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Thursday 30th November 2023 – THE PERISHING CAR …

… never came to pick me up today to take me to the Centre de Re-education.

There I was, just like Martin Adey and "all revved up with no place to go", sitting on the chair in the dining area by the door wearing my coat and shoes and nothing happened.

After a while I rang them up. It seems that yesterday’s driver had forgotten to pass on to the dispatching the new schedule that I’d received because my trips for next week weren’t recorded either.

We had the issue about the trip to Paris tomorrow not being recorded and having to ring up to remind them earlier in the week. It seems that despite their ultra-modern fleet of Skoda saloons, the wheels are coming off their operation.

Mind you, it’s probably as well that I didn’t go out because the weather has finally turned. It’s freezing outside, threatening snow, and snow is promised for Paris tomorrow.

Mind you, snow round here is nothing like what we’re used to.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we lived back in the Auvergne temperatures of minus 18°C were not uncommon. We’d have a metre of snow overnight and be snowed in for a couple of weeks. Every year round about the end of October we’d go into the big city and stock up with supplies because you never knew when you’d be able to go out again.

And then into the forest with the chainsaw to cut your wood, store your water somewhere because your well would freeze over and then finally make sure that you had plenty of good books and films.

The winter of 2012/13 is the one that we’ll all remember. The first snow was 27th October and the last snow was 25th May. I went round to Cecile’s to help her hang a door and didn’t make it back home for 6 months. However, the snow didn’t have a great deal to do with that, I have to admit.

They were exciting times and I enjoyed every minute of it, and had I still had my health I’d be down there now. But I’m going all nostalgic again and I really have to stop doing this

But while we’re on the subject of nostalgia … "well, one of us is" – ed … I ended up going to bed quite late again last night. Once I’d picked up the guitar I carried on until quite late working my way through my old acoustic playlist.

That of course is the advantage of living in a building where the walls are 1.20m thick of solid granite – grès de chausey. I can make as much noise as I like and no-one can hear a thing. Much better than when I lived in Expo and the neighbours used to complain about the noise from my headphones.

But eventually I staggered off to bed and that was that.

When the alarm went off I wandered off into the dining area for my medication and then came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was sorting through my images and came across a folder. When I looked I found another folder with other photos in from the same situation. I was going to merge it in but found yet another one. I kept on finding all these folders. All the while that I was doing this I was hearing that “Jeeves and Wooster” music that was going on in my head. I wasn’t sure why. But this de-duplicating my backup drives is really getting to me at the moment isn’t it?

But the music is explained quite easily. While I was eating my tea I was watching a JEEVES AND WOOSTER episode starring Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie, and then back in here on the Old-Time Radio an episode with Richard Briers and Michael Hordern came round straight away.

Then there was one of these garden parties taking place. There were a lot of children there dressed in ball gowns etc. There was one particular small boy who was very keen on talking to a small girl but she didn’t want anything to do with boys so she kept on running away. It made everyone laugh which really upset him. As the evening drew on, up on the podium someone from the crowd began to recite a poem about a boy and a girl. At that moment a butterfly appeared. It hovered around the boy’s face for a while so he breathed out gently. His breath wafted it towards the girl. She looked at it and began to smile. You could feel the hush of anticipation from the crowd as they saw this. Suddenly the girl had an incredible fit of coughing and swallowed the butterfly. Once again, everyone burst out laughing and the boy and this time the girl too were extremely distraught.

And finally I was back at the kids’ garden party last night, going through the images. All of the sudden I gave a cough and wiped out a whole directory full of images that I’d taken of the young girl in her very nice ball gown.

Once I’d awoken I sat down to make a start on the next radio programme.

While I was in hospital I’d used the time to select the music for several programmes and this one was one of them. Consequently, it didn’t take long to pair them up.

And then in a mad fit of bravado that came from I’ve no idea where I sat down and wrote out the notes for all of it – well, all of the 10 tracks that have been selected so far. I don’t choose the last track and write the notes for that until the day that I assemble to bits.

Nothing nostalgic about anything in this one, which makes a change. In fact, I seem to have run out of steam in this respect.

The cleaner came round after lunch so I stayed in here and wrote out the notes for a few more photographs from Canada 2022 but I’ve run aground at the moment.

The big difficulty is that I can’t remember why I took a few of the photos. I always travel with a dictaphone and make a few verbal notes of most of them but sometimes some of the subjects of the photos are so evident that they need no contemporary notes.

But two things happen when you reach my age. The first thing is that you forget absolutely everything.
"And what’s the second thing?" – ed
"I don’t know. I can’t remember"

That’s how things are. I can remember verbatim the words to any obscure rock song from the late 1960s that you can care to mention, but ask me why I’ve just walked into the kitchen ….

My best friend in this apartment is my white board and washable markers.

With no Centre de Re-education I did some more work on the back-up drive and then went for tea. Something from the European Vegan Burger Mountain with pasta and veg in spicy tomato sauce.

Rosemary and I had a quick chat too. She’d found some wild mushrooms and wanted to know if they were edible. I explained to her that everything is edible once but I’ve no idea about subsequently.

While I was at it I told her about the delicious mushroom soup that Nerina once made for me
"This is delicious" I said. "Where did you find the recipe?"
"In an Agatha Christie novel" she replied.

Tomorrow I’m off to Paris for my appointment with Destiny. We’ll see how that works out but we’ll have to be pragmatic. An 8-hour car drive in bad winter weather is not ideal but at least I don’t have to do the driving.

There will be no medication, no breakfast and nothing to drink before I go, on the basis that what doesn’t go in won’t want to come out, but I’ll make some sandwiches all the same. My appointment is at 12:40 so there will be a moment for me to have a bite to eat before we set off for home.

There are plenty of cafés and restaurants there at the hospital but I won’t be able to walk there, especially if we have snow and ice covering the paths.

Monday 27th November 2023 – IT WAS A GOOD …

… job that I rang up the taxi company to tell them that the authorisation for my journey to Paris had been received from the Social Services.

It seems that the letter that I gave to the driver the other day hasn’t found its way into Head Office so they hadn’t reserved a car for me. But that’s now arranged and at about 08:30 on Friday I shall be on my way to the Haematology department at the Hôpital Salpetrière in Paris.

This is presumably when they’ll decide whether or not to take over the case of my cancer from Leuven. If they do, then all well and good.

If on the other hand they don’t, then we’ll be at an impasse. The last time that I was in Leuven was in September and the travelling was total and utter agony. Had I not had the support of Alison, Jackie and Hans while I was there I would have been finished.

My health has deteriorated since then and I won’t be able to undertake the journey.

It goes without saying that no matter how good the treatment might be in Leuven, it’s all totally pointless if the strain of travelling is going to make me worse. I’m quickly reaching the point where the best and most comfortable way of proceeding is to do nothing and let nature run its course

Obviously, staggering down the stairs into a taxi and being driven to Paris is the lesser of several evils, but then we have the climb back up the stairs when I return home that will negate the effects of whatever treatment I might have had.

At least, last night was rather less mobile than some have been just recently so I could have a good relax, even though I was quite late going to bed.

And there were some strange goings-on during the night too. I was awake early this morning and after a while I looked at the time on my phone – it was 06:00 so it must have been about 05:30 that I’d awoken. At some point I must have gone back to sleep because my brother awoke and asked me what time it was. I told him that it was 05:00 and to shut up and go to sleep. He obviously didn’t believe me because he got out of bed, switched on the light disturbing everyone else in the room and went to look. Once he’d satisfied himself that I was correct he went back to bed and began to listen to his radio. After a few minutes of this I told him to put an earpiece in. Then I must have gone to sleep in the dream because I began to dream about some child who was ill but at that moment the alarm went off and awoke me.

It’s actually been a while since I’ve dreamed that I’ve fallen asleep and dreamed that I was dreaming in a dream – if that makes sense

From the bedroom I tottered into the dining area and had my medication, and then came back in here to check my mails.

After a while when I’d come 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 at a beach seaside resort with a small port last night with a couple of girls. We were standing on the cliffs watching the storm. There were some kayakers in the port, in individual or in North American canoes in which could fit several people. They were being tossed around like corks in there. It looked really interesting so in the end went to arrange for one of them. We climbed into two and were having fun in the storm. By now the boats had grown into more like canal barges and were having an enormous amount of fun either trying to ram each other or trying to pass each other. In the end it developed into a race on foot between me and someone else with a couple of shopping trolleys dashing through the centre of a town going through roadworks etc. I was in the lead but the other guy kept trying to overtake me. I was all like something out of a Formula 1 car race.

Later on I was in Crewe waiting to turn left into Nantwich Road at the traffic lights. As I pulled up to the lights an Austin Healey Sprite with Swedish number plates and huge tyres pulled up in front of me. The guy in it, an older type of guy with a young girl sitting next to him was doing wheelies in this Sprite and generally showing off. As usual I thought tl myself ‘this is a recipe for disaster”. With the lights being on red he left his car and went for a walk around. I was itching for the lights to change before he came back so that I could give him a full blast on the horn. Just then a load of Austin Cambridge MkII cars pulled up. There must have been 4 or 5 of them. They all looked in really good condition except that the paint was missing on part of the bodywork. I left my car and began to paint the bodywork with the old BMC maroon-type paint and a brush. I ended up painting the wheels with it too.

After I’d had my coffee and bread-and-butter pudding I sat down to make the next batch of hummus for the next few weeks.

And my new FOOD PROCESSOR really is the business. It made pretty short work of grinding and mixing everything up, much better than the little machine that I’ve been using up until recently.

There are now 5 small containers of hummus, four in the freezer and one in the fridge for current use.

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are a few just recently, a decent hummus is quite easy to make if you have a decent food processor or way of whizzing things up. The recipe is

  • 50% chick peas, drained
  • 25% tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 10% olive oil
  • 10% chick pea juice
  • A large handful of fresh garlic
  • some sea salt
  • plenty of black pepper

Whizz all of that together into a nice purée and then add your extras. Whizz that in just enough to break the extras into pieces but not so much that it dissolves into the purée.

Half of my batch has chilis added to it. The other half has olives and there should have been sun-dried tomatoes in there too but I didn’t like the look of them.

Having been to Transylvania and walked the parapets of Castle Bran (and I have, too) I can confirm that garlic is a very important ingredient in my cooking, for all kinds of reasons.

After lunch I had to telephone the hospital at Caen about this IRM that they want me to have on my heart and then to telephone the ambulance company about my trip to Paris.

The cleaner came by too to drop off my mail and we had a chat too. It seems that my neighbour who is ill isn’t going too well right now and people are becoming worried about her. The nurse also put in an appearance and we had a chat about my next Covid injection.

And in between falling asleep I made a start on another radio programme. I’ve chosen the music, paired it off and written over half of the notes. I can finish off the rest of them tomorrow and dictate them tomorrow night.

Tea was a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg and there’s plenty of stuffing left for my taco roll tomorrow and a leftover curry for Wednesday along with one of the naan breads the dough of which I made on Sunday.

Plenty of garlic in there too, and soaked in the garlic butter that I made the other week, that should be really good. I won’t ever be worried about vampires coming to see me in the dead of night, although it might actually explain why Zero, Castor and TOTGA have been keeping their distance.

So now I’m going to have a hot drink and go to bed. Welsh lesson in the morning so I need to be on my best form.

At least I can have a good sleep in the afternoon afterwards.

Sunday 19th November 2023 – IF I EVER FIND …

… out who it was who rang my doorbell this morning at 09:30, “harsh words” will be said. I was just on the point of tidying the kitchen and putting things away when someone rang the front door bell and awoke me. Who does a thing like that at 09:30 on a Sunday morning? I just stuck my head under the bedclothes and presumably they went away. However I couldn’t go to sleep again after that. It really annoyed me

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m happy (well, I’m not, actually, but that’s by the way) to raise myself from the dead at any time you like but Sunday is a Day Of Rest when there’s never an alarm and I’m quite content to lie in bed for as long as it takes until I’m ready to show a leg. And anyone who gets in my way and interrupts me will know all about it.

But that’s not the worst of it.

As it happens I did manage to go back to sleep at some point but at 10:15 the doorbell went again.

This time I staggered across the apartment as Nature intended ready to give someone a piece of my mind but there was no-one on the other end of the parlophone.

There was no point in going back to bed after that so I had my medication and, exceptionally, I made myself a mug of strong instant coffee

It took a while, as it usually does these days, to come round into the Land of the Living and then I sat down to transcribe the dictaphone notes. I’d been producing a play. Admittedly it wasn’t very good but it was part of street entertainment. The idea was that there would be 4 different versions of this play taking place simultaneously and the actors would begin to walk from the far end of each street until they arrived simultaneously in the centre of the Square in the town centre. Of course, doing something on that kind of scale in a small town there won’t be any kind of experienced actors so if you did find any experienced actors you’d ration them out between the different performances to make sure that one of the streets didn’t have more quality than the others. It was all quite hit-and-miss, the kind of thing that was destined to fail but you would give it a go. The actors set off and slowly advanced into the town centre down their respective streets to meet up in the middle. There was one woman who was really outraged because she considered that her street had a couple of second-rate actors playing important roles whereas the neighbouring street had a couple of professional, experienced actors playing the same roles. She was incensed. What annoyed me more than anything was that from where she was standing to watch it she could actually see two performances, the one with the average actors and that with the better actors in the leading role so she really had no grounds to complain. Nevertheless she was extremely angry and vituperative about it.

That reminds me of something that happened 10 years ago when I was in Munich. I was at some kind of party with some theatrical types and busy chatting to a young Italian girl who was with a travelling theatre company. She was telling me that she was going to produce her first ever play – either Hamlet or “The Scottish Play”, I can’t remember now.
She asked me "how would you produce the play?"
"Do you know the play well?"
"Yes I do" she responded.
"Have you read it?" I asked
"Yes I have" she answered
"When you read it, do you visualise in your mind and your imagination what is going on, or do you simply look at the words?"
"I can imagine and visualise it" she answered.
"Well, that’s how you produce it – so that it turns out exactly how you imagine it to be. It’s all your own work – no-one else’s so do it how YOU see it and not how anyone else wants you to see it, otherwise there’s no point in you being the producer"

And half an hour later "how would you produce the play?"

Later on during the night I was talking to the lorry driver with whom I was talking in a dream a couple of nights ago. He was telling me that every Sunday he had to go to the fuel depot at Y Fflint to load up his lorry ready for the week’s work. But because it was a Bank Holiday just about everywhere was filling up so there was an enormous queue. He wasn’t attended to until late at night which meant that he had no drivers’ hours left to go home. He slept at the side of the road in his cab then spent the next week delivering, running later and later because with the effects of Covid it took much more time to unload and prepare anything. Instead of being home for Friday he ended up coming off the road and going straight to the tanker depot to refuel for the next week’s work without even seeing his home and having to sleep in his cab for the night again. He went at the height of Covid for several weeks without even seeing his own home and family.

Finally I was staying with some people in Arizona, in a big house on the edge of town. There was just the boy of the house and me there – the family was away. No-one had said anything about food and by now I was starving. I’d brought some bread rolls with me in the car so I said that I’d make a sandwich. Did he want anything? He replied no so I went off and fetched whatever I had, which wasn’t very much. later on in the afternoon as it began to go dark I went for a walk. I could tell by plaques on various places around the town that it had been created in 1918 as a watering point along the railway. Someone had built a church but it was all ripped out and modernised in 1933. There were several stories. One of the strangest things was that at the side of the Town Hall was what might have been a memorial of a 1950s convertible that had been involved in a really heavy front-end smash. There were 3 children standing by the car so I wondered if they had been killed in the accident and the memorial was to them. The most interesting thing was when I went down a side street I ended up in some kind of gallery that was all ornate carved wood like something out of a Gothic cathedral. There were people milling around and one or two people were talking to me. I was standing by a waste paper bin blocking it. Some woman asked me to move so we had a little chat. I pointed out to her a ghastly luminous human head floating down the gallery. As I went round the corner I came across a cat show with about 20 or 30 cats in baskets. I went over to stroke them and some woman made a remark to someone else about “that’s the guy who’s staying with such-and-such a family at the moment”

After lunch I made the pizza for the next batch of pizza and I do have to say that the dough came out the best that I have made for some considerable time.

While it was busy proofing I began the bread and butter pudding.

The recipe included eggs so I had a go with Liz’s patent baking-soda-and-vinegar replacement. And the result was something like Lance Percival experienced in CARRY ON CRUISING

Nevertheless it went into the oven well enough and baked quite nicely. I decided in the end to bake it in a low, wide dish in the conventional oven so that it will cook more evenly

As yet I haven’t tasted it but if it’s anything as nice as the uncooked mixture tasted before I baked it, it’ll be phenomenal.

And having ordered some dry figs in the week from LeClerc, I found three unopened packets in my baking box. I really must make a proper and thorough inventory of exactly what I have in here.

In between everything I edited the radio notes that I’d dictated last night and I completed the programme. I’ll be ready to start the next one tomorrow.

There was a visitor too. One of my neighbours came round to talk to me about cars with hand controls.

The pizza was absolutely delicious again, and now that I’ve written my notes I’m off to bed once I’ve had a drink of honey, blackcurrant and lemon

So who will put in an appearance tonight? At some point during the night I had a vague recollection that Nerina was there or thereabouts. I’ve no objection to her coming to visit me during the night because, after all, I did invite her to share my life for better or for worse.

However I do wish that everyone else in my family would clear off and leave me alone. I put as much distance between them and me in the real world as I possibly can and so I take a great deal of objection to them pursuing me around in the ether during the night.

Sunday 8th October 2023 – SO MUCH FOR MY …

… lie-in this morning. I was actually up and about by 09:30 this morning.

What’s even more surprising about that was that I didn’t go to bed until after 02:00 this morning. 7.5 hours isn’t all that much sleep on a weekday, but on a Sunday morning it’s quite depressing.

However, I should have been in bed a long time before 02:00. Once I’d finished what I was doing I began to dictate the notes for the 4 radio programmes that I have in the pipeline. And I won’t be doing that again.

Four programmes one after the other is too much to dictate in one session. Firstly, my throat was cracking up by the end of it and secondly, I was too tired to concentrate and I was making all kinds of mistakes.

So once I was up and about, I had my medication and then checked my mails and messages. And once everything was ready and I wound myself up, I began to edit the notes for one of the programmes.

After I’d finished making the programme I went and had lunch. And then I had a go at having a shower.

Earlier on in the morning I’d had a try at climbing into the bath and it seemed that I managed to do it, after quite a struggle. And so I bit the bullet and … errr … took the plunge.

Climbing in was one thing. Climbing out was something else completely but I finally managed it, and it wasn’t as difficult as it had been on Wednesday.

It’s still not much good though and I need to do something about it.

Strangely enough, after my shower I crashed out on the chair for a while and once I’d come back round into the Land of the Living, I went and did some baking. Now I have a pile of pizza dough and a large batch of fruit buns that will last me for the next few weeks.

While it was all busy proofing I had a listen to the dictaphone notes from the night to see where I’d been. I was walking through Nantwich with my doctor, going down Hospital Street. He was explaining to me what he wanted me to do over the next few weeks and next period of time. I asked him about different kinds of things for walking. He said that I needn’t do so much but that was not the point because I wasn’t supposed to be walking anyway. Obviously I still had to live and do my things. I asked about maybe having a bicycle. He said that it was clearly impractical and one or two other things like that. He suggested that we wait until the end of this current series of prescriptions before we decide on what we are going to do and where we are going to go, any more than we are at the moment. It would give us time to reflect and to find out what the alternatives are. I was quite disappointed but he was the guy in charge so we carried on walking down Hospital Street talking about nothing in particular.

And then I was in hospital last night. I was in one of the rooms where they sort out the stuff that arrives from other sections of the hospital. The first thing that came was a huge box on wheels full of all kinds of different bits and pieces that they were sorting out to send off to whoever needed it. The other one was wheeled in – something on four wheels with a handle at one end, wheeled in by a private soldier. It had on it “this is the box that Jimmy Fallon told us to prefer but we forgot”. There was a nurse there who had some kind of machine that was supposed to help people prepare for a bath. I’d tried to use it last time but for some reason the nurse muscled me out of it. I was determined to take my place in the queue and have a shower however the nurse in charge said “I have something special for you – something that I meant to give you last time”. She produced another weird kind of machine. She then asked me what I was doing in this queue. I told her, and she said basically that I have to forget about that for now because this other job has cropped up. I can see that I’m never going to be able to have this shower, am I?

Later on I was in a second-hand record and video shop with a few people last night. We were discussing certain films, books and the new copyright regulations. I mentioned HARRY POTTER AND THE DEADY HALLOWS which for some reason, was only available from one particular source, the official source of the copyright holder. You couldn’t buy it on Amazon or anywhere like that. When they tightened up the copyright laws, they decided that they didn’t have the right, even though they were the copyright holders, to sell this film so they stopped selling it with the result that there was no legitimate of buying the film anywhere. People were coming up with all kinds of ideas about how to make sure that you had a copy, like borrowing one and taping it etc. While this discussion was going on I walked out and went across the road. My niece had been talking to someone on the ‘phone about insurance, saying how much she’d had to pay just for her vehicle and my vehicle for a weekend to go somewhere to do something special. It was cheaper to have an annual premium anywhere else. I thought that I’d be over here in this other shop for when she decides to come out, but I hope that there will be some kind of organisation about a meal as I have no money on me at the moment.

Finally, I was with a French – or European – girl, it might have been Cecile or Laurence. We were supposed to be going out somewhere but she was in the kitchen cooking. I went in to ask her what she was making and to remind her that we needed to hurry. She said that she was making a meal of some description with beef, or, at least, she said that she would if she had some English sugar. I bent down, opened a cupboard, took out a packet and dumped it on the table. “Is this what you need?”. She laughed and I gave her the sugar. I gave her a tin in which I keep the sugar and said “when you’ve opened the bag can you pour the rest in here?” which she thought was strange because the tin wasn’t all that clean. When she’d finished everything I had to pour it into a plastic bag but ended up missing my aim with half the contents down the outside of the bag and all over my hand which was scalding to death so I put it quickly into some cold water. I had on my watch too so I ended up with my watch in the water.

My pizza tonight was excellent once more and it would have been one of the best ever had I not dropped a spoonful of oregano onto one corner of it.

But now that that’s all done and my notes are written, I’ll go back to preparing my on-line order for later on in the week. But I’ll be struggling to make it up to €50:00 because a lot of stuff that I usually buy isn’t available on delivery. The vegan range is particularly devastated and the vegan cheese isn’t there. That’s a tragedy.

But I’ll have to do the best I can and hope that one of these days I’ll be able to sort something out. I must admit that I did miss my little trip out to the shops.

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.

Saturday 1st July 2023 – FOUR YEARS AGO …

… today I was on the deck of THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR in Aberdeen, Scotland (for the benefit of those who don’t know where Aberdeen is) waiting to cast off forr’ard and left hand down a bit on our way to Kugluktuk on the border between the Far North of Canada and Alaska.

When I set out I didn’t really have much of an idea when I’d be back home (if ever at all) and it wasn’t until late October that I finally returned to perch upon my little rock, having made a brief stop in Morocco on the way back.

That was some voyage. Rosemary came with me as far as Greenland of course, and HIS NIBS did the full circuit with me.

A great many of my lifetime ambitions were realised. I finally managed to visit the site – Hvalsey – in Greenland where the last known record of the Norse colony was recorded, and next stop, I went to visit Leif Ericson’s house at Brattahlid,

Higher up on the Canadian side of the Davis Strait I walked upon the site of one of Franklin’s camps – at Beechey Island – and visited the graves of some of his sailors and inspected the remains of the cabin and the boat that later explorers left for him and his party (in vain) in case they even made it back to civilisation, and I passed through the mythical North-West Passage.

Not only that, but when I had to leave the ship for a couple of weeks in Greenland when that party of schoolkids joined (I don’t have a North American police check of course) I flew out to the Rockies to continue my journey along the Emigrants’ Trail to California and walked up South Pass – the North American watershed where east drains into the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, and the west drains into the Pacific – to see the tracks of the covered wagons that made the journey between 1846 and 1861.

There was also standing on the stage where my grandmother performed with a variety of famous American music-hall artists in Winnipeg, the house where she lived, the church where she married and the grave where her first husband is buried.

And not to forget the rather “strange” encounter that I had over a period of three days right at the end of the voyage … “strange encounter?” – ed … “I told you not to mention that!”.

How I wish that I could go and do it all again but I’m struggling these days to even walk to the door of the apartment.

It was even a struggle to get out of bed this morning. I was dead to the world when the alarm went off.

That might possibly be something to do with the fact that I didn’t go straight to bed last night as I said that I would. I ended up having a nostalgic session on the guitar for quite a while – blow all the cobwebs away. So with not going to bed until late, I was not in the mood to do very much.

Nevertheless I did manage to struggle out to the shops this morning. And considering that I didn’t think that I’d need very much, I spent a small fortune.

Noz was quite expensive today, something not unconnected with the fact that they had some digestive biscuits in today. They were quite expensive, but ask me if I care.

LeClerc was expensive too but a lot of that was due to the fact that I’ve almost run out of coffee and I’ve not seen any on special offer for ages. It had to be stocked up at any price, so watch it be on sale next week.

On the way home I had to call at the pharmacy by the Agora – the only one on my route that it’s convenient to visit with a vehicle.

That’s because I had an e-mail from the nerve specialist yesterday that is a prescription. By the looks of things it’s for a blood test so I’ll have to talk to the nurse when he comes to give me my Aranesp on Monday.

There’s a whole pile of stuff that needs to be checked, including Hepatitis B and C, and also the creatinine in my urine. So I needed a sample pot and they are obtained from the chemist.

But looking at this list, it’s really quite ominous, the things that they want to check, and I’m wondering if it’s anything to do with a hospital admission. As the policeman said, when he was told about the hole that had been blown in the wall at the nudist camp, “I shall have to look into this”

After I came back home and had my coffee and cheese on toast, I went back into the bedroom – and passed out completely. All of the exercise today has totally worn me out. While I was asleep I was in Whitchurch living in a room somewhere. There was a fête on somewhere out in South Cheshire and I’d arranged to go there. It was becoming late and no-one had been to pick me up. I decided that what I’d do would be to set out and walk there. It might be 12 miles but the chances are that I’d meet the people for whom I’m looking on my way. Even if I didn’t the walk would do me good. I had to sit and think about how long it was since I’d actually been on a walk for that long. I was busy preparing myself. I had a half-eaten apple that I needed to finish. I was thinking that I’d better set off soon because otherwise if I had to walk it’ll be all over by the time I’d arrive. The thing about this dream was that it was just so real that when I awoke I actually began to think about leaving for this walk.

It’s no surprise that I didn’t feel very much like doing anything particular after that. It’s actually quite beyond a joke how tired I seem to be these days.

But having drank my very cold coffee I had a listen to the rest of the dictaphone because there was plenty on there from the night. We had a whole tribe of Zulu warriors, native African warriors of all ages in the jungle who’d gone to intercept a party of European girls. The girls had managed to put them to flight and chase them away. I’ve obviously been watching too many SAINT TRINIANS films. But each one of these Zulus was created as I’d create a figure in 3D as if it was some unseen hand guiding everything around, although of course the hand wouldn’t have been unseen because I could see it manipulating these 3D figures.

It actually reminds me of the old, hoary joke
“I was playing cards with some Africans last night”
“No. I won a fiver.”

I was on holiday with a young girl and we were sharing a room. Something had happened and she was absolutely outraged. I don’t think she was all that happy. Then we had to go to the bathroom to get ready for bed. First she went and then I went. I then went back in the bedroom getting ready to go to bed. There was a little kitten sitting there, obviously waiting for the two of us to go to bed because it would join us. It looked ever so cute. The girl seemed to be pleased to see it. We got into bed and the kitten joined us. Next morning we were in like a restaurant looking out of the window. We weren’t sure which town we could see. Someone asked me if it was Kherson. I said that Kherson was somewhere “over there. It might be Almaty or something”. While we were talking away 3 people took our seats. We said “hey we were sitting there”. The woman there said “you were talking Welsh. I didn’t realise what language you were talking”. In the end because the place was so full we all squidged up and sat around this table, all of us. One of their children came to join us too so we were all really crammed into this little café restaurant type of place like sardines.

Finally it was the birthday of a couple of kids. They were 11. They’d had a bike each for their birthday. Their father was really angry and annoyed because he said that the bikes were wrong. Someone tried to explain everything to him but he wouldn’t listen so they wandered away. he turned round to me to say this is what they said etc, laughing. I replied “you’ll probably find it even more funny when you find out later that they are totally correct” at which point he went berserk. In the end we bought two new bikes and measured them. There was absolutely no doubt about the measurements. We began to assemble them right in front of him. They went together completely naturally just as they ought to do with no adjustment or manoeuvre. It was quite obvious that the measurements for the 2 bikes that he’d been given had been perfectly correct.

That’s not all that happened last night but you really don’t want to know the rest, especially if you are eating your evening meal or something.

Later on I was invited out to visit some neighbours. There was a nice couple who were living here when I first moved in but my reputation had clearly preceded me because they left a short while after I arrived. But they were visiting so we were all invited for a chat.

Usually I’m not a very sociable person, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but I forced myself and stayed for a couple of hours and that surprised even me.

Consequently my evening meal was late. Chips and salad and one of these soya burgers in breadcrumbs. That’s the last of that batch and I’ll have to start now on the ones that I bought a few weeks ago

So later than usual, I’m off to bed. It’s Sunday so I can have a lie-in and won’t that be nice? I must say that I can do with one, especially if I can go on some exciting voyages.

It’s quite a shame really that all of the excitement that ever happens to me these days takes place when I’m asleep. At least they haven’t descended into the chaos felt by the poet Charles Sorley at the Battle of Loos
“When You See Millions Of The Mouthless Dead
Across Your Dreams In Pale Battalions Go …”

Friday 16th June 2023 – I’VE BEEN DOWN …

… in town this morning.

Not that I walked, though. I think that I’ve had that for good.

Instead I hopped on the bus with a neighbour who just happened to be waiting.

The bus took me down to the port and I staggered off to the Carrefour where I bought some mushrooms and peppers as well as a bit of bread to make some cheese on toast.

And then back to the bus stop where I met my neighbour who had done her shopping elsewhere, and we came back together on the bus.

It was actually quite nice out there today as well. It was the first time for ages that I’ve felt really warm. There wasn’t much wind about either. In fact it would have been the kind of day where I would normally have gone for a nice long walk. However …

Anyway, during the night I went for a few long walks. Despite my nice, new, clean and fresh bed I don’t think that I spent much time in it.

I was in North America again last night in a fishing community preparing a lot of things ready to go somewhere the following day. By 16:00 I’d finished. I said to the people at the counter that I’d finished. If they would send someone into town to pick up some fishing tackle for me I’d be grateful. They weren’t paying a great deal of attention so I didn’t really say much. Next morning I came in and asked for my stuff. They replied that they didn’t have it. I sighed and said that it was important and I’d told them yesterday etc. They were all extremely apologetic. Then the little girl who hung around there, whether she was someone’s daughter or not I don’t know, skipped into the back and came out with a packet that she handed to me with a big smile on her face. Everyone else began to laugh. I told the girl that she ought to have a good spanking and they all laughed at that. And I had my things

After that I’ve forgotten what I was going to say now with having to mess around with the batteries and dictaphone at some crazy hour of the night. Everything has just slid out of my head but there was something about a woman with a yellow handbag thing on the quay, a handbag having just been on the market. There she was with an enormous one on her shoulder obviously well in advance of everything else around here

We were then back on the subject of these old cars again. I had old cars scattered around here and there over the town. I came to one place where there were 3 or 4 of mine. The first thing that I noticed was that a Volkswagen Beetle that I had there had gone since the last time I was here. The MkII s-type Jag was still there although one of its rear wings was missing. I went round and found the person for whom I was looking, sitting on the terrace outside the building. They gave me the key to go inside. They told me that I needed to go in through the second door but to be careful of the animals and the cow in there that wants to come out. We talked about the cars and what we were going to do, not that I had any real plans but I just said anything. he said that the Jag was looking very sorry. I said “yes, we’ll have to bring it back to my place, take the engine out”. He wanted to know how we were going to do it because for some unknown reason the car wouldn’t tick over. It was going to be complicated to move it and take out the engine. I didn’t really have a clue how I would make it work.

Finally on the way out of Sandbach they’d built this huge new petrol station. It wasn’t open yet but things were progressing rapidly. There were scores of people around there. I knew a lot of them too from Crewe. It seemed that they’d recruited the labour force now and were preparing to open. I went over there, said hello to a few people whom I knew and asked if they could introduce me to the boss. They thought that I was touting for work, which I was. Eventually after much hunting around I found the boss. I explained about my taxis and how we’d be available if ever they needed any here for running the staff around or anything like that. She thought that I only had some plates for working in Crewe but I told her that I had some plates for working in Sandbach which quite surprised her. She said that she’d bear it in mind if anyone ever needed anything

When the alarm went off I was actually already up and about again. I’d awoken with a start at about 06:50 and I’ve no idea why. However it did take me quite a while to gather my wits this morning, not that I have many wits left to gather these days but here we are.

In fact I almost missed the bus into town and had to dash. Well, relatively speaking.

Back here I made my cheese on toast and some strong coffee but regrettably I crashed out and awoke to a mug of cold coffee. That’s what I call “embarrassing”.

This afternoon I’ve been pressing on with my Canada 2017 trip and I’m just leaving the cemetery at Paradise River. I had hoped to have been in Cartwright by now but trying to match up the names on the headstones with the poor handwritten entries in the Censuses is complicated

As well as the Census records I’ve been trawling through George Cartwright’s diary. The influenza epidemic that ravaged the Labrador coast in 1918 was devastating, but Cartwright mentions an outbreak of influenza that occurred in 1778 and an occurrence of smallpox a couple of years earlier that played havoc with the native population

As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … it’s no surprise to anyone that Canada took such strict measures about the Covid rules and regulations when you see what happened in the past in these isolated communities where even today there’s no medical service.

Something else I’ve come across is some kind of diary where people who lived around Sandwich Bay have added little pen-pictures of their lives going back 100 years to the period of the 3 Fs – Fishing, Furs and Forestry that were the mainstay of life on the Labrador coast.

All that has changed dramatically today. Even as late as 1961 there were as many as 161 people living in Paradise River. At the Census in 2021 there were 5.

When I visited the place in 2017 there were 10 inhabitants, and I think that every one of them turned out to watch me drive to the quayside.

Tea tonight was potatoes baked in the air fryer with a salad and some of those vegan nuggets. It was absolutely delicious.

But we’ve hit a tragedy. I finished the very last of my HARRY POTTER COLLECTION of films. That’s a shame because I really enjoyed them. But like most films of that genre, they really only scratched the surface of what could have been something really powerful.

What I’ll probably do for my next teatime film sessions will be the SAINT TRINIANS films. These are of course a completely different kettle of fish.

But they do include some of the funniest lines ever recorded in British traditional comedy, all delivered by Alastair Sim of course
“when girls usually leave school, they find that they are not ready for the big wild world. When our girls leave this school, it’s usually the big wild world that is not ready for them”
and when one of the girls burnt down the school Sim said with exasperation
“there’s far too much arson around in tis school”

They don’t make films like that any more in the modern PC World where everyone is so easily offended and there’s no humour around any more. I’m just not cut out to live in this modern world, I’ll tell you that.

However, that’s tomorrow. I’m going shopping and I’m debating going to Noz after my little accident a fortnight ago. I suppose I really ought to make an effort but it’s probably a lack of confidence after my fall. I was like this after my fall on the boat coming back from Jersey, I seem to recall.

But there’s bound to be a change in my state of health. There’s plenty of room for things to be worse.

Sunday 28th May 2023 – A BIG HAPPY …

… birthday to Caliburn. He’s growing up – sixteen years old today.

And we’ve had plenty of adventures together, usually accompanied by the third member of our team, STRAWBERRY MOOSE. We’ve been to about half the countries in Europe together, battled our way through snowdrifts and mountain passes, towed mini-diggers all the way from North Lancashire down to the south-ish of France non-stop on a 34-hour journey, gone off to photograph a suspension bridge 2 hours down the road and not come back for almost 3 weeks and endless shuttles from Brussels to Virlet overnight in the early days of our relationship

At his last controle technique the examiner told me that he still has a few years left so it’s likely that he’ll outlast me, so here’s to many more years of happy Caliburn motoring.

The only regret was that I never succeeded in taking him over to North America for a run around. We had all of our ducks in a row at one time but then Strider came along and he was a much more appropriate vehicle with which to attack the sub-Arctic byways. Caliburn, good as he has been, would never have got down to that abandoned iron mine at the abandoned town of Gagnon.

It seems that I’m being overwhelmed with nostalgia over the last few days and I’ve no idea why. It’s probably because I have too much time on my hands right now. Perhaps I ought to do something about that – like “go back to bed and sleep it off”.

Last night was one occasion when staying in bed sounded like a good idea because it’s a Sunday and that’s always a lie-in around here. I’ll get up at any time you like for 6 days of the week, but never on Sunday. Everyone’s entitled to a day of rest.

So even if I awaken at something silly like 09:00, 10:30 is much more like a realistic time to show a leg.

It took me a while to gather my wits which, seeing how few wits I have these days, is quite surprising. But once I’d entered the Land of the Living the first thing that I did was to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. We started off with something happening about oil filters on vehicles, yellow heavy-duty plastic spin-on ones rather than filter cartridges that you’d have to change but I can’t remember very much about this dream at all.

And then I was working as a lorry driver for someone. We were extremely busy. Someone had gone off sick and I’d had another spell of ill-health so I ended up taking a couple of days off. He had a lorry loaded with waste that needed tipping somewhere so he rang around and ended up speaking to a woman who was a lorry driver and asked her if she would do it. He explained the urgency of it, which I thought was strange because it would give this woman a lot of power over him if she knew how urgent the job was. I could hear the conversation because I was in bed in the next room. She sounded dubious and asked him “what had happened to so-and-so?”. He replied that there was something the matter with him. She asked what was the matter with me. He gave some sort of reply that basically he thought that I was malingering, which I thought was a horrible thing to do because I’d never ever missed a shift as long as I’d worked for him and had volunteered to do all the extra stuff.

After breakfast, or lunch, or whatever you might call it, I sat down and made a start on work.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was going to go on the attack with my Labrador stuff so I sat down and reviewed the directories that I’ve been keeping.

Up to 2015, everything is all shipshape and Bristol-fashion. But then I had all of my hospital issues and then went to live in Leuven and since then everything went haywire and it’s just a complete mess.

For a start, I can’t find any trace whatsoever of any of my notes from my 2017 trek around Labrador so I’ve decided that I shall have to go back to basics and start from the very beginning.

There are the dictaphone notes – well, some of them – and then the blog notes from the relevant periods and that seems like a very good place to start.

But then you won’t believe this but I had to have a really good hard think because I’d forgotten how I write my websites. Back in the old days I’d be churning them out on a regular basis but since my health issues over the last 8 years I’ve not written more than half a dozen.

That’s the problem with growing older thought. Two things happen to you when you reach my age. The first thing is that you forget absolutely everything.
What’s the second thing?” – ed.
“I can’t remember”

Anyway, even just collating the stuff from 2017 is going to take an age, never mind adding it in to the earlier voyages.

What’s worse is that I can’t find the mileage notes.

With travelling several years over the 2100 kms of the Trans Labrador Highway and taking a couple of thousand photos, it’s important to have them all in the correct order and in the correct positions. And although I noted the mileages because I anticipated this problem, I’ve travelled the highway in both directions so the eastbound mileages are not the same as the westbound mileages of course.

Back in the past (or past in the back if you are George Bush) I managed to identify a couple of identical views taken from each direction on different occasions so I used them as reference points and calculated all of the mileages of every photo from every trip to correspond with those marker references. But if I can’t find my notes I’ll have to go back and do it all again, I reckon. That’ll take a while and no mistake.

There was a break while I made s batch of pizza dough, seeing as I’d run out. It rose quite nicely too. Two lumps went into the freezer later on and I made a base with the third. And once more, we had a magnificent pizza. Using these small cherry tomatoes cut in half and putting them on top of the cheese is definitely the way to go.

So before I go to bed I’m going to make a start on editing the radio notes that I dictated last night. I had a go recording them directly onto the computer now that I’ve configured it, however the quality was really poor and it all ended up in the bin and I redictated it using the ZOOM H8.

Had I been of a mind, and had it not been 01:00 when I finished, I suppose that I could have filtered out the interference and enhanced the quality, but I’ll have to work on that for another time.

Tomorrow I’ll finish off the radio programmes and then carry on with the Canada 2017 stuff. Right now I’m on a bus heading through the mountains to pick up Strider. There’s a really long way to go yet.

We haven’t reached the funny part of the whole trip though and I’ll dine out on this for ever, I reckon. That year I went to see my friend in St John’s so that meant the long sea crossing across the Gulf of St Lawrence to Argentia instead of the short (as in 9 hours) crossing to Channel Port aux Basques.

“Roaming” was switched off on my telephone of course because it’s quite expensive in North America but as we were sailing along the southern coast of Newfoundland the phone suddenly went berserk with missed phone calls, messages and all of that kind of thing and at first I was bewildered.

However there’s a French colony – St Pierre et Miquelon – on an island in the Gulf of St Lawrence and obviously my French mobile network supplier provides the service to it. For a brief moment my telephone connected with the network and caught up with everything that I’d been missing.

That explains all of that, but it still doesn’t explain the situation in 2019 when we were in mid-Atlantic, 1000 miles from just about everywhere on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR, and I suddenly picked up an internet connection out of nowhere. I’ve never been able to explain that.

Thursday 25th May 2023 – I’VE BEEN HAVING …

… a day of nostalgia today (as if I haven’t had a few of those just recently).

They say that music is something that is capable of moving you to another place. That’s certainly true. Anywhere that puts on a “Smiths” song anywhere near where I am and I’ll certainly move to another place.

But that’s not what they really mean, of course.

Today while I’ve been choosing music for my radio programmes I stumbled upon a Golden Earring album. Everyone knows “Radar Love” of course but in the Netherlands they are much better-known than that.

Back in the Summer of 1993 I was lucky enough to stumble upon them quite by accident on the beach at Scheveningen playing an acoustic concert when I was out for a ride on the old CX500 that I had, and it was one of the most enjoyable evenings that I’ve had, even though dawn was breaking by the time I arrived back in Brussels.

Then a few years later when Roxanne went off on a sleepover one night, Laurence and I went to Oostende in my old Merc to see them at the Kuursaal.

And of course, regular readers of this rubbish will recall the significance of “The Vanilla Queen”.

If that’s not enough to be going on with, Tom Petty came round on the playlist.

Back 20-odd years ago I was in Montreal in a heavy snowstorm and had to drive to Bar Harbor in Maine, all the way through the Appalachians.

As usual, I’d brought a pile of cassettes with me but this was the first car that I’d ever hired that had a CD player. So down the road from my motel out at Jarry was a second-hand shop where they had INTO THE GREAT WIDEOPEN, DAMN THE TORPEDOES and a few others.

So steaming all the way through the mountains and the snow, taking a ferry across the Bay of Fundy and going via Halifax to the accompaniment of various Tom Petty albums on continuous play in this Chevrolet Cavalier.

Those were they days of course, and we shan’t see their like again The way things are, it’s an achievement if I can manage to get out of bed.

But get out of bed I did this morning, and before the alarm went off too.

And we had a calamity last night, as I found out once I was up and about.

For my little project about doing my own “Hawkfest” on the radio, I’d collected about 6 hours’ worth of music from obscure space-rock bands. With having a friend whose son was sound engineer for The Pink Fairies, it’s amazing the stuff that turns up.

Anyway, it was all in an obscure recording format so it needed to be converted to *.mp3. It’s not like trying to convert a standard audio or video converter. The “estimated time” was something like 57 hours so the computer was on through the night the other night but last night Bane of Britain forgot and switched off the computer with just 9 hours to go

So no use crying over spilt milk. I went and had my medication instead.

As well as choosing a pile of music and writing out some notes, I’ve been looking at cameras. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we no longer have the NIKON D500 due to certain controversial circumstances, the NIKON D5000 has never been the same since I DROPPED IT in the ferry terminal in Québec waiting to cross the St. Lawrence, the NIKON D3000 is showing its age and I’ve never been a big fan of the mirrorless NIKON 1 J5.

Anyway Nikon has launched a new camera this week and my friends tell me that very soon they will start to clear out all of the previous models. I’ve been chatting with my friend in Vancouver who works for Nikon and he reckons a NoS NIKON Z6ii is the way to go. At least it has an eyepiece viewer that the Nikon 1 doesn’t have and which I miss.

And the advantage of that is that with an adapter that is easily available, I can use all of the old AF-S lenses.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too referring to my nocturnal perambulations. I was with one of my friends last night but I can’t remember who he was. He was feeling rather thirsty but instead of actually buying a can of drink he set about actually taking the back off the drinks machine in the hall and taking the drinks out of the back. Of course while he was doing that the headmistress and one or two teachers came along. They were discussing what was happening with the drinks machine, that things were missing etc, and wondering how it was being done. And there we were right behind it dismantling it. I expected there to be an investigation and we’d be discovered straight away but the more they kept on talking about it, the more we dismantled the machine. In the end he went to grab a can but he missed. It fell down into the chute round the front. No-one of all the people round at the front actually noticed. he quickly put his hand round and took the can of drink, opened it and poured it into another can so that it looked as if it hadn’t come out of our machine and slowly started to reassemble it. By this time there were people going past etc and no-one for even a minute noticed what it was that we were doing and that we were behind the machine and that the machine had been pulled out from the wall a couple of feet.

Nothing about my family last night, and nothing about cats either. But something happened during the day concerning cats. There was a link that popped up on my social network about an elderly cat that is going to be put to sleep because no-one would adopt it and in a fit of weakness I contacted the shelter.

Foolishly, I made the mistake of saying that I was glad that it was an older cat because I didn’t want a circus around here at 03:00. And that led to a really bizarre rant from whoever it was to whom I’m speaking, a rant about
“and what would you do if it awoke you at 03:00? What would happen then?”
My reply was “I didn’t say anything about being awoken. I mentioned “a circus””
“I don’t know what a circus is!” went the person, in one of these indignant, belligerent tones.
“Well, I’ve made my offer. It’s up to you now”
“What offer?”

It’s really too much hard work to try to help people out, isn’t it? I have a nice comfortable home that would suit an elderly cat for a couple of years but I don’t have time to engage in a debate or to put up with people’s attitude. If they want to pick a fight they can pick it with someone else.

Tea tonight was pasta, veg and some of those mini vegan bread-crumbed things that I bought from Noz a couple of months ago. They are actually quite nice and it made a nice meal. But the freezer is emptying quite nicely now and if I’m not careful I’ll have to start to restock it.

Alison and I had a chat on the internet later, now that she’s back from her perambulations in the real world. She has some exciting news to impart but more of that anon.

Tomorrow I’m off to the doc’s to tell him the news about my injections and to have a few prescriptions prepared. When I come back I’ll have to make plans. I’ll be eating the last of my ginger biscuits and I’ll have to bake some more. I could remake a type that I’ve made in the past (like those delicious chocolate ones) or try something completely new, in which case I’ll have to check to see what I have and what I need.

While I’m at it, I might have a go at making a vegan pie. I’ve not made one for ages and the last time that I tried, I had forgotten the knack about how to make pastry. At one time I had it going really well but since I stopped eating pudding I haven’t made anything like as many.

There’s no pizza dough left either so I’ll have to make some more. And if it turns out as well as the last batch, I shall be one very happy bunny indeed.

And it’s about time that there was some happiness in my life. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any.

Friday 19th May 2023 – AT LONG LAST …

… the internet is back up and running, as you might have noticed.

What has apparently happened, as the technician who came round just after lunch told me, was that there was a short-circuit in one of the apartments that had fused the main installation in the building.

They had repaired the installation but the short circuit persisted so they had to disconnect the circuit and gradually reinstate it apartment by apartment until they could find out which one it was.

Of course, it was in one of the apartments that is a “second home” for someone from Paris who wasn’t here so it couldn’t be fixed until they’d contacted the apartment owner and found a keyholder so they could go in, and of course it was in the circuit before mine which meant that I was disconnected while all of this was going on.

Whether that’s the case or not, I don’t know. But it will explain why the connection flickered on a couple of times quite briefly during all of this.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and it’s a real ill wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good. It gave me an opportunity to catch up on a mountain of outstanding work, which isn’t all done but it’s still progress, and also, because the technicians were coming to check my installation, it meant that I had to tidy up the bedroom. I even had the vacuum cleaner going for a while.

And while I was tidying up, I found the missing spare battery for the NIKON D3000 that I lost a long time (as in several years) ago. It had fallen underneath one of my bookcase units.

So how did I celebrate everything? Well, while I was in town this afternoon I treated myself to an ice cream. I felt that I deserved it.

Especially after last night. I was so engrossed in a couple of tasks that it was long after midnight when I finally crawled into bed. And when the alarm went off at 07:00 I was stark out. It was an effort to haul myself up out of bed before the second alarm went off five minutes later.

Mind you, after the distance that I travelled durning the night, I was surprised that I made it back in time for the alarm. At one point I was living with a group of Mexicans from 100 or so years ago, the time of the Revolution. We were living on the margins. We weren’t actually revolutionaries or criminals. I can’t remember most of this but there was one part where we were in a cave and there was some kind of event taking place concerning someone who had made a promise that he’d pay to have his wine crop blessed and fruitful but hadn’t done so. And so they held him to submitting his youngest daughter, who was 10, to be sacrificed. He had to fill in all this form to state about her etc and that he was willing for her to go and that he recognised that he was in default for not having thanked whoever it was properly for promoting the fruitfulness of his crops

Did I mention the story … “no you didn’t” – ed … about the 2 girls who had tried to buy some wine from an off-licence to get a teacher at school into trouble? The server recognised them and wouldn’t sell it to them. He had his revenge quite accidentally. It was the school outing and he’d forgotten to tell the parents of one of these girls. She hadn’t gone to school that day – she was paying truant. She thought that everyone else would be at school and cover for her but of course not being there on a day when there were so few students her absence was noticed and someone complained to her parents. When this all came out, the shopkeeper had forgotten to tell the parents about the trip as well, he said “don’t forget that I remember you from the day when you were in my shop so be careful not to make a fuss. You can see why karma has caught up with you”.

And then I had to go to meet someone in the centre of London so Aunt Mary had given me a book, an ancient book about Civil Engineering that she wanted to sell and have some money. All of the booksellers were around Angel Bridge Railway Station. I arrived at the Metro and the guy in the ticket office saw me coming. He had a ticket all ready. I asked for a return too but he replied “no. This is a weekend ticket and you can use it any time like but you’ll have to hurry. The train is in”. I took the ticket, paid for it and dashed downstairs but missed the train, found that I was on the wrong platform, walk back up halfway and enquire of the guard or look at the sign to find myself on the correct platform ready to go. But there was something else in this dream about someone being pregnant. They were discussing the pregnancy and talking about gifts that they should buy. One of the girls was very upset that someone else had been chosen to buy the nappies etc because she said that she didn’t have all that much money. That would have been an ideal present for her bearing in mind her shortage of money.

And we’ve had quite a few dreams when I’ve been wandering around the Underground in London, haven’t we?

Finally I had to go to do some research on Emerson Lake and Palmer. I found someone who had some information on them who lived in London so I went down. She was a bus conductor on the buses. Rummaging around in her office I came across a book that was an assembly of photocopied press cuttings going back all the way to 1967, news articles and everything. It was an absolute goldmine and I was enthralled reading it. It mentioned a whole load of clubs and places in London that you could see from the window of this woman’s house. I was there making notes. When she came up onto the top deck of the bus to show someone some damage that needed to be repaired I told her about the book and told her that on no account was she to let it out of her sight. It’s something that she really ought to keep for posterity. When I finished I was going back downstairs to her house. They were talking about a car going for an MoT. I thought “I’m not doing anything this afternoon so I can take it”. I put the book in my rucksack hoping that no-one noticed and went round to see about this car. It turned out to be a pedal car for children. I thought “this is strange” but I’d already offered now so I’ll have to go. I asked her where I’d go. She replied “turn out of here, go up the hill to the roundabout and it’s the 5th street on the right down there”. I was trying to make a mental note of this but it sounded like more than 5 minutes away but I was already committed now so I’d have to go and do it. This book of press cuttings is a little gold mine. I’ve never seen anything quite like this, especially in a dream.

After the medication I came here and slowly unwound myself and then attacked another project. A while ago I’d found the soundtrack of an obscure German rock band that had performed at one of the Hawkfests some time ago.

Back in those days technology wasn’t what it is today and this was full of holes from a worn recording tape. Using the techniques that I’d been practising just recently about “cutting in” pieces of music from elsewhere in the track, I set about repairing the holes. It wasn’t easy, but I managed in the end to make something quite presentable and you’d never find the joins. Even I was impressed.

There was a break for coffee and a fruit bun and I do have to say that the fruit buns that I made in the week are excellent. And as for the biscuits, that I have yet to mention, they have really worked and are even better than the chocolate ones that I made a while back

By now it wasn’t far off lunchtime so seeing as I was expecting visitors I started to prepare for a shower but bang on the dot Rosemary rang me for one of our marathon chats.

Just as she finished, Christian from the radio came round for the radio programme that will be broadcast this weekend. We had a drink and chat, and he told me about a local musician who is looking for a bassist. That piqued my interest, as you can imagine. It’s quite lonely here sitting in my bedroom playing with myself.

As soon as he left, the technician came round and checked that everything was working properly, and once he’d gone I could finally have my shower.

It was a painful walk into town to find some mushrooms for my salad tonight, and whet there were were pretty grim. Mind you they had some of those small peppers so I bought a couple for future use.

Next stop was the estate agent to drop off this paperwork, and then the long painful walk back up the hill to home, punctuated by a call at the new ice cream parlour that’s just opened

Back here I cleaned the peppers and put them in the freezer, and finally the physiotherapist turned up. His “marathon session” turned out to be 20 minutes but he had me working quite hard. I was glad when he left and I could have my hot chocolate and delicious ginger oatmeal biscuits.

And then , regrettably, I crashed out for about an hour.

Liz awoke me and we had a chat on the internet (now that I have an internet on which to chat) for a while and then I ended up with a late tea. Chips and mini sausage rolls cooked in the air fryer with a salad.

The mini sausage rolls are starting to run out now so I’m going to have to search for a vegan savoury stuffing so that I can make my own. Puff pastry is quite time-consuming and difficult to make so I might have to by a roll of ready-made stuff and use that.

So shopping to morrow, so I’d better have an early night. I’ll pop into Noz and see what there is there on offer. I could do with a change of diet. I’m still wading my way through the asparagus tips that they had but there are bound to be other exciting things.

Mustn’t forget the vegan yoghurt either. I’ve run out of that and it makes a lovely addition to my leftover curries. Things are definitely looking up around here.

Monday 1st May 2023 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a Bank Holiday of course and so I have celebrated it by imitating my namesake the mathematician and doing three fifths of five eights of … errr … nothing.

And when I say “nothing”, what I actually mean is that I switched off the alarm last night before going to bed and so, despite waking up here and there on several occasions, I didn’t actually leave my stinking pit until 11:55 this morning.

That’s what I call a lie-in.

And I did actually transcribe the dictaphone notes. I was going to say that I left it until after lunch but lunch was of course taken quite quickly after raising myself from the dead.

And didn’t I travel miles during the night? I was in a hotel room somewhere. In the distance I could hear a woman shouting but it was very muffled as if it was a voice coming through a phone. I then heard my brother answer. A heated conversation went on for a couple of minutes. There was then a pause. Afterwards he came into the room. You could see that he was extremely emotional. I asked him “who was that shouting on the phone?”. He mentioned a couple of guys’ names. I said “no, the woman”. He mentioned a friend of his. I asked him what was going on. For some reason he wouldn’t tell me. In the end I went out for a walk. Putting the conversation together I had the impression that my brother was extremely short of money. I remembered myself about how I used to be short of money and how I always used to go out to find a part-time job or something. For some reason he didn’t feel like working very hard to pull himself out of a hole.

Later on we were in an office somewhere. It was actually quite dark even though it was the middle of the afternoon. You couldn’t really see very much. We went outside because we had to drive to our other office. I’d never seen a sky so black and clouds so heavy in all my life. It was a real, proper torrential rainstorm type of clouds. We drove to the other office. A couple of people in the car were talking. One said that they were going to buy a television. I thought that she was buying it for home but apparently it was for the office. I asked about it. She said that one of these price war places on the internet was selling TVs that were only tuned in to Channel 4. Their aim was to have one in the office with the Channel’s rolling news service playing, either talking or watching, so they could see where they are and find out what was happening in the world exactly when it happened. I thought that a surprise because these were young people who didn’t seem to have too much interest in current events.

And then I was driving in a car through part of Texas last night. The roads were absolutely awful, full of pits and everything. At a certain point, without realising it I crossed the border into Spain (or do I mean Mexico?) following another car. We drove down this dirt road that had taken us over the border which came to a dead stop by 3 enormous hangars hidden in the trees. Seeing a railway line I wondered if there would be some railway locomotives. I took my camera, left the car and walked to one of these hangars. I ended up following a corridor that took a lot of twists and turns. In the end I decided that it was pointless to keep on going this way. I turned round. At one point I must have taken a false turn because I started to find myself up against all kinds of historic artefacts, business machines, typewriters etc from the 1930s. I thought “I didn’t remember these, coming along here”. I came to where there was a set of steps with half the steps missing. I had to lower myself over the edge onto the stairs down below and drop down into a room where there were old bicycles from the 1930s. I thought “I seem to have found myself in a museum now”. It was a strange museum with heaps of stuff piled everywhere with no explanation. I quickly worked out the way to go and ended up at the front door. I didn’t recognise the view from there at all, and it was locked. A woman came over to see me, talking in Spanish which I didn’t understand. She pointed the other way from which I’d just come. I had the impression that the museum was closed to new visitors and the people in there were having to leave. Just then an announcement came over saying something like “it’s now 21:00 and everyone has to go”. I thought “21:00 – I have no hotel, I don’t know where the car is, I’m in a strange country, nowhere to stay”.

I stepped back into this dream later. I ended up walking around with a young guy in the Czech Republic somewhere looking at al the buildings in this town. He asked me questions about the building – whether things in the Czech Republic had improved over the last 30 years. I said “in the big cities and major centres of population things have certainly changed but not so much in the rural areas. The emphasis at the moment is on key industries and commerce. Social needs are being somewhat left behind”. We climbed over a pile of rubble that was being used to regenerate the town centre. He started to ask me whether it would be possible for us to maybe see each other again for another talk as he had to leave. I made a non-committal reply to that.

That’s one thing that I actually noticed with my frequent visits behind the Iron Curtain in the old days and then how things changed once the Wall came down. How quickly things changed. And how quickly they adopted the worst aspects of capitalism too. I loved the east in the old days and even took Nerina there on our honeymoon. There was an innocence and naivety there that was quite appealing and 10 or 12 years later it had all gone completely

And later I was walking through a town in Germany. I’d left my rucksack at the airport and gone to do something, then I had to return to pick up my rucksack because it was late. I couldn’t work out how to get to the airport . I was wandering aimlessly around the countryside and came to a town with a beautiful church or something perched on a hill. I stopped to take a photo with the NIKON D3000 but the photo came out all dark. I went to try to take it again but it was difficult being on crutches etc. I couldn’t really feel the camera controls. Then I bumped into my friend from Munich. He took me into a hotel where he was staying. The girls were there as well so we began to walk round these stone passageways. We came to a place where there was a cupboard in the way. We couldn’t go through. I climbed over the cupboard and so did he. We bumped into one of the girls. I ended up having to crawl underneath a bed to enter the room. I thought “this looks wrong to me”. It turned out to be a room in a hostel with about 30 beds and desks etc in it. I had a look around. The people looked reasonably respectable wo I thougth “I’m going to try to book a room here but I don’t want a room in a hostel”. My friend said “they are very expensive”. I said “if everyone else is staying here I’ll stay here but not in a hostel”. I had to walk around the corridors to try to find the reception. There were all kinds of exhibition cases with expensive guitars. I heard a familiar voice. It was another friend of mine, one from my Manchester days, giving a conducted tour of the castle. I thought “that’s strange. He’s only been here 5 minutes and he’s doing conducted tours already as if he’s been here 100 years”. I asked him where the reception was. He pointed in some general direction and said “it’s in an office in between 2 floors over there” so I headed that way to book in.

While I was out driving around I heard yet another friend on the radio. His wife had been doing some knitting and she had a ball of yarn left over. She was going to give it away to anyone who might find some kind of pleasure from doing something with it during lockdown. There was quite a chat about this ball of yarn. I couldn’t understand why because it was a case of “who wants it”. A short while later when I was back home he turned up. He’d brought some things for me that his wife had. I misunderstood because there was something said about eggs. I had some eggs in my fridge. I thought that he was after them for her because I thought that they were hers. I gave him the eggs. While I was going through the dishwasher I found some meat stands, metal things with prongs that you use to put your meat while carving it. I have them to him to him too because they’d be much more use. I don’t use things like that for cutting bread or cake anyway.

So a lot of my friends were out and about with me last night and it was nice to see them all. No Castor, TOTGA or Zero unfortunately, but everyone else was most welcome.

Something else that I did was to have a little look through one of my playlists that will be on the music player later in the week and making sure that it was up to date

Tea was a stuffed pepper. A frozen one out of the freezer. However I turned the heat down on the air fryer to make sure that it was cooked better but that way it didn’t dry out the humidity. There’s obviously a fine line between heating it through and boiling off the water and I’ve not found it yet. I need to practise more.

But right now I’m off to bed. No Welsh in the morning as it’s a holiday over there. So who knows? I might even do some homework. I have to crack on.

Thursday 20th April 2023 – HAVE YOU ANY …

… idea of just how difficult I’m finding things right now?

Today at the hospital they had no fewer than 5 goes at putting a catheter into my arms. My left arm is hurting like hell as a consequence and my right arm isn’t much better. They finally managed to fit one into the back of my right hand and they’ve left it in there for tomorrow.

Consequently even the most simple of tasks like going for a ride on the porcelain horse is … errr … somewhat complicated, and I’m going to be in a right mess by the time that they remove it, if they ever do.

So that’s the bad news. How about the worse news?

According to the neurologist I’m in quite a mess (no surprise there, but she’s actually referring to this infection in my nervous system) and I mustn’t count on this week being the only week during which treatment will be given. They will take a blood test before I leave here tomorrow, let the nerve specialist here in Granville know the results and see whether (as is quite likely) further treatment will be necessary.

Apparently this stuff that they are giving me is quite vicious so they can only give it to me in dribs and drabs. As a result it seems that some kind of plan about coming back here for a week every month or two will be on the cards for the foreseeable future.

In other words, one week in every 4 I might be in Leuven and a second week in every 4 I might be in Avranches. So I don’t know why I’m bothering to buy an apartment. I may as well rent a hospital bed.

Some people might be wondering why I don’t simply have my treatment in one place. Well, believe me, that was the initial plan but regular readers of this rubbish will recall the events of early December last year and how that ended up. At least, here in Avranches they are taking it seriously.

But anyway, I digress.

Last night wasn’t as good as the previous night’s sleep. Once more it took me an age to go off to sleep. However I was awake at 06:20 this morning long before the alarm went off and by 06:45 I was up and about.

After the medication and a good wash Caliburn and I hit the road and headed off for Avranches. I’ve found a new way to the hospital which while being slightly longer, is rather quicker as there’s a section of dual carriageway where I can open Caliburn up to 110kph. He needs a good run like that to blow the soot out of his fuel injectors.

There was something of a wait while they sorted themselves out and fitted my pipes and tubes, and then they pumped me full of the stuff. The neurologist came for a chat while it was all going on, and then when it finished she gave me a few tests – tests that confirmed what we all know, and that is that there is no power at all in my right leg.

As a result of all of this I was later than usual coming home and after having my toasted fruit bread and coffee I … errr … crashed out for an hour. This stuff takes it out of me right enough

Once I’d recovered my composure I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was in Shavington at one point, living in our house and I had to go to pick up the post. For some unknown reason the post was delivered in the back garden of the next-door neighbour. We had to cross through the gap in the fence and walk down their path to the end of the garden. When I did that there were 2 kids playing in the back garden. One of them wanted me to tell his friend about the 2 dogs we used to have. I said “if you want to see them you have to have very good eyesight. They aren’t here any more”. There was some music playing. I asked about it. There was a record player there that had an amplifier with a speaker attached and then there was a separate speaker. The lad said that the amplifier and connected speaker and the other free speaker with it were on sale for £80. I thought that that was a good deal and I gave some serious consideration to buying it.

Later on we were living on a farm somewhere. Our next-door neighbours were Percy Penguin’s family. We were working in collaboration with them. I had to go to pick up something from there but I didn’t really fancy meeting their dog. I went anyway. WHile I was there I picked up the bicycle that her father had had. I noticed that the wheel was buckled but I had a ride all the same. Then he said that he’d been out on it a few days ago but had had a puncture. This was obviously what he meant and I wondered if I should mend the puncture for him. But that’s not going to solve the problem of the wheel. There was another neighbour round at her house too so I went back with this bike and propped it up in our yard but it fell over with a couple of other bikes too. We had a chat but I suddenly looked at my watch. It was 09:54. I thought “God! I start work at 10:00. I’m going to have to go”. I had to hurriedly make my excuses, at the same time talk about this bike and get ready to clear off for work.

But it was strange being round at Percy Penguin’s house talking to her father and she wasn’t there. She must have heard me coming.

The rest of the day has been spent in an unsccessful attempt trying to track down a copy of a single entitled “Lucy Brown” by a musician called Trevor Williams. At another time he was bassist with a group called Audience whose album HOUSE ON THE HILL has been on my playlist since the day it came out.

Apart from that, I’ve been writing a few more notes here and there but it’s not at all easy given the state in which I currently find myself.

Tea tonight was one of those curried burgers of which I seem to have a shed-load, together with some spicy fried rice with onion and garlic, and some spinach for good measure. And that was really delicious.

But right now I’m off to bed. I doubt if I’ll sleep tonight because I’m in agony and in any case it’s not easy to make myself comfortable with this needle in the back of my right hand. But I have to go through the motions.

Tomorrow I hope that I’ll be free to go on my way but if these treatments have to continue I’m going to see whether I can persuade someone to fit a catheter port in my chest like I used to have.

That was painful but they only had to do it once in 5 years. 5 times in one day is going completely overboard.

Sunday 16th April 2023 – MY PIZZA TONIGHT …

… was easily, by a country mile, the best that I have ever made.

A couple of weeks ago I found some grated vegan Cheshire Cheese in LeClerc and even though it was expensive, I bought some to try because being
“Cheshire Born, Cheshire Bred
Strong in th’arm and wick in the yed”

well, almost, anyway, I had to show some loyalty.

And I’m really glad that I did because it was wicked. There was an after-taste there that I’ve never had with some of these more insipid vegan cheeses and I’ll be buying more of that. COPULATUM EXPENSIUM, as we Pompeiians say.

Not only that, I’d bought some cherry tomatoes during the week when I’d been in town, because they were on special offer. So instead of the usual tomatoes I grabbed a big handful of those and cut them in half. I put them cut side upwards on top of the cheese and that worked in spades too.

It seems to me that I’ve finally got the hang of this pizza lark, after all these years.

It also seems that I finally got the hang of sleeping last night because although I wasn’t in bed all that early (or all that late, as it happens) I was wide-awake at 09:00 and up and about at 10:00. That’s much more reasonable for a Sunday.

After the medication I had a very slow start to the day, just listening to music and not doing very much in particular.

There was a nice lunch of cheese on toast, porridge and strong coffee, and then I actually did some work.

First thing that I did was to track down two LPs that will be celebrating their birthday at some point in the future, select a headline track from each one and write some notes about the albums, the musicians and the songs ready for a radio programme.

Next thing was to prepare a new sheet in my music database for birthdays, anniversaries and the like. I’ve been making little notes over the years and I need to bring it all together.

With no pizza bases on hand I made another batch and then came back in here to write out the dictaphone notes from last night. And I must have travelled miles during the night too. I’d met a rock group somewhere playing rock music in a club. The lead musician was someone who used to be famous a few years ago but the others not so much. They were quite good so I decided that if ever I caught up with them again I’d have them do a live concert for my radio programmes. Sure enough, at another club in Manchester I came across them. I went over to talk. The lead musician knew me from somewhere he said so we had quite a chat. They gave me their details and a card so I went to give them one of my business cards. It took me ages to search through my wallet to find one. When I did, it was the wrong card. Although I could find some more cards, they weren’t the right ones either. It took me ages. all the time I was trying to talk to these people and impress them about how serious I was and I couldn’t find a business card in my wallet. In the end I took one of them but of course it was the wrong one. That was a waste of time. With trying to find these cards at the same time as talking everything that I was saying was coming out wrong. It was very disappointing that I couldn’t find this card and couldn’t make the words come out correctly.

That’s really the story of my life, isn’t it? I seem to be exceptionally good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

And then I was with a girl (and I wish that I can remember who she was). She needed to fetch some money so we got into her car to drive to the town centre where there were several banks and building societies. She was so busy concentrating that she drove straight through a red light. I had to shout at her to bring her to her senses. We came to a square where there were several banks and building societies so she parked the car and left me. She went into what looked like an Estate Agent to ask if she could withdraw money. They sent her to go to a building society agency office that was next door on the corner. There were quite a few (do I mean “there was quite a queue”?) there but she went and stood in it all the same. I was thinking to myself that I hope that she can remember her card number etc

Next, I was at a small tourist attraction in the USA. I’d gone for a coffee. It was only a small coffee bar and there was just this old man of about 80 serving. He was running messages as well. He wasn’t very good so the queue was miles long out of the door. When it was finally my turn I asked “coffee black no sugar please”. He looked at me and asked “what?” so I repeated it. He asked “what?” again so I replied a third time. He said “I don’t understand you”. I asked “what’s difficult about ‘coffee black no sugar’?”. He replied “maybe it’s the way that you’re speaking but I don’t understand you at all”. This went on and on and all the people in this queue joined in saying that they couldn’t understand what I was asking for either”. By this time I was extremely annoyed. I was not going to leave the queue until either I had my coffee or the police came to take me away. I decided to dig in my heels and ask for “coffee black no sugar” and let him sort out the problem himself if he couldn’t understand it.

Later on I stepped back into this dream. It was a question now of lunch. I went to help myself to some salad but had a load of dirty looks and snide comments. Later on someone explained to me that the food for the passengers was at the back of the bus and I was helping myself to food from the driver’s buffet. Of course no-one had explained to me beforehand. When I was sitting down I was watching a film. It was in British English subtitled into American English for Americans because there was quite a lot being said in there that was very much English slang which Americans wouldn’t understand at all. It occurred to me that maybe this was the problem. I was speaking in British English when I was ordering my coffee and they were just not understanding the language. I thought to myself that this entire situation was just totally bizarre.

At another moment I needed some space in my drive for the weekend so I had to move a few cars out. One of the vehicles was a little Honda Acty van type of thing with a Luton body. I had to think of a place to put it. It was belonging to the same former friend from the other night but I was looking after it because we were going to sell it. There was a car parts office down the road that was closed over the weekend so I thought that I’d put the Acty on there, do what I had to do and go back on the Sunday night to collect it and bring it back before the place opened. Sunday, I wasn’t in any particular rush and at the end of the day I went down there to pick it up. But it had been jacked up on bricks and someone had stolen the wheels. I was horrified because first of all it wasn’t my van. I was only looking after it for someone else. Where would I find some wheels now to put on it to move it back to my place before the shop opens on Monday? How was I going to explain to the owner what had happened to it? He was relying on the money from it for some purpose or other of his.

He’s the same guy who has some kind of connection with Zero. This time, the dream ran through to its logical (well, logical to anyone who is fast asleep) conclusion but she didn’t manage to put in an appearance. I do however remember an extreme feeling of anxiety at the end of this, but whether this is to do with what happened to the van while it was under my control or because Zero didn’t put in an appearance I really don’t know.

Finally, my friend’s father had a conviction against him for failing to control his temper on one occasion. Part of this was a medical examination where it was found that he had an abnormal Body Mass Index. Not that he was over-weight but there was another problem so they decided that they’d control it. For some unknown reason things didn’t work out and he ended up dying. We’d been to the funeral. On the way back we waited at the side of the road for a lift from someone. That disreputable character Billington from Crewe came past in a taxi with a pile of people. He and that Cooke and Mrs Cooke came over and started to talk to us. They said “we have a taxi waiting over there. Why don’t you come home with us?”. Not that we wanted to but in the end we were persuaded. When we reached the taxi it was full of kids. The driver put his foot down and said “you’ll have far too many people in this taxi. I won’t be able to drive it”. We replied “fair enough. We won’t get on board. That’s no problem” but the Cookes and Billington said that they’s alight and walk with us and send the kids on in the taxi. This caused some confusion amongst the kids because they weren’t the brightest sparks. The last thing I wanted to do was to end up with them and all their kids at a time like this. But they got out of a taxi, made sure that the kids all got back on and sent the driver off on his way.

Those people were customers of mine back in the old days 40 years ago with my taxi bu siness and the stories about them were legendary. However they aren’t really the stories that you will want to hear. Crewe was quite a strange town with a lot of strange people living there and I often felt quite at home. We lived there from 1970 to 1972 when I cleared off to Chester and I moved back from 1981 until 1992 when I cleared off to the real world.

The rest of the day has been spent in some kind of desultory fashion writing some more radio notes. I’ve not done many and I’m not really all that concerned. I’ve already done next week’s radio programme so what I’ve done today has been a bonus.

So after my delicious pizza I’m now off to bed. An early start, a shower and then off to hospital. And who knows what that will bring?

There was a time, and quite recently too, when I was thinking that “it can’t be any worse than this” but I’m pleased with my progress with this physiotherapist even if, as a person, I don’t really like him. He’s good at his job. And so with this improvement, I hope that they don’t mess it up.

On the other hand, they could of course make things better and wouldn’t that be nice? We can but hope. I’d love to get back my mobility.

Tuesday 11th April 2023 – AND ONCE AGAIN …

… yet another morning when I was up and about before the alarm went off. Things are certainly full of surprise these days.

After I’d had my medication the first thing that I needed to do was to think about what I was going to have for breakfast seeing as I had run out of fruit buns

Consequently I made a small loaf of bread and in a mad fit of enthusiasm I added a handful or two of raisins. Cooked for 30 minutes in the air fryer, it made a lovely loaf of raisin bread and I’m going to make more of this. I might even go berserk and add some sugar to the next one.

But anyway it was a lovely surprise for breakfast, toasted with vegan butter and wolfed down with a mug of hot coffee. I just wish though that my bread would rise better than it’s doing.

Next thing while all of that was going on was to redo this radio programme that hadn’t come out correctly when I’d prepared it. And I’m not sure why but using exactly the same music and the same speech, it ended up 19 seconds short. However a little bit of minupulation and a lot of time managed to fill it out.

After lunch there was plenty to do. Firstly I had to transcribe the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night. There was some kind of horse race taking place last night. It was won by a little girl who was given a horse’s name. There were several others in the field but she was the only human in there, although there were two children who were a little older who had also taken part in the race that was over something like 4 furlongs. The other 2 tired quite quickly and she romped home to win. There was another similar race but that took place beforehand and I can’t remember what happened about that.

And then I had an animal, either a cat or a dog, I can’t remember now. It was extremely well-behaved. Someone sent me some kind of miniature cake saw or something. When I had this tray of cakes I unfortunately dropped them on the floor. Of course I couldn’t really eat them after that but the animal whatever it was came in, saw it and started tucking into all the food on the floor. I thought that that was right seeing as it was the animal who had won all of this anyway. It deserves it.

I was also around Granville last night in the red Cortina estate. Who should I bump into but one of the regular readers of this rubbish who was quite happily wandering around. We had a chat for a while and then I headed home. I don’t understand why I didn’t invite him back to the apartment for a coffee or something. I drove home but on the way back in the rue Paul Poirier I ended up on foot again walking home. I was being chased by a young Indian squaw who was waving a tomahawk at me. In the end she said “I’m sorry but you can’t sleep with me”. I asked “why not” and she replied “I would have a baby out of wedlock and what then? I’d have to help my mother with the washing up” I asked what was wrong with that and she replied “I don’t eat breakfast in the morning”.

And I’m still trying to work that last one out.

Secondly, now that I’m feeling a little more athletic these days and more optimistic that when I’ve been to the hospital I’ll be in a better state of health to go out and about for my afternoon walks, I need to think about photography again.

The NIKON D500 alas is no more and while the NIKON D3000 still works, it was only ever meant to be a stop-gap camera. Consequently I resurrected the NIKON D5000.

There’s an issue with that in that the power doesn’t seem to be going from the battery into the circuit board so I’ve set steps in motion to have an estimate to have it serviced or overhauled, if it’s going to be cost-effective.

The idea of having a new camera is appealing but I’ve heard a rumour that Nikon is going to make “a major announcement” shortly and everyone is hanging on to hear the news.

The rest of the afternoon has been spent choosing music for my radio programmes for the future. I’ve not written the text as yet because that will all depend on when the programmes will be broadcast, because I’m working on a cunning plan right now for how my programmes will run in the future. High time that I had a little change around.

However I shall still be dictating some stuff and storing it up for use at another time.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with rice and veg and, as usual, it was very nice. And tomorrow I’ll be having another bake-in as I try to figure out the best way to make naan bread for my vegan curry tomorrow night.

But that’s tomorrow. Tonight I’m going to bed as I’m having to go to the doctor tomorrow for some more medication and to sort out a few other things in town. I suppose that I’d better have a shower before I set off – I will have to look my best for the little walk out.

Tuesday 14th February 2023 – JUST FOR A CHANGE …

… my Welsh lesson passed off quite well today.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d spent more time revising it, I dunno, but I actually knew most of what was being discussed and even managed to write a little 8-line story featuring as many irregular plurals as I could remember.

So I’m not sure what happened there.

Not that it was anything about having a good night’s sleep, because I didn’t have one of those. Taking ages to go to sleep, tossing and turning in bed, aches and pains in the legs and feet. We had all of those last night and more besides.

And plenty of voyages too during the periods when I did manage to go to sleep. To start off, there was a group of us. One of them was someone who played for Dire Straits. They asked about songs that he’d be happy to play. He replied that he didn’t want to play any Dire Straits songs because he considered them to be something in the past and that was all over. he wanted to move onwards. We were playing football. Someone took a throw-in. They threw the ball to him. He was whistling or humming a Dire Straits song at that time. he trapped the ball that was thrown to him and just lobbed it halfway down the field over the head of the goalkeeper into the net without even breaking his stride or rhythm

And then I was out in the early morning dropping off all of the documents at the various places that they needed to be. I was actually in Crewe in a sports car. When I reached the final destination which was in Earle Street near Boots I noticed that it was positioned awkwardly on the lip of the rear boot lid. I wondered if I’d dropped any off. I decided that I’d do a U-turn to retrace my steps to the previous drop-off to see if it had fallen off on the way. By now I had someone else with me. He was nagging me about my seat belt as I came to one of these pedestrian crossings in the town. As we turned into Market Street the traffic was really heavy which I thought was bizarre for this time of the morning. There at the side of the road were some documents all parcelled up. They looked very much like how documents from our office would have been parcelled up to be taken to somewhere else. I wondered if these were in fact mine that had fallen out of the car. There was no place to stop and there were crowds everywhere so I couldn’t simply pull up and take a quick glance at them.

Later on, some American tennis player was playing at Wimbledon. He was winning. He’d won a couple of sets on match point. People were unhappy with how he was behaving. The rumour was going around that if he didn’t clean up his act they’d make sure that he’d lose the final set. There was a delay in the play. He was busy sorting out his equipment, his car etc. I went over to talk to him. We ended up playing table tennis using our hands as bats and an orange as a ball. It was really quite amusing. But then he decided to do an overarm serve with a pomegranate.

At one point during the night I was having a strange dream (not that the others that I have are not strange). I was with someone who might have been Rosemary and the Ukkrainian family. We were in a big city living on the outskirts. We had to take the young girl to school so we walked miles all the way into the town to near the town centre by the inner ring road. When we reached the port there was a sign to say that the school had moved. It meant walking halfway back again and out towards near where I lived. Of course everyone was disappointed. Mrs Ukrainian was wondering how we would do it because everyone was tired. I chivvied everyone up and we began to walk back. Mr Ukrainian was playing in a rock group with a bassist with someone with whom I worked in Brussels (now what is he doing wandering around in here?). The bassist was someone who sang but he died so they asked me if I’d play bass and sing. The reason for that was that I’d been singing a Barclay james Harvest song all the way into the town centre when we were walking. I said that I’d give it a try but I wasn’t very enthusiastic because I didn’t think that I could do it. As we were walking back we could see in the distance that everything was really foggy. There was a huge blanket of fog covering the coast where I lived. We stopped on this headland where I could point out a few things to everyone but of course with the fog being there we couldn’t see all that much.

When the alarm went off I was out of bed fairly quickly and then after the medication and checking the mails and messages I worked on the revision for my lesson.

There were a couple of phone calls too that disrupted my revision. Firstly, I have to go to the hospital on Thursday 16th March for these tests. At Avranches, by the way, not at Leuven. Nor at Granville.

They say that they will try to have everything done on the day, but I’ll still take the laptop and a bag of clothes with me because I’ve heard stories like this before, as I’m sure we all have.

And then these people dealing with this money transfer rang me up. They seem to be inventing all kinds of difficulties to delay this transfer and if they don’t extricate their digits I shall have to think of a Plan B.

After the lesson I dragged myself out for a walk. In connection with the radio programme that I prepared yesterday for Carnaval, I needed some photographs so I grabbed my crutches and the NIKON 1 J5 and set off to do my worst.

Back here I had a shower and then transcribed my dictaphone while I awaited for the physiotherapist to come round. He ran me through a few more exercises and then cleared off. He might not be here on Thursday because parking will become difficult while Carnaval is on. The public car park out here is filling up rapidly and by Thursday there will be no room at all.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the left-over stuffing from yesterday. There’s still some left over and with what else is in the freezer will make a nice curry for tomorrow night, I hope.

There are no plans for tomorrow. Just the cleaner coming round to tidy up for me so I’ll have to spend some time making the place look tidy.

And do some of my exercises. Climbing into the shower this afternoon was not as easy as it was. I reckon that I haven’t quite recovered from Saturday’s adventures down in town on my crutches. The physiotherapist was pleased that I made it there and back, just as I was, but I’m still a long way away from being better.