Author Archives: Epichall

Tuesday 3rd October 2023 – AND ONCE AGAIN …

… I’m up and about before the alarm goes off.

Nothing like as dramatic as Monday. In fact, I only beat the alarm by a handful of minutes, but beat it I did all the same. I don’t know what’s going on right now.

After I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. I was actually dreaming about mobility scooters etc during the night which would be good and which would not, what type should I buy etc.

Later on I was on an expedition to the Far North and came across a camp of reasonably-modern explorers that had been abandoned. There was a load of stuff lying around, including all kinds of artefacts that had been discovered and labelled, and things like entrails of different types of seal going back hundreds of years and “the presence of (something) ruled out the presence of (something else)”. Some of the people with me found a couple of photographs of a girl but they were quite busy looking at that and making comments. I was quite busy looking at the collection of books, finding that there were several books in this collection that I actually owned. There was plenty of snow about and it was fairly cold but there didn’t seem to be any reason why this camp should have been abandoned in this way and what happened to the people who were camping here. We hadn’t met anyone on our travels around.

I was back in the High Arctic later. I’d been away for 3 weeks there and I’d still worn the same tee-shirt every day for all that time. I was going through the notes of the expedition that I’d found because I’d heard a story that my journalist friend from Pittsburgh had been part of the expedition and had made some discoveries so I looked through the notes for her name. Of course it wasn’t there that I could see and in any case it probably would have been in her maiden name anyway.

Having done that, I transcribed a few entries from the backlog of stuff from last autumn. There are now just 7 days left to transcribe but some of them are quite long files so it’s not going to be as quick as I would expect.

Once today’s lot was out of the way I sat down and prepared for my Welsh lesson. And then armed with my coffee and fruit bun, I connected up to the lesson.

The camera works really well. I’m impressed with the quality of the video, much better than that cheap throwaway camera that I found in a cheap shop, and the microphone is excellent too. Although it’s a comparatively cheap camera, it’s a reputable make and that probably makes a difference.

The lesson passed quite well, which was a surprise. I actually enjoyed it and that’s not something that happens every week.

Once I’d eaten my lunchtime fruit I spent the afternoon doing some radio stuff. I’ve chosen a whole pile of music for a few programmes in advance, and shuffled a few things around.

When I’ve finished the notes for the ones that I’ve prepared, I’ll be over 6 months in advance again and I want to keep on going like this. When the inevitable happens, I want to make sure that things go on (and on, and on).

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the leftover stuffing from last night, accompanied by rice and vegetables. It was really nice, just as all my meals seem to be.

So now I’m going to have another go at nipping out for the last of the stuff in Caliburn. I didn’t feel up to it last night.

Tomorrow, the cleaner is coming round again, and I want to have a good chat with her.

The idea of going to do a big shop at LeClerc is now on hold until I’ve sorted out how I’m going to sort out my transport arrangements. Consequently, I’m going to ask her if she’d go once every fortnight for me and do my shopping on my behalf.

It is of course possible to order my food on line but they don’t have all of the things that I buy, and whatever they do have is quite expensive. If I’m going to pay someone, I may as well pay someone who will do what I want rather than what they want.

Monday 2nd October 2023 – YOU PROBABLY WON’T …

… believe this, and I don’t blame you if you don’t, but at 04:20 this morning I was actually up and about.

And as it happens, I could have been up and about before that too because I spent a good 30 minutes trying to go back to sleep before I finally gave it up as a bad job.

By the time the first alarm went off I had finished one of the radio programmes on which I’d been working and had almost finished the second.

However, it’s not all roses. My condition is deteriorating by the minute and this morning I couldn’t even manage to climb into the bath to take a shower. It took me all of my force and guile to make it into the bath and then I had a difficult task of trying to stay upright while I showered.

The nurse came round and although he didn’t give me my Aranesp (I’ve had a mail from the hospital telling me to pause the injections) we had something of a chat about a few other things.

After he’d left I had a few things to do – the first of which was to reply to a letter that I’d received from the Mobility and Inclusion Department of the département.

They have now confirmed that I am entitled to a disabled person’s card and also a disabled parking permit. They want a photo of me for the card but the easiest way to do this is to create a personal account on the French Government’s “personal space” website.

On there, you can upload a photo of yourself and then it can be cross-referenced to any other Government site. You need a special code in order to set it up and they had sent it to me. It’s a rather complicated procedure but it works because eventually I had an acknowledgement.

Halfway through doing that, I crashed out and that’s no surprise. My 04:20 start was killing.

Once I’d recovered I had a coffee and a fruit bun, and then chose the music for the next radio programme.

Rosemary rang up for a chat so I made use of the opportunity to configure the new webcam that I’d bought the other day on-line. Not that she wants to see me of course, but I was more interested in the built-in microphone. That works an absolute treat, apparently, so I can now do on-line calls from the big computer in here.

As well as that, I’ve been chatting to several of my friends on-line. There’s something going on at the radio so I’ve been deep in conversation with them making a few plans and doing some work ready for an appointment next Monday.

Something else that I’ve been doing is thinking about motability scooters. However I want a motability scooter with Attitude so I’ve been thinking about some of these three-wheeled scooter things with the two close-coupled wheels at the front.

Several of my friends are still involved with motor bikes so I’ve been seeking advice.

There was the dictaphone to deal with too. I was in something like a Paul Temple adventure as Temple himself, investigating a kidnapping or murder that was taking place in Granville at the back of the market down there towards the car park. I went down there to look and was able to hop on and off the bus but everything else came to satisfy me. At one moment a guy whom I knew came over for a chat but he said that he wasn’t Temple. There were several other people who looked as if they were either doing something or waiting for them to be clear of what they were doing but we weren’t able to identify them at that moment

Later on I took the bus and went to the St Nicolas quartier of the town. When I alighted I saw Christophe there. We had a big chat about my health condition. Unfortunately I can’t remember very much of what this chat was like. Later on a girl and I were in an office working. She had to go through a rung binder and write down certain details about the information that was on cards in there. I was busy doing something else that was much more exciting. The phone rang which meant that she had to do something different. She turned to me and told me that I had to carry on her job. I understood that I was senior to her- it’s not really for her to tell me what to do . She asked if that was OK so I replied “no. I’d much rather do the job that I’d been doing”. She said “I’ve done half of it for you”. My argument was “it was your job. Doing your job means that I’m not doing mine”.

Strangely enough, I’ve been thinking about going to the quartier St Nicolas. The bus that I take into town drops me off at the bus stop by the port but for the return journey, there’s no raised kerb so I really struggle to climb back into the bus and it’s not going to be any easier as time goes on.

However, at the St Nicolas bus stop, there’s a little shopping precinct with a small Carrefour, a Post Office and a Pharmacy. I’m wondering if the kerb is going to be any better there.

There is a downside to this, in that I’ll only have 15 minutes to do my shopping before the bus comes back so I’m going to be struggling for time. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Meanwhile, back in my dreams, I was round at the house of a former friend of mine showing him a new stuffed animal that I’d had – some kind of green furry rabbit. He had all of his dogs there. There was a cat there that was my particular favourite but I didn’t get on with any of the dogs. This cat was quite friendly with me. At some point there wa sa party about to take place so they’d cleaned up the house. I was absolutely tired by this and had to go to lie down. I went upstairs to the room where I usually crashed out but they’d folded the sofa up now so it was the sofa and not a bed. I just lay down on it any old how with a blanket over me and it was all the dogs that came to join me on the bed, not my favourite cat.

For about half an hour or so I transcribed a few notes from the arrears of last autumn. It should have been much more but I rather regrettably crashed out again.

Tea tonight was another stuffed pepper, and that was really tasty too. But that’s all that I’m going to be doing. I’m exhausted now so I’m going to crawl into bed. I have a Welsh lesson tomorrow so I need to be on form.

Sunday 1st October 2023 – HAVING SAID YESTERDAY …

… that I am no longer going to drive, it took me just about 20 minutes to break my promise.

After I’d finished my notes last night I decided to go to bed so I went to put my phone on charge.

However, I wasn’t able to find it. It certainly wasn’t in the apartment. I imagined that it had fallen out of my pocket into Caliburn during my gymnastics on the car park at LeClerc so I staggered out to Caliburn to see.

Sure enough, I found it on the driver’s seat. What I also found was that my little parking space just outside the building was now free so I took advantage of the opportunity and moved Caliburn accordingly.

And the moving wasn’t half painful, but not half as painful as the climb back up the stairs to my apartment – especially as I had taken advantage of the situation by bringing some more stuff up here in my backpack.

As a result of all of these manoeuvres, it was 03:00 or thereabouts when I went to bed.

What was so surprising about all of this is that by 09:00 I was actually up and about. And I can’t usually manage that on a Sunday morning when I’ve been to bed before midnight on the Saturday

So once I was up and about I eased myself gently into the day.

It doesn’t sound as if I’ve done much but I’ve not been totally idle. First task was to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. At the hospital there was some kind of monster than got inside me and was attacking all my blood. I could feel that this was reaching a crisis. Suddenly one of my blood vessels burst. It sprayed the hospital with blood everywhere. At first no-one was in a rush to do anything about it because it was happening to several patients. In the end they managed to staunch the bleeding in my leg. Gradually it subsided and the panic died down but for those few moments it was really a horrifying experience.

And then I’d been invited to someone’s party so I’d been put on the train to go to the stop where I’d have to alight and some people would welcome me. It was dark so no-one knew exactly where we were. We pulled in for a long time and alighted. A scout suddenly came over to speak to me and confirmed what was actually said. But then I slipped back into where I’d been earlier. When I was at the station waiting for the people to come for me the room erupted like a volcano. There was blood etc everywhere. They had these two nurses looking after me trying to staunch the flow of blood. In the end the bleeding closed down and the help slipped away but for that minute or so everything felt like death. It was absolutely horrifying.

Finally I was on a Paris railway station and all of my strength was just ebbing away. I didn’t know how or when I was going to be able to proceed. I was just standing there waiting for something to happen

All of that is of course extremely topical – it’s a pretty good description of what’s going on with me right now. And I actually can feel my strength ebbing away. There’s no doubt that driving and climbing the stairs is much more difficult than it was even a week ago, and strange as it is to say it, I’m actually struggling to find the force to rise up from the saddle of the porcelain horse.

While I was at it, I transcribed a few more days’ worth of arrears from when I was in hospital last Autumn.

Something else that I did was to sort through a pile of paperwork. I have the nurse coming round tomorrow morning but he’s not going to inject me. I’ve had a letter from the hospital telling me to pause the injections for now. But I’ve been sent a voucher to have a flu injection and a Covid injection and I need the nurse to carry it out.

As well as that, I’ve received from the hospital a “prescription” relating to my lack of mobility and I need to know what to do with it. I’m sure that I’ll have much better advice from the nurse than I would if I were to ask you lot.

As well as sorting out the paperwork I’ve had something of a correspondence day today. Several people sent me best wishes for my stay in hospital, to which I’m extremely grateful. However, if you are writing to me using Gmail, I can’t reply to you. Google wants me to insert a few lines of its code into my server and if anyone thinks that I’m going to be putting someone else’s code on my server if they aren’t prepared to tell me why and what it does is totally mistaken.

There’s tons of music that needs editing too – various soundtracks that need cutting up and editing so I’ve been doing a few of those too during the day.

Finally, I went through the notes that I’d recorded for a radio programme last weekend. All this – and the one I edited last weekend – needs now is a final track and the words to go with it and I can finish them of and then start on the next batch.

Tea tonight was another delicious pizza and I’ll just nip downstairs to bring up another few bits and pieces from my Saturday shop before I do to bed. A good shower tomorrow morning, the visit on the nurse, and then I’ll have plenty of things to do.

But will I feel like doing them? I just can’t find any enthusiasm right now for anything.

Saturday 30th September 2023 – I HAVE MADE …

… an executive decision, and for the benefit of new readers, an executive decision is a decision that if it turns out to be the wrong one, the person making it is executed.

Anyway, I went to LeClerc this morning to do my shopping. The drive there was horrendous because I can’t now work the brake sufficiently in Caliburn, and the left foot is struggling now to work the clutch.

Not only that, I didn’t have the power to climb back into the cab after my shopping.

When I returned here, I found that my usual parking place had been taken. The only other parking place up against a kerb that was free was right across on the far side of the car park. Consequently my shopping trolley and most of my purchases are still in the back.

Luckily, having had an idea that I might find things difficult, I’d taken a backpack with me so at least I could manage to bring the frozen and chilled food upstairs.

Coming back up the stairs, I did something else that I have never done. The lifts here are on the half-landing so I staggered (and I DO mean “staggered”) up as far as the first half-landing and took the lift up to the next one, and then walked down to my front door.

So in other words, what this means is that I am no longer going to drive. That is, not until I can find a car that works with hand controls only.

Meanwhile, back in the apartment, when the alarm went off I was reading a letter from a company to someone else about a lock-up garage that they were renting and for some reason they hadn’t paid their instalments. There was a family waiting to take it over so what were they planning to do with it. I don’t know why I’d had this copy but it immediately made me interested so I was busy sending it off to our company secretary to see what they could do about it.

So I crawled to my feet and wandered off into the bathroom. And then round about 08:40 I struggled down the stairs with my shopping trolley as far as Caliburn, and then the excitement began.

At LeClerc they had nothing exciting, but I found some vegan camembert-type cheese on sale on special offer so I treated myself to it for a change.

When I finally made it back here, I put away whatever it was that I’d managed to bring upstairs, and then made myself some cheese on toast and a pot of very hot, strong coffee.

Not that it did me much good, because I crashed out on my chair – and no surprise either because I was totally exhausted.

Later on I had a listen to the rest of the dictaphone notes. A group of us was going camping. One of my friends – it might have been a girl – had been to work so I said that I’d pick her up at about 01:30. I set my alarm for about 01:15 and went to bed. When the alarm went off I arose but I had so much to do that 15 minutes was going to be far too optimistic to accomplish it. Meantime I’d been collecting stuff to take with us. One of the things was like a stake that you drove into the ground and you added more stakes to it until it was quite tall and then a basketball hoop. It was extremely high off the ground like this but what my interest was that if I had some kind of long cloth I could make some kind of really nice wind protector for my tent or for when I’m sitting down on the beach, by sewing loops in it and putting each individual stake through each pair of loops to hold it. It was all packed in a big canvas bag like a tent bag so at the moment it was going to be quite easy to manoeuvre. Then I had my dishes to wash, things like that, and that was going to take me ages

And then I went to see my Aunt in London, and I had a woman and daughter with me, who might have been Laurence and Roxanne. We had to go so Roxanne carried STRAWBERRY MOOSE. We walked down from this big building where she lived to where I’d parked the car which was in some kind of extremely steep, muddy car park. I was right at the top so we didn’t have far to walk at all. We piled in and said our goodbyes. I had a packet of digestive biscuits. I made some remark about having made them specially. My aunt said “don’t be silly, Eric. You’ve bought them from a shop to eat on your journey home”. We rolled the car, which was my red Cortina estate, down to the bottom of the hill ready to set off. I remembered something that I had to take back so I left the two of them and the car there and ran all the way back up again. Really, what I wanted to do was to say goodnight to my aunt privately and to ask her about any situation going on that I ought to know. She anticipated this and came down. We met at the entrance to her building after I’d run back up the car park. It was quite an emotional reunion considering, and then we began to chat.

There was also something about some rocky fields and stone walls but I can’t remember anything more than that about it

There was football on the Internet this afternoon – Connah’s Quay Nomads v Penybont, played in a monsoon in a swamp in the Welsh Premier League – second v third.

And despite the conditions, it was an entertaining game with plenty of skill, really enjoyable to watch. And for 60 minutes or so Connah’s Quay roared into a 3-0 lead.

But then, a strange thing happened. Henry Jones, one of the best players in the league when he chooses to be, had been on the bench for Penybont and at the hour mark, Rhys Griffiths sent him on to play.

And a couple of minutes later we had two of the most bizarre substitutions that I had ever seen. I’ve no idea what must have been going through Neil Gibson’s mind but two of his best players, Harry Franklin and one of my favourites, Jack Kenny, who had been running the Penybont defence ragged, were then replaced.

As a result, 15 minutes later the score was now 3-2 and Penybont were going all out for an equaliser. A breakaway at the end of 90 minutes led to a fourth goal for Connah’s Quay but it could have been so, so different.

However, some of the substitutions that one or two of these managers make sometimes totally baffles me.

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap with salad and chips. And it was really delicious too yet again. I seem to be making good progress with my meals these days and I’m eating well, which is always good news.

So now having had a nice relaxing evening, I’m off to bed, to have sweet dreams and think about how my car-less life is going to pan out in the future.

Friday 29th September 2023 – DESPITE ALL OF …

… my exertions yesterday, I was actually up and about before the alarm went off, and no-one was more surprised than me.

So having had my medication I had a very slow start to the day before wandering outside at 09:00 for the bus. And there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s becoming more and more difficult.

Climbing aboard was one thing – getting off was another. But I managed not to fall over and had a very slow stagger to the supermarket.

They had a few things of interest in there that I bought and another customer helped me at the checkout and packed my backpack for me. Yes – things have really deteriorated to that extent.

Climbing back onto the bus was quite an effort. They haven’t extended the pavement out to the road where the bus stops so I have to climb in from street level and that’s not so easy at all.

The climb back up the stairs was agony and I was glad to make it back to my apartment. I put everything away and then made myself some coffee and cheese on toast for breakfast.

First thing to do was to check the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was something to do with a local cricket club. They hadn’t had their ground mowed so while they had a pause in games they’d spoken to a couple of people. As I was walking out of town one day I bumped into one of the people heading that way with all his equipment. He said that he was going to be mowing the grass. It was a hot, heavy day and he said that he wasn’t looking forward to having to do it but they’d paid him £400 so he was going to give it his best shot. I walked further on and ended up by the Sugar Loaf Corner in Shavington. I saw the lad talking to a few people who knew the guy who had gone to mow the cricket field. he was sitting in a great big sit-on mower with very extending blades. He was saying that he’d just earned¨£1500 for doing nothing but he supposed that he’d better go and see what was happening so headed off on his mower up the hill towards the cricket ground.

Later on I was with Cecile. We were having a really nice domestic arrangement going. I’d been working on the radio and had invited a couple of people for interview. I’d turned up at the rendezvous but they hadn’t so in the end I came home. Tea wasn’t ready yet but there was a box of cornflakes lying around for quite some considerable time. She asked me if I’d try them. I did and told her that they were very nice. There was nothing wrong with them so she said “put them in with the other cornflakes”. I went to put the waxed bag inside the box of cornflakes but I noticed that she’d already poured milk in there. I said “that’s probably not a good idea to put the milk in the cornflakes. Then we were discussing food and recipes, shepherd’s pies etc when the question of the radio came up. It turned out that I hadn’t sent off a radio programme to one of my contacts for at least 3 weeks. She wondered how they were getting on. I explained that they really don’t form part of our circle any more. She said that we’d end up regretting it because they paid us some money. We could do with the money because there was some good stuff in the Charity Shop. She ran through a few of the things. There was a perfume that she mentioned . I said “that’s funny because it’s an expensive cream”. She replied “yes, we need to come back so we can buy it and I’ll see what else is there for you too. I reminded her that there’s no point going there unless you have things to sell them. She said “well, never mind. We’ll have to work out something on the way down. She asked me to look at her skin and how wonderful it was since she’d baan taking products and creams like this ointment and it did actually look quite nice.

Did I dictate the dream about the guy who came with a whole pile of second-hand cars? … "no you didn’t" – ed. By “old”, I DO mean “old” like Morris Minors etc. He parked them in the street in our village and put price tags in the window. The problem was that this was right outside my barn. I shouted out of my window at him but he took no notice. Someone let loose the sluice dam. It flooded the area where his cars were parked and completely flooded his cars. After the flood had subsided I went downstairs. I had a look at his vehicles. They were all wrecks, just having been tarted up quickly. I told him that he needed to move them because they were blocking my garage. He said that I could manoeuvre around his cars. I said that I had a lorry that tows a cement mixer and I’m not manoeuvring around for anyone. This is my way out of my garage. Reluctantly he moved all of his cars to the side of the road

There was then something about the school bus. I had to run to catch it. Someone was already sitting in my seat so I had to sit somewhere else. The bus driver asked me where I was yesterday. I replied that I was sure that I was still in school. She asked “are you really sure?”. I replied “yes. I remember distinctly having to do my homework last night”. As I walked down the bus I remembered that I wasn’t at school at all. I was doing something else. So In the morning I didn’t go into school until the afternoon. I sat down but there was a dispute about seats on the bus. In the end the children from one particular school all had to alight, line up and were allowed back on in order of seniority. I thought that this was probably the strangest thing that I’d ever witnessed about a school bus but I didn’t say anything – I just let them get on with it.

Finally I was round at a former friend’s last night. Zero was there and she brought me some kind of card where you put stickers on. I asked her why and she said that I had to put stickers on it. It turned out that as of whenever you were only allowed one card per family or per person. They used a lot of this particular product so they always had plenty of stickers. They wanted to do one in my name. It made no difference to me so I agreed, especially as it was Zero who asked. It turned out that they were about to go on holiday. There were going to somewhere in Canada but they said that all the flights had been changed and muddled up. They began to talk about small towns whose names I didn’t recognise. In the end it turned out that they would have to fly to Boston (which I called Bangor in the dream) and then take an aeroplane to fly north. I jokingly asked Zero if there was any room in her suitcase for me. She laughed and said “no”. We all piled into my former friend’s ancient Land Rover ready to go to the airport. Jerry turned up. My friend said “I have another vehicle to show you”, hopped out and the two wandered off. It turned out that he had not only another Land Rover but also some really old lorry of some description and had taken him to see that.

It was nice to see Zero again after such a long time, but regardless of that there was quite a lot going on last night and I’m surprised that I had time to go to sleep.

As well as that I’ve been making a few phone calls. According to the hospital I qualify for help from the APA – The Allocation Personnalisée d’Autonomie.

That’s an official branch of the French Social Services Department and it’s crated to provide help and support for pensioners to enable them to remain autonomous at home rather than be carted off into an Old People’s Home. Such are the depths to which I’ve sunk this last 12 months or so.

As you might expect, I’ve no intention of being carried off to live amongst a bunch of old fogeys any time soon. I love my little apartment – it’s the first place in which I’ve lived in which I’ve ever felt at home – and I’m not going to move out of this building for any reason whatsoever.

Tea tonight was chips – sweet potato chips as well as ordinary ones – vegan salad and some of those nugget things that I bought ages ago. It was all really nice and I really like my meals these days. I seem to be doing quite well with my cooking.

So having done that, I’m off to bed. I’m shopping tomorrow at the big supermarket although I’m not looking forward to it – staggering around the supermarket and driving there and back.

And then there’s the stagger up the stairs with my shopping trolley. I don’t like the idea of that at all.

Thursday 28th September 2023 – AS BARRY HAY …

… once famously said – "there’s one thing that I gotta tell you, and that it’s good to be back home".

And no-one was more relieved than me when I collapsed into my chair here with my mug of hot chocolate at 18:15 this evening.

It had been a very long day. I’d had a bad night and was actually up and about by 06:40.

After breakfast I had a shower to prepare myself for my departure at 11:00, packed everything away and made myself ready.

While I was waiting, I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was in a railway station. There were two guys there with two ancient locomotives, a diesel shunter and a small diesel main line unit who had volunteered to come and help me at the stations When they arrived they parked up their locomotives, stepped out and walked down to meet me. They were immediately intercepted by some kind of Security who were unhappy for some reason and made them climb into their machines and drive away. At that point the SNCF service came along and offered to help me. I let them help me, and they asked some kind of questions , one of which was something like “what was I going to do for food at midday?”. I replied “I’d had a couple of people who had come to help me and they had probably brought something for me but you chased them away before they could even manage to talk to me so I don’t know now”. That rather upset them but I thought that it was correct to be true and honest with them.

After that I can’t remember who I was with now but the person was either male or female, I don’t know, had been engaged to make a cake for someone. The woman involved had come to see her to order a simple cake. They were there discussing styles and ideals etc. In the end the two of us and the woman and her friend, an elderly woman, rather plump, went for a walk and discussed it. We passed a lorry with a lorry-load of turf that was going to re-turf someone’s garden. I remember that I’d seen them when I was there last week ripping up the old turf so it must be the day for them. Our walk continued. The woman then said that she was going to have to try to find someone to make a quick cake for her because she had someone coming tomorrow. I said “what about an oil-based cake?”. She didn’t understand so I explained that it’s simply flour and sugar, oil and flavouring all mixed together. You pour it into a mould and then cook it. What I do with mine is to take it out, cut it in half, coat both halves with jam, stick it together and ice it. It’s really quite simple. Her friend, the old woman, looked at me and said “tell me, Eric, are you married?”. I replied “no I’m not actually” and her eyes lit up. I thought “I’m going to have a couple of problems here”. We ended up at a railway station and I’m not quite sure why or what we were going to do now that we’ve arrived.

And I’m impressed that I could remember a cookery recipe during a dream.

Finally I was with Nerina again. We’d been to see some friends in England. We were on our way back to the ferry. The girl whom we’d visited took us on a nice scenic route through the countryside then along the sea front all the way towards Dover and the ferry terminal. We were having a nice, interesting chat. At one moment Nerina tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to something huge in the bay. She asked “is that the American carrier?” because I’d heard a story that an American aircraft carrier was in the English Channel. I looked and sure enough, it was. I went to find my camera but I didn’t have it. I’d left it at my friend’s. I went to find my little Nokia phone but I couldn’t find that either. I realised that I hadn’t had that since I’d set the alarm the night before. I told her and she gave a great big sigh and said that we’d have to go home but you’ll miss your ferry. She was going on about inefficient people etc. I said “it’s not the first time that it’s happened to me. She dismissed it with some kind of shrug of the shoulders. Later on we were leaving Dover in the Jetfoil. It was moored in some kind of underground dock so when we boarded we couldn’t see very much. We boarded and they must have opened the gates at some time because suddenly the ship began to rock quite violently. It was reversed out to the Channel and shot off at a ridiculous speed across to arrive from: Dover in an hour’s time. It was really quite uncomfortable, the Jetfoil.

Just as I was about to depart I was pounced upon by a group of students who wanted to examine me, and then a series of blood pressure tests and so on, followed by a wait for the documents that I need. It was 12:45 when we finally left, with my neighbour having had to hang on for all that time.

There was no time to go for lunch but I’d grabbed a few bits off the lunch trolley so It wasn’t so bad. My neighbour helped me to my seat and then the train set off.

At Granville there were no taxis free so I took the bus into town and staggered down to the port for the bus to my place. But one of my neighbours came past in her car and gave me a lift, which was really nice.

She helped me up the stairs by carrying my backpack, and then I made myself a hot chocolate and came in here where I crashed out.

Later on I had a bizarre tea. For some strange reason I’d fancied ratatouille so I put a large potato in the oven, found a vegan burger and I actually did have a tin of ratatouille in the kitchen.

So now that everything is done, and the notes for the last few days are now on line, I’m going to bed to sleep for a week and not awaken.

But I bet that you’re dying to know about what has happened at the hospital.

They’ve found no major trace of the cancer in my nervous system, but there’s a slight swelling in several glands that might be a result of an infection. They are proposing a second series of transfusions which apparently may be dona at home, and then a return to the hospital in a month to see what’s happening.

At least, even if they can’t find the solution, they are quite prepared to keep on trying, and that’s always good news. We’ll have to see now how things unfold. But look out Paris! Here I’ll be coming again.

Wednesday 27th September 2023 – THEY’VE HAD ENOUGH…

… of me at this hospital. They’ve told me that I can leave

In fact I could have left this evening but there would have been an issue about trains going home, so instead I’m going home tomorrow .

The train that I’ve booked departs at 13:54 for Granville so my neighbour, who is in Paris at the moment, is coming to collect me at 11:00, we’ll find a taxi to take us to the station and then I’ve invited her for lunch before the train departs.

Last night I departed quite rapidly and actually had a good night’s sleep. Someone came to take a blood sample at 05:45 and someone else came in a little later but I didn’t pay much attention.

It was at about 08:00 when I arose from the dead and I had a slow start to the day, but it didn’t last long. My doctor came to see me, with a gaggle of students, to give me a thorough going over. And thorough it was too. They were here for quite a while.

After lunch I had a social worker come around. She had a lengthy chat with me about this and that and made copious notes. It remains to be seen why she did that and what the outcome of it all would be.

The next visitor was one of the students from this morning. She asked me a pile of questions again about my mobility, my capabilities and the like. And then she had a little game for me.

WHat I had to do was to pull a few phials from something like a honeycomb, and then put them back – a test designed presumably to test my co-ordination. With the right hand it took 25 seconds and with the left, 24. Apparently those times are quite good.

She then had me walking up and down the corridor for 6 minutes, timing me and measuring the distance that I walked. I can’t remember how far I walked but it was a depressingly small amount.

Finally, the doctor and her student came back later and sliced open my lip to extract a few living nerve cells that they are going to examine to see whether there’s any infection, or whether there’s an sign of my cancer having entered into the nervous system.

But the fact that they are going to these kinds of lengths goes to show that they haven’t found any signs of anything yet and so they are probing deeper and deeper into everything.

It’s quite likely that they won’t have finished analysing everything by the time that I leave, so they’ll probably reply to me by letter.

While all of this was going on, I was transcribing the dictaphone notes. I was having a really interesting dream about a CA camper that I had. I was living in the Auvergne but the Bedford was still in the UK and I was loaning it out to my friends who wanted to go camping or something like that. Nerina was in charge of looking after the keys, paperwork etc.. Liz and Terry had borrowed it and they were saying that they’d gone all the way to Southampton and it didn’t miss a beat all the way there. I don’t know why they went to Southampton but I ought to know. One of my friends from the Wirral asked if he could borrow it. I told him to contact Nerina and she’d organise it for him. Then I began to think about the insurance and MoT – do I know if these are still in effect? Do I need to do anything or change anything or Sign anything or are they renewed? I began to have this really complicated question going round in my head about the paperwork that was involved in looking after the camper.

At some point in the early 1980s I had a Bedford CA camper, a really old one with a three-speed gearbox. I bought it cheaply because I had a lot of plans for it but they never worked out and in any case the camper didn’t survive its MoT test.

And then I’d had another huge row with my brother. A short while later I was walking past his house and he came out and began to chase me – he and his wife. They were trying to catch me but they couldn’t. I managed to slip away. I ended up at some kind of meeting where they were present. It was extremely unpleasant. In the end he paid someone £100 to kill me. He gave them the money and asked them to meet him somewhere in a few days time to discuss the proceedings. Then he did the same with another couple. He paid them £400 to kill me. I thought that that was stupid, for giving them money in advance he would never see them again despite the arrangements that he had made to meet them on Winsford railway station on the Saturday. I somehow ended up in the same car with them and someone else. We were going towards Manchester. We stopped for a drink and his wife made some food and offered me some but I refused it. I was thinking that we’d stop at z chip shop on the way and I could find something there. The chip shop in this town had been voted the best chip shop in the Northwest so there was an enormous queue outside the door. At the one just down the road there was no-one there so I thought that I’d stop and buy some there. We ended up looking in a junk shop. My brother and his wife went off to look at something but the other guy and I just carried on walking. He said that if we were to run now and return to the van we could leave them stranded here. However my opinion was that we should stay with them – “Keep You Friends Close But Keep Your Enemies Closer” so that I could keep a really good eye on them and see what they were doing because I don’t think that they would have the courage to kill me – I’m sure that they would need someone else to do it. As long as I could keep an eye on them and keep them away from someone else I would be OK.

After that, Nerina and I were in a restaurant. It was like 05:00. We walked in and sat down. The waitress came over with her notes and a couple of small cakes which she left on the table for us. She asked what we wanted. I thought that we’d come here for a main meal because we’d had nothing to eat the previous evening. She went off and came back with 2 menus, 2 small bags of sweets with some 20p pieces in them. She said “we offer you a glass of port with your meal” which didn’t make any sense at all. I was looking through the menu but I couldn’t see anything vegetarian, never mind vegan. Then I noticed, written in biro on a corner “vegetarian meals available – add £1:00 to the price”. That piqued my interest so I hoped to catch the eye of the waitress when she came to ask her some more about the vegetarian options.

And finally there was something about a van for sale. Someone rang up but they had no way of going to see it. As I was going up that way I d=said that I’d take them. There was me and the girl with me in my old Reliant van that I’d had when I was at school. We picked them up, this couple, and picked up another person too. For some reason there was a load of children’s and dolls’ clothes hung up on the sides of the van. We set off but of course the van only had a 750cc engine in it. It was not very powerful so we weren’t going very fast. Hills were a struggle. Then I was stuck in a town centre. All the time this couple in the back were giving a running commentary, making remarks about the van thinking that they were funny but after a while it was really getting on my nerves. At a certain point I pulled into a lay-by, stopped and told everyone to get out. This led to quite some arguments and disputes. In the end they gathered their things and prepared to leave. They were still making remarks but by this time I didn’t care. The guy on his own who was with us had a few things to say too but I told him that I had an incurable disease that was going to kill me so anything that I wanted too do, I had to do it quickly. I couldn’t mess around waiting. He wasn’t convinced and tried to argue with me about it. In the end I was glad that I got rid of all of these people. There was just me and the girl in the van, going to where we wanted to go in the first place.

There was also a time when I had a Reliant van, anothet one that was a old as the hills. I’d had a motor bike when I was 16 but I had a serious accident when I broke both knees. My father refursed to allow me to have another nike and so I had the Reliant.

It was quite exciting. These vehicles had to weigh less than 5cwt in order to be classed as a motor cycle, so as it had a really old 750cc side-valve, the bodywork weighed next to nothing. However we found a 700cc all-alloy overhead valve engine and dropped it in. It weighed next to nothing and so it went like stink, but it sheared off half-shafts like nobody’s business. IN he end, when I left home and moved to Chester, the Reliant went the Way Of The West and I had an Ariel 250cc motorbike.

While I was chatting on the phone to Rosemary, the evening meal came round, with white fish again. That chat with the dietician really did some good.

So right now I’m off to bed. I’m going to have a good sleep (I hope) and prepare myself for my journey home. And then I have a couple of plans to put into action. I have had a couple of ideas for the future, always assuming that I have one.

Tuesday 2th September 2023 – THE MEDICAL STAFF …

… has certainly been earning its money today here at Ice Station Zebra. There has been an endless stream of visitors here today to see me.

There was a couple of people who came to see me quite early on but as you can imagine, I didn’t take much notice of them.

However I was wide awake at 07:42 and up and about a few minutes later.

The first job was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. It was a really comfortable bed, which is a surprise for an Institution like this, so I had made the most of it. I was with Nerina. We’d gone to meet someone to find out anout French income tax. The guy with whom we spoke said that he knew someone who was an expert and he’d have us meet him. That turned out to be someone else whom we knew. We all arranged that we’d meet at a table in a café some time and have a big discussion. A shot while later Nerina and I went to a café for a coffee. There was very little room. There was a communal table with a couple of spaces at it and plenty of 2 and 4-person places but they were all filled so we decided that we’d grab these 2 spaces at this communal table As we reached there we saw that of the 2 chairs a girl had pulled one towards her and had her feet on it. Nerina had no choice but to sit on it. I saw the scowl that the girl gave on her face so I picked up the chair with Nerina on it and moved it right up against the table. I sad “you don’t want to sit so far away from the table. You’ll fall through the gap” which made everyone laugh. The girl who had her feet forcibly removed from the chair, they had now fallen to the floor was extremely upset and angry by it. But I didn’t care.

There was also a stroy about some cars for sale. I’d been and had a look at one – a C-registered Sierra but I thought that it was too expensive. A little later on I was driving down a country lane – it might have been Back Lane in Weston or something, and they were assembling a grader to scrape the road surface. I talked to the little girl who was in my car and explained to her what was going to happen; We saw 3 or 4 cars – they were driving away from the place where they’d been for sale. There was a red Chrysler PT Cruiser that someone was just getting into, tearing the price ticket from the window, and then the Sierra which was actually moving. We noticed that the Sierra was misfiring somewhat as it drove away so I was glad that I didn’t buy it. Then someone whom I knew – a girl, bought a car from here. She said that a cottage had been included in the price so she wanted to go to look at it. She wasn’t expecting much for her money, she said. We set out and had to climb into the hills. There was plenty of snow about on the hills. When she left the car she kept on slipping but we eventually found the cottage. It was really difficult and there was no parking or anything. It was in a line of terraced houses and was in a terrible condition. it was being used as a hay store. She said “that’s going to be something to keep Terry busy while he’s here”. We had a good look at it and began to make plan about it.

I was auditing some accounts for some kind of villagers’ association at some point during the night. While I was doing it someone handed me a letter demanding to know the latest minutes of the Parish council meeting and their annual accounts. First thing I did was to fix up some kind of street light in the village square, which everyone liked, a USB (… "he means “LED”" – ed …. light and one or to people could even read by it if they were close enough to it. That met with their approval. I asked them who was the local councillor. Someone eventually found me a list of names and telephone numbers in a local magazine so I began to ring round while everyone went out of the room for something to eat. Eventually I came across a German guy called Ede. I phoned him and we arranged to meet. When we met, he wouldn’t answer any of my questions at first. He wanted to know who I was, what I was doing, why I was here and what my interest was with him. Eventually I persuaded him to give me his name. He was in fact Mr Ede so we went to his house to chat about the letter that I’d received. On the way there I’d had a phone call from a lorry driver who was asking me some kind of question about something. I said that I’d have to answer him in a couple of minutes. Thee I was, trying to have this conversation with this German guy, trying to speak to someone on the phone and walking towards this guy’s house at the same time. It was all extremely confusing

Finally I was out driving and I ended up at some kind of outdoor exhibition. All my family and friends were there. I bumped into someone whom I knew. He was telling me about a place that we’d visited a few times, how there was plenty of stuff going on in there now. I said “ohh well, we’ll have to go to look. I couldn’t remember which night my free night was. I kept on proposing nights to him to go to see it, and suddenly realised that I had something else on. In the end he just smiled and said “go home, sort yourself out and telephone me, then we’ll arrange it like that. It really was confusing too. Later on I was having to go to the local market and needed someone to take me. In the end some foreign refugee guy said that he’d take me so we both went. I left the car on my crutches and put my head in this ten where the market was taking place. You could see the look of bewilderment on his face. As we went in there was a pile of second-hand clothes to sort through to see if you wanted to buy anything. I was much more interested in the second-hand record stall. You could see him sigh as I began to thumb through the albums but there were no albums there that interested me which was a shame because I always used to pick up something really nice from there.

Once I was finished I was going to do some more of the dictaphone notes from my previous hospital stay but to my surprise they aren’t on this computer. I can’t understand why because this is the laptop that I had back in those days and I’m absolutely certain that I had this SSD in here then.

In the middle of all of that there was an interruption as a nurse came by to take a blood sample. She took about 15 tubes from me quite quickly but there wasn’t enough blood to fill the other 5 that she had. She’ll come back tomorrow and take some more.

She also asked me for a urine sample, which I provided. But I thought that that was really taking the p****.

Once she’d gone, an orderly brought me my breakfast, which I ate while I was preparing for my Welsh lesson today.

But I needn’t have bothered. I was only there for 5 minutes before the dietician came to see me, and we spent a good half-hour talking about my diet and so on.

Obviously, the talk that we had worked wonders because the meal tonight included, as you might expect, white fish and a pot of cream cheese.

Once the dietician had left, I tried to reconnect with my Welsh lesson but instead, the pretty nurse came to see me.

"Lie down on the bed" she instructed "I’ll be back very soon"

It’s not every day that someone makes a proposition like that to me so I duly obliged Sure enough, she came back 5 minutes later – but with a technician and an electrocardiogram machine.

That took an age and after they left I tried to reconnect with what was left of my Welsh lesson. Instead, an orderly came in with my lunch so I gave up on the Welsh today.

Once everything had happened and everyone had gone I settled down on my comfy chair and had a little … err … relax. But not for long because the doctor came in and put a patch on my back. She didn’t say anything but having been through this before, I know what will be coming in an hour or so.

And I was correct too. She came back later with a nurse, told me to sit on the edge of the bed and curl up into a little ball. And then I suffered one of the most painful experiences that it was possible to have in a hospital – a lumbar puncture, where they take samples of the interior of your spine to check what they extract to see if there’s an infection.

While I was having the blood test the nurse stroked my arm, which I thought was sweet, and the one here with the doctor comforted me too. That was really nice too, but I don’t want to have to go through a lumbar puncture again, that’s for sure. Mind you, she did bring me a nice strong coffee afterwards. There’s not anything like enough coffee in this place.

After they had cleared off I thought that I could settle down. I’d been told to lie flat on the bed and not move for a couple of hours, so while I was drifting in ant out (mainly in) of sleep, a nurse came round with coffee. And then someone gave me a new water jug.

The final straw was when the doctor came back. She told me that the blood test had thrown up several anomalies and wanted to know if I had any medical reports from Castle Anthrax that she could use to compare.

Strange as it might seem, I’m trying to keep my Leuven details out of all of these tests. The reason is that if they discover them serendipitously, they might suggest another course of treatment or try something different. However, I couldn’t refuse. Leuven is all automated and their reports are available on line. Se we accessed a few and she took away the details.

A little earlier I talked about tea. I made do with pasta, beans, an apple purée and a green salad with vinaigrette. Not the best but I have to do what I can.

So that was today. I’ll be in bed early tonight again and hope for another good sleep. At least no-one disturbs me at 02:00 like they did in Leuven every night. I’m on my own here and that suits me just fine.

They are going to finish off the blood test tomorrow and there will probably be a few other things too. I have the impression that I won’t be here for long , at the speed at which they are working. They can take all of the tests they like and I won’t stop them at all. It’s not the results that interest me, it’s what they intend to propose to make things better for me.

Monday 25th September 2023 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not actually sitting in a rainbow but sitting by my bed in the Hôpital Pitié-Salpetrière in south-east central Paris.

My room is quite basic and not as luxurious as the rooms in Castle Anthrax but I’m on my own and, to my delight, there’s a shower in my private bathroom. The place is quite cold though and I’m going to go to bed in a moment in an effort to keep warm.

The alarm was set this morning for 04:30 and it will probably surprise you (because it surprised me!) that by that time I was already up and about making my sandwiches.

Last night I’d gone to bed quite early and was asleep quite quickly. However I awoke shortly later in some kind of panic thinking that I was on my way to Paris and I’d forgotten my computer. And as a result I couldn’t go back to sleep.

But sleep I must have done because there was some stuff on the dictaphone, as I discovered later. I was in my old caravan in Virlet. Liz had gone into the house for something and 2 children were sitting inside the house playing while I was making tea. I’d had some water in a solar oven in a window. It was really hot so I was going to put it on top of the telephone to bring it to the boil. I was having a root around in the cupboards underneath and came across a few packs of pasta, biscuits etc. Although they looked in good condition I wasn’t sure how long they had been there. I decided that I’d ask Liz when she came down about whether she thought that they could still be used. In the meantime she was busy talking to the children and singing with them while she was doing whatever it was. It looked as if she wouldn’t be here for quite some time yet and everything was coming to a head with the cooking

In connection with the previous dream I dreamt that I was running late. I dreamed that I was halfway to Paris before I began to worry about what would happen when I arrived at Montparnasse with all of my stuff etc and find that I’ve missed my train or something like that.

Having collected everything and sorted myself out I was downstairs stroking a wandering tomcat, busy patrolling his territory, at 05:10.

The taxi turned up a few minutes later and a rather chatty driver took me to the station. The coffee machine wasn’t switched on but my train was in so I staggered down the platform to find my seat aboard.

It didn’t take me long to update this computer and then I was able to settle down comfortably amongst the hordes of early-morning commuters on board, and when I moved seat to let someone sit down next to me I noticed that my water bottle had leaked all down my side.

We were on time arriving at Montparnasse and my neighbour was waiting to meet me, which was really nice. An SNCF assistant turned up with a wheelchair too and I was pushed along to the taxi rank where I was ushered into a VW Caddy taxi, which was actually quite comfortable.

The driver took us on a mystery tour, chatting and waving his arms about as he drove – probably the funniest drive that I’ve ever had – and then we had to negotiate the hospital.

It’s not like modern hospital at all. They are modern skyscrapers built on a small footprint with many floors. This is a very large, sprawling site with dozens of individual buildings. The earliest date from the 17th Century and are nearest the road. The further back you go, the more modern the buildings are until you reach the newest ones at the back.

The whole site is extremely confusing, and there’s an internal bus service to ferry people around and a fleet of electric vehicles equipped to carry wheelchairs and their passengers to their various examinations.

It didn’t take long to install me and after my neighbour left for whatever it was that she was in Paris to do, I had a relentless stream of visitors asking me a whole pile of questions and giving me all kinds of tests.

One of the visitors was the dietician and they have sorted out a meal plan for me. The food is typical Institution food that reminds me of what we used to eat at school back in the 1960s and when we used to say “Grace” before we ate – “Oh Lord, for what we are about to receive, the pigs have just refused”.

Still, in a hospital, controlled by a dietician, it’s probably a balanced diet and quite nutritious. I’m not convinced about giving me a plate of baked beans when I’m due to have a pile of doctors poking and prodding me.

At one point I was whizzed off in one of these electric vehicles to a laboratory where I was run through one of these Stargate time tunnels, and then had to wait an age to be picked up and taken back here.

A specialist has seen me and examined me, I’ve had an evening meal (of sorts) and that seems to be that. So although it’s early, I’m off to bed. I’ve crashed out on several occasions today which is no surprise with a bad night and a ridiculously early start. It won’t be long before I’m asleep and then I’ll see what tomorrow brings. At least they seem to be interested in me here, which is always a good sign.

Sunday 24th September 2023 – I WAS THINKING …

… and that’s always dangerous of course, about how much things have changed.

6 years ago to the day, I was in South Carolina visiting Rhys. I was at the end of a mega-voyage where I went to say goodbye to everyone whom I knew in North America and to cross off a few more things from my bucket list.

That voyage was because I felt that I was coming to the end of the road and didn’t want to forget anyone whom I knew.

However 6 years of living here in peace and quiet and comparative luxury gave me a new lease of life but tomorrow I shall be off to Paris for what will be a make-or-break hospital examination. During the next few days they’ll be examining me and it’ll either be good news or bad news. There’s nothing in between.

It’s a pity really that the decline in health over the last 18 months has happened at this time. I was having a lengthy chat on the internet today with one of the daughters of my niece currently in the USA. She’s getting married in November and, having followed her adventures quite closely, how I would love to be there to celebrate it with her.

However, as my trip to Leuven went to prove, I simply can’t make it. I even went to the lengths of costing how much it would cost to invite a friend to come with me for a week to hold my luggage and my hand. However there are few people whose company I would enjoy for that period of time and every one of them is either too ill to travel, otherwise occupied, or with other responsibilities.

My responsibility last night was to have a decent night’s sleep and for some reason, despite not going to bed until after 02:30, I was up and about by 09:45. That’s something that I don’t understand. It’s not like me at all on a Sunday.

For the morning I didn’t do very much – just a nice quiet relaxing morning, and then I had a listen to the dictaphone. I was back at home going through my record collection. There were some records there, some of this death-metal stuff. My brother decided that he didn’t particularly like it and this led to a huge argument between us. This argument turned violent. He started to attack me. At one point he was on my shoulders beating me so I took him to the top of the stairs and quite simply dropped my head forward. He fell off and went right down the stairs onto the floor of the hall below. I thought that this was really only a temporary solution. It’s just going to lead to yet more trouble and I really don’t know how I’m going to get myself out of this. It was another one of these occasions where I actually awoke with quite a start as if it was something that was extremely real.

And you really don’t want to know the rest of that, especially if you are eating your tea or something.

Later on, Alison had gone off to see some friends. I was at home having to get ready to go to Paris where someone was going to meet me to take me to the hospital. Rather than rush around I thought that I’d have a nice lie-in and then make myself ready to go. Then I realised that trains are only every three hours to Paris. If I didn’t catch the one that I intended I would be 3 hours late, no-one would be waiting for me, the hospital would have closed its admissions and I’d be left high and dry. I had to start to hurry. It took me a couple of minutes to realise that the best thing to do would be to just take what I could carry and leave everything here, hope that Alison won’t mind, come back for it when I’m out of hospital and then move on back home. I couldn’t see how I was going to do that either. I was just in a state of total confusion. I’d written to Alison previously about a couple of special offers on things. She’d been impressed by an offer on cheese and had taken a pile of tickets with her. She had written to tell me that the cheese was a great success and she wished that she had some more. Was there any way that I could obtain some before I left? Of course it was far too late to do it now. She was talking about another type of cheese she’d had but I didn’t understand the message. Of course all the time I was sitting there worrying about my train. Would it go? Will I miss it? What am I going to do? in a total state of confusion.

Feeling energetic at that moment, which is not like me at all, especially on a Sunday, I transcribed a couple of entries from my hospital stay last November. There’s still plenty that need to be done but if I do a couple each day, it won’t take long.

Having had a lengthy chat with my niece’s daughter in the USA, I finished off the afternoon by dealing with one of the sets of notes that I’d dictated for those radio programmes. It was a miserable attempt at dictating and took a great deal of editing. One of them is now almost completed and I’ll deal with the other in due course.

Earlier on I’d taken out a lump of dough from the freezer and I made another pizza for tea, just as delicious as usual.

So now I’m off to bed. I have to be up at 04;30 and that’s not going to be nice. But once I reach the hospital, if I ever do, I can crash out and sleep for several days until they throw me out. But at least I’ll know what’s going on and what, if anything, they can do about it.

Saturday 23rd September 2023 – AS I SAID …

… yesterday, I was going to have a quiet, relaxing day today without doing very much at all. And much to my surprise, I actually managed it too.

It was just as well because I had another miserable night last night. It took me an age to go off to sleep and then I awoke in the small hours and couldn’t go back to sleep for what seemed like an age.

However I must have gone off to sleep at some point because I awoke again later and was actually out of bed before the alarm went off. So what with all of that, I wasn’t feeling all that much like doing anything anyway.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages and then came in here for a little relax for a while. And although I didn’t actually crash out, I can’t say that I had a productive morning.

For a change today I had real sliced bread for my cheese on toast. I’d made a small loaf yesterday and if I’d have had any sheep’s eyes I would have put them in it so that it will see me through the weekend.

One thing that I have done is to transcribe the dictaphone notes. Not just from last night but from the rest of the time that I spent in Leuven too. You can read the arrears in due course when I upload them to the relevant entries, but meantime there were 4 of us last night, me on my crutches, someone in a wheelchair and 2 others. We piled into this Morris Traveller to go to the seaside. The person in the wheelchair might have been my neighbour who had her bad fall a few months ago. We arrived at the seaside and left the car, making our way as best as we could down to the promenade. There was something about staying one night here and a coupe of nights somewhere else but at this point I lost track of it all again

And then at a disciplinary meeting following an Olympic Games ice hockey match during which a female player had been sent off. She’d then been summoned before this committee for having abused the linesman and officials after the sending-off had been given. When it was announced that she was going to receive a further 10-match penalty she because exceedingly aggressive towards the committee that was disciplining her, with threats of physical violence etc. The committee then adjourned to consider taking further action.

Then I was with the 3 other people from earlier, one of whom might have been my cleaner. We’d gone for a walk around Granville. We ended up sitting on a bench overlooking the beach by the sailing school chatting about all kinds of things. I remember thinking about how bad all of this is for me when I can’t go anywhere except extremely slowly and with someone to look after me in case I fall.

There was football on the internet later in the afternoon, Caernarfon v Pontypridd. It was a dour mid-table struggle with several moments of real skill but also even more moments of less-than-skilful action.

There were several chances for each team but having in previous seasons criticised the defence of Caernarfon as being somewhat fragile, the current pairing of Dion Donohue and Phil Mooney in the centre of the defence looks as if they’ve finally found a good pairing and Wales under-21 keeper Lewis Webb didn’t have much to do.

The game was on the point of petering out as a 0-0 draw when with 5 minutes to go a deep cross into the box following a corner kick found the head of Phil Mooney to give them a victory that quite frankly I wasn’t expecting.

The strange thing was that many other referees would have disallowed the goal for a push in the box, and had the referee been better positioned on a couple of other occasions he might have blown for a couple of penalties at the other end. But he can only give what he can see.

For tea tonight I tried the silicon liners in the air fryer to make my chips. The potatoes didn’t stick and the fryer was much, much cleaner, which is a major improvement, but the food took longer to cook properly. And another thing is that I need even less oil that I’m currently using too.

So all in all, It’s a big step in the right direction.

While I was at it, I tried my various cake tins, and the smallest one fits in the air fryer. So when I come back from Paris, if I ever do, I might have a go at baking a cake in it to see what happens.

And now that I have my pudding steamer, I might even have a go at a chocolate pudding too.

But that’s for another time. Right now I’m off to bed when I’ve dictated the radio notes. Another Day of Rest tomorrow and then I’m off to Paris at some God-forsaken time on Monday morning. And I’m not looking forward to that.

Friday 22nd September 2023 – I MADE IT …

… down into town and back today doing a round of various places that I had to visit. And strangely enough, I felt much better for it too.

It rather reminds me of the time in my late teens when I was staggering back home after a visit to the Lion and Swan in Crewe and stopping at Crewe Bus Station for “obvious reasons”.

“Phew!” I said. “Just made it!” And the guy standing next to me said “blimey! Can you make me one just like it?”.

Unfortunately, Crewe Bust station and the public conveniences that it housed have been demolished, and that’s a shame. It was thanks to a careful study of the helpful diagrams on the wall that I passed my Biology “O” Levels.

They were at one time planning on giving guided tours of the public conveniences on the Bus Station. The cost would have been 2/6d per visit, or 2/7d if you wanted to see all of it.

Last night was one of those extremely turbulent nights where I travelled miles and consequently didn’t have much in the way of sleep. And so what with my trip into town today and my long walk around, I’m surprised, really surprised, that I kept going.

When the alarm went off I staggered out of bed and went for my medication and to read my mails and messages. Once I’d done all that I headed off for a shower to make myself look pretty.

When I awoke there was an enormous torrential rainstorm going on so I was really thinking about abandoning my trip out, but by the time that I hit the streets it had stopped.

The bus dropped me off at the Port and my first call was at the Credit Agricole to have them sign a form. The Belgian Government is starting to pay Old-Age pensions directly into bank accounts and I need a rubber stamp and signature on the bank details form.

And for such a simple task as that, I was there for about 15 minutes while they tried to work out how to apply a rubber stamp, a signature and a date to a form.

Next stop was the Post Office to post off a few letters that I’d written just recently, and then to the chemist’s to pick up the Aranesp that I’d ordered yesterday. And there I encountered my cleaner picking up some medication for another one of her clients.

At the Carrefour I did some basic shopping and then headed back for the bus home. It’s quite a climb into the bus because there’s no pavement where it pulls up but for some reason it was easier to climb in today.

Back here I put everything away and then made my coffee and cheese on toast. The Amazon fairy had been too and left me a package, the stuff that I’d ordered on line earlier in the week.

Apart from the silicon bowls that fit in the air fryer and the Christmas pudding steamer, highlight was my new waist bag. I’ve had various ones over the years and they are very handy when you go travelling, but the one that I’ve used for the last 12 years or so is falling to bits and one of the zips doesn’t work properly.

They had them on line that were bigger than that one, with more pockets and a holder for a bottle of water so I treated myself. And it really does seem to be the bee’s knees. It took a while to pack it because I wanted to make sure that it has everything that I need.

One of the most important items in my waist bag is a couple of sheets of … errr … tissue paper. I was caught out once in Romania 30 or so years ago and I won’t be caught like that again.

A little earlier I mentioned that it had been a turbulent night, and I wasn’t exaggerating. There was another long rambling dream that I seem to have lost. It concerns some things involving a lot of girls. They aren’t really what they seem to be, these things. There was one situation where we were on a train, a works train going back to the station after doing some work. On a train that was coming in behind us they loaded up some furniture. One woman said that she wanted it but I was hopeful of having it, a nice metal two-door cabinet. When we finally pulled in at the station we’d had to wait for a few minutes at a platform. Had I known, I would have nipped off there. When we pulled in, the train had caught up with us and they were wheeling the cabinet away. I woman in front of me was racing after it and of course I couldn’t go as quickly as I ought to do so I didn’t make it to have the cabinet. There was much more going on than this, including people, the kind of things that we’d bought. Someone came out with the name of an author – it might have been Richard Graves. I said that I knew his grand-daughter. She was a girl whom I knew and was hopeful of being friendly with her. They were asking if anyone wanted any torture equipment, but it was more like practical joke things, whoopie cushions etc rather than torture equipment. When I found out what it was I was rather disappointed. There was much more than this but it’s all melted away from this dream that went on for hours and was really exciting.

Did I dictate the dream about chasing after this furniture that was being brought into the station behind us on a works train, someone beating me and going ahead to the kiosk for it first? … “yes you did” – ed.. We’d then been out in town shopping. Everyone had his own chair that the restaurant or café kept. It had their name on it. Luckily the girl I’d brought with me was extremely new and only had an old T-shirt like that with a name on. It was called Carol or Caroline, just looking at this girl’s number, She told Caroline to go home and let the world know about your new hobby of collecting these T-shirts.

Did I mention that there was a story about some chairs of some description? … “yes you did” – ed. We had to sit on them in this café, some special luxury leather chairs. Someone would come over from one of the islands to the mainland, our friends, and treat us there instead of a workman (… at this point the dictaphone went quiet, except for my snoring …)

Something occurred that reminded me of something similar to the Lords of the Rings – 5 Lords of Darkness, a giant, an elf, a dwarf and a few others. They had cornered whoever was the hero and his friends on an island. The evil people decided that they wanted to capture them so they chose 3 of their number to assault the island. They were met by a rain of arrows from one of the party who was on the island. In the end 2 of these 3 people looked like pin cushions but the arrows weren’t particularly hurting them. In the end they charged the island. The biggest one of the 3, he was struck by a pike that one of the defenders was holding which ripped off his head from its socket. A second one was killed with a sword and the third was taken prisoner, the one who was mostly affected by arrows. The other 2 and their supporters were then disillusioned and disheartened and weren’t really sure what they could do now to resolve the situation.

Something else to do with this dream concerned the recital of a poem. I can’t remember how the poem went. It was something like “it’s not the eyes that provide the allure of …” (whatever it was). Once again it was something that evaporated immediately

At another moment I’d committed a robbery and stolen millions of Pounds. I had it hidden under the floor in the basement in the house where I was living in London, a 3-storey terraced house with the living room on the first floor, the bedroom on the second and a kind-of cellar/laundry room etc on the ground floor. The Police obviously suspected me. They were around searching my house. I was convinced that eventually they’d find it but I’d give them a run for their money in looking for it. I’d been outside somewhere and was on my way home. Word must have gone round Gangland – I’d noticed several people whom I’d not seen before loitering around. As I went to try to put the key in the door a couple of these people approached me quite quickly but discreetly. I turned to them and said “oh no you don’t!”. That slowed their tracks and I closed the door behind me. What I then did was with these people now loitering outside my door I told the police in my basement that there was some kind of street issue going on outside. A couple of policemen went out, took these people by surprise, harangued them and made them go away. I thought that it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen. When they came back in we had a really good laugh about it. I told them that that’s really the first time that I’ve ever felt uncomfortable living in this particular house

Meanwhile 4 medieval soldiers had been trapped inside a gatehouse to a walled city for several days. With nothing else to do in a desperate situation they quite simply roared out of their building and charged the attackers and actually managed to drive them away which took everyone by surprise.

Finally, there was a group of us living in a house. We had to leave it quite quickly so I began to pack my basic essentials and there was still some stuff left over. I had a pile of small cardboard boxes. I told one of the guys living with us that he was far better placed than me that he could have the boxes and someone would have to take my stuff with him while I went to fetch Caliburn and come back to pick it up. At first he was being extremely difficult about it and I couldn’t understand why. In the end he asked “could I see these boxes?”. I showed him and his eyes lit up. He said “that’s no problem at all”. I explained to him that certain stuff was for throwing away, certain stuff was stuff that he could keep and the rest was mine. He should take everything away and I’d be round for my stuff again when I’ve managed to pick up Caliburn

Having done that, I transcribed another day’s worth of arrears and then finished off the notes for the radio programme.

In between everything I baked a small loaf of bread. I’m not going shopping tomorrow so I need something for my cheese on toast and for sandwiches on Monday. And then I made tea. Some kind of burger – I don’t know what it was – and a salad and baked potato seeing as I had the oven on to bake my bread.

Tomorrow will be a quiet day without very much excitement. It’ll do me good to have a quiet weekend ready to Fight the Good Fight on Monday morning. I’ll be ready for Paris, but will Paris be ready for me?

Thursday 21st September 2023 – DESPITE HAVING …

… spent most of the day dashing around doing things, it doesn’t seem as if I’ve accomplished all that much.

It’s quite true that for a while round about the early afternoon I was … errr … resting, but it wasn’t as if it was for hours on end.

This morning when the alarm went off I was flat out deep in the arms of Morpheus and it was a desperate stagger into the bathroom before the second alarm went off.

The letter from the hospital about my admission told me that I have to abstain from several medicaments. I couldn’t work out which ones they are so I’ve basically cut down to the bare minimum and hope that that’s the correct thing to do

Tomorrow I’m planning to go into town on the bus. There are some letters that need posting so I’ve had to collect up everything. It also involves a trip to the bank so that’s going to be interesting for sure.

There’s also a trip to the chemist’s as I’ve run out of Aranesp. That’s only available by special order so I had to telephone them to make sure that they have it in stock for tomorrow.

Something else that I’ll need to do is to have something of a more important shopping session in town. I’ve made an executive decision – which, for the benefit of new readers is a decision that you make that if it goes wrong you are executed – that I’m not going to the supermarket on Saturday. If I’m off to Paris on Monday I won’t need any shopping for the week.

So having written a pile of letters and made some plans I had a listen to the diictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was round at some girl’s house. She was extremely unhappy to see me, as if it was obvious that I shouldn’t be there. But with her having no parents there at that time I came in and stayed. Because she was so unhappy I kept to a small room upstairs. First of all there was a delivery of food with which someone in the house dealt. About 20 minutes later there was a knock at the door. I heard a voice from outside asking “is your dad in?”. Someone came up to shout for me. I went downstairs and saw that it was a man delivering two packets of soya milk and two packets of banana-flavoured soya milk in a couple of fancy little containers. I thanked him and said to the girl “don’t let such and such a girl see this. If she sees the banana-flavoured milk it’ll be gone within seconds”. It didn’t bring a smile out of her. All of this going on was extremely uncomfortable.

And a little later downstairs I went because someone else had come to the door. They’d brought some kind of special vegan food for me, followed a few minutes later by someone who had brought some vegan fruit but they’d disguised this as potatoes or something like that so I was making some kind of strange comments about these potato-looking vegetables. This girl who was there who seemed to be something to do with the owners of the house was extremely uneasy while I was there. I could certainly feel that atmosphere a great deal

There was another lengthy, really involved dream as well but I had a bad attack of cramp in the middle of it and it completely evaporated. I can’t remember a thing.

Later on I was going on an expedition to the Amazon. There was a group of us living in some kind of temporary accommodation near Edinburgh sorting out everything we would need and everything we were going to take. Once again, the thing that was worrying me was that there was no provision for any vegan food as far as I could see. That can’t have been right. We were all sitting around. Outside someone had put some tree trunks that they’d set alight that were a really bright light as they burnt. I asked for my shoes and socks back that someone else was wearing. he took his feet from his sleeping bag and gave them to me, and put on his own barefoot-type of shoe. We set off and I thought that we were going to the railway station across the road. Instead we walked for a while and boarded a train going somewhere else. I couldn’t understand why. They gave me a long complicated explanation about this. We alighted at a station and had to climb these stairs in this wrought-iron place like a Paris Metro. On the platform above we had to look for our tram to take us to wherever we needed to go. We couldn’t go to the platform until our tram was called. We waited there, then a TGV suddenly pulled in there. I asked if this was a tram but no-one seemed to be interested in replying. We wanted something like Tram 73 but this was Tram 9 so we had to wait for it to load up and clear off. It was really most extraordinary thing to see, a kind-of tram stop in a railway station.

Finally, we were in the foyer of a cinema or something waiting for something to happen. They were playing a piece of music that I recognised, a piece by Van Der Graaf Generator (as I thought in the dream) … “actually Alquin” – ed … I was humming a bass line along to it because there was no bass line. The girl with me looked at me and asked me what I was doing. I explained and she replied “yes, I was wondering what this would be like with a bass line added to it”. She said that the guy with us who wasn’t there at that particular moment knew Peter Hammill. She’d have him talk to Peter Hammill about playing it with a bassist. I replied that Peter Hammill wasn’t a big fan of bass guitar and quite often played without one. I didn’t think that he’d take very much notice. We were having this really intense discussion when the alarm went off.

Interestingly, I met Peter Hammill a few times when I lived in Manchester in the mid-70s and we had a good chat one night in Brussels when he was appearing in a café there one night not long after I moved there. And he didn’t like bassists all that much either. When Nic Potter, one of my heroes, left Van der Graaf, Hammill didn’t bother replacing him and had Hugh Banton play the bass parts on the foot-pedals of his organ.

While I was at it I waded through another pile of arrears on the dictaphone. Only 2 days to go and then I’ll have finished the stuff from Leuven last week. And then I have the stuff from the hospital last year to deal with. Despite all the time that I spent lying in bed during that couple of months, I couldn’t summon up the energy or enthusiasm to deal with them.

As for the rest of the day I’ve been going through the music again and I’ve sorted out another pile of stuff. Having had to load up this machine’s new hard drive from scratch I seem to have incorporated a great many duplicates into the mix and some of the stuff is in the wrong section of the hard drive.

That left some time to write out some more notes for the radio programme. They should be finished by tomorrow and then I can think about dictating them. Things are dropping slightly behind but when I come back from Paris and have finished with all of this health stuff I can concentrate better.

Tea tonight was fried rice and veg with some of those Chinese vegetable things. Fried in vegan margarine with piles of soy sauce it really was delicious.

So tomorrow I’ll be out and about, which means that I’ll be crashed out at some point somewhere. But once I come back from the shops I can pack my bags ready for Monday morning. That 04:30 start is going to kill me.

Wednesday 20th September 2023 – APPARENTLY THINGS ARE …

… hotting up around here.

My cleaner actually works for an association called APA – the Allocation Personnalisée d’autonomie, an association of which the aim is to help people in difficulty maintain their autonomy.

She’s recommended that I contact them with the details of my difficulties and see whether or not they may have something on offer that might be of help to me.

Consequently I’ve had an extremely busy day today doing all kinds of things.

For a change I had a nice deep sleep and awoke about 15 minutes before the alarm was due to go off. I was actually planning a dramatic raising from the dead but instead I fell asleep again and the alarm had to awaken me.

After the mails and medication I began to sort out the paperwork.

You have no idea the hoops through which I have to jump in order to go to this perishing hospital. As well as being admitted, I’ve been notified of several tests and I have to ring up to confirm each one.

And then there’s a form that I need to fill in in order to be admitted, with details of my health insurance, medication, all kinds of stuff like that.

Interestingly, one thing of which you don’t have to notify them is your dietary requirements. You are served a standard meal on the day of your arrival. That’s not much use to me, and probably many other people too, so I would have expected it to have been a priority.

Anyway, that took up a whole age of my time.

But there is some good news, and it just goes to underline why I like living here so much – and that’s the solidarity amongst the inhabitants that you don’t find in many other countries these days.

The president of the Residents’ Committee who helped me with the purchase of the apartment downstairs is in Paris next week. She wants to come to the station in Paris on Monday morning and help me on my way to the hospital.

That’s something that I found to be really sweet. It’s not really necessary because I will have the railway company’s personnel helping me, but I’m not going to discourage the best intentions and willingness of someone who is so keen to help

This afternoon I made a big batch of hummus. It’s been ages since I last made some, and this time I regrettably put too much salt in in. That’s not like me because I rarely use salt. But there’s plenty of garlic gone into it and I won’t have too much trouble with passing vampires once I start to eat it.

While the cleaner was here I made a start on writing the notes for the next radio programme, then after she left I had a listen to the dictaphone. We were going somewhere on a works outing from Crewe. We all piled into a coach and set out. We were supposed to be going to Stoke on Trent but we ended up round the Warmingham Road area. We went past the bit where they had straightened out the road. That would have been possible to go to Stoke on Trent that way. I thought that the road was too narrow so we carried on with the intention of going to the roundabout by the railway station and going down there. The guy in charge of the party came over and told me that we can’t go that way. There are all kinds of roadworks. I then suggested that we go to near Kidsgrove and drive down the A34 and took the A500 that way which he agreed. Then something happened and we ended up with not enough places on the bus or something. There was a motor bike there so I went on it and took someone as a passenger. I ended up being tangled up in a group of other motorcyclists. One one particular bend a woman fell off her motor bike. We carried on riding. We eventually ended up at our destination. Then I had a bad attack of cramp and awoke.

I was somewhere in the Philippines last night. There was a young boy doing some kind of DiY project to make some kind of really basic kitchen, basically no more than the size of a large tray. I could see immediately that there were several ways in which he could make things go better. We ended up having a talk about everything. I ended up giving him some help. He was pointing out a few things that I was doing that weren’t correct from his point of view. I was pointing out a few things that weren’t correct from mine. We were talking about all kinds of different things as we were assembling this kitchen arrangement that he was making out of scrap material

While I was at it I did another day’s worth of arrears from when I was at Alison’s just now. Just a couple more days of those to do and then I can attack the ones from when I was in hospital last year. I wish that I could organise myself better these days.

There were other things that I was hoping to do but instead I crashed out on the chair here in the office. Miles away I was too and I don’t understand that because it wasn’t as if I’d had a bad night. I’d been doing quite well just recently too.

Tea tonight was a chili sin carné, the leftovers in the fridge lengthened with a tin of kidney beans. It was actually quite nice too. The freezer is slowly emptying nowand if I’m not careful I might even be able to put the bag of carrots in there – the ones that are currently languishing in the fridge’s icebox.

With a bit of time left I went through another batch of music on the computer to weed out the duplicates, the live albums and to edit the metadata, now I know how to batch-edit it.

But now that I’ve finished the notes I’m off to bed. I’ve put all the clothes away that were loitering around here and it’s looking just a little more tidy. There’s still a lot to do but I’ll worry about that another time. I’ve done enough for one day.

Tuesday 19th September 2023 – A DECISION HAS …

…been made about my state of health. And considering that I only sent in the documentation on 24th July and was told that there’s a 4-month waiting list, that was extremely rapid, to say the least.

But to cut a long story short … “thank heavens” – ed … it has been decided that I have a Class II disability, which means that I am classed as between 50% and 80% disabled, with issues that impact my daily and social life.

As a result, I’m classed as a priority case, and shall (when they have been printed) receive a card to that effect and a disabled person’s parking permit.

Not that the parking permit will do me much good because if my mobility deteriorates any more, I shan’t be driving any more – and I won’t even be going out at all.

So all of this will give me something to think about when I’m in bed tonight.

There wasn’t much time to spend thinking last night because I was extremely late going to bed. I just couldn’t summon up the energy to retire.

As well as that, I was actually awake before the alarm went off and when it finally did start to ring I was sitting on the edge of the bed with some of my clothes already on.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages, dealt with a few bits of correspondence and then revised for my Welsh lesson. That passed off quite well today, much to my surprise.

When the lesson finished I had some fruit and then buckled down to work. I’ve booked my train for Paris on Monday, booked some assistance at the Gare Montparnasse (which I can now do, seeing as I have a certificate of entitlement while I await my card) and then booked a taxi to take me to the station –

As it happens, I’m not looking forward to the trip to Paris. My train is at 05:55 so the taxi is coming for me at 05:15 which means that I need to be up and about at … errr … 04:30. That is just crazy but it can’t be helped. I have to be at the hospital at 11:00 and unless I want to stay the night, there is just no other solution.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too, despite the short night that I’d had. 2 small boys went to the hospital in Athens – their parents had sent them there because maybe they were British and it was the English School there. Something had happened to one of the parents of one of these children and the children had to come back by bus which was a bit of an alarming trip for someone who had never done it before, especially in those kinds of circumstances.

There was something else about someone being involved in a kind-of internet game. There was a trap set in it that harvested everyone’s details off their computer, where they were etc, but I can’t remember very much about this at all

While I was at it, I transcribed a couple of days’ worth of notes from when I was at Alison’s. There’s still plenty to go at there but I’ll keep on plugging away at it ready for the next lot.

Tea tonight was a taco roll – quite delicious too with the stuffing. And I found something interesting today – which I should have known because I’ve used this technique before.

While the stuffing was still warm I put it in the glass storage container and put it straight into the fridge. And so the container sealed up with a perfect vacuum which was quite impressive.

With a few minutes that was left later on I went through and sorted out some more music, labelling stuff and disposing of duplicates. I’m slowly fighting my way through it all and one day I might actually be finished some day.

But now I’m off to bed. I’m going to be working on the radio stuff tomorrow and prepare a couple of programmes ready for the future. High time I got myself into gear and actually accomplished something. No-one else will do it if I won’t.