Tag Archives: Nerina Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4th May 2024 – HAPPY STAR WARS DAY …

.. to all of my readers. May the fourth be with you!

What I hope is that you have had a good day today. As for me, I’ve had a better day, but then again that’s not saying all that much.

After I’d finished my notes last night I had a rush around and was actually in bed by 23:03. That’s quite early for recent times but still later than I would like it to be, with an alarm call at 07:00.

Once in bed I didn’t remember anything at all – I certainly can’t remember any phantom alarm calls going off that would awaken me

When the real alarm did actually go off I was a little boy in bed with a little girl. My mother came in and said that she was glad to see me awake and glad to see me and that the two of us had got on so well together and she was going to sing a song to awaken both of us. Just at that moment BILLY COTTON roared his “wakey waaaa….key” and I didn’t find it funny in the least.

It’s very strange but the number of times something in real life has synchronised with something in a dream, such as my mother about to sing to wake me up and we have the alarm going off just at that moment. It’s not every time, of course, but it’s an unusual percentage of times that’s higher than you might think.

Anyway I wandered off for a wash and for my medication.

Having set out the room as the nurse likes it to be, he came down after seeing to my neighbour upstairs, changed the dressing on my foot and put on my puttees. And the wound on my foot is certainly looking much better than it did several weeks ago. That’s good news.

After he left I came back in here where I crashed out – the first of several times today. I’m not doing too well from that point of view.

As for my breakfast, I did manage to stay awake long enough to make and eat my cheese on toast and coffee. And the bread that I made yesterday is really good too. I was quite impressed with that lot of baking – almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin all those years ago.

Once I’d finally awoken I went for a wash and a shave and sure enough, at 14:00 I had a visitor. One of my fellow students on my Welsh course is retired and spends months driving around Europe in his caravanette. He’s turned up in Granville this morning so he came for a coffee and a chat.

And wasn’t it lovely to see him? I don’t have enough visits, which is a shame

After he left I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was with Nerina last night. She’d come back home and we were together, but it wasn’t at all what she was expecting. She realised that my routine had changed so what she decided was that some time during the following day we’d both sit down and thrash out some rules for some kind of co-existence. I was willing to listen but obviously I wasn’t going to agree to any of the rules that might change my life drastically from how it is. Nevertheless I was interested to see exactly what her proposals might be. Of course they might affect other people like the district nurse coming round but that was something that we’d have to see about and have to negotiate anyway so that we could have some kind of life in common rather than living as two individuals in the same house

The biggest change would be that I can’t walk anywhere these days. I’m stuck inside this building and not able to go out. I’m not sure what other changes there would be after 30-odd years but there would bound to be some. The fact that I don’t have to go to work and so can have a more regulated lifestyle would be a big change for a start

There was also something else going on too about living together. A young mother named Maggie had moved in with a guy called Bill in the suburbs of Glasgow because it seemed like the best opportunity she was going to find to escape the kind of squalor in which she’d been living. His lifestyle didn’t conform to what she was expecting either so it was necessary to get together and thrash out rules between him and her but she was far less optimistic that some kind of arrangement suiting both parties would be found and considered it a great challenge to try to persuade him to conform to certain ideals of communal life in the middle of all of this Glasgow gang warfare that was going on around these tenements

There are several people whom I know who can’t bear to be on their own and have to be with someone else regardless of how it turns out. For one or two of them, it’s turned out really well but for the most part it’s been something of a disaster and they just move on to the next, with predictable results.

The res of the day, when I’ve not been asleep, has been dealing with the blog entries from when I was in Canada in 2022. The photos and the corresponding text needs to be added in so I’ve been working on that.

There’s only a handful of photos left to do but they won’t be done tomorrow as I’ll be baking biscuits. I’m running right out of those at the moment. I’m just trying to think about what kind of biscuits I should make. The last lot were chocolate biscuits and the ones before that were honey biscuits.

Tea tonight was one of my breaded quorn fillets with a salad and a baked potato. Quite delicious as usual, especially the potato cooked for 5 minutes in the microwave and then 15 minutes in the air fryer.

Pudding was delicious too. Some of the strawberries that I bought the other day soaked in a vegan cream. And there are more strawberries and cream for tomorrow after the pizza.

But right now, that’s it. My eyesight has deteriorated rapidly since yesterday and I can’t really see what I’m doing.

And that’s a problem. Not like when I lived down on the farm. It was such a small village that even though I might not have had a clue what I was doing, all the neighbours knew

Thursday 25th April 2024 – I HAVE ACHES …

… and pains in places that I didn’t even know that I had places. I’m not as young as I used to be and this travelling is really taking its toll of me. I wish it didn’t.

After I’d finished my notes last night I didn’t have what it takes to go to bed. It took an age to find the energy and morale to raise myself from my chair and stagger off on this marathon trek of several inches that seems as if it’s several hundred miles.

As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it wouldn’t be so bad if I could find the energy to do something productive while I’m waiting but I can’t seem to do that either.

But eventually I fell into bed and that was that. It took an age to go off to sleep, being wound up as I was, but once I’d gone off I don’t recall moving again until just a few minutes before the alarm went off

It goes without saying that I took full advantage of every minute under the covers that I could because right now it’s freezing around here. You’d never believe that it’s the end of April with temperatures like we’re having. I know many people who have relit their heating and if this cold spell carries on much longer I shan’t be far behind.

So off I staggered into the dining area to sort out the medication and then to prepare everything for Isabelle the nurse so that she has everything that she needs and it’s set out how she likes.

So she came and organised me and told me that tomorrow I have a blood test to undergo. I’m not looking forward to that one bit. My arms look and feel as if I’ve been wrestling with a hedgehog as it is.

After she left, I came in here, sat down on my chair and that’s how I stayed for several hours. I couldn’t even be bothered to go to make breakfast – that’s the kind of state in which I was this morning.

The cleaner came round later and snapped me out of my reverie, bringing me all of the medication from my new prescription.

And there are piles of it too. It’s starting to become ridiculous, all of this and I really don’t know where it’s going to end. There are two more now added to the pile of nonsense after these latest visits and next time I go, there will doubtless be a couple of others to counter the side-effects that those two have caused.

Once she’d gone I managed to transcribe the dictaphone notes from yesterday at the hospital and add them into the notes, all of them and it really was “all” of them because it must have been a very mobile night that night with a lot going on.

In the middle of all of that I was out like a light for an hour or so. I really can’t keep on going these days and it’s driving me to distraction.

Rosemary rang up for a chat this afternoon, just a short one today. Only 1 hour and 10 minutes today – we’re losing our touch. She was telling me about her forthcoming trip to Italy which should make a nice trip out for her. She has all of the luck. It was Vietnam last year.

After we finished our chat I transcribed last night’s dictaphone notes. The Government was talking about some big, bold plans for railway modernisation to bring the railways right into the 21st Century. All of the particular regions were asked to submit their plans. We were working on a series of cross-country lines from east to west. Everywhere where we went where we saw the proposals from other areas, it was all about going north-south from London into the different regions. It seemed that the whole of the cross-country system would be squeezed out. Of course there was very little that we could do because we didn’t have the weight or influence. It was very frustrating to everyone concerned. All of the people were so concerned and frustrated that we couldn’t seem to make any headway at all with our plans. Naturally we were doing everything we could but we were being squeezed at every turn by everyone else. It was impossible to put forward any coherent plans because nothing that we were doing would conform to whatever it was that the Government really wanted. There was a grave danger that the whole of our east-west railway would be squeezed out. I had girls from the office coming to see me in tears about the prospects of failure that all of our lobbying and arguments were bringing but we we were doing everything we could. There was nothing more that we could do but we didn’t seem to be making any kind of progress. Everyone was just so frustrated.

Anyone who knows anything about the British railway network will know just how true that is too. Going cross-country in the UK by rail is really difficult and time-consuming. Government policies haven’t helped either. A cross-country railway line closed in the 1960s was approved for reopening as far back as 1992 and we’re still waiting. Brunel would have had it up and running in 6 months.

They run all kinds of feasibility studies and passenger surveys, file the results and then go back to re-run the exercise 5 years later by which time costs have doubled.

And after Zero a few nights ago and Castor the other night, TOTGA came round too during the night. I’d been in France with Nerina and we’d just come back. Early on Sunday morning she came round. She had an apple. I made a remark something like “that’ll be the last apple that I’ll see for several weeks” so she left it for me which I thought was really nice of her. Then I had a ‘phone call from where she was working. Could I go to see her? She was working in some kind of merchant banking office. I arrived and it was one of these self-service receptionist places where you had to root around to try to find your contact’s ‘phone n°. I couldn’t find hers at all. In the end she happened to turn up at the counter by pure chance. I asked her for her telephone n° in her office but she made some kind of cryptic remark so I asked her whether she wasn’t allowed to leave her ‘phone n° or not. She said no, she wasn’t. I said “that’s strange. Anyone can have mine any time of the day even at 04:00 and get me out of bed as long as they say the magic words”. She asked “what are those?”. I replied “do you want to earn some money, Eric?”. She asked “was that really the last apple that you’re likely to see for several weeks?” I explained that we weren’t exactly that broke but we’d just come back from the Continent and we didn’t have any in the house. Nevertheless some kind of additional income would come in handy and I was intrigued to hear what kind of proposition she was going to make to me from her work that would be of interest to me in a financial sense

So that was a very special treat for me last night to follow my vegan pesto.

Tonight, I finished off the vegan pesto with more pasta, veg and a vegan burger. I need to order some more of those as the European Burger Mountain in the fridge has shrunk dramatically just recently. But not right now as despite it being really early, I really am going to try to go to bed and sleep the Sleep of a Thousand Dreams and see who comes with me.

After all, I’ve had all three of my favourite females over the past week or so coming to see me. And wouldn’t it be nice if they came more often, or, at least, more regularly? Life is much more interesting when they are around. It’s the only interesting company that I seem to have these days.

My life at the moment is, after all, hardly interesting. It reminds me of a story I heard when one person asked another one sitting next to him at a dinner "do you ever think that life is really boring?"
To which the other one replied "Quite often. Especially when one is sitting next to you"

Thursday 11th April 2024 – I’VE NO IDEA …

… what happened to this morning.

There I was, sitting down at my desk typing out a few notes and the next thing that I knew was that I was flat out asleep the ‘phone was ringing and it was midday already.

A whole morning had passed and I’d been totally out of it. It was just as if someone had flicked a switch at some point earlier in the morning and I’d just switched off completely with no warning.

You’ve no idea whatever just how strange it feels to be in a circumstance like that. All that I can say is that it’s a good job that I can no longer drive.

This morning I knew that things were going to be difficult. I’d been awake since about 06:00 and was actually up early before the alarm went off. It was actually quite a struggle to leave the bed, no matter how it sounds, because I didn’t feel in the least like it.

It had been a late night too. This idea about trying my best to finish everything early isn’t really working and despite the best intentions, and the road to Hell is paved with those, I’m not doing aby good with the plan.

It was probably about 23:30 when I slipped under the covers and so awakening at 06:00 is simply not enough sleep. Heaven alone knows how I managed 30-odd years ago when if I thought I was having half that time in bed I was doing well.

So first thing was to check the blood pressure this morning. It was showing 16.9/11.2, which compares quite miserably with last night’s figure of 14.9/9.3. Something had gone on during the night to upset me, by the looks of things, but we’ll have to wait to find out what.

Instead of worrying about that I went to take my medication, the typical European Medicine Mountain of stuff, and then to rearrange the living room ready for her and also to have a good wash

While she was here she gave me a list of stuff that she needed and then wandered off, and I began to sort myself out. However it was at some point round about here that I disappeared off the face of the earth.

awakening was the thing, because I was totally out of it and it took me a good couple of hours (seriously) to come back onto this planet. It was certainly well after 14:00 when I restarted work.

First thing was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night – and from the morning too because there were some of them. But during the night I was back in Outer Space again assembling a rock programme. What I was actually doing was cutting an audio track from an obscure German rock group called Dreadnought, copying out the segments. There were dozens of them, all extremely long so it was a complicated business to do it. I was chatting to one or two people while I was doing it. They were apparently quite impressed and spent some time watching. I found that one of the women there, she knew exactly how to do it. She had a Welsh programme there and she was going through telling me how she did it, in Welsh, which I understood, saying “it wasn’t done in this way – it wasn’t done in this way and it wasn’t done in this way and it wasn’t done in this way but it was done in a way like this”, said in Welsh all the time and I could follow the conversation, I could follow exactly what she’d done. She made it sound really, really interesting. I thought to myself “maybe I ought to investigate things from that point of view and see how they fit with what I’m doing”

Funnily enough, just recently I have been editing a concert sound track by a German space-rock group called Dreadnought, another one of my contacts from one of the various Hawkfests, and it’s really quite interesting. But I wish that I knew in real life which method this woman was using. I’m completely self-taught in respect of my use of a sound-editing programme and can conjure up some surprisingly good results. But there are tons of facilities that I have never used, and some expert advice would really not go amiss

Later on I was back in a dream in Welsh. Our Welsh class had to translate an ancient song. There were two ways to do it, one was a translation after the fashion of Morgannwg … "presumably the poet Lewys Morgannwg" – ed … and the other after the fashion on Cadwaladwr … "presumably Cadwaladr ap Rhys Trefnant" – ed …. The problem was that both translations are rather inflammatory and as a result its use has fallen out of favour but nevertheless that was our task. One girl was already receiving some grief because her translation had come to the notice of the authorities and we were wondering all the way through the rest of this dream how long it will be before our version of the translation comes to the attention of the authorities, and what action they’ll take against us

And that’s the problem with much of Welsh literature of that period. It’s a tale of lament about the oppression of the native people by the wicked English and like many other things, it’s not very appetising to the English palette today.

While many countries have tried hard to come to terms with their past, in England there has never been any kind of attempt at reconciliation. There are a great many scars that have never ever healed.

While I was asleep during the morning there was also a complicated discussion going on about the use of personal pronouns, something else that seems to be quite a touchy subject these days.

As we said the other day, there are a lot of people with nothing better to do so they trawl the internet and places like that trying to find ways in which they might be offended. If you’re born with a certain gender and you don’t like it, then that’s your problem, not everyone else’s

Whoever it was on the phone who awoke me, I have no idea I was in no fit state to answer.

Instead I lowly (as in the next couple of hours) came back round into the Land of the Living and then made a start on the notes for the next radio programme.

Not that I went far because firstly the cleaner descended upon me with some supplies for the nurse, and then the Auvergnats came round to fill me in on their exciting day. Tomorrow they are off down the road to Mont St Michel so I’m being allowed a day of freedom myself. I’ll see them on Saturday for the last time.

But it was nice to chat about all of our old stamping grounds down in the Combrailles and to discuss all of our former partners in crime, most of whom have moved on to pastures new.

And that’s a shame because I really loved my life in the Auvergne. It was just how I imagined rural France to be and I’m glad that I managed to grab hold of one of the last vestiges of it before it disappeared completely

There was definitely something to be said for life down there, but it’s no life for anyone who is not 100% fit.

After they left there wasn’t much time left until teatime – some pasta and veg in a vegan cheese sauce with a couple of the falafel balls that I made the other day. Totally delicious.

So when I’ve finished everything again, my throbbing leg and I are going to bed and if the pain subsides I might even sleep. But it would be nice to have a regular sleep.

And by that I mean one with lots of dreams. Lee Jackson sang "YOU WOULD GIVE A SMALL FORTUNE
TO BE BACK IN YOUR DREAMS"

and he’s not at all wrong, not on my account anyway

It does remind me of the time that Nerina and I chatted about our dreams
Nerina said "I dreamed last night that I’d gone shopping in Asda"
"Really?" I asked. "I dreamed that I was making love to three beautiful, naked women in the park under a glorious warm sun"
"Was I there?" she asked
"Actually no" I replied. "You’d gone shopping in Asda"

Saturday 6th April 2024 – TODAY WAS ONE …

… of the worst days that I have had for quite a while.

In fact, it’s a day that harks back to the bad old days of winter 2015-16 when I was struggling to come to terms with this illness, or over the summer of 2015 when I’d moved to live in Leuven

It’s a combination of two factors really.
Firstly those stabbing pains that I have nin the sole of the foot returned yesterday and gradually worsened as the day wore on and accelerated through the night.
Secondly I was wide-awake at about 04:30 and there was no hope whatever of going back to sleep.

It totally beats me as to what would have awaken me, and awoken me to such an extent that I couldn’t go back to sleep, even at that time. It must be something quite considerable and important, so I’m surprised that I don’t know what it is.

What I was going to say was that I didn’t have a clue, but I doubt whether there would be many people who would disagree with that diagnosis.

And as it happens, I do have a clue about what time I went to bed last night, and it was late yet again, which is even more surprising considering how early I awoke.

But doing all this paperwork and making all these notes really does take its time and I’m surprised that I’m ever ready to go to bed.

So having settled down to go to sleep I was soon awake again, drifting into alternate fits of wakefulness and sleepiness, but always being awake nevertheless.

And that didn’t stop my imagination working because even though I was in this semi-wakefulness I was still off on my travels.

When the alarm went off at 07:00 I’d already been up and about for 15 minutes and was on the point of finishing dressing and going for a wash.

Not before checking the blood pressure though. 16.1/9.9, which compares with last night’s figure of 16.4/10.1 – pretty much the same by the looks of things.

After shovelling down the piles of medication I arranged the room for the nurse and then tidied up the knives and forks etc from the previous evening. If I’m having house guests, which looks pretty much like it in the near future, I need to learn some new habits.

Rather like the man in church praying to God – "Oh God give me patience! And hurry!"

When the nurse came round he plastered me up again but said that this will be the last of them as the foot has healed so well.

As it happens, I think that the foot has certainly healed but not as well as he thinks. Still, he’s the nurse, I’m not.

After he left I made a start on the dictaphone notes from the night and from the morning when I was half-awake. And apart from what seems to be the usual fact these days of getting up, getting dressed and ready to leave the bed but only in my subconscious mind (as far as I know), also later on there was a phantom doorbell to say that the nurse had arrived. That was at 03:00 and so it was extremely unlikely, but nevertheless I found myself getting out of bed for that as well. I’ve no idea what’s going on with me at the moment. This is crazy.

What this next dream was about was a woman who was visiting the doctor’s for some reason. He gave her an examination . Then someone like Ingrid came along. Because she was more ill he gave her the more profound examination and had to make sure that she was supported by enough orderlies but she could withstand the pressure that he was going to apply. It was all to do with rolling balls Up and down the body to find weak points. Obviously he’d roll them quite hard and then feel the resistance, to see where the body was in need of reinforcement

And before anyone says anything about it, I shall say myself that that particular dream sounds like a right load of balls. It’s an interesting concept though and I bet that there’s plenty of mileage in an idea like that if I were to take it to some of the more obscure clubs in Soho

In fact I could probably make a small fortune from clubs like that for the rights to the unexpurgated version of this blog

And then while I was lying there half-asleep Nerina and I were at a port somewhere on our way to cross the Channel to go to a party at a friend’s house. We didn’t have any preparations at all – we didn’t have a GPS to find out where it was, we didn’t have any accommodation booked for Nerina or anything like that. We were going to simply improvise and make it all up on the spot. So we boarded the ferry and I went to look out of the window but they were all misty and steamy so I asked the purser if he had any car windscreen wipers. He chuntered but had a really good search, chuntering all the time. Eventually he came up with a pair and handed them to me, which I thought was nice. I could sit down then and look out of the window to admire the shipping like I usually do.

And this brings back many happy memories of me being invited to a party and setting out to go there, and suddenly realising that I had no idea of the address or where the person lived. I drove around in circles for quite a while before in the end I gave up and went home.

As Kenneth Williams once so famously said, "I’m often taken aback by my own brilliance". It’s the kind of thing that only I can do.

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … bed, this thing about Normandy involved the Normandy group on Social Network. In the end we’d sacked all of our advisers and dealt with everything on a question and answer basis amongst ourselves. That even included the vets. Everything there on the group seemed to be going much better since we no longer had advisers and people were resolving their own problems like this

In my case though I’ve simply sacked my Social Network. It’s becoming less and less of a Social Network and more and more a vehicle for adverts and publicity. If I wanted to see “sponsored links” and “suggested for you” articles I’d look for them. I don’t want them thrust into my face at the expense of stuff that I want to see.

So I went for my coffee and cheese on toast for breakfast and despite two really strong mugs full of coffee I crashed out quite completely and absolutely, and for a good couple of hours too.

And Nerina came to visit me again, but it wasn’t a very pleasant meeting so I’m not going to transcribe the notes. With all of these problems I’ve been told to do all that I can to avoid unpleasantness.

In fact, this illness has made a whole new person of me.

What I can say about it though was that the dream was building up to a ‘phone call, and sure enough, I had one too, and a real one. It was the delivery man with the rest of my Amazon order.

This afternoon, I really felt like death. It was the worst that I have felt for quite some considerable time.

Margaret Thatcher once famously said something like "anyone can do a good day’s work when they want to. To be successful, you have to do a good day’s work when you don’t want to" and I’ve ploughed nevertheless through some radio notes and a pile of Welsh homework when all that I wanted to do was to go back to sleep.

There was football on the Internet later, Aberystwyth v Penybont. Penybont are far too good a team to be involved in a relegation scrap where they are right now, but Aberystwyth are down near the bottom for a good reason.

And that was how it went on. Aberystwyth started well and had a couple of chances but faded quite quickly and Penybont took control.

A 3-0 win was probably about right but Aberystwyth will rue the errors that they made. However it’s not easy playing football in a monsoon like they had this afternoon during the game.

Tea was baked potato and salad with one of the delicious breaded quorn fillets that I like, and that’s it for the day. I’m off to bed, with an alarm for tomorrow as the nurse will be round.

And tomorrow afternoon I have biscuits to make as I have now run out of supplies.

But before I go, talking about obscure clubs in Soho and unexpurgated versions of writings reminds me of a former girlfriend who worked at the local library on Saturdays and who has featured on these pages on more than just a few occasions.
She was asked to order a pile of books so she was going through the list, and one title caught her eye
"What’s this book here?" she asked
"It’s called ‘Ferry across the River Kwai’" explained her supervisor
"But is that title right?" she asked. "I’m sure that it should be called something else"
"It’s all right" said the supervisor. "Don’t worry. It’s simply the unabridged version of the story"

Tuesday 2nd April 2024 – TODAY WAS A …

… better day than yesterday, which is an improvement. There were several waves of sleep that had to be fought off round about midday and I managed to do that successfully and apart from that, I’ve managed not to fall asleep at all.

And that’s a surprise because it was another late night last night. It takes an age to finish everything off these days ready for a round of whatever it is that goes on here during the night.

As it happens, I can’t remember much about the night because I was of course asleep. But I do recall a visit from Nerina at some point, about the two if us going to the countryside near Chester.

And while we’re on the subject of Chester … "well, one of us is" – ed … we did end up there at some point of the day but I can’t remember when now. This is always the problem when you are teetering on the edge of dozing off two or three times on the same day – you lose track of “when” and “where”.

No problem about the alarm though. It went off as usual at 07:00 and I promptly fell out of bed while reaching for the equipment. But soon I found it and could take my pressure, 15.9/9.4. That’s lower than before I went to bed, whixh was 17.3/10.8.

Judging from that, you would be excused for thinking that it was a quiet night, but far from it as you will see if you read on.

The medication was next on the list. That just seems to be more and more, as time goes on. I’m sure that someone is slipping extra piles into everything when I’m not looking.

A good wash was on the agenda today too. I was sure that I could smell myself coming, and my clothes walked into the laundry basket on their own. I’m not doing too well about my personal hygiene as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … and need to make much more of an effort

With that in mind, I washed the shorts that I wear in bed. They need to be kept clean.

Having arranged things for the nurse he came by and changed the bandage on my foot. They seem to think that it’s healing but if it is, it’s doing an excellent job of disguising itself.

The ones on my legs are showing an improvement which is a good news. I managed to walk four steps without my crutches, and if that’s nor success I don’t know what is these days.

Today I’ve been radioing. I’ve checked off the programme that needs to be sent off today for broadcasting at the weekend, and I’ve sorted out the music for another one.

Apart from that, I’ve sent off my Amazon order, played on the guitar and even … shock! Horror! … done some Welsh homework. I don’t know what’s come over me today.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night. Quite a lot of it in fact. Once more I was dreaming in Welsh again about a door in a hospital being closed but it needs to be opened. Eventually someone opens it and inside are several bodies. It seemed that all kinds of indignities had been heaped upon these corpses at one time, both when they were alive and when they were dead as well, and opening the door had revealed it all to the public like this

They found A MORTUARY LIKE THIS IN THE USA a short while ago. The owners had been taking the money for the burial and so on but never burying the cadavers, just leaving them to rot. It created quite a scandal in the USA.

But not as big a scandal as what was going on IN THAT HOSPITAL MORTUARY IN THE UK a short while earlier

This … "presumably dreaming in Welsh" – ed … all came about because the girlfriend came over from Caerfyrddin and couldn’t remember the word for “right” … "”gwyir” or “dde”" – ed … and it was all to do with Caerfyrddin having a corner kick and someone putting the ball into the penalty area and the teams taking up the correct position but everyone was out of position and the captains had to shout at them to tell them where they should be. One of the players from Caerfyrddin was in the wrong position and didn’t say the correct word for “right”.

In which case it’s dde. Gwyir is “right” in the sense of “correct”.

But it’s interesting that I’m dreaming – and talking to myself – in Welsh. That basically means that I’ve moved one step higher up the literacy ladder. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed that I’m understanding more and more of the football commentary so I suppose everything is all coming together.

That’s how I began to teach myself Flemish – when I moved to Brussels, if there was a football match in TV I’d watch it on a Flemish channel. It’s easy to guess what’s happening in a football match when you see it, and you can tie the commentary up with the action on the screen.

While I was chatting to a friend of mine, a schoolteacher in the UK, I told her of my tactic for watching football and now she makes her daughter, age 11, watch the football in a foreign language only and the kid has to take her mother a list of 10 words that she heard in each game

It’s one of those things that you aren’t sure will work for someone else but it costs nothing to try.

Learning Welsh was something that I always wanted to do but in the UK I never had time and over here I never had the opportunity. But, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, at the start of lockdown Coleg Cambria put its Welsh language courses on-line instead of in face-to-face classes.

And instead of the usual 100 or so people signing up for a beginners class, they had 1036. There’s someone in my class from the UAE and I’ve met several people from the USA on other courses, all trying to connect with their roots.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed there was a group of girls who had to go along and do something gruesome to one of the guys. One of the girls was tall and slender, called Hilary This was the girl Our Hero falls for so the two of them establish a relationship but he in the meantime is carrying on with more kinds of wicked things against a few more of his hermits who are trying to usurp his powers etc. Of course this girl is quite a willing accomplice in his actions as well. She’s willing to do all kinds of things to establish her position by the side of the King.

And you really don’t want to know what gruesome thing they had to do, especially if you’re eating your tea right now.

Finally, a partner of mine and I were going through one of our usual rocky patches again. She had a friend whom I suspected was a partner. One day I came home and found them in my shed going through my selection of spare parts and she was giving him this and giving him that. I thought “what the hell was going on? He’s not having any of my spare parts. He can clear off” so we had a huge row. In the end this boy turned round and walked off, but not before hurling a few insults etc for good measure. He said “do you know what? Some of the stories she has told me, I haven’t half told some good ones around the town”. I replied “do you really think that I’m all that bothered with that kind of thing?”. It was a steering wheel and steering column and rack that she was handing out. That infuriated me beyond belief.

There are plenty of spare parts to hand out, that’s for sure. We had a huge pile of new stuff for the cars, much of which was never used. It’s all in my barn at Virlet and in the warehouse at Montaigut, and much of it is stuff that’s no longer available. It’s probably worth a small fortune sold off on the internet by someone who knows what they are doing.

Tea tonight was a taco roll, delicious as usual with rice and veg. Tomorrow there will be a leftover curry but I’ll have to make some more dough for the naan breads as I’ve now run out. I hope that the new batch will be as good as the last one. Plenty of garlic in it anyway, to keep the werewolves and vampires away

But now I have some printing to do – the prescription for the blood tests has arrived, as has the bon de transport for the trip to Paris and the hospital. I had a good chat with them, which included a discussion about tying in all of my hospital visits into a time when I am actually there. I can’t do with these last-minute things – it’s far too reminiscent of the bad old days and “… you are summoned to appear at 10:30 in the forenoon to answer to the aforementioned…”

It’s like the time when I was still at school and told my father that I was going to leave
"Why’s that?" he asked
"I’m going to be a policeman" I replied
"You’ll never be a policeman" he scoffed. "You don’t have the intelligence"
"Well they obviously think a lot about me" I retorted. "That’s four times this week already that they’ve asked me to go down to the station to help them with their enquiries"

Saturday 30th March 2024 – MY BROCCOLI STALK …

… soup was absolutely delicious at lunchtime.

  1. chop up an onion and fry it in a heavy duty saucepan
  2. dice your broccoli stalk and a potato into very small pieces and add them to the fried onion, and fry them
  3. add your herbs – I used coriander, chervil, marjoram and chives – a stock cube and some garlic, and fry them with everything else
  4. when you’re satisfied that all is going well, add enough of the water that you saved yesterday from blanching the carrots and broccoli florets – make sure that the stuff above is covered and remains so throughout the entire process
  5. simmer away on a low heat for about 20 minutes
  6. add a tub of soya yoghurt and whizz it all up with your whizzer
  7. serve with fresh black pepper and fresh-baked bread

That’s what I call a really decent meal for a lunchtime.

When I blanch my broccoli for freezing I only blanch the florets. But one of these 99 cents special offers of broccoli is usually more stalk than florets so you have to be inventive, and broccoli stalk soup is the way forward

However I wish that I knew the way forward out of my current sleep issues because they reared their ugly head today, and in spades too.

Last night was a late night again. Once more I couldn’t seem to have my tasks completed in anything like a reasonable time. They do seem to drag me down these days and like anything else around here, it’s never-ending.

Finally, hours later than intended, I managed to find my way into bed.

Once in though, I slept right the way through until the alarm went off without the slightest interruption, which is quite strange these days. Usually, the slightest noise awakens me, so I wonder if it’s something to do with one of the pills that I take just before going to bed.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed again and went to check the blood pressure. 15.5/8.9 compared to last evening’s 15.9/10.1. So not a great deal of difference.

After the medication I tidied up in the kitchen and arranged everything for the nurse to come. She was her usual cheerful self today and it didn’t take her long to sort me out. I told her about the issues with the pharmacy and she thinks that I ought to see my GP about the blood tests.

My opinion is that they are called for by the hospital so it’s up to the hospital to decide whether I need them or not, and as for my injections, I’m in the hospital in 3 weeks time and if I don’t have them for 3 weeks, there’s plenty of time for the hospital to catch up

Back in here, there was nothing on the dictaphone yet again from the night, and even though that usually signifies a decent sleep it’s still disappointing because, as I have said before… "and on many occasions too" – ed … going on my travels is the only fun that I have these days.

Back in the old days before my health finally gave out, I’d always be travelling. And not just in vehicles either, but on foot. I’ve roamed miles over places like the Long Mynd in Shropshire, moors in Scotland, Arctic tundra in Greenland and Northern Canada and so on.

Who will ever forget my famous journey when I nipped out for a couple of hours in 2014 and ended up roaming for miles through the Pyrenees in Southern France, Spain and Andorra for several weeks?

But returning to last night, even though there was nothing on the dictaphone I do have a recollection of something else to do with Ford Cortinas scattered all over Crewe and that’s a regular, recurring dream.

Apart from making broccoli stalk soup, most of the day has been dealing with radio stuff, sorting out music for the next few programmes. Time to restart work after being away on a course for a week. and I’m still thinking and talking in Welsh when I talk to myself.

There was a lot of progress made with the radio stuff but I would have done more had I not crashed out.

And I crashed out good and proper for a couple of hours too, the deepest that I have ever been too and it was really uncomfortable too, really, really uncomfortable. I was so far out that I wouldn’t have come back for a week.

Nevertheless I came round and wandered off for my hot chocolate. And there was something on the dictaphone from when I’d crashed out, and that doesn’t happen too often either. I was on my way to see my sister and my brother. They had given me directions but the closer I came to where they were supposed to be, the less sense the directions made. I ended up on an island, a long narrow sandspit that was completely built up with a big apartment building. As I approached the front door there was a man there so I hurried and he held the door for me to enter. Inside I went into the lift and came out on the first floor. I asked on the radio which apartment they were in but their answer was garbled so I asked which floor and they said “top”. I went back into the lift and came out at the top and was now in the open air countryside, still heavily built up. I asked if they were on the water side or the inside but the reply was “down here” so I went down the road. There was still no trace of them so I asked which house they were in. They replied that there was nothing near them but a pub. There was nothing whatever like that where I was but searching around I came across a village name something like Rhydymwyn (but wasn’t) so I asked if that name meant anything to them. There was no reply to that – I’d gone out of range obviously and lost radio contact, so I must have been miles away, so I gave it up zs a bad job.

The likelihood of me ever wanting to meet my brother and sister would be so remote that they wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of giving me false directions to keep me away.

But the island, the long thin sandspit, reminds me very much of Long Beach Island in New Jersey. That was where I went to celebrate the Millennium. I flew from Brussels Airport, where I was interviewed by Flemish TV – in Flemish – to New York and hired a car, then just drifted around until I found somewhere nice.

And LONG BEACH ISLAND REALLY IS NICE TOO. I had a wonderful time out there.

TOTGA had just been abandoned by her husband and was left alone with a small baby. I invited her to join me on the trip
"Where would be staying?" she asked
"We’ll work that out when we arrive. Just drive and find somewhere nice"
"Actually, it’s not really convenient"

A few years later we were talking and she said "I’d have come with you if you’d had a place booked to stay, you know."

It was then that I realised what a lucky escape she’d had. In 2015 I slept out on the trail every night in Northern Labrador and Northern Québec, timber wolves howling in the distance and something or other scratching at Strider’s truck cap, wanting to come in and share the sleeping bag with me.

TOTGA would have had a heart attack a long time before that if she’d had to share a lifetime with me. Nerina was the adventurous type and would have been fine, but I’m sure that I tried her spirit a few times

But just in case you are wondering, these people who figure quite often in my dreams, like TOTGA, Castor and Zero and so on, they are actually real people whom I’ve encountered, or even had a close encounter, at some time or other and who have obviously left a very great impression on me.

There was football on the internet later – TNS v Cardiff Metropolitan in the other Welsh Cup semi-final.

To everyone’s surprise, the Met raced into a 2-0 lead but of course it couldn’t last. TNS changed out of first gear and off they roared.

TNS’s overwhelming dominance of the Welsh domestic game wouldn’t bother me all that much if they could take it further. But they are knocked out of European competition at the first hurdle and they really ought to be doing much better than

It would really be nice if they could make it to a European group stage for once and have a real stab at something worthwhile.

And it would be nice if other clubs could do well too, emulating Hwlffordd who actually made it through to a second round last season.

Tea tonight was baked potato with vegan salad and one of these breaded quorn fillets that I like. But aren’t plates heavy when they fall on your foot? I’m glad that there was just a quorn fillet on it at that moment and nothing else.

But now I’m off to bed. We lose an hour tonight of course with the change of calendar, and I have the nurse coming which is a pain. I need to be up early and have everything ready so I hope that the alarm works.

Not like back in the old days when I was always late for school
"And why are you always late?" asked the exasperated schoolmaster
"Please sir" I explained "there’s eight in our family but the alarm was only set for seven so I had to miss out."

Thursday 29th March 2024 – SO THAT’S THE …

… end of yet another Welsh course. And that’s a shame because I quite enjoyed this one and felt that I was actually learning something instead of just going through the motions.

It seems to me that it’s a pretty good idea to go on these short holiday courses that relate to courses that I’ve studied in the past because it’s first of all a way of catching up with everything and then it’s also a way of reinforcing the basics

As well as that, it keeps my wheels oiled over the long breaks.

So I now have to look for courses for over the next few holidays too. Some of those will keep me running too.

But at least after this course I can say unfedarddegarhugain which is how a Welshman of two hundred years ago would have said “31st”. You don’t ‘arf learn a lot on these courses.

What I’m currently learning though is how totally disorganised I am about going to bed. Once again, despite a desperate rush to be early, it was still 23:40 by the time that I crawled into bed and that’s still not good enough.

Especially if the night is somewhat disturbed as it was, with me hearing phantom alarms going off at strange times. But more of this anon

When the real alarm went off I was deep in the arms of Morpheus again and I wasn’t sure at first whether or not it was a phantom alarm but realising that it was for real, I fell out of bed and groped for the tensiometer.

15.9/9.9 this morning on the blood pressure, which contrasts with 15.4/10.2 from last night. so what wound me up in bed then?

After taking all of my medication I arranged everything ready for the nurse to call so that she doesn’t waste too much time. She rang my doorbell when she came to visit my neighbour so when she turned up here I was already sitting in the chair waiting.

She didn’t stay long for sorting out my legs but she did point out a few supplies that we will be needing in early course so I added them to the list that my cleaner will be taking to the chemist’s. And the cleaner taught me a new phrase that I shall remember and reuse with vigour and vim.

After the nurse had left I had a little listen to the dictaphone notes to fins out what was going on during the night. We were back with that crowd again at the Wistaston Memorial Hall. One of the people there was the girl with whom I was friendly and whose father was landlord of the Whore’s Bed at Walgherton. Someone mentioned something about knowing her pretty well and I came out with a remark “not as well as me, I hope” which made everyone laugh. The guy didn’t say anything else which cheered me up a little but I can’t remember anything else about this particular dream at all. It was as soon as I said that that I awoke and the rest of the dream evaporated

It’s a shame that that dream evaporated because that was a really good weekend, that. I know that I have mentioned it before, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall but for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few just recently, a rock group from Crewe with whom I was quite friendly was invited to play at one of the Festivals in the summer of 1973

They had no money so they arranged a concert at Wistaston Memorial Hall in order to raise the petrol money. Piles of us went and my friend and I made the acquaintance of two young girls, mine being the one mentioned above.

At the end of the concert the group still didn’t have enough money so they took with them anyone whom they could cram into their ageing, creaking Austin J4 van along with all their gear and who would make a contribution to the expenses. My friend and I went down on his motor bike.

We all had all kinds of adventures both on the road and at the festival that weekend, and I had a few adventures afterwards with the aforementioned young lady, but a long-distance romance wasn’t possible back then.

But it was thanks to her that the rock group “Strife” makes regular appearances in these pages and in my radio shows, because her brother knew their drummer. Consequently I met him a few times too and we are still in contact today.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed a group of us was discussing these murder mysteries. We came to the conclusion that Agatha Christie had disappeared to go into a nursing home to recover from a breakdown or something like that. We worked out by using one of our girls whom we arranged to disappear that we could follow the plot through fairly well but there was no reason to doubt in the end the official story because of course all that we were doing was some kind of speculation based on the facts rather than the facts themselves. It ended up with one of our girls going missing for several days and we working out where she was, and also with me going missing right at the end of it. But mine was because the alarm went off. The alarm was set for 01:30 and somehow it rang. Of course that was in the dream – it wasn’t the real alarm but nevertheless the false alarm thing actually awoke me while I was asleep having this dream. That’s a mystery to me too about this false alarm

It totally beats me why something so obscure as Agathe Christie’s disappearance in 1926 should rear its ugly head in one of my dreams. It was something that made headline news back at the time but it’s largely forgotten now and I’m totally surprised that it would be something that would spring to my mind during a nocturnal ramble.

But that’s what I mean though about the phantom alarm. I was convinced that it was a real one and I actually awoke and reached for the ‘phone to switch it off.

So what’s an alarm doing going off like that in the middle of a dream – an alarm that has nothing to do with either the dream or anything in real life?

Having finished the notes I prepared for the Welsh class. It didn’t take long because I’d already done most of it, having much more interest in this for some reason.

It actually passed off quite will too and I was really pleased. I quite liked the tutor and his little quirky habits, and I’ll sign up for other courses with Coleg Caerfyrddin whenever I get the chance. I’m determined to crack this one way or another.

My grandmother, if she were alive today, would really be impressed that I could speak Welsh. It’s a shame that she never taught my father, but Welsh-speaking was seen in a totally different light in the 1920s and 30s than it is today.

The cleaner stuck her head in with some of my medication too, and the stuff for the nurse. The rest of the stuff will come in early course.

The rest of the day has been spent dealing firstly with my LeClerc order, that needs to be sent off first thing in the morning if I want my buttered hot cross buns.

And I really do too. I opened the airtight tin in which they are stored and was absolutely overwhelmed by the smell. They really do smell like proper hot cross buns and look like hot cross buns too. All I need now is for them to taste like hot cross buns, and for that I need the butter.

The second task has been to deal with a problem that has arisen in the UK.

Despite having left the UK well over 30 years ago I still have “certain interests” there. I’ve felt for some time that I’ve been sitting on a kind-of time bomb, waiting for it to go off and sure enough, about three weeks ago it exploded.

Since then, I’ve had to gather my wits, gird up my loins, bite the bullet and any other metaphors that you care to name and think that at least, I’ve had all of this time to benefit by 30-odd years of peace, but now is the time to pay the price.

What annoys me is that if anything had been said beforehand, I wouldn’t have reaped the benefit that I had, but the issues would have been resolved much sooner. So, if anything, I’m annoyed at all the silence previously, not at the bomb actually going off

So now I need to get on and deal with it. Or, rather, have it dealt with, because I’m not going to the UK ever again.

The last time that I was in the UK for pleasure was in 2011. In 2013 I was there for half a day to pick up a lorry-load of slates to deliver to Central France and then in 2019 when Rosemary and I went to Aberdeen to pick up our ship to take up to the High Arctic of Canada. That’s quite enough.

Tea tonight was something from the European Burger Mountain, with pasta and veg. Simple and delicious thanks to the onion and garlic with the burger and to the spicy tomato sauce in which the pasta was soaked.

So early for once, I’m going to go to bed and dream of hot cross buns. But it will probably be something extremely obscure involving my family. Not a trace of anyone whom I would like to see, such as Zero, Castor and TOTGA

But talking of Agatha Christie though in a dream last night reminds me that Nerina once told me that she wished that she could have been Agatha Christie
"why is that, dear?" I asked
"Well, she married an archaeologist, Sir Max Mallowan"
"What’s that got to do with anything?"
"Well" she said "if I had married an archaeologist, the older I became, the more interested he’d be in me"

Tuesday 26th March 2024 – THE SMELLS IN …

… my kitchen are delicious right now.

Sitting in there cooling down at the moment is another honey flapjack, and as well as that, there are two dozen mixed nut and fig biscuits cooling too. And there would have been more biscuits too, and probably some other stuff besides, if I had a big oven

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … there’s a proper built-in oven sitting downstairs in Caliburn along with the unit to build it in, but it’s beyond my capabilities to bring it upstairs . How I would love to have this up here working properly with plenty of room to do stuff.

But I shall just have to dream about it right now and make the best of what I have.

And I did too, with a full little oven crammed to the gills with food happily baking., I’ve been a busy boy this afternoon. And just as well because I’d run out of flapjack and of biscuits and I needed some more.

It was a busy night last night too with everything that I needed to do and once more it was midnight or thereabouts when I finally made it into bed. I really need to be much better-organised than I am in the evening if I’m going to be in bed at a reasonable time.

It took much longer than I would have liked to go to sleep too so I didn’t have much in the way of decent sleep and I was really in no mood for anything when the alarm went off this morning.

Nevertheless I made it out of bed and the first thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. 15.9/10.0, compared to last night’s 17.4/12.0. That was quite high for last night so I wonder what had wound me up before I went to bed

Next stop the kitchen to sort out the medication, and then to arrange everything for Isabelle the nurse. And it’s a good job that I did because she was early for once and she doesn’t ring the doorbell downstairs to give me advance warning of her arrival as does her compadre.

She seems to think that there’s an improvement with my legs, but I can’t see it. I’m sure that she’s exaggerating, or maybe she’s just fed up of coming here every day like this.

After she had left I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, who had come with me. Nerina and I had been apart for several years. I’d been working in the Social Services with children. After she’d been wherever it was that she’d been she came back. She was in a Ford Granada saloon, sitting in the front on the passenger side. When the car came and the driver stopped the vehicle she just sat there. I carried on with what I was doing outside. After a while she came out of the car and came over to see me. She said “after all these years that we’ve not seen each other, I’m here now and you ignore me”. I replied “I’m waiting for you to adjust yourself and get used to the idea of being back etc”. I also said that I was rather scared. She replied “you tell me your story now about all these disadvantaged children”. I wondered how I was going to tell it – which children I was going to mention because there were so many and different kinds of confusion that I didn’t really need because I wasn’t in any state to cope with this kind of issue at the moment

And if Nerina were to turn up here now after all this time, whether in a Ford Granada saloon or not, I’d certainly have a shock and probably wouldn’t be in any state to cope with that kind of issue.

But I do have to say that it wouldn’t be unwelcome in the sense that it would be if it were someone of the family in which I grew up. After all, I actually chose her so I must have liked her and you can’t unlike someone just like that. We were just driving down a very bumpy road and bits of our relationship simply fell off

Add to the fact that I was in a very dark place at the time and had so many problems of my own to deal with that there was no room in my head in which to fit any other problems.

As long as she doesn’t want me to tell her about Zero, Castor and TOTGA.

But I’ll tell you something for nothing, and that is that there’s more chance of her turning up at the door than anyone else of my family, I can say without any fear of contradiction.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was in the office at work. Someone rang up and asked to speak to “Paul”. I asked “Paul who?” because there were three or four but he didn’t know. He couldn’t read the writing so we stayed on the phone and deciphered the scrawl for a couple of minutes and found out who we thought was the correct Paul and I transferred the call. I had some post to distribute around the office so I went to take it before I went home. A couple of the girls were in so I asked them why the girls didn’t wear their school uniforms to work any more. They replied that the boss didn’t like it. I replied “never mind” and handed out the post to the correct people then came back into my room ready to pack up my stuff and leave. Someone, a guy, came into the office and asked “you aren’t leaving yet, are you?”. I replied “after I pack up, I am. Why?”. “I want to talk to you about a phone call I’ve just had”. “That’s nothing to do with me” I replied. “Someone asked to speak to ‘Paul someone’ and we worked out who it was and it was you so I passed the call through. That’s all that I did about this phone call. The rest of it is nothing to do with me whatsoever”. He began to search through the post on my desk as if he was looking for something so with nothing better to do I let him carry on and hoped that he’d be satisfied and clear off, and I could go home.

That’s usually the way to deal with people like that – let them get on with it and ignore them. It’s his time that he’s wasting, not mine. I’d just grab my coat and go home, and leave him in possession of whatever he would want to possess.

There was plenty of time to review my Welsh stuff for the course today but it didn’t go as planned as even though I felt keen and enthusiastic, which is a very rare situation these days, I still didn’t make much progress and in fact made something of a dog’s breakfast of my course.

It’s just that I simply can’t think, and when I can I can’t think quickly enough. And then nothing whatever is sticking in my teflon, non-stick brain

And that totally beats me into a state of despair. I’ve no idea how to fic it, no idea how to cure it and no idea how to cope with it either. In fact, all I know is that I’m a bit of a mess right now.

Still, as Bob Dylan said, "The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keeping on"

And whose hair used to be a lovely, gorgeous shade of red when I knew her? But we won’t meet again some day on the avenue, unfortunately.

When the Welsh lesson was over I came to make my stuff.

For the flapjack it’s basically a mixture of oats, flour, butter, sugar and seeing as I don’t have any syrup, some honey. And there’s all kinds of seeds, dried fruit and chopped nuts in it too

It’s quite simple to make and very nutritious. It makes a change from the fruit buns that I usually make for breakfast.

And then the biscuits. That’s just a basic 10/8/4 mix of flour, butter and sugar, and added in were a pile of chopped almonds and brazil nuts and chopped figs, with some vanilla and orange essence of course.

Had there been room in the oven I could have added many more things in too such as oats, honey, coconut, other fruits. Your imagination can run totally wild with biscuits. A couple of dessert spoons of cocoa powder make nice chocolate biscuits too but that’s for maybe next time.

Tea tonight was a taco roll, delicious as usual with some of the stuffing left over from last night. There’s plenty left for a leftover curry too. I need to lengthen it I reckon, so there will be a small can of lentils or chick peas added in. I’m rather low on potatoes right now and I need my chips at the weekend.

So right now I’m going to hit the hay and home for a better day at my Welsh class tomorrow. I’m working on the principle that if you throw enough whatsit at a wherever, some of it may stick eventually. But it’s taking a long time.

And time is something that I don’t have much of. I feel like the actor that I saw in a film as a child – "Oh Lord give me patience! And hurry!"

But it’s not patience that I need. It’s success and achievement, rather like the kamikaze pilot from Crewe who flew 17 missions during World War II.

There was actually a Japanese kamikaze pilot in World War II who went to his instructor to complain. "I don’t know what it is" he said "but I keep on missing the ships. What am I doing wrong?"
"That’s not a problem" replied the instructor. "I’ll show you how to do it. But I’m only going to show you the once, and then you’re on your own."

Monday 11th March 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 20th February 2024 – MY WELSH CLASS …

… passed surprisingly well today and I’ve no idea why.

It’s not as if I’ve done anything different at all. I’m still having no end of trouble trying to remember anything with this teflon brain that I have. And “teflon” because nothing seems to stick to it.

Homer Simpson is famous for saying "every time I learn something new, it pushes something old out". My problem is the opposite. I can sing you any kind of song lyrics from any kind of obscure rock song of the late 1960s but trying remember why I’ve just walked into the kitchen is something else entirely

So I have this brain, but nothing is sticking to it.

At least I can remember where my bed is. That would be a catastrophe if I couldn’t.

But I couldn’t remember to go to it at any kind of reasonable time. It was another depressingly late night and I have to stop doing it. I ought to be going to bed much earlier than I do.

Even though it was only a short night, it was a comfortable one without too much tossing and turning. When the alarm went off I was in our bedroom at Gainsborough Road checking on Nerina. She seemed to be fast asleep tucked up under the blankets so I whispered gently “I’m just going up for my lunch now” and turned to go. Just then the alarm went off. I thought to myself “it’s just typical, isn’t it? I’ve just made sure that Nerina’s nice and comfortable and now she’s going to be awoken by the alarm”.

However it was in fact mine in my bedroom, Billy Cotton shouting his WAKEY WA…..KEY! to half of the street and the people on the Ile de Chausey so I fell out of bed and checked my blood pressure. Only 15.4/9.6 this morning compared to 17.6/10.6 last night. Things are getting better.

There was a full house of medication this morning. I have all of the pills and tablets that I need for another few weeks, as well as four injections that my cleaner brought me yesterday. In fact I’m not really short of much at all right now so I fail to understand how my next LeClerc delivery next week is going to be over €60:00 and 33 items. I must be going all suburban these days instead of living the usual hand-to-mouth.

Back in here I had a listen to the rest of the dictaphone notes from the night. This was the story of Springsteen’s first album. It was a totally unexpected hit and how the leader of the group – it wasn’t Bruce Springsteen – was actually in the bath when the news broke. All of the reporters and journalists came his way but he didn’t understand what was going on either. When the reporters found out that it was Bruce Springsteen who had written them some of the journalists tried to interview him but he was ready with a quip about how his girlfriend had written one of the tracks but no-one wanted to talk to her. But they were all taken aback by the success. Springsteen related to the fact that none of them could actually speak the language that was being used. It was all a kind of elite grammar and pronunciation whereas Morse and his friends came from the back streets and spoke in a different fashion than Sprinsteen who had written most of the lyrics of the songs.

But this is really the Springsteen story. When Columbia Records fist saw him he was a solo artist playing his acoustic guitar and they immediately thought “the new Bob Dylan” and signed him up. When he turned up with all of this friends and their electric instruments Columbia Records was so disappointed and shunted him off to a studio out in the sticks

With no promotion his first couple of albums bombed but I remember back in the 70s seeing a television programme in which he was complaining about the lack of back-up. And then BORN TO RUN happened.

And although Springsteen’s then-girlfriend Karen Darvin didn’t write any of the lyrics, it’s been claimed that the song SHE’S THE ONE, one of my favourites and for obvious reasons too, refers to her.

"no matter where you sleep tonight or how far you run
Whoa – she’s the one, she’s the one"

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … bed, an office trip had been proposed and various people were thinking of going but the organisation was completely chaotic. The person who had taken on the job had suddenly fallen ill. In the end they managed to complete something and have some people ready to go, so everyone was ready for the next weekend. In te meantime they’d proposed some kid of race and I took part in it. I just followed someone round until the last minute and then overtook them and went through the chequered flag but she came and berated me for not telling everyone about this office trip. I told her that I hadn’t organised it. When she asked who had, I gave her a list of people whom I knew, all of whom are off sick. “I don’t even know who’s going but I’m sure that you can find someone around the office who can give you the information and see whether there are any places left to go”.

And I suppose we’ll now have all the old jokes about the certain people who were so disappointed when they learned that that proposed “Office Outing” referred to a day trip at the races.

But the funniest thing that I knew about office trips was the person who proposed a day trip on Concorde (when Concorde was flying) to somewhere interesting at a price not unadjacent to several hundred pounds per head.

He collected all of the money and when all of the passengers turned up at the airport they found that no such trip had been arranged and their erstwhile colleague had disappeared with all the money.

That’s the kind of thinking that I appreciate. It’s certainly a most elaborate and novel way to hand in your notice.

Having dealt with the dictaphone notes I revised for my Welsh lesson for a couple of hours and then went to make some coffee. The bread and butter pudding went the Way of the West on Monday so we’re back on the fruit buns.

The bread and butter pudding was in some senses a big disappointment. I made it beautifully and it tasted really nice too, but nature overwhelmed it quicker than I could eat it. Even dividnng it up into weekly amounts didn’t work if, like this last lot, there was a day that overran a weekend for some reason.

So we had a really good lesson and for a change I finished on the podium during a class quiz. And that’s something that hasn’t ever happened before.

This afternoon I had a little relax without doing very much for a couple of hours, and then attacked the radio notes. I’ selected, paired off and joined up all of the music for the first one and even begun to dictate the notes for it.

And while I was at it I even began to choose the music for the following programme. And if I manage to do that and dictate both lots of notes I’ll be up to the end of October once I’ve edited and assembled the backlog.

Having a stock saved up for the future is a good plan, and for obvious reasons too. I intend to live on, long after I’ve gone.

So having sent off the programme for this weekend, I went and made tea. A taco roll with stuffing, with rice and veg.

As for my new mayonnaise, the taste is absolutely delicious but it’s too thick. I was hoping that it would pour out of the bottle but it’s even thicker than store-bought mayonnaise. Next time I’ll use more milk to make it thinner so that it’ll pour.

So while the mayonnaise isn’t exactly what I wanted, it’s certainly proper mayonnaise as mayonnaise is supposed to be, and I’m not going to be troubled by vampires while I have any of this around the place. I might have gone a little overboard with the garlic.

IN a few minutes I’ll be going to bed. Despite a few wobbles here and there I’ve kept on going all through the day so I’m quite tired. A good sleep will do me good because I have plenty to do. My hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche tells me that "at present there are such goings-on that everything is at a standstill" and that sounds about right.

But not that I have much hope of doing it. When PG Wodehouse used to write his novels he said that quite often "I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit".

In my case though, it’s a keyboard and I curse a lot.

Monday 19th February 2024 – I HAD A …

… visitor last night. One of my favourite young ladies came to see me, and I even ended up waltzing with her.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Castor – since she turned her back on me and walked so dramatically to her ‘plane on that deserted, windswept airstrip in the High Arctic in September 2019.

Those three days were probably the most dramatic of my life but the World isn’t yet ready to hear the story. However, they were three days that changed my life for ever.

Samuel Gurney Cresswell, the British naval officer and painter who ha accompanied McClure on his trip into the Arctic via the Western passage, witnessed the frightening and dramatic brushes with death that the expedition had in the Ice and seen McClure change almost overnight from an ebullient, gung-ho cavalier to a frightened, timid mouse, wrote that "A voyage to the High Arctic ought to make anyone a wiser and better man"

My previous expedition ought therefore to have taught me a lesson, but the following year, as Kenneth Williams once said, "I was so far in that only my head was showing".

But be that as it may, for once I was in bed early last night, and isn’t that a change?

When the alarm went off, it took me quite by surprise and it was a real struggle to leave the bed this morning. Nevertheless, the blood pressure this morning was a mere 13.7/7.4 – and last night it was 45.4/10.4. It looks as if that blood pressure medication is slowly working on me.

It’s taken its time, that’s all I can say.

We had a little medication issue this morning. The chemist had to order a box of medication because she had none in stock. It didn’t arrive until this morning by which time I’d run out. My cleaner didn’t bring it round until this afternoon by which time it was too late to take it.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone note from the night. The cleaner came and awoke me this morning at 04:15. I don’t know why and I don’t know what happened but I was awake. I’d been with a rock group earlier. I’d been in and out but I’d been called back to play because the leader had died. We’d had a play and everything went well. We did this big concert which everyone seemed to enjoy. Afterwards when things had quietened down and people had left we all had a meeting to discuss events. They asked me what was my greatest feeling during this particular concert. I replied that it was a very personal moment. They all insisted and insisted, so after a while I was obliged to tell them

And then later on Castor was here! I was going round to drive a taxi for someone. It was quite a big family and they’d left me a pile of instructions. There was a taxi job to do from Stoke on Trent into Crewe followed by one from Manchester Airport. I had to fill the car up afterwards because he had an early morning job. I did the Stoke on Trent one and then went to Manchester Airport via Tarporley to go to see the girl whom I know there. From there, I went to Manchester Airport, fuelled up the car, picked up the passenger and came back to Crewe then carried on taxi-driving until it was time to go home. I cashed up and left the petrol receipt on the table as I usually did. Next day I went round to see how everything went and began to chat to one of his daughters, who was Castor. We had a really good chat until eventually she wandered off. I carried on doing what I was doing then on my way home out of the house I went into one of the bedrooms, which was actually outside and you went into it by a set of stairs and she was there with her younger sister teaching her to write. They were having something of an argument about how the “e” and the “s”, to make sure that there was no confusion. I watched for a while and then had a little chat to Castor. I said “maybe I’ll see you tomorrow”. She said “you aren’t coming this evening? as if to drive the taxi. I asked “why? Will you be here?”. She replied “no, I’m going to a party. I have to go to buy a dress at 17:00”. I asked about the party. It turned out that it was a grown-ups’ affair, not a kids’ affair and everyone would be there in formal dress, suits and ties, that kind of thing. We chatted about this for a while. In the end she looked me in the eye and asked “would you like to come with me?”. Of course I said “yes” so we we were there at this party and people began to dance. It was a waltz so I picked her up from her chair but she said that she couldn’t dance so I was there on the dance floor teaching her how to waltz with my arm around her etc.

The “girl in Tarporley” by the way was the one who wanted me to abandon Tuppence, my old black cat. But no-one comes between me and my cat.

She was a very anti-social cat who used to go to hide if anyone came to the house, but she set out to drive away that girl who was in danger of taking her place as mistress of the house.

With Nerina though, Tuppence didn’t have the opportunity. Nerina loves cats as much as I do and when she saw Tuppence the first time that she came to my house, it was “ohhh, a cat!” and Tuppence was in her arms before the poor cat had time to think about it

There is however quite a funny story involving a “first time” between Tuppence, Nerina and me, but it’s another one for which the World will have to wait for another time.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I stepped back into that dream (so don’t let me tell you that I never step back into dreams that feature my three young ladies) and was dancing with Castor again, doing a waltz with her.

So after all this time, Castor puts in another appearance in my nocturnal voyages. Welcome back.

And dancing with her was the best that I could do. Still, it’s better than nothing at all. George Bernard Shaw allegedly said that dancing was "a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire" so I shall just have to be content with the perpendicular expression and leave the rest, if there ever is any more, for another time.

The saddest part though is how we parted. As I said, I couldn’t understand it until two years or so ago when I had to say goodbye to someone at an airport. And had I known how difficult it would be to leave someone, I’d have departed like that too (except that it wasn’t me departing, but never mind)

Some goodbyes have to be said like that. My suitcase wasn’t big enough to bring both her and STRAWBERRY MOOSE back to Europe.

Having dealt with the dictaphone (and there was more, but you don’t want to read it if you are finishing your meal or something) I made a start on the work for the day.

Not that I managed to go very far because Rosemary rang me with a problem with which she needed help. It concerned one of these on-line meeting programs, and what do I know about those? I did what I could anyway.

Ther’s talk that she and a few people from the Auvergne might come to see me soon. That will be nice. Not that I can do very much right now, but nevertheless I might be able to manage something, even if it’s just to sit in a car or a café and chat.

Having finished my chat with Rosemary someone else then wanted a chat and what with one thing and another (and once you start, you’d be surprised how many other things there are) it was quite late when I finally restarted work and I eventually managed to finish the radio programme that I started yesterday.

And then I was hunting down some more music that I need and eventually found it. Then I had to extract it, reformat it and re-mix it so that it’s suitable for broadcast. There are still a few more songs that I need for the next programme but I’ll deal with that tomorrow after my Welsh class tomorrow morning.

Going round and round on the playlist for the last couple of days has been Bruce Springsteen.

Just like Neil Young, his battles with depression have led to some really diverse music. There’s the very dark, moody, brooding NEBRASKA written when he’s in the pit, contrasting with the exuberance of some of the songs of BORN IN THE USA written when he was on the crest of a wave.

But all through his music is the spectre of the Failed American Dream. I was told once by someone with whom I used to work that "the USA is a great place to succeed, but a terrible place in which to fail". All over the USA there are the evident signs of failure and depression and much of Springsteen’s music is about those.

His song THE RIVER is probably one of the saddest songs of all as it follows the downhill spiral of Bruce Springsteen’s brother – teenage pregnancy, unemployment and despair. It sums up much of the hidden USA that’s never shown in the media.

"Down to the river, but I know that the river is dry". All his hopes and dreams are washed away.

But the track that I’ve been listening to is RACING IN THE STREET off DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN.

That’s a really sad track about two ageing men desperately trying to cling on to their long-gone youth while the wife of the singer, who was with him in his youth, now sits at home alone in despair.

It’s something that I’ve actually lived. Substitute “From the fire roads to the interstate” to “From the fire roads to the Trans-Canada Highway” and I’ve been there, done that, with various people.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … you could move the whole of southern New Brunswick into Tennessee and neither the Tennesseens or the New Brunswickers would ever notice the difference. Living there for months on end was in danger of turning me into a redneck.

But never mind that for a moment. Aren’t the lyrics "She stares off alone into the night with the eyes of one who hates for just being born" some of the saddest lyrics you have ever heard?

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper. And really delicious too with the stuffing made of couscous. That was a good invention, that was and I’m glad that it worked so well.

So now I’m off to bed, to sleep and have pleasant dreams. And hopefully Castor will come back to me again, although it’s unlikely.

While we’re on the subject of Springsteen … "well, one of us is" – ed … in “The River” you probably heard him sing "is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?" I can answer that question.

And that is that it’s something worse. My dreams don’t ever come true and I’m never likely ever to dance a waltz with Castor. I won’t ever see her again in real life.

But not to worry. Gene Kelly said "you dance love, you dance joy and you dance dreams" and I shall just have to dance the dreams, that’s all. Remember that Neitzsche said "those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music", and I’ve always been able to hear the music

That’s what’s kept me going.

Saturday 10th February 2024 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… miserable night with very little sleep.

How many is this now just recently? I’m feeling like death right now.

Just for a change I was in bed at a respectable time and went to sleep quite quickly – but not for long.

It wasn’t the burning sensation but instead an agonising pain in both my ankles. It was a real killer. Every time I moved and the bedding touched the sore points on the ankles the pain drove me through the roof

Strangely enough, when the alarm went off and my ankles were still wracked with pain, I was afraid of standing up. But somehow standing up seemed to ease the pain and that surprised me. I wandered off into the kitchen to take my medication with a sigh of relief.

Back in here I had plenty of things to do before I could look at the dictaphone. And to my surprise there was actually something on it from the night. The night can’t have been as bad as I thought. “The Mole”, a Welsh poem, was written by someone with the aim of aiding people with Educational difficulties by learning French but it didn’t have a great deal of support. In some places the Government disliked it and many other organisations disliked it too because they said that it showed disabled people in the wrong batch by segregating them into groups run by them or not but that’s a complete red herring because the whole point is that everyone joins in and gains something from it.

Well, that’s what I said. And you don’t expect me to make any sense out of it, do you?

Rosemary rang up with a quick question. And it was a quick question too – only 52 minutes today. One of our shorter ‘phone calls. She was going out for afternoon tea with a couple who had just come back from Australia so I told her that they might have brought her back a kangaroo seeing that Australia is overrun with kangaroos right now.

During our conversation I told her about the earliest European explorers to go into the interior, and they took a native guide from the coast with them
They saw a strange animal bouncing around and so they asked their native guide what it was.
He replied "kangaroo" so they captured one, put it in a crate, labelled it “kangaroo” and sent it back to Europe where anthropologists officially called it “kangaroo”, by which name it’s been known ever since throughout the world.
So the explorers went back into the interior with their native guide and they saw a strange tree. "What’s that tree called?" they asked the native guide
He replied "kangaroo"
"Don’t be silly" answered the chief explorer. "You told us that the bouncing animal was called a kangaroo. How can the tree be a kangaroo? What’s it called?"
"Kangaroo" he insisted.
The explorers dragged the native guide back to the coast and to his chief. They told him the story of the tree and demanded an explanation.
The chief burst out laughing. "In our language" he said "”kangaroo” means “I don’t know”."

The rest of the day has been spent with some sound tracks, converting them to a format that I can use and then chopping them up into the bits that I want.

But it wasn’t easy. Being exhausted as I am I crashed out two or three times in the middle of something exciting, and I reckon that there will be a few more times before I can go to bed.

And during one of these spells, I was off on my travels. That will give you an idea of how deep the sleep was. I was with a group of people, several of whom I knew and a few who were quite young. Thee was something organised at the local church and one of the women and I Had been up quite late making food for the event. On our way there one of the small children said “I used to go to Sunday School, didn’t I?”. So we arrived there and that child was shocked to see how people were going in. She piped up “when you go into church you’re supposed to go in quietly and kneel down” in the shocked kind of voice and tone that only a young child can do. Everyone looked at her so I said “we’re all going to have a lecture now about going into church” in a light-hearted was but everyone still looked daggers at us. After the lecture or whatever it was, it was the buffet. And I’ve never seen food disappear so quickly. When I arrived there was very little left. I said in a loud voice to the woman with whom I’d come “what time late at night were we up to making this food?” in attempt to try to shock and embarrass everyone but she replied in a horrified tone “you don’t talk about things like that”. Some woman looked sympathetically at me so I replied “don’t worry. I can always go outside and wait until the event is over. It doesn’t bother me”.

As if you’d really get me into a church. Fair enough, I went into plenty with Marianne but that was out of friendship and respect. I’ve also been in plenty as a tourist too.

However in the UK, the first time that I went into church, someone stuck me in a pool of water. The second time, someone attached me to a strange woman. The next time that I go into a church will be over my dead body.

As for Nerina being strange though, that’s certainly not the truth. If we hadn’t both been under such stress and if I hadn’t been in such a dark place, things might well have been different. As I once said to my niece in Canada, it wasn’t until I met a couple of other girls on a more personal level that I realised how lucky I might have been when I had Nerina.

On another subject that cropped up in that dream, I remember being in a meeting in Toronto in Canada and they announced at the end that there was a buffet.

Seeing a few of my friends on the podium I stopped to chat to them so I was late joining the queue for the food. And when those of us near the end of the queue arrived at the front, the buffet had been totally stripped of food. Yet some people early in the queue had their plates piled high with sandwiches.

What I did was to shrug my shoulders and walk down to the nearest “Subway” and have a sandwich there.

Something else that interrupted me was the football on the internet. In fact I was asleep when the match between Penybont and Y Barri kicked off so I missed the first 25 minutes of it but luckily it was streamed via a recording site so I could go back to the start.

Penybont are having a strange season. For all of their experience and organisation, they are having a wretched season and are in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle.

On the other hand, Y Barri might be low down in the table but as a newly-promoted side and with such a gulf between the Premier League and the feeder leagues, they are coping better than some have expected.

THE MATCH seemed to reflect the situation. Penybont were much more organised but Y Barri played with more flair and improvisation.

The result at the final whistle was probably about fair, I suppose.

Penybont’s Chris Venables was sent off yet again for another stupid off-the-ball incident, and I really don’t understand it. He’s one of the better and more articulate players in the league and could easily be a regular in the “C” International side, yet the problem would be to keep him on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes.

There’s far too much of this niggly off-the-ball stuff in the league and I do wish that some of the players would grow up.

Tea tonight was one of the breaded quorn fillets that I like, now that I’ve had a Leclerc delivery, along with vegan salad and delicious baked potato started in the microwave and finished in the air fryer. And it was so nice that I went and baked myself another potato afterwards.

Now, I have a few notes to dictate before I go to bed, but I’m not sure how I’m going to do it. It’s Carnaval weekend, there are hordes of motor caravans parked on the public carpark outside and crowds are going back and forth singing and making a noise.

For the weekend half of the town join in the celebrations with gusto along with the other 150,000 people who attend here as visitors. As for the other half of the town though, they all make themselves scarce and head for the hills.

For people who don’t want to be here but can’t get away, the constant noise and sound of the entertainment can be quite overwhelming.

In fact, as my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche once remarked, even "little children who could neither walk nor talk were running about in the streets cursing their Maker"

Sunday 4th February 2024 – NOW THAT’S WHAT …

… I call a good Sunday morning.

The kind of Sunday morning when I slowly raise my head from underneath the quilt, blink in the daylight, glance at my fitbit and find that it’s actually 11:30.

Yes, we really need a few more like those.

Mind you, I’ve no idea what time I went to bed, but it was extremely late, that’s for sure.

There were the notes for three radio programmes for a start – the one that of which I made such an unholy mess last week, the one that I prepared this week just gone that would replace the Isle of Wight one, and the notes for the Hawkfest

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the last time that I tried to dictate so many programmes one after the other I ended up tying my tongue in knots a long time before the final programme, and this was what happened here. When I get round to dealing with it, I’ll probably find that it’s a complete mess.

But that’s for another time. Eventually I staggered off to bed.

The night was quite peaceful and I can’t remember too much about it except that I dropped the dictaphone and had to search for it. It’s amazing, the things that I can do in my sleep. I just wish that I could work so well when I’m awake.

But awake I was at 11:30 and having taken my blood pressure (18.1/10.9 this morning, 19.8/12.4 last night) I wandered off in search of medication. But I can tell you something for nothing, and that is that this blood pressure medication that I’m taking isn’t working.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. This apparently might be the last message that you receive from me because I might be able to try to become a Limited Company but that isn’t quite so sure but according to the Statutes laid out by King Edward I, II, III and IV and everyone else I might not qualify according to them and according to some others as well. But if so I shall have to keep much better accounts of my income and outgoings than I do now and that’s not going to be easy because me keeping strict and proper accounts of anything is almost impossible as regular readers of this rubbish will recall but you can but try. Instead of me being in the dock it will be the company of course but the company secretary and that is going to cause problems too. I could easily imagine that for this limited company of mine I would never ever find anyone to share the responsibility but we’ll have to see.

And I’ve absolutely no idea what that was all about, or even where it had come from. We had been talking about people using this big tax fiddle of setting themselves up as “service companies” but I’m not likely to fall into the category of people who would benefit from such an arrangement.

But any of that notwithstanding, it wasn’t my last message because there was a couple more.

Someone came along to give us a talk about vehicles. It was hosted by a famous TV personality he said that he’d now left the TV world and was working for Ford’s and would be on TV next week telling everyone why Ford’s was the best company for which to work. But another guy came along and talked about vehicles and their importance in society. He asked several questions, one of which was “how do we deal with them at the end of their life?”. People came up with the idea of recycling or dismantling or quite simply throwing away. He wanted to know a few examples of people’s activities. I was dying to talk to him about dismantling but for some reason he seemed to ask everyone else in the room except me. I had the idea of thinking about my time at Gainsborough Road when I was always doing stuff like that but he just never seemed to come round to talk to me.

And I wish that I had £1:00 for every Ford Cortina MkIII or MkIV I’ve dismantled in my back garden in Gainsborough Road during the 1980s. People would always be bringing MoT failures to me and I’d strip them for useful bits for the taxis and the rest would go under my gas axe.

Sometimes one would be in better condition than one of my taxis so with maybe a little welding they’d be back on the road. On one occasion Nerina and I drove all the way around Hungary in what had been an MoT failure at one time

The story of my welding equipment was interesting. I wanted to weld up a car so I borrowed a set of bottles, pipes and torches from someone who used to work with my father.

When I rang him back a while later, his wife told me "I’m sorry but he has died"
"Well I have some things of his here."
"Don’t worry about them" she said. "He won’t need them now where he is" so I acquired a complete set of gas-welding equipment.

Regrettably I don’t have it now. Just before I left for Belgium I lent it all to a friend. And due to circumstances that I outlined a few weeks ago I won’t ever see it again, along with a pile of other stuff.

But this story of going round the room asking everyone questions except me – that rings a bell.

After I’d retired for the first time I went to work for a bizarre American company where I met Alison.

They were shedding clients like nobody’s business and after a while they began to be concerned (probably about 10 years too late).

In the meantime I’d been making a list of how things could be improved and I ended up with a bulging notebook with all kinds of examples. And one day we had a big meeting to discuss the situation

The manager went all around the room asking for suggestions and when she came round to me, took one look at my notebook on the table and said "well, it’s nearly 17:00. We’ll call it a day at this point".

So I went back to my desk, took out all of my personal stuff from the drawers and walked out. They didn’t pay me enough to put up with this nonsense.

But this was not my first (and not my last) experience of Corporate America

There was a major problem with a printer set-up and I had to negotiate with the New York office about it. I was talking to the guy there on a Friday evening. It was 18:00 our time, 12:00 their time.

The problem couldn’t be resolved then and there so he said he’d think about it during his afternoon and call me back on Monday.

Monday came and no ‘phone call so I rang him up just before I went home at 18:00.

Someone in his office answered. "Oh, (so-and-so)? He was made redundant on Friday."

No notice, no warning, nothing. Out of the door more-or-less on the spot I would imagine.

Anyone who is opposed to the idea of Trades Unions ought to go and spend a few weeks working in Corporate America. The Americans in our office were totally paralysed with fear about their jobs.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was at work and feeling hungry so I went to the staff café but they had no sandwiches. I asked why and she said that the sandwich tray was on the floor above until 13:00 and it won’t come down until then. I contented myself with a cup of coffee for a while. Later on the woman beckoned me over. The sandwich tray had arrived but I couldn’t make out which sandwich to have. Then I noticed that for €3:50 (the price of 2 sandwiches was €4:00) I could have a kind of cheese platter with various types of cheese on it, some bread and even some additions like olives and onions to put on it and sauce in which to dip it. I thought that that sounded so much nicer than having a couple of sandwiches

And wouldn’t I love to have a cheese platter right now? Unfortunately it’s out of the question. No pancreas (or, at least, a non-working pancreas) means no animal fats of any description. Hence a vegan diet and the diabetes type 2.

That’s another issue with which I had to contend 30-odd years ago. What with all of my demons and everything else that I was fighting at the time, a major illness was the last thing that I wanted to face, but there I was.

But anyway, after lunch I had a very slow, desultory canter through one of the sound files that I recorded last night and eventually ended up completing to programme that I had assembled last weekend and which was a total mess.

But re-dictating and re-editing the notes, reassembling the programme in exactly the same was as far as I could remember I was short by … errr … 1.221 seconds short compared to what I’d assembled last week, and if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is.

That kind of time can soon be taken up and so that’s now ready, with two more to edit during the coming week.

Tea tonight was a vegan pizza and it was excellent of course. However it would have been so much better had I remembered to put on the cherry tomatoes. I really don’t know what’s the matter with me these days.

They say that the side effects of a couple of these pills that I’m taking is “confusion” but I don’t need any pills for that. I’ve been confused for most of my life. In fact when Led Zeppelin wrote DAZED AND CONFUSED they were obviously thinking about me. I’ve been dazed and confused for so long it’s not true.

In fact I feel rather like my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche when he argued with his tailor and said "I told you to make one longer than another, and instead you have made one shorter than the other – the opposite"

Perhaps I ought to go to bed while I’m still awake.

Thursday 1st February 2024 – I HAD A …

… visitor last night.

There I was, tucked well up under the bedclothes but in my head I could see my bedroom door

And then in came Zero

Whether or not I was dreaming, or whether or not I was hallucinating after taking another dose of that horrible sand-like medicine I really don’t know. It could have been either, I suppose

All that I could say is that it wasn’t for real. And isn’t that a shame?

It’s been a while since she put in an appearance. Apart from Castor who featured in a little voyage, the first for quite a while, a couple of weeks ago, my three favourite young ladies seemed to have fallen out of the picture.

Several others, such as The Vanilla Queen, have long ago dropped off the edge of whatever it is that goes on at night and I really would be disappointed if Castor, TOTGA and Zero were to go the same way, so it’s really nice to see Zero back in the fold again.

But while we’re on the subject of last night … "well, one of us is" – ed … instead of the nice early night that I promised myself, I ended up spending almost an hour cleaning the heads of a printer. How long should it take to print a medical prescription of one page of A4?

Having crashed out well and proper after tea, I was already running far later than I intended and that was the last thing that I needed.

And so in bed there I was and my mind was a-roving like it does. I was at work and one of my colleagues, a big aggressive guy, was complaining about one of our other colleagues who would never come when he was called. You had always to go to fetch him and he never seemed to be awake. This guy said “he’ll soon be awake in a minute. I’m going to sort him out”. He strode off down to the other end of the office. All of a sudden I heard my alarm go off and the strident tones of Billy Cotton, minus Band Show, shouting “WAYKEY WAY …… KAY!” followed by the opening bars of “Somebody Stole My Gal” just like he used to do on the radio when we were kids. I thought to myself “God! It’s not me he’s talking about, is it?”.

Yes, that’s my alarm call in the morning. I used to have David Bowie and WAKE UP LITTLE SLEEPY-HEAD but I’d sleep through that. No danger of anyone sleeping through Billy Cotton – not even my neighbours.

So having discovered that that was actually a dream, I fell out of bed and went for the blood pressure machine. A mere 17.8/12.7 this morning, compared to 17.6/10.1 last night. Obviously Billy Cotton gives me quite a jolt in the morning.

Mind you, having said that, I took last night’s blood pressure before I had the printer issues. I wonder what it would have been like afterwards.

In the kitchen, I had the medication – the last of this SODIUM POLYSTYRENE SULPHIDE and it really does say “polystyrene” on the label.

Last night I sent a mail to the hospital to say that if they wanted me to continue to use it they would have to send a repeat prescription, but they haven’t so it looks for the moment as if that’s it.

So it will be interesting to see if that’s the drug that’s causing me all these problems, or whether it’s one of the other new ones.

But on the other hand, thanks to my poor cleaner, there’s another new medication to start taking tomorrow, so that’s bound to stir up the deck a little.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night, because there was more than just Zero and a rude awakening. There was another long dream that seemed to go on for ever about me playing bass in a band. We were supporting Hawkwind. A little later on I’d had my illness and Hawkwind held a benefit concert for me. Things were slowly deteriorating and I’d been called back to the hospital again. They were to review all of my medication and change some of it. That didn’t bother me because it’s not the first time. When I went back in there was a football match on TV. I was back in at a certain time but they were running hours late so I had to amuse myself during this particular time. On the TV was a football match between Crewe Alexandra against someone. It was a match that I really wanted to see. Crewe played really well and in the end won 3-1. It was extremely important because it kept their place alive in the promotion. Then it was one of these films in black and white, cowboys from the 1930s and 40s with John Wayne, but first a film that actually went back further than that to the date of American independence about them being in forts and travelling from one fort to the next. I really can’t remember much more than this about this dream but it went on for ever.

We also has the European Union launching a space rocket. We were involved in the final preparations for its departure. There was no actual countdown as such which surprised us completely because everyone would like to know how long they have to do various jobs. We were working away and occasionally a voice would announce “20 minutes to blast-off” or something but there was no clock, no person giving the time and we had no idea what was happening. In the end we had everything ready and were waiting for the astronauts. Of course one of them had to use the bathroom, didn’t he? That was when the timing became critical. he really had to rush and even the person who said “10 seconds to blast-off” made some kind of remark. In the end he must have been back because ignition took place on time and the rocket left.

On the subject of rockets, the British had a space rocket at one time and it was called “The Civil Servant”. When asked why it was given the name, a Government spokesman replied "it costs the country a fortune, it won’t work and we can’t fire it"

Somewhere along the line there was a young girl who somehow managed to fall into a lake. There were two of us walking through the park talking and we dived in, rescued her and put her back on land. We just carried on walking and didn’t think anything of it. A week or so later Nerina was talking about a colleague of hers who worked at the Council who had been fired because he’d been messing up all the street names. For example, Edleston Road in Crewe he’d now changed to Market Street but Market Street was somewhere else in the town. It was all starting to become crazy. In the end he was fired. Nerina told me a story about how he was painting the yellow lines marking the edge of pavements in the wrong place. On one occasion he’d put them so wrong at a lake that a girl had fallen in and two men had rescued her. I told her that that was us, me and the other person. She was totally surprised about that. She had no idea that I’d dived into the water to save someone.

This reminds me of a time when Nerina saved me from drowning when I once fell into a lake. When her friends asked her how, she replied "Simple. I took my foot off his head".

There was much more to what went on during the night, by the way, but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your meal right now

After my nice strong black coffee and slice of bread pudding I attacked the Isle of Wight Festival 1968.

Much to my surprise, not only did I manage to track down tons of obscure material by many of the obscure bands that was there, I even found, embedded in a documentary, an elusive 40-second piece of music, the only known recording of the only known concert appearance by a group the basis of which went on to be “Queen”.

You’ve no idea how difficult that was to tease out of its setting, not being helped by being interrupted by my cleaner who brought me another lot of medication.

There was nothing whatever by the group that opened the Festival, an obscure isle of Wight band that didn’t last long and disappeared without trace long before portable home taping. However I found the name of the band’s guitarist and even found a short guitar piece that he played as an advert for a local pub on the island. So that’s in the mix too.

And then I found a major issue. Even though the Festival was officially advertised for the Saturday and Sunday, there were two bands that played on the Friday night to the assembled campers there so I can’t really say that the Festival started on the Saturday morning.

That means that what I’ve done so far will have to wait for another … gulp … five years.

So instead I began to prepare another programme for the missing date. I’ve chosen all of the music for it and even paired some of it off. I would have done even more except that, once more, I was out like a light with no warning whatsoever at about 17:00 and didn’t come round until 18:48 – and then I was in no fit state to do anything for a while.

Tea tonight was different. I have tons of tinned food around the place that I bought when I first moved in here as a kind of emergency reserve if I can’t manage to go out due to illness. It’s now becoming rather well out-of-date so tonight I made myself pasta with a tinned kind-of complement to a dish of couscous and meat.

Of course it wasn’t that simple. I friend some onion and garlic with herbs and spices and then added the couscous vegetables with some tomato sauce before I tipped it into the saucepan with the pasta.

There are chickpeas in the mix so there is some protein going in.

As I use up the tinned stuff I’ll be replacing it with more modern in-date food, but the stuff that I bought from Noz is irreplaceable of course so I don’t know what I’ll do about that.

So with no printer to worry about tonight (as yet – the night is young) and still over an hour to bedtime I’m going to have a bash on the guitar.

Over the last day or two I’ve been having fun with Tom Petty’s version of the Byrds’ version of Bob Dylan’s YOU AIN’T GOIN’ NOWHERE. I thought that the title was somehow appropriate given my state of health these days

“Strap yourself to a tree with roots” as the song goes, but I can’t even go outside to find a blasted oak, never mind a flaming beech.

But leaving that aside, the arrival of country musician Gram Parsons to the Byrds could have been a total disaster and could have completely ruined the band but instead they produced ONE OF THE FINEST ALBUMS OF 1968, which says a lot considering how many fine albums there were that year.

It brings back many happy memories for me singing IN SOUTH CAROLINA THERE ARE MANY TALL PINES as I was driving down through the tall pines of South Carolina in 2005 on my way to Rhys’s wedding.

"But now when I’m lonesome, I always pretend
That I’m getting the feel of hickory wind"

And wouldn’t it be nice to have the feel of hickory wind right now? But if I play my cards right I might not be lonely. Having had Zero through the door last night, whose turn is it tonight?

Knowing my luck, I can guess. It won’t be TOTGA or Castor. But as they used to say, you have to take things as you find them and make the best of it. "In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts" as Théoden said.