… once famously said – “What else can I say except IT’S ALWAYS GOOD TO BE BACK HOME“
As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … out of all of the places where I have ever lived, the only place where I’ve ever experienced homesickness when I’ve been away is this beautiful building here with the spectacular scenery and wonderful neighbours.
Mind you, it was a struggle to get back here. having crowed so lustily about the outward trip, the return was nothing like the same.
It always seems to be at railway stations where it all seems to go wrong, as witness my rather dramatic and spectacular fall on a railway station in Montreal in October.
And so it was today. To pass through the automatic barriers at the Metro at the Gare du Nord in Paris you have to move smartly. I wasn’t smart enough and ended up being trapped as the barriers closed between me and my backpack. It took the combined efforts of three passers-by to free me from my trap.
And the struggle was clearly far too much for me because I had another bad fall straight away afterwards, and a couple of people had to pick me up because I couldn’t pick myself up.
One of the guys was going my way so he took my backpack and helped me onto the Metro as far as Montparnasse. Ahh well.
As usual, when I have a reason to leave the bed, I have a fitful restless night. And so it was last night. But when the alarm went off at 06:25 I was up quite quickly.
Once I’d packed, I was down to the railway station and as usual with the SNCB it was an antediluvian AM80 that came in this morning and I have all kinds of difficulties climbing into one of those. And climbing out at Gare du Midi in Brussels too.
The TGV was already in but they wouldn’t let us board for ages. And we had a “security issue” that delayed the loading even more.
The train did however set off on time and I spent the journey doing some research for my High Arctic photos of 2019. And you have to admire the naming conventions of James Rae as he roamed around the High Arctic explaining his reasons for the names that he gave to the geographical features that he encountered, such as, for example, Bence Jones Island in the Rae Strait “after the distinguished medical man and analytical chemist of that name, to whose kindness I and my party were much indebted for having proposed the use of, and prepared, some extract of tea for the expedition.’”.
One of the Inuit ladies I encountered on Devon Island gave me some of her native Labrador Tea to try. I shall probably have to name my new apartment after her because the tea was “much enjoyed”. She was so pleased that I enjoyed it that she performed a drum dance for STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I’m sure that you think that I’m making this up.
At the Gare du Nord I had my “issues” but with an aching leg and wounded pride I made it down the Rue du Départ to Montparnasse and my train without encountering anyone I know. And with catching a later train out of Brussels this morning I didn’t have long to wait.
The train was acually half-empty but for some reason they had me sharing a seat with someone. But once I was sure that evryone who was on was on, I went across the gangway and had a seat all to myself.
At Granville we pulled into one of the older platforms that the Caen-Rennes diesels use and with our train being higher you’ve no idea the struggle that I had to exit the train.
The leg is definitely weakened though because hauling myself into Caliburn was a struggle and I was back to how I was in January without the force to press the brake pedal properly. As I’ve said before, each time that I have a fall, it takes longer and longer to recover.
back here I made a nice strong coffee and came in here to collapse in a chair, from where I didn’t move for hours.
Earlier on, I mentioned my restless night. Tons of stuff on the dictaphone to prove it too. I’d bought a property last night. I’d paid a lot of money for it but I could afford it. It was in rural Normandy somewhere. We were discussing plans to move into it etc but I wanted to have a closer look at what was involved. I managed to dig up an old sale brochure for it from years ago where there was a house, an annexe and a Plaxton Embassy-bodied coach that had been converted into a race car transporter with some kind of car that had been modified for racing. There was a big garage and workshop area. I thought that this was absolutely fine if I could find someone else to come to share it with me. We’d be away with all of this if it turns out to be the same kind of place.
Someone wanted a letter posting but for various reasons they weren’t able to do it. They asked me if I would go. After much persuasion I went on the pushbike. The first thing that I noticed was that there were no brakes on it. I thought that I’d be really running a risk going all the way to the post box particularly as I’d have to cycle through Crewe town centre. But cycle I did, nearly knocking people over, taking wide turns and nearly ending up on the wrong side of the traffic island. I eventually reached the cinema which was absolutely packed because there was an extremely controversial film being shown. There were 2 pillar poxes outside, one of which had a stamp machine attached. I didn’t know which pillar box to put the letter because the time of the collections was exactly the same. It looked as if they were both receiving the correct attention. In the end I simply put it in the newer one of the two.
And then I was in a fast-food restaurant last night in the USA. I tool a banana. There was a guy there mopping the floor. He took three bananas and put them on the scales with mine. I told him to clear off and it led to a strange argument where he insisted that I was paying for his bananas. The clerk behind the counter also thought that I was. We had something of an argument for about 5 minutes. In the end I took my banana off the scales, pout $0:60 down on the countertop and began to walk away. That ended up into another discussion that turned out to be much more friendly and I’d no idea why. We ended up talking about shift rotas etc. The cashier showed me how her shift rota worked and how she had to change a few things round. I bet that you’re really enjoying these exciting moments.
We were working on something for the radio. We needed a troupe of dancing children. We recruited a couple of kids whom we knew but we were short on numbers. I went past a sports field and there was a group of kids there. There were two who were controlling the crowd and dancing in time to some music that was going on in the background, a boy and a girl. They looked quite good so I thought that I’d go over to talk to them. I went over and said “hello”. They replied “we aren’t allowed to talk to strange men” … “obviously your reputation is spreading wider than you realise” – ed … “and there’s no teacher here at the moment”. I said “no problem. The headmaster knows me from something else so I’ll give you a note, you can give it to him and he’ll decide what to do”. The idea was to write a little note to the headmaster say what was happening and take the matter from there. Going through my pockets, first of all I couldn’t find a pen. I asked if anyone had a pen. One of the people standing around, I could see that he had some pens in this top pocket but he didn’t volunteer. Eventually I borrowed one from someone but then I couldn’t find any paper on which to write. I thought “here I am snatching defeat from the jaws of victory yet again!”.
Finally I wanted a new ladder so I was going to go to the DiY shop. Half a dozen people said that they wanted things so we all piled into my van and went. I bought my ladder and a couple of things. Someone else bought a roof ladder etc. Then I had to go to pay for it. Then we’d all go to sit in someone’s car. There were quite a few people crowded around in cars and it was really cramped. I told the driver to pull down the road and stop. I had to pay with a credit card. he said “ohh not another credit card”. I replied that it’s far better walking around the streets with a credit card than a wad of cash. I was about to give him a few other good reasons but the guy in the back began to be annoyed because we were driving through an area full of local police. For some reason he didn’t want to involve them. The guy in this car wasn’t going to stop. It looked as if he was going to take me all the way home to drop off this ladder and for me to pay him. Then of course I had to return to pick up everyone else and pick up Caliburn. I thought “for just a simple ladder, this is something else that’s becoming extremely complicated” and that wouldn’t be a first time, would it?
Tea was sausage chips and beans – some of the vegan sausages that I’d bought in Jersey and beans with vegan cheese now that I’ve found a reliable and hopefully constant source.
But I dunno about going to bed because as usual after all of this effort I can’t relax. Back in the old days when I was stressed out after chauffeuring around Brussels I’d go for a long run around the area where I lived. These days though I couldn’t even run for my life.