… of luck this morning.
There I was going down the stairs towards the front door when out of the lift came one of my neighbours.
“Are you off to Belgium?” she asked
“Yes I am” I replied
“Come with me” she said.
She was on her way to work so she took me and threw me out about 200 metres from the station and you’ve no idea how much I appreciated it.
That’s because I’d had a really bad night. I hadn’t taken one of those pills before I went to bed and I don’t know whether that’s anything to do with it, but it took an age to go off to sleep and then I awoke again at 04:30 and that was that.
Despite trying my best, I couldn’t go back to sleep and so when the alarm went off at 06:00 I was up and about quite easily.
By 07:30 I was ready to leave so I loitered around until 08:00 and then went off out where I bumped into my neighbour.
That gave me plenty of time to have a look around to see what has been going on here. And this concrete pad is certainly new
It’s taken over two or three spaces of the railway station car park and unless I’m mistaken, it’s the area where electric cars could be charged too. So if they have been removed, where will the electric cars be charged now?
That’s something that is causing me a little concern. There’s a commitment to phase out new fossil-fuelled cars over the next 15 years or so and so they need to think long and hard about the necessary infrastructure and to have it in place long before the cut-off date – not leave it until the last minute.
And to install a whole new system of wind and tidal power generation. The wind doesn’t stop blowing and the tides don’t stop changing at night when everyone is asleep in bed and not using power. There will be tons of energy available to charge up vehicles if they organise themselves.
Now that they have removed it, we can see what they were doing. We now have a lovely mural of Granville as it was in the days when we had wind-powered “Newfoundlanders” sailing out of the port to the Grand banks of Newfoundland for the cod.
“The cod were in largeness and quantitie … that they stayed our ships” wrote Richard Hakluyt in the 16th Century when he was discussing voyages to “The New World” that went via Newfoundland.
But that was a long time ago.
You might be thinking that that means that the train started off bang on time, but in actual fact we were 5 minutes late leaving.
The train was packed and I had a rather irritable neighbour so while I was able to update the laptop, I wasn’t able to do any work. I read a few theses about medieval castles in Cheshire instead.
By the time that we arrived in Paris we had made up a couple of minutes so I had time to pop into the ticket office at the Metro to buy another set of 10 tickets. I’m running rather low right now
My train to Lille – Flandres was already in. It is, as you might expect, one of the TGV “Reseau Duplex” double-deckers. Old and showing its age but quick and reasonably comfortable.
As usual we weren’t allowed to board it. There’s an 8-car trainset that comes in later and couples up to the rear of this trainset and then all 16 cars go back to Lille. We have to wait until it’s all coupled up and ready to go before we can board it.
Our train was a few minutes late leaving, like the one from Granville, but that didn’t matter so much as there was plenty of time to walk across the city from Lille-Flandres to the Lille-Europe railway station.
There was even time to find a quiet corner at Lille-Europe and eat my lunchtime sandwiches before boarding my train. But I had to keep an eye out for the railway police who were cautioning people for not wearing a mask. And it’s difficult to eat your butties whilst wearing a mask.
For reasons that I don’t quite understand, it waits here for about 20 minutes before departing. It’s more-than-likely due to the timing of the various connections that it makes with trains along its route.
And it was packed too and someone had taken my seat which was a shame, for I had rather looked forward to being out of my brain on the 5/15. I ended up sitting elsewhere, hemmed in and once more unable to do any work. I listened to “Colosseum Live” on the phone instead.
Running (as best as I could) down the concourse I leapt aboard with no problems and settled down for the journey to Leuven.
When we arrived, I nipped down to the head of the train to see what was pulling us along. It’s one of the old Class 27 electric locomotives and we’ve had a few of these just recently.
Considering that they must be getting on for 40 years old, they are still clocking up the miles on mainline services with little sign of slowing down.
At the back of the station is the little supermarket so I went there and bought the bread, vegan margarine and stuff to drink. It saves on the weight that I have to carry back from the big supermarket later this evening.
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that for the last however-many years we’ve seen (or not seen, as they case may be) the Martelarenplein, the Square of the Martyrs, all fenced off and covered while they have been renovating it.
Today though, apart from just one small area, all of the fencing has been removed and we can actually walk across the square if we choose to do so.
Not for me right now though. I’m tired and exhausted and and I can’t wait to find my way to my little room.
And once more I’m up a couple of flights of stairs and that’s killing me. Luckily the manager saw me struggling up the stairs so that might hopefully mean a change of room in the future.
Despite a nice hot coffee, I crashed out definitively, and for a good half-hour too.
Nevertheless, I’m glad that I did because I encountered this strange machine. It’s a three-wheeler and it’s probably electric because it was quite silent. But whatever it is, it was quite interesting to say the least.
At the supermarket I don’t know what happened there but the shopping bill was much less than it usually is. I don’t reckon that I bought any less than I usually do.
At some point I managed to find the time to transcribe the dictaphone notes. Last night started with a family thing again with my sister and her first husband. It was probably 01:00 and they were thinking about going to bed and I had all of my paperwork to do which involved those two. I had to set the time on Big Ben and a few other things too but I kept on having trouble seeing because the lights on this big tower clock were so dim that I couldn’t actually see how I was setting it. Occasionally it would all light up bright and I’d see that I’d done in incorrectly and had to go back but to be very careful not to wipe off everything that I had done so far – just go back 1 or 2 steps and start on. By now of course it was daylight. I could easily see what was happening and there were all kinds of things going on on this clock face – people laughing and cheering at it. In the end I had to set it by some kind of analogue means moving the hands because I couldn’t make it go correctly by doing it digitally. In the end I managed it but by now it was 06:40 and broad daylight. I had to be up at 10:00 and they had to be up earlier than that. In the end I said that I was going to bed. My sister’s husband said that he was going to lie in in the morning because he was exhausted. I thought “how does he think that I feel?”. On the way back they were rationing out some things for issue and showing me some kind of drink made by a well-known pop manufacturer in a very distinctive bottle. They said that last tie they had issued this it was 17 shillings and so many pence but now it’s just 4.5 pence and they can’t understand what has happened. I asked if it was generic stuff. They replied that it was so I replied that maybe the patent has expired so now it’s being cloned or something but they couldn’t seem to understand. Neither could I but I didn’t really want to because I was so tired
Later, I was in backwoods Canada or backwoods USA sometime in the 50s or 60s judging by the cars that were driving around. I was writing up someone’s memoirs from a set of old war letters, something like that. I’d gone to this house ad he’d let me have all of this communication and I was going through it making notes etc. Gradually one of two other people had let me have their stuff as well. The first guy was concerned that this was going to slow me down doing other people’s stuff as well but I explained that it was all part of the same thing. They gave me a time and said that I had to be finished by something like 18:15. He thought that time was dragging on but I said that I’d be back tomorrow and that seemed to be OK. Various people came to see me and talk to me about everything while I was there making all of these notes and what had happened in the past. It gradually worked out that I was writing stuff about current events as well for a more immediate publication. This was something that concerned all of the people in this area. But all of the cars were fantastic. Someone was driving a pickup where instead of having the pickup bed behind him it was something like an enormous American saloon convertible thing with just 1 seat for the person driving it and the pickup bed was at the side where the passenger would sit. There were all these kind of weird machines that looked like something out of the 50s and 60s
And then I was with Claude and Françoise last night in the Auvergne. They owed me some money and I had a few IOUs and we were settling up. While I was there I showed them how many US dollars I had. I explained about the time that I had to use the toilet in a cafe and I didn’t have any money to go in so I had to write out an IOU. I told them about a trip that I’d made to the USA with 2 girls. We’d roamed around the Midwest in a big American car which was a small Opel saloon from the late 60s, a type 1. On one occasion I’m not quite sure what had happened but these girls must have been in their night clothes in this diner. They had gone to the toilet to have a wash and brush-up but they came out in their night clothes as well. I asked what was going on so they said that they were going back to the car to change. I asked why they hadn’t taken their clothes into the ladies toilets and changed in there instead of doing it on the car park of this diner
Now that I’ve had tea I’m off to bed. I know that it’s early but I’m exhausted and I’ve almost fallen asleep twice. Hospital tomorrow so I’m lying in with no alarm.
After last night’s disaster, I need all the beauty sleep that I can get.