Tag Archives: taco roll

Tuesday 28th May 2024 – “YOU ARE REQUESTED …

… to come for an appointment at the hospital at Avranches on Friday morning at 09:00. Ohhh – and bring your overnight things”.

Things are moving faster than I even expected and it’s rather important because this weekend I have friends coming over from Germany to visit me. I bet that they didn’t expect to come to visit me in a hospital bed.

But yet more visits? More visits this year than I’ve had in all the other years combined since I’ve been living here. Anyone would think that I’m dying or something.

Last night I actually felt like dying. I’d done all that I could to have an early night and then the fates conspired against me, one thing led to another, and once you begin you’ve no idea how many other things there are. As a result I was late into bed once more.

However I actually found it a little easier to crawl into bed last night and turning over through the pain barrier into the only position in which it’s possible at the moment to be comfortable was nothing like as painful as it has been

My legs were well inside the bed too which meant that I didn’t fall out once which was an improvement on the previous night. Nevertheless I was awake a long time before the alarm went off and wandering around the bathroom when it finally did ring.

No blood test today for some reason. He’s going to do it tomorrow, which probably means that I won’t have my injection of the Last Resort until Thursday, if it’s not too late by then

But I do wish that he’d stop moaning. Things may well not be pleasant for him around here right now, but imagine how they are for me. Don’t you think that I’d change things if I could?

After he left I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There wasn’t actually anything on it but that’s not to say that I didn’t go anywhere.

In fact I had the greatest memory of another one of those really long dreams that I’m sifting through my head before I dictate them, just like the other night. This was a lengthy newspaper article that I was writing about how unjust it is to blame goalkeepers for their errors on the field. A keeper who lets a shot roll in under his body has no more lost the game for his club than the centre-forward who misses a sitter. Yet you see plenty of “goalkeeper error” videos but very rarely a “centre forward error” one.

What started this. I suppose, was a game that I saw the other day between Annan Athletic Under 17s and Threave Rovers Under 17s when the Annan keeper was yellow-carded for “deliberate handball” giving away a freekick that led to a goal by Threave Rovers. The game was being played on a sports centre pitch where there were five different sets of markings and he simply carried the ball out to the wrong set of lines. So what I was doing in my sleep was going through lists of games where a keeper had made a mistake and conceded a bad goal and a striker had missed a sitter in front of goal, and comparing who was blamed for the defeat.

Of course, each time that I thought that I’d had my list ready to dictate I remembered something else and had to start my list again. But I was awake before I could do that.

Coffee and delicious flapjack were next, then back in here I didn’t do all that much for a while.

A ring on the doorbell, a real one this times, jogged me into action. It was the doctor. He took one look at me and almost collapsed with shock.

He gave me a good going-over and reckoned that I ought to have a spell in hospital – “and not just a couple of days either”. He’d “have a word with the nephrology professor” at Avranches about me

So after he left I began to bring my medical file up-to-date, weeding out all of the time-expired stuff and adding in the new stuff. You’ve no idea how much has changed over the past few weeks.

My prescription – I’d given than to the nurse this morning. I had to print off another one along with yet more paperwork.

In the middle of all of this the hospital at Avranches rang up with the convoquation. So here we go.

Firstly, I had to book the taxi to take me. Secondly, I had to tell Paris where I was going just in case I can’t make their appointment on the 10th of June.

The doctor’s office rang me back later too “there’s another medicament …” so I had to contact my poor cleaner. And having one hospital take me off the Burinex for something else, Avranches has now put me back on the Burinex. And that’s just as well because I never had these problems when I was taking that.

In the middle of all of this I’d been doing some radio stuff. I’d started by choosing some music for another programme but with the news that I had, I verified three more programmes and sent them off. I told you that it’s a good idea to have a few prepared in advance.

At long last I could go for tea – a taco roll with rice and veg. Totally delicious as usual. I really do like my boring meals. They are totally different from what I’ll be eating in a few days time. I hope that some of you will be sending me food parcels.

But that’s for another time. I’m living from day to day here – in fact, from minute to minute. Getting into bed is the next challenge

The hospital should be fun – in the sense of interaction with others. I don’t see enough people, stranded as I am in my apartment. I know that regular readers of this rubbish will recall having told me that I need to get out more.

But it’s going to be a struggle for them at Avranches. Last time I was there I heard more than one nurse say, as I was climbing into the taxi to take me home "if he comes back, I’m leaving!"

Tuesday 21st May 2024 – NOT ANOTHER HORRIBLE …

… miserable day when I’ve spent most of the afternoon fast asleep on my comfortable chair?

It’s gone from being 10 minutes every few days now to a couple of hours on a couple of occasions every day and you’ve no idea just how fed up I’m becoming of it.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I awoke as quickly as I went to sleep, but awakening is a long, drowsy process when I’m not able to do anything at all except vegetate and wait for my body to catch up with the spinning of the World

There’s nothing in the World that I’d like more than to be able to say “goodbye” to all of this. One way or the other – it doesn’t bother me at all, but this is simply no good at all.

It’s not as if I had a particularly late night last night. It was the wrong side of 23:00 to be sure, but not by enough to worry me. And I actually had a decent sleep for several hours too.

At a certain point I definitely heard the alarm go off but it didn’t feel like 07:00 so I checked my watch. Battery flat! So I had to leave the bed to check the time on the ‘phone. It was only 06:00 as it happened, so once more we must have had a phantom alarm call.

As for me, I crawled back under the covers and waited for the 07:00 alarm call.

When it rang I went through the usual procedure of leaving the bed to switch it off, and then the bathroom for a wash followed by the dining area for my medication and to set it out as the nurse likes it.

While I waited for her I transcribed the dictaphone notes. Here’s a dream about people escaping from a prisoner-of-war camp and we’ve had this before. People being disguised as couples or families doing their best to make their own escape kits of clothing and materials that they’ll need. The night before the escape they all have a dress rehearsal by all appearing in the hallway of one of the blocks where there’s a German guard but he doesn’t suspect anything with the unlikely arrival of a couple of women and children etc. They have this demonstration. There’s a dog there for some reason, probably a prison warden dog. Someone makes a joke to another potential escapee about “oh it’s OK to stroke the poor doggie. That’s quite all right”. Generally speaking the display passes off quite well and the people prepare themselves to break out the following night. Certainly a couple of nights later the camp is empty so the escape must have been successful to some certain degree

Then I dreamed that dream about Bala FC escaping from that prisoner-of-war camp again although one of the prison camp guards played for Chester. I’ve forgotten this dream now. He was a prison camp and later on was told quite dramatically that I am sure to be his position, sack all over the street (…fell asleep here …)

So what’s going on about all of these prisoner-of-war dreams that I’m having right now? It must be significant, I suppose, but I can’t think of what the significance might be.

The nurse went through the procedures with my feet and legs, and I think that she realises that she’s fighting a losing battle. I know that that’s how I’m thinking. There’s no improvement and it’s just delaying the inevitable, and for no good purpose too.

After she left I revised for my Welsh class. The lesson passed quite well today which makes a nice change. We were talking about music, and of course that’s a subject about which I can talk for ever.

One of the things that I mentioned – in Welsh – was a rock group called Sumé. They come from Greenland and sang – would you believe – in Inuit. It’s thanks to their songs that many words made their way into the Inuit language and their singing started a revolution.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I began to learn Inuit but the problem with that language is that with the communities being so isolated and inter-community mixing so rare, each community has its own sub-language. What you learn in one settlement is different from the Inuit spoken in another settlement. So really you have to master about 20 different dialects

After the course was over I had my lunchtime fruit and then spent to afternoon fighting off – often unsuccessfully – wave after wave of sleep. While I was asleep at one point in the afternoon I’d been in some kind of dispute with someone and had climbed into my car ready to drive away to Manchester to fetch some things. I had someone with me. I realised that I was in no condition to drive and was on the verge of asking the person with me to take over when I realised what was happening was that I was slowly awakening.

Me being in dispute with someone? Surely not!

Despite the “wave after wave of sleep” I did manage to do some work. I wrote a few more notes for a future radio programme. With a bit of luck, God’s help and a Bobby I should be able to finish it tomorrow, if I don’t fall asleep.

The cleaner came round too to go through the medication. She brought me some new slippers that she’d picked up in LeClerc but it’s no good – despite them being two sizes too large I can’t actually put them on myself.

Tea tonight was a delicious taco roll with some more leftover stuffing. I can eat that with rice and veg every day of the week. There’s plenty of stuffing left to go into a left-over curry on Wednesday and I’ll have steamed veg and falafel in a cheese sauce on Thursday, I reckon, if I’m still here

They were actually discussing the funeral arrangements with someone not so long ago
"Would you like him buried in one of the new glass coffins?" asked the undertaker
"That’s a novel idea" said the client. "Do you think that it’ll ever become popular?"
"Remains to be seen" replied the undertaker

Tuesday 14th May 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… yet another candidate for “worst day ever of my life”.

It really has too. In fact I’ve spent almost all the afternoon fast asleep on my chair in the office and I’m totally fed up of all of this. I haven’t done a stroke of work.

Last night I actually made a really good effort and tried my best to be in bed early. Not that I succeeded but I did find a much better way of getting into bed that didn’t hurt my painful hip anything at all like it has been doing.

Once I was in bed I settled down for a nice, comfortable sleep but there wasn’t much hope of that. Although I fell asleep quite quickly we had another phantom alarm call in the middle of the night

When the real alarm went off I staggered off into the bathroom and then into the dining area for my medication. But the bathroom was hilarious from the point of view of dressing myself. I’m beginning to lose all of the basic skills. However, the pain in my hip has lessened a little.

The nurse came round later. He helped me put my leg up on the stool and when he did it, it didn’t hurt at all. I wish that I knew what his secret is.

After he left I began to revise for my Welsh lesson. And having collected a slice of flapjack and made myself a pot of strong coffee I joined in later.

The lesson actually passed quite well today but there again we weren’t actually stretched. We had to talk about our home and then about music. Of course, I can do both those things for hours.

As i’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … in all the places in which I’ve ever lived, this is the only place for which I’ve ever felt homesick when I’ve been away. It’s the first place that I’ve ever called “home”.

By the end of the lesson though, I was flagging quite badly and once it was over I crashed out completely Totally and absolutely, and for ninety minutes too. I felt totally awful too when I awoke

Once I’d come back round into the Land of the Living (and that took longer than it ought) I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been just recently. So I was there with some young girl, a member of our family, and were taking it in turns to be treated by the opposition, one team at a time, about something or other. I was putting my feet up on a stool in front of me but suddenly there was no stool there and the table cloth with cups of coffee etc set out began to fall to the floor. I had to grab hold of it and hold it. I had no idea what I was going to do next because I couldn’t move and there I was, holding this table cloth with all of the crockery and cutlery all set out for tea etc. There was absolutely nothing whatever holding the table cloth except my two arms.

Later on at Cardiff we put the ball up there but elected to push on because that was our strength but Cardiff also relied on our strength to defend. They managed to hold out and push us backwards out of a decent range Our players were young and inexperienced and weren’t able to take the ball in a way that they might have been if they’d had more experience. In the end that left the field open for Cardiff to come on and score the winning try.

That was just like in the previous match where they’d waited until I’d replaced Findi (whoever Findi is or was) and they took advantage of that change of line-up to swarm all over our front line and push it back down out of range again and into their own half

For the final couple of minutes and we had possession but weren’t able to advance. We didn’t have our kicker on the field so we couldn’t kick, so it was a case of having to persevere with the attack by running as much as we can. In the end we ran for miles, it seemed, just to make a small amount of ground to find a crack in the defence and swarm through for that goal in the final two minutes. We scored a touch-down but it was so lucky and we did so well to win it

A phantom alarm at 04:10 this morning. At the time I was busy instructing my girls’ rugby team about how to advance that final yard to have a pushover try if it were to become necessary in the match against Cardiff.

So what am I doing involved in a rugby team? And a girls’ rugby team at that? Rugby is a game that holds no interest at all for me. It’s just a silly game played by men with odd-shaped balls

It’s true however that one of the daughters of my niece in Canada played for a girls’ rugby team at school, and at school they tried to make us play rugby instead of football but we were having none of it. Our tactic was that our scrum would win the ball, pass it to me and, because I could kick with either feet, I’d kick for a drop goal from just about anywhere on the field within range.

"You don’t play rugby like that!" bellowed our new games master

Well, we did. And in the end, he gave up, went back to the staff room for a coffee, we began to play football and that was the last we ever heard about playing rugby. And quite right too.

Finally it was the final day of this end-of-season sale in this camping and sports shop. The whole world was in there looking for stuff. I found one or two things that I liked. As the evening drew to a close I was hovering by the till waiting. When they announced the closing of the store we all stampeded to the tills. I reached a till. The girl said something to me that I didn’t understand but it carried on until the person in front of me was served. Then she just switched off her till and walked away at that point. I found the people with whom I’d come and told them – I said “you won’t believe it but they’ve done it again, switched off the till right in front of me when I’m ready, willing and able to buy stuff. There’s absolutely no accounting for British people these days. Turn down a pile of work just so that they can be away from work five minutes earlier and not have to deal with any particular work.

And it wouldn’t be the first time that that has happened to me either, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

When I was asleep in the afternoon I had another one of these series of hallucinations with all kinds of stuff briefly flitting through my mind. One of the things that I do remember from when I was asleep in the afternoon was taking a girl out in one of my old vans. We went for a walk in a field and then back at the van to go somewhere else she put her hand through the flap to open her door but her hand became stuck in the aperture.

What with all of this I was rather late going for my nice hot chocolate drink. Something simple but it really does cheer me up. And I would probably have been even later had the cleaner not awoken me bringing in yet more medical supplies

But than back in my chair I crashed out again, and that’s how I stayed until, would you believe, 19:10. I’d missed a whole afternoon with being asleep. But while I was asleep this time it was the school dance. I was asked to take everyone home by train at 16:00 so was warned to have nothing to eat or drink beforehand. But the dance rolled on and on, a long time past 16:00. I was starving hungry and thirsty so I went to look for the headmaster to complain. I couldn’t find him but instead came across my Geography teacher. I told her of my difficulties but she dismissed me rather unpleasantly. I wandered back into the building and found a group of people, including a good friend of mine, taking my PA mixer board from my room. I told them to put it back but they carried on taking it out with a laugh and a joke, but I grabbed it from them, put it back into my room and closed the door, using a few very choice words to describe my anger. My friend called me “a miserable old fart” but I didn’t care. I was incandescent with rage by this time.

And “incandescent with rage” was quite right too. Incandescent with rage that I’d missed out a whole afternoon flat-out like this for no good reason.

That was really disappointing too because I’ve spent all these years and all this effort and made all these sacrifices to bring my anger issues under control and to try to make myself a nicer person, and here I am being undermined by something as stupid as falling asleep

My whole life is falling apart right now with having to fight these health issues and I’m at the stage where I can’t fight any more. I just don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going.

It’s making me feel like Gwyneth Glyn and

My rice and veg to accompany my taco roll were cooked by the steam coming out of my ears tonight, not by electricity. I really need to get a grip of myself but I can’t believe that I have to do it all again. I don’t even know why I’m bothering to struggle. It’s not as if my health will ever improve and I’ll get better.

Many years in Belgium a solicitor who had been trying to contact me made the remark "Mr Hall! We all thought that you were dead!"
"Not at all" I replied. "I just smell like it"

Tuesday 7th May 2024 – I’VE HAD A LOVELY …

… evening with a visitor who has come all this way to see me.

The youngest daughter of my niece from Canada stuck her head in to say “hello” this evening as she passed by on her peripatetic perambulations.

One thing that I’ve always tried to instil into youngsters is the importance of doing something different, as every student’s CV is identical these days, with the same courses, the same pastimes, the same interests and so on.

Foreign travel is one of the ways to go and some universities offer foreign exchange student programmes. After Liz (“that” Liz, not “this” Liz) died I made sure that her daughter was accepted onto a foreign exchange programme in 2010 and I actually took her to her University in Ontario from London.

St Francis-Xavier University in Antigonish has one too and my niece’s middle daughter ended up in Madrid but the youngest one was accepted onto an exchange in Edinburgh and she’s been there since Christmas.

She’s off to visit Mont St Michel and the Christian Dior museum tomorrow so she thought that she’d catch an earlier ‘plane and come to see me

Even though it’s only – quite literally – a flying visit, there was a lot of preparation to do and as a result I was in bed quite late last night

It was another peaceful night where I completely lost track of time, and no-one was more surprised than me when the alarm went off. Anyway I hauled myself out of bed and headed for the bathroom, and then into the dining area for the medication.

Having done that I arranged the dining area for the nurse but for some reason she was late coming today and I had to hang around for a while. None of this “not quite dressed” lark of Sunday when he came early.

After she’d finally arrived, changed my dressing, fitted my puttees and cleared off I could come in here and revise for my Welsh lesson. And then armed with my coffee and flapjack I joined in the lesson.

The lesson was like the curate’s egg – good and bad in parts. I was quite happy with some of the stuff that I did but disappointed with other parts. I put it all down to my failing memory but I forgot to mention that.

At the end of the lesson the first thing that I did was to make the dough for a loaf. I wasn’t sure whether my great little niece (or is she my little great niece?) would want to take advantage of my comfortable sofa and if so, we’d need something for breakfast

Then I came in here while the dough was proofing so that I could transcribe the dictaphone notes. I’d been arrested for something that I’d said but managed to talk my way out of it. Then I was arrested a second time that happened to be during a period when I was having a dance with another girl. She thought that me being arrested was funny. I had a key in my hand but lost it. It fell down and became mixed up in the bed. The soldiers who arrested me wanted the key and access to one of the store cupboards and were surprised that I was playing difficult, although I wasn’t – it was simply because they didn’t believe that I’d dropped things. Anyway they wanted to carry me off to the castle where presumably I’d be tortured, although they didn’t say what or why it was that I was going. I was simply arrested and bullied out of any kind of sympathetic position.

Then I was with a former work colleague. Again, it was a similar kind of situation. There was some kind of rack of calculations in the formula on it that these people wanted but I had. I wasn’t going to hand it over so someone came down to interrogate me and maybe arrest me but they didn’t cart me off. They had a full search of everywhere and then they left. Id been standing in a very peculiar position, sort-of propped up with a support behind me. My ex-colleague made some kind of remark such as “had I ever been an italic cursor?” or something so we laughed. I explained that there were all kinds of photos of me and maybe we ought to have a look. I noticed when we were talking that he actually had that paper in his hand. I wondered why he’d never admitted having it and never shown it to whoever it was who was interrogating me.

That’s not how things usually work, is it? Normally people will take every conceivable step to drop me into the soup at every possible moment.

Later on I stepped back into that dream, and in it the girl had taken away the bottle … "which bottle?" – ed … to wash it. She then brought it back, saw me being man-handled, threw away the bottle and hid the formula

And that’s most unlike people I know too.

By now the dough had risen and so after a second working-over I put it into the oven to bake while I made my hot chocolate.

The bread baked deliciously. It rose up like a lift and it is quite soft and fluffy. We’ll call this one a success.

While I was waiting for my visitor I finished off the radio notes for the programme that I started the other day and then began to select the music for the next one.

And then having fought her way through the underground system in Paris she turned up.

It’s hard to believe that when I held her in my arms back in that winter of 2003 when I was in Canada she was such a tiny little new-born thing. She’ll be 21 soon and it’s hard to believe that the time has gone by so fast.

She’s not stopping though. She didn’t know how ill I was and didn’t want to put any strain on any facilities that I might be having, which was very nice and thoughtful

We had lots to talk about – after all I haven’t seen her since I drifted by her house after my return from the High Arctic in 2019 – and it was nice to catch up with the latest news from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

She’s quite confident that she’ll pass her current year and will go back to St F-X for her final year and receive “the Ring”. Alumni of St Francis Xavier receive a special ring to wear and it’s apparently the equivalent of a Canadian Freemasonry handshake.

Of course, over the last 20-odd years there have been loads of jokes about people going “My preccccccc – ious” whenever the subject of the St F-X ring has been mentioned and that’s not really any surprise.

It was quite late when she left but nevertheless I made my taco roll with rice and veg for tea and it was just as nice for being late.

So now I’m going off to bed and make some investigations about that huge bloodstain that appeared on my pillow overnight. It looks as if someone has butchered a pig on there, there’s so much blood.

But it’s nice to see a member of my family here where I live. One of my nieces from Crewe came over in 1994 and then two of my three little great-nieces from Canada have been to see me. And would you believe – that’s the only contact that I’ve had with any member of my family since I left to live on the mainland of Europe

They were much more loyal than that when we all lived together. One of my sisters once told me "some boy at my school told me that you weren’t fit to live with pigs"
"Ohhh really?" I asked. "What did you say?"
"Oh I stood up for you" she replied. "I said that you were"

Tuesday 30th April 2024 – I’VE MANAGED NOT …

… to break anything today, after yesterday’s fracas in the kitchen.

But what an exciting life I’m leading at the moment where breaking a plate in the kitchen is headline news? I really ought to get a life, and how i wish that I could. I certainly seem to be missing out on an awful lot.

Mind you, there’s not a lot that I can do. If I go down the stairs to go outside, there’s no guarantee that I can get back up again without a great deal of help. And in any case, with these puttees that I have to wear on my legs, I can’t fit my shoes on

In other words, my life is a total mess right now and it’s not going to improve any in the near future. The hospital sets a great deal of store in this chemotherapy treatment I’m having by tablet every day but even so, there’s been a deterioration over the last three months that I’ve been taking it

So if it’s classed as a success, how would I be feeling if I hadn’t taken in?

And did I tell you how much it cost? Because I’ve seen the receipt. A box of 30 tablets of this stuff costs no less than €7,000. No wonder that the chemists won’t let me build up a stock of it. They have to pay out for the medication that they order and then submit a claim for reimbursement to the Securité Sociale. And if they are as quick dealing with reimbursement as they are in replying to correspondence, no wonder the chemists are worried.

Another worry that I seem to have is that I’m not able to go to bed at anything like an early time. It was another late night last night by the time that I’d finished everything that needs to be done and that’s getting on my nerves too.

But I had another good night’s sleep where I don’t remember very much at all.

When the alarm went off I’d just said goodbye to a girl who was living in the same house as me who’d gone off to some kind of special school or re-education centre because of her handicap. That’s really all that I remember of this. I know that when the alarm went off I was thinking about a woman with a red hand who had something to do with this but I’m not sure where she fitted in to the dream at all. It was a very fragmented one.

There is a friend of mine who used to go to a re-education centre for her handicap until British Government cuts 20 years ago closed them all down. However it wasn’t her, that’s for certain, and I don’t know of anyone else who might have fitted the bill.

But I’ve no idea what I meant about the woman with the red hand. That’s a mystery to me too

Anyway, I staggered into the bathroom and then into the dining area to take my medicine and to set out the place ready for the nurse. The one from last week is now on her week off and it’s the boss for the next seven days.

When he came he told me all about his trip to New York and how disappointed he was with it.

However, it’s like most big cities. everyone is so stressed out that it’s unbelievable. I much prefer rural USA where I’ve met some really nice, friendly people on my travels around.

Most cities are nice to visit but not to live in, but I can’t even remember New York being nice to visit on the occasions that I’ve been there.

After he left I came in here and prepared for my Welsh lesson.

Despite the fact that I’d prepared the wrong pages, the group being farther ahead than I’d anticipated, the lesson passed off very well which was a nice surprise. In fact we had a test in which I came third, which was a huge surprise to me, especially as I’d missed the weeks that the exam covered.

It’s a good job though that I hadn’t gone fourth. I would have had to multiply and that would have been no good at all.

After the lesson finished I just let myself go and crashed out on my chair. I was gone for almost 90 minutes too, flat-out in the Land of Nod. I really can’t keep going these days

Once I’d come back into the Land of the Living I chose the music for another radio programme. My task for the rest of the week will be to write the notes for it. But at some point I’ll have to start dictating and editing the backlog of stuff. In the old days I’d do it early on Sunday morning before going to bed but I’m not doing that these days if I have to be up at 08:30 for the nurse. My days of lying in until midday are regrettably over.

The cleaner came round this afternoon too. She’d been to LeClerc this morning and so she’d picked up some more vegan cheese for me. So cheese on toast is assured at weekends for the next few weeks

There was some more stuff on the dictaphone too. I can’t remember very much about this dream either but it concerned a girl who for some reason had ended up going back home after moving away and found herself spending the night there unexpectedly, sleeping back in the room that she occupied when she lived there. There was some talk that one of the girls would come to stay with me so I was busy trying to find things to do to amuse her. I came across a board game called Mrs (…so-and-so…)’s Kitchen where people had to take pieces out of the box in turn to try to make meals and shopping lists etc. I thought that that might be a really interesting game for a young person who came to stay with me for the moment.

The game was certainly interesting You had to pick up the pieces, which wee like the pieces of a jigsaw, with chopsticks, although I’m not quite sure why.

In the past years ago I used to be able to eat with chopsticks.

Where we used to go skiing on a dry slope on the Wirral there was a Chinese restaurant down the road where this sweet young Chinese girl worked. One night I asked her to show me how to eat with chopsticks so over the next few weeks she taught me.

And then I put my cunning plan into action. We were all going for our annual dinner so I asked her whether she would like to come with me, as a “than you” for teaching me how to eat with chopsticks, which had been my plan all along.

She told me “no”.

While we’re on the subject of meals … "well, one of us is" – ed … tonight’s tea was a taco roll with rice and vegetables, using up some of the left-over stuffing.

That stuffing that I make is really nice, especially with couscous. And there’s plenty left so there will be a lovely left-over curry tomorrow night for tea. There’s some naan dough left too so a garlic naan bread will be nice to go with it too

So that’s all that I’m doing tonight. It’s a Bank Holiday here tomorrow and ordinarily I’d be having a lie-in, but not with this perishing nurse coming round every morning at 08:30.

What I need to do is to finalise my shopping list ready for order on Thursday morning as I’m now running short of frozen veg

It’s not like the time I was sharing a flat in Manchester with a bunch of students and they sent me to the shop for supplies for the weekend.

When I returned, I had two cases of beer and a sliced loaf. The students there were enraged. "You fool!" they cried. "Wasting our money! What on earth are we going to do with all that bread?"

Tuesday 9th April 2024 – I’M NOT HAVING …

… a very good day today.

It seems that all of the fates have conspired against me. In particular, the stabbing pain in the sole of my right foot. I thought that it had disappeared after it was conspicuous by its absence during the night and during this morning.

But now it’s back, and in spades too. It’s like an electric shock all the way up my right leg that starts in the sole of the foot, and it occurs every 15 minutes or so. The pain at times is unbearable.

As well as that, there’s a continual tingling coming from the sole of the foot now as if there’s a low-voltage electric shock going on. I hate to think what might happen if it increases in intensity.

It had all died down towards the end of last night and for once in my life I was actually in bed at a realistic hour last night too so that I was able to take full advantage.

Not that I did though because not long after going to bed I pulled a muscle in one of my legs and it took an age to untangle myself

Somehow in all of the confusion the plaster over this weeping oedema on my right foot became detached and that was causing me all kinds of agony too. That really was painful.

And so I limped through to about 07:00 when the alarm went off this morning. And when the alarm went off I was editing two tracks of a girl who had been singing two songs belonging to Yes. I was doing them, preparing them for broadcast but I can’t remember their names now but I certainly did while I was doing it.

That’s just typical, isn’t it? Those names are on the tip of my tongue and I’ve been trying all day to recall them, but with no success.

First job of course was to take the blood pressure – 16.3/9.5, which doesn’t compare very well with last night’s 15.4/9.8. I wonder what went on to wind me up during the night. I suppose that we’ll find out very soon.

Next job however was to to and take my medication. Shovel all of that lot down and see how I get on.

Then to organise the room how the nurse likes it, ready for her visit. It’s Isabelle starting from today for the next seven days. She was impressed that the room was nicely laid out and that we had all the supplies we needed, but she was not so impressed with this weeping oedema.

It’s blistered over and so she “popped” the blister, and you can imagine just how that felt, and that was before she put some disinfectant on it

Once she’d gone I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was going to bed last night and I still had to think about who I was going to be dreaming about when I stretched and pulled a muscle in my left calf. It took ages for me to calm it down and put it back to how it ought to be, and by that time I was wide-awake and had completely forgotten all of how this dream had started off. It was to do with me going to bed anyway and making plans to dream but that’s everything that I can remember.

And that certainly was painful too. And what with every other pain in my body right now it was really something that I didn’t need.

Later on I was doing my Welsh homework and came to a frightful tangle and mess about it because the “copy and paste” seemed to be pasting the answers in in all kinds of strange positions. One of the things that I had to say was that the station of Y Pobl and another station were the two least-used stations of the railway network but I just couldn’t get the words out of my head. I was surprised that I remembered the word for “least” – leiaf but I just couldn’t seem to get the rest to come out in the correct order and was being really confused by it all.

And then I was making my breakfast at work. I had my little toaster there toasting my bread and my little gas stove that I was using to heat a kettle of water for my coffee. When I turned my back to fetch my margarine from the fridge someone else took my kettle off and put his saucepan on top to boil his water. Of course I was absolutely furious but this guy thought that it was quite a normal thing to do, to just use anyone else’s gas to make himself a coffee rather than buy a little stove of his own. He was extremely indignant when I told him off. And I was still being all confused with my Welsh homework too even then.

But it’s interesting about this recurring dream. Slipping back into the same dream after I’ve already dictated some notes is not something that happens very often. And it’s really a shame that I can’t choose the dreams into which I want to slip back.

And that reminds me – TOTGA, Castor and Zero haven’t been around for a while. I could do with them making a dramatic reappearance.

After the dictaphone notes I began to prepare for the Welsh lesson and was so enthralled by what I was doing that I lost track of time.

And it’s a shame that my enthusiasm didn’t carry over into the lesson. The lesson ended up being rather like the curate’s egg – “good and bad in parts”.

After the lesson I had the lunchtime fruit, collected the shopping that my cleaner had found for me in LeClerc, and then … errr … crashed out. And that’s no surprise as I had been fighting off wave after wave of sleep during my lesson.

The hospital awoke me with a phone call, but I don’t know what they wanted to say as I missed the call, and then the Auvergnats arrived. They’d been spying out the lie of the land and had been for lunch, followed by a walk and a coffee before coming here.

We put the world to rights for ages, and then they wandered off and I … errr … crashed out again.

Tea was a delicious taco roll again, with enough stuffing left over to make a start on a decent vegan curry tomorrow, but now I’m going to go to bed early if I can, and if these pains will let me.

They are hurting so much, and I have no idea why but I really am fed up of all of this. Maybe lying horizontally will stop the stabbing pain, but then I have all of the others including the likelihood of a pulled muscle, with which to contend

It’s like the man who went to the hospital for a consultation
"What’s the matter with you then?" asked the doctor
"I have this severe pain in my right leg" replied the man
After having given him a thorough examination the doctor replied "I’m going to amputate your left foot, your left arm and remove your left kidney"
"Will that stop my right leg hurting then?" asked the patient
"Not at all" replied the doctor "but you’ll be in that much pain from the other things that you just won’t notice it any more"

Tuesday 2nd April 2024 – TODAY WAS A …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 26th March 2024 – THE SMELLS IN …

… my kitchen are delicious right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 19th March 2024 – I’M RATHER LATE …

… writing my notes tonight as I’m in the middle of an exciting, busy week this week.

We’re having a footfest right now – on Thursday there’s a World Cup qualifying match between Cymru and Finland, then on Friday there’s Cymru under-21s in a Youth Cup qualifying match against Lithuania.

On Saturday there’s league football where Y Bala entertain a stuttering Connah’s Quay Nomads, who last weekend lost their third game in a row for the first time in 9 years, and then Sunday in the Scottish FA’s Challenge Cup, it’s the final between Airdrie and TNS, where the latter attempt to bring the Cup out of Scotland for the first time ever apart from when Berwick Rangers won it.

Tonight though it was the turn of the Welsh Premier League’s representative 11 to take on England’s National League team at Stebonheath, the home ground of Llanelli FC.

The match was a very tight affair with few chances for either side but a beautiful free kick right on the stroke of half-time from Caernarfon’s Sion Bradley was enough to win it.

How ever it could all have been so different but for a brilliant save from Y Bala’s goalkeeper Kelland Absalom deep into stoppage time.

It’s not quite the heady 4-0 win at Caernarfon 2 years ago but it makes up for the 1-0 loss at Altrincham last season

It’s an exciting annual competition this, but wouldn’t it be nice if they could broaden the challenge a little and include semi-pro teams from Scotland and the two Irelands, and make it a real league.

That’s not all the football by the way, but the match in this strange European amateur challenge competition between second-division Llantwit Fadre and Enfield Town isn’t being broadcast anywhere as far as I can see.

That was an interesting match in the previous round when Llantwit Fadre, the minniows in the competition, knocked out the Danish club that had founded the competition.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

Last night, despite finishing my notes with time to spare, there’s that much to do at the end of the evening that it was still later than I would have liked before I ended up in bed and it’s the kind of thing that is getting on my nerves.

But once in bed I actually had a good sleep and to my surprise, I was wide-awake quite early. So much so that I was actually up before the alarm went off. And it’s been a long time since that happened.

After taking the blood pressure – 14.2/8.5, so it must have been a calm, refreshing night because before going to bed it was 16.2/9.4 – I went off to take the medication and then did some tidying up of the medical stuff in the living room and rearranged it all.

Mind you, I needn’t have bothered. The nurse apparently forgot me, or some such thing, because he never turned up to wind on my puttees. That was really annoying because I had to wait around when I had plenty of other things to do.

Mind you I’m seeing him in the morning when he comes to inject me and take my blood sample, so we’ll discuss the matter then.

There were the dictaphone notes to transcribe. Not many of them again, which is disappointing. I’d travelled to Limoges on a job. Then I was relaunching my delivery service. There was a big building there that was occupied by a company called Locanest which gave me the impression that it was actually one of these cubicle rental-types of places. I thought that that might be a good place to go in order to hand out some leaflets. I tracked down the building, parked up outside and went in. A followed the signs and walked through a door into a room where there were about 20 or 30 people buzzing around. This looked like Locanest’s head office but no-one took the slightest bit of notice of me, even the people who were coming past. After I’d been standing there a few minutes I said “it’s OK, don’t rush, don’t bother. I can stand here all day if I have to”. Some girl piped up something about “well, we all have our work to do, we all have our jobs to do. We have to do them here” to which I replied “yes. So as I said, I’m quite happy to stand around all day. We can all stand around all day and that will be fine”. Eventually someone came to see me and to talk to me.

Yes, I can be sarcastic in a crisis. The keys to this kind of problem are

  1. 1 – Unlimited time
  2. 2 – Unlimited money – well, in a realistic sense

It brings back many happy memories of AN EX-NEIGHBOUR OF MINE who in a similar situation once said "I’ll stay here as long as they will" and then if you have the time, you can grind them down with your persistence and patience.

A schoolfriend of mine once told me that his parents went to see someone in his office but he had persistently refused to see them in the past. So having been stonewalled by the receptionist yet again, they sat down at a table, took from a bag that they had taken a thermos flask of tea, a pile of sandwiches and a couple of good books, and prepared for a siege.

It didn’t take them long to be seen after that.

Of course, if you have the money too so that there’s no pressing need to be elsewhere, then it’s an even more comfortable situation to be in.

Unfortunately, these days, the competitive spirit in these kinds of situations is evaporating rapidly and the response now is to “call Security” and have you bodily ejected from the premises. As I said the other day, the world is changing, and it’s not changing for the better. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

So with no nurse, I prepared for my Welsh lesson. And despite putting a lot of effort into it, I still wasn’t happy with my performance today. I need to improve, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … so here’s hoping that this Easter course will inject some life into me.

It was our last day today before Easter and lessons don’t restart until 9th April. So it’s a long time to go from after my Easter course finishes until we restart. I shall have to think of a cunning plan. Mind you, with all this football that I’ll be watching, there might be some more stuff that will stick if I’m lucky.

Towards the end of the lesson I caught myself just as I was about to have one of these moments where my lights go out. That could have been embarrassing had I slipped over the edge into the void so I was lucky. But it’s actually disturbing how easily it happens. What with that and my double vision, it’s a good job that I no longer drive.

While we’re on the subject of double vision … "well, one of us is" – ed … I rang the hospital 4 times ti cancel my appointment but with no luck at all to be put through to the Opthalmology department. Then I was in my lesson, and after the lesson it was too late.

That’s a shame, isn’t it?

This afternoon I’ve not done much. Just a pile of personal stuff. That took me up to teatime and my taco roll with rice and veg. Plenty of stuffing left for a base for a vegan curry tomorrow with my naan bread.

But were OK for cheese and so on at the moment because my faithful cleaner was at LeClerc and she stocked up. Apparently it’s selling out quite quickly so next time she goes, she’ll have to buy all that she sees

So with everything finished, I’m off to bed. I suppose that tomorrow I’d better start work again after a few lazy days once the nurse has been to inject me, if he remembers.

But I’m sorry that I missed that eyesight test. I suppose that I could always reply by saying "I couldn’t see the entrance to the building" – that would confuse them.

The last time that I went to have my eyes tested, the optician told me "I’m terribly sorry, but the results of your tests aren’t very good"
"That’s bad news" I said. "Can I see them?"
"Probably not" said the optician

Tuesday 12th March 2024 – I’VE ALMOST FALLEN …

… asleep not once, but twice, just sitting here on my chair and only a dramatic grasp at the edge of the chair on both occasions has stopped me from dropping off, in both senses of the word.

In one of them I’d actually gone as far as having a dream, fitting the clutch cable to a transverse engine car but some of the strands of cable snapping. It was amazing, because on both occasions I’d had no warning of going off to sleep.

It’s not as if they have put me back on that horrible potassium stuff either, so it must be one of the other pile of medicaments. But it really tells you about what a state I’m in when we have this issue about side-effects and there are so many of the medicaments that I can’t work out which one it is.

For two pins I’d dump the lot and let nature take its course
"Have you thought of an ending?”
“Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant."

as Frodo and Sam discussed in LORD OF THE RINGS. I know that mine will be anyway – I have been told so – but at least “while there’s life there’s hope”, as Cicero once told us. Dum spiro, spero.

That’s a far different position than a couple of weeks ago when I was all ready to throw in the towel but honestly, I don’t know where I am these days.

Last night though, I know that I was in bed. After relaxing for a short while I went and did everything that needed doing and crawled off to bed, much later than I wanted but that’s how things are going these days.

When the alarm went off I was watching a fork-lift truck load some stuff on a pallet onto something. There had been something going on about sugar, sugar in its nitro-cellulose form is extremely harmful. A company had sold some and another one had bought them, and there was an argument about who was responsible for ensuring that it complied with the regulations. That was what was going on at the time.

With that kind of dream, I’m surprised that the alarm going off didn’t frighten me to death. “Start the day with a ‘bang'” I say.

First thing that I did this morning was to check the blood pressure. 17.1/9.8 this morning, compared with 18.4/10.5 last night.

It’s always a good sign if it decreases at night, from some points of view. On the other hand, it’s quite often a good sign if it increases, but the kind of events that would cause that are few and far between. Usually, if it increases during the night, it’s always for the wrong reasons.

Next thing was to sort out the medication for the morning, followed by a trip to the bathroom to deal with my feet. There’s no doubt that this vaseline cream is making a real difference to my dry legs and feet. I hope that the improvement continues

And while we’re on that subject … "well, one of us is" – ed … the nurse rang up to see if I was at home. She’d heard that I’d gone to hospital last week.

To put her at her ease I told her that I was back, and we also had a chat about the new prescription. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow because all the stuff that she needs isn’t here yet.

Back in here I transcribed the rest of the dictaphone notes from the night. There was an important series of exams that my girlfriend was taking. She needed to have a year in tutelage under the relevant tutor in a relevant subject. Actually she’s not been as faithful as she ought to have been with this course that she’d been following but when I went to see the person who was supervising it I was told with shock that she wasn’t going to be eligible because the person who had been guiding her had left the University after six months. Someone else had taken over but my girlfriend hadn’t taken the necessary steps to introduce herself so she was basically voided. This was really awful news but the examiner suggested a way around He said “knowing you, I’m surprised that you haven’t contacted the departed tutor directly to explain the situation and have her give your girlfriend the certificate directly even though she’s no longer at the University. She’s married and gone to live in Scotland but you should be able to find her and contact her. If she’s satisfied that your girlfriend has followed the course and done the necessary work etc, there’s no reason at all why she can’t issue the certificate of presence or whatever its called to prove that she’s followed that course for a twelve-month period but you’ll have to be quick because all the paperwork needs to be in very shortly. It looks as if we had work to do, my girlfriend and me.

And a girlfriend? I wish that I knew who she was. She won’t have been anyone we’ve met so far on our travels, that’s for sure. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I wish that I could put names to these girls who have been appearing every now and again, and for several reasons too.

As for the “knowing you, I’ surprised that you haven’t …” – it seems that even in my dreams people are beginning to know me quite well and that’s rather disturbing. I prefer to passer inaperçu – pass by un-noticed and it worries me when people begin to recognise me.

Especially when they recognise something like “… I’m surprised that you haven’t …” – and it’s in a dream too. That’s what I call “worrying”.

Then there was something about an orange Cortina that had to be taxed. It would mean queueing at the local Tax Office for hours. We’d done all of the paperwork etc already. We’d bought some new parts for the vehicle. We’d been to Minibits for them. We noticed on the way round that on the corner of Flag Lane where it turns round were shops that had wire grilles put all over the windows. We noticed that they’d been working there for a day or two and we wondered what they were doing. They were actually moving the wire grilles down one position – it looked as if they’d installed the wire grilles on the wrong windows and were just moving them further along the street, these grilles. The first window was being missed out. It was rather puzzling. I went into work where someone asked me if I’d seen the Ryanair van. I said “I’ve just seen it in Flag Lane”. He asked “are you sure? It should have been here a while ago”. I replied “yes” so he said “I’ll contact Head Office to say that the van’s not been here but it’s been seen in Crewe at 15:15”. It worried me why he was being so precise about this. We went into Minibits to pick up some bits. I made a comment that he could open his windows now that the wicked European Union has moved its grilles away from his windows. The girl who was serving me growled a little and opened them but it didn’t make much difference in there. It was still dark. Then we had to go along to queue up to tax this orange Cortina. Just as we were standing in the queue with the papers ready to pounce on an open window the dream ended.

Now, Minibits in Crewe was a place to remember in the 1980s. It was run by an old guy called Ken and was a dirty old shop on a street corner in Crewe, full of all kinds of stock for minis, stuff that he had bought probably 30 years earlier and was all covered in dust.

As Fords became more popular in the early 1970s he began to accumulate Ford bits and pieces. They too sat and gathered dust for years.

We had a trade card for a car spares warehouse in Manchester but rarely used it because he was still selling stuff at 1970s prices. That didn’t matter as long as you blew off the dust.

And as mechanically a Ford Cortina MkIII, MkIV and MkV were all the same car, stuff from 1971 would still fit cars from the 1980s.

Body panels too. He had a contact in a metal fabricator’s in Oswestry and they produced pattern-part body panels for all kinds of cars. Just cut out the rot and weld one of the correct panels in place. I still have tons of those that either I never managed to use, bought for stock or bought for projects like the 2000E saloon in the warehouse in Montaigut.

What would they be worth now?

So many plans and projects that I had on the go or on the back burner, and look where we are now.

Never mind though. As Gandalf said, "no need to brood on what tomorrow may bring. For one thing, tomorrow will be certain to bring worse than today, for many days to come. And there is nothing more that I can do to help it. The board is set, and the pieces are moving"

Then I was back in that dream again … "which dream?" – ed … still trying to load that Land Rover but it wasn’t as easy as I had thought it was before because there was a big sack on the floor and with all the stuff in my hands I couldn’t bend down to pick it up and my arms wouldn’t reach low enough to the ground to pull it. I was stuck in this really awkward position with a huge pile of boxes in my hands and the thing that I needed on the floor. I couldn’t make any progress with regards to putting the stuff in the back of the Land Rover. I was stuck in that position just like that.

So have I missed yet another dream? Judging by the timestamps, with only 20 minutes between this one and the last one, it can’t have been much of one, if there was one that has been missed.

Having finished the notes, then armed with a mug of instant coffee, which is not like me at all, I prepared for my Welsh lesson.

To my surprise the Welsh lesson passed quite well and I was rather pleased with what I’d done, which makes a change.

It just goes to show you what you can do with a couple of hours of preparation. I shall have to do it more often, that’s for sure

And that reminds me. While we’re on the subject of Welsh lessons … "well, one of us is" – ed … tomorrow morning I need to look for a course to cover the Easter period. I have to keep the pressure on. I’m using the philosophy of “if you throw enough whatsit at a wherever, some of it might stick”.

First job this afternoon was to sort out the webhosting renewal – “bank card declined”.

That’s no surprise seeing as it’s a new card. I had to do a huge pile of virtual paperwork and then still it wouldn’t work. So that involved an exchange of mails. It’s a good job that renewal is 30 days away otherwise I would have run out of time at this rate.

But that reminds me. While we’re on the subject of webhosting … "well, one of us is" – ed … the webhosting for these sites of mine isn’t cheap at all.

You’ll see some “Amazon” links aside and occasionally, some links crop up in the text. I’m an Amazon affiliate so if you make your next Amazon purchase by using one of these links, it costs you no extra but I earn a small commission. That helps towards the cost of web-hosting.

After that I had an exciting job – helping someone with a video that he’s making of several Welsh football grounds. I have some strange tasks sometimes.

The rest of the afternoon was spent writing out radio programme notes.

Tea was a taco roll with stuffing (and inserted peanuts) veg and rice, just as delicious as always. And there’s enough left over for a good start at a leftover curry tomorrow, which is always nice, especially if soya yoghurt and naan bread are involved.

Anyway, that’s enough for today. I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I really have a struggle to keep going these days

But while we’re on the subject of football grounds … "well, one of us is" – ed … I’m reminded of the woman who went to her solicitor’s to ask him to obtain a divorce from her husband
"On what grounds?" asked the solicitor
"Manchester United’s, mainly" she replied "but he has taken her to several away matches"

Tuesday 5th March 2024 – I’M NOT GOING …

… to have a mechanical aid fitted, so I’m told. I imagine that the mention of such a device in the letter that I’d received was just something to tempt me to turn up.

It certainly had me puzzled though as to what it might have been and I bet that it had a few of you scratching your heads too.

First things first though.

There were a few things that needed doing last night and as a result I was once more rather late for bed. Very late in fact, so I didn’t have as much sleep as I would have liked.

Rather less, in fact, than it might seem because it was another night like the previous one where I was tossing and turning around for quite a while

But when the alarm went off I rolled out of bed and had a search for the blood pressure tester. 14.9/8.5 this morning, compared to 17.1/10.6 from the previous evening. What had made me so worked up yesterday evening then?

On that note I went off and organised the medication for today, checked all of my papers, had a wash and waited for the car to come for me.

It eventually turned up and I was able to have a lift down into town and the Centre de Re-education.

After quite a wait she eventually saw me. We discussed my medical case, she inspected my legs and prescribed an ecograoh and 30 sessions of physiotherapy; transport included. I can see that I’m going to be a busy boy.

Back here I managed the stairs fine, so I’ll give them a couple more goes before deciding whether or not to resume shopping on Friday. I’m longing to get out and about and go for a bus trip and my morning coffee, but it’s no good if I have difficulty coming back home again

By the time that I’d made my coffee and warmed my fruit bun my Welsh lesson had started so I joined in. And it wasn’t as successful as the previous couple, mainly no doubt due to the fact that I hadn’t prepared for it

That’s something that I really should have done last night, knowing that I wouldn’t be here this morning. But even if I had, I wouldn’t have remembered any of it.

And then I had to listen to the dictaphone. I know that there’s some stuff on there from the night because I remember having to search for the batteries while I was asleep. Yes – I can do that too.

So anyway something must have happened to have made the King of France, whoever it was … "if she was Aliénor d’Aquitaine, it was Louis VII" – ed … dispose of his wife Aliénor as quickly and dramatically as possible because when I fell asleep all I could see was the flash of an explosion – a metaphorical explosion and him waving his arms around driving her away out of hid palace. It must have been a famous eruption for him to have disposed of Aliénor like that.

And if it was indeed Louis VII and Aliénor of Aquitaine, there really must have something of an explosion when their marriage was over because she went off and married the prince who was to become Henry II of England. She took with her the province of Aquitaine and thus the seeds of the Hundred Years War were sown

With Louis, Henry and Aliénor all having met in France very shortly before the separation, there must have been something going on of which Louis suddenly became aware. Their marriage was described as “shaky” anyway, but that would be nothing unusual in those days and no cause for alarm.

Mind you, you can’t blame Henry. Even though he was 9 years or so younger than Aliénor. The Carmina Burana, a contemporary manuscript discovered several centuries later writes
" Si tout l’univers était mien
Depuis l’Océan jusqu’au Rhin
J’y renoncerais avec joie
Pour pouvoir tenir dans mes bras
La reine d’Angleterre"

“If all the Universe was mine , from the ocean to the Rhine, I’d give it up with pleasure to be able to hold the Queen of England in my arms”. Sounds rather like me with either Castor, Zero or TOTGA.

And then one of the teams in the feeder leagues had been promoted to the Premier League so there was a big discussion about the kind of players that they needed to sign. One or two suggestions were made but I wasn’t very happy with either of them although I liked the full-back whose name had been bandied around by the club. In the Premier League games themselves I found that they were defending too far back towards their own goal and the back line could be pushed forward another 20 yards to make an effective stopping zone for everything to happen but it took a while to convince the managers concerned

And that reminds me of that dreadful game in the summer between TNS and that Swedish team whose name I forget … "it was BK Hacken" – ed … when they camped out on the edge of their own penalty area and waited for the opposition to attack them – with the inevitable results.

Later on I was up on the Scottish Borders again … "again" – ed … Someone – it might have been Claude – had given me the surround for an electric fire and it had an image of all these coal-fired electric fires that lit up when you plugged it into the mains. I’d given it to the people up there to put next to heir coal fire. It meant a complete redesign of their living room which was a work in itself, disturbing the children and everything. In the end we managed to make it fit on the wall right next to their coal fire. I have to say that it did look impressive even though we’d had to shorten it somewhat. It made that area look so much nicer. But as usual there were all kinds of debates, discussions and complications that went on up there about all kinds of various things, very little of which had to do with anything. There was also a meeting of the folk festival committee so we had to go down to the village hall as well for a discussion. I remember that the trip between the house and the village hall was nothing like the real trip with the house being situated several miles outside the village. It was much closer than that in the dream.

And I’ve no idea why this area should suddenly have come into my subconscious. None at all. Apart from the fact that ONE OF MY THESES FOR MY DEGREE was based on that area, the only person who ever meant anything to me out of that crowd has been pushing up the daisies for a considerable period of time now.

I wonder – did I dictate that load of nonsense about a song and a guitar that I dreamed that I was dictating stuff for the radio programme and it was all coming out absolute nonsense and I couldn’t remember half the names of the groups … "no you didn’t" – ed …. I had Adrian Gurvitz and the Adrian Gurvitz Army doing something at one point but I’m sure he’s never appeared on any of my programmes… "he hasn’t" – ed … I remember thinking as I was dictating that this is a total load of nonsense and it’s never going to work – me dictating a radio programme in my sleep.

Yes, another dream in which I was dreaming that I was dreaming. It’s al good stuff, isn’t it? Mind you, as for dictating nonsense, it’s par for the course, isn’t it? Even I don’t understand it, and I’m the one talking about it all.

And as it happens, I agree that my radio stuff is nonsense. What I’ve been doing this afternoon is going through the notes for the two programmes that I dictated on Saturday night and rewriting them. They were absolutely dismal, with all kinds of errors. There really are times when this medication is totally screwing up my mind.

However, I’ve been typing – and talking – nonsense for all these years. Why blame it on the medication now?

The cleaner came by and brought some more soya yoghurt as I’m almost out.

And I let her photograph the jar of tahini that I finished yesterday, so that she knows what she’ll be looking for at the shops. Two jars of that in stock will keep me going with hummus for quite a while and we’ll keep the vampires and werewolves away for quite a while.

But there’s been quite a storm about the decline in standards of English grammar with the remake of that old film "I Were A Teenage Waswolf"

Tea tonight was a delicious taco roll with rice and veg, with the last of the rice pudding for a while seeing as I now have sufficient stocks of soya desserts. But the rice pudding was really nice and made a pleasant change.

So tomorrow I have the injection, the blood test and I wonder what will happen next. It’s been a couple of weeks since they last changed my medication and we can’t go on like this. The cleaner hasn’t been there for a fortnight and I’m sure that she’s missing the journey.

It’s a good job that she goes and not me. I went there once and asked for a packet of condoms
"What would you like?" she asked. "Normal, ribbed, extra-sensory or multi-coloured?"
"I’ll have a pack of the multi-coloured, I reckon"
Nine months later I went back in and asked the pharmacist
"I’d like to buy a maternity dress for a friend, please?"
"Certainly, sir" she said. "What bust?"
"The red one" I replied.

Tuesday 27th February 2024 – I HAVE JUST …

… been flat-out on the chair for half an hour.

And that’s a shame because I have managed to keep going almost all day without feeling the effects

What’s particularly sad about it is that I’ve been a busy boy this afternoon too. My LeClerc delivery came and now the shelves in here are bursting with goodies. However, at the rate that I eat, the supplies won’t last long

It’s actually amazing how much food you need. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police who controlled the border between British Columbia, the Yukon and Alaska in the Gold Rush days at the turn of the 20th Century wouldn’t let anyone pass into the gold-bearing areas without a ton of supplies for himself during the period when it was possible to work the streams up there.

As an aside, there’s someone in Western Canada who is still using her grandfather’s sourdough starter that was first begun by him as he set out for the goldfields over 100 years ago.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my adventures with sourdough, when the sourdough would react when I wasn’t using it and then fail to react when I wanted it. I never got the hang of sourdough.

It’s like the ginger beer. For a few weeks that was interesting and then we had the explosion while I was away at hospital, and since then my visits have prevented me from restarting. Ginger beer is not something that you can leave on its own to ferment, as the TV in the lounge will testify.

That was another short-lived experiment – the television and the HDMI cable so that I could watch internet football on the big screen. The glass from the exploding ginger beer bottle saw to that.

That was quite ironic though – of the batch that I was making at the time, two bottles were bottles that I’d re-used after buying them full of lemonade, and the third was a specialist bottle bought from IKEA. And guess which one exploded.

What was even more ironic is that the specialist bottle cost €2:49 whereas the others cost €1:69 and were full of lemonade too.

In the bathroom now is a nice collection of these flip-top stoppered bottles that I’d buy, ready to use for ginger beer or kefir once I’d drunk the lemonade that was in them (and delicious it was too).

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

So, nice and early last night, I toddled off to bed and settled down to sleep.

Not for long though because in the middle of the night I sat bolt upright, wide-awake. And that was a surprise. I couldn’t wait to see if there was anything on the dictaphone that might correspond with it.

It didn’t take long to go back to sleep and I was deep in the arms of Morpheus when the alarm went off.

First things first – what was my blood pressure? 14.7/10.5, so it’s slowly going down. Last night it was 14.8/9.4. Looking at the figures from a week ago it’s quite a difference.

After the medication I went and had a really good wash and scrub up, and even washed the shorts that I wear in bed. Having called the cleaner down during the night after my fall a few weeks ago, I have to make myself sort-of presentable in case she has to come again, regardless of how I usually like to sleep.

Then there were the dictaphone notes. I started off with that girl – the youngest daughter of the woman whom I knew in the Scottish Borders and I can’t remember the girl’s name … "it’s “Beth”" – ed … Everyone was living in Caernarfon, somewhere out in the hills at the back. She was going out for the night so her father wrote a cheque for £50 for her so that she could make sure that she had a taxi back etc. He began to discuss the taxi prices. Someone said that it’s only £3:50 to go to the coast so it won’t be that much for going back but I was sure that it would be more. Someone mentioned something about excess charges if she swore at the driver etc. Her father said “perhaps I ought to have written the cheque out for £100 for you in that case”.

But that was quite a rum do, that affair on the Scottish Borders, and a lot of it went over my head because I didn’t understand the half of it, even though it was one of my bolt-holes in those days.

It had a terrible air of tragedy too. One of the young girls (not the one in the dream) who lived there took a year out after school to earn some money before going to University. She found a job in a supermarket that involved a 20-mile drive at some silly hour of the morning to work in her ancient, creaking Opel Corsa.

One night, a German tourist landed at Dover in his big, heavy Mercedes and drove all the way through the night up the M6 and M74, coming off at the very junction that this girl drove over.

Of course, in the small hours of the morning, a minor interchange onto a minor road, being overtired and being accustomed to driving on the right, the inevitable happened and the Opel and its driver never stood a chance.

Who will ever forget the events that followed

And then Zero put in an appearance, so welcome back Zero after all this time. There was a party taking place at Audlem so I went down to visit it with a friend. We’d been invited, and it turned out that Zero had invited me so of course I went. I took a present for her and a present for her mother. It was a big, modern detached house. We had to wait at the door to be formally greeted by Zero’s mother, we had to hand over our present to her and then go in. We were wandering around and someone came round handing out dishes of pasta and vegetable soup. They stuck a big dish of it in my hand. I couldn’t climb up the steps into the next room. I had to hand my dish to someone while I hauled myself up the steps bodily and then the person gave me back the dish. We went and found a place to sit down. There was some issue with his soup so he went off to find a spoon. I found a better place to sit and he came along to join me. There was some milk going round so even though it was 4% milk I had a drink. Then Zero appeared. I handed her present to her and STRAWBERRY MOOSE was just about to say something to her when I suddenly, dramatically awoke – and I mean properly awoke too.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that my subconscious seems to be erecting a barrier between my young lady-friends and me. Here’s another case where one of them makes an appearance and I awaken dramatically before I’ve had time for any interaction.

After that, I revised for my Welsh lesson, and that passed really well, although I have a feeling that I fell asleep at some point – I blinked my eye and they seemed to have moved on from where I’d remembered. Nevertheless, I was pleased with what I accomplished today.

My lunchtime apple was next, and then I sent off my order to LeClerc, which meant arranging the stuff in the kitchen so that there was space to put it.

It was a big order too and I’ve still not put everything away. But there were 2kg of carrots so most of the afternoon was spent washing, cleaning, dicing, blanching and freezing them. Shop-bought frozen carrots seem to be pumped full of water.

There was some time to write some more notes for the radio programme, and also to have a play on the guitar too. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good bash.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the stuffing left over from yesterday. There’s plenty remaining for a leftover curry, and than reminds me that I have to make some more naan bread dough tomorrow as I’ve run out. I can’t have a left-over curry without a garlic naan to go with it.

So what’s planned for tomorrow?

Apart from the cleaner coming round, I don’t think that there’s anything on the agenda. I might be a quiet day for once.

There’s plenty to do though, and the postwoman has brought me more bills to pay. It seems to be all outgoing right now, and I can do with some incoming.

These days, there’s too much month left at the end of the money, rather like in the old days when, instead of being paid weekly, we were paid weakly.

During the Welsh class I told the story of how we were so poor once when I lived in that squat near Audlem that after dark we raided a farmer’s field and made a big potato and mushroom curry. A moth flew into it at a vital moment and we couldn’t extract it, and we were that hungry that we just stirred it in.

That was what being poor used to be like and I don’t want a return to those days. People talk about “the good old days” but to me, that was ice on the inside of the bedroom windows in the morning and grinding poverty. There was nothing good at all about it.

Deborah Oluwaseyi Joshua wrote "one day, you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide" and I suppose that to a certain extent, that’s true.

But that supposes that people want to survive. Far too many people are content just to sink further in, and that’s depressing.

For me, I’ll just be like Bhuwan Thapaliya who wrote in his poetry that "the older I get, the more I cherish the company of children. The children have no prejudices. They are what they are."

Tuesday 20th February 2024 – MY WELSH CLASS …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 13th February 2024 – I’VE BEEN SUMMONED …

… back to the Centre de Re-education. They’ve arranged a visit for me for the 5th March, and even sent me a bon de transport so that I can have a taxi there and back.

There were several pages of notes setting out my medical history and what they have discovered during the examination. They reached the conclusion that

  1. dealing with my case was difficult due to all kinds of problems
  2. technical aid is proposed
  3. a timed walk that should have taken 43 seconds took me 6 minutes
  4. a further appointment is planned

And so by the same post an appointment on 5th March was sent to me.

And at 09:20 too – be there 10 minutes beforehand. What do they think that I am? I know that I might be up and about on my own two legs by that time but I’d hardly say that I would be coherent enough to discuss my medical affairs so early in the morning.

Mind you, I’m hardly coherent at the best of times so I don’t suppose that it makes much difference

However, I’m intrigued as to this “technical aid”. I wonder what they have planned for me. There isn’t much that would work around here that immediately springs to my mind.

But retournons à nos moutons as they say around here.

Last night, I couldn’t go to bed.

What I mean by that is that I couldn’t summon up the motivation to leave my comfortable chair and drag myself off to bed. Instead I wandered aimlessly through the internet and it was well after 01:00 when I dragged myself off.

You know the feeling though – when you can’t seem to find whatever it takes to raise yourself up and go to bed.

It would be no surprise to anyone if I had had a difficult start to the morning but instead I seemed to be quite lively for a change – and that’s a surprise. I shall have to do this more often

So I hauled myself off into the kitchen to take my medication.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I had been during the night. We were back in some kind of music dispute between Hawkwind and a group called Wyneb Wyneb … "which is Welsh for Face-Face" – ed …. It concerned a song that Wyneb Wyneb wrote. There was a considerable amount of plagiarism in the song, so Hawkwind said, and they were very unhappy about it. The two groups found themselves at the same music festival and this led to a great deal of complication and confusion with people threatening to sue and to counter-sue etc. It was sorted out at the last minute by Wyneb Wyneb withdrawing from this concert and playing at another at a later date with a couple of other acts who were also withdrawn. Basically anyone who bought a ticket for the main concert and didn’t want to go because Wyneb Wyneb weren’t appearing could claim some kind of refund that would go towards the cost of a ticket for the next festival.

Anyone would think that I have an obsession with Hawkwind. They have been regular visitors during the night over the last couple of weeks. It would be interesting to find out what’s going on that’s triggered off something like that.

What else has happened ever since they’ve been appearing is that my whole dream pattern seems to have changed and they are nothing like what they were in the past. So is one of the tablets that I take in the evening playing havoc and disturbing my subconscious? Or is something else happening?

But be that as it may, I had a Welsh lesson to deal with and that went on until 16:30, with a couple of breaks and an interruption from my cleaner who brought me my post as mentioned above.

Once it was all over I had my hot chocolate and then had a good scrub down and a change of clothes to make myself all pretty for tomorrow.

During the breaks I was dealing with the radio programme that I’m planning, and writing the notes. I managed to complete some and was planning to write more but instead I crashed out this evening.

All through the lesson I was fighting off waves of sleep but my bad night eventually caught up with me and I didn’t finish it.

Tea was a nice taco roll with some of the rest of the stuffing, and I’ll finish that off tomorrow in a leftover curry with one of my naan breads. I’ll have to make some more naan dough sometime soon as I’m in danger of running out

So that’s it now, ready for tomorrow. I need to take some bread from the freezer to defrost ready to make my sandwiches because it will be a long day. My appointment is at 12:40 when I shall find out my future.

What I suspect is that they’ll transfer me to a more local hospital – either Caen or Rennes, and more likely the former. I’m sure they won’t keep me there, going back and forth to Paris with what it costs to transport me.

Nevertheless, "how you gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?" And knowing hospital food as I do, at least I had friends in Paris and Leuven who would smuggle me some supplies now and again. I know no-one in either Caen or Rennes who can help me break the monotony of the dreadful food supplied in these places..

And as Joni Mitchell SANG,
"I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
Nobody was calling me up for favours
No one’s future to decide
You know I’d go back there tomorrow
But for the work I’ve taken on
Stoking the star-maker machinery
Behind the popular song"

And I am going back there tomorrow, maybe for the last time. I can’t see me going there again, certainly not unfettered and alive anyway.

That’s a shame because of all the times that I’ve walked through the city singing that song, and the nights that I’ve spent trying to get the metre of the song correct when I’m trying to play it on the guitar.

The last time that I walked through the city was almost two years ago, in the company of someone who figures regularly on these pages, usually during the night, but right now I can’t even wander around my apartment.

Frank Harris, in his rather … errr … explicit autobiography said "all human beings took what pleasure they could get whenever they could get it" and that’s certainly true of the past and the present. Make the best of whatever comes your way because that’s all that there is.

As for what happens after tomorrow, I shall just have to rely on my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche and "all along the untrodden paths of the future, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand".

When I climb into that taxi in the morning I shall remember the words of Tom Bombadil – "be bold, but wary! Keep up your merry hearts, and ride to meet your fortune".

Tuesday 6th February 2024 – MY CLEANER IS …

… a heroine.

She came in yesterday, as I mentioned (with no little embarrassment) yesterday and I gave her a shopping list for her weekly visit to Leclerc – there are several things that I need that aren’t available on home delivery.

There are plenty of really nice vegan recipes floating round, like the one for vegan sausage roll stuffing, that rely on chestnuts to give the food some flavour. I have a spare puff pastry roll left over from Christmas so some vegan sausage rolls would be nice but of course I have no chestnuts.

The issue with fresh ones is that you have to take off the outer skin and that’s a complicated procedure so I wanted some ready-cooked ones with the other skin removed.

And sure enough, even though I’ve searched everywhere in the shop and never found them, she’s put her hand on 2×200 gramme packets of steamed and vacuum-packed chestnuts.

So once I buy some mushrooms at the weekend it’s sausage rolls-a-gogo. Making those should keep me out of mischief for a while, I reckon.

And during the night I’d thought that I’d kept out of mischief too because I had another really good sleep and didn’t remember a thing about anything

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and too k my blood pressure again. 17.2/10.2 this morning compared to 18.3/11.3 last night

After the medication I went and gave myself a really good scrub in the bathroom so that I’d be fit and proper for my Welsh class, and then came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes.

And to my surprise, there were quite a few, considering that I knew nothing about last night. There was a Dutch rock group that was quite well-known. One of the musicians was taking quite a lot of medication so they were going through different kinds of medication to sort something out for him in a the same way that they are doing for me at the moment. This became quite a habit for there to be a lot of medication about but during Wold War II this was complicated but they did their best to keep him supplied with the medication that they needed to keep him alive. One day the Germans raided the group and a concert and wanted to go along and arrest them all. There was no indication as to how this ended but there was one person who helped this group a lot with their paperwork and administration and in some respects looked after the medication of this musician. After the war, no-one ever found out what had become of him. They interviewed a lot of people who were leaving the concert hall at the time. They can remember the Germans trying to frog-march someone out of the building but who collapsed and went lifeless during this frog-march so they ended up carrying him away. The suggestion was that this guy had bitten the cyanide capsule in his hollow tooth to do away with himself to avoid interrogation.

But talking about the medication, I’m sure that that’s what they are doing to me – trying various cocktails of medication to try to find one that works.

That’s not a criticism of the hospital by the way. We’ve all seen the reports that this illness is so rare that there is no approved treatment plan and that each case must be dealt with individually. So I give them full marks for wanting to try.

Anyway, after all of that, I had a visitor during the night again – and to think that I could remember nothing about it. Yes, Percy Penguin came round last night. The two of us went out. We were in Crewe Town Centre but I couldn’t remember where to go. Not that that would be a problem in real life because in Crewe I had a whole family who would be quite willing to tell me where to go, and probably did too. Anyway, wherever I was going to, I’d forgotten the way so I dropped off Percy Penguin in Delamere Street, did a beautiful U-turn and she climbed back into the car. We carried on through Market Street and Mill Street. We were talking about my health. She asked a whole variety of questions to which I didn’t really know the answer. She asked me if I’d had a picquire – injection for this and a picquire for that. I told her “no” so she told me that she was licensed to take blood so what she’d do about this mess was to make me a really good meal and then take my blood pressure and then take a blood sample, not just from the usual areas but also from areas that were different from anyone else to see what that’s like. I told her that I was extremely doubtful for a variety of reasons but she seemed to be quite confident about the idea and quite willing to have a go so I thought that I’d let her get on with it.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I wonder whatever happened to Percy Penguin. At one time she was the only light that shone through some very dark times.

One thing I’ll always remember was putting on a tape of QUADROPHENIA. on the cassette.
"What’s that?" she asked.
"It’s “Quadrophenia” by The Who" I replied. "Released in 1973"
"1973?" she snorted. "I wasn’t even born then!"

Yes, I keep on forgetting that I’m an Ancient Monument.

So having dealt with all of that, I prepared for my Welsh class. But not before I’d made a few phone calls.

And as a result, I’ve cut all my ties with Leuven. I’ve cancelled the appointments that were arranged for this week and told them that there’s no need to reschedule them. It’s pretty pointless if I can’t go there.

That’s a real shame. I loved the hospital, I loved the town, I loved the year or so that I spent living there and it goes without saying that I loved seeing Alison and the others who would travel up to see me from all over Europe.

But that trip in September killed me and I’m a lot worse than that now. Even if I were to make it there, I wouldn’t make it back. And there’s no point whatever in having the best treatment from the best hospital in Europe if the journey to and from is going to negate the effects of it.

The Welsh lesson went surprisingly well, so much so that I put Plan B into operation.

It’s half-term next week but browsing around the LEARN WELSH WEBSITE I found that Coleg Aberystwyth is running a two-day revision course on Monday and Tuesday for a level well down from where I’m supposed to be.

Nevertheless, it’s just what the doctor ordered, I reckon and it’s just £15 and there were 6 places left. That might fire me up a little. Only 5 places left now.

The advantage is that with it being Aberystwyth, it’s teaching the North Wales syllabus.

If you look at a map of Wales, you’ll see that there are two mountain masses divided by the valleys of the River Severn, Afon Dyfi and the Afon Mawddach. That’s a natural route from England to the Welsh coast and which invading armies have taken for 2000 years.

All of the fortifications that have been built there over that period have effectively divided the country into two and so the language has evolved differently in each area.

Curiously, some of the words that I’d learnt from my grandmother were “south-id” words rather than words from north-east Wales, and it wasn’t until I found her old Welsh family Bible after she died that I found out that her family actually came from the south in the past – presumably moving north like many families did when Gresford Colliery near Wrexham opened in 1908.

That was terrible, that. After she died all of her possessions went into a skip, including her ancient family Bible, written in Welsh, with her family tree in it going back several generations. I had to climb in after it to rescue it and many of my family wished that I’d stayed in the skip.

This afternoon the first thing that I did now that I’m nice and clean was to change the bedding. And when I took it off the quilt and pillows it walked into the bathroom on its own. I really ought to take much more care of myself and my hygiene that I do. I keep on overlooking some of these basic things that I ought to be doing so much better.

And then the cleaner came round with my shopping – and I wasn’t in the … errr … smallest room this time either.

But anyway, now I have more peppers, tiny tomatoes and vegan cheese as well as my precious chestnuts. Yes, I don’t know where I’d be without her, that’s for sure.

After all of that and my mid-afternoon hot chocolate, I carried on writing my radio notes and I’ve almost finished this programme now ready to dictate on Saturday night.

Tea tonight was a lovely taco roll filled with some of the leftover stuffing and accompanied by rice and veg. But this couscous stuffing seems to work quite well, better in fact than bulghour or quinoa so I might continue to use it. I’ve added couscous to my “list of favourites” on my Leclerc on-line shopping site to remind me.

It’s actually an advantage because couscous is available on-line whereas bulghour and quinoa – at least in loose form – are not.

So now having done my notes, it’s time for bed in my nice clean bedding.

Well, actually, it isn’t. There’s the blood pressure and the medication to take so it’ll be a while before I can rattle my way back to bed.

Nothing is easy these days with all of this, but we have to keep on going. What else is there to do? Bear Grylls, the adventurer and TV presenter said of his exciting travels "Life doesn’t reward the naturally clever or strong but those who can learn to fight and work hard and never quit", and I’m not going to quit until I’ve done the blood pressure, the medication and been to the … errr …. smallest room, preferably without the cleaner coming in.