, I would be well enough to carry on driving Caliburn.

Next task was to write a letter to my doctor. There are several issues that have cropped up just recently that I feel he ought to know. That includes the question of travel to Paris, and also involves some of the stuff that I scanned today.

We’ve not finished yet. Yesterday I said that I needed to prepare an emergency bag in case I’m whisked off to hospital at a moment’s notice. That took a while but it’s all ready now.

The rest of the day was spent finishing off writing the notes for the second radio programme and then ripping through the third one. They are well over half-way written now.

Tea tonight was interesting and I enjoyed it very much. It was pasta and lots of vegetables, and when it was cooked, fried in vegan butter with vegan cheese and vegan tomato pesto. I’ve had some really nice meals just recently and this was certainly one to match the best of them.

So having written my notes I’m off to bed. I’m going to have a go at going into town tomorrow morning. I’m not too optimistic that it will turn out well but I’ll have to give it a go and see where it takes me.

There’s some food that I need and it will have to be at the local supermarket by the port as I have to drop off the letter at the doctor’s. I can quiz the bus driver to see what the bus stop is like at St Nicholas, if it’s any better for me to climb in and out of the bus.

But before everything I’ll just go through the supermarket’s on-line catalogue to carry on making my list of my favourite products. If I can do that, it’ll make my on-line shopping easier.

Thursday 14th September 2023 – THERE’S GOOD NEWS …

… and there’s bad news.

The bad news today is that the professor came to see me today to tell me that they have tried everything that they have in their armoury and there’s nothing left to try.

Mind you, she did say that she was impressed that I’ve kept going as long as I have. She told me quite frankly that when I turned up there seven and a half years ago for the first time, she was worried that I wouldn’t pull through at all.

Anyway, my sleeping patters are back to where they used to be. I awoke a couple of times during the night and I was fast asleep when the alarm went off.

There had been plenty of little travels during the night. An Asian woman who was the mother of a friend of mine – in fact the mother of a girl whom I knew. I thought that it was a girl whom I knew from school but it could well have been Castor had come down to the road into Tarporley from Chester. She was ever so upset because someone from the school had turned up in an awful panic and said that she hadn’t brought any of the children with her. They were all about to get into her car and be driven here but they all disappeared. None of them actually got in and she couldn’t find them. The mother was distraught. I said that that reminded me of a dream that I’d had ages ago that she had actually turned up with a group of other children at this spot and I went to fetch her but she was with her brother and they all said that they had something else important to do and couldn’t do. They just simply disappeared from the spot where I was standing. I thought that that was an amazing coincidence that I’d had that in a dream and then something almost identical had happened like that in real life.

There’s an interesting story about this girl whom I knew. When she started at school everyone agreed that she would grow up to be a real stunner. Anyway a good few years later I’d been delivering freight to Northern Ireland and was on my way back home and decided to stop off for some fish and chips and a beer.

At Galgate just outside Lancaster was a pub that brewed its own beer and a fish and chip shop next door so I went there. And who was serving behind the bar?

“What are you doing here?” I asked.
3I’m a student at the University and I work here sometimes to earn some cash”.

It goes without saying that every time there was some freight to go north, I’d be the first to volunteer

Coming up to Easter “what plans do you have?”
“I don’t know. I want to go home but I can’t afford the trip”
“Would you like me to come and pick you up?”.

So back at home we went out together for a few times until the famous night that I invited her back to my house. My old black cat was extremely antisocial and always went to hide when people came round but when she walked in, the cat went over, jumped on her lap and settled down
“Ohhh look! Even Tuppence likes her!” I thought

On the way home later I said to the girl “thank you for the lovely evening. I’d be really happy if you’d like to come round again”.
“Yes-s-s-s-s” she stuttered. “But you’ll have to get rid of that cat! I hate cats!”
And the rest, as they say, is history.

With Nerina, Tuppence never stood a chance.
“Ohhh look! A cat!” she said. And she’d bent down and picked up the cat and began to stroke her before Tuppence had even had time to react.
And the rest of that was history too.

Then we were in Nantwich, walking up Welsh Row towards the school. We met a girl whom we knew who was really quite excited, telling us that they’d had a visitor at school, someone really important. It turned out to be the King or Prime Minister, someone handicapped who needed help to move around but was one of the most important men in the Kingdom. He’d been to the field opposite the school

And finally I was having a big chat with a neighbour and a few other people, discussing globalisation and international commerce from an individual’s point of view last night.

There wasn’t long to hang around though because Alison was in a rush. We drove through the fog and mist to the hospital where I had to wait for an age to sign in.

The kidney specialist poked and prodded me as I told him my tale of woe. Not that it did me much good because although he listened quite intently, he didn’t change anything at all.

He did give me a prescription for the next batch of medication – three months of it too. I went and had the prescription made up and I’ve no idea now how I’m going to manage to take everything home with me.

The doctor had sent me off to give a blood test too and to my surprise (and yours too) the nurse had no problems whatever in finding some.

Next stop was the Social Services department. I’d received a bill for treatment which surprised me because there’s a direct billing arrangement with my health insurance provider.

No need to give a blood sample in the afternoon, having given one in the morning.

At the meeting with the doctor though she did the usual bit about asking me all kinds of questions and then doing nothing whatever to change anything that I’m taking. And then the professor came to see me for a chat.

There was some good news too, as I mentioned. The doctor considers that the state of my mobility is now non-existent so she game me a certificate to that effect.

That means that in principle (because insurance companies can be bizarre) I’m entitled to claim my travelling expenses. In other words, while claiming the train is out of the question, I can go by taxi, obtain a receipt and then submit it for review in the hope that someone somewhere will pay it.

Consequently I had a hospital porter push me to the front door in a wheelchair, and then had a nice new Mercedes taxi back to Alison’s house.

Once I was back here I had a little … errr … relax and then slowly began to pack my things.

Tea was more pasta and sausages and now I’m off to bed because I have to raise myself at … errr … 05:15. Alison wants to be on the road by 05:40 at the latest and I have a train at a wayside station at 06:28.

That’s something that I don’t want to miss because I shall be in a rush all day tomorrow.

And I’ll tell you something for nothing – I’ll be glad to be back home and I won’t be doing this again.

Wednesday 30th August 2023 – AS SEEMS TO BE …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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