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Saturday 13th April 2024 – I’VE NOT BEEN …

… feeling too much better today.

Hardly at all, in fact. It’s probably a very good example of the old “same stuff, different day” with just a few of the times being changed around to suit different circumstances.

What’s surprising about this – or maybe it isn’t, I dunno – is that I raced around last night doing things as quickly as possible and actually ended up in bed at 22:40 and anyone would have thought that that extra 20 minutes asleep would have made a difference, but apparently not.

Nevertheless there I was in bed and ready for sleep quite quickly. There was still the occasional stabbing pain in my right foot going right the way up my right leg – in fact, there still is even now, but I suppose that I shall just have to learn to live with it.

There were a few times during the night when I awoke but it wasn’t until the alarm went off (correctly at 07:00) that I managed to drag my reluctant self out of bed and take the blood pressure. 16.8/9.4, compared with a figure of 14.2/9.8 last night.

So what had upset me and raised my blood pressure during the night then? We’ll have to find out.

Having checked the blood pressure I dragged myself off to take the usual morning pile of medication and then set out the dining room as the nurse likes it to be.

While she was here I told her that she has to give a decent amount of notice about stuff that she needs. This is only a small pharmacy here and some of the stuff is quite specialised so it needs to be ordered if we run out. There’s usually a rupture de stock for the more complicated items.

After she left I came back in here and that’s the last thing that I remember until about 11:00. Crashed out completely, like a light, I was.

In the kitchen I slowly began to assemble the stuff for my coffee ad cheese on toast but a crowd of Auvergnats interrupted me. They had come to the market for some local stuff to take back and had at the same time come to say “goodbye”. Their week is over – already! Doesn’t time fly? and tomorrow they’ll be heading home.

It really was nice to see them all and I hope that they come back again at some point. I can’t have enough visitors..

After they left there was football on the internet. Hwlffordd, pushing for the Europa League playoffs, against Colwyn Bay, fighting to avoid relegation.

But when your luck is down, it’s really down. And you can’t be 2-0 down after just 9 minutes and hope to fight until the end.

But seriously, Colwyn Bay have been down and out for a few months now. I thought that being managed by veteran Welsh International defender Steve Evans and having made a few marquee signings, they would have had enough to stay up. But their marquee signings disappeared a long time ago and the rest of the team has been playing like they disappeared a long time ago too.

The final score WAS 3-1 TO HWLFFORDD which means that only a mathematical miracle can save Colwyn Bay now. They must win their final match and hope that both Pontypridd and Aberystwyth are defeated.

After that I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I had two dreams quite quickly, one after the other, about a group of people who were quite well-placed something like Rosemary and her friends, but were going down a place where one could gamble, the kind of place where I was. You needed invitations to go in there and of course you needed a machine to work. There, you could gamble as much as you liked. There were certain limits on normal play but they could be negotiated away with the consent of all the parties playing. It was very much like a typical place about which you’d hear in the Auvergne. But in the third part the person who suggested that it was the Auvergne was correct and the machine had guested itself into there which meant that everyone could spend more time travelling to it and spend much more time sorting themselves out while they were there to have a play on it and to try to defeat the … fell asleep here …

Wherever this might be, I’ve no idea. The only place that comes to my mind is the Casino in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic where I was a few years ago, but Rosemary and her friends have certainly never been there. However it’s a shame that I fell asleep in the middle of it as I would have liked to have found out so much more about it.

Then, the girls had all gone off to play one of these casino games involving pirates and pirate ships and they’d left me behind. What they hadn’t realised was that one of the alarms was still set and that awoke me for a short while. They were talking about this pirate game and an old German guy overheard them. He went immediately to have his hair cut. While he was having it cut he talked to the people in the hairdresser’s about the game, where you had to go to etc. so that he could make up a party too. I was in bed and, as I said, the alarm went off all of a sudden but it was a different alarm to the usual. Nevertheless it awoke me and made me quite disappointed that I’d not had a good lie-in, but had to make myself ready for the day

And that sounds like an interesting moment too, and I don’t have a clue what was going on here.

Il y a le musicien Eric Bell qui jouait pendant un certain moment avec Thin Lizzy et qui a accompagné Rosemary et ses amis avec son expedition. Il a en réalité chanté son chanson controversée dans la Halle des Bouddhistes sans être interpellé. Pour lui c’est son travail “bien fait, bien fini” et qu’il va avancer sur les autres choses

So I’m dreaming in French again. And about Eric Bell. I remember going to see him in London one night just after he’d left Thin Lizzy and was playing in his own band. But his PA had broken down and there were no vocals to accompany his music and it was something of a washout.

That night I remember sleeping on Hampstead Heath in the back of BILL BADGER, my old Austin A60 van. But I’ve no idea why I was actually in London in the first place.

He’s not however the kind of person to accompany Rosemary on any expedition but since when did reality have anything to do with what goes on at night?

After this I fell asleep again and awoke just in time for tea – another one of my delicious breaded quorn fillets with baked potato and salad.

So now I’m off to bed, with an extra hour to sleep (I hope) before the alarm goes off seeing as it’s a Sunday. But I really can’t do with all of this disruption to my routine. Staying in bed until 11:00 on a Sunday was much more like my line.

It beats me though why it(‘s of any interest My psychiatrist once asked me "what do you dream of in bed?"
I replied "I dreamed that I was in bed with Kate Bush"
"What happened?" he asked.
"Nothing" I replied. "She was dreaming that she was in bed with Roger Moore so I had to get out."

Friday 5th April 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 27th March 2024 – A LITTLE EARLIER …

… this evening I was lying slumped over the edge of my desk, forehead leaning on the top, totally out of it altogether. Miles away from what was going on in the real world.

Since all of these problems began I’ve been having some weird sleeping fits to be sure, but this one totally beat anything that I have had to date. “Out like a light” was hardly the word.

Whatever is going on with me and my body right now totally defies all comprehension. There’s no logical reason for it at all, except to say that it must be one of the pills that I take.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that at first I thought that it was that horrible anti-potassium stuff. It certainly seems to be that which was making me have those hallucinations, but this crashing-out is carrying on nevertheless, so it must be one of the others

The hospital knows about it because I’ve mentioned it, but as yet they have taken no action. and I know what their response will be, because we’ve been here before. They’ll just give me another tablet to counter the problem, and then I’ll need yet another tablet to counter the side-effects of that one.

And so we’ll continue on … "and on, and on, and on etc" – ed

It wouldn’t have done me much good last night either because once more I was hours late going to bed. There’s far too much to be doing here these days. Most of it just seems to be administration too and I’m beginning to think that “never mind a cleaner – I need a secretary”.

Still, I don’t think that I could pay a secretary to take my blood tests for me.

In bed, for what there was of it, was relatively relaxed and I wasn’t disturbed at all as far as I remember. But I would have loved an extra few hours in bed.

When the alarm went off I was in the middle of a really interesting journey but I immediately forgot all of it which was a shame, instead, I fell out of bed (literally) and went off to take the blood pressure. 15.9/9.0, which might sound high but nothing like as high as 19.4/11.2 which it was last night. What on earth was going on to make it so high?

The nurse came round later and I was lucky that I’d finished my wash and brush up by the time that she arrived. I’ve managed to persuade her to give a ring on the doorbell as she arrives so I’ll have a few minutes to prepare everything while she’s attending to my neighbour rather than just bursting in when I am incommunicado – and in somewhere else as well.

She almost forgot my injection this morning too. Apparently this “injection of the last resort” goes on for another three months and I’ve no idea what happens then. Anyway she remembered just in time (it’s no use asking me to remember anything these days) and so I’m like a dartboard again.

Checking my mails and messages I found a mail from an old friend of mine, someone with whom I’ve had no contact for almost 50 years.

He was a friend at school and we hung around together for a few years but then, like the Knights of the Round Table,WE WENT OUR SEPARATE WAYS. We do have a mutual contact and it seems that news about my condition is slowly circulating around.

It’s really nice to speak to people from the past like that. There’s a lot of catching up to do as our time draws slowly on to its conclusion. I say that because he’s not doing too well either.

Then I had to prepare for my Welsh lesson which didn’t take long.

And the lesson passed much better today than it has done over the previous two days and despite the fact that I can’t remember anything, I feel so much better about it. And that’s progress too.

The cleaner came round today too in order to make the place look pretty, and we went through the medication and made another list. She’ll go to the chemist’s tomorrow to order what I need, including some new injections, and pick it all up on Friday.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night. I’d started up in business again. I had a radio operator and driver for the daytime. And I did things a little on the way, like I made a little snack, something like baked beans on toast or mushrooms on toast or something, not very appetising or anything but at least I made sure that they had something to eat at lunchtime. I was sitting down doing a summary of everything and I asked how things were going. The subject of this food came up. They admitted that the food wasn’t particularly substantial but it was nice that I’d thought of them. They were really pleased about that but one girl had something of a moan about it. I’m not saying that she was wrong but I’m saying that there were limits as to what I could do during the daytime when I was supposed to be sleeping and that way they were lucky that they were receiving something.

And that would be a horror show if I started up in business again. I’ve had my fill of working hard for a living and the only kind of working in which I’m interested in doing is work where I’m sitting here at my desk within easy reach of the bathroom and the coffee machine.

That way, there’s only one person whose interests I have to look out for, and it’s not anyone else’s, that’s for sure. I’ve done enough of that, especially when its usually been the interests of the wrong people and not the interests of those who really matter.

But talking about food not being substantial, the thought of a good plate of beans on toast made my mouth water and had I had a loaf of bread here instead of baking it to order, I would have been really tempted.

While I was rummaging around looking for something or other I came across my collection of EAST OF EDEN albums.

Now that’s a blast from the past. They were a group from Bristol who buzzed around the festivals and concert circuits for years.

Apart from their hit single, JIJ A JIG that is nothing whatsoever like the rest of their music – they are a typical late-60’s rock band – their claim to fame is that violinist Dave Arbus was the musician who played violin on the Who’s BABA O’RILEY, one of the greatest singles of all time.

Once everything had calmed down I made a start on the next radio programme but regrettably I didn’t get very far, for reasons that I explained earlier. I can see this being a continual story.

Tea tonight was a delicious leftover curry, lengthened with some lentils, quinoa and peanuts, and accompanied by rice, veg and naan bread. And there’s no better meal than one of my leftover curries.

However I’ve now run out of dough for my naan breads so I’ll have to make some more for next week. We can’t be doing without that. Luckily I still have some soya yoghurt left.

But that reminds me – my biscuit-making operation (and delicious they are too) has meant that I’m running perilously low on vegan butter. I need to place an order for the food from LeClerc. I can’t be doing without my butter for my hot cross buns either.

It’s a surprise that I’m not putting on any weight with all of this food that I seem to be shifting. It’s rather like the little girl who noticed that her mummy’s stomach seemed to be growing bigger and bigger, so she asked her mummy about it.
"Well dear" said mummy "Daddy’s given me a baby"
"but hat’s that got to do with your tummy?"
"Because the baby’s in there dear" said mummy
So the little girl goes off to her daddy
"You know that baby you gave mummy?" she asked
"Yes dear?" asked her father
"Well" replied the little girl "SHE’S EATEN IT!"

Tuesday 26th March 2024 – THE SMELLS IN …

… my kitchen are delicious right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 16th March 2024 – AFTER I’D FINISHED …

… doing what I have to do in the evening I didn’t hang about and was in bed quite shortly thereafter. I don’t seem to be able to last the pace like I used to, especially if I didn’t have any sleep the previous evening.

But of course I have to admit that my bed is extremely comfortable. Seeing as I spend about a third of my life in it it went through some pretty rigorous tests, as in me lying down on every combination of bed and mattress that was on display in the IKEA in Caen.

The sofa too is extremely comfortable. That underwent the same series of tests and has been put to good use on several occasions when I have company, but that’s another story.

So last night I climbed into bed and that was that until the alarm went off at 07:00.

At that point I fell out of bed and went off in search of medication – the usual morning round of things designed to keep me going until we have the night-time’s helpings. 10 different types, and each one presumably treating the side-effects of the one that was prescribed immediately before.

In fact, as I take all of this medicine I’m singing to myself THERE’S A HOLE IN MY BUCKET because that’s exactly how I feel.

Having dealt with the medication I made the bread rolls for today and tomorrow and left them there to fester while I went and took down the puttees and rolled them up ready for the nurse. They are still wet but that can’t be helped.

When she came round she burst the blisters on my feet, put all the cream on everywhere and wrapped the puttees around my feet and legs. She’s told me that there’s no need to wash them tonight as they don’t seem to be soiling any, which is good news.

After she had left I checked the bread rolls. And for once in my life they had actually risen as I hoped that they might. I’m not sure what I did correctly today – I can’t recall doing anything any more different than I usually do and which up to now has proved to be singularly ineffective.

But anyway I had a lovely cheese on toast for breakfast which was really nice.

Back in here I checked the dictaphone and to my surprise there was actually some stuff on there. “Surprise” because for the first two dreams I remember nothing at all, which quite possibly explains why they seem to be a pile of gibberish. Anyway, There was something about being in a rock group in North Wales called Achmarchnad – “Supermarket”. We all spoke to each other in Welsh and I introduced the songs in Welsh too. We climbed up onto the stage and there was applause but when I began to announce what we were about to play plenty of people dashed off as though they were heading for the bathroom. I made some kind of comment about everyone going to the bathroom. They also turned off all of the microphones so I had to wait for someone to restart everything again before I could actually carry on. But I was dreaming in Welsh as I had to wait for these people to go as we all sit around here, phrases like that to the other members of the group.

Yes, there I was, dreaming in Welsh and presenting the music of a rock band. I’d give all that I own, and more besides, to be able to do that in real life. But as I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … dreaming in a foreign language is nothing new. Besides Welsh (which isn’t a foreign language of course) we’ve had dreams in French, Flemish and Spanish in the past.

It’s actually quite ironic really. Here I am, learning a language that I probably won’t ever speak, in practical terms, and yet during the night I’m speaking it quite fluently and can’t even remember a word of what I’ve said and could certainly never repeat what I said when I’m awake.

There was a story once about this – about some guy who had had a knock on the head and came back to consciousness speaking a language fluently that he had never learned or even heard before. I wonder if it’s some kind of similar phenomenon.

It’s a shame though that I’m no longer going to Leuven though. I enjoyed revitalising the Flemish that I learned when I lived in Brussels and was glad that I was able to put it to some use after all these years. I just speak it now sometimes with Ingrid.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed – when we had fully loaded our ambulance we were ready to leave and go back to current times but the ambulance hit a stone causing injury to Orly and someone in the back and we haul up and treat our injuries etc before we could head back and try to cross the border. Rooms were booked for us in a hotel a a place on the Welsh side of the river just before you cross the river into the English part …fell asleep here

The above two dreams I have absolutely no recollection whatever of them. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … although I’m asleep when I’m dictating my notes, when I’m transcribing them I usually have some kind of very vague recollection of them.

But not those two. They mean absolutely nothing to me

Finally, I was doing something about the radio last night, recording all my programmes. I needed a tenth track. After much messing about I actually chose the track but when it came to using it to join up the rest of the music I couldn’t find it. I was searching everywhere but it just wasn’t there. The last time that I remember, it was still attached to a set of stereo headphones with the wires dangling everywhere but I couldn’t find it at all. When I awoke I was actually searching the bed for it.

But can you imagine it – searching for a digitalised audio file in the bed last night. Sometimes I really do shake my head.

This afternoon I’ve been a busy boy. Firstly, Rosemary rang me and we had a chat. Just a short one today – only one hour and three minutes. We’re losing our touch, that’s for sure. Whatever happened to the ones that used to go on for several weeks?

Then I’ve been working on my photos from Canada 2022, writing the notes for another big pile of stuff. I hadn’t yet fallen ill so I was still getting about and doing things, like ordering the sunroof for the only Ford Flex ever imported into Europe, and having fun with STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

The dramatic collapse in health is yet to come, and it will be interesting to see how the events of that period unfolded and led to a two-months stay in hospital and totally wrecked my health.

The stuff for a couple more days was completed and I could have done so much more except for a major crashing-out – another one of these total black-outs that last for several hours where it’s as if I just switch off without any warning.

Finally there was the football – Pontypridd United v Barry Town. Both teams are languishing near the foot of the table – Pontypridd due more to administrative errors than standard of play – but they will basically safe from relegation as heaps more woe and misery pile on Colwyn Bay and Aberystwyth below them in the table.

The league position of the teams was reflected in the play – scrappy and at times rather agricultural – but playing football in a tropical monsoon as they had this afternoon down in Pontypridd can’t have been easy.

The game seemed to go in spells. Firstly, Pontypridd would have a good five minutes and then Barry, and then Pontypridd again and so on. The result, a 1-1 draw, was probably about right.

If you want to see the rather one-sided highlights of the match, they ARE HERE

You don’t need me to tell you what I had for tea tonight.

That’s right – breaded quorn fillet with baked potato and salad. Those fillets really are nice and I’m glad that, at the moment at least, they are available in LeClerc’s on-line shop

“At the moment” because even over the short time that I’ve been using the service, I’ve noticed a few things that I would buy that have been withdrawn from the range and that is more than just a pity. It’s a tragedy

So now I’m off to bed, ready for my … gulp … 08:00 start so that i’m ready for when the nurse comes. Can you imagine that too – me having an alarm call at 08:00 on a Sunday? But I need to show willing

It reminds me of the time when a girl who I knew once said to me "will you awaken me at 08:00?"
To which I replied "What should I do? Knock on your door or give you a nudge?"
There were times when I wasn’t very popular.

But as yet an alarm call might be unnecessary. Where the nurse burst my blisters, every now and again (more “again” than “now”, as it happens) there’s a stabbing pain that goes right through me and if it doesn’t subside I can’t see me sleeping tonight.

However, I’m away to finish off what I need to do before going to bed. The last task for today will be to cover myself in boot polish and eat several packets of yeast. That way I’ll rise and shine in the morning

Saturday 9th March 2024 – GUESS WHO …

… forgot to switch his alarm back on last night?

It goes without saying that Bane of Britain was up to his usual tricks.

But what was so surprising was that I awoke at 07:35. None of this stuff that we experienced last weekend. And I was wide awake too – to such an extent that I was actually up quite quickly. And that’s even more surprising.

First thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. 16.7/9.4. and don’t ask me what it was last night because I forgot to take it.

But next time that I go to the hospital I’ll be taking my blood pressure machine with me. The figures at the hospital are nothing like the ones that I’ve been recording here. They are much more normal. So I wonder if there’s a fault in my machine or I’m not using it correctly.

If we can compare readings when I go back, that might help. And so will a little practical instruction. It’s not actually very likely that things will be worse here than at the hospital – that is, in respect of anything that’s likely to adversely affect my blood pressure

But fancy forgetting to record it last night. It was actually quite a relaxing late evening watching the football highlights from the games that took place. Nothing really exciting, except that TNS continued their monotonous, relentless march by stuffing second placed Connah’s Quay 5-1 – at the Quay’s home ground.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’d be really proud of TNS’s achievements in the domestic game in Wales if only they would transfer some of that form to the European games that they play. But regularly and consistently (or should I say “monotonously and relentlessly”?) they are knocked out in the first round.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they could make it to the group stages of a European competition some time soon, and give us all something about which we can cheer? I mentioned the other day that depressing, dismal game in Sweden where we had to sit through 90 minutes of tactical ineptitude by a manager who is out of his depth at this level of competition.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

In the kitchen I collected the medication together and shovelled it in, piles of it. And it’s going to be even worse on Monday after my cleaner has been to the chemist’s with the new prescription. As if I don’t already have enough stuff in here.

But I’m glad that it’s the cleaner who goes to the chemist’s these days. I’m too embarrassed after the last incident that we had.

That time, I’d been to buy a pack of condoms. "What would you like?" she asked. "Ordinary? Or the new washable ones?"
"I’ll try the new washable ones" I said.
A week later, I went back to the chemists
"Can I have another pack of condoms, please?"
"What happened about the washable ones you had last week?" she asked
"Well, I’ve had this rather offensive letter from the laundry"

Having taken my medicine I went to make the bread for the weekend. And I forgot that it wasn’t Friday and that I wasn’t here, so I made three bread rolls as usual. So anyone who says that I don’t even have a clue what day it is is actually quite correct.

John Bongiovi TELLS THE DAY BY THE BOTTLES THAT (HE) DRINKS but I tell the days by the medication that I take, I reckon.

The bread still isn’t rising as well as it ought to, even though I’ve now moved on to a new type of flour. However, it wasn’t the abject failure of a couple of weeks ago and I suppose that we can be thankful for that

I tried baking it for slightly less time too, and that seemed to make a difference. But of course my oven is very much hit and miss so I can’t say with any certainty that it will be like that next week.

But anyway, it made a really nice toasted cheese sandwich, which was the name of the game anyway.

And that reminds me – me waxing lyrical about air fryers combined with a special offer on sale at LeClerc means that Rosemary has now joined the little air fryer community. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’d be lost without my air fryer.

Next stop was to transcribe the dictaphone notes, not that there were all that many. There was a cute little girl at school who for some unknown reason seemed to attach herself to me, not that I minded particularly because I never did much at school except roam around. She caught me one day coming out of the school canteen. I asked her how she was. She wouldn’t say at first but in the end said that she’d failed her exam which I thought was something of a shame so I gave her a few encouraging words. Then she told me that she’d failed another one too so I didn’t think that things were going too well for her so I tried to boost her morale a little but I could see that she was rather sad. Then she asked, out of the blue, “do you want to be a GE?” which is the first level of work as a British diplomat in the Foreign Service. I asked why and it turned out that there was a meeting for schoolkids to hear a talk given by someone in the Foreign Service about careers with them. I thought to myself “I have to do something after I finish my exams, haven’t I?” so I said “yes, OK, I’ll come with you. I’ll be your invitee”. She said “you’re my second”. I asked “who’s the first?”, fearing the worst. And sure enough she mentioned the name of a student with whom I didn’t get on at all, who I thought was completely and utterly pretentious etc. She said “I’ve invited him”. I sighed and said “ohh well, OK” and said that I’d go with her to make her feel better. At least if she had two people coming with her it would do her some good in her exams which aren’t going too well anyway.

There seem to have been a few cute young girls attaching themselves to me during the course of the last few nights. I’ve no idea what’s going on here. I wish it had really been like that when I was at school.

And I wish that I knew who they were, so that I could see if it’s the same girl coming back, or a different girl each time. I’m intrigued to see how this serial ends, as I’m sure that you are. Doubtless though, one of my family will come along and shove le baton dans la rue at a crucial moment.

Like my brother, for example, who was “teacher’s pet” at school
"Why? Did teacher like him?" – ed
No – she kept him in a cage at the back of class.

But really – could you imagine me in the Diplomatic Service? It wouldn’t have been a shoe that I’d banged on the table as Nikita Khrushchev is alleged to have done, it would have been the heads of a few of the delegates.

It’s all very well these leaders pronouncing wars and all of that, but they aren’t the ones who have to fight them. It’s always the young and the poor. As the Communist Party once said about the First World War, “a bayonet is a weapon with a worker at each end”.

In my opinion, if someone wants to start a war, there should be vote. And all those who vote in favour should be given a rifle and tin hat and sent to the Front to fight it while everyone else stays at home.

Next on the agenda was the football. Y Bala v Caernarfon.

Two teams challenging for fourth place but it didn’t look much like it. The gale-force wind had something to say about the standard of play, I suppose, but in all honesty it will be one those games that will be forgotten quite quickly.

There was a good crowd there, as there always is when Caernarfon play, but I think that they were probably expecting more for their money than a tame, lacklustre 1-1 draw.

The rest of the day, apart from 10 minutes when I was away with the fairies, was spent chopping up sound tracks. Only about 30 or 40 hours remain before I can start to attack the stuff that the Shrewsbury Folk Festival sent me at the start of the year.

And I shudder to think of how much there is to do there. I’ve told you before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … that i’m far too busy to die

Tea was baked potato with salad and one of the breaded quorn fillets that I like. And my home-made mayonnaise from the other week is still keeping on going. The garlic in there hasn’t dissolved the bottle, despite how muc I put in it. I really should put somewhat less in there than I do.

So having finished my notes, I’ll wait for it to go quite than do my dictating. Two programmes that need re-dictating and a third that I prepared last week. It’ll all be a right mess when I finish

Tomorrow there’s an alarm call – 11:00, which might be late for some but it’s early for me on a Sunday. I always stay up quite late because it’s only when the streets are perfectly quiet that I can dictate the notes properly

And then there’s pizza dough to make, and anything else that I can think of. I’ve not made any biscuits for ages, have I? Chocolate biscuits are always good but it’s been years since I’ve made any oat and honey ones. I might think about that.

Right now though I’m going to relax for a little while and find something interesting to read, like that friend of mine who read all of these horrifying reports on the effects of smoking.
"They frightened me so much that I gave up" he said
"Gave up smoking?" I asked
"No" he replied. "Reading"

Friday 8th March 2024 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not sitting in a rainbow but sitting in my comfortable chair back in my office.

Yes people, I’m back home and I won’t use the Golden Earring “Back Home” salutation, to spare Sean’s suffering. He thinks that I’ve used it too often but in my opinion it shows you just how many journeys I’ve made in the past.

In fact it reminds me of that big poster I saw in a Travel Agent’s in Brussels once. I’m the last to criticise someone’s efforts to communicate in a foreign language – mine are nothing much to write home about – but sometimes you have to.

In an attempt to attract as many as possible of the English-speaking community to visit their shop and book a holiday with them, the sign, in large block letters, read "Why Don’t You Go Away?"

It’s almost as interesting as the sign I once saw in West Berlin in the late 1970s. Intourist, the Russian Travel Agency during the Cold War, opened an office there.

In an attempt to attract westerners there with their hard currency, they ran an advertising campaign with a big poster in their shop window "Come And Visit The Soviet Union"
And someone had written underneath "Before It Comes To Visit You"

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

As I expected, and indeed foretold, sleeping last night was not easy. It seemed like every five minutes someone was dropping stuff on the floor.

But anyway at about 06:30 I seemed to recover consciousness and began to wait for things to happen.

There was the flood of people – nurses, nursing assistants, trainee doctors and the like. And in mid-wash someone came for me to take me to the building where they would give me this brain scan.

For the benefit of new readers, the hospital at Paris isn’t like a traditional hospital where they’ve built upwards in the same building. Here, it’s like a University campus with different buildings of different epochs scattered all over the grounds.

There’s a shuttle bus all around the campus for people who can walk but for people like me there’s a fleet of small electric vans where the rear floor drops down and they can push a wheelchair in and ferry the person to another building.

It was a long wait for my scan and when it was my turn they clamped a metal guard over my head to keep it perfectly still and then pushed me back and forth through this Stargate time-tunnel machine made by my former employer General Electric for a good half an hour

Back in my room the visits kept on coming but I did manage to dictate the details of my nocturnal travels. We were discussing a drummer last night. I don’t know who he was but people were wondering just how good he was. Someone said that it was always suggested that he played drums on LIEGE AND LIEF by Steeleye Span … "you mean Fairport Convention" – ed … instead of Gerry Conway, if it was Gerry Conway who played drums on that album, I dunno … "no, it was Dave Mattacks" – ed … That seemed to mark him down as being one of the better folk-rock drummers in the UK everyone agreed that if he had played on Liege and Lief he would certainly have been someone at some point.

And I was impressed that I could remember as much as I did about it all in a dream last night

There was something else about the snow. Someone in a black pickup was sliding in the snow an what looked as if it might have been a camp site. The pickup hit something in the snow, an electric trunk or whatever and came to an extremely sudden stop. I wish that I knew where that is now

Then someone with a Renault Espace-type of vehicle had gone to the airport to pick up some people but for some reason he had some time to spare. We noticed this group of 4 people weaving in and out of the traffic that was waiting a the airport, talking to each other. They had an accent that I thought was South African. They were big people and had some luggage with them. They weren’t the type who looked business-like. I wondered if maybe they needed a taxi to go somewhere and this guy could take them if he had time and earn himself a little money. I waited until they came near to me. They squeezed in between two cars to cross the road so I went over to them and told them never ever to do that because they could end up being crushed if one of the cars moved. They were rather contrite. Anyway I was talking to them. They lived or were going to somewhere in the Saddleworth/Oldham area. I suggested that they might want this particular guy to take them. They agreed to go with him. The guy had a quick chat about the fare. I reckoned that a tenner would be a good price to charge them in those days. They all began to pile into the Renault Espace

I’d gone to a party for some reason at someone’s house, one of these house parties that you had years ago. There was a young girl there who had had a cocktail. She was obviously so young that she’d never had one before and so was a little unsteady on her feet, so I noticed. When we were all going into the house I went over to her to ask her if she needed any help and to be there for her to lean on. We began to chat and she said the usual things about how she’s not very pretty etc. We began to talk about make-up. She said that she didn’t wear make-up except on special occasions which at her age was hardly a surprise. Things began to click between the two of us and at the end of the night I arranged to see her again. Then I had the problem of cars. I had the yellow Cortina that was making a horrible noise when you turned left and the MoT had long expired. There was a brown Cortina that had had an accident and we’d stripped the nearside down. It was still running on the road but with no nearside wing on it or anything like that and the MoT had long since expired on that too. I thought to myself that if I were to start taking the girl out I’m going to at least need the correct kind of car, something that’s working and reliable and more to the point, had an MoT. I was trying to work out what to do about these two Cortinas, even considering collecting all my Cortinas, all the bits, everything and just junking them somewhere and going to buy a car that was legal and could keep on the road

This is a recurring dream, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. In real life things did actually get out of hand about this kind of thing in the late 80s when I had my taxi business. I put it down of course to there not having enough time in the day to deal with everything that was arising, and the fact that I was really in a very dark place at that time. If I had cleared out all of the rubbish and had just one decent car it would have probably cost me the same in the end and made life a lot less complicated but, as the old saying goes, when you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to remember that you came just to drain the swamp. But it’s really quite funny – there I was last night on the verge of Getting The Girl and it was my own problems that were putting the baton dans la rue as they say around here, confounding me at the vital moment. That’s the story of my life too – I’m my own worst enemy. But that’s the usual case when there are several persons living inside this body. You never know which version of me you are going to get on any given day.

There was no time for a shower though with all of the confusion, which was a pity. I was really looking forward to one this morning, but no such luck.

Eventually the doctor came to see me

"How was the brain scan, doctor?" I asked
"We found nothing" he replied
That was not reassuring, but regular readers of this rubbish will recall that it’s not unexpected.

But the bad news is that the fluid drained off from the lumbar puncture is “inconclusive”. They’ve had to send it away for in-depth studies and the results won’t be ready for several weeks. According to the doctor, there’s no point in my hanging around there for several weeks and then the results might show nothing at all, so I may as well go home.

He handed me my leaving papers, which included yet more medication and a daily visit from the nurse. It looks as if my depressing series of later and later Sunday lie-ins has resolved itself without any help from me. He and his sidekick pass by the building usually at 08:30.

A few minutes later the doctor came dashing back to swap some papers over.

Apparently they’ve rung for a taxi to come to fetch me but there’s an ambulance belonging to the same company already in town. If they had an “ambulance” voucher instead of a taxi voucher they could come for me now. So we played “swaps”.

The nurses came a few moments later to usher me out of my room. Apparently they can clean it and fit another patient in before the end of the day so I had to go down to the waiting room.

When the ambulance came for me we all went downstairs and they began to take out the stretcher from the back of the vehicle

"What’s going on here?" I asked, bewildered
"The ambulance voucher says ‘transport allongée’ and ‘allongée’ means ‘allongée’" replied the assistant

While they were strapping me into the stretcher they noticed that the nurses hadn’t taken the catheter out of my arm. So unstrapped, off the stretcher, back upstairs to find a nurse.

And then back downstairs, onto the stretcher, strapped in and shoved into the back of the ambulance like a pizza going into the oven

If you don’t know the slang meaning of the French phrase etre à cheval sur, then a trip with these two will explain everything. ‘Allongée’ means ‘allongée’, yes, but your 4 hours working period means a 4-hour period, not 4:05, and a half hour break means a half-hour break, not 29 minutes.

Having a passenger strapped immobile in the back makes no difference at all.

And ‘keeping a calm environment’ means not uttering a word to your passenger at all during the entire journey. The assistant can however tell the driver “that lane’s quicker” or “you should be over there” or “quick – he’s through the péage

Had I been driving, I would have found a novel and inventive use for half a roll of plasters.

Back here my faithful cleaner was there to help me and we managed to find our way upstairs. "Do you need any help now?" she asked
"No thanks" I replied. "I have things to do" and if you’d been strapped to a stretcher immobile in the back of an ambulance for five hours, you’d have things to do too.

Imitating THE CARMICHAELS, supper waited on the table inside a tin. In fact the pasta was dried and in a box but the Greek Mushrooms were in the tin. I didn’t have time or the urge to make anything else right now.

Now I’m off to bed for pleasant dreams (I hope) and I’ll tidy up and put away tomorrow. My fudge tastes really nice – I tried a piece just now. That was definitely a success and I’ll make it again

But that phrase reminds me of the time that I dashed into the legendary Gentlemen’s Rest Room on Crewe Bus Station on my way home after a heavy night on the Boddington’s at the Lion and Swan

"Phew!" I exclaimed with a sigh of relief. "Just made it!"
"Blimey!" said the man in the next stall, looking over into mine. "Can you make me one like it?"

But returning to the subject of signs, Brussels was always good for a laugh for signs like this nevertheless. When SABENA – “Such A Bad Experience – Never Again” launched its direct flights from Brussels to Singapore, it had all these posters "Breakfast in Brussels – Supper in Singapore"
And underneath every one someone had written "And Luggage in Lagos"

Saturday 3nd March 2023 – I’M FED UP …

… of falling asleep during the day and not having anything done.

Fighting off wave after wave of sleep while trying to watch the football, I ended up crashing out for several hours later on and I’ve even crashed out while typing these notes.

It beats me what’s responsible for it. One of these medicines, that’s for sure, but which one? But all I can say is that I’m glad that I don’t drive any more, because this would be driving me up the wall.

It was another late night last night, simply because of the highlights of the football for the evening being posted. Connah’s Quay’s defeat at Bala means that TNS would be handed the championship yet again if they win against Cardiff Metro this afternoon.

So on that sombre note I wandered off to bed, later than usual, and settled down for a good night’s sleep.

When the alarm went off and awoke me, I was dreaming about people wearing different clothes, being in different epochs that they chose. I could just imagine the scene when awakening, asking for a pair of 1950s undies, something like that. Think of how confusing it would be for people. But there are many people who don’t want to live in the modern world today

And I for one, entangled in the technological jungle, think fondly of my past life in Crewe where we didn’t have these new-fangled inventions like the wheel to bother us and where the most exciting thing that happened was when that tree fell down in 1847 and people still talk about it now.

They have these blue plaques on some houses that say something like “between 1903 and 1926 this house was inhabited by no-one of any importance”.

First thing this morning was to check the blood pressure. 15.4/8.5 this morning, compared to 13.0/8.3 last night. So something during the night must have wound me up. I shall have to go back and see.

It’s nice though to see it generally falling. They were quite worried about that at one time. Mind you, I wish that I knew how to control it without medication.

On that note I staggered into the kitchen for another helping of medication

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night, apart from discussing historical underclothes of course. This is where my Wing for the Air Force has been split up and the daughter of one of the pilots, a young girl probably 7 or 8, has been kidnapped somewhere between Iceland and Greenland. It was the patrol’s light-hearted way of doing things that had enabled this to happen Now, their next job was to try to find this little girl even though they had these transatlantic patrols to maintain all the time every so many hours they were out flying over the ocean

This sounds as if it might relate to part of the novel that I’ll never ever write now, where I had my anti-submarine patrols bases in Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, the Caribbean, Brazil and the Azores fighting the Battle of the Atlantic in 1943.

Later on I stepped back into that dream again afterwards … "which dream?" – ed … but there was another part of this dream that was based in an office where I worked. I’d applied for some annual leave but it was over a busy period. The annual leave was about my health issues. On one particular afternoon I was being confirmed into some kind of religion or other ready for my eventual death but when the boss called me in he talked to me about the possibility of promotion, how I needed to show that I was a firm, loyal and committed member of his team in order to be promoted. Feeling that it was rather late now for me to change my ways I basically mentioned to him what was happening and asked him what I could do about it to ensure that I’d be promoted, which event should I abandoned, which postpone, which cancel, what should I do with something else so that my cancelling it with some kind of higher position in the league or in a higher division would be a much better option for everyone than me going off and being treated for my health issues.

Then I had a dream about being in the Air Force with people in the front line, forming this special squadron that must be provisioned properly when requested. Bomber Command tried to hoist onto it a raid that was out of their jurisdiction – involving bombing somewhere south of Crewe and flattening it. The senior officers objected. In the end senior officers were put into the plane but had to board it in senior order or near enough. In the lower ranks what they did was to quite simply transfer everyone to shore-going establishments where there were no provisions to attack anything.
Then the dream changed later on. I was back in it when it was 3 officers who were on their way to the camp which was in the middle of Shropshire, lost in a backstreet somewhere. They asked me about it and I told them where it was, but decided to follow them just in case they weren’t who they said they were and were up to no good. It was a good job that I did because I noticed a couple of things that brought my attention to them.

Why would anyone want to bomb anywhere south of Crewe and flatten it? In my opinion, Crewe would be an ideal target for all of that. During the “Baedecker Raids” a stick of bombs fell on Crewe and caused £14,000,000 of improvements and we could do with a few more of that type of thing.

The town centre right now looks like Dresden after an Allied air raid and I shudder to think of what they’ll erect in place of the bus station and the shops that were there. As the current King Charles said a while back, "You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe. When it knocked down our buildings, it didn’t replace them with anything more offensive than rubble"

What beats me about the current plans for the town centre are firstly, why are they building the multi-storey car park first when there is nothing for anyone parking there to see or do in the town centre? And secondly, why are they building shops there when they couldn’t find tenants for the shops that were there just now?

But as long as they build a new bus station complete with public convenience. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I passed my Biology “O” level with flying colours thanks to the helpful drawings on the walls of the gentleman’s rest room and I want others to have the same chance as I had.

Having dealt with all of that I had a few things to do and then I went for my lovely cheese on toast. It would be nicer if the bread would rise more, but I really must work harder than I do with it. But “gently” is the word, don’t fight it. Pretend that I’m massaging Zero’s clavicles.

What I’ve been doing today, when I’ve not been asleep, is going through that mass of stuff that I sorted out last night and splitting it up into tracks. I’ve not done much, because I’ve been asleep for quite a while today, to my bitter regret.

There’s a few done, but I really could have done with doing a few more.

Football on the internet, as I said today. TNS v Cardiff Metro. A win for TNS would see them win the championship with about 8 games to spare, which out of a 32-game season is some impressive going.

And as expected, they swept the Met aside in a canter and strolled to an easy 4-0 victory. And it should have been many more than that.

There’s no stopping TNS on the domestic front these days, but how I wish that they would transfer this form into Europe and win a few games there

Many people say that the dominance of TNS is killing the game, but the fact is that it’s the fans who are the winners because in the race to try to keep up with TNS, the quality of teams, matches and facilities has come on in leaps and bounds, so everyone is a winner.

But while we’re on the subject of football and winners, THIS ONE is the kind of game that I like. Where one club is pushing and pushing forward with wave after wave of attack and fail to produce anything, whereas the other team goes racing away downfield in a breakaway and score a goal from their only attack.

Tea tonight was another one of these breaded quorn filets that I like, with salad and baked potatoes. And the potatoes were so nice that I baked another one.

Rice pudding for afters too, and I can’t complain at all.

Tomorrow I have some hummus to make, and also some fruit buns as I’m running out of those. That should keep me busy for an hour or so while I’m making my pizza, I suppose. There is some pizza dough left – I checked.

But the hummus will be nice, one batch with chilis and the other with olives and I’ve forgotten the sun-dried tomatoes again. I’m not sure what I have that will go with olives in a hummus.

Garlic, obviously. That goes without saying. never any danger whatever of vampires coming around here with the amount of garlic that I use.

When I was at Castle Dracula in Romania that time in the early 1990s I actually met a vampire there. We had a race together and it was neck and neck all the way.

But seriously, when we were kids the neighbour’s boy told us that he’d been reading a book where someone killed a vampire with a stake.

"That’s nothing!" we retorted. "Our mother could do that with her egg and chips"

They are actually running a remake of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA so I shall take myself away and carry on reading it while I wait for everything to quieten down so that i can dictate my radio notes.

It’s one of these books that has already been reworked to correspond with the New World Order and stars a trans-sexual cross-dressing vampire. Known, as you might expect, as Count Dragula.

I’ll get my coat.

Thursday 29th February 2024 – I’M NOT SURE …

… what the hell is happening to me right now.

Most of the afternoon I’ve spent fighting off wave after wave of sleep. In fact, it’s reached such a stage that I probably would have been better off and accomplished more had I succumbed and had a comfortable half-hour on the chair in the office.

The trouble is that it never turns out to be half an hour though. I could be crashed out on the chair for several weeks and it all would be the same.

Despite everything else it turned into another quite late night. I was browsing away on the internet before going to bed and came across a match between Stenhousemuir and someone who I’ve forgotten in the Scottish League Second Division.

It was such an exciting match that not only did I not remember the opposition but I can’t even remember the score. All I know is that in some kind of vague ethereal kind of way I know Stenhousemuir’s goalkeeper

So I watched the game until the final whistle (at least, according to the Internet broadcast which was running way in arrears) and then went off to bed.

When the alarm went, I fell out of bed as usual and the first thing that I did was to check my blood pressure. And to my surprise, it’s 12.9/8.0, which is well within the limits that they’ve set me. Last night it was 15.5/9.3 so that’s quite a significant drop.

So with the blood pressure medication apparently working, I went into the kitchen for some more, and a pile of the rest of the stuff too.

Back in here I sat down and began to deal with the dictaphone notes from the night. We started off with a group of us working on songs last night, a group of us. We were singing some of Help Yourself’s songs. The person who recorded it made something of a mess of it so we had to start again. In the meantime he went to fetch the albums and put the albums on for us to listen to. One of the tracks of course was MONA and the other one was WHO DO YOU LOVE (which is not by Help Yourself but by Quicksilver Messenger Service, but let’s not go letting facts get in the way of a good dream). I was getting everything ready when a woman came over to chat. She introduced herself and said that she was talking on behalf of her two children. They really loved these songs even though the timing was rather weird. We asked what about the timing that was weird. In the end she identified the gaps in between the songs. We said that if the gaps between the songs was the problem we could record the whole thing for her but have a gentle lead-in to each one where the album started. She seemed quite pleased with that. She asked me if I was going on a holiday this year I laughed and said “when I can get the timing right I’ll be going” to which she laughed too.

And later on one of our group was summoned to hospital. Although he currently couldn’t walk he was sent a taxi voucher and could apply for a taxi to go there. We went to reception to make this appointment. He left the paper with the agent and told her to book a taxi for him. After he’d gone she began and reached the letter C before she found a firm willing to take him. She wrote down all the details carefully but it turned out that that one was owned by her husband …fell asleep here …The people booked the taxi for him and sent him the details. But when it turned up the driver was actually his wife’s ex-husband so it was a very gloomy, depressing ride to Paris, and even worse because on the way back they had to stop to pick up something else. The conversation proved to be extremely difficult with this guy because of the issues that he was having with his wife’s ex-husband etc. Eventually he made it back home. When everyone learned about his trip to Paris we all tried our best to have the trip covered by another company but we couldn’t find another company that wanted to go to Paris so we could see that this was going to be an extremely difficult proposition getting this guy to Paris without the insurance company or his wife knowing about it

And that reminds me of the story of the woman who ordered a taxi to driver her and her new husband to the airport to go on their honeymoon the day after their marriage, only to find that the taxi was driven by her ex-husband. I could well imagine the conversation that took place during that 40-mile trip.

My taxi passengers were much different than that though, like the one whose claim to fame was to have beaten her partner to death with a frozen chicken. Crewe is a very strange place.

Having dealt with that, the next task was to hunt down some music. There are two tracks that I need for a radio programme that I’m preparing right now. and finding them is complicated. But it was worth it because I came across some more stuff that will come in handy too at a later date.

Then I had to download it all, convert it into a format that I could use and then edit it so that it’s suitable to broadcast. All of that takes time.

But it’s probably going to be worth it because while I was delving deep into some very lost archives I came across not just a copy of an album that was considered by Columbia Records to be their worst-selling album ever and abandoned quite quickly, but some songs that were actually recorded during the sessions but omitted from the pressing

So having assembled all of my music, I could pair it off and then join the music together in each pair, and then begin to write the notes. And I’m about a third of a way through them. I can hopefully finish off the rest tomorrow.

Things might have been much more advanced today had I not had to keep on fighting off these waves of sleep.

And then there was the nurse bringing back my medical card, then breakfast, followed by the cleaner bringing me to post, followed by the lunchtime fruit, and then the mid-afternoon hot chocolate.

That’s probably not all the interruptions either. It’s quite likely that there were others in amongst all of that but I can’t remember them now.

Tea tonight was a burger cooked in the air fryer and that was a success but the onions weren’t they don’t need 10 minutes in there with the burger – 5 minutes is plenty for them and I’ll have to remember that. They were somewhat … errr … overcooked.

Still, never mind. This air fryer is all one big learning curve. We’ll get there in the end.

But right now the only end that I seem to be getting to is the one at the end of my tether. I’m going through another one of those phases where I just can’t seem to actually accomplish anything.

There’s so much work around here, yet I start something and never seem to finish it, with all of these distractions going on and I don’t know how or am not able to stop them.

At times I feel rather like Fridtjof Nansen, the Polar explorer and humanitarian when he said "the more extensive my studies became, the more riddles I perceived – riddle after riddle led to new riddles and this drew me on"

But as Louis XIV said, "at our age, we must no longer expect good fortune". I shall just have to work harder.

Either that or put my bed in the microwave. That way I’ll have my 8 hours sleep in just 10 minutes.

Wednesday 28th February 2024 – TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY …

… Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. But it was also when I retired from full-time employment.

For the first time, that is.

At 50 years of age we were pulled out of the front line at work. They considered that we no longer had the speed, the fitness and the reflexes to cope with the conditions.

That, of course, is nonsense. There’s nothing wrong with my reflexes even today and, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I was still running every night up until two years ago

But anyway, there we were.

For the following 15 years life would be driving around Brussels in one of the fleet of Berlingos delivering parcels between the various buildings or, in my case seeing as I had a PSV licence, driving the shuttle bus.

But badger that for a game of cowboys. If you ask me which is more stressful – driving 4.5 tonnes of armoured Open Omega down a German autobahn at 260 kph at 04:00 or driving a shuttle bus around Brussels during the rush hour – I know which one I’d say.

With redeployment looming, my boss having retired and with “early retirement” being bandied about with all these hordes of Bulgarians and Romanians queueing up to join at half the salary we were receiving, I made sure that my pancreas flared up again.

A spell of sick leave, and then that was that

What followed was a lovely year of rest and then, after going to South Carolina for Rhys’s wedding, I picked up the threads.

A spell on a CDI working for General Electric’s training school to cover for maternity leave followed by 11 months at that bizarre American company where I met Alison, and then I set out for the Auvergne to seek my fortune, and the rest is history.

It wasn’t an early retirement last night though. In fact, what with one thing and another – and once you make a start you’ll be surprised how many other things there are – it was later than usual, and that’s saying something considering how late things have been just recently.

And when the alarm went off, I was totally wasted. I never felt less like leaving the bed but I had to make an effort.

First thing was to check the blood pressure – 13.8/8.7. That’s low. Below the target figure in fact. And much better than last night’s 17.2/10.5. I wonder what happened during the night to bring down my blood pressure.

After the medication I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to see what had gone on during the night. With the fall in blood pressure I didn’t expect that one of my favourite young ladies had been to visit me, but you never know. I was back in school at the start of last night with a group of people. We noticed that there was a girl standing not too far away from us looking at what was going on. I knew the girl – she lived in Shavington. I was just on the point of shouting to her to be friendly when I awoke.

Awoke – yet again, just as I’m about to speak to a girl. There’s something strange going on these days about this.

Then there was a football tournament taking place with all of the big clubs taking part. Almost everyone was having a go at refereeing matches. When it was my turn I drew Tottenham Hotspurs against someone else, I can’t remember. I took the ball and walked down to the pitch. On the touchline was an old friend of mine so I said “hello” to him and talked about another adventure. I tossed a coin and called to Spurs to ask what colour they wanted. They guessed correctly “yellow” so I set the board out because the pitch was something like a chessboard. They complained that the board had been set out incorrectly. It should have been set out the other way round. I didn’t think that it made very much difference so I told them to shut up and get on with it. In the end they went to complain to the FA. Someone from the FA came down. He agreed that the pitch had been incorrectly laid out and as kick-off hadn’t taken place we could reset the board the correct way round and start the match. This was a decision that completely disappointed me. I thought that the FA would have at least tried to uphold my authority as referee instead of behaving like this.

And did I dictate the story about the little girl who was born? … "no you didn’t" – ed … It was Alison Something. She had a very sad life and died as barely a teenager. The Doors wrote a song about her which became famous.

If they did, I can’t think of the song. Plenty of “Alison” songs, but none by the Doors as far as I can tell.

So anyway I stepped back into this football match. As I went in Tottenham Hotspurs were playing and they won the toss for kick-off so set the board out for them to start to play but they thought that I’d set it out incorrectly – that the point should be on the row that started on the second row. I measured it al and it would be the same distance so there’s no problem so … fell asleep here

When the alarm went off, I wondered why the dictaphone wasn’t in its usual place on the corner of the chest of drawers. It was down the bed still ticking over showing 2 hours and 15 minutes. That’ll teach me to fall asleep again with it in my hand.

One thing that I can tell you is that it’s not very interesting listening to myself sleeping. And I remember a couple of times when Percy Penguin elbowed me in the ribs and said “stop snoring!”.

“I never snore” I would reply. “You must be dreaming it”. And now having heard myself sleeping, I’m sorry for doubting you.

The nurse came round, gave me my injection and took a blood sample.

The results are back now. My haemoglobin is slowly rising, which is good news, but so is my carcinogenic protein, which is bad news. It should be between 59 and 106 units, and it’s gone up from 270.3 to 276.4 in a week. The active enzymes, which should be between 6.7 and 11.8 are actually 31.2

In other words, things are slowly deteriorating, which is what I expect so there’s no big issue there. However, it is the first time that I’ve seen the word “terminal” written on the results of my blood test.

With the cleaner coming round I tidied up somewhat as best as I could in order to give her the impression that I cared, and then wrote out some cheques to pay a few bills here and there. She’ll post the letters for me while she’s on her travels

And then regrettably I crashed out for a while, which is no surprise after my late night.

But it wasn’t the usual kind of “crashed-out” – it was more like a cataleptic fit of some description where I’m perfectly aware of my surroundings, such as the radio playing on the computer, but I’m totally unable to move or to react to anything

It’s not the first time that I’ve had one of these either, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

This afternoon I finished my radio notes ready for dictation and then after the cleaner had left I made the dough for my next lot of naan bread and left it to fester.

Back in here I had more things to do but crashed out yet again, properly and really deeply too. I remember absolutely nothing at all of anything. I was so deeply in that I almost missed my tea.

But my leftover curry and fresh naan bread were delicious yet again, especially after I remembered to put the garlic in the naan dough. It was all cooked to absolute perfection too.

But now I think that I’ll go and have an early night. Right now, Tom Petty is telling me "I await the day
Good fortune comes our way
And we’ll ride down the King’s Highway"

But I’m going to have a pretty long wait. Having driven down the King’s Highway, along the Carolina coast, once or twice, I can’t see me ever having the possibility of doing it again.

He also says a little later " don’t want to end up
In a room all alone"

But it looks as if that’s exactly how I’m going to end up, the way these blood test results are going.

But never mind. He goes on to sing "Sometimes I get discouraged
Sometimes I feel so down
Sometimes I get so worried
And I don’t know what about
But it works out in the long run
It always goes away
I’ve come now to accept it
As a reoccurring phase"

That’s certainly true too. if something else crops up now, it’ll have to wait for a couple of weeks until I can find the time to worry about it.

Friday 23rd February 2024 – MY DAY OF …

… baking was quite a success.

And it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that

Yes, everything that I did today seemed to work and I’ve ended up with some pretty nice stuff. I’m quite pleased.

Ad for a change I actually had a good night too. In bed nice and early and I didn’t have much that kept me awake . And once I’d gone to sleep, I stayed asleep until the alarm went off.

Billy Cotton made me leave the bed and the first thing that I did was to take my blood pressure. 15.1/8.6. That’s low compared to how it has been. You can tell that I didn’t have a visit from Castor, Zero or TOTGA last night.

Before I went to bed it was 17.5/10.4 so the sleep did me some good by the looks of things.

After the morning medication the first thing that I did was to make the dough for the bread. And kneading it gently, as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles, I was careful not to overwork it by resorting to violence.

When I was quite satisfied that it was ready, I rolled it out into a long sausage, cut it into three equal sections and then flattened it all down.

A handy small baking tray with a piece of baking paper was called into service upon which they could repose and hopefully rise.

Next step was to make the vegan cream filling. Whizz ip some milk until it’s quite frothy, add sugar, a little butter, vanilla extract, cornflour, and whizz it all up while slowly heating it in a saucepan.

That was complicated. I had the hand-whisk whisking it all over the kitchen until I managed to rig up a saucepan lid as a shield.

Meanwhile, melt some chocolate in the microwave and when it’s melted, whisk it well into the mixture

When It’s all whisked and nice and thick, leave it to cool. And there’s my chocolate cream filling.

Then the chocolate cake. A mixture of flour, sugar, oil, water and cocoa powder with a few extras. All mixed up into a kind-of batter-like goo, poured into a cake tray and then baked for 40 minutes.

By now the vegan cream was cold so it went in the fridge and I put the bread in the oven to bake.

They had risen quite nicely and were baked to perfection too so I had some lovely cheese on toast.

Rosemary rang me in the middle of everything so I phoned her back. Just a short chat today – a mere 58 minutes during which we put the World to rights but I also ended up going for a virtual drive around Montlucon.

Once everything was finished and the chaos was over I had a listen to find out where I’d been during the night. I’d started work but there was still a girl at school who I happened to like. For the last few mornings I’d been taking her into school. One particular morning we were running really late. It meant that I was going to be late for work if I dropped her off at school but nevertheless I was going to drop her off. We were preparing everything and panicking a little – I wasn’t dressed even. One of my friends came along and asked me what was happening. The girl briefly explained. He immediately said “I can run you into school to save Eric some bother”. I said that it’s no bother because I was quite interested in spending as much time as possible with her but he absolutely insisted and insisted until in the end she went off with him. I was furious. I sent him a text message “after all you promised me last time …” (because we’d had a similar situation a while ago where he’d done exactly the same thing and spiked my guns with a certain young lady. So I was set to go to work but there was a whole crowd of schoolkids around. I was in my Ford Cortina estate. I had to make the kids move so I could leave the car park but for some unknown reason they didn’t want to go. At that moment the car turned into a kind of cross between a bus and a taxi. All the kids were pleased because that was what they were waiting for. They said that they’d been waiting for a bus but the school had produced something else so there were some issues. I had to watch them safely aboard. I wasn’t sure which school they attended or where they went so in order to prevent a stampede I said “Primary School children first”. A few came on. Then I had to think of another way of dividing up these schoolkids so that I wouldn’t have all of them on board at once. But I was absolutely furious with my friend for spiking my guns with that other girl. It’s exactly what has happened before with him and it’s exactly what has happened in loads of dreams before this. Any time I’m anywhere close to getting the girl someone comes along to spoil it

Looking back at what I dictated, I was surprised that I’d been able to express myself like that during a dream. They must have been things that I felt quite deeply.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it’s usually my family who appear during the night and forestall all of my plans, sticking the baton dans la rue of whatever project I’m undertaking. They are always appearing at the crucial moment just as I’m about to Get The Girl and blow my chances out of the water.

But in the past, there have been a couple of friends who had the habit of doing that. One of them pretended to be looking after my best interests, as if I was senile or something, but in actual fact he had another agenda completely.

The second one, the one in the dream, he couldn’t stand to see anyone Get The Girl, whether he had already got a girl or not. He was of the opinion that only he should ever Get The Girl, no matter how many other girls he already had and that’s not an exaggeration either.

Anyway, this is all water under the bridge. There’s no point really in raking up stuff like this. Ambrose Bierce said "A year is a period of 365 disappointments" and we should all simply be resigned to it

It’s as I said though, there are some things that drag you down. Instead of trying to rise up, people simply want you to be down at their level. And in the end you either sink in with them or cast them all aside.

In Matthew 10:14 the Bible tells you "if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet"

So abandoning another good rant for the moment, the cleaner was here again so I finished off the radio notes and hacked a few sound-tracks about to extract and convert a few tracks that I need for the next programme.

While I was at it, I hacked around a few sound-tracks of Louis de Funès films to collect a few more sound-bytes. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that although he’s been dead for several years, he and I have some interesting chats on my radio programmes.

Of course, having served on the Students’ Executive Committee and on other committees dealing with the various University bodies, I’m quite used to communicating with the deceased.

But Louis de Funès is my favourite French actor. Who will ever forget the MUSKATNOOS, HERR MULLER? or the NUDISTS sketches?

His sound-bytes really fit in well with my programmes and I keep on looking out for more in order to enlarge our conversations.

When the cleaner had gone I went into the kitchen, took the cake and cut it into 3 equal sizes. The took the cream from the fridge, whisked it again and used it as a filler in order to layer the slices. It was then wrapped in baking paper, clingfilm and put in the fridge.

And from what I tasted from the crumbs that were scattered around, it will be a world-beating cake. Nice and rich and chocolaty. I hope that it will last a while too. I’m fed up of things going off so quickly

Tea was chips from the air fryer with some of those vegan nuggets. There was a salad too which was delicious, and it would have been even more so had I remembered the mushrooms. I really don’t know what’s happening to me right now.

The vegan mayonnaise that I made though is holding up really well and was delicious.

So no alarm in the morning, a nice lie-in with a cooked breakfast and chocolate cake for my afternoon snack. It doesn’t get much better than this. A nice lazy day is planned with a football match in the late afternoon and a cooked tea with vegan wellington and roast potatoes.

That should give me something to celebrate, right enough. And i deserve it. I never thought that I’d ever arrive here. But as Mae West said, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

However, it’s too late to do anything about that now. I’ve managed to live to a ripe old age, and there’s no doubt that as I’ve grown older, I’ve certainly grown riper.

Anyone nearby will tell you that.

Tuesday 20th February 2024 – MY WELSH CLASS …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 15th February 2024 – I REALLY DON’T …

… know what’s happening to me right now.

Once again, I was absolutely flat-out this afternoon, sleeping quietly on my chair for a good 90 minutes. And nothing whatever disturbed me, not even a message on the ‘phone from Rosemary, and regular readers of this rubbish will recall the racket that this ‘phone makes whenever I receive a message or ‘phone call.

It was just like yesterday in fact, where I was well away with the fairies on the way home from Paris.

One thing that I can’t blame is tiredness. Just for a change I was in bed early and actually had a comfortable night’s sleep without waking too much.

Mind you, I could have done with another couple of hours when the alarm went off. It took me several minutes to work out what was going on (and that’s not unusual, is it?). What I mean by that is that I had the impression that there were several beds in here with several people, and a whole series of alarms was going off to awaken different people. I had a hard time believing that my alarm call was real.

But anyway I slid eventually to my feet and went for the blood pressure machine. 17.2/10.6 this morning. But as for last night’s, where did I record the figures? They aren’t written on my little booklet thing where I record them so I don’t have a clue.

They’ll turn up one day so I left them to it and went for my medication. Tons of it as usual and it’s really becoming quite ridiculous, but never mind. 10 tablets or powders in the morning and 5 at night before I go to bed is where we’re at right now.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was having a dream last night about the words dim ond da – that’s “not but good”, messing around with them, trying to fit them into different sentences that I’d written. Then we came across some of the radio notes that I’d written and just dictated. I decided that they were horrible and needed amending. I added in some bits but they were even worse, but then I couldn’t remember how to return to the original. That confused me for quite some time. When I did, I found that I’d still missed some out. Nevertheless the programme sounded better but there were so much more that I could do with this particular programme that I thought that I was going to start to rewrite it and dictate it again but that would have to be something that would have to be done later and not now.

And there have been more than just one or two occasions where this kind of thing has happened in real life when I’ve been writing a radio programme or editing a website, ending up forgetting all kinds of important things that I had included and somehow seemed to have managed to wipe out some important stuff that I really wanted to include.

This was another night where I was with my former friend. We were chatting to two other people whom we knew who we’d met some time previously. We’d arranged for this meeting so they came round . We showed them how to climb into my attic up the electric cable but the guy’s girlfriend was afraid to do it so my former friend’s wife stayed down with her and the other four of us climbed into the attic which was full of rubbish as usual. We spread ourselves out to make ourselves comfortable to talk. This started in the attic but ended up standing in Nantwich Road by the old police station. We were as usual discussing cars. My ex-friend was talking to him about several cars including one with a particular registration that would suit his wife but not while they were living in Porthcawl because it was a dangerous place to be apparently, according to him. I was talking to the other guy, telling him that I was having to dispose of some of my cars because I’d sold my house and had nowhere to keep them. I was renting a warehouse at the moment but that was precarious. However there was also a car that I wanted to buy, a yellow Ford Zephyr 6. While this was all going on there was a road rally taking place and all these old historic cars were going past. While I was talking to him about that particular one, I could hear something going past running on 5 cylinders instead of 6. It was this Zephyr so I pointed it out to him. I told him the story about how the driver had taken it out for a run 2 weeks ago but the insurance wasn’t correct at the time and he’d had a collision with a police car. As the policeman was looking round his car and preparing to nab him for no insurance, there was another bigger accident immediately right by them. The policeman went over to that and waved this guy away which was probably about the luckiest break that he’d ever had in his life

These days I seem to have a thing about Ford Zephyr 6s. There was one in my dreams a couple of nights ago and I’m sure that there have been others. They are MkIII Zephyrs, the kind that my father had in the late 60s and early 70s. Lovely, comfortable roomy cars with plenty of woomph.

A couple of nights ago I mentioned the one that I had – a MkIV model – that caught fire after a Jethro Tull concert in Manchester.

However, the story about “no insurance” rang a bell with me. When I was living in Winsford I bought a Rover 2000 at the auctions at Prees Heath and took a chance on driving it home. It goes without saying that I was pulled over by the police and asked for the documents for the car, like the MoT and the … errr … insurance.

Not having any of course, I pleaded ignorance and so was given the dreaded white slip “to produce your documents at your nearest Police Station within 5 days – or else …” – “or else” being anything from a slap on the wrist to three months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, and in my case, it would be nearer the latter than the former. The Cheshire Constabulary and I didn’t get on very well.

Two days later I had a phone call – “this is PC Grindlay here. I stopped you the other day in that Rover. I forgot to write the date on the copy of the white slip. You will write it on for me, won’t you?”.
“Of course I will” I said, lying through my teeth. I could just picture the scene in the Nantwich Magistrates’ Court. “Five days from WHAT date, Your Honour?”.

But to be on the safe side I promptly put the Rover through the auctions at Queensferry so that someone else, presumably in North Wales, would have more headaches than I would.

Queensferry Auctions was quite fun though in the old days. Having little money we once bought a Citroen Dyane from a scrapyard for £25, drove it to Queensferry and put it through the auctions where it fetched £35. A few of those used to keep us going when we were hard-up

Another thing that we used to do when we were broke was to wander round the scrapyards and take the back seats out of cars. You’d be surprised at the amount of money that had slipped unnoticed out of people’s pockets.

It wasn’t just money either – all kinds of things were “salvaged” including, on one occasion, a really complicated food tester with temperature probe.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

Once I’d returned to the Land of the Living I started on the notes for the radio programme. There were several that I hadn’t written so I worked my way through them and now they are all ready for dictation on Saturday night. Hopefully all of the Carnivalers will have gone home by then and we’ll go back to being quiet again.

THis afternoon I was doing paperwork. It was the middle of October when I last filed away my papers so there were piles here in all kinds of heaps all over the place.

Anyway, they are now all sorted away, bills paid, actions taken and quite a few filed under CS. The place is looking much more like home now in my bedroom/office.

My cleaner came round too. Yesterday I’d given her the prescription that I’d had from Paris and she’d been this morning to the chemist’s. Now you can’t move around here for medication.

Then there was another task that needed doing now that it was after 09:00 in North America.

My Canadian bank card expired in March last year and of course I hadn’t been to North America this autumn and so didn’t have the new one.

After six months I had the dreaded “your account is now placed in suspense” notice so that was that. And then I had a letter from Service New Brunswick about paying my property taxes on my place there, which, with a suspended bank account, will be extremely difficult.

Consequently I had sent my niece along to ransack my mailbox and she found it under a pile of rubbish, and she posted it to me – the card, not the rubbish.

Now I needed to unfreeze the account and that was not the work of five minutes either. I shudder to think how much the ‘phone call will cost me at the end of the month but it needed to be done. So now my Canadian bank account is working, my bank card works, and the letter from Service New Brunswick wasn’t even the demand for payment in any case.

But buying that place in Canada was an ace of a move. No-one asks for Visas, your right of residence in Canada, that sort of thing in Canada. You can buy cars, take out insurance, open bank accounts, have mobile phones, absolutely everything as long as you can produce a property tax certificate.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve blagged my way through all kinds of situations that would have forestalled many other people, thanks to my little piece of Canada. I might have the noisiest, most mentally-unstable neighbours in the World on my southern border, but so what?

After that I went for my hot chocolate and then came back in here ready to work but as I mentioned earlier, I went off with the fairies instead. And I can tell you where I ended up too. I’d been running some kind of football training sessions for boys and girls. I’d heard a complaint that two boys had been overheard saying that they couldn’t wait to see a certain girl use the toilet again so I went to check and was confident that no-one using the toilet could be seen from outside. The rumours continued so I arranged for a piece of white canvas to be fitted to block the window arranged in such a way that it would shield the toilet but still allow light in. I was sure that there could be no possibility of anyone being seen from outside but the rumour gained ground again, I checked the toilet and was confident, so I didn’t really know what I could do now apart from bricking up the window. And I wasn’t convinced that that would stop the rumours either.

Tea tonight was that vegan sausage-meat patty with baked potato and a tin of mixed peppers that I’d found on the shelf. I felt rather like Mr Carmichael and SUPPER WAITS ON THE TABLE INSIDE A TIN.

The patty wasn’t a success. Not that it didn’t taste nice, but that in the fridge it hadn’t really kept its shape and consistency. But never mind – it was a rather ad-hoc thing using up some left-over stuffing. I’ll just have to work on it and improve my technique.

So right now I’m going to work on my sleep and improve my technique there. Having felt like Tommy Cooper this afternoon and "I knew a man who dreamed that he was awake, and when he awoke, he was!", I want to dream of nicer things.

However, rather like Barbara Follet, "my dreams are going through their death flurries. They are dying before the steel javelins and arrows of a world of Time and Money" and that will be the end of the World if that does happen. It’s only my dreams that keep me going these days

And as Dietrich Bonhoffer said "the only fight that is lost is that which we give up" so I’ll go and fight the good fight in bed right now.

See you all tomorrow.

Sunday 11th February 2024 – MY VEGAN SAUSAGE …

… rolls are not quite the success that I was expecting.

Either the sausage filling has expanded during cooking or the pastry that I used has shrunk, but they have come apart where I thought that I’d joined the pastry, so there’s a slit up the middle

But we live and learn, hey? Rome wasn’t built in a day. I shall just have to have more practice with this rolled-up puff pastry stuff.

While we’re on the subject of thinking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had plenty of time to think while I was in bed last night.

It might have been 02:00 when I finally staggered off to bed but when I opened my eyes this morning and looked at my fitbit the time was 11:42. That’s much more like a respectable time to awaken on a Sunday

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’ll get up at any time you like six days per week without a problem (well, in principle anyway) but on Sunday don’t call or message me on a Sunday unless …

  1. … the building is on fire
  2. … the fire brigade is in the building trying to fight the flames
  3. … and the firefighters have given up all hope

So 11:32 was when I opened my eyes. That is of course not to say that 11:32 was the time that I left the warmth and comfort of my bed.

When I did raise myself from the dead I took my blood pressure. 17.8/9.9, a little less than last night’s 18.9/11.2. The hospital asked me to collect all these readings but no-one has told me what to do with them.

After the medication I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. The game of rugby was invented in the late 19th Century and what we know about everything of the game dates from 1915 when they abolished the machines that surveyed the touchlines as humans did it, on the grounds that when there was a human call that differed from that of the machine it sounded as if the integrity of the sport was all wrong. Of course not everyone had a machine * it was only a few clubs so it was why these differences in calling in just a few clubs was quite different between the males and the machines on several occasions

And I’ve no idea at all what that’s all about

Later on I was out somewhere. I’d had a lot of money given to me as a discount for something. It was exactly the same price as a large teddy bear so I had the large teddy bear instead. I carried it around with me for a short while. Then I had to go off to do something else so I put the teddy bear in the common room by the entry into my daughter’s school – my daughter might have been Roxanne. Later on my partner and I had to go to pick up Roxanne from school. When we did I told her that she had this new friend. When I explained that it was too large to bring home we’d have to bring it home another time. I explained to her where it was. She asked his name but my mind went a total blank. I’d given it a name when I’d bought it but I just couldn’t think of it at the time of this dream.

It goes without saying that STRAWBERRY MOOSE can see himself in part of this, but no-one who has seen Sid James and Peter Butterworth in CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER won’t eve rforget his name.

Finally, we’d been to Munich and ended up staying in a hotel – one of these hotels where the staff is extremely superior etc. I found the hotel to be quite reasonable and didn’t have an objection to coming back here again but one of my friends didn’t like it at all. I couldn’t understand why. When we were cleaning the rooms ready to leave we came across all kinds of things like envelopes, photography paper etc in a kind of welcome package that made the deal even better but one of my friends said that he wouldn’t stay in this hotel even if they gave him a printer that he could sell to have his money back. I was really puzzled as to why. I tried to ask him but he was quite evasive about his replies. I didn’t know how the situation could advance if he wasn’t going to answer correctly. I found the hotel to be good value and quite reasonable. I’d be really happy to return here.

This is an argument that I’ve had on quite a few occasions. When I look at the comments on some of these booking websites and see what people have written, it bewilders me. I’m usually on the budget plan when I’m travelling and I don’t expect there to be much in the way of facilities for the money that I want to pay.

It seems to me that some people expect to pay bus fare but travel in a Rolls-Royce the way that some of these comments go.

There was that dreadful motel in Flagstaff in Arizona where I stayed 20-odd years ago but it was the cheapest motel that I could find so I wasn’t complaining.

That was the time that I was attending a Biodiesel course in Colorado and then going down to pick up up a couple of wind turbines in Flagstaff.

Knowing how things worked, I paid a credit to my credit card supplier and also told them where I was going and where I was going.

However after picking up the wind turbines and paying for them, I went to fuel up the Mustang only to find that my credit card was now blocked for “unusual spending patterns”, despîte having told them.

And so I had to rely on the small amount of cash that I had on me until next morning when I could telephone the bank and have the situation resolved.

In those circumstances, you don’t complain about the quality of your accommodation.

However, it’s these kinds of things that teach you a few lessons. I now have three credit cards from three different banks in three different countries.

That kind of thing can lead to some kind of excitement. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall MY STAY AT THAT MOTEL IN FARMINGTON, MAINE where I was asked to prove my identity so I produced …

  • Identity – British passport
  • Proof of address – French Driving Licence
  • Vehicle registration – New Brunswick plates
  • Mobile ‘phone – Québec number
  • Payment – Belgian credit card

That’s the kind of thing that will keep them occupied for a while.

After lunch I dealt with the radio programme for my Hawkfest. That was a really complicated thing to assemble and took me well into late evening before it was up and running. And up and running it is too.

Much to my surprise, considering that I was working it inside-out and all at once instead of doing as I usually do and adding the final track later, it was just 13 seconds too long. That kind of editing is no problem at all and it was soon down to one hour in length.

There was a pause while I made the dough for the next few pizzas. And I don’t know why but the dough rose up like a lift, quite the opposite of my cannon balls from the other week. So why can’t I make my bread rise up like this?

While it was rising, I was making the stuffing for my sausage rolls. The vacuum-packed chestnuts worked perfectly with mushrooms and in principle it all went very well indeed

The final result was maybe less than I was expecting but you can’t win a coconut every time. They’ll still freeze nicely and finish off quite well in the air fryer with a portion of chips and some baked beans.

The stuffing tastes rather sweet to me but I suppose that it’s meant to be like that.

There was enough stuffing left to make a kind of burger or patty so I’ll fry that and have it with a baked potato at some point in the near future.

The pizza was absolutely perfect. The dough was lovely and soft and crumbly, and I remembered the cherry tomatoes this week.

So all in all, a busy day today and one that was quite successful. I accomplished a lot today.

Those chestnuts will be on the menu again now I know where they can be found, so my cooking will go up another notch. I have plenty of vegan recipes where chestnuts are an important part of the recipe.

A few more busy and productive days like this will be really good, but it won’t be next week. Monday and Tuesday I have this Welsh course, and then on Wednesday I’m off to Paris for my important meeting with my specialist.

THis is where we’ll decide what happens to me in the future. Will they still deal with me? Will they abandone me? Will they refer me to a hospital closer to home?

But what does it really matter? As Jacqueline de Bellefort once said, "one must follow one’s star, wherever it leads – even to death itself."

But I shan’t be dying alone and unloved. At least the French medical service seems to care about me to some degree – probably just until I’ve paid these bills that I owe them.