Monday 1st January 2024 – HAPPY NEW YEAR …

… to everyone who reads this blog entry, either today,, tomorrow or in the future.

May I take this opportunity of wishing you for 2024 everything that you wished for everyone else in 2023.

And I know that it will only be good wishes, because it’s only nice people who follow this blog.

These days I’m a lot nicer than I used to be. I’ve learnt a lot over the years and life has taught me a lot too, and I wish that 40 years ago I was the person who I am now.

But that can’t be helped, can it?

But seriously, I do wish you all a very happy New Year with lots of love.

It’s been one of the most difficult year of my life, I reckon, worse than 2015 when I was taken ill in the first place.

And I’m grateful for all the support that I received from my friends and from the people who follow this blog and send me little cheery notes every now and again to cheer me up when I’m feeling down.

Without the support of all of you things would be so much more difficult and I’m grateful for all of you.

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than a few just recently, I have a carcinogenic protein in my bloodstream.

Obviously, if you have more of one thing in a fixed volume, you have less of another, and the protein attacks my red blood cells to make room for its growth

The problem that that causes is that if you have fewer red blood cells, which carry the oxygen around the body, the heart must beat so much faster to supply enough oxygen to the body. And that’s something that can only keep going for so long

The blood count should be 15 units of red blood cells. If it drops below 8.0 the heart can’t deal with the problem because the pressure isn’t there in the system and I have to have a blood transfusion

By the way, when I was taken to hospital in November 2015 (thank you for ever, Rosemary) my blood count was 3.8 and by any kind of logic I should have been dead.

The protein moves around the body and so far I’ve had my spleen, part of my kidneys (and bits of something else, regrettably) and a couple of other things removed already.

Now, they have detected signs of the cancer in my heart, which is bad news in anyone’s book seeing how hard it has to work, and it’s invaded my nervous system so I’ve lost the use of my right leg, my left leg is going and little by little it’ll spread through the body.

The spleen is the big issue though. That controls your immune system so with no spleen I have no immunity to anything. I have a series of injections every few years but it doesn’t cover everything and in Canada last year I picked up a type of viral pneumonia that is unknown in Europe and which nearly killed me, according to my doctor.

And they can’t use penicillin to treat anything because I’m allergic to it, having been hospitalised with bronchitis and pneumonia when I was an infant.

They can only give so much treatment. It’s like a car battery – you keep on charging it up and slowly but surely it takes longer to charge and holds its charge for a lesser and lesser time. That’s how my bloodstream is right now.

There’s a lifespan on this illness too. No-one with it has lived longer than 11 years and I was diagnosed in 2015, so I’m well into the critical period.

And the end isn’t very pleasant either, so they say, but we don’t need to worry about that. Anyone treating me medically knows what to do and when to do it.

Anyway, I digress.

The alarm went off at 10:00 and I fell out of bed at that moment. “Late” you might think, but I didn’t go to bed until 04:00 this morning sorting out some of the concerts that I’ve been sent (thanks again, Shrewsbury Folk Festival).

So here’s A Show Of Hands wishing you all A HAPPY NEW YEAR and I hope that you enjoy that track as much as I did. It really is that good, I promise you. One of the best things that I’ve heard recently.

And that’s what I’ve been doing – checking over the stuff that I’ve been sent, with grateful thanks.

But there was also the dictaphone. A short night but there was plenty of stuff thereupon. I was with a woman last night. We were in a lorry and she was driving. We had to go to pick up some of my siblings so we set off. At one stage we found ourselves driving through Flagstaff in Arizona and we were talking about the town and my visit there years ago. She was saying that you need to be very careful, stick to the speed limits and don’t have good tyres on your car or they’ll disappear during the night etc. I agreed completely. Anyway we passed through the town and turned left at the end. There were only three of my siblings. I asked “where’s the oldest fourth missing sibling?”. “Ohh, she hasn’t come yet and I don’t think that she wants to” said someone. I thought “here we go again! I have to sort out my family but they don’t want sorting out, they just want to argue. Here I am again stuck in the middle of all of this and it’s nothing at all to do with me”.

At some point during the night some woman put down a basket of tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, down right in front of me. Just when I went to pick two of them they moved the packet and left me groping uncomfortably in mid-air trying to find it again. I was very disappointed that it had gone because I’d enjoy eating the rest of the contents

I also dreamt that someone had a great big pile of washing and put it right by the side of my bed. When I went to bed I had to manoeuvre myself around the washing very carefully but then I awoke. Getting out of bed I kicked a sock off this pile of clothes that were still there so I actually apologised to someone when I awoke while I was awake. It took me a couple of minutes to realise that this was actually a dream and not something that had happened in real life

When the alarm went off at 10:00 I left the bed but I kicked this pile of washing again and apologised to whoever it was, before I realised that it was a dream.

Ingrid rang me for a little chat too. Our conversations are quite interesting. They start off in one language, usually French, and when we can’t think of a word and we’ll speak in either English or Dutch (Ingrid) and Flemish (me), sometimes someone speaking in one language and the other person replying in another.

By the way, Dutch and Flemish are very similar languages and if you know one you’ll understand the other. It’s a bit like the difference between Scots English and BBC English.

Interestingly I had the 5-string fretless bass out again today. I was listening to a Phil Beer concert and ended up joining in. It’s difficult playing it sitting down and I can’t stand up to play it, but I did my best.

Tea tonight was a Christmas dinner, complete with Christmas pudding.. But how do I store the rest of the puddling that’s left so that I can eat it next year? Does anyone have any ideas’

So having done everything, I reckon that I’ll go to bed. Alarm at 07:00 tomorrow and back into the routine, whatever it is. It’s “all go” around here isn’t it?

And thanks again for all of your support over the last few years. It really does make a difference. And here’s Semisonic, a band that I met when I was with Onion River Radio (the good old days of internet radio) in Montpelier, Vermont. 2024 will be YOUR YEAR

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