Tag Archives: tidying up

Saturday 6th July 2024 – JUST WHEN I WAS …

… thinking that it was nice and quiet, and I could catch up on some of the outstanding dictation, some fool stood up on that stage that they erected on the steps of the Public Rooms and began to belt out some nonsense or other at full-volume.

He had quite a crowd gathered around him too so there were obviously plenty of people enjoying whatever it was that he was doing, but it didn’t ‘arf disrupt my plans for the early evening

And that’s a shame because, having had a good hour or two’s sleep just beforehand, I was fighting fit and raring to go. And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that’s not something that happens every day.

It wasn’t as if I’d had a good sleep during the night either. Once more, I was late going to bed – much closer to midnight than 23:00 – and then we had a calamity.

Whatever happened, I had no idea but I have never ever in my life seen so much blood in one place. My whole tee-shirt was absolutely wringing wet with blood and there were huge lumps of the semi-congealed stuff hanging from the inside.

“Discretion is the better part of valour” I thought here. Firstly I couldn’t see where the blood was coming from and secondly, I didn’t really want to find out. So I took the obvious course.

Five minutes later she was down here cleaning me up.

There was a small puncture on my shoulder and for a tiny, tiny wound like that it was pumping blood like there was no tomorrow. What had happened to cause it I don’t know, and I didn’t want to either.

However, my cleaner tells me that at least one of the medicaments that I’m taking is an anti-coagulant and she’s seen this kind of thing before with others of her clientele who take it.

She succeeded in patching me up, at least for the night, and warned me to be careful, not to get up to much in the way of indoor athletics in bed tonight. Chance would be a fine thing.

So after she left I had another go at trying to go to bed. Horribly late yet again. No matter how much I try, I’m never going to have an early night.

It was quite a restless night again and I was wide awake at about 06:00 and planning on making another early stary but I must have gone back to sleep because the next thing that I remember was the alarm going off at 07:00.

When I stood up, a blood-sodden mass of bandages and plasters fell to the ground. At least it had protected the would and wearing a tee-shirt had protected the bed.

It was still bleeding so I had a good wash and waited for the nurse to come.

In the meantime I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And interesting it was as well. My mother and my aunt’s four aunts were all present in the same room – Auntie Gertie, Auntie Dollie, Auntie Mabel and Auntie Dorothy. They’d been collected from where they lived out and about and had been all brought together to stay at a particular place but something had come up which meant that the person whose relative they were who had invited them had to go away so these for aunts were busy finding a way around on their own. In the end they found a row of chairs but there was only three of them. They found another chair that was not belonging to this group of three but was somehow obliquely fastened across the end of the row so they imagined that that was where they were going to be sitting. They tried to work out who was the one who was meant to be on their own. There was a volunteer for this seat who went to sit in in. They said “it’s very near the kitchen” but she replied “yes but I like my kitchen very much and I’m pretty good at making all of the Sunday roasts” she said. I thought to myself “there’s certainly the stuff here to make the roast because there’s tons of food. There are definitely two main meals with meat that have been thought about and bought for which are lying around waiting to be cooked. Anyone could bung them into the oven”. I thought that at least those four aunts would be able to manage that. But they looked like the cheery thought of people anyway, at least, the ones who were doing the talking so I thought that maybe the fact that they were going to be here and no-one was looking after them for a while at least was not going to be a particular problem and they’d manage quite well on their own

My mother and her sister (my aunt) did indeed have four aunts although I’m not sure exactly how they were or became aunts. They were four very close relatives who may have been sisters, Dollie, Gertle, Mabel and Alice in fact. Some were Beavises and some were Ashness-Wellses. The Beavises were very well-known Quakers whose eldest son Stuart was a very famous Conscientious Objector in World War I and was sentenced to Death, something that must have upset my mother’s grandfather who, well over age, had dyed his hair and joined the Canadian Infantry. “Aunt Alice” lived in Birchington in Kent right at the end of the runway for Manston Airfield and at the Fall of France and bombs beginning to drop on British airfields and Aunt Alice’s house and garden, all of the kids in the village including my mother and her sister, were rounded up at a moment’s notice and armed with just a suitcase, evacuated out of the War Zone to live in safe areas with strangers whom they didn’t know. My mother and her sister ended up in Frome in Somerset.

Years ago I went on an expedition. I had remembered the addresses to which my mother had written letters and I remembered visiting some of the properties in Kent (Mabel and Dollie had shared a house in Ham Street near Ashford) as a tiny child so I went on a big trip of discovery and remembrance around southern England. And would you believe – the house in Birchington at the end of Manston Airport’s runway was still there, complete with modern roof – and it was for sale! Get thee behind me, Satan!

Later on I was with a former friend last night on the Brine Baths Estate in Nantwich. An old yellow Ford Transit drove past. My friend made a gesture as if he knew the driver and the driver made a gesture back so I asked about him. Eventually my friend explained that the driver was just some old guy who lived on the estate and did landscape gardening. He was never in any proper order. His books were always a mess, his finances were always up the creek. Everything about him was late. He had the old Transit which wasn’t taxed, wasn’t insured, wasn’t MoT’d and hadn’t been for years but he just used it for pottering around the Estate and going from one of his clients to another with his tools. He went around quite happily without any problems at all, although I must admit that I could envisage quite a few problems that he could be having if he were me and things were running as usual according to plan in that respect.

It was a shame that this dream never developed because I do actually know of this kind of activity going on in certain places so this isn’t news by any means. And for one reason or another I was half-expecting Zero to put in an appearance at some point.

Finally, what apparently upset everyone so much about my shoulder was that no-one seemed to be doing anything and I was losing blood at a really rapid rate and people were just standing around there as if it wasn’t an emergency. For the cleaner this was a serious problem. It could well have been a shrapnel wound or something like that from high explosive that could have killed me. Then they would have had some real problems with the crew of the ‘plane trying to get it back home to base.

It wouldn’t upset all that many people if I were bleeding to death. I’d just be dismissed as a bleeding nuisance and left to my own devices. And it’s a fact that any good psychiatrist will tell you that there are occasions where people won’t mind how much they are suffering as long as the object of their hatred is suffering more.

When the nurse came he cleaned up the wound and patched me up again and then organised my puttees and the wounds on my legs. He’s going to give me a pedicure tomorrow, he says. That should be interesting.

After he left I had breakfast and then had a very slow start to the day while I slowly warmed up. Once I was ready, I blitzed through the remainder of the radio notes that I’d started earlier in the week, so they are all complete and in the chain for dictation.

Lunch was a salad sandwich which made a very nice change, and then I tidied up in the kitchen. Stuff like crockery had been piling up in there needlessly and there were far too many odds and sods that didn’t have a home, but do now.

Things look so much better in there now, there’s room to move about and there’s more room to put things, Heaven help me.

Back in here I was going tp start work again but I fell asleep and had another one of those psychedelic experiences thanks to this anti-potassium stuff.

When I recovered I was going to dictate some stuff as I said, but not while that berk was performing so I began to choose the music for the next radio programme instead.

Tea was salad, baked potato and breadcrumbed quorn fillet, and my neighbour turned up in the nick of time with some tomatoes for me which was just as well.

So now that I’ve finished and it’s relatively quiet outside I’ll do some dictation before going to bed.

But I was thiking about that dream and the row of chairs for the aunts and how they must have come to be there.
Just picture the scene – someone crying "Could we have three chairs for the aunts?"
And there would inevitably be someone at the back who would shout "Hip Hip Hooray!"

Wednesday 26th June 2024 – WE HAVEN’T FINISHED …

.. yet – not by a long way.

Two more appointments to add to the list of liaisons, two more pills to add to the mountain of medication. My poor cleaner is running her socks off to help me up the stairs here and going to the chemist’s on my behalf. As she put it so succinctly – "I spend more time here than I do in my apartment. I may as well move in here."

Nothing is guaranteed to make me recover quicker than a threat like that. I value my independence and, strangely, my solitude. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I just wasn’t cut out to live with anyone else.

Poor Nerina, Laurence (and Roxanne), Marianne and Cécile. They all tried, bless them …

It seems to be the thing that I can’t even live with myself these days either. Once again it was late when I crawled into my lovely bed, and that was that.

Totally and definitively too. I don’t think that I moved a muscle and depressingly, there was nothing on the dictaphone to break the monotony.

When the alarm rang I was confused again but managed to work it out in enough time to beat the second alarm five minutes later. In the meantime I had hauled myself off into the bathroom to sort myself out and find some clean clothes.

The nurse doesn’t come for an hour or thereabouts so I had to loiter around doing a few bits and pieces until he put his sooty foot through the door.

For a change just recently he was quite chatty and told me several stories about life in the town, including the story of the “Aryan” posters being posted by the Fascists in the area.

After he left I made myself breakfast.

Much of the rest of the day has been spent organising the paperwork. There were several bills to pay, and thank heaven that much (but not all) of French administration has gone onto “payment on line”.

But how they have set it up is crazy. They have indexed everything under the file number of the bill, which means that if you have three bills to pay, you need to log in and go through the procedure from start to finish for each bill.

What they should have done is to register the bills under a person’s identity, like his social security number. Just log in once, “how much do I owe in total?” and one payment would clear the bill.

Next step was mail and letter writing, trying to catch up with where I left off with piles of outstanding correspondence.

Halfway through I came across my Tax Return which is now several weeks late. And so I’ve been collecting information for that too. Not that I’ll owe very much at all but one has to go through the motions

The cleaner came round as usual this afternoon and whisked her way through the premises. It now looks as if someone lives here, which is probably not a good idea. I’d have to fight off callers.

The taxi turned up early for me and I was dropped off at the medical centre in plenty of time. However, the driver insisted on accompanying me upstairs to the waiting room.

That was a shame because I wanted to go to the supermarket on the corner. I don’t know if I’ve explained the issue about my new bank card – how it has to be authenticated by making a shop purchase with the PIN. That should have been my chance just then

The vehicles that we use are chartered to take you from “X” to “Y” and so if it says “third floor, Pole Santé du Port then “third floor, Pole Santé du Port” it is, direct and in a straight line, with no turning, no deviation, no passing “Go” and no collecting £200.

It’s a question of Insurance, so I’m told. And having worked for an Insurance Company straight from leaving school, I can believe it.

Emilie the cute consultant’s sidekick was not pleased with my lack of progress and neither am I. Of the weight that I lost while I was in hospital, half of it has gone back – in a week!

Consequently he’s upped the dose of the diuretic that I take. I’m not convinced that it’s doing me much good but we shall have to see.

While I was there he gave me two appointments for August. How many is this now? And August already? Would you believe it. Time is melting away.

While I was there I asked him if he had a card machine so that I could pay for this consultation with my card and unlock it that way. But “No”. All of his clients are Social Security cases like me So “bang” goes that idea too.

The third idea was a “no-no” too because the driver came up to the waiting room for me so I couldn’t nip out to the shop on the corner even now.

And then the battery in the ‘phone was flat so that I couldn’t ring my cleaner to say that I was coming back. We had to ring her doorbell to attract her.

She seemed to think that my ascent as a little easier than yesterday. All that I can say is that it must have been bad.

But in here the two of us sorted out the medication (resurrecting a long-suppressed medication! What a surprise!) and sorting out the appointments.

Then teatime – a leftover curry lengthened with potato and peanuts and accompanied by rice and naan bread. As usual, absolutely delicious yet again

But right now, I’m off to bed for what’s left of the night, and to wonder how I’m going to fit all of these appointments in.

It was so much easier when I was with Nerina. I was once called in as a result of a blood test and the doctor gave me a thorough going over.
He telephoned Nerina the following day to ask to speak to her so she went in to see him.
"How is Eric?" Asked Nerina. "Is he going to be OK?"
"Eric is suffering from severe nervous strain and overwork." said the doctor. "He’ll be fine but only if you follow these rules very carefully. Let him put his feet up at home, feed him breakfast in bed every morning and cook him light meals three times per day. Gently tuck him up in bed and pander to his every whim"
So Nerina went back home and I asked her "what did the doctor say?"
She looked at me and said "I’m terribly sorry but I’m afraid you’re going to die."

Monday 24th June 2024 – IT’S BEEN ANOTHER …

…long, hard, miserable, depressing afternoon when I’ve been more asleep than awake, more dead than alive

And that’s exactly how I’m feeling too – more dead than alive. This afternoon has been horrible and I can safely say that there was a certain moment when I felt worse than I’ve ever felt with this illness.

What’s depressing me about it is that it’s not actually anything physical. Having bitten off my tongue and having it sewn back after a car accident in 1987 I know what pain is, believe me, and while the physical feeling is nothing like the same of course, it’s something about when I awaken from one of these coma-type things

It’s as if there’s some kind of chemical being released into my body which immediately makes me think of one of these pills, powders and potions.

When we we were at school and the teacher left the Chemistry class for a few minutes, we’d experiment by dropping different chemicals into a test-tube in order to see what happened.

Sometimes something would go “boom” so we’d make a note of what it was that we’d mixed together so that it would come in useful in our adult life and boy, did we sometimes have some impressive “booms”. I wonder if somehow somewhere a couple of these chemicals are having the same effect inside me once their protective coating wears off in my stomach.

The medical professionals have assured me that that’s not the case and, after all, they ought to know, so I could go to bed without having to worry about anything.

Except going to bed of course. It was another really late night again last night by the time that I finished everything and I wished that I’d finished everything an hour or two earlier.

But exhausted as I was after my efforts I crawled into bed, I didn’t need much rocking. I was asleep quite quickly and didn’t feel a thing until the alarm went off. IN fact, judging by the position in which I was lying, I don’t think that I’d moved at all during the night – not one inch.

It was a very groggy me that lifted a shoulder from the bed when BILLY COTTON finally called and you’ve no idea the struggle that I had to leave the bed before the second alarm five minutes later.

In the bathroom I had a really good wash and brush up, and then went for breakfast. Grape juice and strong coffee with porridge and a couple of slices of my lovely, perfect fresh loaf toasted and smothered in vegan butter. Totally forgetting that I was supposed to have nothing whatever this morning as there was a blood test.

Ahh well. They’ll just have some very peculiar results but so what? Many of my results are already quite peculiar and so a few more won’t make any difference. It’ll give them something to think about at the hospital and stop them being bored.

The nurse did in fact ask me "you haven’t eaten, have you?"
"Who? Me?" I asked innocently, brushing the toast crumbs under the table quickly.

One thing I forget though is how many times he told me to write my name and date of birth on … errr … another little sample pot. But let’s be honest – no-one could ever mix up anyone else’s … errr … “sample” with mine.

He spent quite a lot of time today worrying about nothing at all but also gave me a shopping list of the supplies that he uses that are running low. So after he left I sent a mail to my loyal cleaner in order to set her a task while she was in town.

Next thing was to put away everything that I’d used yesterday and washed up. It had been draining overnight and needed tidying up. And there was a lot of it too. I didn’t realise that I had so much stuff. No wonder that I was struggling for room on the worktop.

But it’s a shame about the oven too. When I was on my final fling around Europe two years ago I picked up a fully-fitted full-size oven from Jean-Marc, the guy with whose family in Macon I stayed on a school exchange in 1970. He was modernising his kitchen and the oven that he’d just taken out found its way into Caliburn.

Hans lives in Munich about half a mile from one of the biggest IKEAs in Europe and so about a week later when I was there, I bought a kitchen unit in which to fit the oven.

That’s in the back of Caliburn downstairs too, but I don’t have the physical ability to bring it all up here. So all of that stuff will have to stay there and I’ll soldier on with my little desktop oven.

In here I didn’t do much at first. It takes me a while to warm up, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from last night, which was a surprise. Mind you, I’ve no idea what to make of it. “There was the boys stuff and then more stuff about bombers … indistinct … and I can’t remember any of it which is a shame” and that was all that it said.

Whatever it’s supposed to mean, I haven’t a clue. When I say that I was “away with the fairies” I think that I was over the hills and far away when I dictated that.

There was a ‘phone call too – could I go earlier to see the surgeon tomorrow? I declined the invitation because quite simply firstly I mess the taxi company around often enough with some of my trips. I don’t want to exhaust their goodwill by unnecessary changes.

Secondly, I have my Welsh lesson tomorrow and I’ve already missed far too many sessions what with hospital and all of that. I can’t really afford to miss any more.

The cleaner came round a couple of times to drop off different things. Apparently the nurse’s prescription has run out but the chemist obliged. The nurse must write out a prescription tomorrow for today’s supplies and I mustn’t forget to tell him.

While she was here I gave her a list of supplies to be bought from LeClerc when she goes to do her shopping. Things like my sunflower seeds and vegan cheese aren’t available on home delivery

After lunch, back in here I began to carry on with the editing of the notes that I’d recorded on Saturday night (thanks, Grahame) but this was where my troubles began.

No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t keep going. At one point I thought that if I just let myself go, have a good sleep and awaken, I’ll feel fresh enough to accomplish more than I would be fighting it off all afternoon.

Some hopes. It made me feel worse.

Finally at about 19:15 I began to pull myself together and by 19:30 I could go to make tea. A plie of stuffing, some of which went into a stuffed pepper and the rest into a container in the fridge for the next few days.

But with pasta and veg cooked in a tomato sauce, my stuffed pepper cooked in the air fryer was delicious, as it usually is. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I eat quite simply here but I don’t ‘arf eat well.

But right now I’m off to bed. I need to be at my best tomorrow as I have my Welsh lesson, this appointment with the surgeon and who knows what?

However I am going to make a rule, and that is “no breakfast until after the nurse has been and gone”. That way we can avoid any more unfortunate lapses of memory.

After all, we don’t want him in such a bad mood that he makes a mess of my blood test. It’s painful enough as it is without asking to be hurt.

But the way that he snatched up my other … errr … little sample pot before leaving. I thought to myself "now that is REALLY taking the p*ss"

Friday 21st June 2024 – I DON’T THINK …

… that I have worked as hard as I have today for a very long time. I shall be glad to crawl into my nice comfy bed and burrow underneath the covers

However, at least I can say that I have accomplished a lot, which makes a change. What makes no change at all is that I haven’t done all that much of my own “work” though. It’s been all “housekeeping duties”.

What didn’t help was that it was another late night and I really ought to try my best to put a stop to these late hours, said he not finishing work and beginning to wrote his notes at 22:30 instead of about 21:30.

But anyway, once in bed I was soon away with the fairies and remember nothing whatever until about 06:00 when I had another one of these dramatic awakenings.

“Awake” is one thing. “Ready to leave the bed” is something else completely, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. It was quite a struggle to haul myself out of bed when the alarm went off.

Having to be on an empty stomach for my blood test I took my time this morning – that it, until I suddenly realised that I had bread to make. I made a hurried mix of flour, water, yeast and salt but for some reason it seemed to be rather wet so I had to add more flour to stiffen it up.

But I don’t understand that. I used the same proportions that I always do and I’m totally surprised that it gave me some totally different results.

As usual, the nurse was in a rush. She didn’t want to listen to what I had to say which was a shame. I had hoped to have a little chat to her about one or two things that are going on with this illness and the treatment but I dunno. I shall just have to make the best of it.

She injected me and took a blood sample and when headed for the hills. After she left I had some cornflakes and coffee, gave the bread its second working-over and then came in here to read my mails and messages and so on.

By now the bread was ready to go in the oven. And good grief! It had gone up like a lift! Now that was what I called “bread”. This looked wonderful.

While it was baking I checked through my order for LeClerc and sent it off. With my French bank card being blocked for the moment I had to use my Belgian one. Such are the benefits of having several cards.

That’s as a result of a bitter experience in Flagstaff in Arizona in 2002 when I went to buy some wind turbines from South West Wind Power. I told the bank that I was going, paid the money onto my account before setting off, bought the items, then went to fuel up the Mustang -“credit card blocked – unusual spending patterns”

That night I spent in the World’s worst motel paying cash because it’s all that I had available until next morning when I could grab hold of the bank. So these days we have a French card, a Belgian card, a British card and a Canadian card. We won’t be caught out like that again.

But that’s what I like about Canada – there’s no official identity check. A property tax certificate will open almost every door. Buying that place on Mars Hill was the best thing that I ever did even if the natives on my southern boundary are pretty restless.

By now I was ready for lunch so I made a toasted cheese sandwich with my beautiful, perfect bread. And I’d not finished when the guy from LeClerc came with the order.

And it was a huge order too. Supplies were running quite low here and as well as that a couple of things that I use were on sale on one of these “job lot” special offers so I took the opportunity to stock up. The poor delivery guy had to make a couple of trips up the stairs with the load.

Once it was here I had to put it all away, and that was where the fun began. A lot of it was heavy and there was a lot of rearranging to do in order to fit it in. When my cleaner came round to start on her work I was sitting down taking a desperate breather with tons of stuff still to do.

While she was working, so was I. Chopping up soundtracks in order to finish off the work that I’d started yesterday. We actually finished work at the same time, which was a surprise.

The place was much tidier after she had gone, with most of the stuff put away which was lovely.

Now I had 2 kilos of carrots to scrub,, dice and blanch Followed by a broccoli (broccoli stalk soup for lunch tomorrow, folks!) and four peppers to clean and gut ready for freezing and all of that is a long, exhausting task these days.

The freezer took some sorting out too to make room for the peppers. God help me when I have to put the carrots and broccoli in when they have drained.

But that’s later. I was exhausted with all the heavy lifting and came in here where I crashed out. I was totally whacked, it was un believable. All of this lifting and staggering around has completely done me in.

When I recovered there was time to transcribe the dictaphone notes before going for tea. I was back in Bomber Command last night doing a marvellous talk-through of a ‘plane in a rain going through a mission with one or two of the ‘planes all around it all communicating with base as they come in to bomb, talking about conditions in the hospitals to a Russian so presumably I’d been shot down over the Russian Front. What I’d been doing straying that far East I really don’t know. I had a three-man crew so it was a first-generation bomber, I reckon. I’d lost my way, missed my aim and had to bale out in the end into Russian hands

Quite a few bombing missions took place far to the east of Germany and it was occasionally the case where a badly-shot-up bomber would head east to land amongst the Russians rather than try to struggle home. And then there were the shuttle raids where the USA had an airfield at Poltava in the Soviet Union for a while and ran between the UK and the USSR dropping bombs on the Germans on the way

For tea there was a special treat. In the hospital I’d acquired a taste for beetroot and it was on special offer so I ordered what I thought was one beetroot. Instead, it’s one pack and there’s 8 in the pack. What the hell am I going to do with all of this? I haven’t acquired that much of a taste.

The big issue now is storage. How do I keep it? Where do I keep it? There’s no room in the fridge for a start.

Nevertheless it was a lovely salad with beetroot, chips and some of those nuggets. One of the best teas that I’ve had for a long, long time. Probably since just before I went into hospital in fact.

There was a ton of washing up tonight, all kinds of heavy stuff included, and then I had to wrestle yet again with the freezer to fit the carrots and broccoli in. Now, I can say without fear of contradiction that everywhere is totally full and there’s no room to put anything anywhere else.

Final job was to wash my puttees. The nurse told me that they needed a good scrub so I attended to that and then rolled up the clean pair that had been drying from last time so they are ready to use tomorrow.

And then fall into my chair with a huge sigh of relief. I have never felt as tired as I am right now and I’ll be glad to climb into bed.

So any suggestions about what to do with this beetroot will be much appreciated otherwise my leftover curry on Wednesday is going to be rather strange

But it wouldn’t be the strangest meal that was ever served up. Back in the days of the BBC Home Service and Alvar Liddell, the BBC was forced to make an abject apology to its listeners.
"Due to a typing error there was a mistake in our goulash recipe that we broadcast yesterday. It should have read ‘four tins of tomatoes’ and not ‘four tons of tomatoes’"
and the announcer continued "and ‘enough chili powder to cover a tablespoon’, not ‘enough chili powder to cover a table’."

Thursday 20th June 2024 – I AM TAKING …

… on certain days a total of 33 pills, potions, powders and pricks of a hypodermic needle as this illness rages on and on and on towards its inevitable conclusion.

No-one stands in my way because I’m rattling so much that they can hear me coming.

It’s not as if it’s actually doing me all that good either because as I said yesterday, all of the signs of a recurrence of what happened a couple of weeks ago are there and the question remains “can I hang on until Tuesday?”.

In actual fact, if I can hang on past Friday afternoon and my telephone consultation with Emile the cute consultant I’ll be doing pretty well. But you can imagine just how I’m feeling right now.

It all went wrong last night as far as I was concerned where I had a little 5-minute job to perform that actually took me an hour and I still didn’t manage to do it.

It didn’t help that I was already running late and it was well after midnight by the time that I crawled into bed and that was disappointing.

Being in my nice, clean, comfortable bed, it was another Sleep of the Dead until about 06:30 when I had a rather dramatic awakening. But nevertheless I still wasn’t in the mood to raise myself from the Dead when the alarm went off

For a change I had a really good wash and scrub up this morning and then I sorted out the clothing, including all of that that I’d had with me in hospital, and washed the lot, fleeces and towels included

Then I sorted out the kitchen. I can’t find half the stuff and that’s the story of my life, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. I’m so totally disorganised that the only way that I can cope is for everything to have a place and has to be there in its place. If it isn’t, then I’m sunk.

Having tried to organise my life like this I can now fully understand the nature of military discipline. The military is so disorganised that it’s the only way that they can cope too. “Has anyone seen that nuclear missile that I had five minutes ago?”. Can you imagine it.

The Visiting Nurse came round to sort out my legs. I wanted to have a chat about my rapidly deteriorating situation but I had the impression that she was rather busy. She breezed in, did her stuff and breezed out.

Still, tomorrow she should hopefully have more time as she’s taking her weekly blood sample. That’s not included by the way in the figure earlier. I forgot about that.

But it beats me how anyone is going to find any blood left after everything that’s been taken from me. And what can they possibly find in there that’s not so contaminated by all of the chemicals that are going into my body right now.

However, that’s for tomorrow. Today after she left I made coffee and a bowl of porridge for breakfast. But really, my heart’s not in it

First job was to go through all of the post and paperwork that have accumulated in here over the past few weeks. There’s a rack of bills to pay and I’ll have to get on with that tomorrow I can’t have anyone coming round here to seize my chattels.

Next stop was the dictaphone, to find out where I’d been Last night I was with Gordon Harker who was in the Air Force and had been shot down and taken prisoner. That was where he met Alastair Sim. Harker had had some kind of knockabout comedy act and had indeed partnered Sim in a few films as we know but had developed his own style whereas Sim who was in the Air Force and later became an officer had developed some kind of patter and had put together a group of three people who went round air bases making people laugh? This was where Harker came along and teamed up with them. They progressed from there through to the two of them making some kind of go of things professionally as a straight man and his comic.

As I said the other day, I have plenty of time for Gordon Harker. Never mind the overwhelming ham acting of the 1930s, he was someone who put his heart and soul into the performance and one or two bursts of laughter to which he was prone during his films were such that they couldn’t possibly have been scripted. He struck me rather like an early version of Burt Reynolds, making it up as you go along, outrageous ad-libs and everyone on the set having a really good time.

My cleaner came by to drop off some more medication and we had a little chat. She’s full of ideas and I reckon that I ought to engage her full-time as my secretary at this rate. Honestly, I would be all at sea if she weren’t here to steer me along.

The rest of the day has been spent, when I’ve not been …. errr … resting, hunting down music. While I was in hospital I went through and planned out the bones of a series of radio programmes that goes through until June next year.

There’s plenty of interesting music that needs broadcasting for one reason or another and as you might expect, I don’t actually have it to hand.

The task to day was to track it down, download it, convert it to a usable format and where necessary, cut it into the relevant snippets.

It all took much longer than I was expecting and I haven’t quite finished but I can do that tomorrow.

What delayed me was firstly having to book two taxis for next week. The first to take me to my appointment with Emilie the cute consultant’s boss. That’s in town down the hill here so I won’t be away for long.

Wednesday’s appointment is more serious. That’s a trip to Avranches and the hospital to meet a surgeon. And before anyone asks, “I don’t know and I don’t want to know”. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I don’t handle things like this very well.

At Castle Anthrax a few years ago I was asleep in a hospital bed and they came, whisked me away, bed and all, down into the basement, clamped a gas mask over my face and said “breathe this”.

The next thing that I knew what that it was four hours later and I was in a post-op room. And I still don’t know what they did and that suits me fine. I still have all of my fingers and don’t talk in a high-pitched voice so it can’t have involved dynamite.

And then I had an interesting conversation with the Bank.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I was the target of a phishing scam the other day so I changed al of my bank details including my card.

So now armed with my new card and new PIN, I rang up the bank to activate the card because I can’t make it to the branch

The only way to do it is in a cash machine, which I am clearly unable to do so the solution proposed by the bank was "why not give your card and PIN to a neighbour?".

Now, with my neighbours here, it wouldn’t be a real issue because they are lovely and friendly but the guy at the bank doesn’t know that. They could be anyone, yet he wants me to give my card and PIN to them.

Tea tonight was out of a tin because I wasn’t in the mood to conjure up anything elaborate. A tin of chick peas, veg at pasta in a tomato sauce. That will have to do.

So I’m going to bed before the doom and gloom descends too far. I really don’t know what I’m going to do about all of this because it isn’t going to end well, I know that. I have half of the entire medical profession of France trying their best to keep me out of the grave, and the other half of the population in the Credit Agricole doing their best to put me in it.

It reminds me of the guy who went for an interview for a new job
"And why did you leave your previous employment?"
"Ill-health and fatigue"
"ill-health and fatigue?"
"Yes. I was sick and tired of them and they were sick and tired of me."

Thursday 30th May 2024 – SO HERE WE GO.

Yes, by the time that some of you (but not others, of course) will be reading this I’ll have been tucked up all nice and cosy in bed by a bevy of beautiful nurses at the hospital at Avranches.

Some hopes.

Knowing my luck it will be a retired female Bulgarian weightlifter or hammer-thrower and she won’t have tucked me up at all; never mind smoothed my fevered brow. I shall have to do that by myself.

Before I leave here in the morning I’ll have done all that I can and the rest is in the hands of the Gods.

If it’s anything like last night, it’ll be extremely difficult, that’s for sure. The lethargy about which I spoke … "at great length" – ed … carried on and I couldn’t summon up the energy to leave my comfy chair until almost 01:00, well after my usual bedtime.

It’s difficult to explain what’s happening to me right now. I can’t seem to find the effort to do the simplest of things and it’s so dispiriting.

At least, getting into bed was so much easier and apart from the difficulties that I’m having with my legs right now, even turning over and over in bed was much easier too. Things seem to be pretty much back to normal … "for now" – ed … in that respect, and aren’t I grateful?

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed to switch it off and then crawled off into the bathroom.

After that it was the medication. 13 different capsules or potions if we count the anti-potassium stuff. I must be reaching a world-record of some kind at some point. I hear that the French Government is putting up taxes quite soon. It’s all my fault.

For a change, the nurse didn’t have too much to say for himself. But he couldn’t make his card reader connect to the internet to read my health card so after much binding in the marsh he said that he’ll do it next time. I hope that there will be a “next time” anyway.

After he left I had a “rest” for a while and then transcribed the dictaphone notes. Last night there was a group of young girls taking part in a singing competition. While the singing was absolutely excellent they made life extremely difficult for the judges by crowding the backstage and confusing themselves with the other groups so people lost track of who was who because there were so many of them. In the end the judges had to ask several groups to perform again which led to a lot of chaos from some of the groups of parents whose children were feeling excluded by this. All in all, what should have been a simple singing competition turned into absolute chaos coupled with the fact that some jewellery went missing at some point. Of course The Saint was in the audience so everyone suspected him. Some of the parents wanted him involved in helping to find it. It all went on throughout the night in the usual turmoil and complete mess. Nothing was ever decided.

These “Saint” DVDs are a long way from being finished too. I’m about halfway through the black-and-white episodes and then I have all of the colour ones to go at. And all these wonderful British cars of the 1950s and 60s too. Not a single mainstream British car anywhere these days. Hard to believe that at one time the UK led the World

There was another thing about being on the roads of Maine in a snowstorm on I-98 going north. There was a huge pile-up and they were announcing things on the radio “2 women injured” then the total went to “5 women injured” and gradually increased. I heard someone in the background say “what the heck is going on there? Aren’t there any males in that traffic queue?”. I thought to myself “that’s a really nice thing to say, isn’t it, seeing as I’m stranded in this queue but near the front nowhere near where these collisions are taking place?”.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve been on Interstate 95 in Maine on numerous occasions, but rarely in the snow. But we’re back to this theme of “token womanism” again where “x people were hurt, of which Y were women and children” Imagine the outcry if they had said “X people were hurt, of which Z were men”.

We once did a study of “minorities” listing all of the people from different classes of minority and subtracting them from the total population. We eventually reached the conclusion that a white middle-class middle-aged man was very much a minority when it came to today’s scale of things. Of course, our report was … errr … mislaid.

After my coffee and flapjack I fell asleep again but this afternoon I’ve been packing and making myself ready for the road tomorrow and the hospital at Avranches as well as doing some stuff for the radio. I’m not sure what they want of me but I know what I want of them and I’m hoping that they can do something to alleviate my suffering.

On that note, I’ve baked a loaf of bread and I shall take half of it with me. My invitees can share out the rest amongst themselves. But with my half a loaf and half a flapjack I’m hoping that at least there will be some food for me to eat somewhere.

That’s the big problem – who do I know who can bring me some food parcels?

But I’ll worry about that in due course. I’ve had a nice tea tonight of baked potato (seeing as I had the oven going) sausage and beans.

It’s been ages since I’ve had baked beans so, listening to my stomach right now, I won’t need a taxi to get me to Avranches in the morning.

Friday 3rd May 2024 – I’VE HAD A …

… bad day today.

Actually, it was a bad afternoon, to be honest. In the morning I was extremely busy, as you’ll find out in a moment or two.

But it’s no surprise that the afternoon wasn’t very good. It was yet another night where I ended up in bed much later than I would have liked, and the night was somewhat turbulent too. There was a huge pile of stuff on the dictaphone.

When the alarm went off though I was fast asleep so I fell out of bed and switched it off before staggering off to the bathroom

After I’d had the medication I made a start and began to prepare the dough for the weekend’s bread

While the bread was busy proofing the nurse came round to see me, to change the dressing on the foot and to put on my puttees. He was actually born in Flanders and so we spent some time talking about Belgium and in particular the linguistic war between the Flemish and the French

After he left I gave the bread its second kneading and then baked it. And for once I have some perfect bread rolls, exactly as they ought to be and I’m well-impressed. They are without doubt the best bread rolls I have ever made.

While the bread was baking I was busy making some broccoli stalk soup with the aid of a couple of small potatoes, a large onion, some garlic, herbs and, when it was almost finished cooking, a tub of soya yoghurt.

The soup with some nice fresh bread was absolutely delicious. There’s nothing quite like it, except of course my carrot and ginger soup. I’ve not made one of those for ages though, and maybe perhaps I ought to have another go at that in due course

That was when my problems began because I fell asleep at the table while drinking my coffee. Yes, don’t let anyone tell you that coffee keeps you awake. There have been many times when I’ve fallen asleep with a mug of coffee in my hand, half drunk.

And that, regrettably, is how it’s been for most of the afternoon, fighting off wave after wave of sleep, sometimes not successfully. And I’m really fed up of it. I can’t do anything at all when this kind of thing happens and there’s so much to do

My cleaner came down for a whizz through the apartment and while she was doing her stuff I transcribed the dictaphone notes -all of them. There was something going on with our Welsh group. We’d formed a band of some description and were being led by someone. We ended up somewhere in the countryside and had to go somewhere so everyone set off. They were going at a much more rapid pace than I could keep up but that didn’t seem to matter. I was just falling behind all the time carrying these two huge cymbals. They went down a hill at one point and then climbed up the side of a bank. I thought that I’m never ever going to climb that bank at all but in the end I worked out that if I began to climb the bank at a much earlier point I could traverse my way across and make it to the top and even save a little time that way. I managed to get very close to them but they went off down this farm track at a really rapid rate of knots. I was staggering on behind, tangled in barbed wire and other kinds of wire etc. The we eventually arrived at a stadium-type of place. I had no idea what was happening or what we were supposed to be doing, how we were going to be doing it, but they’d come here in such a determined fashion that they obviously knew about it but I didn’t. I was having a feeling that I was being somehow squeezed out

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have in fact fallen way behind the rest of my group and that’s how it’s been for a while – since I went to Canada in 2022 in fact. One month there and then two months in hospital knocked a big hole in my learning and not being able to concentrate afterwards hasn’t helped in the slightest. I wish I knew what I was doing but at the moment I’m just stumbling along

Later on we were doing some kind of disco. We were all there and the music was playing. One or two people were dancing on the stage but not many people were there at all really. They asked me why I wasn’t dancing but I didn’t really have a reply. In the end I climbed up on the stage and began to dance about which seemed to satisfy them. There were still not very many people there. Just as another girl began to climb onto the stage the record ended and they switched to a waltz. I grabbed hold of the girl and waltzed with her. At first it was complicated as I tried to remember the steps and I tripped on her feet but eventually it all came back. I began to waltz with her and it was really quite a good dance. But then the record ended and I thought “what’s going to happen now? How are things going to pan out? Who’s going to do what, when and where?” It seemed that the evening wss just being left hanging in the air like that

That reminds me of a night on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. Someone struck up a waltz so I picked one of the females (it wasn’t Castor) and waltzed off with her down the deck. I don’t know who was more surprised – she who didn’t think that I would be the type of person to waltz or me that I could actually remember how to do it without stepping on her toes.

Then it was necessary to change my clothes. I’m not sure why even though I was dressed in a convicts uniform type of thig I was still quite comfortable but gradually people were changing out of their uniforms into civilian clothes, plain clothes so I thought that I would too but there was really no possibility of escape. All I wanted to do was to sit down and have a great big relaxation somehow but it wasn’t going to happen with all of this going on. I was still going to be quite wound up going in towards breakfast

Then the alarm went off and I was about to haul myself out of bed when it suddenly cut out. We had the “ladies and …” bit it stopped before it said “… gentlemen”. Then I realised that everyone was helping the children in the nursery which was probably why they didn’t want any men about the premises so I went outside. I couldn’t see anything happening. It didn’t look to me as if the children were leaving the school but it was all about the statistics so I’ve no idea what had gone off and awoken us if it wasn’t this alarm

As you can imagine, it wasn’t my alarm at all. For a start, mine doesn’t go “Ladies and gentlemen …” but it’s the good old Billy Cotton WAKEY WAAAA…. KEY that wakes up not just me but the rest of the building and half the street.

Then a voice was crying “a third! A third!”. I’ve no idea what was going on but there were a couple of empty banana-flavoured Alpro cartons lying around. For some reason I wasn’t allowed to drink anything so I started to look for a pair of scissors to cut into them so that the patients who were in the ward that I was controlling could drink them themselves.

At 05:20 I had to work out which woman had lost her bloomers in one of the dances because the bloomers fell to the floor and you could see them in the middle of the dance floor but no-one seemed to own up and accept responsibility for it so I thought that I’d go to have a look to see if I could work out whose they were. They’d obviously want them back and of course if they could actually find them.

It beats me why I noted the time here, but it’s certainly interesting that someone should lose her bloomers and then ignore the fact. It brings insouciance to a whole new level.

The whole thing dissolved into a St Trinians-type of farce with the buses pulling up in Gresty Road and all the kids streaming out and going off down Claughton Avenue towards the school. There were several new teachers there, one of whom was clearly disorientated so he’d have to sort himself out but another one seemed to be at least vaguely interested, a big, heavy guy so in a group we all swarmed down with the children. At the corner of the street where there was a turn-off for the hall there was some person who was a kind-of teacher, a male organiser who was taking everyone’s name and finding out which alternative subjects they wanted to do, being friendly and cheerful, chatting to everyone. The big, heavy new guy turned up and the light-hearted teacher-type of person said “I can see that you have a great big frame. You’re obviously right for the rugby team”. The fellow admitted that he played rugby so he was immediately signed up. On the way down the avenue these new teachers were extremely perplexed because they couldn’t work out why we were going down there and couldn’t work out why the school would be down there. Of course they clearly had no idea what kind of school it was and why it should be situated in such a very poor area and that so they were going to be in for a dreadful shock when they finally arrived there and met the other teachers and the children.

My opinion is that if they were to have a girls’ school in Claughton Avenue in Crewe it would make St Trinians look like a kindergarten. And it wouldn’t need teachers either but wardens. It’s not exactly the calmest and most peaceful street in Crewe.

Later on, after another wave of sleep, I went for tea. Some of those delicious vegan nuggets with salad and chips thanks to my cleaner who brought me some potatoes today. It really did go down well and I was good and ready for it too. At least I have my appetite back.

So now I’m going to make a really big effort to go to bed early. I might have visitors tomorrow so I need to be on form.

But talking to the nurse about the linguistic wars reminds me of an incident that took place on the linguistic border between Waterloo and St Genesius-Rode.
As you drive into Waterloo there’s a sign that says the town name. Underneath it they fixed a plaque "You are now in Wallonie. Here we speak French"
On the other side of the sign it said “Sint Genesius-Rode” and following the posting of the Wallonie plaque the citizens of Sint Genesius Rode put up a plaque that said "You are now in Flanders. Here we work"

Sunday 21st April 2024 – AND SO TOMORROW …

… or today, if you are reading this posting on Monday, I go for my appointment with Destiny

This is when we’ll find out of this three months of medication cocktail has done any good.

Mind you, I can tell you that without having to go all the way to Paris at great expense to find out. There has certainly been a change in the situation, but it isn’t for the better.

Not that it’s any surprise really. With a illness that’s so rare that there are no records and no approved treatment everyone is just groping blindly in the dark and the last time that I tried that I had a thick ear off Percy Penguin

What is going to be interesting though is to find out what their Plan B is. They’ve had three months to think of one so I’m sure that there will be something simmering away in the background. At least, there better had be and I’ll be disappointed if there isn’t.

There was a change last night as well from the previous night, in that I actually managed some sleep.

For a change I actually managed to be in bed early but even so I couldn’t go to sleep. There was far too much on my mind, and on other places too.

However, to my surprise, there was something on the dictaphone and that was unexpected. There was something going on about toothpaste last night. Each person was given their own little cardboard box with their own little tube in it that was for them and them only. I’ve no idea why that would be the case or what it was all about.

No explanations were forthcoming either as it doesn’t seem to relate to anything at all. Just one of those mysterious things, I suspect.

After a stroll down the corridor I came back to bed and that was that until the alarm went off. I finally managed a deep, satisfying sleep and the only thing wrong with that is that there wasn’t enough of it.

No blood pressure – as I said yesterday, there’s not really much point. Instead I went into the living room for my medication with, instead of my usual half-litre of flavoured water, just enough water to swallow my tablets.

And that’s all that I’ve had to eat or drink today. Honestly. I’m working on the principle that the less stuff that goes in, the less stuff will want to come out, and that’s an advantage on a 4-hour car drive tomorrow morning when I’m not feeling too well.

The nurse came round and saw to my foot and my puttees. He thinks that the wound on my foot is ready to face the fresh air but if I’m off to Paris in shoes and socks on Monday I’d rather leave the plaster on so that there’s no friction rubbing it away.

After he left I came back in here and vegetated for quite a while. These 08:00 starts on a Sunday are killing me when I’m used to a long lie-in and a start that’s considerably later than that.

But eventually I managed to summon up enough energy to make a start on sorting out the European Paper Mountain and looking for what I need to take with me

And having found what I can (because there’s still plenty of stuff missing) I packed my backpack. I’ll take what I’ve found and we’ll have to invent the rest as we go along.

There was football on the internet this afternoon – the last weekend of matches of the regular season.

We were treated to Aberystwyth v Pontypridd United. Pontypridd are already relegated due to certain off-the-field issues, but Aberystwyth had to do better than Colwyn Bay would do against Barry Town in order to stay up and sent the Bay back down.

To everyone’s surprise, and probably theirs too, Colwyn Bay beat Barry 1-0 with a goal scored near the end of the game, but by then it was too late. Aberystwyth had already put three past Pontypridd and never looked in any difficulty.

We had the same scenario last season with a dramatic great escape on the final day and as I said then, if Aber had played for the rest of the season with the panache that they showed today they wouldn’t have been in this trouble to start with

It’s tough on Colwyn Bay on their first season in the Premier League but they were miles off the pace even on Day One when Caernarfon put 4 past them and the Bay were lucky to get nil, but the gulf between the Premier League and the second tier is immense.

Rosemary rang me for a chat at the end of the afternoon so while I was preparing a back-up memory stick to take with me, we put the world to rights. Just a short conversation today, only 57 minutes.

So now my puttees are washed and hanging up to dry, my bag is packed and my back-up is prepared, that’s my lot. I’m off to bed.

The alarm is set for 06:00 and the car should be here at 07:00 and then we’ll see.

And I hope that the taxi is on time. He was late on one of the other times that we had to go early like this
"You should have been here at 07:00" I told him
"Why?" he asked. "What happened?"

Wednesday 10th April 2024 – TODAY HASN’T BEEN …

… any easier today than it was yesterday. I fact it was probably a darn sight worse.*

And that’s a shame because I was actually in bed earlier than I usually am and earlier than I would like to be For a change it didn’t take long to finish off what I need to do, and I was wracking my brains thinking of things that I might have forgotten to do.

But one thing about it was that I was doped up to the eyebrows with painkillers.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I usually eschew painkillers but I really was in so much agony that I just couldn’t carry on any longer.

It’s not my style, I agree. I think that painkillers do more harm than good, but in bed, I’m not likely to find myself in any mischief, especially as TOTGA, Castor and Zero have stopped coming to visit me during the night.

So doped up to the eyebrows … "you’ve said that once" – ed … I went to bed. And that probably explains why I went to sleep, didn’t awaken until 06:15 and left nothing on the dictaphone except a rambling account of how grateful I was.

It really was for once a good night’s sleep because I felt absolutely nothing at all. When the alarm went off I staggered out of bed, dressed myself and checked my blood pressure – 16.3/10.5, which compares with last night’s figure of 17.4/10.2. I’m not surprised that the pressure has gone down after last night’s chemically-induced sleep.

Next thing was to take the medication, the usual piles of it too. My friendly neighbourhood cleaner will be along at some point to verify the medication that I have.

Having arranged the room, the nurse came along to give me my rabies shot, or whatever it is. And then to bandage me up with the putties so that I look like something out of Ancient Egypt

On Sunday I shall have to make another one as nice as that. It will be really nice if that one is so good.

Don’t let anyone tell you that strong black coffee keeps you awake by the way because back in here I really was gone with the fairies. I had the guitar out for a short while to have a play but didn’t go far with it.

It was 13:35 when I finally awoke and then I had lunch and a good wash with change of clothes to make myself look pretty.

To my surprise I’d been away with the fairies during the morning. I was involved in some kind of crazy science fiction dream involving some mad scientists and a chemical. But there were two of me and one of them was dishonest and ready to fall in with the plans of the scientist and the other one of me was more honest and was intent on thwarting his plans

And that4s a story with a little history behind it that deserves to be told one of these days but will have to wait until the expiry of certain periods of Statute of Limitations in the UK.

There was also something else about the Welsh Premier League and attendances. I was actually out on my way to a ground to watch a game and was driving through Whitchurch although it was no Whitchurch that I ever knew and a discussion on attendances began. Someone had seen a paper with a figure given of 4,000 and whoever it was couldn’t believe it but I replied that until their current problems Aberystwyth could easily have that kind of figure as their support.

Not that that’s ever likely to happen either. The record crowd in the Welsh Premier League is 3250 at Porthmadog who came to see them play Bangor City, but where are those clubs now?

Mind you, at a second-tier match at Old Road in Llansawel there were 1201 spectators who packed into the ground to watch them beat Rhydaman, lift the Championship and prepare for their first season in the top flight for almost 30 years.

Wouldn’t it be nice though if 4,000 could pack into Park Avenue to watch Aberystwyth? However, with a League with no money, no real publicity, no real budget and operating under a mainstream media blackout thanks to the rugby clubs who pull all the media strings in Wales, It’s no surprise.

While my cleaner was here I carried on with yet more radio notes and then after she left my favourite Auvergnats turned up again for more cake and chat. This is becoming a habit. I don’t like sharing my cake, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Tea tonight was another delicious leftover curry with naan bread, rive and vegetables. I’m really spoiling myself these days

So having done all of that, I’m off to bed. The pains have come back to some extent but I’ll try without painkillers tonight and hope that I’ll be OK

But talking about mummies and my puttees reminds me of the tomb that archaeologists discovered next to the Dead Sea in the Middle East.
"I wonder what it was for" asked one of the archaeologists
"That’s easy" replied another. "Being next to the Dead Sea, it’s probably a deceased Pharaoh’s weekend retreat"
"What do you mean by that?#34; asked the first
"It’s easy" said the second one. "This is where they’d all come to unwind after a busy week in the pyramid"

Monday 8th April 2024 – MY APARTMENT HAS …

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

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

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

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

And aren’t I glad to see it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 7th April 2024 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… horrible, gruesome, miserable day today again.

And if you thought that the one the other day was bad, this beats is easily. In fact it beats any day that I have ever had and I wish that I were dead.

It was at about 05:30 when I awoke this morning which, considering that once more I didn’t go to bed until long after midnight, is simply not enough.

Whatever it was that awoke me I really have no idea but I do know why I couldn’t go back to sleep, and that is this nerve ending in the sole of my right foot that is absolutely killing me.

It was doing its best to unsettle me last night, not without success. I’m getting to the stage where I’m simply afraid to move or to do anything in case it flares up again. And then after a while it flares up again all of its own accord anyway.

What would be nice would be in I knew what was causing it so that I didn’t do it again, but that’s far too easy a solution.

So when the alarm went off first thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. Maybe because of the stabbing pain in the sole of my foot it was 17.1/10.1 whereas last night, despite the stabbing pain then, it was 16.2/10.1

The nurse was early again today and I hadn’t finished my toilet so it was a very dishevelled me who went to meet him. And he’s given me instructions to wash the puttees for next time, but not to worry as I have the spare set which are already clean.

After he left I made myself some coffee and corn flakes, and went to carry on reading THE DAWN OF ASTRONOMY for a while.

Considering that the book is over 100 years old, it’s absolutely fascinating. It’s interesting to read his speculation about a lot of the ancient Egyptian temples, and then read subsequent modern research into the sites that proves his theories

The amount of old, interesting out-of-copyright books that I’ve found on these archiving sites is phenomenal and I’ve enjoyed every one.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night last night. There was a group of girls being used as entertainers. I had a woman who wasn’t all that much older than me supervising them and making sure that they were well-behaved. While they were eating the supervisor was hanging around the girls so I wondered what was going on. I went over to find out. I found out that she had a series of plates, cups and saucers etc that were made in bright green plastic. She was trying to have her whole network to buy these products and use them so that she could identify them whenever she went away or was on some foreign soil etc but one or two of her members I suppose were quite keen on the idea but the rest weren’t so she was having a really difficult job trying to explain this to them.

When we were up in the High Arctic we were all given bright blue jackets. Firstly, they stood out really well against the snow and ice so that we could be seen quite easily in case we lost the way
Secondly many of our landings were dependent upon winds, currents, tides, polar bears and ice flow. All that could change in an instant and if we had to be called back to a zodiac or to THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR we could be distinguished quite easily from a local.

Not for nothing was our party always known as “The Smurfs”.

My jacket from 2018 is hanging up in my cupboard here, but the one from 2019 was last seen hanging from a coat hook in a hotel in Calgary with my notebook and a few other bits and pieces in its pockets.

The whole of my progress around the Northern Hemisphere is marked by the objects that I’ve left behind, scattered to the four winds like that

By now I’d crashed out, for the first (but not the last) time today and was gone on this occasion until 12:00.

But even though I was feeling so bad, worse than you will ever know, I pressed on as well as I could with my radio notes to try to make some kind of progress.

After lunch I crashed out again but managed to awaken in time to make a start on the biscuits. And nice as they are, they would have been even nicer had I remembered the desiccated coconut to go with the coconut oil that I put in there.

It’s just a basic 10/8/4 mix of flour, butter/oil and sugar with nutmeg, cinnamon, ground ginger and cocoa powder.

While the mixture was firming up in the fridge I was crashing out again and then while it was baking I was dealing with tonight’s pizza. Not that I wanted to because I wasn’t hungry but I forced myself. And you can tell that I’m ill when I’m off my food

To everyone’s surprise, especially my own, I’ve brushed up in here and washed the floor. I’m likely to have a visit tomorrow afternoon. A party of Auvergnats has now arrived in the immediate vicinity and I’m likely to be called forward for inspection.

So I’ll need to pretty myself up too – an impossible task these days, I know. But if I have a better night’s sleep that will be a start.

But talking about polar bears just now reminds me of the time that they decided to have some cycles available for the more intrepid tourist on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR
Two polar bears were admiring the advert and one of them said to the other one "high time someone started a ‘meals on wheels’ service around the Arctic"

Saturday 30th March 2024 – MY BROCCOLI STALK …

… soup was absolutely delicious at lunchtime.

  1. chop up an onion and fry it in a heavy duty saucepan
  2. dice your broccoli stalk and a potato into very small pieces and add them to the fried onion, and fry them
  3. add your herbs – I used coriander, chervil, marjoram and chives – a stock cube and some garlic, and fry them with everything else
  4. when you’re satisfied that all is going well, add enough of the water that you saved yesterday from blanching the carrots and broccoli florets – make sure that the stuff above is covered and remains so throughout the entire process
  5. simmer away on a low heat for about 20 minutes
  6. add a tub of soya yoghurt and whizz it all up with your whizzer
  7. serve with fresh black pepper and fresh-baked bread

That’s what I call a really decent meal for a lunchtime.

When I blanch my broccoli for freezing I only blanch the florets. But one of these 99 cents special offers of broccoli is usually more stalk than florets so you have to be inventive, and broccoli stalk soup is the way forward

However I wish that I knew the way forward out of my current sleep issues because they reared their ugly head today, and in spades too.

Last night was a late night again. Once more I couldn’t seem to have my tasks completed in anything like a reasonable time. They do seem to drag me down these days and like anything else around here, it’s never-ending.

Finally, hours later than intended, I managed to find my way into bed.

Once in though, I slept right the way through until the alarm went off without the slightest interruption, which is quite strange these days. Usually, the slightest noise awakens me, so I wonder if it’s something to do with one of the pills that I take just before going to bed.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed again and went to check the blood pressure. 15.5/8.9 compared to last evening’s 15.9/10.1. So not a great deal of difference.

After the medication I tidied up in the kitchen and arranged everything for the nurse to come. She was her usual cheerful self today and it didn’t take her long to sort me out. I told her about the issues with the pharmacy and she thinks that I ought to see my GP about the blood tests.

My opinion is that they are called for by the hospital so it’s up to the hospital to decide whether I need them or not, and as for my injections, I’m in the hospital in 3 weeks time and if I don’t have them for 3 weeks, there’s plenty of time for the hospital to catch up

Back in here, there was nothing on the dictaphone yet again from the night, and even though that usually signifies a decent sleep it’s still disappointing because, as I have said before… "and on many occasions too" – ed … going on my travels is the only fun that I have these days.

Back in the old days before my health finally gave out, I’d always be travelling. And not just in vehicles either, but on foot. I’ve roamed miles over places like the Long Mynd in Shropshire, moors in Scotland, Arctic tundra in Greenland and Northern Canada and so on.

Who will ever forget my famous journey when I nipped out for a couple of hours in 2014 and ended up roaming for miles through the Pyrenees in Southern France, Spain and Andorra for several weeks?

But returning to last night, even though there was nothing on the dictaphone I do have a recollection of something else to do with Ford Cortinas scattered all over Crewe and that’s a regular, recurring dream.

Apart from making broccoli stalk soup, most of the day has been dealing with radio stuff, sorting out music for the next few programmes. Time to restart work after being away on a course for a week. and I’m still thinking and talking in Welsh when I talk to myself.

There was a lot of progress made with the radio stuff but I would have done more had I not crashed out.

And I crashed out good and proper for a couple of hours too, the deepest that I have ever been too and it was really uncomfortable too, really, really uncomfortable. I was so far out that I wouldn’t have come back for a week.

Nevertheless I came round and wandered off for my hot chocolate. And there was something on the dictaphone from when I’d crashed out, and that doesn’t happen too often either. I was on my way to see my sister and my brother. They had given me directions but the closer I came to where they were supposed to be, the less sense the directions made. I ended up on an island, a long narrow sandspit that was completely built up with a big apartment building. As I approached the front door there was a man there so I hurried and he held the door for me to enter. Inside I went into the lift and came out on the first floor. I asked on the radio which apartment they were in but their answer was garbled so I asked which floor and they said “top”. I went back into the lift and came out at the top and was now in the open air countryside, still heavily built up. I asked if they were on the water side or the inside but the reply was “down here” so I went down the road. There was still no trace of them so I asked which house they were in. They replied that there was nothing near them but a pub. There was nothing whatever like that where I was but searching around I came across a village name something like Rhydymwyn (but wasn’t) so I asked if that name meant anything to them. There was no reply to that – I’d gone out of range obviously and lost radio contact, so I must have been miles away, so I gave it up zs a bad job.

The likelihood of me ever wanting to meet my brother and sister would be so remote that they wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of giving me false directions to keep me away.

But the island, the long thin sandspit, reminds me very much of Long Beach Island in New Jersey. That was where I went to celebrate the Millennium. I flew from Brussels Airport, where I was interviewed by Flemish TV – in Flemish – to New York and hired a car, then just drifted around until I found somewhere nice.

And LONG BEACH ISLAND REALLY IS NICE TOO. I had a wonderful time out there.

TOTGA had just been abandoned by her husband and was left alone with a small baby. I invited her to join me on the trip
"Where would be staying?" she asked
"We’ll work that out when we arrive. Just drive and find somewhere nice"
"Actually, it’s not really convenient"

A few years later we were talking and she said "I’d have come with you if you’d had a place booked to stay, you know."

It was then that I realised what a lucky escape she’d had. In 2015 I slept out on the trail every night in Northern Labrador and Northern Québec, timber wolves howling in the distance and something or other scratching at Strider’s truck cap, wanting to come in and share the sleeping bag with me.

TOTGA would have had a heart attack a long time before that if she’d had to share a lifetime with me. Nerina was the adventurous type and would have been fine, but I’m sure that I tried her spirit a few times

But just in case you are wondering, these people who figure quite often in my dreams, like TOTGA, Castor and Zero and so on, they are actually real people whom I’ve encountered, or even had a close encounter, at some time or other and who have obviously left a very great impression on me.

There was football on the internet later – TNS v Cardiff Metropolitan in the other Welsh Cup semi-final.

To everyone’s surprise, the Met raced into a 2-0 lead but of course it couldn’t last. TNS changed out of first gear and off they roared.

TNS’s overwhelming dominance of the Welsh domestic game wouldn’t bother me all that much if they could take it further. But they are knocked out of European competition at the first hurdle and they really ought to be doing much better than

It would really be nice if they could make it to a European group stage for once and have a real stab at something worthwhile.

And it would be nice if other clubs could do well too, emulating Hwlffordd who actually made it through to a second round last season.

Tea tonight was baked potato with vegan salad and one of these breaded quorn fillets that I like. But aren’t plates heavy when they fall on your foot? I’m glad that there was just a quorn fillet on it at that moment and nothing else.

But now I’m off to bed. We lose an hour tonight of course with the change of calendar, and I have the nurse coming which is a pain. I need to be up early and have everything ready so I hope that the alarm works.

Not like back in the old days when I was always late for school
"And why are you always late?" asked the exasperated schoolmaster
"Please sir" I explained "there’s eight in our family but the alarm was only set for seven so I had to miss out."

Friday 29th March 2024 – THIS MORNING AT …

… 04:30 I was up and about making bread, would you believe?

And I’m still up and about now. In fact, this is probably one of the very few times that I’ve actually sat down today.

Not that I’m complaining about the early start though. I made the nicest bread that I have ever made. It actually looked and felt (not to mention smelt) like proper bread, and I do have to say that it was a triumph.

If I could make bread like that all the time I would be more than happy. Especially as, being short of money, I would knead the dough.

Earlier this morning, at 04:11 to be precise because I looked at my watch, I awoke. And I couldn’t go back to sleep no matter how much I tried so in the end I abandoned the idea and went into the kitchen.

It didn’t take too long to knead the dough but what I’d done differently was to use a little more water than usual, and warmer water at that. and then rather fighting it, I folded it over and over, just as gently as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles.

And not just once either but a couple of times to make sure that it was properly kneaded. And off we went. And up it went too. It rose faster than my blood pressure when I realised later in the day that I had forgotten to take it this morning. Last night’s was 18.1/10.4 by the way.

While it was rising I put it carefully aside. I don’t want any nurses poking and prodding it. But I tidied up the kitchen area a little because it’ll be busy in a couple of hours.

When the nurse arrived she put on my puttees, had a chat and then left, pleased that we’d ordered her supplies for her. And then, as LeClerc’s home delivery was now open, I sent off my order. “Delivery between 10:00 and 12:00”.

Next task was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night. There was some kind of art school taking place last night with human models being used in the sculpting and painting classes etc for people to practise drawing or working on human figures. When they began to introduce a second model to work as a pair with the first one there were quite a few people who objected and there were obvious reasons too. It caused a great deal of unrest and unease amongst everyone because many people believed that art was pure and could not be corrupted and other people who believed that corruption was everywhere in the world and this was just another part of it. There were two extremes of people who were busy arguing over what the models were supposed to be doing. Everyone else was really quite bewildered that someone could make such an issue about something that was so ordinary, familiar and so straightforward.

And that’s a common occurrence these days. I’m convinced that there are some people who have nothing better to do except trawl the internet or their immediate neighbourhood to find ways in which they might be offended

And when they do find something that offends them they spend all their time and effort actually aggressively trying to upset everyone else by forcing their viewpoints on the World and expecting the 98% majority to suppress their own interests in favour of those of the 2%

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have every sympathy with minority groups but sometimes consider that some of them go way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable behaviour.

When you see people complaining about what they see as pseudo-eroticism, like girls wearing bikinis and the like, and saying how indecent it is, that tells me far more about what’s going on in their mind than it does about what’s going on in the mind of the pseudo-offender.

And then I went back to sleep and this argument was still continuing. No-one was making any progress at all about either performing the piece of art or about having their points of view agreed. I quite simply didn’t understand the whole issue because there’s no objection to the art being displayed in museums etc and that’s where you’d think that people would be most upset but I dunno. I just didn’t understand it.

Later on I was still in this dream but I was actually dreaming it in Welsh. At one point while I was watching something on the TV there was a big crowd. I took something out of my pockets, some paper and rubbish, and simply threw it on the floor which was greeted by a barrage of heckling from the various people standing nearby. I didn’t just do it once but did it twice as well, I seemed to think, and it may have even been three times but I was having this dream in Welsh at that point.

So there I was, back in the same dream three times all told. And had I stayed in bed there might have been even more. But it was interesting that I was dreaming in Welsh because I’ve been thinking – and talking to myself – mainly in Welsh today which has surprised me. I must really have enjoyed that course.

As for talking to myself, of course I do. I’m reminded of Gandalf in LORD OF THE RINGS when he said "For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to".

When the LeClerc delivery arrived I put away the frozen food and then had breakfast. And my hot cross buns are superb. They were a definite success too – well worth waiting for.

After putting away most of the food I set about blanching dicing and blanching the carrots, followed by the broccoli, ready for freezing.

And the cleaner caught me in flagrante delicto. She came in to tell me that I can’t have my injections any more.

The situation is that according to the prescription they can only be given if the blood tests show a result of less that a certain figure for something. But seeing as the prescription for the blood tests has run out and the tests aren’t being done, they can’t check the figure.

That sounds quite logical to me, but it meant that I had to sent an e-mail to the hospital to ask for clarification

So tonnes of carrots and broccoli to freeze, and there’s a broccoli stalk to make a soup tomorrow for midday – dipping my fresh bread into it too. It should be delicious.

There was football this afternoon – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth Town. Both teams propping up the table and they played like it too. Having seem the beautiful, flowing football of TNS last weekend, ths game was a disappointment.

Mind you, played on a swamp in a monsoon, that was hardly a surprise. Colwyn Bay have a beautiful ground as far as the grandstands and terracing go, but the pitch is awful.

Aberystwyth took the lead early on with a scrappy goal that was really the only exciting moment of the first half. Things improved for Colwyn Bay after the break and they looked more lively but it was the introduction of a couple of substitutes by each team on 75 minutes that livened up the game.

From then on, each team was throwing the kitchen sink at each other with gaps opening up everywhere in the defence as each side went on the attack, only to be caught out by a quick breakaway

Just as the game was going into stoppage time Colwyn Bay scored a dramatic equaliser, but blow me if Aberystwyth didn’t roar up the other end and score immediately.

So Aberystwyth won and move up above Pontypridd United, but things look dark for Colwyn Bay. And they’ll be even darker as they’ll be without manager Steve Evans next game. I don’t know what he said to the ref after the final whistle but it was worth a yellow card.

And then he must have said it again because he received another yellow card. So that’s him out of the dugout and in the stands for the next game.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m fed up of these petulant football players having crises all over the place during a game, and when the managers begin to do it, that really is the end.

The cleaner came not long after kick-off to do her stuff, and she left so quietly that I didn’t hear her go. But I now have a clean kitchen again which is nice.

The rest of the afternoon was either spend working on my Canada 2022 stuff or else, regrettably, asleep in my chair. Not that I’m complaining about that either. I’m surprised that I’ve kept on going as long as I have.

Tea was a burger on a bap, one of those burgers that I made from the stuff that my friend in Munich sent me. With chips and salad too, and it wasn’t disagreeable. It was rather gritty but that’s the ingredients I reckon and you can’t like everything absolutely

But it worked, and that was what counts.

Fighting with the freezer to put away the carrots and broccoli I dropped the carrots all over the floor. But picking them up (I’m glad that the floor is clean) I found the clip for the other puttees that I’d lost. Having found yesterday the other one that I lost a long time ago, I now have all four for each set which is just as well.

But I’ve also been busy booking Welsh courses. I’ve booked a week at the start of July with Coleg Cambria (and I hope that my own tutor isn’t tutoring it because doing a course with her two levels down would be embarrassing for both of us) and a two-week Summer School with Coleg Morgannwg at the end of August. So more “gyda” instead of “efo” for when I go back on my main course in September

It beats me though why Coleg Cambria’s courses are so early in the Summer break. I would have thought that they would have run their Summer courses just before the restart to set people off running when they start their next course.

But that’s enough from me for tonight. I’m off to bed. But doing all of these courses reminds me of the famous poem about Crawshay Bailey and his "engine
which was always wanting mending"

so
"he went to Cardiff College
for to get a bit of knowledge"

With this course at Coleg Morgannwg I’ll have been to most Colleges in the whole of South Wales "for to get a bit of knowledge" and it’s still not working, just like Crawshay Bailey’s engine.

It just reminds me of the small boy at school who had to repeat Year 6 three times. When asked how he felt about it he replied "I’m not bothered"
"Why’s that?" asked his parents
"At least I’m cleverer than my teacher"
"Why’s that?"
"Well" he replied "she was in Year 6 when I started at this school, she’s been in it all the time that I’ve been here and she’ll still be it again next year after I’ve left!"

Monday 25th March 2024 – THE FIRST DAY …

… of my Welsh course went pretty uneventfully today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll get my coat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a shame, isn’t it?

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

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

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

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

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