Tag Archives: stuffed peppers

Monday 27th May 2024 – IT’S BEEN LIKE …

… Euston Station in here with all of the various comings and goings. And not just physically either. The telephone has been burning a hole in my hand too judging by the number of calls that it’s had to handle.

From dawn until dusk things have never been quiet, always with something happening and I really am at the stage of wondering “why?”

Last night though was rather quiet. After I’d finished my notes, late as it might have been, I didn’t hang around but fell onto the bed quite quickly. Actually making myself comfortable under the quilt was something else completely but never mind. “Agonising” or “painful” are quite appropriate words to use here.

And things went fairly well during the night until about 05:30 when my right leg fell out of bed.

“Why didn’t you put it back in bed?” I hear you say. But I did, even if it did take me half an hour to do it. And if you think that I am joking I promise you that I’m not. You’ve no idea what kind of state I’m in.

And once it was back in bed it didn’t last long and at 06:30 it fell out again. This time, no matter how I tried I couldn’t get it back into bed. At 06:50 I gave up the struggle and when the alarm went off at 07:00 I was … errr … riding the porcelain horse

The nurse came round later and took my blood sample. It was the most clean, painless blood sample that I have ever had taken too and it’s a shame that she’s now finished until next week.

After she left I came back in here and transcribed the dictaphone notes.. I was in Berlin last night. The old West German government was trying to persuade some woman, the wife of some West German minister to murder some political rival by poisoning him. They had some information on her and would use it if she failed to carry out their demand. Instead, she killed him in a different fashion which puzzled everyone. No-one could understand who had done it and why. There was a big investigation and she ended up in Court to answer questions. She told the Court everything about her involvement with the attempted poisoning but nothing whatever about the shooting to make it appear that she had a perfect alibi for whenever the killing had taken place with regard to this other person.

It’s years since I was in West Berlin. It was the case where this kind of thing happened only too frequently. The people, were living under the shadow of the East so time was short, and fun, deceit and intrigue was the name of the game. I encountered just as much “surveillance” there as I did in Minsk and Moscow in the days of the Iron Curtain There were all kinds of murky goings-on in West Berlin.

Having almost fell out of bed, I finally managed it at about 05:30 when my right leg hit the floor dramatically and awoke me. I was thinking at the time of a song, a new wave song that was going round in my head and which I’ve subsequently forgotten. A Jeep, like a Japanese four-wheel drive pickup thing in Canada being involved in a bit of road rage and doing a U-turn through a parking lot to go back onto the road and chase after the people who had upset him which was when I fell out of bed

And as if there’s ever any road rage in Canada. The only time I ever encountered people blowing their horns was near me when I was driving. Canada – even parts of rural Québec – is one of the most laid-back places on earth.

While I was sitting on the edge of the bed I fell asleep. Leicester City lost one of their young midfield players who went to play for Plymouth Argyle. The fee was £60,000 and Leicester were upset because they thought that it was more. The guy who replaced him in Leicester’s team had a really bad injury and was carried off the field. There wasn’t really anyone on their bench to replace him so they were even more incensed.

Having typed out my dictaphone notes I went for my morning coffee and new flapjack, which is quite delicious but a little dry. I shall have to increase the amount of honey that I use, I reckon. But I am very impressed with it – almost as much as I was with my stainless steel dustbin.

The phone rang immediately afterwards. It was the hospital wondering how I was.

When I’d finished telling them of my grief they told me to contact my GP and tell him everything, which I promised to do. However back in here I must have fallen asleep because the next thing that I knew, it was 14:06.

Once I’d come round into the Land of the Living I wrote out my letter as promised and sent a message to my faithful cleaner to see if she would deliver it.

Then I received an e-mail from the hospital – “here’s a new prescription changing a few things …” so I printed it out and send another note to my cleaner.

The doctor’s surgery was next to call. The hospital had contacted them. The blood test must be done again – I don’t think that they can believe some of the figures (and neither could I when I saw it) so she’ll see the nurse, but there’s a new medication that I have to take – she’ll send the prescription direct to the pharmacie

So I sent another message to my cleaner.

The blood test results turned up next.

The red blood cells have now dropped to 8.4 – just 0.4 above the critical limit. No wonder I’m feeling wretched right now. We’re back on the injections as of Wednesday then.

If that’s not enough, remember when the Creatinite had risen to 310 and caused them to summon me urgently to the hospital for emergency treatment? It’s now at 336, a figure which apparently won’t support life.

My cleaner turned up and I gave her everything. And bless her! She seemed to think that it was so important that she sailed off like a galleon down into town without even stopping for breath.

And guess what? Remember the anti-potassium stuff that was giving me all of these hallucinations? Here it is again

The cleaner and I spent a good while going through all of my medication. Even the nurse thinks that it’s too much and I can’t say that I disagree. But there’s piles of it – two new ones as of now and I wonder how many more after this next blood test tomorrow.

Finally, a cruise company rang me to see if I wanted to go on a little voyage around the World, one of my plans from a few years ago put on hold during the lockdown.

And I still managed to find time to finish off all of the radio notes too, would you believe?

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper – the last one unless I can get in another stock before next Monday. Delicious as usual and plenty of stuffing remaining.

So now I’m off to bed if I can manage to make it into bed without falling out again.

What delights will tomorrow bring? I shudder to think. As if the news of today isn’t enough to be going on with.

But I can’t help thinking that has inspired this cruise company to contact me? I suppose it’s the local community all getting together to tell me to go away and clear off..

Monday 20th May 2024 – YOU’VE PROBABLY ALL …

… read yesterday’s embarrassing blog entry now that it’s on line.

Ohhh!! The shame of it all. I eventually managed to make my way to bed, fully-clothed, at about 02:30 which, seeing as the alarm was set for 07:00 was going to be something of an effort.

Especially as today is another Bank Holiday and usually you wouldn’t see my head poking out from under the covers until about 11:00 I suppose

But all of that was back in the olden days. How times have changed. And not for the better either

When the alarm went off I arose from the dead and went for a wash in the bathroom to clean up

The dining area needed arranging for the nurse too but I arranged it somewhat differently to make it easier for me to stand up. The heights for my arms to push up so that I can stand up have to be calculated pretty precisely .

The nurse noticed a deterioration today. I told him how fed up I was with it all. I need to start laying the foundations for my eventual depart

After he left I came back in here and with an old, pretty full A4 binder and my pillow, managed to raise up the height of the chair so I can sit down with no worries about getting up again. What kind of state am I really in?

At least I was able to write out the blog entry from last night and post it on line.

This afternoon I had a lot of personal stuff to do. And do you remember that issue that reared its ugly head in the UK? The bullet is bitten, the die is cast
"The Moving Finger writes, and, having writ,
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it"
and I shall be making one of the greatest expenditures in my life.

In fact, only the purchase of Expo, my second apartment in Brussels and my apartment downstairs here have cost me more, and the sad thing is that I won’t ever see the benefit of it.

Ahh well, such is life I suppose

That left me some time to transcribe last night’s diictaphone notes. And to my surprise, there was something. They were doing some kind of survey into criminal investigations. I’d been leading some kind of group that had a great deal of interest in this. We were comparing various things together to see about them. One year we had a graph that had an abnormal part in it so we looked further into it. That was what they called “The Irish Sex Scandal” when the Irish Government spent so long investigating a case before brining it to court that it was deemed to be – not “Perverting The Court of Justice” but whatever I mean … "defeating the ends of natural justice" – ed … to bring it to Court. The prosecution collapsed accordingly. We began to wonder whether there had been any other UK cases that had collapsed like this because of a want of prosecution. We began to look further into a lot of old cases to make sure that at least the defence had been correctly run and the correct information had been supplied to them for them to decide what to do with it

During the day I’d been crashing out here and there, which is no surprise given the sleep that I hadn’t had. When I was asleep in the morning I was doing something in the countryside. There was a campsite there. I was having a good wash but a couple of people were having a shower. It suddenly occurred to me “why don’t I have a shower instead?”. I gathered up my things and must have gone into twenty cubicles without finding a single cubicle that had everything one would need for a proper shower. There was always something missing. On one occasion I was menaced by a dog but as it approached me I menaced it back and it ran away. Twenty cabins I must have tried and not one of them had all one would need for a shower.

That sounds typical, doesn’t it?

There was still some time to write a few notes for a forthcoming radio programme before going to make my stuffed pepper and I’ll finish it tomorrow. But after my Welsh lesson. I’m going to bed now ready to be fighting fit for tomorrow

And by that, dear reader, I mean “fighting for breath and fit to drop”.

Monday 13th May 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a somewhat better day than yesterday, which is good news as far as I am concerned

And so it should be because yesterday was a pretty miserable one.

At least today I’ve managed to be able to leave my comfortable chair (up to present anyway) which is more than can be said on one occasion yesterday

At the end of the evening last night I did actually manage it again and was able to haul myself off to do whatever I need to do around the apartment before going to bed.

But going to bed was another adventure and I really felt at one moment as if I’d be sleeping for the night on my chair. And no joke – I actually know a lady in Canada who does just that. But her own chair of course, not mine.

After something of a considerable effort I managed to find my way into bed where I had another really turbulent night. God knows what it would be like if I had to share my bed with another person.

The night was completed by a couple of false alarm calls and I’m really bewildered as to what it might be that I’m hearing that’s awakening me like this under pretext that it’s my alarm.

Eventually though the 07:00 alarm went off and I had to fight the good fight to make my way out of bed to switch the alarm calls off, cutting off BILLY COTTON in his prime.

And I awoke to vision problems. The illness is spreading through my nervous system and so it’s bound to reach the eyes sooner or later, and one of the side effects of one of the pills that I’m taking is “disturbed vision”. I suppose that if it had to look at me for all this time, no wonder that it’s disturbed.

After the bathroom I went to the dining area for all of my medication and then to lay out the room for Isabelle the nurse. This is her last visit for a week so she’s off tomorrow – for 5 days in Lisbon. It’s all right for some, isn’t it?

She instructed me to wash my puttees for the boss, with whom she alternates, so I’ll do that this evening. Lucky that I have a spare set.

When she left I came back in here to see what was going on. First of all, if you want to see (some of) the highlights of the game between Y Drenewydd and Penybont to see just how bad Y Drenewydd were then LOOK HERE. but be prepared to hide behind the sofa as things become scary.

The highlights of CAERNARFON v CARDIFF METRO show a much more even but rather distorted view of that game. The truth is that Caernarfon were rampaging forward throughout the game, to the delight of the Cofi Army, the most passionate fans in Europe, but the Met just hit them on the break three or four times.

After my toast (the last of the bread that I made last week) and coffee I set myself an exciting project. I have a radio programme on the 14th February 2025 (if I’m still here) and 14th February 1970 is the date that LIVE AT LEEDS one of the greatest live albums ever, was recorded at Leeds University.

The live album itself is only 37 minutes long but I was absolutely certain that the concert itself would have been much longer than that.

The setlist is available on SETLIST.FM and it can’t have been less than two hours so I set myself a task to prove that I am worthy, and that was to track down a recording of the entire concert. There must be one somewhere.

And sure enough, after some diligent searching, I can now tell you that the concert lasts 2:07:04 and that’s some going. I can see me doing a lot of editing.

After my lunchtime fruit and a discussion with my cleaner, I had a listen to the dictaphone. And I was right because there certainly was a couple of false alarms. However I started off in the Soviet Union during the war there was a huge loss of male population so as some kind of Commissar I tried to organise means to increase the population. I found a book written by some obscure author on this point that promoted the idea so I praised him and praised his thoughts etc. It then turned out that Stalin had another opinion, another idea, and I had quickly to undo the praise that I’d done and given the author. One of my nieces had become pregnant in this project so we had to find her and give her an abortion but she was full of praise for this guy and totally refused to co-operate. That made life difficult for all of us

Mind you, I could think of several ways in which I could help increase the population of another country without having to rely on any author – except perhaps whoever was the author of the Karma Sutra

First false alarm at 04:10 – I was dreaming at the time that I was still working for the Soviet Union. Another book had been examined about someone’s sporting achievements but as usual he’d fallen foul of the regime so we’d had to edit it all out from any future book. The guy himself was called to a meeting. He eventually arrived, having had a conflict with a group of females on the doorstep and as he switched to the news we saw a huge supertanker of ICI had run aground on one of the inland lakes and they were now waiting for a change in the tide so that they could try to float it off

And don’t worry if nothing makes sense. I can’t understand it either.

Another call at 06:06 – a false alarm

What I was dreaming of at 06:06 was of some old man living on the street who was always there with his sign and a list of the things that he needed. He was arrested in Leeds, for vagrancy presumably and was carted off. We didn’t see him for several months. Then after several months had passed we saw him again on the streets of Liverpool with two signs saying “the seeds of business £25”. He was saying that he’d expanded his area of research from what he had learned at police college

The rest of the day has been working on more radio stuff. All of the music has been chosen for the next radio programme, it’s been paired off and I’ve started to write the notes. It’ll be quite a sad one because it will be broadcast on the anniversary of the death of one of my friends and will include one of his more … errr … esoteric tracks.

My cleaner came back with supplies and a neighbour came to visit. I really am in great demand these days and I’ve no idea why.

Tea was a stuffed pepper, delicious as usual with plenty of stuffing left over for the next couple of days. I should take advantage of it, after all, many people have told me that I need a good stuffing.

But on the subject of all things Russian during the night, Zero once told me that at school she’d taken part in a Russian ballet.
"Why Russian?" I asked her.
"I don’t know" she replied. "I suppose that it’s because I had to go Russian onto the stage at the start, go Russian around while the music played, and then go Russian off at the end."

Monday 6th May 2024 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

… I might be having another visitor.

Most of the morning has been spent working out routes across half of north-west Europe to see if there’s anything that fits in with someone else’s peripatetic voyages around Europe and who knows? Maybe it’ll all work out.

What I can’t understand is why I suddenly seem to have become the flavour of the month. I’ve already had more visits this year than I’ve had in all the rest of the time that I’ve been here, and there are several more already organised to come

And then here I am with someone else who might want to try to visit.

Not that I’m complaining, of course. I m not usually the sociable type so I don’t visit many people myself, and even fewer since I’ve been disabled, so I’m quite happy usually with my own company – after all, with dissociative identity disorder you are never alone – but nevertheless it’s nice to see real people now and again. Real friends are just as important as your imaginary ones.

So last night, with a great effort, I was only 5 minutes late going to bed. And as usual these days I fell asleep quite quickly, a long time before my little scenario about which I talked last night finished.

And it was another deep intense sleep again. I remember nothing at all of anything that might have been going on. When the alarm went off there was something going on about girls in a school; but it evaporated from my mind as soon as I stood up, which was a shame.

Having switched off the alarm I staggered into the bathroom and then into the dining area for my medication. I then arranged the room how the nurse likes it and prepared for his visit but somehow I had a couple of very severe pains at the top of my hips at the front of my body. It hurt like hell when I walked or lifted my legs.

Despite all of that, and in spite of all of the pain, the nurse changed the dressing on my foot and put on my puttees. He thinks that I won’t need to bother soon because the wound has healed really well. He thinks that soon I can go back to wearing these elasticated socks.

After he cleared off I checked my messages and discovered one asking for travel advice so I’ve been working on that all morning. Crossing Paris by public transport in order to catch a train to come here is quite simple and straightforward, but not for someone who has never seen a train and doesn’t know how a Metro works. You have to explain everything in great detail and make sure that you don’t take things for granted and miss out a step “because everyone knows that”.

After my lunchtime fruit I had a listen to the dictaphonz to find out where I’d been during the night. There was an Avro Lancaster that flew to some remote valley in Austria and landed on a deserted airstrip. It had come from the UK and was full of wounded and full of all kinds of other stuff that the Resistance might need. The wounded were lying around in chairs and in the bomb bay. After every hour they had to change position with someone who was less comfortable than they were and so it went on. They landed on this deserted airfield and unloaded the goods that the Resistance wanted, they unloaded the goods that they’d brought with them, they unloaded the wounded and then collected up a lot of stuff that had been put there for them to take away. They taxied to the end of the runway, turned round and took off from it again. There was some rugby equipment that they’d been told that they could take and all kinds of electronic stuff and electrical stuff. They were leaving things like instructions behind on how to do certain things etc. It was really interesting to see what their plans were but I’ve no idea why they took a lane full of wounded with them to leave behind in Occupied Austria.

There were many occasions where British aircraft, usually Lysanders, would put down in Axis-occupied territory to unload supplies for the Resistance and pick up or drop off passengers, and it’s certainly true that on a couple of occasions larger aircraft did make use of abandoned airfields in Occupied Europe to make a quick landing and take-off on behalf of MI6. However, this idea of dropping off wounded personnel is certainly a novel one.

And then I was in a library checking for a former schoolfriend’s thesis that he’d prepared on leaving school. It had been filed away and referenced but there was no trace of it anywhere in the library no matter how hard we looked. I’d had to make some kind of summary report at one time so I mentioned this and I happened to mention that it would be nice if I had some extra staff. But then it turned into something of an argument with the head of this project saying about my demand for extra staff. I replied that I hadn’t really demanded extra staff – I’d just made a note on the report. That led to a bit of an argument which was a shame because I liked the guy usually. No matter how hard we looked and no matter where we searched there was no trace of this project anywhere. We’d even gone through all the pages of these books that were on display to make sure that it hadn’t been misfiled but there was absolutely no trace of it at all.

That reminds me of my fruitless search in the library of the University of Laval in Québec for one of the theses of the archaeologist Thomas Edward Lee.

The author James Enterline quotes from Lee’s theses which concerned the excavation of what might have been a Norse building in Ungava Bay in the north of Labrador in Canada. He gives the complete references of Lee’s works.

Armed with the details I set off accordingly to the University to track them down in order to refer to them and check Enterline’s information.

Both the theses are registered at the University Library – I know because I saw them on the index – but the librarian and I could only find the second one and not the first one, no matter how hard we looked.

However a very interesting fact was that Lee was a very controversial and confrontational person, not at all your typical academic. His forthright, sometimes intimidating style of writing clearly ruffled a few feathers and his application for a grant for a third year of excavations was refused.

As far as I’m aware, no-one has continued his work and the excavations have lain incomplete for 60 years.

Another disappointment was that having spent a couple of years writing my Magnum Opus on Eustache Lanouillier’s CHEMIN DU ROY between Montréal and Québec in the 17th Century, the actual plans for it are also at the University of Laval and I didn’t find that out until later.

The rest of the afternoon has been spent pairing off the music that I chose yesterday and then writing the notes for about half of it. I’ve not really been in any rush to complete it.

The cleaner came round with some soya milk that she found in the local supermarket which was nice. And then LeClerc rang up. They’d seen my complaint about my missing soya milk. Would I like a refund?

And so I explained that I’d rather have the milk, that I’m handicapped and can’t buy it any other way except through them. So sure enough, a delivery driver turned up with 6 cartons of milk later in the day

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper and there’s stuffing left over for a taco roll tomorrow night and probably for a leftover curry too. My diet might be monotonous but my meals really are delicious

So that’s all I’m doing for tonight. I’ll be in bed soon ready to rise again nice and fresh for my Welsh lesson, I don’t think

As someone once asked me "what happened to all of your ‘get up and go’?"
The answer to that is simple. I told them "It’s all got up and gone a long time ago."

Monday 29th April 2024 – I’VE BROKEN ONE …

… of my nice dinner plates this evening.

That’s a shame because I quite liked this set of crockery. But what’s surprising is that I’ve owned it almost 7 years and it’s the first piece of any sort of crockery and glassware that I’ve broken since I’ve been living here.

And the estate agents reminded me that yesterday it’s actually been seven years since I moved in. You’ve no idea how time flies. When we were kids our six weeks summer holiday used to last for ever, but nowadays a year passes in the blink of an eye and it’s very uncomfortable.

Eight years ago today I was living in Leuven in Belgium, going to the hospital every two weeks, going to watch OH Leuven in the Belgian second division and travelling on Belgium’s wonderful railway network to all sorts of bizarre football grounds for various matches

Going to SK Lierse was always my favourite of course. They had cheerleaders to entertain the crowd and they were much nicer-looking cheerleaders than those whom we encountered that night in that truckstop on Interstate 80 in Bangor, Maine, when we were on our way to a tractor pull in New Hampshire.

Of course, that’s all water under the bridge now. I won’t ever revisit the USA, won’t be going to see SK Lierse and won’t be going to Leuven either. In fact I’ll be lucky if I ever make it outside the front door of my apartment unless it’s in the company of a taxi driver taking me to a medical appointment.

And while we’re on the subject of medical appointments and taxis … "well, one of us is" – ed … I rang up the taxi company today to talk to them about my trips to Paris.

They need to be authorised by the Securité Sociale in advance and the hospital had obtained prior authorisation for three trips. Those three trips had expired and so they need to obtain some more authorisation.

When I was there last week I explained this to the doctor but I wasn’t convinced that she understood. Consequently my plan was to have the taxi company speak to the hospital to explain what was required and negotiate with them directly. After all, it’s all good business for them

However I needn’t have worried. The hospital has applied for, and received, prior authorisation for no fewer than FIFTEEN further trips to Paris. I’m not sure exactly what they are expecting, but it sounds extremely worrying. Are they REALLY expecting me to go that many times?

But anyway, that was today.

Yesterday I ended up going to bed quite late because of the football. Even so, it still took an age to actually go to sleep but once I did I slept the Sleep of the Dead and didn’t move an inch. In fact, it was another night when there was nothing at all on the dictaphone.

That’s a shame because as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … what usually goes on during the night is much more exciting these days than what happens during the daytime. After the exciting life that I’ve lived, being confined to spending the rest of my days sitting on a chair is a pretty miserable existence.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed as usual, switched it off and wandered off to the bathroom, followed by wandering off into the dining area for my medication, the usual mounds of it.

Having set out the room as the nurse likes it, she dealt with my foot and puttees as this story about the prescription on the wall of the doctor’s office rumbled on.

We agreed that I’d ring up to make further enquiries and let her know what I’ve found out. And then she cleared off and left me to it.

It took half a dozen calls to the doctor’s before the secretary answered the call. I’d been trying for hours. Anyway she was convinced that the prescription had been written. Anyway, the doctor would be back at 16:00 so further enquiries could be made them.

With that news I rang back the nurse and that proved to be a complicated affair trying to connect to her. But we managed in the end and I could explain the situation to her. She’d follow it up.

Then the cleaner came round with the rest of the medical supplies so I explained the situation to her. She had to go there with a client this afternoon so she’d look herself for the prescription.

She called me back later to say that she’d been, she’d looked, but there was nothing there.

At about 16:30 the nurse phoned me back. She’d seen the doctor and he’d written nothing. So what’s this story all about them? It’s a total mystery to me. The plot sickens.

In the meantime this afternoon I’ve gone one better than Dave Crosby, presumably because I had the ‘flu for Christmas and wasn’t feeling up to par. But I’m not giving in an inch to fear because I promised myself this year. I feel like I owe it to someone

And they can come and collect it out of the waste bin in the bathroom any time they like.

The rest of the afternoon has been spent either working on the Unit of the Welsh course that I missed while I was in hospital or else I was asleep.

While I was working I was fighting off wave after wave of sleep, so much so that I couldn’t concentrate so in the end I gave up and had an hour fast asleep on the chair here inn the office. Then I could crack on and finish it.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper but taking the pyrex cooking bowl out of the air fryer it slipped from my grasp, fell on the dinner plate and broke it. That’s a really sad state of affairs because I now have an odd number of items

However in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter all that much as I’m never likely to have visitors here for meals. In fact, I’m not really likely to have visitors at all these days.

There’s plenty of stuffing left though so I’ll have a taco roll tomorrow and then on Wednesday have one of my leftover curries with what’s left. On Thursday I’ll send off my LeClerc order and stock up with supplies for the next few weeks

Right now though I’m off to bed, and hope that I’ll go off on a few voyages to break the monotony and not break the crockery.

It reminds me of that famous advert that I once saw – "Unbreakable tea service for sale – matching teapot, cream jug, sugar bowl, six cups and five saucers."

Monday 8th April 2024 – MY APARTMENT HAS …

… passed muster by a group of Auvergnats who descended upon the place this afternoon on their way along the coast.

Rosemary, Ingrid and their friend Clotilde have come to spend the week here on the coast to blow away the cobwebs in the corner of their minds. They found a nice house to rent and are intending to make the most of it, despite what the weather can throw at them.

This also means that my 200-watt Genz-Benz bass amp combo has finally made it home after all these years too. These are expensive pieces of kit and I found one languishing in a pawn shop in Ottawa for peanuts in 2019 when I was visiting my cousin Sandra.

It’s been a long tortuous journey for it to come to Europe. Some empty space in a shipping container meant that it could make it as far as Rosemary’s house in 2022 but it didn’t arrive there until after it left there

And aren’t I glad to see it?

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a decent bass amp and speaker close to hand. Probably since I blew the cone out of my 18″ reflex cabinet in the late 1970s, and since then I’ve been making do with whatever I could find.

Just recently – well, for the last 12 years – I’ve been using a Carlsbro 45 watt combo which probably would have continued to do the job for all the playing bass that I do in public these days but this was a deal that was far too good to turn down.

It’s not as if I actually needed it in Canada either because I had a Fender combo amp in the back of Strider through which I could plug the Jaguar bass guitar.

And those are other things that I need to arrange sometime to bring over here now that Strider has gone the Way of the West.

The Jaguar certainly, when I see the prices of those, for that was something else that I picked up for une bouchée de pain as they say around here and also in Montreal, where I found it in another pawn shop. I always seemed to have good luck in Canadian pawn shops.

However much luck it was, it was certainly more than I had last night in trying to go to bed.

By the time that I’d finished doing everything that I had to, it was much later than I intended and I thought “here we go again”. I’d had a miserable day, there was this stabbing pain in the sole of my foot and I was hours late going to bed. I really could do without all of this.

But eventually I fell into bed and that was all that I remember for all of a couple of hours, before I awoke quite dramatically again at some ridiculous hour of the night.

There was the impression that I stayed awake after that but when the alarm went off I was checking a postal delivery, looking at the form where it said “van driver – her signature” and then “client signature ” and one or two other things on it, otherwise making sure that the form complied with all of the relevant legislation before actually putting my signature on it. But I don’t know what parcel I’d received because I thought that I’d received everything. This must have been something completely different and unexpected that had come in the post like this.

It certainly wasn’t the amp – that didn’t arrive until much later.

First thing that I did when the alarm went off was to fall out of bed to look for the blood pressure machine, and then take the measurement. 14.4/11.5 it was this morning, compared to 15.4/7.7, the latter figure of which looks suspiciously incorrect.

After the medication I had to arrange the dining area so that it’s as the nurse likes it, and then make sure that everything is present. It’s his last day today for a week so let’s hope that he’s calmed down by the time that he comes back.

And let’s hope that my right foot has too, because there’s a weeping oedema on the foot that has reared its ugly head overnight.

Anyway, he cleaned it off and applied a plaster before he wound on my puttees. And he doesn’t like this pair. He thinks that the elastic has gone and I should throw them out but I should think so! They are only about four weeks old!

After he’d gone I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was watching a football match last night. There were two teams, one playing in all red and the other in all blue. They were amalgamations of a couple of smaller 5-a-side teams and playing in some kind of tournament but there was this one game that I was watching but that was really by accident because it was on in the background at a house that I was visiting a girl for some reason connected to the Air Force but my eye fell upon the game that was being broadcast on the TV. I became less and les concerned about the Air Force and more and more concerned about the game and what was happening on the screen.

And it wouldn’t be the first time that this has happened either. I’m easily distracted by interesting things that are much more interesting than what I’m actually supposed to be doing.

Next task was to do a final round of tidying up in the apartment before having a really good wash and brush up to make myself look pretty.

While I was waiting for them to appear, I had a little snooze (no surprise there) and carried on with the radio notes. I actually managed to finish off the programme that I started so many moons ago.

My visitors turned up with my amp and I made a pot of tea. Clotilde had bought one of her vegan cakes so we all had a little party as we recalled old times and life down there on the margins of civilisation.

It’s strange but, primitive though the life was up there in the mountains, it was a very pleasant place to be with lots of exciting things happening. It’s a place that I miss more and more with each day that passes but there’s no point having regrets. I can’t turn the clock back to more healthy times.

So after my visitors had met my cleaner, who brought around the next load of medication, they all left me to my own devices.

Once more I crashed out yet again and I was off on my travels. I had the start of a dream about an elderly but thin guy rather like Putin in an all-white football kit, but I had no idea what was going on there

And then later on I was planning on digging some trenches with a backhoe but there was some debate as to whether the ground was solid enough. I thought that it worked out at at least 55lb per sq inch but some others disagreed and thought that it was less solid.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … what goes on in my head while I’m asleep is much more exciting than whatever happens in real life.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper with plenty of stuffing left over to see me through the next few days too, and now I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow I have a Welsh lesson, but I must also write out a shopping list for my cleaner if she goes to visit the LeClerc.

It reminds me of the time that I went shopping with Hannah, my niece’s middle daughter, when we were loading up with supplies to go to a tractor pull in New Hampshire (what an exciting life I used to lead).
"How much water do you think we ought to buy?" asked Hannah
"How much beer do we have?" I asked
"Three crates full" she replied
"So why do we need water then?" I asked. I have never felt more like a redneck in my life

Monday 1st April 2024 – THAT WAS A …

… waste of a day.

And I’m not talking about my little April Fools joke either – I hope that no-one was taken in by it and I’m sorry if you were.

But the waste of time to which I’m referring is this morning where I sat down here on my chair at about 10:50 after my breakfast and the next thing that I remember was that it was 13:04 and I had a head full of lead. I was totally, utterly and absolutely out of it.

What makes it worse was that I actually managed to have a reasonable night last night, in bed at some kind of respectable time. It didn’t seem to take me as long as it usually does to make tea and all of that, and it was over quite quickly

That left plenty of time last evening to do what needed doing without having to rush around and for once I could go to bed early.

And sleep! I slept like a log, although I don’t have a fireplace here unfortunately – not even a woodstove. I had to use the bed, and it was really comfortable too.

It was a really strange night, for reasons which I’ll explain later, and I was actually half-awake when the alarm went off. I didn’t want to leave my bed but needs must when the devil drives and I fell out of bed.

Checking my blood pressure this morning it was 15.4/8.8, which is a reduction from 16.0/10.6 from the previous evening. That means that I must have had a calm, respectful night, although you won’t think so later.

Next thing to do was to have a wash and then go to take the medication as usual, piles of it again. and then to lay out the living room so that it’s just how Isabelle the nurse likes it.

She almost caught me incommunicado, and in somewhere else too but luckily I was just able to wash my hands in time. She couldn’t find anything wrong today with what I had done, although most of her effort was directed towards her card reader that somehow refused to function this morning.

And then she left, with her cohort coming for the next seven days while she takes a well-earned rest.

After she left, I came in here to listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night. There was a group of girls and one of them was interested in me. For some reason she had me confused with someone else and ended up having a little fun with him. It wasn’t until afterwards that she realised that she’d been with the wrong person. Afterwards she actually told me what had happened which I thought was funny. I mentioned it to someone like the teacher or tutor or someone of a group of friends of mine. He told me “don’t worry Eric. I’ll make sure that your friends know about this at an opportune moment” which is exactly what I didn’t want to happen of course.

And there’s more truth to this story than might at first appear too, but this isn’t the place to discuss it.

And then at 04:00 I was told that I might well be recalled into a reunion at 04:30 that morning. What had happened was that a Swiss guy was coming along to talk to the hospital authorities about the best way to store their birth control pills, in a way probably different than most stores at the moment. For this he needed some room in the storeroom so as from 04:30 each morning each storeroom was to have some room set aside for this kind of thing. Of course once he’d finished his demonstration and the product was in there and the fact that there won’t be much of the area left was neither here nor there as long as they had enough for whatever they might expect was coming. They’d speak to me at 04:30 to see whether I’d received my invitation and if not they’d tell me where to go to the reunion and what time it starts etc. It’s absolutely vital that I go there. Having been told about going I must go there without any error at all.

That sounds rather familiar to anyone who might have seen my little April Fools joke. But honestly, I’d written the “joke” entry before I went to bed and didn’t dream this dream until afterwards.

It’s really quite strange that I should dream this more-or-less straight afterwards. If only I could summon up people like TOTGA, Zero and Castor as easily, I really would be one happy little Easter bunny.

There was also something about having to make sure that there were four certain types of ointment prepared for the nurse for tomorrow morning. I wasn’t sure that I’d done it so I thought that I’d better check and I was halfway out of the bed before I realised that I’d have plenty of time to do it in the morning so I got back under the bedclothes. But I’m not sure whether I actually did go to leave the bed in real life or whether the going to leave the bed was actually a dream and I was still under the covers. But anyway after that I lay in a comatose state of being asleep but being conscious of what was going on around me, all the way until the alarm went off.

That was one of the strangest dreams that I’ve ever had too. I’m really not sure if I actually did leave the bed or not, or if it was just a dream, which meant that I was dreaming within a dream, and that doesn’t happen too often. It’s actually quite a rare phenomenon.

There’s a phenomenon called “false awakening” which is a similar (although not the same) process and which has been studied by several psychiatrists. Nevertheless, it’s still interesting.

For breakfast I had the last of my hot cross buns and home-made bread. And it was all really delicious too, a real success that actually looked, tasted, smelled and felt as good as it ought to have done.

And then don’t let anyone say that coffee keeps you awake because I came in here and despite having drunk two full mugs of strong coffee, I crashed out completely and absolutely.

When I awoke, several hours later, I felt absolutely dreadful and it took several hours for me to come round into the real world. As I said, a total waste of a day today

Later on, I managed to find the time to cut up a few sound tracks after I’d converted them to an acceptable format, and then I carried on with a radio programme, finishing off choosing the music, pairing it off and joining the pairs together.

And that’s all that I’ve done, thanks to that mega-crash this morning just after breakfast. I’m never going to make any progress if I can’t organise myself better and stay awake.

It reminds me of the time I was setting of on a coach tour and a passenger sitting behind me said "if I start to snore, driver, you will wake me up, won’t you?"

And I replied "of course I will madam, as long as you promise to do the same to me."

You could joke about things like that 40 years ago, but just you try it now. No-one has any sense of humour these days. As Erma Brombeck said, "when humor goes, there goes civilization" and I for one totally agree with her.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper, right up to the usual high standard especially as it was a fresh rather than a frozen one. But on that subject it took 15 minutes to fight my way into my freezer, it’s so full. It really is ridiculous, the amount of stuff in there.

It seems that every time I manage to make some space, something else comes along and fills it and it’s all completely never-ending.

But when I’ve finished off this stuffing on Wednesday I’ll eat those Chinese whatsits on Thursday now that I have some soy sauce. That’ll make a little space to fill up with something else.

Moving the vegetables along has proved to be a problem, with the amount that I freeze, I suppose. So it’s just as well that I’m not Boris Johnson.

On his last day in power he took his Cabinet Ministers along to the Ritz for a farewell dinner. When the waiter came along, Johnson said "I’ll have a steak, medium rare"
"And they vegetables, sir?" asked the waiter
"They’ll have the steak too"

Monday 25th March 2024 – THE FIRST DAY …

… of my Welsh course went pretty uneventfully today.

There was no-one in the class from any of my old stamping grounds, which was what I suspected and for which I am extremely grateful.

However there is someone on my course with whom I’ve been on a short holiday course before. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … this World is becoming far too small for my liking.

It’s like The Vanilla Queen, for example. Here’s someone who is from an island in the Canadian High Arctic. We bump into each other in Montreal, find ourselves on the same ‘plane to Edmonton, are staying in the same hotel in Edmonton and meet up next down a dirt track in, of all places, Yellowknife in the North West Territories.

Or like when I go away for a week to a remote Canadian village in the north of Quebec along the “Forgotten Coast”, stay in one bedroom in a two-bedroom house and find that the other bedroom is occupied by the solicitor from the next town down from Pionsat.

Sometimes I wonder what is going on in the ether when there seems to be someone somewhere shuffling the pack and moving the cards around.

Last night I was moving around very late after all of the delays and so on that seemed to be happening yesterday. In the end I was glad to be in bed even if there wasn’t going to be too much time to enjoy it.

It was a strange night too. There seemed to be such a lot going on for such a short time and I ended up having a disturbed sleep pattern

When the alarm went off I wasn’t at all ready and I would have given all that I had, and much more besides, to have stayed in bed for another couple of hours.

Nevertheless I hauled myself out and once the room stopped spinning around I took the blood pressure. 16.8/10.0, in contrast to 16.2/9.8 from the previous evening. Something must have wound me up during the night or else it was the disturbed sleep playing tricks.

In the kitchen I sorted out all of the medication and then tidied up the worktop. My hot cross buns are magnificent and I’m really looking forward to eating them, toasted and soaked in butter, but for now they are crammed into an airtight tin where they will remain until the Easter period.

Having done that I prepared the stuff for the nurse and it was just as well because he was early today and I didn’t even have time for a wash.

He did his stuff and that’s the last of him that I’ll see for a week. It’s his sidekick now for the next 7 days and I hope that she’s in a better humour than when she was here last.

Back in there I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. We were in the USA. My family was actually working as prison guards. If I wanted to see them I had to go to the prison and be grilled and generally quizzed over everything before I’d be allowed inside. This went on for ages that I’d come and go and see how they were etc. Then of course I became ill which meant that I couldn’t live on my own. It was coming towards the final situation when they told me that I’d have to move back. I decided to go back to the family for the last while so I was saying goodbye to a friend outside the prison. She watched me prepare and I made a gesture to the guards. One of them came over to find out why and I told her that I needed to be accompanied to go back into the prison because of my state of health. She accompanied me over the road bridge that they had there, through the first of the checkpoints and into the prison itself where everyone waiting. This went on several times and with each step I was becoming weaker and weaker.

So now you know the reason for the raised blood pressure. Firstly, the family put in an appearance and secondly, I was slowly shuffling off this mortal coil.

And that reminds me – I must do something about my end-of-life directive. One of the reason why I was being treated in Belgium for my illness was because I could choose the moment when I have had enough, without having to cling on to the bitter, painful and undignified end.

That’s not possible in France unfortunately but still I need to make everyone aware of my intentions. There must be some way of making sure that I make it to Switzerland or Belgium when the time comes and I need to begin to investigate the options and possibilities

One thing is absolutely certain though, and as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … having sat by the side of someone whom I liked for several months and watched her slowly die, that’s something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else, from the point of view of the sitter or the sittee.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed so having made good my escape I set off cross-country. I’d gone maybe 3 or 4 miles before I was grabbed by the ankle and pulled in towards a person hiding in a hedge. It turned out to be someone to do with the regional hostel. This person had me in a compromising position moving me onto one side, and running their hands all over me. Then being certain of who I was she radioed back to base and told her that there was a witness. The other girl was comfortable about who was in the way so I was marched over to where the other girl was. They held me upright and questioned me in front of this girl. They asked her if she recognised me at all. Of course she did and they told her that they could avenge her together

And I wish that I’d recorded the rest of that because it sounded so interesting. It’s a shame that I’ve missed off the front somehow but what goes on during the night is way beyond my comprehension.

Then we had a dream where a young boy was chasing a mother’s young daughter around. The mother decided to intervene because it was going to be rather too much. However it seemed that her daughter was apparently enjoying the attention that she was receiving from this young boy before the mother intervened.

And that’s usually the case too. Girls complaining about boys chasing them around, and then complaining when their mothers stop the boys from doing it. At least, that’s how it used to be when I was that age. It’s probably all totally different now and I’d be completely politically incorrect

In my day though, we used to play “hide and seek”. But in my case, I’d go off and hide in a cupboard and the others would never come to look for me.

Later on I had the works’ Ford Escort estate and was driving around in it when the exhaust fell off. I was in such a bad situation at work that I didn’t want to tell anyone about it so I pretended that nothing had happened and put it inside the car thinking that I’d do something at the weekend. Then there was an issue with the radio. That was irritating and annoying too. These 2 issues together would combine to make a big problem at work for me with this car. I didn’t say anything to anyone and resolved to put an exhaust on it myself and do it as soon as possible when I could get away from the office. All of a sudden there was a job at 16:30 – one of the officials wanted bringing back so at least I could dispose of the exhaust. I went to Barlow Brothers. They had a scrapyard that was at a traffic island that was about 2.5 miles down a certain lane. As I turned in I saw one of the brothers so I stopped for a chat with him. He said that I could dump it more-or-less where I was. I dropped it off and he made a few remarks. I asked if he had a good one second-hand. He said no, he was selling them all for racing cars. He let me have one anyway which we fitted. It sounded very rich and looked strange on the vehicle …fell asleep here

We did have a Ford Escort estate at work and it was just used in and around Brussels and had never ever been anywhere in its whole life.

One day when my car was being serviced and there were documents to take to Luxembourg I took the Escort. It ran pretty badly for about 150 kilometres when suddenly there was a “bang”, a huge cloud of black smoke for a moment, and then it ran like a dream afterwards. Nothing like a good run to burn out all the carbon coking up the cylinders.

There was also a scrapyard in Crewe called Barlow Brothers. As well as the usual run-of-the-mill stuff they had piles of interesting stuff like several Ford V8 Pilots, a Daimler ambulance and so on. I tried for years to prise a Mark II Zephyr estate, rare as hen’s teeth, out of them with no success.

It was run by two brothers, identical twins, which was very confusing if you were trying to carry on a conversation that you’d had the last time that you were there.

There was a whole lot more of stuff too but you don’t really want to know about it, especially if you’re eating your meal. I told you that it was a disturbed night

Having done that I prepared for the lesson and having made my coffee and grabbed a slice of flapjack we began. There are eight of us students in the class which is rather strange because I don’t think that any of us actually comes from Caerfyrddin. We seem to be scattered all around North-West Europe.

Several people, including Yours Truly, are from the north of Wales and that makes things confusing for everyone. I know that I’ve put my foot in it a couple of times and said “Gyda” and “Rwan” instead of “Efo” and “Nawr”.

The tutor though is really quiet and I have a hard time hearing him. He also has these silent pauses that seem to last for ever and make you think that his screen has frozen.

However, I’m not complaining. At least I’m on a course that will hopefully keep my wheels oiled.

After the course (during which I almost crashed out once or twice) I went for my hot chocolate. And then riding the porcelain horse afterwards I actually DID crash out, and even imagined someone bringing round a pile of meals on a large tray. That was strange.

While we’re on the subject of meals … "well, one of us is" – ed … my stuffed pepper was delicious tonight. I seem to have grasped the hang of cooking it in the air fryer.

So having washed my puttees and written up my notes I’ll do the rest of the chores and then go to bed.

Day Two of my lesson tomorrow and I hope that it’s as interesting as today’s. At least with only 8 students, we have plenty of participation time and that’s a big plus

And there are several reasons why it’s so good to go to live in Switzerland. The flag is a big plus, for a start.

I’ll get my coat.

Monday 18th March 2024 – I’M SUPPOSED TO …

… be going to Paris tomorrow for a visit to the opthalmologists’s at the hospital.

When I was at the hospital just now I mentioned that this blurred vision that I’m having right now is interrupting just about everything that I do.

It’s not just blurred vision either but for objects close too, I’m actually seeing double. Double just about everything, except my bank account, that is. You try watching a football match on the internet when you see it like that.

At least that explains why there are so many tpying errors and faults in the speling. I’m not able to poof-read what I type because I can’t see it.

However, there is absolutely no chance whatever of me being anywhere near Paris tomorrow. For a start, I need a bon de transport for the trip, which they never sent, and then the trip needs to be approved by the Social Services.

And then I need to book a car to take me, always assuming that there’s one available at short notice and always assuming that the trip is approved.

Approval won’t be for a couple of weeks, so that immediately rules out any possibility whatever of going tomorrow.

How I found out was by reading my text messages this afternoon. No-one called me or spoke to me. The message just appeared and I didn’t notice it until it was far too late to ring up to cancel it

It goes without saying that I’m impressed, as I always am, with the speed of reaction of the French Health Service, but I can see that I’m going to have to train the hospital much better than this. At Castle Anthrax, for example, we finally managed, after much trying, to synchronise the appointments so that they all took place while I was there at Haematology. I need to do the same here.

In theory, seeing as I’m going on a day visit and carrying no luggage, I could attempt the train and have help to see me to and from a taxi in Paris but firstly, I need at least 24 hours notice to apply for the service. Secondly, with these puttees on my feet I can’t wear my shoes and thirdly, I have a Welsh class tomorrow.

In other words, it’s a total non-starter.

There will probably be a rude message for me later on tomorrow, rather like the time that I was late for work.
"You should have been here at 09:00" shouted the boss
"Why?" I asked. "What happened?"
After a few weeks he called me into his office.
"You are coming into the office later and later" he said
"I do actually make up for it" I said
"How’s that?" he asked
"Well look how early I leave for home!"

But problems with my vision will probably explain why I’m having trouble finding my bed.

Last night was another 02:30 switching off of the computer. I was actually really tired but far too tired to stir my stumps and rise up from my chair. It’s been a few times that that’s happened and I really don’t know what to do about it.

What I probably need to do is to force myself and make an effort, but that’s easier said than done. I have said before that I have so many things to do but keep on forgetting to do them. Actually, the problem is that I have so many things to do but can’t find the effort or the motivation.

It’s not just my dreams that are going through my death-throes, it’s me, I reckon, and I’m taking my dreams with me as I go.

When the alarm went off you can’t imagine (well, actually I suppose that you can) the struggle that I had to leave the bed. I managed to beat the second alarm but it was just like the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo and "the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life".

First things first, and I did manage to remember the blood pressure – 14.8/8.2 this morning, down from 15.8/10.0 when I’d checked it before going to bed.

After the medication I went into the bathroom and had a really good wash and scrub up in the hope that it might awaken me but it didn’t seem to work. I was in no fit state to do anything.

When the nurse came to see me, I got my own back. Taking off my puttees last night I lost one of the clips, so when she came in this morning I said "You’re going to have a go at me again today"
"I didn’t have a go at you yesterday" she said
"Yes you did" I insisted. "But anyway, taking of my puttees last night I lost one of the clips"
And she was quite nice about it.

But I certainly saw a side of her yesterday that I had never suspected.

But she’s off now for a rest and it will be her sidekick for a week starting tomorrow. He’s the one who can’t ever find a vein in my arm for his blood sample so on Wednesday we’ll probably have a “discussion” about that too.

After she left I came back in here but really I was in no fit state to do any work. In fact I missed my morning coffee and lunchtime fruit because I couldn’t find the enthusiasm to leave my chair.

It was late afternoon when I finally moved and went for some hot chocolate – the first food or hot drink that I’d had all day.

My cleaner came in the stuff that had finally arrived at the pharmacy, and we had a chat. I gave her a shopping list of things that I need from LeClerc tomorrow that they won’t deliver, and she photographed a couple of bottles and jars as an aide-memoire

An energy drink later on did something for me, and I transcribed the dictaphone notes, such as there were from such a sad night. The tenant of one of my apartments wanted my friend to meet two new sub-locataires but she didn’t have the slightest bit of interest whatever in seeing them and felt that the management of the property in their respect should fall on the guy who’s leasing it rather than whoever was the principal leaseholder . She didn’t have the slightest wish whatever to become involved in his sub-letting.

Although I dictated that it was my apartment, it actually belongs to the friend who was included in the dream. She owns a couple of apartments and is actually, even as we speak, having issues with one of her tenants and the management company involved that are on the verge of escalating.

But the whole letting industry in the UK is all descending into total chaos anyway. A property that was completely rewired five years previously failed its electrical certificate at next renewal.
"Why was that? What was wrong with it after five years?"
"Well, nothing actually, but standards have now changed and what was good enough five years ago is no longer adequate"
"So you’d better have someone fix it for me"
"We would have already done it, but we can’t find any tradesmen to do it."
Conversations like that actually do take place.

There was time to finish off the radio programme that I started yesterday (apart from dictating and editing the notes that I wrote for the final track) before going for my stuffed pepper. Quite delicious again. The couscous instead of the quinoa or bulghour works really well.

Plenty of stuffing left for my taco roll tomorrow and there will probably be some for the basis of a leftover curry too on Wednesday.

But that’s Wednesday. Right now I’m going to make a huge effort and go to bed. Walter Reisch said "tired minds don’t plan well. Sleep first, plan later" and he’s not wrong. The way that I feel, I couldn’t even plan a whatsit in a wherever right now.

It’s more a case of Maccbeth and "to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day" and as everyone knows, after my experiences in the High Arctic, I’LL GIVE ALL MY TOMORROWS FOR A SINGLE YESTERDAY

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’"

Monday 26th February 2024 – IT LOOKS AS …

… if I’ll be back in hospital sooner than I imagined.

In fact, if the hospital had its way I’d be there now.

The nurse who telephones me every few days to find out how I am and so I told her, and that was that. She told the doctor and he issued the instructions, and left it to the nurse to find a date seeing as I turned down “today”.

Yes, it’s “all go” here in the apartment. I wasn’t in bed very early because I had things to do, even though I was tired. And so I didn’t have much sleep.

What sleep I had was quite good though and I wish that I had had more of it. There’s no doubt that I seem to be sleeping better these days than I have done but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. As I have said before … "" – ed … my nocturnal travels are very important to me.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and went to take the blood pressure. A very low 14.8/8.9 this morning, compared to 17.1/11.8 last night.

After the medication I came back in here and had a few things to do before I could transcribe the dictaphone notes. We were at school last night. There was an issue about climate change etc. Our headmaster gave a speech to a certain organisation about something or other on this subject. It turned out to be a huge self-justification about all kinds of things. I somehow managed to access the meeting so I stood up and made a speech simultaneously criticising him for all kinds of different things that had gone on in the past in the school for which I considered him to be responsible but no-one took any notice of me at all. I thought “fair enough”. My life carried on as usual, I had a nice girlfriend (and I wish that I knew who she was). Then I noticed that there wee jobs for school leavers. A couple of them were really interesting. One was to go to Kenya for a couple of years as some kind of exchange of teacher or something like that. I must admit that that appealed to me. Anyway I wanted to go to sort out the headmaster. He had a meeting of people my year at school at the start of the afternoon so I went five minutes early and said “I want to talk to you”. He looked at me and said “and what position are you after?”. I had to be honest and explain that although I was after the one in Kenya I’d come to see him on another matter. He took the greatest amount of umbrage with me criticising him for his speech. He was really quite aggressive with his defence of what he said which I thought was way, way over the top and out of place.

It’s one thing that I’ve noticed about Climate Change deniers and the others of their ilk. When you challenge their “beliefs” the become quite aggressive and try to shout you out of their argument. Yet the facts are indisputable.

"Climate change is a natural phenomenon" – indeed it is, but that’s no reason for us to do nothing about it. It’s like saying that the Titanic was going to sink anyway so why bother pumping? The answer is that by pumping it gave them an extra couple of hours for Carpathia to come to the rescue. And that’s why we have to keep on trying to save the planet – to give us more time to find a solution.

"The Earth is simply rotating on its axis like it normally does". Indeed it does, but at a rate of 1° per 7,000 years according to calculations made by Sir Norman Lockyer, so we’re talking of arcoseconds in real terms. But if that’s what is going on according to the naysayers, why aren’t other parts of the World freezing as quickly as the High Arctic is melting?

But seriously, anyone who has been to the High Arctic can see the evidence for themselves. I was talking to an Inuit on Bylot Island who told me that he used to come to the spot where I was standing to fetch a block of ice for his old grandfather to make tea. And then he took me to the head of the glacier where it was in 2018 – a walk of 1.5 miles
"So how old were you when you did this?"
"Twelve or thirteen"
"How old are you now?"
"Twenty-four"

The glacier has receded 1.5 miles in 12 years.

In the memoirs of James Rae he writes about battling through the snow and ice around Pelly’s Bay in August 1854 when he met a group of Inuit who gave him information and relics about Franklin’s lost expedition. We landed at Pelly’s Bay to refuel on our way out to Mittimatalik in September 2018 and there wasn’t a fleck of snow anywhere.

The presentation that I did on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR was afrer we’d sailed several miles up a Fjord on Ellesmere Island and I showed a slide of an Admiralty chart of 1857 which showed no fjord there – the whole island was covered by an ice cap all the way down to the sea according to the chart.

Bylot Island, where I talked to that Inuit, wasn’t even an island. If you look at the map you’ll see that the strait that separates it from the mainland of Baffin Island is called “Pond Inlet” because that’s what it was when Europeans first visited it. It wasn’t until the ice melted that they discovered that Bylot Island was actually an island.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, following on from the previous dream, the girl to whom the headmaster refused to talk … "which girl?" – ed … ended up teaching part-time at a college which was part of the story and in fact taught German to the guy who took over from her boss as whatever official position it was for which the girl was secretary, but she was still chasing her boss and trying to persuade him to either justify his speech or to withdraw it and the implications that it had against us, this particular girl.

It seems that there’s a chunk missing from these dreams somewhere, and that seems to be a regular thing. It makes me wonder what else I’ve missed, and I know that ON ONE OCCASION I missed a visit from Castor. Imagine that!

Having done that and pushed it out of the way I went to finish the radio programme that I was organising yesterday. It meant dictating the notes that I’d written last night for the final track that I’d chosen, and then editing it and adding it all in with the actual song.

And to my surprise it was exactly one second SHORT.

When they are too long, I can cope quite easily. I always include in my notes some things that can be edited out if necessary to bring them down to the correct time; but when they are too short it requires more inventiveness.

But one second isn’t too bad. That’s 20×0.050 second “silence generated” pauses in salient places and that’s the job done.

After that I chose all of the music for the next radio programme, paired it off and began to write the notes for it. I could have done much more too except that I … errr … had a rest

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper, with plenty of stuffing left over, thanks to having forgotten my mushrooms on Friday and a suspect tomato in the fridge. That will keep me going for a few more meals.

Tomorrow I have a Welsh lesson, and then there’s an order to send off to LeClerc as I’m running low on frozen vegetables. So tomorrow late afternoon will see me blanching carrots and sprouts ready to freeze. Still, there’s some chocolate cake left to see me through

Then I’ll have to think about this hospital appointment. Will it be for a stay or just a day visit? I know that it’s for a lumbar puncture which I dread, but I can’t believe that they’ll send me home on the same day.

But as Macbeth said, "If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly". And he was right. No point in waiting around because it will still be the same. It’s as Terry Venables once eloquently put it – "if history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again"

Or as Vivian Green sang, "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain"

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.

Monday 12th February 2024 – BYD BACH!

Yes, what a small world!

In my half-term revision class this week is a woman who lives just down the road from where I used to live in Crewe

Having had in one class a year or so a woman who knew all of my old hang-outs in Nantwich, having in my current class a person who is a teacher at my old school and now this, it’s as if the world is closing in on top of me.

We’re reaching the stage where I’m beginning to shudder about what happens next in this crazy world.

At least it won’t be any of my family contacting me. They are still struggling to come to terms with such modern inventions as the wheel. It’ll take several more millennia for them to adapt to the complexities of rolling down the Information Highway.

The complexities with which I was struggling last night, namely completing my Hawkfest programme, meant that at the end of the day (and I mean that quite literally) it was after midnight when I finally let it all hang out and went to bed.

And for a change, quite rare these days, I had a deep, rewarding, satisfying sleep. And it’s been a long time since I can say that. In fact I’m regretting that I didn’t go to bed an hour or two earlier so I could have had more of it.

So when the alarm went off I was surprised, disappointed and tired, but I hauled myself out of the bed and took my blood pressure. 21.1/17.0? You can’t be serious. That’s actually life-threatening.

After the morning medication I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was in charge of a group of people who had been withdrawn from front-line bomber attacks because of their opposition to Harris’s policy of killing German civilians. They had been sent into my care where I’d organised them into groups of five, then two groups of five to make ten. They played football with each other and now they are having to sort themselves out into playing musical instruments so there are not two of the same one in the same group. If there are two bassists one of them has to retrain for another instrument etc. They are all going to be different

There’s something of a story about this too. I had the idea to write a book, a novel about a group of similar airmen withdrawn from front-line bomber squadrons for this reason, and sent instead to fight the submarine menace in the Atlantic.

There was what they called the “Air Gap” in the Atlantic where no aeroplane could reach it, and the submarines could work unimpeded there to sink defenceless ships. It was filled later in the war by a series of lightweight aircraft carriers sailing with the convoys.

My plan in my novel would have been to have a fleet of bombers stripped of everything except the absolute essentials, fitted with extra fuel capacity and flying from bases in Northern Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Brazil and the Azores.

But that’s something that someone else will have to write.

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … bed we had to go to a Land Rover place near Audlem to pick up some spare parts. It was rather an obscure place, difficult to find, so I went along with them and gave them the most minute instructions how to arrive there. It turned out that they all knew where it was anyway. The laugh was on me about this particular trip. A week or two later I had to go to a party. There was quite a bit of alcohol involved so I’d arranged for a lift down and a lift back. We agreed that my brother-in-law would run me. There was some girl who wanted to go too so I said that she could come with me if she came round to my house. Suddenly a bit later on I remembered that I hadn’t given her a time. There were things that I had to do on Saturday so I did all of those. It was almost 15:00 on Saturday afternoon when my brother-in-law turned up. I’d basically forgotten about this girl. I thought that she’d either be at this party already or she wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t see her again. I went into my brother-in-law’s car and he made a few offensive remarks about that trip to Audlem and I needn’t bother giving him directions to Audlem because he’s sure that he knows the way there and he’s quite happy to manage without me.

As if my eldest sister’s husband would ever help me do anything. He married her in 1968 and spent the next 25 years insulting me until I left the UK.

And then when we happened to find ourselves at a funeral together in 1999 he actually tried to provoke me into a fight. At a funeral! Some people have no shame whatsoever.

There really are times when I wonder whether these stories about fairies and changelings – whether there might actually be something in them.

Having dealt with the dictaphone I had a few things to do and then prepared for the first day of my two-day course. I made a full pot of coffee and warmed some bread-and-butter pudding in the microwave.

There was the last quarter of that in the ice-box in the fridge and I took it out last night to defrost.

In its place are the sausage rolls that I baked yesterday. The ice-box isn’t an ideal place for them but it will have to do until I can make some room in the freezer in the bathroom

In the Welsh course are 12 students and a tutor. And probably half of the first period of the course was spent telling us about the rules and regulations and the like, how we have to respect everyone and so on. Things that we were taught by our parents to do in the old days. It seems that the modern world has totally lost its head.

In the middle of it all the hospital rang, and they nearly had a heart attack when I told them of this morning’s blood pressure. Serve them right, I reckon.

When the lesson finished I made my hot chocolate and then began to pair off the music for the next radio programme. That’s now all done so I’ll start to write the notes during the breaks tomorrow.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper, with the stuffing based on couscous again and that’s an excellent idea. It really does make an excellent difference.

Plenty of stuffing left too, for a taco roll tomorrow and a leftover curry with naan bread on Wednesday. That stuffing patty thing on Thursday and that’s the meals organised until the weekend. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I eat simply here, but really well.

Arthur Conan Doyle said that "fatigue and too much food is the fuel of nightmares" and that probably explains why my family members appear so often in my dreams.

What I’ll have to do then is to cut down on my food and have more sleep.

But is that ever likely to happen? Beregond once noted that "at the table, small men may do the greater deeds" and I am shrinking fast.

Monday 29th January 2024 – WHAT A SHAME!

Yes, despite fighting off waves of sleep I managed to keep on going until about 17:30 when this anti-potassium stuff bit in and I was out like the proverbial light.

And I’ll tell you how deep the sleep was – that I had two people send me messages on my internet messenger service while I was asleep and despite the raucous racket that the alert makes, I didn’t hear a thing. I was absolutely and completely out of it, all the way to 19:28

But this stuff really is dangerous. I had no warning of going to sleep and not even any recollection of feeling ready to go to sleep, if that makes sense. It really was as if someone had switched off a light. Imagine if I’d been driving a car.

It was something of a surprise that I kept on going for as long as I did because I’d had yet another turbulent night

It was after midnight and I’d been letting it all hang out before I’d gone to bed. And then it was a night with quite a lot going on while I was asleep, as I found out when I went to transcribe the dictaphone notes later.

But when the alarm went off I fell out of bed and then took my blood pressure. 18.9/10.9 will give them something to think about at the hospital. My blood pressure figures are ridiculous though. Last night it was as high as 19.5/9.7.

But anyway I went to shovel down the medication , check the mails and messages and then back in here to check the dictaphone notes. And as I said, there was a lot to check. There was a dream about watching some kind of race with kids climbing up and down the steep side of a hill. We were all watching from the hedge or side of the fence as the kids were running up it. The person with me entered into a conversation with someone else who was watching there. I heard my name mentioned although they weren’t talking to me. I could see that she was explaining my situation to this person. Then a young girl came up. There was something about her pony tail so I had to take out the clip and put it back into her hair at a higher position. That seemed to bring out some comment from someone as well. For some unknown reason trains were mentioned. There were these single-coach multiple unit things, one of those, and attached to it was half of a two-coach unit so it was two coaches but you couldn’t walk between the two. There was something about that that was involved in the discussion too but it didn’t seem to make any sense or fit in anywhere.

Not that my dreams make any sense to start with of course.

There were then these two large creature-type things that were humanoid but basically just mouth and body. They were humanoid, coloured human and so on with human skin for what there was. They were in the corner talking about philosophy and the meaning of life etc when they suddenly realised that they were there with no legs and two very feeble hands. How are they going to move? Here they are, having spent the last so long running down the human race, how they were the masters and how they could control everything and they suddenly realised that they couldn’t move without the aid of the human beings to push them around. That was a rather humiliating experience for them

Did I dictate this dream about being ill and not being able to walk? … "no, you didn’t" – ed … I needed something doing so I telephoned the ambulance company to ask them if they could do it and bring it round here. So they did but a while later in a conversation with someone else we were talking about how I was feeling at that particular moment. The question of other people turned up. I said something strange, which was “can you imagine the feeling that I had when the driver turned up and it wasn’t the one whom I wanted?”. The person with me replied “yes” but he remembered a certain game of Blind Man’s Bluff where the same thing had happened – where someone had ended up touching him so he took off his blindfold to look at the person and was so disappointed that it was not a certain person who had touched him but someone else completely.

There are more than just a few points in that little dream with which I can relate too.

Then I was round at someone’s house. They had 2 children, one aged about 2 and the other aged about 4. It must have been the kid’s bedtime. To my surprise the parents made up their bed on the sofa in the living room which I thought strange. My host asked me “do you want to put them to bed Eric?” so I called the youngest one over and picked her up. Then all of this “gooey gooey” language that you use with small babies and children. I put her into the bed there, made sure that she was comfortable in between the sheets and that the blanket was good. Then I did the same for the other, carried her across the room from where she’d been standing and lay her on the sofa, lined her up and tucked her in. Now that we had these 2 kids on the sofa and we were supposed to be socialising, but it’s impossible to socialise without making a noise but this was what my host’s idea was. I was totally bewildered by this

We were talking about my contact lenses and I was supposed to wear them but I was just putting it off and putting it off. In the end one of my friends cajoled and encouraged me. In the end I went to see about them. I finally had a pair, had them fitted. They were on a 3-month trial. They were a kind of corrective contact lenses that are supposed to improve your eyesight. What they would do was to work on your eyes, massage the muscles etc. You had 3 months and at the end if there was no improvement you simply handed them back. Once I had them installed my friend said “there, you see? It was quite easy and you were making such a fuss of it” etc. Almost immediately someone came in and said that so-and-so was leaving. That was the guy who had been to collect my contact lenses and signed for them. When he came into our room I asked him when he was leaving. He looked terribly defensively and asked why. I said “so that you could apologise on my behalf to the firm that supplied the contact lenses. If you picked them up, you’re the one who has to return them. But not to worry” I said. “We’ll sort it out somehow”.

But as for contact lenses, I used to wear contact lenses until one heady day in 1997 bringing my boss back from a meeting in Luxembourg. Roaring back up the E411 on a warm autumn early-evening with my window open, a lorry on the opposite carriageway threw up a small stone that hit me squarely in the eye.

Without thinking I rubbed my eye, like you do … "like YOU do" – ed … and a piece of grit not only shredded my contact lens but scratched my cornea too

After I’d dropped my boss off I went round to our office’s Emergency Service. They confirmed the damage to my eye and sent me to an eye specialist in Antwerp.
“We can repair this with laser surgery” he replied. “But for an extra 6,000BF (£120) we can repair the sight in your eye too so that you’ll have good vision”
“What will it say on the receipt?” I asked
“Simply ‘laser surgery to repair eye defect'” he answered. He wasn’t stupid
“Well, as long as it does say that and only that, go ahead”.

And as it was classed as an industrial injury, it was reimbursed 100%

There was a follow-up to that too.

As I now had one perfect eye and one poor eye, I was having a lot of rouble with perception and depth of vision, which for a Ministerial chauffeur was a serious issue.

So after a lengthy discussion with our Medical service it was back to Antwerp to have the other eye done – reimbursed 100%

Laser surgery is the best thing since sliced bread and I’m really glad that I had it done. Of course, as I’m starting to reach a ripe old age, growing riper as I grow older, my near sight is going but there’s not a thing at all wrong with my distance vision.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, when I was at work the local nursing home needed some cover. Seeing that I was due some time off I decided that I’d take it and go to work there. That was what I did. On my way home I didn’t feel like cooking. I thought that I’d order a meal. The only meal that seemed to be there was a potato and egg soup followed by something else. The soup of course wasn’t vegan but what did I care at that moment? I ordered it anyway. When I returned home it arrived. I decided to eat it and took it out of the container, looked at it and suddenly for some reason all my appetite completely disappeared.

When I’d checked my messages earlier there had been a couple on there that needed answering.

One of them concerned a project of work that needs doing in the building. It’s pretty straightforward really – contact Batiments de France to see if we can do it, and if so, then contact the relevant associations that deal with autonomy of the elderly and infirm to see if a subsidy might be obtained.

Batiments de France is the French equivalent of whoever looks after Ancient Monuments.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … this building is a listed building with Batiments de France – an ancient Monument and the fact that I’m living here is quite appropriate seeing as I’m an ancient monument myself.

In principle at least, you can’t even knock a nail in the wall without permission from Batiments de France, and certainly not in a public part of the building where anyone might see it.

Now the procedure that I outlined doesn’t sound complicated but you’ll be surprised (or maybe you won’t) at the Byzantine nature of French administration. This is not a job of 5 minutes.

While I was at it, I had to sort out some accommodation. Our little travel club has decided that its next meeting will be here in Granville in early June so three people from Central Europe are going to descend on me and they’ll need somewhere to stay.

Anyway, that’s all organised now. They won’t be sleeping under a hedge.

Having done all that (and you’ll be surprised how long it takes) I turned my attention to my own things.

Firstly, I made an executive decision – and for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than a few just now, an executive decision is a decision that, if it turns out to be wrong, the person making it is executed.

"Better counsel comes overnight " said the German playwright and philosopher Gotthold Lessing.

So having given the matter some thought, what I’ve decided is that that mess that I loosely termed a “radio programme” that I prepared yesterday has now gone the Way of the West and I’ll do it all again. In a way it was a good decision too because the notes that I wrote under the influence of this wicked stuff were garbage and so I rewrote many of them this morning.

So having rewritten the notes and waiting for quiet moment (whenever that might be) to dictate them, I started on my Hawkfest.

My opening segue of three tracks is now all assembled and my final track is ready. I’ve tracked down several pieces of work from artists who have been at one of the Hawkfests and I’m up to 36 minutes. I need another 17 minutes and a guy in Congleton who was onstage at one of them will send me some stuff and then the difficult bit of tracking down whatever he hasn’t sent me begins.

Some stuff that I’ve received from an Australian band who were onstage at the second Hawkfest is pretty awful as far as quality goes though, but the music and its context makes it worth including.

At about 17:00 I broke off to go and have a really, really good wash. And I did too – a nice, deep scrub that made me feel so much better. But it was while I was sitting on the sofa changing my socks that I hit the wall.

When I awoke, it was teatime so I made a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg.

No bulghour so I based my stuffing around some couscous that seems to have been here from before the Dawn of Time. And that’s not an exaggeration either because I haven’t been in the shop that sold it since I went to live in Leuven.

However it did actually work and I was quite impressed. Just as well because there’s plenty left for a taco roll tomorrow and then to add to a leftover curry on Wednesday.

So right now, having been shaken about by Rosemary during an Internet text exchange, I’m off to bed.

There’s a Welsh lesson tomorrow but on this anti-potassium stuff I’ve never felt less like going. But we awaken tomorrow and plod on wearily towards the end.

"Dawn is ever the hope of men" said Aragorn, and it will have to be mine right now.

All that I can do is remember the words of Gildor when he said "Courage is found in unlikely places. Be of good hope" but I’m not sure what unlikely places there are here in my little apartment, because I won’t be going anywhere else for a while.

So what I’ll do now is to take my blood pressure. One of the unlikely places where I would like to be would be in the laboratory to see their faces when they receive the results.

The last time that I was in a laboratory was at one of the University’s laboratories in Milton Keynes. There we had a pleasant summer school for two weeks in 1998 where the highlight of our achievement was to discover a cure for which there was no known disease

Monday 22nd January 2024 – THIS PERISHING RUBBISH …

… that I’m taking to control the potassium in my kidneys is going way beyond what is reasonable.

After having the helping at 07:30 or so with the morning medication by 09:05 I was out like a light and the next thing that I remember was that it was about 11:00. It was really as if someone had simply flicked a switch.

And when I awoke I was in a state of utter confusion that has continued to some extent or another throughout the day

Surprisingly, I found that I had even been on my travels while I was crashed out on the chair. I was in Nantwich and noticed that there was a big hotel right opposite the railway station, right by the bus station (which it isn’t) so I had this idea of going round France and the UK, finding similar hotels located in similar good positions and marketing holidays aimed at the pedestrian tourist with luggage. When Hawkwind awoke me with ANGELS OF DEATH I was busy setting up a stand at a railway junction in the Gironde somewhere in order to greet my passengers who were changing trains there.

That’s exactly how deep a sleep it was.

But returning to last night, I didn’t need much rocking when I went to bed loaded up with this anti-potassium stuff, that’s for sure. I was soon away with the fairies.

And quite literally too. I must have travelled miles during the night. I dreamed that I’d had one of those drinks again (and that’s bad news, isn’t it?). I remember so vividly mixing it and drinking it and thinking that this time of course it didn’t taste so bad so what was I worried about? Thinking that it was the nicest one yet. When I turned over I awoke from the pain in my leg. I looked at my watch and it was 00:25 and I was still in bed so it was something that I obviously must have dreamt but it was so real.

Later on I was in my blue MkI Cortina. I was out with a girl again last night. I had to take her home so we drove home. As we went through Haslington there was a sign that said “Winsford Station” and it was 8.5 miles away. I thought that that was a strange thing to see. I brought her home and parked outside the door to her apartment. I asked her for a kiss but she thought that it was rather too much of a public place. But we had a bit of a kiss etc parked outside her door then she went in. I wish that I knew who she was. She was very familiar to me but I just can’t think whether I knew her or not. Just round the corner from there was a golf club. I wanted to use the bathroom so I thought that I’d go there. I went in and did what I needed to do. I thought that these toilets are much higher than the usual ones and I felt much more comfortable sitting on these than I did on the one back at home at the traditional height. It was easy for me to dress afterwards. As I turned to wash my hands I noticed that someone had left a golf cart and golf clubs right by the sink. I washed as well as I could. I picked up my crutches but there were some other crutches there too. I picked those up and walked outside. There was a cleaning team there because it was time to go home and close the building. I explained to one of them, a young guy, that there was a set of golf clubs still in the toilet. He thanked me and said goodbye. he told me not to forget all my crutches. I realised that I had the ones that weren’t mine so I told him about those too and handed them to one of the people.

But I wish that I knew who that girl was. She seemed so familiar to me that I’m sure that I recognised her but I just couldn’t put a name to her. And isn’t that a shame?

And then it was common knowledge that I was leaving the hospital so a day or two before I was due to go a whole crocodile of people passed by my bed in a kind-of conga dance to say goodbye to me. I was drugged up to the eyebrows so I was rather unaware, rather unsure. One of the very last people to go was something small dressed in pierrot’s clothes and a STRAWBERRY MOOSE hat on it. With it being small it can’t possibly have been someone who worked there. Then I remembered that one of the staff had a very young daughter and brought her into the hospital every now and again. She’d been to see me a few times so I reached out, touched her arm and began to stroke it in time to the music. A horrible thought came over me “I wish that I knew who this was and I hope that it was that young girl otherwise this is going to be a terribly embarrassing situation in which to be”. I forgot to mention that right at the very beginning I was asleep. It was someone blowing a hunting horn of some description that had in fact awoken me, just blowing 2 blasts on this horn so I was awake and that was how, because of this horn

Next off I was with Nerina in a house somewhere. I can’t remember very much about this dream. I’d prepared a programme for the radio and had sent it off. Very near the end what I’d put in there was wiped out and Thierry’s voice came over, introduced a song but it only played so many seconds of it before it cut to the News. I heard him say “oh blast!” but I wasn’t sure whether it was for real or on the radio. After the news his voice carried on and went well over the hour so I had no idea what was happening. In the meantime I was planning on buying a house. I’d seen one out in Brittany that I’d liked , a farm cottage type of place on the edge of a village with outbuildings at the back for the cars. I’d bought it but trying to obtain possession was proving to be really complicated. I knew that it would happen and I knew that it would come but trying to actually physically obtain it was proving to be extremely difficult

After that, someone came along and awoke me and said that it was time so I began to get up but I thought that it was rather early. My pianist, who was sleeping in the same room got up and told everyone that she would help me. That seemed to satisfy them all. After some debate and discussion they all left. In the meantime I went back to sleep again. Then I awoke and wondered why the alarm hadn’t gone off for a second time. I looked at my watch and it was 05:46, a long time before the alarm goes off so that part must have been a dream too.

And who was this pianist? Surely not the 12-inch pianist that my rather deaf fairy Godmother brought me once.

When the alarm went off I was busy being interviewed by a Colonel from a Home Guard regiment in Normandy. They were creating this to defend the land against the invading Germans and wanted volunteers so I went along. He laughed and said that I wouldn’t be any good. I explained that I couldn’t march and couldn’t run but I could fire a gun. I could be the battalion reserve. In case of invasion they could just put me somewhere with a machine gun and I could act as their hold-up man while they went off and found some better positions somewhere.

There was even more that this but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your lunch right now.

So I staggered on my crutches into the kitchen to pump myself up with more medication, and then back in here to check the mails and messages. and I do appreciate all of the mails and messages that I receive.

Having transcribed the dictaphone notes I promptly crashed out as I said just now.

It was a very bleary-eyed and comparatively incoherent me who had to speak to the nurse from the hospital ringing up to find out how I was. I told her about the problems with the anti-potassium medication and about water retention, the ack of ability to walk etc.

She replied that she’d speak to the doctor about it but as yet no-one has come back to me. They are probably waiting for the result of this week’s blood test.

And so am I if it means that I can stop taking the blasted stuff.

There was an exciting phone call over midday too. I was speaking to my neighbour on the phone when suddenly she had to go because there was someone at her door.

No sooner had she come back and restarted the chat when I had to go because there was someone at my door. It was my long-suffering cleaner who had brought me my next lot of injections. And there are more to come too, which will be here on Wednesday. I hope that there will be some room in the fridge.

We finally managed to finish our ‘phone call and then I had to chase up this bon de transport to go to Paris tomorrow. And the doctor had actually already sent it – to the taxi company.

And he’s put the address incorrectly. It’s not actually the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière where I’m going but the Hospital St Antoine. I hope that the taxi driver knows the way and it won’t cause any complications, because the doctor has filled out bon de transport is for the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière.

The ambulance company that brought me home on Friday rang me too. There’s some confusion in their office about my health cover

Apart from that I’ve been weaving my way through the next radio programme. I listened to the one for this week and sent it off and then made a start on another.

And how difficult is it when you have all these interruptions and your head is going round and round after this drink? It took me an age to choose the music and pair it off, and I’ve only written half of the notes. I really ought to be doing better than this.

But not right now though. I’ve had tea – a stuffed pepper that somehow didn’t seem to be as nice as usual and I don’t know why, and now I’m off to bed ready for my … gulp … 06:30 alarm clock.

Before I go though, I’ll leave you with THE HIGHLIGHTS of the game from the weekend. When that ball hit the bar after 55 seconds, I could hear it from here, never mind on the computer.

In case you’re wondering, which I’m sure you are, the team in purple are under-21 stars of a team that’s pushing for promotion in the English Championship. The team in white and green are basically Saturday afternoon players from Wales.

But look at their third and fifth goals. Aren’t they peaches?