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Saturday 6th April 2024 – TODAY WAS ONE …

… of the worst days that I have had for quite a while.

In fact, it’s a day that harks back to the bad old days of winter 2015-16 when I was struggling to come to terms with this illness, or over the summer of 2015 when I’d moved to live in Leuven

It’s a combination of two factors really.
Firstly those stabbing pains that I have nin the sole of the foot returned yesterday and gradually worsened as the day wore on and accelerated through the night.
Secondly I was wide-awake at about 04:30 and there was no hope whatever of going back to sleep.

It totally beats me as to what would have awaken me, and awoken me to such an extent that I couldn’t go back to sleep, even at that time. It must be something quite considerable and important, so I’m surprised that I don’t know what it is.

What I was going to say was that I didn’t have a clue, but I doubt whether there would be many people who would disagree with that diagnosis.

And as it happens, I do have a clue about what time I went to bed last night, and it was late yet again, which is even more surprising considering how early I awoke.

But doing all this paperwork and making all these notes really does take its time and I’m surprised that I’m ever ready to go to bed.

So having settled down to go to sleep I was soon awake again, drifting into alternate fits of wakefulness and sleepiness, but always being awake nevertheless.

And that didn’t stop my imagination working because even though I was in this semi-wakefulness I was still off on my travels.

When the alarm went off at 07:00 I’d already been up and about for 15 minutes and was on the point of finishing dressing and going for a wash.

Not before checking the blood pressure though. 16.1/9.9, which compares with last night’s figure of 16.4/10.1 – pretty much the same by the looks of things.

After shovelling down the piles of medication I arranged the room for the nurse and then tidied up the knives and forks etc from the previous evening. If I’m having house guests, which looks pretty much like it in the near future, I need to learn some new habits.

Rather like the man in church praying to God – "Oh God give me patience! And hurry!"

When the nurse came round he plastered me up again but said that this will be the last of them as the foot has healed so well.

As it happens, I think that the foot has certainly healed but not as well as he thinks. Still, he’s the nurse, I’m not.

After he left I made a start on the dictaphone notes from the night and from the morning when I was half-awake. And apart from what seems to be the usual fact these days of getting up, getting dressed and ready to leave the bed but only in my subconscious mind (as far as I know), also later on there was a phantom doorbell to say that the nurse had arrived. That was at 03:00 and so it was extremely unlikely, but nevertheless I found myself getting out of bed for that as well. I’ve no idea what’s going on with me at the moment. This is crazy.

What this next dream was about was a woman who was visiting the doctor’s for some reason. He gave her an examination . Then someone like Ingrid came along. Because she was more ill he gave her the more profound examination and had to make sure that she was supported by enough orderlies but she could withstand the pressure that he was going to apply. It was all to do with rolling balls Up and down the body to find weak points. Obviously he’d roll them quite hard and then feel the resistance, to see where the body was in need of reinforcement

And before anyone says anything about it, I shall say myself that that particular dream sounds like a right load of balls. It’s an interesting concept though and I bet that there’s plenty of mileage in an idea like that if I were to take it to some of the more obscure clubs in Soho

In fact I could probably make a small fortune from clubs like that for the rights to the unexpurgated version of this blog

And then while I was lying there half-asleep Nerina and I were at a port somewhere on our way to cross the Channel to go to a party at a friend’s house. We didn’t have any preparations at all – we didn’t have a GPS to find out where it was, we didn’t have any accommodation booked for Nerina or anything like that. We were going to simply improvise and make it all up on the spot. So we boarded the ferry and I went to look out of the window but they were all misty and steamy so I asked the purser if he had any car windscreen wipers. He chuntered but had a really good search, chuntering all the time. Eventually he came up with a pair and handed them to me, which I thought was nice. I could sit down then and look out of the window to admire the shipping like I usually do.

And this brings back many happy memories of me being invited to a party and setting out to go there, and suddenly realising that I had no idea of the address or where the person lived. I drove around in circles for quite a while before in the end I gave up and went home.

As Kenneth Williams once so famously said, "I’m often taken aback by my own brilliance". It’s the kind of thing that only I can do.

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … bed, this thing about Normandy involved the Normandy group on Social Network. In the end we’d sacked all of our advisers and dealt with everything on a question and answer basis amongst ourselves. That even included the vets. Everything there on the group seemed to be going much better since we no longer had advisers and people were resolving their own problems like this

In my case though I’ve simply sacked my Social Network. It’s becoming less and less of a Social Network and more and more a vehicle for adverts and publicity. If I wanted to see “sponsored links” and “suggested for you” articles I’d look for them. I don’t want them thrust into my face at the expense of stuff that I want to see.

So I went for my coffee and cheese on toast for breakfast and despite two really strong mugs full of coffee I crashed out quite completely and absolutely, and for a good couple of hours too.

And Nerina came to visit me again, but it wasn’t a very pleasant meeting so I’m not going to transcribe the notes. With all of these problems I’ve been told to do all that I can to avoid unpleasantness.

In fact, this illness has made a whole new person of me.

What I can say about it though was that the dream was building up to a ‘phone call, and sure enough, I had one too, and a real one. It was the delivery man with the rest of my Amazon order.

This afternoon, I really felt like death. It was the worst that I have felt for quite some considerable time.

Margaret Thatcher once famously said something like "anyone can do a good day’s work when they want to. To be successful, you have to do a good day’s work when you don’t want to" and I’ve ploughed nevertheless through some radio notes and a pile of Welsh homework when all that I wanted to do was to go back to sleep.

There was football on the Internet later, Aberystwyth v Penybont. Penybont are far too good a team to be involved in a relegation scrap where they are right now, but Aberystwyth are down near the bottom for a good reason.

And that was how it went on. Aberystwyth started well and had a couple of chances but faded quite quickly and Penybont took control.

A 3-0 win was probably about right but Aberystwyth will rue the errors that they made. However it’s not easy playing football in a monsoon like they had this afternoon during the game.

Tea was baked potato and salad with one of the delicious breaded quorn fillets that I like, and that’s it for the day. I’m off to bed, with an alarm for tomorrow as the nurse will be round.

And tomorrow afternoon I have biscuits to make as I have now run out of supplies.

But before I go, talking about obscure clubs in Soho and unexpurgated versions of writings reminds me of a former girlfriend who worked at the local library on Saturdays and who has featured on these pages on more than just a few occasions.
She was asked to order a pile of books so she was going through the list, and one title caught her eye
"What’s this book here?" she asked
"It’s called ‘Ferry across the River Kwai’" explained her supervisor
"But is that title right?" she asked. "I’m sure that it should be called something else"
"It’s all right" said the supervisor. "Don’t worry. It’s simply the unabridged version of the story"

Saturday 30th March 2024 – MY BROCCOLI STALK …

… soup was absolutely delicious at lunchtime.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 29th March 2024 – THIS MORNING AT …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it worked, and that was what counts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 23rd March 2023 – A FEW MONTHS AGO …

… I bought a cheap hamburger press, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. It was rather like an old flat iron made of plastic, with all kinds of sizes that fit inside each other like a Russian doll

It was rather cheap, both in price and quality, so I didn’t think that it would be all that much good. However I have to say that despite all that, I really am impressed with it. Almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin, and that will stir a few memories from times long-gone.

Actually my friend in Munich sent me ages ago a packet of dried stuff that he’d found in a vegan shop down there and posted it to me. So today I added water and mixed it, left it alone to do its thing and then out came the hamburger press

It actually made a nice, professional job of the rehydrated stuff and I now have four big, really solid burgers and as I said just now, I’m almost as impressed with them as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin.

“Whatever happened to that?” I asked myself. The last time that I saw it, it was being used as a brazier to burn a pile of weeds down the garden when I used to have my raised beds and vegetable plots. It’s probably now thoroughly and completely overwhelmed with weeds and been pulled into the soil.

It’s 10 years ago since I last planted any veg down on the farm. I had quite a lot of stuff there that year too. The following year I cracked on with the bedroom all the way through the spring and summer ad finished it – and actually moved in.

But we all know what happened in the autumn that year, don’t we?

It was almost 10 years that I lived full-time down on the farm and despite the primitive conditions I really enjoyed it. I keep on thinking – and hoping – that I’ll go back to live down there once more but I doubt that I’ll ever see it again.

For a start, I can no longer drive, and that’s always going to be a serious consideration. And then regular readers of this rubbish will recall the photos of when I was last there and it was overwhelmed by brambles. I no longer have the energy to fight my way to the front door.

Last time it took three of us – Rosemary, Ingrid and Yours Truly – a whole afternoon to reach the front door, and the time before that it was with Terry and he had brought his industrial-scale equipment to clear the path.

Still, as Dan Quayle once famously said, "It’s a question of whether we’re going to go forward into the future, or past to the back"

So I shall go past into the back and say that for a change I was in something of a hurry to go to bed last night. I didn’t hang about at all.

It was another good sleep as well and I was fighting fit (well, sort-of) when the alarm aronsed me from my slumbers.

First thing was, as usual, to check the blood pressure. 15.1/9.0 this morning, up from 14.5/9.3 last night. So something must have annoyed me last night. And if you want to know what it was, you’ll have to read on.

After the medication I came back in here, but not for long. The nurse, having been late yesterday, was early today. Today’s moan was that the plastic bag I’d put out for him wasn’t big enough and that I need to wash my puttees. I wonder what tomorrow’s will be

The bread for my cheese on toast was delicious. I had a really nice breakfast later this morning. And then I had a pleasant relax and watched a film.

Another film that has come out of copyright is HELLZAPOPPIN’ so I spent a very pleasant 85 minutes watching it, and it was nice to relax for a change.

It’s not a film to everyone’s taste because it’s partly a musical and "YOU’RE NOT GOING INTO THE SONG WHILE I’M HERE" but where its interest lies is that if ever you want to know where all of the humourists of the 1960s and early 70s like Monty Python and Marty Feldman obtained their ideas, it’s all here, everything and much more besides, and it was done in 1941.

As far as comedy and humour goes, it was light years ahead of its time and will still run the course today.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. We’d all gone out as a family together. We all had lifts with various different people so we were all spread out amongst the cars etc. A guy in a mobile home, the type that’s a shell that fits onto the back of your vehicle, took a fancy to one of my sisters. He persuaded her to travel with him. They disappeared but the rest of us kept going in a kind of convoy. We ended up stopping for the night somewhere at the side of a river. Just then this guy appeared with his camper. He wound down his window and said that he was terribly sorry but something had happened to our sister – some other people had come along, taken her, kidnapped her and carried her off. My mother said “I bet that she’s in the back of your camper”, just strode over there and wrenched open the door. My sister was in there on the bed lying down. She began to tell her tale of woe about everything that had happened to her, with my mother and brother becoming more and more angry as the story unfolded about this kidnap.

So there you are – that’s the reason that my blood pressure was up. I had the family round last night. I don’t ask them to come to visit me during the night but they always seem to, far too often for my liking. Why can’t I have Zero, TOTGA and Castor round as often as them?

But kidnapping my family members one by one sounds like a good idea. But you can all think of an idea for the ransom note – "pay us £5,000 or we’ll send them back".

That reminds me of the time when I fuelled up in Stoke on Trent only to find that I’d left my wallet behind at home. I had to leave my friend at the petrol station as hostage while I went to his house to fetch some money

When I told his wife what was the problem she told me not to bother going back, and to leave him there for good

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed we had a taxi job to do, to drive someone up to Newcastle upon Tyne for a meeting and then take them on to Edinburgh later. There was only one daytime driver and me about. The receptionist left a note for the daytime driver “be in the office 04:40 ready for a long trip”. I thought that long trips and office workers all on account etc don’t pay very much in tips if anything so I’d go to do that and let the driver carry on doing normal jobs. The only car we had was an old two-door Japanese thing from the late 1960s or early 1970s. It made something of a racket but I’d been out a few times in it and it seemed to do the job. A good long run like that would probably do it good. Of course Edinburgh – I had my niece in Edinburgh so I could go to see her. I tried to contact her but there was no luck. I thought “should I just turn up at the University there and speak to her?”. I thought that that’s probably not a good idea. But I was impressed that we had this job, going all that way but I was really disappointed that we didn’t have a better car available other than this old Japanese thing.

And that was an age-old problem too. We’d occasionally have some really high-quality work to do but never seemed to have a decent car available to do it, and when we did have a really decent car we’d never have the work. At times I despaired.

This afternoon I went a food-making.

Firstly, as I said, my friend in Munich had sent me some burger mix so I added the water, stirred it all in and then left it to fester for 20 minutes as according to the instructions

There was a box of do-it-yourself falafel powder on the shelves as I discovered when I did some tidying up a few weeks ago. So I added some water to that and left that to fester as per the instructions.

While that was doing its stuff the first lot was ready so with the hamburger press I made four really good and solid burger-types of things. They are busy freezing even as we speak.

As for the falafel, I divided that up into little balls and they are busy freezing too, along with a couple of balls that I made from the left-over stuff from the first mix.

But I’m pleased with this hamburger press as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … It’s really simple and cheap but it made some really solid burgers and it gives me much more confidence about making more burgers from ad-hoc ingredients.

Finally there was the home-made mayonnaise. And once again, that seemed to work in spades. I made it rather more liquidy than before so we’ll see how that works out. It ended up making quite a lot more than I can use in its shelf-life, so I’ve sealed to top on the jars quite tightly.

Yes, having learned my lesson, I’ve put the mayonnaise in a better container or two.

Then we had the football – Y Bala V Connah’s Quay Nomads in one if the Welsh Cup semi-finals, played at Llandudno’s picturesque ground. And it was actually being broadcast on foreign carriers too after the disappointments of the last few games.

The first 75 minutes of the match were nothing to write home about, but it’s really hard to play creative football in a tornado.

However both sides made a couple of substitutions with 15 minutes to go and that kickstarted the game dramatically. Those last 15 minutes wee much more like the football we’d expect to see and Aron Williams scored a late winner to push the Nomads into the finals.

But spare a thought for Josh Ukek of Y Bala, who will probably go down in the record books as being on the field for the shortest period of time ever.

He came on as a substitute for Bala late in the game but almost immediately Kieran Smith, a central defender, was sent off for two bookings. Now a central defender down, Colin Caton, the Bala manager, now wanted to send on a central defender off the bench to shore up the defence.

And Ukek, who had only just come onto the field, was the man who was withdrawn to make way.

Tea was as usual a salad, baked potato and breaded quorn fillet. I know that it all seems to be the same, but I happen to like it so I don’t care.

And now rather late this evening, I’m off to bed. There’s an alarm in the morning for the nurse is coming (so I’ve washed my puttees already) so I’ll feel like death for the rest of the day. Today, I actually fell asleep for five minutes during the football.

But before I go, that story about tightly closing the lid on the mayonnaise jar did remind me of the guy who rang up his doctor
"You know those pills that you gave me to give me strength?"
"Yes" said the doctor. "How are they going?"
"I don’t know" replied the man. "I can’t get the top off the bottle".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But not those two. They mean absolutely nothing to me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

… what the hell is happening to me right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 24th February 2024 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

… to me.

yes, and it’s one of these “significant milestone” birthdays, as several people have been quick to point out, thank you very much.

Not that I’m celebrating too loudly because at my age it’s not how many birthdays you have but how many you have left

However I did like the card that my friend Robert in Shetland sent me – "Seen it all, done it all, heard it all – just can’t remember it all". In my case though, I can’t remember anything these days.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … two things happen to you when you reach my age. The first is that you forget absolutely everything
"what’s the second thing?" – ed
I don’t know. I can’t remember.

Last night I remembered eventually to go to bed. Round about 02:00 it was because I didn’t set an alarm this morning. I decided to have a lie in. and I would have had one too apart from the barrage of text messages that started at 08;02. It’s actually quite nice to be popular for once.

Anyway it was 11:15 when I finally arose from the Dead and that’s about right for a lie-in.

This morning’s blood pressure – 17.7/10.0. Last night it was 18.3/10.8 so there was nothing exciting happening during the night to make my blood boil

After the medication I came back in here and began to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. We were in some kind of competition or something like that to try to reach the end of the obstacle course. We had several difficulties. The first thing was that we had two young people with us who were perhaps not as committed as maybe I would have liked them to have been. One was a famous singer and she kept on having her photograph taken. She had it once taken at a very inconsiderable point when she should have been singing something for us and a group photograph was taken of us and then, say, the two of them singing or the two of them dancing when they’d been performing a completely different task that the rest of us have been performing, usually on their own. We didn’t win, which was no surprise with those two young people but it was an extremely stressful occasion. But one thing that we learned was that we weren’t the only people who cheated by a long way. The other people cheated by much more than we did. They cheated in real terms and real figures. We of course used to fly the odd stranger in and dress him in uniform, a fire brigade uniform or school uniform or whatever and infiltrate them into the group as a whole, but only after they had died and it had all been over and there was still plenty of work to do. I’d engaged a drummer and he … fell asleep here

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m actually asleep when I’m dictating these notes. So when I say that I fell asleep, what I mean is that everything suddenly goes quiet and after a few seconds I hear a low, sleeping breathing.

Or occasionally a deep snoring sound, and I’m sorry for not believing you, Percy Penguin

Another thing, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, is that even though I’m asleep, dreaming and dictating, I usually have some recollection of a dream that comes back to me as I’m typing it.

But sometimes I have absolutely no recollection at all of them, like the one above. I could recall nothing whatever of it.

In complete contrast to the one below.

I’ve forgotten most of this dream thanks to having to look for the dictaphone that I’d lost in bed. We’d had a foreign girl staying with us. She was one of these people who knew everything and made sure that you knew that she knew everything. I can’t remember anything about it except that we all went to bed at the end of the night. She was sleeping in my room as a child. All of a sudden her alarm clock went off. I had a look at the time and it was 08:02. I suddenly realised that it wasn’t an alarm clock at all but someone sending a message and it was my phone that had given its message signal

In this dream I was in Worcester. My German friend and another guy were busy picking out a tune on a guitar. I was wondering all the time whether to go and fetch my acoustic bass to join in. They carried on picking out this tune but it was winter and we were outside and I was freezing and so was everyone else. Gradually they worked it out and gradually we walked up a hill with the two of them playing this song. We had a small child with us and it was complaining about how cold it was. I was wondering when we’d go to find some food as I was starving. But we carried on walking up the hill. We reached the top and my car was there. I opened the door to my car and a charity collector turned up. He was collecting money so I asked him what for. He replied “for taxi passengers to wish them a happy Christmas and they’d give the money back as tips for the driver”. I put my hand in my pocket and threw in what change I had- about 5.5p. he said “that’s more then 10p” and pulled some strange object out of one of the collection boxes. “I’ll give you the change for that next week”. I couldn’t see what it was. Now this situation i the town is becoming crucial. I thought that we’d drive into the town and go to the railway station to look around for a while. But I was picked up in this dispute by Worcester Council. They, or some other people wanted to change everything from “Wulfrunian” to “Worcester” o the grounds that no-one knew where Wulfrunia was. But I was opposed to that idea because it’s just another “dumbing down” exercise for the UK and they’ll sink to the level of the Americans at this rate.

It looks as if “dumbing down” has already commenced because, as any schoolboy might know, “Wulfrunian” related to Wolverhampton, not Worcester.

And as it happens, I do have an acoustic bass. In all of the various apartments in which I’ve lived in Belgium, I don’t think that I ever had the electric bass out. I probably didn’t play it for 20 years.

Instead, I had the Ibanez acoustic and I could play that anywhere, including in a van and occasionally at Folk Festivals like the one on the Scottish Borders where a few of us from University hung out and did voluntary work.

It was there that I met a few people and had a great deal of fun playing bass with a few different people here and there.

It wasn’t until I was set up in Virlet that I had out the EB3, and of course I play it here along with the 5-string fretless electric bass. Not for nothing have I found an apartment in a building with solid granite walls 1.20m thick.

But the EB3 is a genuine Gibson guitar from the early 1960s, totally original. It’s exactly the same model as played by Jack Bruce. I bought it in 1975 when the group in which I played was going on the road after a couple of months of rehearsals.

It cost me an arm and a leg back them but I’ve been offered a King’s ransom for it and turned it down. They’ll have to take it …. errr … “from my cold, dead hand”.

Later on I’d been on a University course and we were at Nottingham. It was a course that I didn’t like for some reason. There was something about it that irritated me. At the end of the course we were all assembled, given a closing speech and then dismissed. I set out to walk to the railway station. It was along a public footpath that wends its way out of town and crossed over a railway bridge of this really elaborate cast-iron railway bridge that had been a railway bridge a long time before but was now part of the footpath. There was a girl in the distance who had been on the course. She shouted at me and pointed “what’s this area here that looks all desolate?”. That’ son the other side of the bridge, a huge flat area. I replied “that would have been the marshalling yard for the old railway line on which we’re walking”. She made some kind of disparaging remark about Nottingham and said that she didn’t know why she was walking this way because she’d understood from the University that if she’d been on this course you’d have to stop in your own time and look around areas like this. I couldn’t remember any such instruction in the instructions that I’d received but if that’s what she’d received then fair enough, I couldn’t see why she was arguing about it.

This reminds me of an on-line course I was studying. It was an aeronautics course provided by Oxford University. I had immediate misgivings when they began to talk about the Messerschmitt Me109.

Although colloquially it is often referred to as an Me109 it was actually designed by the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke before it was reformed as the Messerschmitt company in 1938 and so the correct description of the model is the Bf109

Not that a thing like that would normally bother me but a University teaching a course ought to get it right.

This morning to celebrate (although I’m not quite sure what I’m actually celebrating) I made myself a cooked breakfast. Some of the hash browns from the freezer, tinned mushrooms, a vegan sausage and some beans on toast with my porridge and coffee.

For once I decided to treat myself, and why not? It’s not every day that you reach a milestone like this.

This afternoon there was football on the internet – Pontypridd United v Colwyn Bay. The bottom two clubs in the League desperate for points to overhaul the teams above them and scramble to safety.

But for a few administrative errors and subsequent penalties, Ponty would have been clear already but they had ground to make up

And they played like it too. There was no-one special who caught the eye but they played as a team, which is a strange thing to say seeing as when I saw them 18 months ago they played like a clueless, leaderless, headless rabble.

On the other hand, Colwyn Bay played like a team already dead and buried. There was no leadership out there today and in fact (for I timed it) it was just over 60 minutes into the game before I heard one of the commentators mention the name of their captain.

Colwyn Bay certainly had a couple of chances and the crossbar will long be rubbing itself where Owen Cushion’s shot hit it, but they spent most of the time trying to walk the ball into the net, without the skill to do so, when they have players like Creamer and McCready who can launch screamers towards the net.

And height! High balls into the penalty area from corners and free kicks that sow panic and confusion into the defence instead of low flat balls easily and monotonously cleared away by the first defender ….sigh

The final result was 4-0 to Pontypridd, a margin that was rather unfair to Colwyn Bay but just underlines the size of the mountain that they have to climb. If you are going to make mistakes at this level you will be punished for them.

At the end of the match I went for a slice of my chocolate cake. I lit the candles on the top but a couple of icebergs in the Arctic immediately melted so I was obliged to extinguish them

But it was nice, chocolatey and gooey. And the cream certainly worked, which was very nice to know. I was worried about that for a while in case it had given up the ghost during the night.

Tea tonight was a slice of my wellington from the freezer, with roast potatoes, steamed veg and gravy, followed by rice pudding. The air fryer did a perfect job on the wellington and roast potatoes.

A real birthday treat that, and I reckon that I deserve it.

So here I am, another year older and deeper in debt as they say. Uma Shanker said "Life teaches us two important things – we are careless when we are young and by the time we get old, it is too late to be careful!" and that’s certainly true.

It was a long time ago that I passed the stage of caring about anything. I’m going to grow old disgracefully.

What consoles me is that half the population of the UK my age or older are dirty old men and I’m going to be like them.

And why can’t I be like the other half? That’s because they are dirty old women of course.

So when I’ve dictated the two radio programmes in the queue I’ll go to bed and plot the course of my life for the next 10 years – my next 10-Year Plan – knowing full well that it will be something that will never ever be fulfilled.

I’ll be pushing up the daisies a long time before then.

Friday 23rd February 2024 – MY DAY OF …

… baking was quite a success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyone nearby will tell you that.

Thursday 22nd February 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a better day today and I feel as if I’ve actually accomplished something too.

And considering how my day was messed around, that is an achievement because once more dealing with people who ought to know better, I find myself thinking of the words of John McCone, the USA”s Director Of Central Intelligence talking to Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defence, and saying "We will find ourselves mired down in combat in the jungle in a military effort that we cannot win".

Going to bed was quite straightforward though and once again, I had a good sleep. Strapping my legs together with an elastic strap is a really good move on my part if I want to bring some life back to weary muscles.

When the alarm went off I was talking about the Titanic disaster, but a similar disaster closer to the shore where a ship like the Titanic had split in two and sunk. Several of the passengers were arguing whether the front or the back was the stern but the radio was broadcasting the names of the people who in small boats had somehow managed to rescue some of the people but several people had died in the attempt – like “Mr So-and-so rowed 12 people home, Miss So-and-so rowed 2 people home, Mrs So-and-so was drowned when her boat overturned with so many people in it”. That was going on

This is probably something to do with the Empress of Ireland disaster. Sailing against the flow of ships, she was in a collision with a freighter off Rimouski in the St Lawrence River in May 1914 and sank with the loss of over 1,000 people. Several local boats took to the water to rescue who they could

This morning’s blood pressure was interesting – 16.8/9.2, contrasting with last night’s figure of 16.1/10.1. It’s usually higher in the evening than the morning.

Having sorted out the medication later, I came back in here to transcribe the rest of the disctaphone notes. At one point during the night apparently I was with that group of people. We were making bread. There was some kind of competition – a bread-making league or something like that and we were competing in it. I was ready to give instructions to my particular side. One thing that I wanted to make sure was that the period of the flour was different than the period when I expected people to look at me so they weren’t looking at me while I was adding the flour and then breaking up the process. So we made the very first mixing so I put it on the side while the alarm went off. Then the other team went to make their bread using their technique and timing to see how they could manage to make it.

A bread-making league of competition might sound interesting but I don’t think that any bread that I might make would be good enough for any competition. And that’s really depressing – I ought to be doing much better than I do.

Ane then at school I had to mention that despite the “nil” returns that I’d sent in during the week I had been involved in some kind of gangland activity and I wanted to talk about it. I was whisked off to the headmaster’s office. What interested them was on which days did I perform the gangland activity? What kind of activities were they? How many people were involved? All these kind of sub-headings to bracket the offence rather than to talk about the gangland activities and try to resolve the issue. It really was a perfectly strange situation.

And as if I am ever likely to be involved in any kind of gangland activity, at school or otherwise. I was always one who kept himself to himself mainly and didn’t interact with many of my peers

But then after this I ended up being in an office. There was a lot of work and it had been building up all the time. For one reason or another I hadn’t been doing it. Then I thought that I’d better grasp the nettle and see. I collected everything in. A lot of it related to work in another office so I went down there to see them to explain that in a couple of weeks I’d be having a huge pile of work to deal with. We worked out where the work was going to be done. It was going to be done by one particular person so I went to explain to him. He was extremely cynical about the whole affair. He showed me dozens and dozens of pieces of work relating to enquiries that he’d sent out to work that I was doing and which hadn’t been replied. I told him not to worry and I’d help him with the replies anyway once I’d actually replied to his messages. I could see that this spectre of not having done any work for ages was suddenly now going to haunt me for some considerable time while I tried to put everything straight

This actually a recurring dream, isn’t it? Something similar occurs quite frequently during my dreams, although it hasn’t reared its ugly head for a while. Being overwhelmed with work that I haven’t done is, however, something to which I can relate these days as I don’t seem to be doing as much as I ought to do and it is building up.

Back in this dream again … "errr … which dream?" – ed … and here were two burnt-out tanks and also the remains of a Panther …indistinct … had come to the rescue. I’d been attacked by the same machine and it was being slowly destroyed. Then the second Panther turned up too late to save its colleague and ended up with a pounding and beating too

Have I dreamed something like this before in the recent past? If not, I don’t see how I’m stepping back into it. But then again, not very much surprises me about what goes on during the night in my bed. Not these days anyway.

so having dealt with all of that I settled down to think about maybe doing some work, and the telephone rang.

And I don’t know why it is that I can give unequivocal and concise instructions to two people, make sure that they are perfectly understood, and four months later to the day, nothing whatever has been done about it and we have to start all over again.

That’s the kind of thing that totally depresses me.

So after several phone calls I have to write a couple of letters and send a few e-mails, and that takes all of the morning until long after midday, compounded by the fact that I had to clean the print head nozzles in the printer again.

They say that if it’s not one thing, it’s another. But with me, it seems to be everything all at once.

So with letters written I had to send messages to my cleaner about posting them, and she’ll drop by in the morning to pick them up.

After the midday fruit I turned my attention to the radio programme that I’m preparing. And I managed to pair off the music, merge the songs together and write most of the notes for it. It won’t take long to finish tomorrow

And that’s some Famous Last Words, isn’t it?

For tea tonight I tried an experiment. I have a small circular metal dish that is for making small pies in the oven. I tried it in the air fryer and it fits.

consequently, with my pasta, veg and tomato sauce cooked in a saucepan, I fried a burger with onion and garlic in the air fryer in the little metal dish – and it cooked the food to perfection.

Too much perfection actually – I didn’t need to cook it for 10 minutes. 7 or 8 would have done just as well

But now I know that that works, I can experiment with more stuff. Roast potatoes, anyone?

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed when I’ve checked my blood pressure and had my medication.

Tomorrow morning I have a shopping list to write out for my cleaner. And then I’m going to be busy.

There’s bread to make of course followed by a chocolate cake to make and then I’m also going to experiment with some cream filling. If the mayonnaise worked so well, there shouldn’t be any reason why I can’t make a sweet variety and use it as a filling in a layer cake. Or even flavour it with chocolate.

Yes, I’m feeling like being bold and adventurous tomorrow morning and I’m wondering now what else I can make while I’m there with my cooking stuff out.

None of the aforementioned might work but as Edward Appleton said, "I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill" and for a moment I seem to be full of enthusiasm (which is not like me these days) so I intend to ride the wave.

However Théoden said "night changes many thoughts" and I wonder how I’ll be feeling in the morning. But as Mona Lott used to say in ITMA, "it’s being so cheerful as keeps me going".

Saturday 17th February 2024 – I DON’T THINK …

… that i’ll be sleeping too much tonight, given the amount of sleeping that I have done today.

There have been at least two occasions when I’ve been stark out of it today. I really don’t know what’s the matter with me these days.

It’s not as if I was in bed all that late last night. Later than some, it’s true but not so late as to work about it. And then I had a relatively peaceful night.

The alarm went off at 06:40 and I thought “that can’t be right”. I must have dreamed the alarm yet again. Not that I could go back to sleep even though I was in the middle of an interesting dream. Instead I just lay there half-awake, half asleep until 07:00.

And how I didn’t want to leave the bed at that moment but nevertheless I forced myself out of bed and took the blood pressure. Last night was 17.8/10.3 but this morning’s was 16.0/9.6. I suppose that that’s a slight improvement over how it has been. It’ll be interesting to see what it’ll be like in a few weeks.

Next stop was the medication. And I had to sort out some of the stuff that the cleaner had brought for me. There’s tons of it and I feel so sorry for the cleaner who has to haul it all back for me.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There were three of us, two guys and a girl called Deakin or Deacon. We’d somehow gone behind enemy lines and infiltrated into this person’s body. We’d eventually been caught but had managed to make our escape and pass down the bloodstream of thi person and eventually find our way out through the eyes. But then we had to go back in to look for this Deakin girl because we couldn’t find her anywhere. We eventually came across her and managed to bring her back to the area behind the eyes but had to wait for the correct moment to try to come through onto the other side but there was some kind of machine gun battle going on on the outside of this human being so we had to wait for the best moment there too

There was something about two girls who had been appointed to become Prime Minister and lead the country. This had happened after the present Prime Minister had resigned. These girls tried to do a couple of things but it didn’t work so in the end they resigned. It meant a whole overhaul of Government and Civil Service and almost everything had to be undergone before these girls would take power again. This brought a whole raft of changes everywhere that many people found difficult to understand

Later on, whoever was Prime Minister of the UK had been making a big mess of things for a while and had resigned. Someone else had taken over and things were not going too well at all. The Far Right organisations were slowly rebuilding. All of a sudden this guy abandoned power. There was a huge power vacuum as people tried to jostle to fill it. Government was being done by decree because there was no-one in the Palace of Westminster. The Far Right made a sudden surge so people started to move out of certain areas where the Far Right was likely to take control. This led to a mass exodus of population around the UK as people were going to different rural places. The future was looking really totally bleak. The only mainly civil, normal people had lost control and there were very few of them left standing for election at the end of all of this. It looked as if the UK was heading for total disaster

Choosing a couple of girls at random to run the country sounds like a much better way of doing it than the way they have gone about things in the UK and the USA over the last 8 years or so when you look at some of the people who have been chosen over that period by their peers. You have the feeling that what has happened in those countries over that period, and one day they are going to wake up and say “April Fools” and return to normality.

Back in PREVIOUS YEARS when Dennis says to King Arthur STRANGE WOMEN LYING IN PONDS, DISTRIBUTING SWORDS IS NO BASIS FOR A SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT, I wonder what he would have said after he had seen the election to power of Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Thick Lizzy?

The Far Right has certainly risen to the top these days in the UK, the USA and Russia and these countries are all the same. I’m hoping that we don’t end up with a Far-Right Government here.

If you ask me, I blame the left wing myself. As soon as a Government is elected they begin to attack it. It never proposes any other solution though but simply sows the seeds of discontentment. And then along comes the Far Right with a “solution” and job done

The Far Left doesn’t realise just how much it’s been infiltrated and being manipulated by the Far Right, but it’s been the case for over 100 years and they still can’t see it.

When the “alarm went off” there was also something about a female footballer who was putting up some outstanding performances, so much so that one or two people were wondering whether “she” was actually a “he”. The President of one Football Association called for an investigation and threatened that next time he encountered her, he would strip her to verify his beliefs. She then published a notice warning people that in any attempt to remove her clothing by anyone else, she would not be responsible for the violence that followed. The other girls too made similar declarations and they began to prepare for a confrontation. This started a similar movement among some members of the crowd too.

Not that I’m a big fan of women’s football, I’ve seen a few women players who would be quite at home in the Premier League. I hadn’t seen a women’s game for years and then I STUMBLED BY ACCIDENT ON A GIRL’S GAME at that High School in Burlington when I was in Vermont and was totally taken aback by how standards had improved.

And they’ve improved considerably since.

There were several radio notes that needed completing and so for the rest of the morning I completed tham. So that’s another one all ready to be dictated tonight. There’s quite a pile of them building up now, dictated but not edited and completed, but that will give me something to do, I suppose, during my week in hospital at the end of April.

And it’s a good job that I completed them this morning because I crashed out completely and definitively round about lunchtime. I’d done a few tidying up bits and pieces, put a few things away, had a really good wash and change of clothes, and that, dear reader, was that. I came in here, sat down and wad gone completely.

The football had already started when I awoke but it was on a recorded stream so it was just a case of going back to the start of the recording.

Y Bala of the Premier League against Mynydd Y Fflint in the North-West Ardal League, or 3rd Division North-West (even though Mynydd y Fflint is actually Halkin, on Deeside in North-East Wales.

The result of a match like this is pretty much a foregone conclusion, although Mynydd y Fflint have four players with Premier League experience, centre-back Aaron Simpson and three players who I would pick for any side in the Premier League today – keeper John Danby, winger Rob Hughes and striker Mike Hayes.

Rob Hughes is the mercurial type with that little touch of magic that can turn a game in an instant and he showed some beautiful touches today. But his problem always has been his self-control and managers have a hard time keeping him on the pitch for 90 minutes.

And so it proved today. I don’t know what he said to the referee after 60 minutes but it was worth a red card.

Not that it really mattered though. They were already 2-0 down and ended up conceding another later in the game. However, they did have their moments. They hit the woodwork once or twice and had another shot cleared off the line.

When the game was over I prepared a quick buffet of home-made hummus, some crackers, olives and pickles as my neighbour was coming round to see me.

As well as finding out how we were doing, she had a few suggestions that might help me and she told me something that she had learned about my apartment downstairs.

Once she left I came back in here and would you believe it, I crashed out again

However, I awoke in time for tea – baked potatoes with salad and breaded quorn fillets. I do love those and I hope that I can keep on getting them.

So now I’m going to loiter around until later at night when hopefully everyone has gone to bed and I can dictate my radio notes. And then add them to the pile that need editing. Frederick the Great once said "we are made for action, and activity is the sovereign remedy for all physical ills"

However he said that 200 or so years before I was born. I prefer the counsel of Matt Dillon’s girlfriend in “Gunsmoke” – "Sunday is the one day of the week a man can get up at noon and sit around with his boots off without anybody hollering at him about it"

That’s much more in my line of country.

Friday 16th February 2024 – THIS WEEKEND’S BREAD …

… was not as good as last weekend’s, but much better than the weekend’s before.

And that’s a shame really. I massaged it gently as if I were massaging Zero’s clavicles (per Sean), used a little more water and folded it rather than fought it (per Liz) and adopted the tips that other people sent me and I’m sorry that I forgot who sent what, but that was that.

It seems that the difference is in the flour. When I used plain, industrial bleached flour it went up like a lift but with cereal flour or wholemeal flour it doesn’t go up anything like as well. But I’m not sure what to do about that. I don’t know enough about baking.

However, it seems that I know plenty about sleeping because despite going once more late to bed I actually had a good sleep yet again.

Not that you would have thought so because it was yet another night when I didn’t really feel like going to bed and could have sat up all night here in my chair. But I can’t make a habit of that so after a while I hauled myself off.

Billy Cotton awoke me from a deep, satisfying sleep. When it went off there was a musician, a guitarist rather like Carlos Santana or John McLaughlin who had a bassist and a drummer. he was playing under one name. For some reason or other the sound that he was creating wasn’t really what he wanted to do so he upped and went to San Francisco. Being there for a short while he recruited the two members of his group from before and brought them with him to San Francisco where they created a new group under the name of “The Family”. They began to play together again but the sound that they were creating was much more like the sound that he was trying to create. People were wondering what exactly was the difference between what he’s doing here and what he’s done when he was elsewhere but which didn’t really sound the same as what he’s producing now. What’s the difference? What’s he doing that’s making the sound better?

That’s not as bizarre as it might sound. I owned a van, an old J4, that would never start on the starter in Manchester. Anywhere else, yes, but not Manchester. It was as if the battery was flat so I had to use the starting handle

Once I changed the lead that went from the solenoid to the starter it would start anywhere, anytime. I came to the conclusion that one of the soldered joints was too susceptible to damp in the air in Manchester. So atmosphere plays a big part in things like that and really can influence the sound. I’ve even heard of records being recorded in toilets because of the differences in atmosphere.

But power trios of guitar, bass and drums. That’s the way forward, rather like Savoy Brown, The Groundhogs, Robin Trower, Budgie and so on. That was how I loved to play and if possible, sing as well but I always seemed to end up with guitarists who loved to sing too.

Yes, it seems that I’m dying to go back on the road. Rather like Bilbo Baggins and "I want to see mountains again, Gandalf". I want to see a stage and an audience again. Last time that I saw a stage was in Winnipeg in 2019 when I walked across the stage where my grandmother had topped the bill over acts like Jackie Coogan and Lon Chaney 100 years ago.

But all of that is for another day. First thing was to check my blood pressure. A mere 15.1/8.0 this morning, and 16.0/8.5 last night. This medication might be beginning to work after all. It’ll be interesting to see what it will be tonight.

After heaping down the medication and doing the usual things that you need to do after 8 hours sleep, I washed my hands and then went to make the bread

It kneaded up quite nicely and when I reckoned that it was done I rolled it out into a long tube, cut it into three equal lengths and then flattened them down onto the baking tray.

There was a rice pudding to make too, seeing as I’m running short on desserts. And after all of the trouble last week, Brain of Britain remembered this week that he had a selection of bread moulds that would fit into the oven with the baking tray and one of those would be good enough to use as a rice pudding dish.

When the bread had finished baking I let it cool while I made coffee and then made some cheese on toast with one of the bread rolls. And it was lovely – warm fresh bread just out of the oven with cheese and toast all over it, washed down with strong black coffee.

After breakfast I came back in here to listen to the rest of the dictaphone notes. We were a brigade of soldiers last night being interviewed to go abroad to fight. Of course we had our families to consider so they asked us where we would like to go. Our response was that we’d like to go somewhere as close to base as possible but on the other hand if an interesting war was being fought somewhere 100 miles away we’d quite happily go there if there was good rail connections to come back to London where all out families were living. As most of us came from South London, the Wimbledon area, we reckoned that we were probably going to end up in South Africa anyway and given a chance to make a name for ourselves there rather than some mundane, dispirited and disorganised clash of arms closer to home in the UK maybe

We were back in the military again later on. The girl who lived next door to us in the family there was my eldest sister’s age but she was dealing in drugs and distributing them about the army base. It seemed at first that no-one was after her. She also had a little side-line going stealing sidecars from army motorbikes and sidecars and selling them on into civilian life. She’d borrow a motorcycle – fill in a form to say that she’d taken a motorcycle but in fact taken a motor cycle combination and undone the couplings so the combination of the sidecar and taken back the machine as it was just written on the form that it was a machine so she was covered in case anyone ever noticed that the sidecar was gone. She had sold several like that and was continuing onwards

But if that’s ever likely to happen – me in the military. If a war ever were to break out again I’d be in the Merchant Marine, unarmed, not fighting, but nevertheless in the front line confronting the odd submarine or ten.

And that reminds me of the time that I started my chauffeuring in Brussels.
"Are you armed, Mr Hall?"
"No I’m not" I replied
"But what would you do if we were confronted by an armed villain?"
"I’d rely on the force of my personality, Sir Brian" I replied.

We didn’t even have a police escort either. Just an ordinary, large family saloon with ordinary, not diplomatic, number places and we used to just pass by quietly and un-noticed. And he survived to live to a ripe old age of 82 and die peacefully in his bed despite my best efforts, which just goes to show …

After the dictaphone notes I had a few matters to attend to and then I began the next radio programme.

First task was to track down a film. And then to extract the sound-track, followed by cutting out a certain song which I needed for a forthcoming radio programme. And you’ve no idea how long that takes to do all of that.

But once it was done I had to track down another song and download that, and then convert both songs into a usable format.

Having collected them, I could then go on and collect another 8 to make the basis of a programme, pair them off and join them together.

By the time that I was ready to call it a day I’d written the notes for three of them too. I’ll try to have the other seven done tomorrow ready to dictate Saturday night, but that’s unlikely as there’s a lot happening, including Y Bala v Mynydd y Fflint in the Cwpan Cymraeg, live on Youtube.

The cleaner came round today and had a lap around the apartment. Now it looks as if someone lives here, and that’s always nice. It won’t last long, though.

Tea was some of those nuggets (first thing that I could grab from the freezer) with a vegan salad and chips. And it really is a nice meal. My air fryer really is good for the chips.

The salad is really good as well, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mushroom and olives with a liberal helping of vegan mayonnaise.

But while we’re on the subject of mayonnaise … "well, one of us is" – ed … I’ve found a recipe for making it without eggs and using a food processor. And seeing as I actually have a food processor I feel that I ought to try it out. In fact that might make a nice Sunday afternoon activity seeing as there’s no baking this weekend

As Keats said in a letter to Benjamin Bailey, "he will have the pleasure of trying the resources of his spirit", or as Aragorn said,"there are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark"

And "the end may be dark" will probably be a pretty good description of my home-made mayonnaise.

Saturday 10th February 2024 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… miserable night with very little sleep.

How many is this now just recently? I’m feeling like death right now.

Just for a change I was in bed at a respectable time and went to sleep quite quickly – but not for long.

It wasn’t the burning sensation but instead an agonising pain in both my ankles. It was a real killer. Every time I moved and the bedding touched the sore points on the ankles the pain drove me through the roof

Strangely enough, when the alarm went off and my ankles were still wracked with pain, I was afraid of standing up. But somehow standing up seemed to ease the pain and that surprised me. I wandered off into the kitchen to take my medication with a sigh of relief.

Back in here I had plenty of things to do before I could look at the dictaphone. And to my surprise there was actually something on it from the night. The night can’t have been as bad as I thought. “The Mole”, a Welsh poem, was written by someone with the aim of aiding people with Educational difficulties by learning French but it didn’t have a great deal of support. In some places the Government disliked it and many other organisations disliked it too because they said that it showed disabled people in the wrong batch by segregating them into groups run by them or not but that’s a complete red herring because the whole point is that everyone joins in and gains something from it.

Well, that’s what I said. And you don’t expect me to make any sense out of it, do you?

Rosemary rang up with a quick question. And it was a quick question too – only 52 minutes today. One of our shorter ‘phone calls. She was going out for afternoon tea with a couple who had just come back from Australia so I told her that they might have brought her back a kangaroo seeing that Australia is overrun with kangaroos right now.

During our conversation I told her about the earliest European explorers to go into the interior, and they took a native guide from the coast with them
They saw a strange animal bouncing around and so they asked their native guide what it was.
He replied "kangaroo" so they captured one, put it in a crate, labelled it “kangaroo” and sent it back to Europe where anthropologists officially called it “kangaroo”, by which name it’s been known ever since throughout the world.
So the explorers went back into the interior with their native guide and they saw a strange tree. "What’s that tree called?" they asked the native guide
He replied "kangaroo"
"Don’t be silly" answered the chief explorer. "You told us that the bouncing animal was called a kangaroo. How can the tree be a kangaroo? What’s it called?"
"Kangaroo" he insisted.
The explorers dragged the native guide back to the coast and to his chief. They told him the story of the tree and demanded an explanation.
The chief burst out laughing. "In our language" he said "”kangaroo” means “I don’t know”."

The rest of the day has been spent with some sound tracks, converting them to a format that I can use and then chopping them up into the bits that I want.

But it wasn’t easy. Being exhausted as I am I crashed out two or three times in the middle of something exciting, and I reckon that there will be a few more times before I can go to bed.

And during one of these spells, I was off on my travels. That will give you an idea of how deep the sleep was. I was with a group of people, several of whom I knew and a few who were quite young. Thee was something organised at the local church and one of the women and I Had been up quite late making food for the event. On our way there one of the small children said “I used to go to Sunday School, didn’t I?”. So we arrived there and that child was shocked to see how people were going in. She piped up “when you go into church you’re supposed to go in quietly and kneel down” in the shocked kind of voice and tone that only a young child can do. Everyone looked at her so I said “we’re all going to have a lecture now about going into church” in a light-hearted was but everyone still looked daggers at us. After the lecture or whatever it was, it was the buffet. And I’ve never seen food disappear so quickly. When I arrived there was very little left. I said in a loud voice to the woman with whom I’d come “what time late at night were we up to making this food?” in attempt to try to shock and embarrass everyone but she replied in a horrified tone “you don’t talk about things like that”. Some woman looked sympathetically at me so I replied “don’t worry. I can always go outside and wait until the event is over. It doesn’t bother me”.

As if you’d really get me into a church. Fair enough, I went into plenty with Marianne but that was out of friendship and respect. I’ve also been in plenty as a tourist too.

However in the UK, the first time that I went into church, someone stuck me in a pool of water. The second time, someone attached me to a strange woman. The next time that I go into a church will be over my dead body.

As for Nerina being strange though, that’s certainly not the truth. If we hadn’t both been under such stress and if I hadn’t been in such a dark place, things might well have been different. As I once said to my niece in Canada, it wasn’t until I met a couple of other girls on a more personal level that I realised how lucky I might have been when I had Nerina.

On another subject that cropped up in that dream, I remember being in a meeting in Toronto in Canada and they announced at the end that there was a buffet.

Seeing a few of my friends on the podium I stopped to chat to them so I was late joining the queue for the food. And when those of us near the end of the queue arrived at the front, the buffet had been totally stripped of food. Yet some people early in the queue had their plates piled high with sandwiches.

What I did was to shrug my shoulders and walk down to the nearest “Subway” and have a sandwich there.

Something else that interrupted me was the football on the internet. In fact I was asleep when the match between Penybont and Y Barri kicked off so I missed the first 25 minutes of it but luckily it was streamed via a recording site so I could go back to the start.

Penybont are having a strange season. For all of their experience and organisation, they are having a wretched season and are in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle.

On the other hand, Y Barri might be low down in the table but as a newly-promoted side and with such a gulf between the Premier League and the feeder leagues, they are coping better than some have expected.

THE MATCH seemed to reflect the situation. Penybont were much more organised but Y Barri played with more flair and improvisation.

The result at the final whistle was probably about fair, I suppose.

Penybont’s Chris Venables was sent off yet again for another stupid off-the-ball incident, and I really don’t understand it. He’s one of the better and more articulate players in the league and could easily be a regular in the “C” International side, yet the problem would be to keep him on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes.

There’s far too much of this niggly off-the-ball stuff in the league and I do wish that some of the players would grow up.

Tea tonight was one of the breaded quorn fillets that I like, now that I’ve had a Leclerc delivery, along with vegan salad and delicious baked potato started in the microwave and finished in the air fryer. And it was so nice that I went and baked myself another potato afterwards.

Now, I have a few notes to dictate before I go to bed, but I’m not sure how I’m going to do it. It’s Carnaval weekend, there are hordes of motor caravans parked on the public carpark outside and crowds are going back and forth singing and making a noise.

For the weekend half of the town join in the celebrations with gusto along with the other 150,000 people who attend here as visitors. As for the other half of the town though, they all make themselves scarce and head for the hills.

For people who don’t want to be here but can’t get away, the constant noise and sound of the entertainment can be quite overwhelming.

In fact, as my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche once remarked, even "little children who could neither walk nor talk were running about in the streets cursing their Maker"

Saturday 3rd February 2024 – YOU MIGHT THINK …

… that the fact that I crashed out, and quite definitively too . round about 12:00 for a good couple of hours is indicative of the fact that the anti-potassium stuff isn’t the cause of this overwhelming desire to sleep at some point during the day0

However, I remain (for the moment) unconvinced.

The fact is that with the anti-potassium stuff I’m out like a light with no warning whatsoever and don’t even realise that I’ve been asleep. Today though, I awoke tired and spent most of the morning fighting off wave after wave of sleep.

It’s quite surprising really because it wasn’t as if I was late to bed or anything like that, and the night was nothing like as turbulent as some have been just recently.

For a start, none of my favourite ladies put in an appearance and from that point of view it was a very lonely night.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed as usual and took my blood pressure. last night’s was an exciting 17.2/12.3. This morning’s was an interesting 18.1/10.7. and that’s after a relaxing night’s sleep. I wonder what it would be if one of the three girls had come and spent some time with me during the night.

Anyway, I wandered off into the kitchen for my medication and do on and then came back in here.

Things weren’t so simple to start off because I was so tired that I could hardly see. But anyway, after a good while, I began to transcribe the dictaphone notes. There was something about some kind of guy who had killed someone. The person had been put inside a coffin but he raided the coffin, took the corpse out and pounded it again. When he died, he was buried but a lot of people found out where he was buried, where his grave was, so they had this competition of throwing rocks at his grave until they unearthed his coffin, then they continued to throw rocks. He had some kind of coffin with special attachments etc and you could see that they had all been exposed and destroyed. It looked as if the top had come off the coffin but they were still pounding it with rocks. Then other people began to enjoy it. There were all kinds of mysteries happening about other coffins. We came to believe that one of the guys who worked for us was involved in this. The coffins that we’d set aside for us had been badly damaged somehow and no-one knew why. I suggested to my friend that perhaps we really ought to buy some more coffins. My friend immediately thought “that’s rather tempting fate, isn’t it with this guy working for us, making our drinks and food etc? Anything is likely to happen to us”.

As you can see, I have some exciting dreams during the night

But somewhere along the line we were dealing with things when past us in the window went a couple of coaches, old Plaxton Supreme Vs or something belonging to a company in the area. I suddenly remembered that what they did was to hire out their coaches to owner-drivers. They had a lovely V-registration (the old “V”) Volvo Plaxton Elite that was available for hire. I thought that next tie I took a private party onto the Continent I ought to think about maybe going to see them and talk to them about hiring the Volvo instead of hiring from Shearings or from the local company that I used in Crewe.

Later on I was with Hawkwind playing bass and we developed a really new number that we worked on. We were practising it and bashing it out. The producer came in. He heard that we were doing this song but said that there was one line that we had to change, one about being in Keele in April. The song might give the idea to people that everything was OK whereas in fact what we want was in the right character for people to know that it’s not OK … fell asleep here … Anyway so we had to change this lyric but when we did we found that it didn’t scan. I had to stop and think, to try to work on the previous line and the line that we’d just invented so as to make them scan. And then they needed to rhyme too and that was going to be quite a task. One of the players in the group who tried to play this line suddenly leant over and fell against the wall. We all then suspected that something else had been put in this coffee, not just chocolate powder, so we had to prepare a sample ready to go to a laboratory so that it could tell us exactly what it is that’s in there

But not that I would ever have ended up playing bass with Hawkwind of course, much as I would have liked to have done, but there’s a story here too. There are several Hawkwind tracks that I play where when I sing them I change one or two words here and there to change a meaning completely.

Sometimes they scan, and sometimes they don’t. I wonder if you could spot which word I would change in MOONGLUM for example.

And then I was with my friend from the Wirral. His life had completely changed. He’d had a divorce and was running some kind of photography place in the USA. He was over here so we met and we chatted about his new life etc. It turned out that it was his birthday so I said that I’d sent him a present. I had little 25-watt solar kits of a panel, a charge controller and one or two other little appliances. I thought that it would be nice to send it to him as a gift. I packed it up – it was much heavier than I expected – and I had to chisel his address out of him once or twice, his new address, but eventually I was given it. I wrote it down on the brown paper of this parcel but it didn’t stand out very well so I had to hunt for a marker pen to write it. Then it was a little indistinct. Anyway I picked it up and went off. We met somewhere on another car park. He felt the parcel and he thought that it was heavy too. I replied “never mind – it’s a little present for you that will come in the post”. Then I had to find a Post Office that was open. That wasn’t easy. I tried 3 or 4 and eventually found one that would accept it and send it off for me

By the time that I’d written all of that it was break time so I went for my coffee and toasted cheese sandwich, with my rock-hard bread. But nevertheless it still tasted quite nice regardless.

While we’re talking about bread … "well, one of us is" – ed … when I came back here afterwards I found that Sean had written to me about it. he thinks that I’m kneading my dough too hard and I ought to ease up and be as gentle as I was cutting that tile last night.

Looking at things, I do have a tendency to fight with my dough, I suppose. Maybe I shall have to pretend that I’m massaging the clavicles of one of my favourite young ladies.

But on the subject of bread, I remember very well my little voyage to Canada in 2012. I’d been writing a book ABOUT LANOUILLER AND BÉCANCOUR’S CHEMIN DU ROY and although the road was started in the 17th Century, you wouldn’t believe (but it’s true) that it’s still not finished.

Consequently I was determined to drive all the way down to the end to see what happens there.

It actually fizzles out into nothing but nearby is a port where there’s an icebreaker-supply ship that goes out through the ice to supply the outlying islands.

And so I turned up at the port and managed to blag my way on board the ship.

It dropped me off at one of the islands with a promise to come back in a couple of days to pick me up again (and apparently, my family and friends had a whip-round to pay the captain to leave me there) and I found a billet there with an old woman.

She made all of the bread for the island and I had an interesting lesson with her. And she used to have a real fight with her dough.

And one day she asked me to go down to the cellar to bring up a small sack of flour
"I can only see 56lb sacks down here" I shouted
"yes, that’s the small one"

When you are only approvisioned for 8 months of the year I suppose that you have to keep a good stock on hand. That’s what we had to do in the Auvergne – stock up with food. We could have half a metre of snow overnight and not be able to go anywhere for several weeks.

But anyway, I asked her what she did for fuel because there wasn’t a single tree on the island and I know all about Québec Hydro electricity prices.
"Everyone waits until the water freezes over then they go over on their skidoos to the mainland to cut down the trees and drag them back"
"Well, if you don’t mind my saying so, you don’t look the type to go over the ice on a skidoo"
"I don’t" she replied. "But everyone else does. How do you think that they pay for the bread?"

That’s what I really call “kneading the dough”.

Yes, I learnt a lot, an awful lot on my voyages to the edge of the World. But as Samuel Gurney Cresswell said after a voyage with M’Clure, "A voyage to the High Arctic ought to make anyone a wiser and better man"

But having said that, look what happened on those last few days in 2019 on my final trip up there.

But I digress … "again" – ed

Back here I began to write up the rest of the notes for my radio programme as best as I could with all of this sleep going on, but I ended up curled up on my chair asleep, despite the coffee. I must be immune to caffeine.

While I was asleep I was on one of the smaller Channel Islands walking down a footpath, behind a group of people who had a couple of young children. They were walking slowly but I couldn’t go past them. When the footpath came to the sea there were two Martello-type lighthouses really close together, one at the end of the island and the other that I imagined was a French one on some small rock in French waters. We walked on with the sea to our right and round a corner we saw that the crescent moon had a planet shining from within the horns of the crescent. I reached for my phone to take a photo but no matter how I tried I couldn’t switch on the camera. I tried for ages to switch it on but to no avail

That’s how deep the sleep was. I was miles away, quite literally too. But how many times have I had this dream about my camera not working? It was night after night after night some time not so long ago

This afternoon I didn’t do very much – just watched the highlights of a couple of football matches from last night and made a start on a little project that I’d been promising to do for a while.

Then I knocked off for an early tea. Burger on a bap with vegan salad and chips. Delicious as usual. My air fryer is really working well and I’m pleased that I decided to buy one.

Tea was early because there was football on the Internet – FALKIRK v TNS In the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Although it’s a Scottish competition clubs from England, Wales and Northern Ireland are invited to compete and TNS have fought their way all the way to the semi-finals

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m no fan of TNS, and for several reasons too, but when they are flying the flag for the Land of my Grandmother (and mine) on foreign soil, they’ll receive all the support that I can give them

But what if they were playing a team from Canada? Having a grandmother from each country would make life rather complicated.

Anyway, I’m not going to tell you the score of the game. I’ve posted a link to the match and if you want to see how it ended, you’ll just have to watch it.

So now that I’ve finished my notes, I have to start work.

There are three lots of radio programmes that need to be dictated and that’ll take a while. But as Hamfast Gamgee said, "It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish" so I’d better get a move on.

After all, as Mona Lott said in “It’s That Man Again”, "It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going"

However I always remember a character in the old 1950s radio programme “Dragnet” say "It’s no crime to get lost" and so I will.

Goodnight.

Friday 2nd February 2024 – JUST FOR A …

… change, I’ve had a very quiet day today, with little in the way of interruptions.

In fact, apart from my cleaner coming in to bring me my mushrooms and to start this extra hour per week on deep-cleaning the place, that’s been about it

There were however two telephone calls from the hospital. One was asking why they hadn’t had the blood test results. Had I had the blood test and did I have them.

The answer to both questions was of course “yes” so I sent them off to them

The second conversation was much more useful. “You don’t need to take this anti-potassium stuff”. That’s what I call good news. I hated that stuff and the effect that it had on me.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … office after I’d finished last night’s notes, taken my blood pressure, had the night’s medication and so on I came back in here and played the guitar.

Bashing out quite a few tunes it was quite late when I finally crawled into bed.

No-one around to awaken me either. Just Billy Cotton on the alarm as usual and that was that.

Just after I’d finished my medication and stuff like that my cleaner stuck her head in the door (I’d forgotten about this one). Was it just mushrooms and what about the anti-potassium stuff? Has the new prescription arrived?”

“Yes and no”.

So she went off to do her work and to the shops on her way back home and I came in here.

Then I went back out again. I’d forgotten that I hadn’t made the weekend’s bread so I had a very pleasant hour or two making some bread rolls.

But once again, no danger of the dough rising very much. You can use these things for cannonballs they are so heavy. Bread is supposed to be light and airy and I’ve no idea where I’m going wrong but no matter what I do, the dough doesn’t seem to want to rise.

But still, the toasted cheese sandwich was very nice even if it was rather heavy on the stomach.

Then I came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes, of which there were more than just a few. I was married and had a little cottage somewhere with my wife. We were both young. It was in rural France somewhere, in the depths of it. Just a little further down the road was another house that was quite old and had been abandoned. A single woman had bought it. She seemed to be slowly doing up the inside of the house although the outside of the house was a total mess and swamp. You needed wellingtons any time of the year to go to her front door. One day she came over and told us that the inside of the house was finished and was ready to start work on the outside, which would be good news for everyone. A short while later I needed to know something so I thought that I’d go over and ask her. I waded my way through the swamp and went to the front door. I knocked on it and when she opened the front door I noticed that all the inside was a total mess again. It was still far from finished. This went on, that every time she came over to out house and told us how her house was going on, it was finished inside. Every time I went over there it wasn’t. On one occasion she had some post for me and was going to hand it to me. I made sure that I stood away from the door so that she’d have to come out. She did, and handed me three envelopes. She’d crossed off the address on the front and scrawled our address on the back in black biro but in huge untidy letters. I thanked her and left. This was something that was totally bewildering me and my wife – why it was that every time she came over to us her house was finished yet when we went over there it wasn’t. It was as if there was some kind of magic or mysterious power gripping everything that was causing all this problem and her house was somehow possessed, or maybe she was.

People using magical or mystical powers during my dreams is exciting, that’s for sure

Back into this dream later. For some reason I received a message on my telephone. Instead of the usual telephone message it was another message alert sound that went off with the Monty Python “what is it, my good man? Do you have a message for me” sound. That bewildered me. We seem to have made it into some kind of big time with my guitar and her violin. My wife and I made it onto this folk circuit that was managed by this guy who used to do festivals. It looked as if the two of us would be doing festivals every summer which was very good news indeed. But we were still puzzled by this message that went off first thing after I’d gone back to sleep just now

And when the World is ready to hear it and the Statute of Limitations clicks in, I’ll tell you all a story about that

And while we’re on the subject of stories … "well, one of us is" – ed … that story that I told yesterday about the Byrds and SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO. It seems that I’m not the only one who likes the album.

Grahame sent me a “thumbs up” for mentioning it. I’m glad that it’s on your playlist too. It really is a most extraordinary album and well worth a listen

If anyone else wants to write to me, please feel free to do so. There’s a “contact me” button on the bottom right. Just be aware that if you’re writing to me on a Gmail address then it will be STRAWBERRY MOOSE replying to you.

Another reminder that, if you haven’t read the notice in the sidebar to the right, I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on one of the Amazon links in these pages and subsequently order something via that link, I receive a small commission from Amazon. It doesn’t affect your purchase price but the commission helps me pay some of the costs of hosting these pages so it’s quite welcome.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed a friend and I were working on someone’s house. We were tiling the work surface in the bathroom. He’d already made a start but was having a lot of trouble. When I came to join in to carry on I looked at what he was doing and asked him if he’d started from the back or started from the front. He said that he’d started from the back so I told him that normally you’d start from the front and work backwards. After some complainin ghe took up what he’d put down already and made a start. I had to cut a tile so I used the small angle grinder with a cutting disc on it. Someone else came over to me and asked how good I was at cutting tiles. I said that I could cut L-shaped bits out but I wasn’t any good at any fancy work. Anyway he brought a tile to me and asked me if I’d cut a piece out of it so that it would fit around the sink somewhere in another job that was being done in the house. I said “fair enough” and cut out this piece and it actually worked.

Can you imagine it? me with a delicate touch with an angle grinder? I ask you!

Finally, in our building we had a bunch of kitchen assistants who were a really good laugh. We also had a colleague who was extremely tight with his money. He’d pick up the offcuts of carpet that we’d sold and sell them, and at strange prices like €19.83 or €20.41, something like that and I’ve no idea why. I’d been away from work for a while on holiday. I’d come back and it was break-time, and I’d found myself in the lift with this guy so we went down together. When we reached the bottom the door wouldn’t open. Jokingly I told him “well perhaps we’re out of linoleum and it’s €12:43 so that we can leave”. We heard someone at the other side of the door so we shouted “go on! Get this goddam door open!” in a voice of, like, impatience. Eventually the door opened and it was the two cleaners. In a kind-of mock anger one of them said “trust it to be you to give grief to people who are trying to solve questions about your sport and have them correct” so we made up and she asked me how my holiday went.

It wasn’t the kitchen staff with whom we had the best time. It was the staff in charge of dealing with the rubbish. They were a good bunch of guys and we always had a laugh and a joke with them.

They would always let us look through the skips and on one occasion I salvaged a complete computer and monitor that had been binned.

When I brought it home and got it to work I found to my delight that the operating system was GEM – Graphics Environment Manager, the forerunner to Windows. One of the languages in which I’d learnt to program was GEM (T223, anyone?) so I had loads of fun playing around with it

But that was all a long time ago of course.

This afternoon passed so quickly and I can’t think why. I wrote out most of the notes for the next radio programme and there are only a couple to do now, but I can’t think where the rest of the afternoon went.

But I’ll tell you where it didn’t go. No anti-potassium stuff so despite feeling tired, I haven’t crashed out today. And that’s a novelty. I wonder if I can keep that up or is it just luck and there’s another medication causing the problem.

Tea was air-fried chips with vegan salad and the last of that pile of vegan nuggets from Noz. The freezer is emptying rapidly now and I really do need to think long and hard about making burgers, baking pies and the like. I reckon that it’s time.

Then after a quite chat with Liz and a write-up of my notes I’m ready for bed. And quite right too. I’ve had far too many late nights just recently and I’m beginning to get a stiff neck.

It’s not because I’m sitting in a draught or anything like that. It might be in anticipation of one of my favourite visitors during the night and I haven’t swallowed the Viagra quickly enough

Saturday 27th January 2024 – SITTING IN MY FRIDGE …

… right now, even as we speak, is a bottle full of carrot and broccoli water from when I blanched and froze those carrots and broccoli the other day.

That’s right. Brain of Britain here forgot about it and so didn’t use it for making his broccoli stalk soup today

Mind you, the soup was still really nice and I enjoyed every last drop of it. I thought that I’d made enough for two days but after the first couple of drops soaked up into a lump of bread roll made fresh yesterday, the idea of saving anything for another time went right out of the window.

There have been plenty of broccoli stalk soups that have passed through these pages so if you want to see the recipe, just click on the “broccoli and potato soup” tag at the foot of this entry and it will take you to several pages.

In these pages I talk a lot about my cooking, and for several reasons too.
Firstly, my mother was a hopeless cook so I spent a lot of time later living out of tins. It wasn’t until I met Nerina that I began to eat really well. With an Italian mother, what do you expect? I learnt a lot from Nerina, and from Liz and also from that Italian Restaurant in Wandsworth where I worked one winter
Secondly, I’m proud of what I cook. Although it’s pretty basic stuff, I eat really well considering.
Thirdly, with not going out or anything like that I have plenty of time on my hands and I need a good hobby. I’ve arranged my kitchen so that if I prop myself up in the corner between the sink and the hob, almost everything except the freezer in the bathroom is at arm’s length and I don’t have to move anywhere
Fourthly, if anyone can ever suggest any improvements in my recipes feel free to send me some tips. I’m always grateful to receive them.

But that Italian restaurant was a riot.

It all began with a friend of mine living in Newcastle upon Tyne complaining that he was unemployed and couldn’t find a job. I told him to go to London where there were plenty of jobs. But he found excuse after excuse to everything I said.

In the end I was so fed up that one winter when I had nothing to do I put an ad in one of these local newspapers in London asking for a room. And I had one in Wandsworth arranged within half an hour.

On the train (I was determined not to use the car) I came to London, the Underground to Wandsworth and then a bus to my digs. I was installed.

Before I’d even unpacked I walked down to the High Street past a parade of shops where there was an Employment Agency and an Italian Restaurant. And within 15 minutes I had a day job driving a bus for schoolkids for Merton Borough Council and an evening job delivering food

The Christmas period was chaos though. The schools had closed so I was full-time in the restaurant. There at 06:00 to prepare for opening (as a café) at 07:00. Close at 14:00 and then prepare for the evening.

When you finished, everyone slept underneath the nice warm pizza ovens for three hours or so before getting up at 18:00 ready to open at 19:00. When the restaurant closed, you’d prepare for the next morning.

No question of “that is your job, this is my job”. Everyone did everything – cooking, waiting at table, preparing, driving. My tomato sauce actually passed muster in a professional environment, thanks, Nerina.

It was absolutely insane, but I daren’t tell you how much money I took back to Brussels after three months, all in used fivers in a plain brown envelope.

However, let’s turn our attention to last night. In bed nice and comfortably for once, rather later than I was hoping, I was asleep quite quickly as you might expect after this anti-potassium stuff.

However, it was quite a turbulent night . On the dictaphone there was a ton of stuff, much of which has an important significance so it really must have been quite interesting too.

I started out with my rock group last night. There was something going on, whether it was a rehearsal or something I dunno. I was in the middle of playing one of our numbers when wherever we were was raided by the police. We managed to get the young girl violinist away before anyone said anything but the police wandered around, noticed that she wasn’t there and insisted that she be brought. We said that it was impossible so they threatened us for a blood test etc. They kept on insisting that she turn up. This was going to turn into a rather nasty situation. I was in some kind of school hall or something I dunno. When the guy with me said “have you ever seen the dawn rise in the morning?” he took me outside and we watched the sun slowly rise over the horizon.

And you’ll be surprised about how much truth there is in a short tale like that. One of these days I’ll tell you about it but the World isn’t ready yet to hear the story.

That thing about me and the World War that broke out. The Germans bombed all around Mill Lane and the British denounced them as terrorists yet all around Mill Lane (wherever Mill Lane might be) were all kinds of ammunition factories therefore it was all perfectly legitimate so the UK should not have denounced them at all, particularly when you consider some of the things that they were doing

You’ll be surprised at how much truth there was in this story too. One of my University theses for my degree (I actually wrote two) was ABOUT COVENTRY AND IEPER and reading the howls of indignation about the bombing of Coventry in 1940 despite the fact that it was clearly a legitimate military target, yet three years later when the UK had acquired the technology to do so, they were shamelessly targeting the civilian population of Germany with no restraint whatsoever.

By the way, if you want to read MY SECOND THESIS, all five pages (there was sixth one added to finish off the story) were redacted for the web.

Having had a great deal of trouble completing the practical work for some of my modules (or not even starting it at all) due to the chaos that ensued after September 11th 2001 I was miles behind with my course and I chose two modules with theses and no practical work so that I could write them in the car while sitting on places like deserted airfields in former East Germany day after day after day, all of that kind of lark, in the hope that that would pull my score back up.

However, as we all know, there’s a huge problem with “mature” (I use the term loosely) students.
Firstly, we were too old, too experienced and too worldly-wise to be herded around like 18 year-olds. Many of the tutors who came in from other Universities had no experience of dealing with people like us and their attitudes and attempts at discipline just didn’t wash
Secondly, life tended to get in the way of course work. “This assignment should have been handed in yesterday”. “Yes, but my baby was sick” or “my house burnt down” or “I had to go on a mission for my boss”. These were genuine excuses that many of the tutors didn’t understand. These weren’t “18 year old” problems to which the tutors were accustomed.
Thirdly, and this was my great problem, I wasn’t studying for a career path and desperate for a degree. I had my career all nicely planned out and I was heading where I wanted to go (that’s not to say that it didn’t change dramatically once I graduated, but that’s another story completely). I was studying for my personal interest and if there was a qualification after it, well, that’s nice but it wasn’t the name of the game. I’d find something that interested me and follow that trail for miles and miles, suddenly finding that I’d departed a long way from the core of the course and was totally off-target. But did I care? I was totally absorbed and having fun.

However, as an aside, I can still add “B.Sc.Hons” to my name if ever I feel like it.

In another dream I had to go to Manchester – I’m not sure whether it was work or for the hospital but I awoke rather late and wasn’t sure whether they knew about my trip etc. As I was dressing I turned on the radio and found that I could pick up the channel on which their cars broadcasted so while I was washing i listened to any sign that they might be coming to pick me up. I got as far as my T-shirt and undies off and was washing myself waiting to hear that the taxi company was coming to pick me up but I wasn’t really optimistic that they’d written it down or remembered.

At one point during the night I was turning around over and over trying to be comfortable when I felt that the bed was moving and suddenly stopped with an almighty jolt but it can’t move as its a fixed bed. It did it again later on too. I’ll tell you what – I’d get good money for this anti-potassium stuff on the back streets of Granville if only I could walk out there.

Someone called Ruth was running some kind of garage in the neighbourhood and had become friendly with me. Although I liked her coming around, I wasn’t really interested in a relationship. One day I was hurt and had to go to hospital. I knew that she would be coming round later in the day so I didn’t say anything to her. I had my cleaner help me when the car came to pick me up and take me off. I had a good chat to my cleaner about the situation and a chat with the taxi driver too. It seemed to be the best solution that one of the two of us (Ruth or me) move away. She was probably the most likely to move as the garage wasn’t doing very much. I had my treatment and asked “what time is it?”. It was about an hour to return home and it was 14:00 and she was coming to see me at 15:00 so I thought that we’d make it fine. He set out to drive me home. On the way back he asked me a riddle about the United Kingdom but I can’t remember it now. I could actually work it out, which was quite impressive. We talked again about this woman on the way back. When we arrived it was 15:00. We were just arriving when on the way back we went past her garage and there were just 2 cars on the front, an Austin Maxi at £1745 and another vehicle for about a similar price. I thought “she’s not going to make any money trying to sell those cars at that price. No-one is going to pay that much money for them”.

And considering what I wrote earlier, it’s totally ironic that someone called Ruth should appear in my dreams later on. But the owner of a garage? I really don’t think so.

I was going through another long rambling dream concerning Norman Smith, the recording engineer better known of course as the rock star Hurricane Smith who produced several albums and was going to produce an album for a woman who sang with Abba which was to be filmed on a dusty petrol station near where we lived so we went along to see. But once more I ended up being taken to hospital again where they checked me over and took my blood pressure. I was polite to them but I didn’t see why they needed to take my pressure. The nurse who was rather like Oddjob in GOLDFINGER came along and soon quietened me. This went on for a while with a lot of intervention. Eventually I was let go at about midday so I reckoned to the driver that we could make it back at 13:00 when all of this began. I can’t remember any more about the rest but I know that it was very interesting.

One thing that I did remember about that dream that comes back to me was talking to the taxi driver about death and dying- him saying that if I did decide to take my own life I would probably be disappointed because there weren’t all that many people in the concert hall to watch Hawkwind which I didn’t believe at all. I was polite enough not to say. However my brother-in-law who was a part-time goalkeeper went flying past somehow on some kind of mission for someone – not on an aeroplane etc bust just floating in the air flying along overtaking a car.

A group of us had gone off to climb Mount Everest or something like that. We’d set out early one morning. There were several other people making their way up the mountain. We all trudged in a weary line until it became early evening. There was a kind of café-restaurant there so we all swarmed in. After everyone else was seated there was only one place for me, by a young girl. I went and sat next to her and we slowly began to chat. It turned out that she was from Montréal although she spoke English. We talked a lot about Montréal and when she found out that I’d lived in Chester she talked about her visit to Chester. We were handed a menu. I had a look down it and there was only one vegan dish. She told me what she wanted so I ordered it and ordered my vegan one. She seemed to be quite pleased at that. We carried on chatting and ever so slowly my arm went around her. She slowly cuddled up against me which I thought was unusual. My brother came along, as he would, and talked about going to fetch something from the shops. Someone gave him their order and someone else ordered something else. The two of us ordered something (we were definitely “the two of us” by this time). He wandered off to the shops. Every now and again we saw some people come back. She would ask “is that him?”. I replied “no, he’ll be walking with a limp”. She asked “why is that?”. I replied “because he’ll be shocked having to spend all that money”. Eventually he came back and handed her a receipt for repairs to her car. I found out that she had an old Zephyr 6 which impressed me greatly. He said “you know that your repairs are going to cost you over £1000”. She didn’t say very much to that. We walked outside this restaurant and there were parking places at the back for cars. She asked if they were private places. I replied “yes they are”. She replied “if I leave my car here I won’t have to come back, will I?”. In an automatism I gave a despairing “Awww” – actually a real despairing Awww too. I could see the look on her face slowly change to one of happiness. I thought to myself “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”

Yes, “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”. Here we are, almost on the point of finally Getting The Girl and the dream grinds to a halt. And we can’t have a dream like this without at least one person from my family coming along to try to spike my guns, can we?

Incidentally, we – or rather my father when we were kids – had a Zephyr 6 mark III, a black one, 3816 TD. I remember it well.

And after I sold my MkI Cortina (which features regularly on these pages) I had a MkIV Zephyr 6 for a short while but it caught fire. We’d been to see Jethro Tull at that venue in Ardwick, South-West Manchester … "the Apollo" – ed … and I’d parked on a demolition site around the corner. Coming off after the concert, I grounded out on some rubble, not realising that it had scraped away part of the fuel line and there was a fuel leak that ignited.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errrr … bed I’d forgotten something about the girl. We ended up back in a rented apartment that I’d rented. There was only one bed so naturally I explained to her the situation. She seemed to be quite comfortable with it so that night we slept together, and slept together for a considerable number of nights. After that she came to Granville for a look around to see what the town has to offer. As her visa was about to expire she went back to Canada and I hoped that I’d see her again and that she wished to come back.

And so Our Hero finally Gets The Girl after all of these years of dreaming. And it takes the French Government’s Interior Ministry to intervene this time and put a stop to whatever is going on. Do you ever get the feeling that you are just not going to win?

Back in this dream … "which dream?" – ed … I met a car with 4 boys – I don’t know if they were the four that I mentioned before, if indeed I did mention them … "no, you didn’t" – ed … I had a Ryobi drill and was doing some things with it. In the end I took the mandrel off and fitted a huge mandrel like a bolt thread that you’d use for drawing nuts up long distances. For some unknown reason it wouldn’t go in and I didn’t want to force it. The guy next to me said that he’d done it on his old car and it will fit so I had to squeeze it very tightly to open the internal jaws on the drill and fit this attachment in. Then I couldn’t find the nut so he asked if anyone had a nut. One guy replied that he had one but it was on his A40. We ended up talking about old cars – I had the Cortinas, ha had the A40, someone else had an A50 and the conversation became quite interesting.

So after all of that – well, most of it anyway, the alarm went off and I arose from the Dead.

Once more I’ve no idea what they will make of the blood pressure figure this morning. Not wracked with pain so it was only 18.0/11.6. What did the letter from the hospital say? Ahh yes – “target figure maximum 14.0/9.5”.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I came in here to begin to transcribe the dictaphone notes. There were that many, as you have seen, that I was nowhere near finishing them when I went off to make my delicious broccoli stalk soup.

Back hereat my desk at 11:15 after all of that and despite two cups of strong black coffee I crashed out immediately. Really, this stuff that they are giving me is ridiculous.

while I was asleep, crashed out in the morning I was waiting for a tram in Haslington. Along came the mother of The Farmer’s Daughter, someone who has figured a few times in my dreams in the past. She said a few encouraging words which quite surprised me – I was half-expecting her to tell me to keep away from her daughter. She said a few other things too that quite surprised me. After she’d gone my mother came along. She said that she’d heard a few stories about the woman, including that she was terrorised by her husband who seemed to control her far too much. I said “you know, you aren’t the first to say that. You aren’t even the second”. “Why?” she asked “Who else has said that kind of thing?”. I replied “what do you think she’s just been saying to me then?”.

It was 12:48 when I awoke and do you know what? I hadn’t felt a thing. It was only the fact of meeting that woman in my dream that made me even realise that I’d been asleep. It was just as if someone had flicked a switch and I’d gone out like a light.

It took an age for me to get my head together after that and continue with the dictaphone notes, stopping and almost dozing off every 5 minutes. It took me almost until hot chocolate time to finish them.

After the hot chocolate I started work but Rosemary rang me later. Only 1 hour and 28 minutes this time. A short ‘phone call then. We spent tons of time chatting about nothing at all, as friends often do. She’s also talking about coming to visit me, which will be nice

Tea tonight was, seeing as I have run out of those lovely quorn fillets that I so like and Leclerc had none in stock, a burger on a bap with air-fried chips and a vegan salad. As I said, my food is quite simple but it isn’t half delicious.

So hallucinating badly every time that I close my eyes and trying hard not to fall asleep I’m going. I might crash out for an hour or so and then I have the radio notes to dictate.

God alone knows what’s on them. This stuff that I’m taking is making me talk – and type – total rubbish in this confused state in which I find myself right now

Not half as confused as the old woman in the Old People’s Home who once hurled a volley of abuse at the old Queen Mother.
"Don’t you know who I am?" asked the Queen Mother indignantly.
"No, dear" said the old woman. "But don’t worry. Ask the Matron. She’ll tell you."