Tag Archives: TaHu

11th May 2024 – I’VE HAD A …

… footfest this afternoon. It’s the semi-finals of the play-offs to decide which Welsh team will take the fourth place allotted to Wales in European Club competition in the forthcoming season.

TNS will go into the Champions League, hoping to qualify for the group stages at long last

Connah’s Quay and Y Bala will go into the Europa League by virtue of finishing second and third, and another place in the Europa League due to Wales will be awarded to the winner of the playoffs

And so we started off with Y Drenewydd v Penybont followed by Caernarfon v Cardiff Metro.

As you might expect, I was quite looking forward to it all. And for the first time since I can’t remember, I was actually in bed before 23:00. And that’s not something that happens all that often these days. I could have been in bed much earlier than I was too but with all of the aches and pains that I was carrying, it was really difficult to actually get into bed.

With having this early night, I was looking forward to a long, undisturbed sleep but it wasn’t to be. It was a really disturbed, turbulent night.

There was another phantom alarm call and I forget how many of these we’ve had just recently. I’ve no idea what’s going on with them – where they are coming from and what they are doing – but it’s certainly confusing.

When the real alarm went off I found that it was easier to move out of bed. Many of the aches and pains had gone and the pain in my hip had reduced a little and I could lift my leg more.

So now that I was out of bed I went to the bathroom and then into the dining area for my medication.

Having done that I set out the room for the nurse and came in here to see what’s happening in the big wide world. But as any student of history will tell you, the news today is just the same things happening to different people in different places at different times.

After the nurse had gone, having given me a shopping list of items needed, I came in here for a relax. And then I listened to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I had another niece last night. It was a non-existent niece, someone small and petite. She sat and we chatted for ages about her course and the future. When she was ready to go I asked her where she was staying. She hadn’t booked anywhere so I told her that my settee was really comfortable and she was welcome to stay on it. She wondered how any other person was going to stay there because there were two nieces wandering around and how I was going to distinguish which was which too. That was easy because one had a tie with a small emblem on it. The other one had a tie with a big emblem on it so I could distinguish them by that. I could see that this was going to be complicated but it didn’t seem to bother me on the ground that it’s all going to work out normally anyway. Then we had someone coming, brandishing a gun and being obnoxious. I don’t know what he wanted or anything like that but he totally disrupted everything that we were trying to do.

That’s nothing new. Whenever I was trying to do something back in the old days, there would always be someone coming along being obnoxious and trying to disrupt whatever it was that I was doing. And if there was a young girl involved anywhere, you could bet your life that they’d be down in droves to put le baton dans la roue as they say around here.

Then at one point a girl was pouring some new information into my travelling laptop. I was very concerned so I awoke to try to stop her but just at the point where it became liquid memory she began to pour the liquid memory I had to shout at her to make her stop and I really did shout as well. I washed hem and got ready and ended up back in bed until the alarm

Yes, I really did shout in the middle of my sleep. It’s a good job that these walls are 1m20 of solid granite or whatever would the neighbours have said?

Then we finished off with this complicated story about addition and subtraction over the numbers. I had quite a batch to do which I did mainly right and managed to ensure my team’s presence in the Scottish League 2 next season

And that reminds me – we have the first leg of the playoffs between Stranraer of Scottish League 2 and East Kilbride of the Scottish Lowland League at some point this weekend.

And then I had a message. There’s an “issue” simmering in the UK that’s been simmering away for almost 30 years. I think that I’ve mentioned this before. It’s now erupted and like Pandora’s Box, once the lid is off then that’s it.

There’s a considerable amount of work that needs to be done that should really have been done 40 years ago but it wasn’t, and the events of the last 28 years haven’t helped. So if you see me loitering on Boots Corner any time, you’ll know why I’m there.

After this I crashed out – from 10:00 until 11:50. Dead to the World as well. But not that I’m complaining this time because I saw Zero. While I was asleep this morning I was with a former friend. I’d finally managed to persuade him to come to see me with the intentions of thrashing out some programme about repairing all these cars that I have. I’d walked down this track through this forest and encountered Zero playing in a school playground so we’d chatted but that was all. I pushed on and came across my former friend and we began to chat. I was going to tell him that I had £90:000 for the programme but we never reached that far in the discussion. We had several bikes ad had to move them by moving two, dropping them down, running back for two more and advancing lie this. At one point I had to run back miles because the exhaust had dropped off a motor bike we were moving. While I was up on top of this grassy bank my former friend came back to see what I was doing so I showed him. He was furious. “this is jus attention to detail” he raged and urged me to hurry up. By now this grassy bank had changed into a roof with a chimney and some dormer windows and I couldn’t work out how to descend. I thought that manoeuvring by holding on to the chimney and pivoting round by hanging on to the edge of the dormer window would be my best bet but the window opened and I was left dangling in thin air with no prospect whatever of improving my position.

It was really nice to see Zero of course but this “no prospect of improving my position” sounds like how my finances will be in a few months after the news that I received earlier.

By now, breakfast had become lunch so I fuelled up with food and then settled down to watch the football.

Y Drenewydd finished 4th in the league and Penybont 7th so the game was held at Drenewydd. But home advantage counted for nothing as they were swept aside by what can only be described as a Penybont masterclass.

The game finished 5-0 for Penybont and believe me – Y Drenewydd were lucky to get nil. They were awful. It wasn’t just that Penybont were so good but that Y Drenewydd offered nothing at all

The other game between 5th and 6th and played at Caernarfon in front of a massive crowd was much more exciting.

Caernarfon roared down the left flank with a combination of Louis LLoyd and Morgan Owen more times than you can mention but the final ball was always either too short of too long.

On the other hand the Met soaked up the pressure and tried to hit on the breakaway and had three excellent chances to score but couldn’t find the target.

The game was drifting to a 0-0 draw and penalties when Marc Williams drilled a powerful shot through a crowd of players into the net

And as Cardiff Metro were throwing everything forward to try to equalise in the closing stages a breakaway involving Sion Bradley and Adam Davies saw Davies score a second for the Cofis

So the final next weekend will be between Caernarfon and Penybont and played at Caernarfon.

And then, dear reader, I crashed out again. And for an hour or so too.

Tea tonight was one of my breaded quorn fillets with baked potato and salad. I know that it’s monotonous, but it’s also delicious.

So that’s all that I’m doing tonight. I’m going to try to be in bed early and see if Zero will come back into my dreams.

And I’ll tell her "I dreamed about you this morning"
"Did you?" she’ll reply.
"No" I’ll answer. "You wouldn’t let me".

Friday 19th April 2024 – YOU HAVE NO IDEA …

… – or maybe you do, I dunno. I know very little of your personal habits – just how absolutely wonderful it is to be standing underneath a constant stream of hot water out of a shower outlet after all these months of being without.

Now that my emergency backpack has arrived, complete with wash kit, spare pair of undies and the like, I closed the door to my room, put something to stop the bathroom door being opened, and away I went underneath the little shower tucked away in the corner of the bathroom.

Of course, it stopped my little student nurse from coming in to scrub my back and massage my clavicles, but it also stopped the retired Bulgarian female weightlifter from doing the same, and also stopped the nurse from coming in to remind me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom

And I’ll tell you now that it was heaven.

While we’re on the subject of the massaging of clavicles … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had a visitor during the night.

Actually, I had several because it was quite a mobile night but the most important of them all was Zero. It’s been a while since she’s put in an appearance, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but there she was last night and wasn’t it nice to see her?

All I need now is for TOTGA and Castor to come back to see me but I have a rather depressing feeling, at least about Castor. As for TOTGA, it’s not quite two years ago that … well, never mind.

So last night after I’d finished the notes and put them on line I had a pause and then attacked the notes for Monday, which are NOW ON LINE in a basic form. I’ll add the dictaphone notes in due course, whenever that might be.

It was after midnight when I went to bed and what with 05:00 diabetes checks and the like I was expecting a turbulent night.

And I was right too, but for totally unexpected reasons. As I mentioned, Zero came to see me. We’d been going to the local pub, a group of us of all ages of people. I’d made a few enquiries along the way and I’d worked out which was everyone’s favourite biscuit. There was a young girl, probably about 9 or 10 or so who loved chocolate, there was Zero who loved a certain type of biscuit etc so what I’d done ready for when we’d be going that Saturday was that I’d been to the pub on the way home from the shops and dropped off the biscuits. We rounded up everyone and prepared to go down to the pub at lunchtime. The first thing about which we talked was “a drink for the little one” – of course, she wasn’t that little. She wanted something or other. I asked her what she wanted to eat so she mentioned “biscuits”. I pulled out a pile from under the counter and had a chocolate in my other hand. I said “right, which biscuit do you want to swap for this chocolate?”. I wasn’t given any choice because the chocolate disappeared immediately. It was the same with Zero. She chose her favourite biscuit and had that as well as the other ones that were there and wolfed it down. I began to talk to her then after everyone else had had their biscuits. Zero and I began to have a really good chat. There was some paperwork involving her that needed doing so I thought that I may as well sit down there and do that while everyone is busy and maybe persuade Zero to come over and help me fill it all in.

Then another girl who has appeared once or twice in this rubbish previously puts in an appearance. It’s as we thought, with all this turmoil going on during a school dance or something we’d all been separated because we can’t behave ourselves. I’ve been put over one side and ended up dancing with this girl but I’m busy fighting her for a little more than she’s prepared to give me, like most teenage boys back in those days. There was something else going on with one of the other girls etc so in the end the teacher called a halt to the proceedings and dragged the lot of us, the entire group, down to see the headmaster and began to recount all of the problems that she was having with us and who’s been doing what wrong. Of course he picks on me and begins to give me a really good lecture as if it’s all my fault but it’s probably only some of it and everyone else was probably to blame for a lot.

And there’s nothing new in any of that either. Whatever was going on wherever it was always seemed to be my fault, even though it was nothing to do with me.

It reminded me of a tale of woe that a friend’s daughter in the USA once told me. She was 11 and had a 7 year old brother.
"Whenever I do anything wrong, my brother tells my mom on me and she yells at me" she said once. "But if he does anything wrong and I tell my mom on him, then she says it’s my fault for not watching him properly and yells at me"
That story has a very, very familiar ring as far as I’m concerned.

But there’s a funny story about a similar situation with the children of my friend Erika in Georgia. Her two kids were about 6 and 2 and the time.
"Mom!" shouted the 6 year old. "… (the two year old) … has a choking hazard in her mouth!"
So mom dashes to the rescue and removes the offending article
"Mom!" said the 6 year old in a tone of admonishment "I think you really MUST watch us better!"

Anyway we we were back in that dream again. The teacher was giving her report. One of the younger girls was up to some kind of mischief. That girl from just now was still there. It was obvious to the teacher that there was some kind of … errr … inappropriate behaviour (especially as she was a couple of years younger than me) between the girl and me that was beginning to get out of hand in the middle of one of the songs. There was a third thing happening so in the end she decided to call it all to a halt and drag us all before the headmaster who hopefully would lay down the law and even more hopefully we might all listen to what is being said and take note.

I have to admit that I admired the optimism of some of these new teachers who came to our school straight from University

It was as I said. I was messing around with this girl. There was someone else there messing around and Zero put in another appearance doing something – I think that it was she who was singing falsely at the end. Anyway we were all passing through a group of china and the Headmistress was annoyed in case we fell over and broke it all so she read The Riot Act to us all. Generally, it was the kind of place where we wished that we’d all gone home because we’d really all been getting out of hand just then and making the teacher’s life difficult.
(…And if I’ve been fooling around with another girl – no matter who it is – when Zero is there I ought to be ashamed of myself and go home in disgrace…)

But there was no sense of shame or guilt about any kind of interaction that took place between the teachers and the pupils. It was the Law of the Jungle, them or us even when it came to a group of a dozen boys bodily picking up a teacher’s car and wedging it between two brick walls. “That’ll teach her! Get out of that one!”

My own preference was a War of Nerves, but the less said about that the better in an open forum.

They awoke me for the blood test at 05:00 and also for the diabetes test, which I passed, and so I could go back to sleep.

But not for long because I soon had the morning chorus of people around doing all kinds of things and stopping me doing anything else for a while.

Breakfast then came, complete with jam, so I was left alone to transcribe the dictaphone notes for a while.

My faithful cleaner asked me if they had told me whether I could go so I told her “no news” and 30 seconds after I sent it, they came to tell me that they’d ordered my taxi for 15:00. That was when I hit the bathroom.

Doctor n°1 came to see me when I was packing and told me that I could go, seeing as my results had improved. So I told her goodbye and thanks, that I was sorry to leave and that I hoped that I’d see her again. She blushed again and I kid you not, she skipped – really skipped – out of the door as if she was about 7.

As usual, the taxi was late coming but the driver was someone who had taken me to Paris once so I knew him. We were back quite quickly and my faithful cleaner was waiting to help me up the stairs. I really don’t know what I’d do without her.

Once inside I had a hot chocolate and apart from the banana-flavoured soya drink that I’m currently drinking, that’s it. I’ve not moved from my chair, not even to make any food. I just can’t.

Liz was on line so we had a good chat and now I’m off to bed in my nice clean bedroom – my cleaner has been busy while I’ve been away. It’s probably taken her all week to do what she’s done.

So after Zero’s dramatic reappearance last night, who’ll be coming to see me tonight? My money is of course where it usually is – on one of my family coming along uninvited.

It’s hard to believe though that Zero turned up a second time and I was …. errr …. busy elsewhere. I’m clearly losing my grip. But at least I noticed her. Just imagine if I hadn’t.

Still, I’m not alone there. A friend in the Army was once selected for camouflage training. He simply didn’t go and was later commended for his disguise and attention to detail. It fooled everyone apparently

Friday 5th April 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a rather better day today, which is a surprise.

In fact I’ve gone the whole day without crashing out once.

Mind you, it’s been a near thing once or twice with wave after wave of sleep washing up on my own rocky shores but I’ve managed to fight them off so far.

Mind you, there’s still 90 minutes before my official bedtime so still plenty of time to follow the family tradition and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. No-one else can manage that quite like us.

It was a lot longer than 90 minutes to bedtime last night what with everything that needed doing. It never used to be as complicated as this, I’m sure.. It was certainly closer to midnight than it was to 23:00 when I finally hit the sack last night, and glad I was to do so too. I was thoroughly wasted.

It was another really deep sleep and when I awoke with the alarm going off at 07:00 I was actually away somewhere doing something, but it completely evaporated the moment the alarm went off. As long as it wasn’t involving Zero, Castor or TOTGA, it’s OK.

So first things first. I fell out of bed and went off to check the blood pressure. 16.4/10.4. That’s quite a lot higher than last night’s figure of 15.5/10.6 so I wonder what has pumped it up. But the instructions for the machine say “take your blood pressure when you are sitting calmly and quietly and there are no distractions”.

Seriously, whenever is that ever likely to happen around here?

Having done that I went off to take the medication – all the piles of it – and then lay out the room how the nurse likes it to keep him happy while he’s here. He mentioned a shortage of large plasters so I added them to my cleaner’s notes for her shopping expedition

And while I was at it I sent her an order for some mushrooms and a cucumber.

In between everything else I made some bread for the weekend, and it turned out really well for a change I’m getting the hang of breadmaking after all this time

Once I’d managed to usher the nurse off the premises I had a listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night There was another false alarm call at 04:24 this morning. There was a group of four kids who were having a wrestling tournament. They were each wrestling against someone or other and being substituted during the match, one for another for another for another etc. This was just at the moment when they were having to make a substitution and one of the players was having to leave and another one was coming onto the field to join in with the wrestling as the alarm went off

And if you think that the idea of kids fighting for sport in wrestling rings and even cages is appalling and never likely to happen, you just have a look on Youtube. There are some utterly crazy people out here in the real world

But I’m interested to know why it should suddenly appear in my subconscious. I can’t recall anything that might lead to that and even if it did, years of trying unsuccessfully to make Castor, Zero or TOTGA appear in my dreams are proof that nothing would follow from it.

It took a good while to fire up the enthusiasm today but I eventually managed it, later than I intended and not by 5 minutes either. And no sooner had I started than I had a parcel delivery.

That meant assembling my new coat hanger that hooks over the top of the door and then I had to configure my new fitbit, seeing as the old one has managed to die a death.

This new one has loads of added accessories, such as a bluetooth connection to the phone and all that. Somewhere on it that I have yet to find will be the button to press so that it makes the coffee.

One thing that I do like about it is that it has an optional analogue watch face. That’s something that I’ve really missed.

But the coat hanger means that all of the coats and so on that were loitering around here have at long last found a home and I hope that they’ll all be very happy together

So I was finally able to make a start on my radio notes and in the time available I managed to do a little over half of them

And then after my hot chocolate I pressed on with more of the outstanding Welsh homework and made quite good progress with that.

Tea was some of that home-made falafel with salad and chips, thanks to my cleaner who came this afternoon and brought my mushrooms and cucumber with her. And they really were spicy too. I shall have to make some more like that if I can.

But that’s it for tonight. I’m off to bed, where I’ll wish that I was like Warren Zevon.

He was an American singer who, having been diagnosed with a fatal illness, decided that instead of sitting at home feeling miserable, took to the road with his I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD farewell tour and pressed on. That’s exactly the attitude that I ought to have, but it’s extremely difficult when I can’t seem to master this fatigue at all.

At times it seems that all of the fates are conspiring against me and that’s an uncomfortable feeling

Warren Zevon and I have something else in common too. We both have (or had) a weakness for red-headed girls. Warren Zevon’s red-headed girl wore "a red silk dress
You know I’m asking her to dance with me – she might say yes"

but I don’t know if mine ever did. It’s been years since I’ve seen her in real life and she doesn’t even come to see me at nights now

And there was another one with loads of red hair too but she fell off the radar a good few years ago which is a shame.

But that’s it anyway. I’m off to bed, hoping for a good sleep and an even better day tomorrow.

But while we’re on the subject of Warren Zevon … "well, one of us is" – ed
"Knock knock"
"Who’s there?"
"Rarrrh who?"
"Werewolves of London"

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."

Thursday 1st February 2024 – I HAD A …

… visitor last night.

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

And then in came Zero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 5th January 2024 – HERE I ALL AM…

… not sitting in a rainbow but sitting in a room at the Hôpital Pitié-Salpetrière in Paris, where I’ve been summoned due to an emergency – they’ve found something in my blood sample from Wednesday that has them in a panic.

So there I was, at 06:00 when the alarm went off, struggling to my feet.

First thing was a good wash, scrub and change of clothes. I might as well look the part, I suppose.

Next thing was to check that I had everything packed. Those bread rolls that I made yesterday evening were good and made nice sandwiches – the food at the hospital is rubbish of course so I need some reserve supplies

Next thing was to unplug all of the appliances and it was in the middle of doing this that the driver arrived – an elderly guy who I’ve not seen before.

He helped me into the car and we set off for Paris. He didn’t go as fast as the younger drivers but we had good luck at Ceen with no hold-ups so we made very good time.

There was even time to make a pitstop halfway between Caen and Rouen, and a mug of coffee is always welcome. I treated the driver seeing as he’s doing al the work.

Our good luck ended at the Porte d’Italie exit of the Boulevard Péripherique where there was a gridlock the like of which I have never seen. IN the end we went back on the “prif” and took the next exit. But as a result we were late arriving and I had a very concerned phone call from the hospital wondering where we were.

Anyway, I’m now installed in my little room here on the second floor, still with no internet which is a shame, and the food is rubbish, as I expected so I’m grateful for my emergency supplies.

But at lest I’ve managed to make the heating work, which is something, I suppose, and under supervision I managed to walk 6 steps without my crutches, which is something of which I can be proud.

But what a celebration hey? Me, who would think nothing of walking though the night from Chester to Hankelow, all almost 30 miles of it.

They had four tries before they could take a blood sample, and three to fit a catheter in my arm and once the catheter was in, they began the perfusion.

There was a combination of three perfusions which gave me the most extraordinary hallucinations, during which Zero, Percy Penguin and my old LDV van made their appearance.

The LDV van I remember well. After 2 Transits I had the LDV van for a couple of years and was the first of the vans that I had that would keep up with modern traffic with its 5-speed gearbox.

It blew up the engine not long after I had it so we bought a Maestro diesel for £50, swapped the engine out and received about £350 for the bits of Maestro when we sold them on the internet.

It then lost the clutch going round the Boulevard Péripherique one night and I had to drive it 300 miles with no clutch, even starting from a standstill on a couple of occasions.

What had happened was that, with it being a hydraulic clutch, the clutch slave cylinder had fallen off and was just hanging on by the hydraulic pipe. The bolts on the door hinges where the same size and same thread so I pinched a couple of those as a temporary but permanent repair.

Then a brake pad separated and we lost the asbestos pad part of it. I had to drive it home through the Brussels traffic with no brakes and in the days before internet marketing it took quite an effort to have a pair sent from the UK.

The handbrake cable then snapped on it, so we had no handbrake but what killed it off was the little trail of rust inside the back of the van.

There was this little streak of rusty water running down the inside wall of the van so I climbed inside to look.

At first I couldn’t see where it was coming from but when I twisted myself round, with my hand on the roof, the whole roof lifted off on one side. The joint between the roof and the side wall had rotted away and I had a big roof rack on the roof and I’d been carrying all kinds of heavy equipment on it.

So that was the end of the LDV. You couldn’t drive that on the road in that condition.

Next van was the ex-Telecom Ford Escort diesel. And how that brought back all kinds of memories of my travels with BILL BADGER. It was exactly the same kind of van and I found myself doing exactly the same things.

That was a vehicle that I’d bought because of the 1.8 litre diesel in it, which I wanted for one of the Cortinas. But it surprisingly passed an MoT even though there was a pile of things wrong with it.

But I had a year’s use out of it and it did a few miles too, and then along came Caliburn.

And there’s just time to transcribe the dreams from the night before I go to collapse in my nice comfortable bed. There was a load of folk music going on last night probably related to what I’ve been listening to just now. The music seemed to have affected everyone. At one particular moment I went into work and there was someone stuck in a folk music loop singing folk music songs. I happened to mention i( to his superior who became extremely upset and began some kind of enquiry. Many years later the same thing happened again. There was all this folk music. Some people were listening to it of course, concentrating and so on. I was enjoying it very much bu at work the big boss came and began to ask me all kinds of questions like “did I feel mentally unstable?”, “did I feel that I was being a difficult person?” etc. I couldn’t understand what was happening. He said something about starting work. I replied that as far as I was aware that has never happened at all. He asked “what about this incident?” and brought up the one about folk-dancing early in the morning. Of course I was totally bewildered because I didn’t remember things like this. I wanted to know why this folk-music thing had suddenly become so important to so many people for what seemed to be reasons that seem to be completely detached from what the music actually represented etc. I was just totally bewildered by it all.

Later on there were 4 of us who used to hang around together. One was a boy from school whom I came to know quite well. We’d agreed to meet in Sandbach for the fair at a certain time but it was a very informal, insincere kind of agreement. Anyway I went along and, sure enough, there were some people there so I walked back to Crewe, found some plants and walked back. And there I met my friend and some other guy of our group so we began to chat. They were surprised that I’d been here twice but I said that I wanted to make sure that the festival was going so I was here early. The place was crowded with people. I needed to go to the bathroom but they told me that the bathrooms were filthy here and I wouldn’t appreciate anything at all of those. Nevertheless I wandered over that way to go for a look but the alarm went off.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … hospital I’m told that despite already having had a couple of examinations with one of these electrode machines, there’s another one planned for during the night in another building, one that goes into things and greater depths.

Once they’ve done that, they’ll have a better idea, but I suspect that they know already, and I have an idea too. In May 2021 they discovered the cancer in my kidneys and I underwent an operation to remove the tainted bits – and it also removed bits of another part of my body, to my eternal regret. My betting is that it’s come back to whatever kits of my kidneys are left.

What’s your bet?

What’s your bet?

Thursday 28th December 2023 – IN WHAT CAN ONLY …

… be described as a new, rather regrettable record, I was actually up and about, taking my medicine and preparing to start work at 03:20 this morning.

Feeling absolutely wretched and totally washed out, I was in bed early – at about 22:30. And I must have fallen into a deep sleep almost immediately because there was something on the dictaphone with a timestamp of not much later.

But then there were all kinds of strange things happening during the night and I ended up awakening at about 02:15. Try as I might, I simply couldn’t go back to sleep after that and in the end gave it up as a bad job.

Firstly, there was a strange entry on the dictaphone that I have absolutely no recollection of dictating. “All that seemed to be missing from last night’s adventures was a visit from TOTGA but we’ll just have to make do without that” was what I recorded.

And that was early on too. The one that I’d had almost as soon as I’d gone to bed went “we started off with a very long complicated and involved dream that I can’t remember now. It all seems to have disappeared from my mind but at one point there was a young girl in Nantwich waiting for a load of other girls for the local dance hall to open so that they could all go in. This would be in the early 60s when beehive hair and all of that was in fashion. Some older man came and began to talk to her, to chat her up. Another girl in the queue accosted the man and told him what she thought of him, and generally made him feel uncomfortable until he left. That girl was actually a very young Marilyn Munroe who had come to Nantwich for some kind or other of show promotion but was standing in the queue at the dance hall just like any other young girl of that particular age and behaviour at that particular time. There was nothing special about her at all” which has absolutely nothing whatever with what came after it.

However, I do have a vague kind of ethereal feeling that at some point during the night not only Zero but also Castor came to see me. And if that’s the case I’m surprised that I didn’t dictate it. Maybe it’s my subconscious blocking them out for reasons that I can only speculate, or else it’s simply that I don’t want to share my experiences with anyone else. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, with coming from a large family where nothing was ever my own, I don’t “do” sharing if it’s something nice like one of Liz’s vegan cakes, and I can’t think of anything very much nicer than having Zero and Castor around.

Zero as we know drifts in and out of my nocturnal rambles, doing her own thing and going her own way, what around here they call son bonhomme de chemin but as for Castor, I haven’t seen her in the flesh since that morning in early September 2019 when she turned her back on me and walked to her ‘plane to Ottawa on that windswept airstrip at the Coppermine River, just a short walk from where in 1771 Samuel Hearne had stood helpless and horrified as his Dene guides fell on and butchered an Inuit hunting party.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it puzzled and bewildered me for quite a while as to why she left me as she did. And it wasn’t until I had to say “goodbye” to someone in similar circumstances a year or two ago that I realised that sometimes, goodbyes have to be done like that.

Castor has been back during the night a few times since then, but not for quite a while. If indeed it really was she (and Zero) last night and I missed it, I’ll be helpless and horrified too.

However, it was what happened next that was the killer.

There was another dance taking place at Wistaston. There was a group of kids and I was going but I was going to buy a big motorbike and hopefully turn up on it to arrive there. Then I had a think about first of all, it wouldn’t be registered, then it won’t be taxed. And where would I leave it because there would be no burglar alarm or anti-theft device fitted on it. Much as I wanted to have it and take it there it would cause quite a few problems. I was listening to a couple of bikers talking. One was actually knitting while he was talking. he was talking about his travels out in the USA as a road racer around a lot of circuits in California. They were talking about his bike, how it would still pass an MoT in the UK after that. Their conversation was extremely interesting. They wanted to know about the amount of Marshall Aid that would be applicable to importing over something that they’ve had in the USA but I wasn’t able to give any help. This question of this big motorbike was something eating away at me – how was I going to bring it to this dance with all of the problems that I had to face? Many of them were insurmountable because they required a lot of input from a lot of other people in a short space of time.

“Another dance” indeed because there had been a dance at the Wistaston Memorial Hall on the Saturday night of August Bank Holiday weekend in 1973 and every moment of it is etched onto my brain as if it was yesterday.

At that time I was sharing an apartment with a guy who played synthesiser in a rock band and his group had been invited to play at the Windsor Free Festival on the Sunday.

Everyone was stony broke in those days and they couldn’t afford the fuel so they arranged the dance where they would play, as a way of raising some petrol money.

My friend from the Wirral had been to school with one of the musicians so I invited him along and he turned up on his motorbike, a 350cc Triumph.

It was at that dance that he met a girl called Jane, and I met Jane’s friend Sheila, someone who has appeared in these pages on a few occasions. There was nothing particularly serious about any of this, except that my friend fell rather badly, but I imagine for the two girls is was more of a case as Al Steward described in SWISS COTTAGE MANOEUVRES as "I could see myself nailed to a dormitory tale as a holiday night’s escapade".

However, Sheila and I went on for more than a night (not much more) and I’m glad that it did because apart from the fact that she was a nice girl, her father kept a pub, the Whore’s Bed in Walgherton and that was where I met Paul Elson, drummer of “Strife” and a big friend of her brother.

And not so long ago, Paul sent me a recording of a “Strife” concert that he’d found in all his old papers and I featured it on one of my rock shows.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … Wistaston Memorial Hall, at the end of the concert we loaded up all of their gear into the back of the old J4 van that they had and they they discovered that they were still short of money. And so for £1:00 per head they would take anyone who wanted to go to the Festival. You’ve no idea how many people piled into that van with all of the gear already in it.

My friend and I decided that we’d go down on the motorbike so we set off and went a different way to Windsor.

But those in the van had a nightmare. Going down the M1 a tyre burst and with all of the weight that was in the van they were all over the road until the driver could bring it to a halt. It was a miracle that it didn’t overturn.

Horrible thoughts of 12th May 1969 must have flashed through everyone’s mind – the night that Fairport Convention’s van overturned at almost the same spot killing drummer Martin Lambie and guitarist Richard Thompson’s girlfriend Jeannie “the tailor” Franklyn, to whom the Jack Bruce album SONGS FOR A TAILOR was dedicated.

We stayed down there all weekend, without any sleep whatsoever, and then came home on the Monday night. My friend fell asleep riding back so he asked me to ride the rest of the way home but when we hit a bump in the road he fell off the seat so in the end we had a couple of hours curled up leaning over a table in a Little Chef near Oxford.

That’s not my best memory of the Windsor Free Festival either.

When I was living at home a schoolfriend and I decided one summer that we’d go to one. Not wishing to let on to my parents where I was going I said that we were going camping, which was perfectly true.

All went well until I returned home to a pair of furious parents. The Festival had been on the news on the television and there on the 21:00 News on BBC that Sunday was Yours Truly staggering past the TV camera with a Watneys Party Seven can tucked under his arm, and all of the family, friends and neighbours had seen it.

Ahhh well. We all have memories of what and what might have been. Some more than most

"Childhood comes for me at night
Voices of my friends
Your face bathing me in light
A hope that never ends
Pages turning
Pages torn and pages burning
Faded pages, open in the sun
Better bring your own redemption when you come

But anyway, after all that, I just couldn’t go back to sleep again.

So here I am, up and about, trying nicely and calmly to fit the blood pressure tester to my arm. And after several unsuccessful tries, Our Hero notes on the box that is says poignée. So put it around your wrist, you berk.

Going for a ride on the porcelain horse to calm down again, I come back and take my blood pressure.

"The aim is to have a blood pressure of below 14.0/9.0" and so with mine being 17.0/8.0, I can see that we are starting as we mean to go on.

And as for what it was at lunchtime, I forgot to take it. Start as we mean to go on indeed.

Then there were 15 pills to take and that was … errr … complicated. I earned my coffee and cornflakes after that.

So today I tidied up the kitchen area so it looks as if someone lives here, and in my spare time I made a start on the next radio programme – chosen the music, paired it off and written some of the notes. There have been a few visits and phone calls too.

But one unwelcome visitor was the taxi to take me to the Centre de Re-education. he came 20 minutes early today and I was as nature intended in the bathroom having a good scrub up

But they put me through my paces and I came back here for more spoonsful of cake and some hot chocolate.

Tea tonight was nothing complicated. Pasta and veg in a cheese sauce. Quick, simple and delicious.

With having an early start, I’ve had several moments where I’ve been away with the fairies but as usual, I’m now not tired enough to go to bed.

So which childhood voices of my friends will I hear tonight? And whose face will bathe me in light? If it really had been Zero and Castor last night, wouldn’t it be nice if they were to come back?

But it doesn’t happen like that, does it? I’ll take my blood pressure and go to bed, and probably meet some of my family heading my way. I’ve no idea why they keep on putting in an appearance like this but I wish that they’d clear off and leave room for people whom I really want to see.

Tuesday 19th December 2023 – THE GOOD NEWS…

… is that if there is a change in condition of my heart, it’s an improvement. The cardiologist put me through my paces this morning and her opinion is that whilst the evacuation of the heart isn’t 60-65% as it’s supposed to be, it’s not the 48% that the previous cardiologist recorded.

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few, let me explain.

A normal blood count should be between 13 and 15. My carcinogenic protein is attacking my red blood cells so my blood count is less than it ought to be.

If, for example, I have a blood count of, say, 9, it means that my heart has to beat 50% faster to move enough oxygen around my body.

If the evacuation is, say, 48% instead of 60%, it means that it has to beat 25% faster still to take the oxygen loss into account, and that means that it’s beating at 185%-190% – almost twice as fast.

The heart can do this for so long of course, but not for ever. And this is why they are keeping a close eye on mine.

But the bad news is that they gave me the tests where they pulse electricity through my nervous system to see how the nerves and muscles respond. It’s the fourth time that I’ve had this test and each time they have noted a deterioration.

And that’s how it was today. I’m losing more strength in my legs.

But returning to last night I mentioned yesterday that my blood level had dropped below the critical limit, which is 8. Then there’s not enough oxygen to make the body function. And, I suspect, that’s why I’ve been feeling so miserable these last few days and why my co-ordination is going.

And so at 23:44 they cam around with two pochettes of blood to give me a transfusion.

It took four hours for the transfusion to be completed, with someone coming around every half an hour to check my pulse and blood pressure. And being the light sleeper that I am, it awoke me every time.

And what was the worst about this was that at one point Zero came to check on me too but just as I started to talk to her one of the nurses awoke me to take my blood pressure, and I couldn’t go back into the dream afterwards to carry on our conversation.
"Candles burn
dull red lights
illuminate the breasts of four young girls
dancing, prancing, provoking …
Dreams are always ending far too soon
Life’s to short to be sad
wishing things you’ll never have
You’re better off
not dreaming of
the things to come
Dreams are always ending far too soon"

It seems that CARAVAN HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE ME and know the feeling only too well.

But as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … that after having lived a life full of excitement, the only excitement that I seem to have these days is what goes on during the night.

I’ve been told on many occasions that I ought to take sleeping pills to have a good night’s sleep and I’d cope with things much better during the day

And miss out on what goes on during the night and the possibility of a visit from TOTGA, Zero and Castor, and anyone else who comes along to keep me company? You must be joking!

And strangely enough, the walls of my room are actually grey and pink.

By about 07:15 I’d given up the idea of a good sleep and once I’d gathered my wits, such as they are, I set out for the bathroom and a good wash.

However no sooner had I started than a nurse came round to take a blood sample. It was quite a while before I made it into the bathroom and the chance of a shower was gone.

Having said that, the van to pick me up to take me to Cardiology was rather late but the driver stuck me in a wheelchair and pushed me outside to his vehicle.

Once more, for the benefit of new readers, this hospital isn’t built “up” like most modern hospitals, it’s built “out” on 33 hectares with a whole series of buildings built since the earliest hospital building on the site, in 1648. Consequently there’s a fleet of electric vans with drop floors and ramps in the back for wheelchair-bound passengers and a bus service for those who can walk, to take people from one building to the next.

First stop was Cardiology, second was Neurology and finally, after much waiting about, I came back here in time for lunch.

For each of the trips I had the same driver and vehicle. He’s a rock music fan and one-time musician so we had a good chat. He imagines people like us in an Old People’s Home in out 70s and 80s still rocking the crowds of old women, and 70-year old groupies throwing their panties onto the stage.

Back in 1973 a group of us was hired as roadies for “The Sweet” when they played at the Liverpool Empire and the things that we saw, well, perhaps they are best left unrecorded.

This afternoon I had an endless stream of visits from different medical personnel doing all kinds of different things. But my neighbour, the President of the Residents’ Committee, is in Paris again and she came round for a chat which was very nice.

She stayed for about an hour and we chatted about nothing in particular and then she had to nip off.

However her visit coincided with afternoon coffee so they didn’t bring me a cup. But I managed to blag a cup of coffee later on from one of the nurses.

They don’t like my blood pressure. They think that it’s far too high and there’s no real reason for it as far as I can tell.

However it wasn’t as high as the time at Castle Anthrax when the young student nurse with the low-cut overall and no t-shirt underneath climbed all over me to couple me up to the machine.
"I don’t know why your blood pressure is so high this morning."
"I do" I thought to myself. "And if you climb over me like that again it’ll go even higher."

There was plenty of work that I have to do but I didn’t accomplish all that much. Last night’s lack of sleep took its toll on me and I was falling asleep for 10 minutes here and there all day.

However I did manage to transcribe the dreams from last night. I’d been to a Saturday lunchtime class for my University course. Coming out I went a couple of doors away to where Zero was living. The house was empty but I had a key so I went in. There was a book there. It was part II of “500 photos of the Bangor area of North Wales Published Consecutively” or something like that. I sat down and began to read it. After I’d been reading it for a couple of minutes the front door opened and I could hear Zero’s voice along with my elder sister and her husband. That was quite a surprise. It was Zero’s birthday today and there was a party later on to which I’d been invited. Zero opened the door into the room where I was sitting. I said “hello gorgeous” to her and at that moment I awoke.

It seems that the medical staff of the hospital has joined forces with my subconscious in preventing Zero from succumbing to a virtual fate worse than virtual death.

And of course, I couldn’t step back into that dream, could I?

There was also a golfing competition taking place. The club decided that it would have an annual tournament so many of its members took part. I went along a a sort-of adjudicator, not that I knew any rules about golf. There were all kinds of things happening. On one occasion one player lost a stroke, or, rather, he had a ball moved so he had to play an impossible shot and then play on because of some infringement. People wondered if that was legal. Then someone hit a ball which was then lost from view so he took a penalty and another shot, and he found that ball but it was right by the one that was lost so he wanted to play the first ball again and withdraw the penalty but I didn’t know what to do. It was another one of these long meaderings that seemed to go on for ever and ever. As I said, I know nothing about golf and I don’t know why I was there. I don’t know any of the rules and couldn’t give any decisions on anything.

We were next building an armoured lorry for a trip into the Middle East. We came down to the question of the doors. We found a door that would fit, an armoured door, but it had seized up. We tried to dismantle it but one of the things was that the cover on one of the inspection hatches where the lock was, a bolt had seized solid and there was nothing that we had that would free this bolt. The girl who was going to drive the lorry also pointed out that it didn’t seem safe because the window winder had broken . I took it apart and found that there was a bearing and retaining clip missing so while the window winder would go round, if it went over a bump or something it might drop off and the window would fall down again to the bottom. That wasn’t in accordance with the idea that we’d had about this armoured lorry. She was insisting that we found another door where the window worked. My father was more interested in trying to remove this inspection panel off so that he could check the lock. The girl and I were joking about 1 or 2 things, talking about unnecessary heat that would ignite any kind of conversation. One of the guys had some WD40, sprayed the bolt with it and fetched a cutting torch with the idea that he’d use the cutting torch to set the oil alight that would heat up the bolt to free it from the hosing where it was stuck so that he could unscrew it. It was funny him doing that just as the girl and I were talking about heat so of course we had to smile. All the time my father was trying to remove the lock. He had someone else there who was freeing off another inspection panel to show the girl how the lock worked, trying to convince her that this was the most secure door that could be found but the young girl was extremely frustrated because she was still insisting on doing something about the window. If that dropped down in the middle of the mountains or something people would be able to enter or fire a gun into the cab. She was much more concerned about that but no-one seemed to be taking any notice of that. They were all trying to prove to her that this door was secure when it was quite obvious to the girl and me that it wasn’t, because of the window.

Having told them this morning (again) that I’m vegan, tonight’s tea was veal and carrot soup followed by salmon lasagne with spinach in cream

Luckily the nurse who came later saw what was going on and made me a bowl of cheap vegetable soup with bread, and my neighbour had brought me some bananas and clementines.

But it’s not that I’m unprepared. Following what went on at Riom over the food when I was there for my “second opinion” in 2016, I have brought a few supplies with me “just in case”.

In a few minutes I’ll be off to bed, and hope that Zero comes back to check up on me, or maybe TOTGA or Castor might come along.

But Castor seems to have disappeared now. It’s been ages since she’s come to visit me. Our three nights on the upper deck of THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR looking at the midnight sun and the northern lights and singing to each other are long gone now.

Life’s too short to be sad, wishing things you’ll never have, but when you are sad wishing for things that you actually might have had and which slipped through your fingers on a deserted, windswept airstrip in the High Arctic as a ‘plane prepared to take-off for Ottawa, life is never too short for that

Before I went to bed, a Dutch group called Alquin came round in the playlist and we had their song THE DANCE from their second album THE MOUNTAIN QUEEN.

As we were talking … "well, one of us was" – ed … about ships that pass in the night and that kind of thing, somehow some of the lyrics of “The Dance” seemed relevant to our parting.
"Where will you be tonight?
Where will you be tomorrow?
Fly in your silver kite
And leave me here in sorrow
Hey dude can you see what you’ve done to me
Oh I’m feeling so bad
Yes I’m feeling so blue"

Thursday 14th December 2023 – IT WAS THE …

… staff Christmas lunch at the Centre de Re-education at midday today. And so as a result there really wasn’t all that much point in any of the clients going there this afternoon.

Anyone who has ever been to a French office party or Christmas lunch will understand only too well exactly what I mean.

It looked as if it was all going to go the Way of the West when Severine told me how difficult it was to make my feet respond to her massage.

She would probably have had more luck had she remembered to take of my shoes first, especially after all of the effort through which I’d gone to change my socks and put on clean ones earlier that afternoon.

Mind you, at least she went through the motions. Ophélie the Ergotherapist was definitely on another planet in some other universe somewhere and our session, which took ages to start, finished quite rapidly.

But I knew that today was going to be one of those days. During the night Zero had come to visit me. It was really nice to see her, but in the middle of a long interesting discussion that I was having with her, I suddenly awoke bolt upright and she immediately vanished into the ether.

Start as you mean to go on, I suppose.

Having finished my notes early last night I had an hour or so on the guitar and ended up going late to bed. One thing that I love about living in a building where the walls are 1m20 thick of solid granite is that I can make as much noise as I like and no-one can hear me.

Apart from all of the usual songs that I run through, I had a play around with THIS ONE.

It sounds really well on a decent acoustic guitar and the last time that I played the song to an audience was on the observation deck of THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR at about 04:00 one night when Castor and I were huddled up watching the midnight sun over Coronation Gulf on the last night of our little adventure

Playing Trevor Bolder’s bass line is really enjoyable and I used to do that a lot, but for some reason that I could never understand, I could never sing the chorus when playing the chorus’s bass line no matter how much I rehearsed and practised, and I found it deeply frustrating.

Being determined never to admit defeat and to master it one day, I still keep on trying, even if it has been 20 years.

"Keep your electric eye on me babe
Put your ray-gun to my head
Press your space-face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream"

At least, we had the midnight sun, I suppose.

Being late going to bed, I didn’t go very far. But it’s quality that counts, not quantity of course, and just like Kris Kristofferson, "I’d give all my tomorrows for a single yesterday".

I dreamt last night that I was at the Centre Normandy again. They were teaching up all kinds of things like different series of recipes which for example was the one where we learnt about Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings. There was another one where we learnt about stuffing etc. It began quite normally but as the menus progressed it became more and more chaotic until in the end I was chasing a tin of Christmas pudding mix around my bed trying to find it (and I was too!).

And later, I was dictating the next dream without the dictaphone again, something that I do far too often. But I’m glad that my subconscious realised it and made a wild grab because this was when Zero appeared and I didn’t want to miss her. I’d been out around the North Shropshire area in my red Cortina estate and coming back through Whitchurch I wanted a pint of milk. I couldn’t find one so in the end I ended up at Northern Dairies where I bought a bottle. At some point or other I’d picked up Zero but I can’t remember how – at one minute I was on my own and next minute she was in the car. Then I had something else to do that meant that I had to double back through Whitchurch and drive around the town for a while. Instead of Zero I then had someone else with me but I can’t remember who it was. In the end I was just driving around. It was the afternoon. The previous evening I’d been to a football match, a ladies match between 2 teams. I came across a sports ground somewhere on the edge of Birmingham. There was a fair-sized crowd for what looked like an amateur game so I decided to stop to look as kick-off hadn’t happened yet. I was wandering around and ended up in one of the rooms of the building. It was full of schoolgirls and a couple of teachers. One of the teachers was wearing a bright blue flannel suit and waistcoat with his name on it and a lime green shirt and was talking in a high-pitched voice to these girls about their English exams. There was probably 20 or 30 schoolgirls packed in here. I was just sitting quietly in a corner trying to work out where I was. I noticed that the postcode of this place began with PR1. I thought “it can’t be Preston so where was I?” In the end I came to the conclusion that I was in Perry Barr on the edge of Birmingham. I ended up talking to 2 of the girls, asking what time kick-off was. They told me that we had 20 minutes to wait. Then in walked Zero. I said “hello” to her and called her by name which surprised everyone in this room – they didn’t know that I knew one of their schoolgirls. She came over to chat. I asked about her birthday, what presents she had, and asked her about her holidays. We were having a really lengthy involved chat when I awoke quite dramatically.

After that, there was no point in going back to sleep, even though I tried. I knew that this would be one dream into which I would never be able to step back. Can you imagine the disappointment? There I was with Zero on my plate, just about get my fork stuck in, and “paff”.

"Gone! And never called me ‘mother’!"

For about half an hour I carried out my exercises with the elastic strap around my ankles and then Arose from the Dead. It was 05:40.

Being up and about is one thing. Actually being in any state to do anything is something else completely and it took me an age to wind myself up ready to go.

Eventually though I managed to make a start on things and by lunchtime I’d edited the radio notes that I’d dictated before going to bed and assembled another complete programme.

Had I put my shoulder to the wheel I could have finished it off a lot earlier than that but what with a late night and a really early start, I went off again with the fairies for quite some time in the middle of it all.

Having had a good wash and scrub up I made myself ready for the Centre de Re-education and while I was waiting for my lift I hunted down some music.

Unfortunately I ended up stuck in yet another nostalgia groove (and in case you haven’t already noticed, I’m still in it, regrettably) and came across a recording of a live Hawkwind concert from a festival in Canterbury 20-odd years ago. And that was that, I’m afraid

That actually gave me yet another idea for my radio programme.

Back in the 1970s with my various vans I used to run a sound engineer around to work at various gigs and then a friend’s son was sound engineer with the Pink Fairies who supported dozens of headline groups. Consequently I seem to have inherited quite a collection of live concert recordings

Occasionally I feature a live concert recording in my radio shows when it’s convenient so I’m wondering if maybe I should go through my collection of recordings, try to identify the dates for those that aren’t labelled (there’s A HANDY WEBSITE ON THE INTERNET where people post setlists of concerts that they’ve seen and that should help identify some of them) and then broadcast “anniversary concerts” when the appropriate date coincides with one of my programmes.

After the Centre de Re-education I came back here, made my hot chocolate and sat down to sort out the music for the next radio programme. That’s all paired off now and I’ve even written some of the notes. Once more, I could have done much more but I … errr … relaxed for a while.

Tea was steamed veg with falafel and vegan cheese sauce but the veg wasn’t really steamed enough. It seems that my microwave is being rather hit-and-miss these days too.

So having finished off everything? I’m going to sort out some paperwork for the hospital, make my shopping list for the supermarket at St Nicolas tomorrow and then have a play on the guitar.

And hope that Zero comes back to see me again during the night, either on her own or with Castor and TOTGA

Yes, I’m still on this nostalgia thing again, so what better track to leave you all with than THIS ONE? Definitely the poet Robert Calvert’s finest hour.

He describes the perigee of despair in terms that no-one else could possibly imitate. Imagine being stuck in a interplanetary spacecraft on an inter-galactic voyage that will take centuries, just you and a clone of your lover, and when you make love to it "she calls another’s name"

There will never be another song quite like this.

Calvert is buried just a few hundred yards from where my mother lived as a child and one of the things that I intended to do was to go to visit his grave. But that’s just one more thing that won’t ever be done.

This “unfinished list” seems to be growing longer and longer, and there’s nothing that I can do about it.

Wednesday 6th December 2023 – THEY AREN’T LETTING …

… the grass grow under my feet.

It was only on Friday that I was at the hospital in Paris when they told me that they need to be sure that my heart can withstand the shock of this new medicine that they think might work.

This afternoon I had a mail from the hospital – “you are summoned to attend the cardiac unit for an echograph at 09:15 in the forenoon on Tuesday 19th December”.

So that means leaving here at about 04:30 and arriving at Paris bang in the middle of the morning rush hour. And how much am I not looking forward to that?

But it least it goes to show that I’m in good hands and people are taking an interest in my case. I wouldn’t have this service in many other places.

So I’ve had to dash off a letter to my doctor to ask for a bon de transport and hope that the Social Services agree to pay for it. While I was at it I wrote and asked for another prescription as I’m running short of medication.

That’s all now in the handbag of my cleaner who will drop it off at the medical centre on her way to her clients in town in the morning.

It seems that early mornings are going to become a regular feature, and not just when I go to Paris either. Once again, when the alarm went off at 07:00 I was half-way through editing the radio notes that I’d dictated before I went to bed. I’d been up since 05:10 this morning.

First thing that I did after the medication was to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I started off with one of these North American road-movie type films with a couple of teenage girls sitting on some kind of embankment overlooking a motorway watching a big American articulated lorry come down a slip road onto the motorway. In front of them was some kind of large panel van. It came onto the motorway first and drifted right away across the lanes into what was effectively then the outside lane nearest the central reservation before heading off again. One thing that was interesting about this was that everyone was driving on the left.

Later on we had something about a wild dog. It was much more than a wild dog, terrorising a neighbourhood somewhere in the USA attacking just about everyone who went close to it and making a right mess of them, killing most of them. On one occasion it cornered a young woman. It had an object in its paw like a pillow and was continually hitting this woman who was trying to escape. It was gradually weakening her until she began to sag onto the floor and the wild beast was ready to leap on top of her and presumably tear out her throat.

And then I was in North America looking for some fermented human juice with which to make my evil Christmas pudding. In the end I established myself in some kind of corridor where I’d attack people who were walking along it and absorb them into the floor as they panicked etc. I’d have some kind of apparatus like a giant hypodermic with which I’d suck the life-blood out of the humans whom I was attacking. That was what I’d be adding to my Christmas cake.

As you can see, I’m back in the nightmares again. But then, I’ve had much worse than these in the past but I choose not to type them out. One or two that I’ve had at times have been so disturbing that I couldn’t even bring myself to dictate them

Caliburn and I had been out on an expedition somewhere in South-West UK. We’d met a guy and been talking to him for a while and then we’d set off along the road. Then he phoned me back to say that he had something else to say. We tried to find a place to perform a U-turn. In the end we’d drifted off the main road somehow and ended up on what basically was a farm track across the fields. It suddenly turned into the steepest road that I’d ever encountered. When we reached the top I could see railway lines that were all covered in weeds and overgrown. It seemed that I’d climbed up the end of a demolished railway viaduct that crossed over the river. While I was stopped, taking a photo of the rails, 2 guys went past on motor bikes. We said a couple of words . They told me that I was somewhere near Wells. Then I set off to go back to the guy’s house but ended up driving over a green field. I thought “I don’t remember this way at all”. As I looked closely the track that I was following did a U-turn and came back down the side of the hill about 100 yards from where I was. I thought to myself that I was completely and utterly lost at the moment. I’ve no idea where I am right now, I’ve no map or anything. I’m stuck in the middle of all these green fields without a clue of where I am.

Apart from the fact that the scenery was green, the landscape of all of this was very similar to the recurring dream that I had on several occasions about the mountain pass in the snow.

Then I had a girl with me. It might have been Cécile. We’d been out for a drive somewhere in Caliburn and stopped in a lay-by at the side of the road. Once again, Caliburn this time was a right-hand drive vehicle. From a flask she poured me a mug of coffee which I sat and began to drink but I began to tidy up a few things (so it must have been a dream, me tidying up). There were loads of elastic straps just lying all over the place so I was tying then to attachments and coiling them up. She was eating a cheeseburger (and as if Cécile would ever have eaten a cheeseburger. When we first began to chat to each other at the Anglo-French Group in the Combrailles it was to exchange vegan recipes). While I was busy sorting this out we were having a little chat. Then we decided that we’d go. I can’t remember exactly what happened after that because I awoke quite suddenly but I know that there was a couple of younger girls walking past who were involved in this dream somewhere.

Finally I’d been away camping for a few days and was absolutely filthy. I don’t know why. I hadn’t washed for several days. I made it back home and Zero was there with her parents (so welcome back, Zero!). The first thing that I did was to go to the bathroom for a really good wash. Zero came in and brought a small portable TV with her. She was watching some kind of programme. While I was washing I was talking to her but she replied in grunts and monosyllables as if she wasn’t really taking much notice. We talked about the journey back and how in Cheadle I’d been stuck behind a row of PMT buses. Her father said “there won’t be any of them soon, and they won’t be red. All of PMT’s operations outside the core area of Stoke on Trent are being withdrawn. They are having to bring in taxis etc to cover the trips. I explained that that was probably why I’d seen a couple of strange buses wandering around there looking as if they were doing things but certainly weren’t part of the PMT fleet. The we began to talk about chip shops. I told him that there were 2 chip shops that had been the first in the UK to stop selling fish and chips at a fixed price. One was down Longton way which was where we were at that particular moment. The other was up in Burslem. After I’d finished washing I tuned in Zero’s TV for her which was slightly off its station and went back into the living room where I told everyone quite happily that I was so pleased to be clean – the first time for several days.

And then I made a start on the radio notes. The dictation was slightly better than just recently but I had tied myself up in knots in a few places and it took some entangling. With the final track and the notes, I ended up 10 seconds over but that was edited down quite easily. I always include in my speeches quite a lot of stuff that isn’t really vitally important and I can cut it out as I go along, if necessary.

Once I’d finished that I finished off the notes for the photos that I’d taken when I arrived in Montréal and those three days are now completely on line. If you START HERE and go forward for the next couple of days.

The car came early for me today, and I wasn’t ready, due to things that, no matter how rich and famous you might be, you can’t get anyone else to do on your behalf.

At the Centre de Re-education the first session was at the tapis roulant – the rolling carpet. Apart from walking as it rolled away underneath me and being given advice about how I’m carrying myself, there were two other tasks, both of them rather like computer games.

One was to catch a thrown paper ball in a waste basket. But you move the basket by adjusting the balance of your weight by using your feet. The farther to the extremes the paper ball is thrown, the harder you have to press with the appropriate foot. Extreme right was pretty impossible for me.

The second one was like a 1970s Space Invaders game but once again you control the paddle with your feet. Again, the extremes were difficult

In Ergotherapy the therapist ran me through a few tests (one or two of which I failed miserably) and then showed me a way of getting in and out of bed more comfortably. She’s going to come here one morning next week to inspect my apartment and suggest ways that I could improve my life.

Here’s hoping that she gives me advice about getting in and out of the shower.

Severine ran me through my paces afterwards. She noticed that I didn’t have the same improved force that I had yesterday and that was borne out by how I climbed back up the stairs to here afterwards.

She seems to think that the tapis roulant took too much out of me, and that might explain why it always seems to be more difficult to climb back up after I’ve been shopping.

Back here I had my hot chocolate and biscuits, sorted out the letter to the doctor and then regrettably fell asleep for a while, which was no surprise.

Tea was a delicious leftover curry but I lost concentration at one point and the naan bread ended up being overdone. Still, you can’t win a coconut every time.

Then I checked the mails and messages again. A big thank-you to Sean and Liz for sending me some useful tips abour marzipanning and icing. Every tip that I can receive will come in useful

Tomorrow morning I might have a relax ready for the Centre de Re-education tomorrow afternoon. I’m expecting a parcel delivery and that will need checking.

The cheap kitchen scales that I have eats batteries like they are going out of fashion and it’s very inconvenient. I’ve found one on line that has a built in 5-volt battery. 5 volts equals USB connection of course and that should hopefully work much better.

Adding 120 grammes of sugar to something, having a battery go flat at 90 grammes, hunting around for a new CR2032 battery and then forgetting how much sugar I’ve already put in is no way to run a chemical operation.

Alison has a beautiful set of Olde-Worlde analogue scales but they aren’t really practical.

The new scales will come in handy at the weekend when I have the pizza dough and more fruit buns to make, along with marzipanning and icing the cake.

What with the scales and my new FOOD PROCESSOR I’m definitely going up in the world. But if I can’t go out anywhere and can’t do anything outside, I may as well find a new hobby.

The right equipment will help of course, and then I can always eat the fruits of my labours.

Saturday 2nd December 2023 – I AWOKE THIS …

… morning at 05:30, even after all of my exertions last night. And I was feeling so awake that by 05:40 I was seriously thinking about leaving the stinking pit.

But I’m glad I didn’t.

Some time later I must have fallen asleep again. And I’m glad that I did because during that little period I had a visitor. Zero came to visit me.

In fact her presence so startled me that I awoke bolt upright. And this time I actually did leave the bed before the alarm went off. Not my much, it has to be said, but any period of time is worth noting.

First port of call was to take my medication. And that was especially important seeing as how I’d abstained yesterday.

Second port of call was to check the temperature. When I lived in the Auvergne the temperature was just one of the several dozen records that I took twice a day so I could make graphs that would hopefully show a correlation between the different types of weather and the different types of energy that was being produced and consumed but I don’t do anything at all like that here.

What was important today was the fact that even though we’re so close to the sea, everything was iced up outside.

And sure enough, at 07:00 this morning the temperature was minus 3.5°C. That’s the lowest temperature that I’ve seen here, but it’s still a far cry from how things were in the Auvergne. Rosemary rang up for a chat later on (as you will find out in due course) and she told me that the temperature in the Combrailles had dropped to minus 7°C and as things had warmed up in the morning they’d had a fall of snow.

But as for my temperature (well, the temperature outside actually) it was enough to put me off going out.

After yesterday’s exertions I was really exhausted but I wondered whether I should force myself to go out but as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, if I fall over I can’t pick myself up again and staggering about on the ice in sub-zero temperatures is a recipe for disaster.

Instead, I came in here and finished off my order for LeClerc. I was going to send it off on Monday but instead I added in everything that I would otherwise buy at the Carrefour and it was on its way even before I’d had my morning coffee.

There were no tomatoes on delivery today but my cleaner usually goes to the market in town on Saturday morning so I sent her a message and she duly obliged.

Next stop was to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And, more importantly, who had come with me. I’d been collecting up tools, the kind that you’d find on market stalls in the northern UK. I’d been making a collection of all kinds of stuff. Then I’d been going through it and deciding what I wanted to keep and what I didn’t, and maybe I would advertise the rest for sale or something like that, maybe even visit a market stall to try to sell them or even try to have a market stall myself so much of last night was spent going through this collection of tools and making decisions. There were things like hammers and drifts, taps and dies, files etc that I would have loved to have had at another moment.

And in a certain region of India a man was having an extreme amount of difficulty trying to buy many items that would be considered to be normal, average everyday use in the rest of the World. At a certain moment he won £721 in a lottery for deprived areas so used his winnings to place an internet order to buy stuff on line that he could have sent to him. He went on one of these reality TV programmes to talk about his winnings and his order. Some visiting dignitary from his Province’s Government climbed onto the stage without invitation and immediately began to denounce everything that he’d ordered that had not yet been delivered, claiming that it was all Chinese warmongering equipment, even things like barbecue grills, and had no place in an ordinary decent home in his Province. he was picking up these things and throwing them about on the stage, coming out with all kinds of rhetoric. I tried to calm him down but he wasn’t going to have anything about this so in the end I reluctantly decided that the only way to deal with this matter is to have a huge confrontation with him on the TV and embarrass him by his lack of knowledge and obvious prejudice.

Later on there was a couple of domineering parents who had 4 teenage children. One day they decided that they would assassinate some kind of Russian emigré noblewoman. He knew where this noble emigré woman went to relax so the arranged to be present with rifles. As the woman was leaning against a wall smoking, the father gave a signal and everyone levelled their rifles across the room at this woman relaxing in the doorway. At the very last moment she saw them and swayed to one side as they fired. Instead of being killed outright one hit her in the cheek, another hit her in the shoulder and the other 4 missed. In a fit of anger she stormed over to this table where these 6 people were sitting and tore an absolute strip off the father and demanded that he give her a glass of gin. He was astonished that she was still moving and insisting on a glass of gin, which he poured for her. First he took a mouthful himself before giving it to her. One of this children piped up “just look at that! Now you can see what it is that we as kids have had to suffer for all our lives. He can’t even give someone a drink without having to take a drink of it himself. You’ve just met him for 10 minutes and he’s treated you like this but this is how he’s treated us all out lives”.

This was when I awoke at 05:30 and as I said just now, when I went back to sleep Zero put in an appearance. I was at school and it was the middle of summer. There were loads of kids milling around. I’d been working on a few of the radio programmes. One of the guys who ran the radio asked me if I’d put together a pile of programmes that had been broadcast previously which were my favourites. I had an enormous amount of difficulty trying to find the ones. I was looking for some certain live concerts but every time I opened a folder it was the wrong one. Eventually I put 4 or 5 together onto a memory stick and walked out of my classroom ready to go downstairs. I was wearing a shirt with no sleeves that was completely open, a tie that was actually around my neck and not around the collar of the shirt and a pair of shorts which I never ever wear. You could see the skin imperfections on my legs and you could also a great big scar running down the inside of my right arm. As I walked down the steps there were all these girls sitting down there. One or two made a remark about my sartorial elegance. I explained that if they thought that I would wear full school uniform on the hottest day of the year they are totally mistaken. One of the girls talking to me had a very white pasty face and hair as if she’d been covered in flour. There was another one, a much younger girl, who was flirting around with me as she was talking so naturally I was flirting around with her too as I was replying. Then I set off and ended up in Market Street in Crewe in the period before they demolished it all. Zero came in at some point as I was going through the directories looking for these particular files. Whether she was helping me or whether she was actually involved in one of the programmes I can’t remember now but she was certainly there as I was searching through these directories looking for the specific files.

But what is going on here? I’m flirting around with another girl while Zero is in the immediate vicinity? I really must be losing my touch these days!

By this time the shopping – including my bigarreaux confits – had arrived and I was in time to watch the delivery guy go head over heels on the stairs up to my apartment. No bones broken so he was lucky. Slabs of solid granite are really hard when you fall on them.

Before I’d sent off the order I checked the promotions to see what was on special offer, and they had broccoli heads at 99 cents so I’d ordered one.

It was more stalk than florets so after I’d trimmed it and blanched the florets ready for freezing, I decided to have a broccoli stalk soup for lunch.

  • Cut up an onion and fry it in oil in the base of a heavy saucepan
  • Add in your herbs. I used
    • chervil
    • tarragon
    • coriander
  • add in a sliced lump of garlic
  • dice your broccoli stalk finely and add it in
  • dice a potato ditto
  • fry it all up nicely for a few minutes
  • add back enough of the water in which you blanched the broccoli florets
  • Simmer it until everything in there is extremely soft, and then add in some cream. I used soya yoghurt as I have plenty that needs eating quickly
  • whizz it up with your magic wand
  • eat it with some of the crusty bread that you remembered to add onto your order with LeClerc

Fighting off (sometimes unsuccessfully) a few waves of sleep I carried on writing the notes for Canada 2022. I’m still wandering around the vieux port – I had no idea that I’d taken so many photos there.

Rosemary rang me up too (as I said just now) to find out how things went yesterday so I told her the bad news. She tells me that in the Spring next year she’ll come to visit if her operation passes ok.

If she does, I hope that she remembers to bring with her my big bass combo amp that’s sitting in her shed. That’s the one that I found in a pawn shop around the corner from Sandra’s in Ottawa in 2019.

And while we’re on the subject, sometime in the future I’ll be expecting another parcel delivery from Canada. In the back of Strider were a Fender bass and combo amp that travelled around North America with me. Now that Strider is, apparently, no more, it’ll be in the way at my niece’s house and I need to bring it here.

Apparently my talk about Christmas cake earlier in the week inspired Rosemary and she checked in her cupboard where she found that she had all of the important ingredients for a Christmas Cake.

She’s had all of her fruit soaking since then but now she can’t find her baking tin. And at least I can smile because although I moved to the Auvergne in 2006 and still haven’t unpacked yet, Rosemary moved to France more than 30 years ago and she is far from being unpacked even yet.

Anyway we agreed that cooking and baking is a fine hobby to have if your mobility is restricted. You don’t need to move around much and you can really enjoy the fruits of your labours – in the literal sense of the word.

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap, which I can enjoy now that I’ve found that I can order on-line the special burgers that I like. With a baked potato and salad it was delicious.

So tomorrow I have a lot to do. Before I go to bed I’ll be dictating the radio notes that I prepared the other day (if I get pull my head round in the right direction) so that I can prepare a programme tomorrow.

Then there’s the Christmas Cake and Pudding that need baking too.

Finally too, I have biscuits to bake. I had a couple of store-bought packets lying around but while the first packet was fine, the odour that came from the second one that I opened today convinced me that I didn’t need to taste them.

There’s some freh ginger lying around, some almonds and a few other bits and pieces so that looks as if it will make a really nice biscuit mix. It’s a good job that the vegan butter was on special offer today and I took full advantage by buying an extra packet.

So before I go to bed I’ll have a play about on the guitar and work my way through some more of my playlist. I might have a good run through RECOVERING THE SATELLITES

"We only stay in orbit
For a moment of time
And then you’re everybody’s satellite
I wish that you were mine"

Now who does that remind me of?

Tuesday 21st November 2023 – MEANWHILE, IN THE ….

… Social Services office –
Social Services Officer – "Do you have any problems with your hearing?"
Our Hero – "Pardon?"

Yes, I’ve been up to my ears in interviews today

And believe it or not, I prepared well for it today by crashing out on several occasions. Not that I’m sure that I know why because last night was one of the better nights’ sleeps that I’ve had quite recently, and I can’t remember very much of what was going on during the night.

When the alarm went off I staggered to my feet and went in search of my medication. A fine way to start the day.

Back in here afterwards I had a few letters to write and some information to pull together ready for people whom I’m likely to meet during the course of the day.

Once I’d prepared my papers I had a listen to the dictaphone notes and to my surprise and delight I was joined, at different times of course, by a couple of my favourite companions. And what a shame that I didn’t remember all that much about it. First out of the block was Zero, whose birthday it apparently was last night and there had been a big party. I’d been staying there for a few days and the morning after we decided that we’d make a start on tidying up. There were some things needed from the shop so they asked me if I would go to fetch them. The car there was a Chrysler Neon so I took it and drove away to the shops to do the shopping. Their driveway was between two pillars of brick and was fairly narrow but on the way back I just drove past and reversed in as I would normally do anywhere else. As we were walking in Zero’s mother said something about tidying up but I didn’t quite understand it – I didn’t quite hear what she said – so I sad to Zero “yes, go and put all the balloons in the cellar and jump around in there”. Her mother looked at me and said “that’s a much better idea than mine”. I was surprised because I thought that that was what she’d actually said but she must have said something different that I didn’t hear correctly. In the house when I went in there were loads of people sleeping around on sofas etc, dogs and cats etc everywhere. Apparently Zero had had a rabbit for her birthday and was playing with it somewhere.

As for the rabbit, I’m not quite sure where that fitted in, but I remember hiring a Chrysler Neon on a couple of occasions when I was in the USA 25 or so years ago and for a basic uncomplicated saloon car it was quite a pleasant vehicle

And then later on I was with Percy Penguin too. She’d finished work and gone home but she contacted me to ask me to come to pick her up. I thought that I’d go along to see what was the matter with her. When I pulled up she said nothing but just got into the car with a very depressed look on her face. After a couple of minutes she began to tell me her problems with her father – how when they go away on holiday he just lies in bed all day and doesn’t do anything. You could never force him out to do things etc. He’d completely lost interest in life and it was weighing down heavily on everyone. I set off to go for a drive with her and let her talk but for some reason, 2 or 3 times we ended up back outside her house and leaving again as if she kept on changing her mind then changing it again. We drove for a while as she told me all about these things. In the end we came into Shavington. There was some kind of fair there so we went for a walk around and came across some kind of craft fair that was proposing exhibitions and workshops. One was to make your own teddy bear and was on Wednesday at 17:30. I was explaining it to a father who was looking for some information for his daughter and noticed that Percy Penguin was listening too. I explained all about it to her. In the end we agreed that it was a shame that she knew no-one on Shavington because she could have gone there after work to wait until this course started, done the course and I would have taken her home after I returned from work. After a while of this she said that she wanted to go home. I asked why, if I could persuade her to stay out, but she said that she hadn’t yet done her homework for the week. I had the feeling that was an excuse rather than anything else but in the end I ended up taking her home.

Now there was someone who doesn’t feature half as often in these pages as she deserves. Her simple, uncomplicated, undemanding nature helped me through quite a few really stressful periods that I went through at one time or another and I wish that there were more people like her in this world.

Having transcribed the dictaphone notes I sat down to revise my Welsh ready for today’s lesson but regrettably I had the first of a couple of sessions today where I was away with the fairies for a while.

Armed with my coffee and my slice of bread-and-butter pudding I went for my lesson, which passed well enough although I’m convinced that I’m miles off the pace with this course. I just can’t concentrate on what I’m supposed to be doing.

However, as for my bread-and-butter pudding, it’s really turned out quite well and I’m very pleased with it. However it tastes quite differently from the bread-and-butter pudding that my mother used to make when we were kids, but that’s probably a good thing because my mother was not well-known for her culinary prowess.

In fact I had to wait until I met Nerina before I really began to eat well. And that’s no real surprise – anyone brought up by an Italian mother is bound to be at the top of the game in that respect and I was rather spoilt.

After I’d had a good wash and clean-up the car came for me and we set off for the Centre de Re-education where Severine put me through my paces. She told me that my sessions last week were cancelled because the ergotherapist had damaged her leg and was off work – not exactly the best recommendation for a Centre de Re-education.

With no ergotherapist I had to loiter around for a while before my appointment with the Social Services. She didn’t really have very much to tell me that I didn’t already know but she took copious notes which might serve some kind of purpose in the near future, I suppose.

Back here I had my hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits and then began the task of taking the inventory of what I have in store here.

And within a matter of a handful of seconds I came across 2kg of flour that I’d overlooked and also a tin of custard powder that I must have bought in the English shop in Belgium at some point when I was living in Leuven.

After about half an hour or so I was probably about a tenth of the way through the shelves but I’d already found enough room to store the food processor and its accessories. I’ll have another half-hour at it tomorrow when I’ll probably discover the 10 lost tribes of Israel, Lord Lucan and Martin Bormann.

Here and there when I’ve not been asleep I’ve been making a start on the next radio programme. The music has now been paired off and I’m halfway through writing the notes. I’ll finish that off tomorrow and dictate them tomorrow night. I have no visit to the Centre de Re-education on Thursday but the engineer is coming.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the stuffing from yesterday. And there’s plenty left to make a leftover curry for Wednesday night. There’s still some naan bread dough left in the freezer.

As well as everything else I’ve had the acoustic guitar out again for a good while. I’m not sure why because I don’t think that I’ll ever play again in public but I suppose that nevertheless I ought to do my best to press on regardless.

Having finished my notes I’m going to have my hot drink and then go to bed. I probably won’t sleep much tonight with having had several goes at it already but I’ll do my best. And I’ll wonder about who will come along to visit me tonight.

Wednesday 15th November 2023 – ALL MY SESSIONS …

… at the Centre de Re-education were cancelled today, and cancelled tomorrow as well. No-one has told me why but I suggest that Severine has been overcome after a couple of sessions of massaging my feet.

She’s not the first, of course. I remember when Nerina wanted us to have one of these Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs.
"What will it eat?" I asked
"The same food as us" she replied
"And where will it live?"
"In the house with us" she answered
"And where will it sleep?" I asked
"On the bed with us and the cats" she answered it
"And what about the smell?" I asked
"The pig will get used to it" she said. "The cats and I had to".

So with no physical training today, I’ve been very busy.

And not just during the day either. I was quite busy during the night too. There was something about a rock group having produced a follow-up album to one that was a great success. There was something to do with 9 minutes in this follow-up which made the disk less attractive to anyone who wanted to buy it. A discussion was going around about how the recording society was really compromising this album in respect of this particular 9 minutes and something needed to be done for the group to reassert itself. But it was like one of these dreams where I walked into the middle of something that was already going on and then walked out again before it finished. I can’t remember any more than that but it was well under way when I first became involved in it

We were back with this group again later, when they had gone to ground over something to do with this 9 minutes. While they were doing it they discovered some music that had been registered by someone who had been there a couple of years earlier and which had been totally overlooked. Now they were saying that this piece of music might make all the difference about how their new album is going to progress.

There was something going on last night about food prices. Prices were starting to go through the roof. People were beginning to stock up. One of the issues was cat food which had begun to be really expensive. Someone in the house where I was living gave me a voucher for 4 tins and asked me to go to the Co-op. As I did, one of the cats ran to the door and ran outside. I had to grab it and bring it back inside the house before I could set off. That had me thinking about walking to the Co-op. I was after all quite ill but was still going along doing all of this, going to the hospital, still doing as much as I could. I remember my father when his wife was ill, how he basically dropped everything and just stayed at home, ostensibly to look after her but I suspected that it was a kind-of fatigue that enters your body once you are old and you just don’t want to do anything any more. I couldn’t understand why it was that so many people seemed to give up hope as soon as they have some kind of severe illness and allow the illness to sweep them away etc instead of standing back up and fighting.

This is pretty much similar to several conversations that I’d had in the past. With most people, if you aren’t feeling too good today you can always leave the task until tomorrow when you’ll be feeling better. Anyone with a terminal illness will tell you that if you aren’t feeling too good today you can’t leave it because you know that tomorrow you’ll be feeling worse. You have to press on regardless.

It’s surprising how an illness like that can change your life for the better, because it keeps on driving you forward.

When I was on the taxis in Crewe I saw dozens of people who had worked all their lives to the sound of the factory hooter and had died a few months after retirement because they didn’t know what to do and so had sunk into a fit of lethargic depression that proved to be terminal.

Mind you, Crewe is rather like that. It’s the kind of place that when the Luftwaffe dropped a stick of bombs across the town during one of the “Baedecker Raids” in 1941, they caused £14,000,000 worth of improvements. It’s the kind of town that sucks your soul out of you and I’d had my fill of it long before I actually left.

There was a competition on the internet a while back for people to submit the most depressing photograph or slogan that they had ever seen. The winner, by a country mile, was a banner seen at a football match that said
“Born in Crewe – Live in Crewe – Die in Crewe”

On the subject of football, during the night I remember something about being at a football ground last night for a football match. It was a windy evening and I was carrying these large pieces of plastic that I’d picked up as littler. I opened my arms and legs in a form of St Andrews’s cross with the plastic as a form of background, just for a bit of fun I suppose, when a gust of wind hit me. It caught the plastic and blew the plastic and me all the way across the ground into a wooden bench seat on the far side which broke into several pieces. I remember thinking to myself that it seems to me that I’m just being dogged around by all kinds of misfortune and bad luck at the moment. Everything that I’m touching seems to be going wrong.

Nothing new there.

I remember thinking, in connection with the last dream, that I’d much rather wait a couple of weeks and have what I want at a price that I could afford rather than going out and buying the first thing that I saw that would do the job but was probably 5 times more expensive than it actually ought to be.

And then I was in Virlet last night down on the farm. In the neighbourhood all running around was a load of little kids, probably 8 or 9, something like that. A few of them were girls and one of them seemed to be pretty much attached to me, which was rather sweet and reminded me of someone who appears occasionally during my nocturnal rambles and makes me go all broody thinking about the daughter whom I always wanted, which I didn’t actually realise until I had a daughter for 3 years. Anyway I took out my bike and decided that I’d cycle to Montlucon to go to the shops. It was night but I reckoned that I’d be there by the time that it was morning and the shops would be open. I set out. The front light was working but the rear wasn’t, but that’s never bothered me before. The father of these kids said something about the rear light but I pretended not to notice. I cycled off and ended up in Longton. I went into a butcher’s shop. Who should also walk in but Zero’s father. I can’t remember now what I ordered. It was something like a meat faggot (it must have been a dream). I asked how much and he told me so I paid it and took it. I could see that Zero’s father was intending on doing something with her, buying something, but I couldn’t make out what was going on in his mind. I got back on the bike and set off. I went to inspect the roadworks along the road out of Stoke on Trent. Just as it was becoming light I was cycling into Stockport which had been one of my planned destinations.

But fancy that – Zero hovering around somewhere on the periphery of my voyages last night and I didn’t manage to see her. Mind you, with one or two things that did unfold during the night and which you really don’t need to know if you are eating your tea, maybe it’s just as well that I didn’t.

So today I’ve finished off the notes for the radio programme on which I’ve been working, and then I’ve tidied up the Radio directory on the big computer.

After that, I carried on with editing the photos from Canada 2022. Right now, STRAWBERRY MOOSE, Strider and I are on our way to Woodstock to do our shopping for our stay.

Before we set out though, we had to give Strider a thorough cleaning because with having stood idle for three years it looked as if someone had been growing potatoes in him.

And it’s a good job that we cleaned him out because we needed the space. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong.

There were also several interruptions as we went on our way around. The cleaner came, of course, but she brought with her a letter inviting me to a hospital appointment in the cardiac unit in Paris on 24th April next year.

And then an hour later, they rang me up to ask me to go for another consultation, this time with the haematology department. They wanted me to come next Wednesday and interesting as it might be, it’s not really practical to make the arrangements that quickly.

So instead, we agreed on 1at December – 2 weeks or so’s time. That should give me enough time to arrange transport.

This will presumably be when they will let me know whether they will take on my case from Leuven. Much as I love going to Leuven and meeting my friends there, I just can’t cope with the travelling.

Tea was a leftover curry lengthened with supplies from the European Potato Mountain. And I was right about the garlic butter on my naan bread. Every time I breathe out, I burn another 2 layers of paint off the wall.

So having done that, I’ll make myself a drink, dictate the radio notes and then go to bed for an early night. We’ll see how much work I can do tomorrow, but I also have to order food, so blanching and freezing carrots will interrupt my flow.

But the sooner we start, the sooner we finish. We have to make the most of our couple of unexpected days off.

Sunday 12th November 2023 – AND THERE I WAS …

… planning on a nice relaxing day today with very little, if anything, to do. But as usual, all kinds of events come along to confound me.

What didn’t help was that it wasn’t until 11:42 this morning that I first noticed what time it was. And that is far from being the same as saying what time it was that I actually arose from the dead.

And if things start badly, things can only be worse. You should see the amount of stuff on the dictaphone from during the night. I must have travelled miles and that probably explains why I was so exhausted yet again once I arose.

After I’d had my medication and checked my mails I sat down and began to transcribe the dictaphone notes.

All of them.

There had been a storm or fire or both or something in the big house in which we lived altogether and it had been badly damaged. There was a lot of repair work needed to be done to it. At the moment it was a question of trying to secure the premises against anything worse happening. We were basically divided into shifts and rotas about how to look after the property. I had to stand there on patrol at one point to keep away any onlookers or anyone who might be there for some kind of nefarious purposes. There was a lot of paperwork that had burnt and was blowing around. While I was standing there looking at it a few more bits fell from the ceiling to the ground. I was supposed at this point to go on patrol around the area to see who was about but I had a lot of difficulty walking and I’d be of no use if I had to confront anyone so I decided to let other people do that. When I walked round the corner there on the field even though it was raining were a few of my housemates playing cricket. One of them shouted “go and put the kettle on, Eric” but of course it was going to be extremely difficult because of the fire and the damage and because of my difficulties. In the end he left the cricket field and wandered off somewhere as if he was going to do it.

At some point there was a question of another young girl of woman being involved in this. When we finally met her we found that she was just as handicapped as I am so obviously she couldn’t stand her patrol looking after the building and patrolling the area for a couple of days. We felt that we should have known about her handicap beforehand otherwise we could have made certain allowances for her but now things are under way and already happening it’s rather too late now for that.

It was the custom of the hospital to send several patients dressed up as Father Christmas, his helpers and his reindeer to go and collect money for charitable purposes. This year though they decided that instead of making a sleigh they would do it with a motorbike and sidecar. They asked me if I would like to go but I couldn’t really get in and out of the sidecar very easily so that would seem to rule that out. Then they were having a lot of difficulty trying to think of someone else. I thought to myself that if I’d known that I was expected to do this sort of thing along with everyone else I’d have thought twice about coming here.

And that was another dream that I actually dictated in French.

Then there was someone in our group with a name something like Awotni but when we had a list of members we couldn’t see anyone who corresponded to that. I made some kind of light-hearted remark about Polish family names which was immediately greeted with distaste by some members of the group. Then I remembered thinking that maybe if this person had been treated for a long time he shouldn’t be in our group anyway or maybe the group isn’t the correct place for them to be because this group that I’m in is about everyone being able to do every different thing.

There was also a girl put into our group who didn’t seem to be capable of doing very much. We didn’t think much of that idea because we were all trying to be as equal as possible and doing as many tasks as we could. We didn’t really want anyone who didn’t have the courage to follow it all through. This person seemed to be treating it just as a way of relaxing than a matter of life and death like the rest of us thought that it was. We didn’t appreciate that kind of levity at these serious moments.

“I wish that you’d store your accessories and introduce them into the discussions as appropriate” we said to someone who seemed to be much more able to move about than the rest of us but who didn’t seem to work as hard. We considered that due to the health that everyone put in we ought to be doing so much more and there should be so much more solidarity amongst the patients.

Zero put in an appearance last night. Her father was talking about a Christmas dinner that he’d made and how she’d sat down from the start and eaten absolutely everything put in front of her, all the way through to the Christmas pudding. He was ever so impressed that she’d managed to take all of it. It was the way that he said it that made me think of some kind of double-entendre and to my complete surprise, in the middle of this dream I had an immense fit of jealousy.

It actually reminded me of the girl who went into a pub and asked for a double-entendre so the barman gave her one.

But it was a real surprise, as I could tell from how I dictated it. But at least after talking about Christmas food yesterday, it’s made me focus on what I need to do for Christmas. So Liz – I shall be relying on you to tell me when to start to make my cake to make sure that I don’t leave it too late.

And I’ll make sure that it’s squirrelled away so that Zero can’t find it. As Liz will tell you, I don’t “do” sharing when it comes to cake. However, if Zero (or TOTGA, or Castor) were here, I might be persuaded to make an exception.

My friends from the Wirral came to see me last night. We were talking about all the old times etc. In the end we had to go out to do something. And the wife had a pushchair with one of her kids in it. While I was eating my meal I’d seen a photo and I was trying for ages to place this photo. It suddenly occurred to me that it was the old petrol station in Hungerford Road (of course there never was a petrol station there). I eventually worked out where this photo was and decided that we had to go. There was a big problem about 2 of my cars that needed moving around, some kind of question about them having no tax, no MoT, all Cortima MkIIIs. I needed to move them from where they were stored. We had a huge debate about which one we should move first and which should be moved second. I wasn’t even sure to where I was going to move them. In the end my friend asked me about driving – how come the Senator was the only big vehicle that I had these days. I replied “actually I can’t drive any more anyway so there’s no point having a car. If I am able to drive in the near future it won’t be in professional transport so I won’t need a big car”. We then went back to discussing in which order we were going to move these 2 MkIII Cortinas.

And that’s a recurring dream, isn’t it? Having cars scattered all over the place with no tax or MoT which need to be moved around.

I was in Crewe again last night and had gone to a petrol station. I bumped into a guy … "Lee Jenkins" – ed … whom I knew who played centre-half for Haverfordwest. We began to talk about vehicles and how he’d bought a MkIII Cortina once and when he’d come to sell it he had over £1000 for it. I pointed to mine and said “do you mean like this?”. I was in my gold MkIII estate, the one in the barn in Virlet. His eyes lit up and he said “wow! It’s great!” and went to have a really good look around it. He asked if he could take it for a drive but I had to decline. He said “you’re probably afraid that I’d never bring it back!”. I replied “something like that”. I told him all about the vehicle, one owner from new, guaranteed genuine mileage etc, We had quite a lengthy chat about it.

And “wow” he may well say. Cortina MkIII 2000E models were pretty rare on the ground when they were new and current, but in my atelier in Montaigut is a 2000E saloon and the gold MkIII estate in my barn in Virlet is a 2000E estate of which there are known to be no more than half a dozen still in existence and which is worth a King’s ransom.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was at work in Belgium. I’d gone out for a coffee break, to stand outside. While I was out there a girl came up and began to attack me, trying to push me into the lake. After I’d fought her off I went into the security hut. The guy there made me a coffee. We had a little chat about how crazy some people are in this building. I had to go to fetch something from my car. On the way back I met a Post Office girl trying to talk to a cat. It turned out that cats received telegrams. You had to give the telegram to the correct cat, not just to any cat. They were trying to train the cats to accept the telegrams which I thought was the strangest thing that I’d ever seen. I walked back down to the front door of the building, pressed the button for the sliding doors to open but nothing happened. I could hear people on the inside but no matter how I pressed the button I couldn’t make the sliding doors open so that I could go in. I thought “this is good, isn’t it? I’m locked outside the building now”.

What with stopping for lunch, it took me until about 15:00 to transcribe all of that – and it might have been done quicker had I not … errr … gone off with the fairies for a while.

Then I went to make my fruit bread. I took my time making the dough and it actually turned out quite well.

After I’d finished my lunch I’d taken the last of the pizza dough out of the freezer (so I’ll have to make some more next weekend) and it had been defrosting.

Just as I was going to deal with it Rosemary rang me for a chat and we had another one of our marathon sessions. She’s rather worried because she has a major operation shortly (which I why she couldn’t have come with me to Michigan) and she wants someone to either reassure her or to talk her out of it.

She talked about her operation at great length and in great detail, despite me telling her on several occasions not to. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall exactly how I feel about operations and surgery.

But it’s not likely that I’m going to talk anyone out of surgery. No matter how ill even the thought of it makes me feel, I’m a firm believer in the principle of Macbeth and the murder of Duncan “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly”.

It’s much more painful to spend all of this time worrying and postponing it rather than to have it done quickly.

When they operated on my kidneys they didn’t even tell me. They just took me, bed and all, down into the basement, stuck a mask over my face and said “here – smell this!”. And that was the last that I knew about it.

As a result everything was running really late. But the fruit bread is, for once, cooked to perfection and the pizza was pretty good too.

So I’ll wander off and have a good sleep. For a change, there’s nothing happening tomorrow so I can push on with a few things without any interruptions.

Well, such is the theory. We all know how it works in practice.

Thursday 9th November 2023 – MAIS OÙ SONT …

… les neiges d’antan? wrote Francois Villon 550 years ago in his poem La Ballade Des Dames Du Temps Jadis.

And I wrote something similar last night in my tale of woe about “Ladies From Former Times” when I wrote about Castor, Zero and TOTGA and the absence thereof during my nocturnal ramblings. Where indeed are the snows of yesteryear?

So of course it goes without saying that last night Zero and TOTGA came to see me – at different times, I have to say. I don’t think that I could cope with them both together.

It was all extremely confusing because I had another bad night – one of many that I seem to be having these days. I think that it must be my guilty conscience catching up with me, or something like that.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. As I said, at some point TOTGA came by. We were talking about an expression that I’d used in a conversation – one of these superlative hyperbole expressions. At first she didn’t understand it so I explained that it came from the “Round The Horne” programme which was very good at doing that kind of thing. I went to give her an example and was about to talk about Geronimo and his Indian braves when I suddenly had the most appalling attack of cramp in my left lower leg and I awoke in absolute agony.

Can you imagine it? There I was, not only with the bird on my plate but just about to get my fork stuck in it and I had a bad attack of cramp. The first time that she’s shown up for quite a while too. Is there anything more disappointing than that?

Actually, all through the night I was having these bad attacks of cramp and it was probably all of this that was disturbing my sleep.

In fact, I was glad when the alarm went off and I could stagger to my feet.

It took rather longer than usual to come round into the Land of the Living, but once I was finally on the same planet as you lot, I transcribed the dictaphone notes.

TOTGA I mentioned just now. And later on I was in some kind of big city. One of these places with some impressive stone buildings like Bank headquarters etc. I was walking along a path that was on top of a cliff with all of these big buildings on my right. I came to a point where I couldn’t go any further. The wall of the building went right down to the edge of the cliff. I noticed that there was a gate in it. I can’t think why I hadn’t noticed this gate before. I walked through the gate and slowly went up the hill. There in the distance was a Fortis Bank cash machine. Luckily I had my new Fortis card with me. I picked up the card and tried to put it in the machine but it wouldn’t fit. I’d noticed that I’d actually left it stuck to the backing. I had to peel off the backing but it still wouldn’t fit. I noticed that there was still something else attached to it. It took me several goes to have the card completely separate from whatever it was that it was stuck to. I put it in the machine. At first I had a really difficult job to remember the code number. Eventually I recalled it and could access the account. I then had to think about drawing out some money – obviously, with not going anywhere near a bank these days, the more money I have on hand the better but there has to be a limit. I didn’t want to go too close to the limit in case the machine swallowed my card and then I really would be stuck. I had to think really hard about how much money I was going to ask for.

Actually this is a real preoccupation with me right now. I can’t actually go to the bank any more because I can’t climb back onto the bus at the bus stop. I have a little “fighting fund” of cash squirrelled away but it’s not going to last for ever.

It’s actually quite bizarre. When I was at University, as well as being Chair of Northern Europe I was also involved in Disability issues when I was on the Executive Committee and so I’m well-aware of the day-to-day problems that disability can present.

So I’ve never understood why, if the local council only has a certain budget to spend on improving the bus routes and facilities around the town, why one of the last bus stops to be raised up to a working height is the one just outside the Medical Centre where all of the ill and infirm people go.

That should have been one of the first to be raised up. But instead, the buses stop in the roadway far from the pavement and they don’t “kneel down” enough for wheelchairs and handicapped people to board very easily.

Anyway I digress.

A little earlier I also mentioned that Zero put in an appearance. But you really don’t want to know about the voyage that we had together, especially if you are eating your meal right now. It’s been a while since there has been anything really gruesome figuring in my nocturnal voyages, but when there is, there really is.

With a bit of luck she might put in an appearance tonight and we’ll have a happy ending.

Some nights, what goes on in my sleep is far more stressful than anything that happens during the day. It’s similar to the reason why I’m having serious thoughts about stopping my treatment at Leuven. It doesn’t matter how good the treatment might be and how efficient the care is in the journey to and from Vlaanderen is finishing me off.

Once I’d sorted that out I attacked the notes for the radio programme that I dictated last night. And I stuck at it and finished the programme. I’m actually now at 31st May 2024 with my totally-completed radio shows. I want to be as far ahead as I can possibly be because sooner or later the inevitable will catch up with me.

Afterwards I spent some time tidying the apartment. I’m having a visit tomorrow so the place needs to be clean and tidy. I know that cleanliness is next to Godliness but with me it’s next to impossible.

Neitzsche famously said “out of chaos comes order” but he said that a long time before I was ever thought of. Ezra Pound once said of Ford Madox Ford “Put Ford naked in an empty room and within an hour behold total chaos!”. That’s something that I understand very well

The bedroom is actually clean now and I’ve even vacuumed the floor. And you’ve no idea just how difficult a simple task like vacuuming is right now.

And then I had a good wash and brush up and the car came for me to take me to the Centre de Re-education. The ergotherapist had me opening and closing doors, laying tables, picking up pins and counters off the table, that sort of thing. She also says that next week she’ll come round here to give me practical advice about getting the most out of my apartment.

Severine the physiotherapist put me through my paces too and then, totally, exhausted, I headed back home in the car.

My cleaner was just coming into the building so she helped me up the stairs and into here, where I made myself my mug of hot chocolate.

The rest of the day, such as it was, has been spent pairing off the music for the next couple of radio programmes and beginning to write the notes for one of them.

Tea tonight was delicious. Steamed vegetables and a vegan sausage in a vegan cheese sauce. That was a meal that I enjoyed very much.

So now I’m going to bed, but not before I’ve sent someone a message. If I had to pick a favourite relative (and despite everything that I have said, I do actually have one) it’s the one who is getting married in Michigan tomorrow and I’m really disappointed that I can’t be there with her.

She actually works for one of the biggest transport firms in North America and was away on a mission for work when she was caught in the lockdown over across the border in 2020. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to fight the good fight at the shops if the wind has dropped because it was quite savage again today. And then I’ll finalise my tidying up ready to find out what is actually going on about this visit tomorrow.

The plot sickens.