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Friday 21st January 2022 – DAY FOUR …

… of my self-enforced confinement is almost over.

And while yesterday was one step forward, today has actually been two steps backward, and that’s really disappointing.

Not going to bed until about 02:35 might explain some of it, but I cheated and switched off the alarm. Consequently it was about 10:00 when I finally surfaced.

It sounds as if it might have been a reasonable amount of sleep (for a change) but when I listened to the dictaphone, it was anything but. I was with TOTGA last night, so it’s not surprising that things were turbulent. We were walking around the town and streets of Crewe, the north side, collecting money for what was supposed to be the TV licence people although I wasn’t convinced that it was. We’d already collected some but then there was the pub to go to – The Royal Scot – and then a pile of houses around there. I suggested going to the Royal Scot first but she suggested that we do the private houses. I didn’t necessarily agree with it but it wasn’t anything for me to particularly worry about. However it turned into one of these arguments that you have, something about nothing. We carried on walking but as we we were walking past the brook in Underwood Lane a woman came out from behind there moaning and grumbling about the TV licence collectors and how the security staff at Tesco have no courage. Another woman on the other side of the road on the green bank there was mowing the grass with a mini-tractor. She told her basically to stop complaining etc. The two of them had an argument which led to the one on the tractor saying “I’m going to have a camp site anyway” to which both TOTGA and I thought was a great idea. The bad-tempered woman didn’t seem to appreciate that there were two other people siding with this woman. It was quite funny thought how this argument between the two of us sprang up out of nothing and I still can’t understand why we ended up arguing about it when it wasn’t really of any importance anyway.

There was another dream that involved TOTGA but I can’t remember much of it, which is quite obviously a shame. Fancy not remembering an encounter with her. We were both on some kind of island but we weren’t supposed to know about each other being here either. Eventually we met up and there was some talk about some other people who weren’t very nice people. We had to go to see them so I shrugged my shoulders and the two of us set off. But there was much more to it than that but I just can’t remember now.

Later on there were quite a few of us on an island. One of the girls, I don’t know who, said that she had seen someone. We all thought that it sounded like Trotsky or Lenin or someone like that. She then described this person and it turned out in fact to be him so we all huddled together while we thought of a plan. In the meantime there were some Christmas decorations but they were out. Feeling around, it seemed that when I had rolled over at some time I’d pulled the wires apart so I was groping around in the dark trying to find these two wires so that I could put them together again.

I’d been at some kind of festivity that had been cancelled. A town had dropped out of it so someone asked me on the radio if I thought that Granville would take its place. I replied that as far as I could see Granville wouldn’t take the place of anyone and wasn’t going to do anything.

Down this path … “which path?” – ed … I walked and I could see a kind of round circle that was lit up and going round and round. I suddenly realised that it must be our headquarters. People came out of the shadows where they had been hiding to welcome us but I awoke just as it was starting to become exciting.

It took me all that was left of the morning to type out that. And I was quite exhausted typing it too. It must have been breath-taking when it was all going on for “real”.

But that wasn’t all that I had to do either. I noticed from yesterday’s entry that two paragraphs had been somehow missed off. And so I had to add them in as well.

As I was late arising, I hadn’t bothered with breakfast so I had a typical Sunday brunch at 13:00 – porridge, toast and strong black coffee, in the hope that the coffee would revive me and there would be less pain in my jaw with the porridge.

The pain was reduced, but not gone completely, and the coffee didn’t work at all. I spent the whole afternoon either writing up the dictaphone notes from previous days or else flat out on the chair fast asleep. And when I awoke I was seriously contemplating crawling into bed and pulling the covers over me because I was absolutely freezing.

That’s one thing that I’ve noticed this week – how cold I’ve been. I’m here right now fully dressed, with a dressing gown on top and the heating going flat out.

Tea was a rather rushed meal out of the freezer because there was football on the internet – TNS v Connah’s Quay. The season has restarted after the Covid break. TNS won at a canter, as you might expect, especially when Connah’s handed them all three goals on a plate. And two goals disallowed too for good measure.

The commentator asked a guest at half time “what do you think Craig Harrison (the Connah’s Quay manager) ought to be doing now?”. The immediate thought that went through my mind was “to persuade Oliver Byrne (the Connah’s Quay keeper) to come off his line”. He’s one of the best shot-stoppers in the league but he won’t come out for crosses. One of the goals and the two disallowed goals could have been prevented if he had come out for crosses instead of staying back on his line.

But now anyway I’m off to bed. Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow when I can finish the dictaphone notes and then crack on with something else. But I’m really not feeling at all like it right now.

And if you think that I’m spending far too much time moaning instead of doing anything, another purpose of these notes is to record my state of health and how I’m feeling about it. It’s quite important that I keep an eye on myself and that I’m able to look back on it in the future and see how it evolved.

Although right now, I don’t see too much of a future.

Saturday 24th April 2021 – THERE ARE MANY …

… things in this life that I don’t understand. And the older that I become, the more I realise that the less and less I actually do understand.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago I was going through a phase of not being able to haul myself out of bed at any price regardless of however many alarms that I set and how loud and for how long I set them.

On Thursday I switched off the alarms so that I could have a lie-in and then on Thursday night before going to bed, I switched them back on.

The chattering birds outside my window, helped by the rattling fridge downstairs, awoke me at about 05:20. And not being able to go back to sleep, I lay awake waiting for the 06:00 alarm.

When I checked the time again, it was actually 06:10 and the alarms hadn’t gone off. It seems that last night I’d set them for 08:00 in error. And had I not been awake and instead slept right through to when the alarms would have actually gone off, I’d have missed my train home.

So what would have been the odds on that in similar circumstances a couple of weeks ago?

And this is what I just don’t understand – that I can actually do it when I have to so why can’t I do it when I don’t have to?

But anyway, there I was, up and about on time so I tidied everything up, made my sandwiches, packed up and headed off for the railway station.

martelarenplein leuven belgium Eric HallHere’s something that is extremely interesting.

Something else that regular readers of this rubbish will recall that not long after I came to live in Leuven in 2016 they closed off the Martelarenplein outside the railway station in order to completely refurbish it. And since then, it’s been all fenced off and the fences covered with tarpaulins so it’s impossible to see through it.

This morning though, some of the tarpaulin covering has been taken away and it’s now actually possible to see what they have been doing for all of this time.

And to be quite honest, it really doesn’t look all that different than it did before, although I do have to say that judging by how the place appears right now, there is still a great deal of work to be done. Another project around the town that has gone on far longer than it ought to have done.

So on the station, I didn’t have to wait too long for my train to come in.

automotrice am96 multiple unit 543 gare de leuven railway station belgium Eric HallThe train that I’m catching this morning is the 08:19 to the Belgian coast, calling at the Airport, and then the city centre before it clears off coastwards.

Just for a change, it’s not one of the depressing and dirty AM80 units but a much more modern AM96, the type with the rubber bellows and the swivelling drivers’ cabs. Bang on time it was when it pulled in and it pulled out on time too.

When we arrived in Brussels I still had 90 minutes to wait before my train came in so I went and sat in the main concourse for a while.

Once I’d worked out where my train would be arriving (there’s only a choice of 2 platforms for the Thalys and the train to Amsterdam pulled into one of them) I went up there to wait.

A few minutes later I was joined by a young lady. “This platform is quite big and lonely and there aren’t many people about” she said. “Would you mind if I waited near you? I’d feel safer”? She clearly didn’t know me very well.

Thalys PBKA 4331 gare de brussels midi railway station belgium  Eric HallSoon enough, a train pulled into the station at my platform.

It’s one of the PBKA (Paris – Brussels – Cologne – Amsterdam) units, number 4331, a nice clean and shiny one just out of the carriage wash. But it only had 8 carriages, numbered 1-8 which didn’t really suit me because I had a seat in carriage number 18.

My lady-friend had a seat in carriage 8 so she cleared off to board the train and take her seat. I had a few enquiries to make, such as to go and find an arrivals board to find out what trains were due to arrive in the very near future. That should tell me everything that I need to know.

TGV Réseau 38000 tri-volt 4536 coupling up to Thalys PBKA 4331 gare de brussels midi railway station belgium Eric HallAnd I was quite right too. 5 minutes before my train was due to depart, a TGV was coming into the station from Amsterdam. And sure enough it pulled up at this platform and I had the pleasure of watching them couple up two trainsets together.

This one is one of the PBA (Paris – Brussels – Amsterdam) Reseau 38000 tri-volt trainsets, number 4536, and once it was all coupled up I could take my seat in carriage 18. It was really busy too which is no surprise seeing as it’s the only train to Paris this morning and I’m not sure whether there will be one in the afternoon either.

We set out bang on time and arrived bang on time in Paris too, and there the passengers had to run the gauntlet of a police barrage, checking papers.

Although I don’t have a valid Covid test result, I’ve been out of the country for less than 72 hours and have a Carte de Séjour to prove my address and residence status, so I didn’t have a problem. A really good plan, that, to apply for my Carte de Séjour when I did.

And I’ll tell you something else as well, and that is that the gendarmette who questioned me at the station can detain me for further questioning any time she likes. Actually, I should be being paid by the police force, judging by the number of times that I’ve had to help them with their enquiries.

The metro was quite rapid and when I arrived at Montparnasse I even managed to find a seat, which was just as well because I had a wait of about 90 minutes for my train. I could eat my butties in comfort.

82694 Bombardier B82500 84559 GEC Alstom Regiolis gare de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIt was a 6-carriage train (the one on the right, not the Bombardier B82500 on the left) to Granville and it was packed.

Even worse, there were no reserved seats. But I was one of the lucky ones in that I didn’t have a neighbour so I could fall asleep and drop my laptop on the floor in comfort.

We were held up somewhere in the countryside by electrical current issues but we made up the missing minutes as we hurtled down the line towards the coast.

And when we arrived, actually a couple of minutes early, we’d somehow managed to throw out most of the passengers and there weren’t all that many of us left.

When I’d left Leuven this morning it was pretty cold but here in Granville we were having a heatwave and I had to strip off to walk home, down the steps and through the park.

citroen ami electric car parc de val es fleurs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric HallIn the past we’ve seen some pretty awful and horrible-looking cars but this is one that really takes the biscuit.

It’s a Citroen Ami all-electric car and I do have to say that it’s one of the most hideous that I’ve ever seen.

The climb up the Rue des Juifs was rather painful in the heat and seeing as I’m not feeling myself right now, I had to stop for a breather half-way up the hill and that’s not like me at all. And I can’t blame the shopping that I was carrying because I’ve come up the hill with much more than this.

Having put the cold stuff away I came in here to watch this evening’s football.

And this was the match of the season – TNS, top of the table, against Connah’s Quay Nomads in second place. The Nomads do have some quality but they aren’t consistent enough to do it every week, whereas TNS are like a well-oiled machine and tick over quite smoothly.

Ordinarily we might be expecting a tight game but Nomads have been known to crumble at the most inappropriate times so I don’t think that too many neutral supporters would have had their money on the Nomads.

But while you always find the odd player here and there who has a bad game, it’s very rare to find half a dozen who are having a poor performance all at the same time. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the TNS centre-half pairing of Blaine Hudson and Ryan Astles were having a nightmare match.

Despite having 60% of the ball TNS never really did much with it and Connah’s Quay simply swept them aside. Michael Wilde, a player released by TNS a few seasons ago, scored a hat-trick and Jamie Insall scored a fourth while Astles and Hudson stood around watching them.

In the end TNS had 5 strikers on the field and while they did manage to score one early in the game, they never ever looked likely to trouble the Nomads back line and when they were awarded a penalty towards the end of the game, Oliver Byrne in the Nomads goal saved it quite comfortably.

It’s been about 20 years since I’ve been watching the Welsh Premier League and I have never ever seen TNS play so badly as they did today, although a lot of the credit should go to the Nomads back 4 and Callum Morris just in front of them who stopped almost everything that TNS tried to do.

One thing that I forgot to do until later was to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I’d started out with a former friend of mine and we were in Nantwich, Crewe Road end, going to visit some people. There were two girls there talking away and the guy was some kind of electronics guy and his house was a total tip worse than mine and there was stuff everywhere – all bits and pieces for making radios and so on. These 2 girls were young teenage girls busy talking away and at a certain moment I said to one of them “what language are you speaking? Is it Welsh”? They replied “no, it’s Slovensko”. So I asked “Slovene”? and they replied “no” so I asked “Slovak”? and they said “no” so we agreed that they were talking Czech. I was intrigued to know what they were doing while they were looking at all these bits and pieces. At the end of the road I looked out and there was an old guy on a walkframe, delivering the newspapers. It looked as if he had a paper round. I thought “it’s one way of keeping busy when you are old”. I went off into my shed, rooting around for something. There were all these old people standing around, not saying or doing anything, just standing there and it was making me feel uncomfortable. I of these 2 girls came in and she asked me for something. I couldn’t remember what it was she asked me but she saw it while I was searching through stuff so I let her have one. The other one came in and asked “where’s mine”? So I had to find one for her as well. I told her to make sure that she used it otherwise I’d be wanting it back.

Later on I was in Winsford with my father and a few other people, and Denise was there (as if that was ever likely to happen). One of my sisters was talking to Denise about operations, telling her about how she should have had a breast cancer operation a long time ago. Paul Ross rang up but my father was on the other phone so he couldn’t speak to him. Paul Ross came round and said that yesterday evening Dave Clark had died. We worked out that since Christmas we’d had 4 deaths in the immediate close circle and it was enough to make you wonder who was going to be next. Everyone looked at me but I said “as far as I’m concerned, it’s the creaky gate that hangs the longest, isn’t it”?

Anyway, now I’m off to make some sourdough mix and then I’m going to bed. No alarm in the morning and quite right too as I deserve a lie-in after my efforts today.