Tag Archives: alvin myatt

Thursday 29th March 2024 – SO THAT’S THE …

… end of yet another Welsh course. And that’s a shame because I quite enjoyed this one and felt that I was actually learning something instead of just going through the motions.

It seems to me that it’s a pretty good idea to go on these short holiday courses that relate to courses that I’ve studied in the past because it’s first of all a way of catching up with everything and then it’s also a way of reinforcing the basics

As well as that, it keeps my wheels oiled over the long breaks.

So I now have to look for courses for over the next few holidays too. Some of those will keep me running too.

But at least after this course I can say unfedarddegarhugain which is how a Welshman of two hundred years ago would have said “31st”. You don’t ‘arf learn a lot on these courses.

What I’m currently learning though is how totally disorganised I am about going to bed. Once again, despite a desperate rush to be early, it was still 23:40 by the time that I crawled into bed and that’s still not good enough.

Especially if the night is somewhat disturbed as it was, with me hearing phantom alarms going off at strange times. But more of this anon

When the real alarm went off I was deep in the arms of Morpheus again and I wasn’t sure at first whether or not it was a phantom alarm but realising that it was for real, I fell out of bed and groped for the tensiometer.

15.9/9.9 this morning on the blood pressure, which contrasts with 15.4/10.2 from last night. so what wound me up in bed then?

After taking all of my medication I arranged everything ready for the nurse to call so that she doesn’t waste too much time. She rang my doorbell when she came to visit my neighbour so when she turned up here I was already sitting in the chair waiting.

She didn’t stay long for sorting out my legs but she did point out a few supplies that we will be needing in early course so I added them to the list that my cleaner will be taking to the chemist’s. And the cleaner taught me a new phrase that I shall remember and reuse with vigour and vim.

After the nurse had left I had a little listen to the dictaphone notes to fins out what was going on during the night. We were back with that crowd again at the Wistaston Memorial Hall. One of the people there was the girl with whom I was friendly and whose father was landlord of the Whore’s Bed at Walgherton. Someone mentioned something about knowing her pretty well and I came out with a remark “not as well as me, I hope” which made everyone laugh. The guy didn’t say anything else which cheered me up a little but I can’t remember anything else about this particular dream at all. It was as soon as I said that that I awoke and the rest of the dream evaporated

It’s a shame that that dream evaporated because that was a really good weekend, that. I know that I have mentioned it before, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall but for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few just recently, a rock group from Crewe with whom I was quite friendly was invited to play at one of the Festivals in the summer of 1973

They had no money so they arranged a concert at Wistaston Memorial Hall in order to raise the petrol money. Piles of us went and my friend and I made the acquaintance of two young girls, mine being the one mentioned above.

At the end of the concert the group still didn’t have enough money so they took with them anyone whom they could cram into their ageing, creaking Austin J4 van along with all their gear and who would make a contribution to the expenses. My friend and I went down on his motor bike.

We all had all kinds of adventures both on the road and at the festival that weekend, and I had a few adventures afterwards with the aforementioned young lady, but a long-distance romance wasn’t possible back then.

But it was thanks to her that the rock group “Strife” makes regular appearances in these pages and in my radio shows, because her brother knew their drummer. Consequently I met him a few times too and we are still in contact today.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed a group of us was discussing these murder mysteries. We came to the conclusion that Agatha Christie had disappeared to go into a nursing home to recover from a breakdown or something like that. We worked out by using one of our girls whom we arranged to disappear that we could follow the plot through fairly well but there was no reason to doubt in the end the official story because of course all that we were doing was some kind of speculation based on the facts rather than the facts themselves. It ended up with one of our girls going missing for several days and we working out where she was, and also with me going missing right at the end of it. But mine was because the alarm went off. The alarm was set for 01:30 and somehow it rang. Of course that was in the dream – it wasn’t the real alarm but nevertheless the false alarm thing actually awoke me while I was asleep having this dream. That’s a mystery to me too about this false alarm

It totally beats me why something so obscure as Agathe Christie’s disappearance in 1926 should rear its ugly head in one of my dreams. It was something that made headline news back at the time but it’s largely forgotten now and I’m totally surprised that it would be something that would spring to my mind during a nocturnal ramble.

But that’s what I mean though about the phantom alarm. I was convinced that it was a real one and I actually awoke and reached for the ‘phone to switch it off.

So what’s an alarm doing going off like that in the middle of a dream – an alarm that has nothing to do with either the dream or anything in real life?

Having finished the notes I prepared for the Welsh class. It didn’t take long because I’d already done most of it, having much more interest in this for some reason.

It actually passed off quite will too and I was really pleased. I quite liked the tutor and his little quirky habits, and I’ll sign up for other courses with Coleg Caerfyrddin whenever I get the chance. I’m determined to crack this one way or another.

My grandmother, if she were alive today, would really be impressed that I could speak Welsh. It’s a shame that she never taught my father, but Welsh-speaking was seen in a totally different light in the 1920s and 30s than it is today.

The cleaner stuck her head in with some of my medication too, and the stuff for the nurse. The rest of the stuff will come in early course.

The rest of the day has been spent dealing firstly with my LeClerc order, that needs to be sent off first thing in the morning if I want my buttered hot cross buns.

And I really do too. I opened the airtight tin in which they are stored and was absolutely overwhelmed by the smell. They really do smell like proper hot cross buns and look like hot cross buns too. All I need now is for them to taste like hot cross buns, and for that I need the butter.

The second task has been to deal with a problem that has arisen in the UK.

Despite having left the UK well over 30 years ago I still have “certain interests” there. I’ve felt for some time that I’ve been sitting on a kind-of time bomb, waiting for it to go off and sure enough, about three weeks ago it exploded.

Since then, I’ve had to gather my wits, gird up my loins, bite the bullet and any other metaphors that you care to name and think that at least, I’ve had all of this time to benefit by 30-odd years of peace, but now is the time to pay the price.

What annoys me is that if anything had been said beforehand, I wouldn’t have reaped the benefit that I had, but the issues would have been resolved much sooner. So, if anything, I’m annoyed at all the silence previously, not at the bomb actually going off

So now I need to get on and deal with it. Or, rather, have it dealt with, because I’m not going to the UK ever again.

The last time that I was in the UK for pleasure was in 2011. In 2013 I was there for half a day to pick up a lorry-load of slates to deliver to Central France and then in 2019 when Rosemary and I went to Aberdeen to pick up our ship to take up to the High Arctic of Canada. That’s quite enough.

Tea tonight was something from the European Burger Mountain, with pasta and veg. Simple and delicious thanks to the onion and garlic with the burger and to the spicy tomato sauce in which the pasta was soaked.

So early for once, I’m going to go to bed and dream of hot cross buns. But it will probably be something extremely obscure involving my family. Not a trace of anyone whom I would like to see, such as Zero, Castor and TOTGA

But talking of Agatha Christie though in a dream last night reminds me that Nerina once told me that she wished that she could have been Agatha Christie
"why is that, dear?" I asked
"Well, she married an archaeologist, Sir Max Mallowan"
"What’s that got to do with anything?"
"Well" she said "if I had married an archaeologist, the older I became, the more interested he’d be in me"

Sunday 10th March 2024 – TODAY IS THE …

… first day of the new regime, in which I have an alarm call on a Sunday morning.

It was set for 11:00, which makes for a nice lie-in after working until 02:00 dictating radio notes that I’d written, but it will be a different time next Sunday and for every Sunday onwards for the next few months as the nurse comes to visit me.

Yes, a much different time on Sunday mornings in the future, so make the most of it today.

Sure enough, when the alarm went off I was deep in the arms of Morpheus but I still managed to stagger to my feet.

Last night had been quite calm after I’d finished my notes. I went back to reading THE DAWN OF ASTRONOMY and the baffling phenomenon of Sothic time periods and the calculation of epacts until the street outside had quietened down and then went to dictate the notes for three radio programmes

In fact though, there were only two. I hadn’t finished the third, what with being in hospital and all of that. It had completely slipped my mind, thanks to my teflon brain, to which nothing whatever seems to stick. Still, it will give me something to do on Monday.

So just two to dictate, and that was enough. The usual nonsense and garbage because first of all I’m all up to my eyes in a state of confusion and secondly, with the cancer now beginning to affect my eyes I can’t see what I’ve written anyway.

In fact, it reminds me very much of the student at art school when his teacher checks his art folder
"What on earth is this?" asks his teacher, waving a piece of the student’s work around
"I assure you sir" said the student "I paint what I see"
"Well the shock will come" said the tutor "when you see what you paint"

Having done that I cleared off to bed where I had a rather bizarre night, as you will find out in due course.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and the first thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. 16.9/10.7. Last night was 18.0/10.6, but that was after dictating the radio notes so it’s no surprise.

After the medication I went into the bathroom and gave me feet a really in-depth wash. At the hospital they had put some kind of vaseline cream on my legs to hydrate them and it seemed to work. Somehow the tube was left behind in my room and it found its way into my rucksack.

Now that it’s here in my apartment I may as well make use of it before they work out that it’s missing.

Having done that I came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. We’d been to a restaurant, a group of us. We’d been having a meal. We’d ordered dessert but dessert was served in a strange way. There was a big bowl and everyone’s dessert was in the bowl. We would pass the bowl and had to help ourselves to our dessert from it. People were dipping in and taking their bits and pieces. I’d ordered some kind of pastry which was served as round balls covered in cream … "profiteroles" – ed … I was having a look for them but couldn’t work out which was mine or not. I lifted one up and said to the assembled multitudes “is this one of my balls?” which of course stopped the conversation and brought forth a whole gulf of eruption of laughter from the table, so much so that it actually awoke me.

That was what I mean by a bizarre night. The sound of the laughter did actually awaken me and I did actually sit upright with my eyes wide open

And then we’d been fighting a war against the Germans in World War I. We were in our front line somewhere and I vaguely remember walking in the air over the front line looking at all of the people still in the trenches as I passed by over their heads. It was a weird sensation. Then there was an attack, apparently the French attacking the Germans because the Germans had massacred all of their French prisoners in a certain town as some kind of reprisal for this particular raid.

It really was a strange feeling, that. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall several years ago I had a strange dream where I was running down some marble steps when I took off near the bottom and actually flew for some distance. It was a similar sensation to that, floating over the trenches looking at the heads of the soldiers in there.

It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder if that’s what happened to the soldiers when then died. Was it just as case of the light going out, like a switch being switched off, or did something live on afterwards?

There are lots of stories about people in a high emotion doing all kinds of things that they could never normally do, and there can’t be a much more heightened state of emotion than being psyched up to charge an enemy trench.

Later still I was with a friend and another guy. We were up in the hills looking down over a beach waiting for the D-Day landings to begin. The guy had one of the latest cameras that was capable of taking photos in the dark. He was playing with it and taking some really good images with the camera stopped quite low down. So I had a play with the little NIKON 1 J5 and that was producing some pretty good pictures too so I decided to go as low as it was possible to go and take a photo to see how it would come out. I pressed the shutter and knew that I would have to wait for several seconds but then my friend went and stood right in front of the camera to block the light. Every time I moved the camera he moved again with it to block the light so I was really quite annoyed about that because I was sure that regardless of the money that the guy had spent on his new camera my Nikon would take photos even better than the ones that he’d managed to squeeze out of his new camera.

Having my friends step in to confound my progress is not a new experience either. There was one of my friends who seemed to enjoy doing that as a matter of course but it wasn’t this particular one. Having said that though, I can think of a couple of occasions when I put my mind to it …

Finally the eldest daughter of my niece came to see me last night. She asked if I’d heard of a certain beach, (and she mentioned the name of it, but I’ve forgotten). I said “no”. She said that her friend suggested that they take me there. It’s very quiet and there are hardly any cars there. It would be nice. They handed me a card and after a little while I noticed that it said “credit cards accepted” so I wondered what on earth type of place it was.

Most beaches in North America are private. It’s not like Europe.

In the UK, for example, when lands began to be allocated shortly after the Norman Conquest, there was already an established road system and lands were allocated “back from the road”.

In North America however, there was no road network at the time of the allocation of lands and access was by the river, so lands were allocated “back from the river” and that included the beaches of course.

Québec is really interesting in this respect because much of the traditional medieval French system of allocation of lands is still reflected in the current system. For example, if you go around the St Lawrence valley you’ll see première rang or “first row” back from the river, and then deuxième rang or “second row” back from the river and so on that still exist today when you look at a map of current land allocations.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

After lunch, or breakfast, or whatever, I made a start on the next radio programme but I didn’t go far. I had pizza dough to make as I had now run out. And having used the same flour and the same yeast as yesterday I’m totally bewildered as to why it went up like a lift as I watched it.

There’s really something not quite right here with this dough and I don’t know what it is.

“Watching it” because I was making biscuits while it was proofing.

On the internet last night I found a recipe for oat and syrup biscuits, and I had all of the ingredients if I were to use honey instead of the syrup. That was what I did for the flapjack and it seemed to work perfectly, so why not?

It was quite an interesting way of making biscuits, more in the American line than the European but once I figured out what was going on (which took a while and wasn’t easy) they were absolutely fine.

The pizza was delicious too. The base had risen just as it ought to have done and it was well cooked too. I really seem to have found the knack of making these now, but I wish that I could pass on the skill to the bread-making activities.

The radio programme is almost finished now – just the notes for the final song to write and dictate. So I’ll do that tomorrow too along with everything else.

It looks as if I’ll be extremely busy this coming week with all that I have to do. Still, it keeps me out of mischief and I’d only be bored.

But right now I’m tired so I’m going to bed. But before I go let me just mention that it’s not just Rosemary who has joined the Air Fryer revolution. Grahame tells me that so has he, and he doesn’t know what he’d do without it now.

In the future I can see huge “hint-swapping” and “recipe-swapping” sessions on the agenda

The best recipe-swapping session took place in the mid-west USA in the 1940s when two farmers were having a discussion
"I hear that your old cow had the colic" asked one. "How did you treat it?"
"I made up a mixture of three parts turpentine, two parts paraffin and one part molasses" said the other.
"Very good" said the first.
Two weeks later they were talking again
"You know that recipe that you gave me for the cow with colic?" asked the first
"What about it?" asked the second
"I made it up and gave it to my cow and it died"
"That’s strange" said the second. "So did mine"

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.


Friday 26th January 2024 – MY BREAD ROLLS …

… were prepared quite early.

Much earlier than I expected too. When the alarm should have gone off at 07:00 I was already sitting working at my desk while the dough that I’d made was quietly rising away in the kitchen.

It was about 04:30 when I awoke, with a stabbing pain in my right foot (which is a surprise because usually I can’t feel very much in there). It turns out that these socks that I have to wear had been rubbing on a certain spot on my ankle joint and it had suddenly erupted.

Nothing that I could do would ease the pain and go back to sleep so round about 05:30 I gave up and arose from the dead. If I can’t sleep now I’ll probably sleep later, but I do that anyway so what’s the difference?

Mind you, I don’t know what the hospital will say when they see my blood pressure, taken as I was being wracked with pain. A reading of 19.8/11.7 is enough to put the willies up even the strongest of spines.

After I’d had my medication and a little pause to catch my breath, I switched off the alarm because, knowing my luck, the alarm would go off as I’m up to my elbows in dough, and then I attacked the bread.

You would think that after all of that I would have slid down another black hole but oh no! The optimistic mood prevailed. I found an antiseptic pad from about 100 years ago still in its sealed packet and strapped it around the wound with half a roll of sticking plaster. Then I could put on my socks.

Surprisingly, the pain began to ease and I could actually walk again so I walked back to the bedroom and the big computer where I transcribed the notes. And here we go again. The anti-potassium stuff that I have to continue to take did its stuff again. Apparently at some point I awoke again with that radio playing that I mentioned yesterday. I’ve no idea what’s happening here.

Later on I was in hospital and was listening to the news. There was a woman who was in Court for refusing to pay a taxi fare because the taxi had called her “Miss so and-so” instead of “Mrs so-and-so””. The taxi driver said “I’m here and you want to go there and you need to travel” so she went with him but didn’t pay. She complained about the extra £3;50 extra terrorism charge on the same day that her husband was arrested and had to identify himself and prove that he wasn’t a terrorist himself which was obviously a mysterious decision all the way round, and then there was another story about a certain company director who was denying rumours that he was paying for everything in gold coins after his company had declared untold wealth and profits and he’d been seen out socialising with someone senior from the Bank of England.

Not a lot on the dictaphone tonight but it’s not bad for only 5 hours sleep at most. And it seems that my favourite young ladies have deserted me again for the time being

For a change I made myself a quick mug of instant coffee and having checked on my bread to make sure that the dough was OK (well, sort-of) I came back and had a nice long chat with Liz. She’d found me a recipe for a black bean burger that she reckoned might work well with other sorts of beans.

As for where I’m going to find some of the ingredients, I’ve no idea. I bet that Leclerc won’t have them in stock. I can see my poor cleaner having to make a diversion via Biocoop on her way to Leclerc.

Earlier on I’d rolled the dough for my bread into a long sausage and then cut it in three equal portions. Now that it had proofed (I wouldn’t actually say “risen” – my bread is proof that I’d be no good as a spiritualist) I baked it and then made a toasted cheese and tomato and onion roll.

It was lovely with really fresh bread but I wish that I could make it rise. It’s compacted and as heavy as lead. But still nice of course.

Having had two mugs of strong black coffee, I came in here to sit at the computer – and promptly crashed out. This anti-potassium stuff really is wicked because it was a deep, complete and absolute sleep that lasted quite a while.

As a result, my lunchtime fruit was more like a mid-afternoon fruit, made even later by the fact that I did some tidying up in there as well. Imagine that! Me, tidying up!

There was some personal stuff that then needed my attention so I dealt with that and then went into the kitchen to make some hot chocolate, only to bump into the cleaner coming in through the front door with some post for me so we had a chat.

After she left I made my drink and then came back in here, where I crashed out yet again.

And if you thought that the last one was deep, what about this one? I even managed to go off on a nocturnal – although I suppose that you would say “diurnal” – ramble. While I was crashed out in the early evening before tea I was with my friend from the Wirral. He’d had some major disappointment and needed to make a phone call. There was a phone box in a cabin by the pavilion in the park where we were so we set off that way. It meant crossing some rough ground where I lost sight of him. Instead I saw a girl whom I knew so I shouted out to her “I thought that I’d lost you” and went over to take her by the hand. However I met my friend and we ended up at the pavilion. He asked me if I knew the dial code for Italy so after some thought I said that it was either 41 or 45 … "it’s actually 39" – ed … He went off to dial and I sat on the floor outside. There was obviously some kind of event taking place because a large queue built up for the Gents – all men in frock coats and top hats. Meantime I was counting out my small change because I’d promised him some liquorice allsorts but was dismayed to see that I didn’t have enough money and after some thought, decided that I’d have to use a note. Pretty soon this queue built up considerably and I found myself in the way. Some of the people began to moan and one or two people whom I knew from work told me that I ought to move or else there might be trouble. I just sat there totally impassively. Just as things were becoming quite heated my friend appeared. “Are we ready” I asked, and when he nodded I stood up and departed with him, leaving those people in the queue to sort things out themselves.

You’ve no idea, by the way, how much truth there is in a small story like that.

And not only that, have you ever had to try to work when you are totally wrecked by this miserable anti-potassiun stuff? I couldn’t see, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t write yet somehow I managed to pour out the remaining notes for the next radio programme. God alone knows what I’m going to find when I come to dictate them.

But I can’t keep going like this. It’s simply not possible. It’s only 21:30 and I’m wrecked yet again.

There’s nothing much to do over the weekend except a radio programme. I’ll probably have a day off tomorrow, spent totally unconsciously as I sink under the weight of this crazy medication.

Tangerine Dream will still be going round on the playlist as they did today but I bet that I won’t hear all that much of it. "To sleep—perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub" said Hamlet, but Richard Thompson told me that YOU DREAM TOO MUCH. IT’S GOING TO END BAD.

Mind you, Richard Thompson was singing in my ear to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE very loudly, and quite right too when I first encountered Castor and I took no notice. "I played" and I was ohhh! so close to being "stung", so what’s going to change this time? I didn’t regret it for a moment at the time, I still don’t and I will live on the energy and emotion for the rest of my life.

Mind you, that’s not saying all that much, is it?

Anyway, I’d better pack up and go to bed nice and early before I slide back into the pit again.

At least the good news is that with this knee brace stocking kind of thing I can move about a lot easier and in less pain too. Liz has found some more so if I’m lucky she says that I might end up with an early birthday present.

Nevertheless it did rather remind me of that famous story from the Crewe Memorial Hospital back in the 60s when a patient was in there with a bad leg injury

"We have some good news and some bad news, Mr Smith" said the surgeon
"OK. Tell me the bad news"
"I’m afraid that we’ve amputated the wrong leg"
"Jesus!" cried the patient. "So what’s the good news?"
"Your bad leg is getting better"

Saturday 20th January 2024 – THIS BLASTED DRINK …

… that they have prescribed me to alleviate the excess potassium in my kidneys really is driving me mad.

Last night I had a drink of it before going to bed and was stark out of everything, including my head, for several hours once I’d gone to bed. Fair enough, it was after midnight when I finally retired but until about 03:20 when I awoke, in exactly the same position as when I went to sleep, I remember nothing whatever.

And then after the helping this morning I was slumped over my desk fast asleep until 11:20, and then it took a good while before I felt in any condition to stand up and make my cheese on toast.

There should have been a helping at midday too but I eschewed that. I just couldn’t imagine the idea of being stark out for several hours during the afternoon.

And so as you can imagine, I haven’t done very much today . And surprisingly, I didn’t do much during the night either. I was working on the radio at one point night and was trying to prepare a programme. We had a visitor, a little girl rather like Shirley Temple, come along so naturally I let her do a little here and there and I played a song for her etc. A few people gathered around the doorway to watch. After we’d done about 3 or 4 songs I said that we were going to continue the programme and I’d play a song for one of the girls standing at the door so I wanted everyone to be quiet. That brought something of a dispute and discussion from some of them. I thought “this isn’t going to be very good radio at all”. Eventually when I had everyone quiet I was just about to play the song when the girl … shall we say … made a noise. Of course the whole studio dissolved into a huge fit of laughter. I thought “God, this is no way to run a radio station with all of this kind of thing going on”.

Later on, my friends from the Wirral and I were out in the red Cortina estate going somewhere when I needed to stop for fuel. There was a little wayside pump at the side of the road so we stopped there. There was no cashier, no owner’s sign and no price displayed. By the time I went to fuel up it had transformed into a proper fuel station with shop, cashier, café etc. My friend told me that he’d paid so I began to fuel up. The car was quite empty so it needed a lot of fuel. I asked him how much he paid but he didn’t answer. Instead, a figure of £91:37 flashed up on the screen. I didn’t realise the significance of this so as he hadn’t answered I asked him again. Again he didn’t reply but once more the figure of £91:37 flashed up on the screen. After another couple of times of asking I suddenly realised that the figure of £91:37 was what he’d paid. The actual total was less than that. He and his wife said “I didn’t realise that you were so poor”. I asked what he meant and he said “the car stereo – you’re using something different and DAMNATION ALLEY is playing. I actually had a micro-card reader with memory card plugged into the aux socket of the car stereo. I reminded him that he needed his change but he seemed to walk away so I had to remind him to collect his change. However we ended up going into a little shop on the site. We had to queue to go in so my friend’s wife reminded me to look for some marmalade. When we finally reached the head of the queue my friend asked for a tin of something that was displayed on the wall behind the cashier. It was written in Chinese characters and was a kind-of duck-egg blue. He studied the tin for a while and said “I think the type that I have is a darker green colour” so the guy pointed to another one on the side wall. It looked the same to me and my friend’s wife whispered to him “never mind. We’ll go to (a shop name). We get more points there anyway”.

And when I awoke, “Damnation Alley” was indeed playing on the computer. How about that for foresight?

And the red Cortina estate again? It’s probably tired of sitting in the warehouse and needs a run out. It’s not been run since 2000 when I drove it from Brussels to Montaigut towing a scrap MkV Cortina on an A-frame.

That was an adventure and no mistake. No rear brakes on it either so I came at night down the autoroute in the darkness and was only stopped once by the Police

But it’ll make someone a lovely, and valuable vehicle. It needs the head refurbishing, especially the valve guides replacing as it burns a cloud of oil when it starts up, which is no surprise due to its intergalactic mileage. But then the head will need refurbishing anyway to comply with “unleaded” standards.

There are no rear brakes, as I said. There’s a strange vibration from the back axle that vibrates the rear brake pipe and fractures it at one of the cylinders so it leaks fluid. The easiest answer is to blank off the brake line and drive carefully.

The wheels need refurbishing too. They are alloy wheels but they are letting out air.

Apart from that, it’s all original, never been welded and it’s a beautiful car that’ll look really nice on someone’s drive or on a Summer Sunday drive.

But I digress … "again" – ed

So that was the story of my night. When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and took my blood pressure – still slowly rising and I don’t have a clue why – not that I am too bothered because I can’t do anything about it anyway so why worry?

Then we had the usual pantomime of me trying to dress and then I staggered off to find my medication, including this blasted drink stuff.

Back here, as I said, I crashed out for several hours and then I wasn’t in much of a state to do anything.

When I finally started work, whenever that was, I carried on with de-duplicating my computer . I disposed of quite a few files that were duplicates or earlier versions of ones already there and one of the directories (yes, I grew up with DOS 5.0) is looking a little tidier now.

While I was searching for something I came across a live football match – Pontypridd United v Cardiff Metropolitan. And I’d watched 55 minutes of it before I realised that it was from last year and I’d seen it before.

There was football later on – TNS v Abertawe under-21s in the final of a cup competition run by the Football Association of Wales.

Not that I’m a big fan of TNS by any means at all – quite the reverse, and for a variety of reasons too that would take far too long to explain. But when they are up against one of the five teams that turned their backs on the Welsh pyramid when it was created in 1992, I’ll be their biggest fan.

Of course, it’s quite true that TNS, based in Oswestry, are in effect an English club But there’s a huge Welsh heritage in Oswestry , which was part of Wales until comparatively modern times and a survey taken in 1972 indicated that a return to Wales would be popular. And the situation has intensified since.

However the big clubs have turned their backs on their country and continued to play their football in the English leagues purely for financial reasons

It’s a long and complicated story but to cut things short … "hooray" – ed … Abertawe’s under-21s made it to the final where they met TNs and I am delighted to say that TNS stuffed them 5-1 in a historic result.

Down the centre of the field it was all pretty much even but TNS’s wingers tore Abertawe’s full-backs to shreds, which you’ll see in due course when the presenting company posts the highlight video.

In the meantime, HERE’S AN INTERESTING MATCH in the second tier between Caerfyrddyn and Rhydaman. I don’t think that I have ever seen so many “sitters” missed in one game in the whole of my life.

Tea tonight was delicious baked potatoes done to perfection in the air fryer, and a vegan salad and vegan burger.

And I’ve reached a crisis because I’m running low, very low indeed on the burgers that I like, the vegetable mash type that are covered in a kind-of battery breadcrumbs. I shall have to smile sweetly at Liz and pick her brains on a way of making them. We had an interesting chat this evening and I should have asked her then.

Or anyone else’s brains if anyone else has any ideas too. Someone always comes up with something.

So that’s it for today. I’ve done enough. And no baking tomorrow means that I can take it easy. But what a life, locked in my apartment and daren’t go out in case I can’t climb the stairs on the way back.

But I’ve been thinking about this nerve issue. I’ve said before that after I’ve had a fall I always seem to feel worse.

And so I’m wondering if it’s not the fall that causing the sudden dramatic deterioration each time, but the dramatic deterioration that’s causing the fall.

Remember when I was at Noz a few months ago when I had that sudden, stabbing pain in my left (the good) leg that caused me to fall down? Maybe it’s that that’s happening in the right leg but because the senses there are dead, I can’t feel it.

If you can imagine an electric discharge or shock in your system for example that scorches down your leg and burns out a nerve, something like that.

So I’ll talk to the specialist when I see him on 14th February. Meantime I’m off to Paris again on Tuesday to have a Holter machine fitted – a machine that monitors your heartbeat on a permanent basis.

Rosemary thinks that that’s the first step before having a pacemaker fitted. I suppose that they’ll have to try to do something to keep me alive, even if it’s just to watch THIS RARE BING6NEEL SYNDROME advance through my body.

"It’s just like you, that is, not to have a simple illness like everyone else" she complained.

Saturday 13th January 2024 – “IT SOUNDS TOO …

… good to be true”.

Yes, doesn’t it just?

There I was, lying awake, watching the clock on my fitbit tick round and round. 05:35 came round certainly – I saw it and watched it. And a few other times too.

It seems that even being a passenger in a car, never mind the driver, is having this effect on me. In the old days, as I have mentioned previously… "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’d go for a good run before going to bed in order to ease the stress, but I can’t even go for a good walk these days.

And even less so, starting from this afternoon

There was football on the internet, Cardiff Metropolitan v Caernarfon, and I watched the first half on my knees. I’d tripped over something coming into the bedroom and ended up flat on my knees. It took me 50 minutes before I could invent a means of standing up.

My right leg, which was bad before, is now completely impossible. I’d tell you more but there’s no feeling in it as you know. I’ll have to wait until I go to the Centre de Re-education on Tuesday to find out just how bad it is.

The good news (and there has been some today and, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s been a long time since I’ve had any) is that my leek and potato soup was cooked to perfection and the home-made bread rolls were delicious too

For tonight’s meal, the oven chips cooked in the air fryer were done to absolute perfection too so the meal of salad, chips and one of those soya steaks in breadcrumbs was wonderful

Not so much the bread pudding. That was definitely the worse for wear after my week away from home so that’s now pushing up the daisies. But me no daft, me no silly, I’d cut a big pudding into 4 large sliced and there are still 3 in the freezer.

So meanwhile, back at the ran … err … bed I checked the dictaphone when I finally did awaken at 09:50 and there was tons of stuff on it.

We started off with me playing bass and singing in a rock group with a guitarist, my friend from the Wirral on rhythm guitar and a drummer, and we were playing a concert in a pub somewhere in Crewe. Neither the gear nor the van had arrived. It was my friend from the Wirral who was driving it. He eventually turned up, much to the applause of the audience and much to our relief, about an hour late, and we set up our instruments. My friend from the Wirral just sat on the floor, refused to move, refused to stand up and refused to play. He was known for having his moody fits and outbursts and was just in one of them at the moment. In the end the guitarist and I just shrugged our shoulders and began to play. We began to play BORN TO BE WILD. When I awoke I was actually singing it, live on stage, something that took me completely by surprise.

This dream is famous for several things.

Firstly, I did have a friend like that. He would freeze in times of stress and would be totally incapable of acting if a problem arose. On several occasions his friends have had to rally round and help him out of his problems.

Secondly, I was always happier playing in a power trio of drummer, guitarist and me. I had a very good drummer with whom I had a good rapport and we as a rhythm section played in several bands. But every time a fourth (or fifth) member came along, it usually dissoived into chaos.

One thing though, was that I loved to sing but the guitarist with whom I was most associated was also a singer who loved to sing so my chances were few and far between, even though I actually owned the PA that we used (a 200-watt Hiwatt amp with 2x 4×12″ columns and several treble horns).

There’s a story behind those horns too. I wanted a set and there was a pair advertised in the Manchester Evening News at an address in Stockport so we went round hot-foot. And who should open the door but Graham Gouldman, songwriter and bassist at Strawberry Studios down the road from there.

On the subject of people called Graham, I hear that Grahame and STRAWBERRY MOOSE have been having a lively chat via e-mail today.

But thirdly, there’s something that I really don’t understand about this dream is that although I didn’t dictate it, we had another person up on that stage for a while. And I know that we did because I even remember introducing her to the public, the words that I used to introduce her, and the songs that we played.

Anyone care to guess who it was?

When I introduced her to the public from the stage in Crewe as she came up and put on her guitar, I used her real name (not the name by which she is known in these pages), I mentioned her age (which is something that I would absolutely not do these days for anyone) and so asked the audience to “be gentle with her, because I am gentle with her”, something that might have raised a good laugh 50 years ago but would be an absolutely outrageous thing to say today.

We played several numbers that we had worked on together on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR (so you’ve probably guessed now who she was) including that one by Green Day … "BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS" – ed … where that young Inuit boy on board joined in with us.

But what’s astonishing about this is that she put in an appearance and I didn’t dictate it. The other week when I mentioned that my subconscious must be creating a barrier between me and certain people, I wasn’t sure that I was being serious.

After last night’s escapade, I am now. And what I would like to know is how many times and for how long has it been doing that.

One of the most extraordinary things that came out of this exercise that we do about dreams was the girl who dreamt that she could run around in the fields and forests even though she was born without legs and had never un an inch in her life. But this can’t be far behind that.

What happened after this was pretty banal by these kinds of standards. I was part of a delegation that went to South Korea to a military air base there to discuss the products of our company with some people from the Korean military. One night while we were there the guests inn the bar were Widespread Panic. Of course, we went. There was a problem with the cash machine in the restaurant where the concert was to take place. It kept on ringing up ice cream as “various” and charging a purely nominal amount for it so of course we were ordering ice cream all the way through the night like most people would order a beer. We were eating tons of it and I was sure that we would be sick next morning. When we returned it showed the bill from this night at the restaurant had twice as many ices as we had ordered. Instead of there being three for some rounds there had been six. The accounts department was extremely concerned and called us in. I explained that at some part of the night another three people had noticed what we were doing and came over to talk to us. They joined in this ice cream orgy. The accounts department then asked why it was that we considered it to be appropriate that their ice cream should be added to our bill. I explained that these three people were in fact a delegation from Airbus there to see the Korean military too. We were of the opinion that it would be a good idea to entertain them to ice cream because it could open a lot of doors for our company in the UK and France which otherwise would never ever open to anyone. That seemed to settle the matter and everyone seemed quite happy. A few of our colleagues were surprised and disappointed and questioned the bill but that was more out of jealously than anything else.

I’ll have to stop leaning over to where my dictaphone would be in Paris. Anyway Nerina and I had gone on a boat trip around the harbour in St Helier and the Channel Islands area. It was one of these large motor yacht type of things that would carry a dozen couples or something. We boarded it and it set off. We were given something of a running commentary. We noticed that there were plenty of kids up at the front, fishing out of the water all kinds of plastic like old buckets, fishing buoys, jerry cans etc, trying to clean up the harbour. Anything that they noticed, they pulled out. I went to have a look. There were loads of letters there too so I began to fish them out. Many of them were addressed to me so I was quickly collecting a pocketful. There were some addressed to others and looked quite important. In the meantime this guy was busy talking. We noticed that one or two of the couples were actually jumping into the water, swimming around and then catching up the boat. For some reason Nerina and I jumped in and we had a great time splashing around in the harbour. We suddenly realised that the boat was a long way from us by now so we had to swim like hell to catch up with it. I was pulling out more letters from the water at the same time. Eventually we managed to climb aboard. She climbed up the steps at the back and asked me how I came on board. I pointed out a ladder that was there on the rear corner of the boat that she obviously hadn’t seen. We sat down again and I began to open these letters. There was one that was from Poland and had a diplomatic stamp on it. I wondered what this was all about. I managed to open it discreetly. There was a return envelope inside, a pre-stamped one with a Polish diplomatic pass stamp on it addressed to someone at our address urging them to make their donation to their war relief as quickly as possible. I showed it to Nerina to ask her what she thought about it. We sat there puzzling over it.

And as if I’d ever want to swim around in the harbour of St Helier. I’ve seen what’s pumped into there.

The soup was, as I said, delicious.

  • chop a small onion and fry it in olive oil and butter
  • add a couple of garlic cloves with coriander and chives
  • when these are browned and smell nice, add in your finely chopped leeks and potatoes, and stir round to fry for 10 minutes
  • add just enough water to cover, add a stock cube and leave to slow boil (with the lid on) until the potatoes and leeks are really mushy
  • add some soya cream
  • remove from the heat and whizz up with your whizzer
  • then eat with the fresh bread that you prepared earlier and baked while all of the above was going on

As for quantities – leeks and potatoes, how many do you have that need to be used?
And the rest – it’s all down to taste.

There had been some washing going on while all of this was happening so after lunch I hung it up to dry.

Then I … errr … had a little relax.

Watching the football from the floor was a new experience, although I managed to pull myself upright by half-time. Caernarfon had to do better against Cardiff Metropolitan than Hwlllffordd did against Y Bala in order to qualify for the playoffs for a European place next season.

And in a pulsating game that roared from end to end with Caernarfon’s new signing from Porthmadog, Morgan Owen, having an outstanding game, they were still 2-1 down with minutes to go while Hwllffordd were 2-1 up.

But in wild drama at the end, first Danny Gosset scored an equaliser for Caernarfon with just minutes to go, and then down in West Wales Y Bala scored 2 quick goals .

So it’s Caernarfon who push on for Europe while Hwllffordd have to join the fight against relegation.

Tea as I said was excellent so now as I’m cold and in total agony from my knee, I’m off to bed.

Will the young lady from last night come to join me for the second half of our gig? Or will it be someone new?

And more to the point, if my subconscious really is trying to block out some people from visiting me, I can name half a dozen for a start and my subconscious can block them out starting tonight, with my full permission and pleasure.

Tuesday 2nd January 2024 – I DON’T KNOW …

… which one it is, but one of these new medicaments is having a strange effect on me.

It’s as if I’m drunk. My head is all light and airy and my co-ordination is gone. It’s quite a strange feeling really

There’s one of the ones that I take in the evening that is giving me these wonderful nocturnal voyages and whatever it is I’m not going to stop that one and miss out on a night of fun with Castor, Zero and TOTGA but the one that’s giving me this strange feeling, I’ll have to see about that.

When I was at the Centre de Re-education I mentioned it there to a couple of people and presumably it will pass to whichever doctor takes over my case now that Dr Sigaud has left.

There’s also the question of the Christmas pudding, as I mentioned the other day. Following my post the other day I had several suggestions as to what to do with it, some of which were physically impossible and that tells me more about my friends than it does about my pudding.

But I liked Sean’s suggestion best. “Why don’t you just eat it?” but he and a couple of other people suggested that I wrap it well and freeze it so, having had an extra helping this evening so it’s now down to half its size, I’ll probably try that. But the pudding was a perfect success and I was so pleased with it.

So this morning I was up as soon as the alarm went off, and I took my blood pressure. And something extremely embarrassing happened this morning. And I’m not going to say what happened so don’t bother to ask.

After the medication I came back in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes. I was in North America last night. I’d talked to my father that I was needing a new van. He said that he knew someone so I left it at that. I was upstairs with a friend of mine who was rather shy and timid and wouldn’t do anything unless he was pushed into it. He and I had a little chat. I understood that there was a girlfriend in the building in one of the floors below. We had to wait until these dancers either stopped or created a gap in their formation so that we could nip through. He went off to look at the girl. I went to the window to look at what was going on because my Canadian relative was running a garage and had all kinds of things in, like snowmobiles etc. He was expecting to buy a vehicle on a trailer – it might have been a small tractor or something similar, I can’t remember, so he was busy making room in his drive. But there were all vehicles parked outside. Suddenly someone nudged me and pointed to a queue of cars that were now being parked outside our house and next door’s house. At the end of the queue was a yellow transit series 1 so wondered if that was what my father meant. The driver exited and began to check the wheels and tyres, hitting them with a hammer etc. I was wondering about that. Then he must have come into the building because someone shouted that he was there. I quickly grabbed a few friends and made some chips. We had some cod in batter so we had cod and chips arranged and helping with this guy. We went down and met my friend and he joined us. I told him to go to telephone someone because we had a meeting arranged for this afternoon and it looked as if I was going to be unable to do it. He said “right-ho” and shot off. I thought “that’s not like him at all”. Anyway he reached the ground floor and we went over to the dance hall and began to talk to this guy. We were surrounded by a couple of young girls who were doing some dancing there. I was talking to the guy about the van. He gave me a price, which sounded quite realistic but I didn’t realise that this was his private vehicle which he only used in the winter for shovelling snow, and with a backplate on it, for towing other vehicles so I could understand the low mileage but I was worried about the treatment it had had as a towing vehicle and I wasn’t so sure about it now.

There was some dispute about the FA Cup. In the end the FA decided that they’d replay the previous round with all the clubs concerned still in it but they would give some kind of points adjustment from now on. Teams that were supposed to be really good would be given no points deduction and the lesser teams could be given as many as 12 on some kind of sliding scale. They decided that they’d play the previous round’s matches on this basis. The team for whom I played had a “minus 2” by the side of it. We went out to a game nut although we won it, it wasn’t enough to overcome the points deficit that they had. So I went back to work. People saw me come in and immediately asked about the result. I told them, and 1 or 2 people thought that it was funny as you might expect and 1 or 2 people were really seriously concerned

While I was transcribing I noticed that yesterday I was in Flagstaff, Arizona, and people were telling everyone else to be very careful about the town.

They aren’t joking either. John Bourke, the aide-de-camp of General Crook, was stationed there for a while as Crook and his army campaigned against the native Americans.

In his wonderful book ON THE BORDER WITH CROOK he describes several events and notes that "Man’s inhumanity to man is an awful thing".

It’s in Flagstaff that I had ONE OF THE STRANGEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE, so strange and bizarre that I didn’t realise what was going on at the time. But I worked out what was going on quite quickly later on.

Anyway, this morning I came across a recording that I’d missed – a live football match featuring Caernarfon v Colwyn Bay. Of course, with no longer using social networks I don’t receive the updates and announcements that I used to.

But anyway, after years in the wilderness Colwyn Bay were unstoppable in the Cymru North division and were promoted to the Welsh Premier League this season.

However, as clubs like y FFlint, Airbus UK Broughton, Afan Lido and several others have found recently, the gulf between the second tier and the first tier is enormous, and Colwyn Bay, despite having made a few intelligent signings, are finding it tough going.

Caernarfon are renowned for having the best midfield in Wales and despite losing Noah Edwards and Rob Hughes in the summer, their replacements are even better

The defence has been rather fragile but the signing of Ben Maher and putting him alongside Dion Donohoe in the centre of defence has made them a much more formidable proposition.

Thy had no attack whatsoever last season but Jack Clarke from Chester and Adam Davies from Airbus UK Broughton, the power up front is impressive.

However there’s an injury and suspension crisis at the club right now and neither Donohoe and Maher were on the field.

The crisis has hit the goalkeepers too and between the posts was youth team keeper 16 year-old Hari Thomas. And when they have a “save on the Month” programme I’ll let you see the save that he made from Colwyn Bay midfielder Tom McCready. And if you can’t wait until the end of the month, go to 00:01:23:00 of THIS LINK.

Despite the injury and suspension problems there was really only one team in it but they made hard work of a 2-1 victory. I can’t understand why, with the signings that Caernarfon have made in the close season, why they are only 6th in the table. They should be doing much better than that.

After that, for the rest of the day while I’ve been here I’ve been dealing with the concerts that I’ve been sent from Shrewsbury, including one by Judy “I’ve Looked At Clouds” Collins – 82 years old and still able to rock a large crowd. Would you believe it?

"So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way"

Except that it wasn’t clouds that got in my way

"Oh, but now old friends they’re acting strange
They shake their heads and say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day"

they are sentiments with which I can relate too.

"But now it’s just another show
And you leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away"

Doesn’t that bring back a few memories and regrets?

At midday I had a good wash and at 13:00 the taxi came for me to go to the Centre de Re-education. Two sessions today, one with the ergotherapist and the other with Severine on the couch.

While I was at it, I mentioned this problem with one of the medicaments and hopefully they’ll report it

There was some stuffing left over as well as the Christmas pudding, so I had a stuffed pepper today using the stuffing instead of the bulghour or quinoa that I usually use.

And do you know what? It actually worked and was delicious. Plenty left over for a taco roll tomorrow and a leftover curry on Thursday. I’m really doing well with my meals.

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’m going to bed. Tomorrow I’m at the Centre de Re-education almost all afternoon and there’s plenty of paperwork to do in the morning. I’ll be a busy bee for the next few days.

At least if keeps me out of mischief, so the story goes, But I can get into mischief regardless of any constraints. There has been years of experience.

Thursday 28th December 2023 – IN WHAT CAN ONLY …

… be described as a new, rather regrettable record, I was actually up and about, taking my medicine and preparing to start work at 03:20 this morning.

Feeling absolutely wretched and totally washed out, I was in bed early – at about 22:30. And I must have fallen into a deep sleep almost immediately because there was something on the dictaphone with a timestamp of not much later.

But then there were all kinds of strange things happening during the night and I ended up awakening at about 02:15. Try as I might, I simply couldn’t go back to sleep after that and in the end gave it up as a bad job.

Firstly, there was a strange entry on the dictaphone that I have absolutely no recollection of dictating. “All that seemed to be missing from last night’s adventures was a visit from TOTGA but we’ll just have to make do without that” was what I recorded.

And that was early on too. The one that I’d had almost as soon as I’d gone to bed went “we started off with a very long complicated and involved dream that I can’t remember now. It all seems to have disappeared from my mind but at one point there was a young girl in Nantwich waiting for a load of other girls for the local dance hall to open so that they could all go in. This would be in the early 60s when beehive hair and all of that was in fashion. Some older man came and began to talk to her, to chat her up. Another girl in the queue accosted the man and told him what she thought of him, and generally made him feel uncomfortable until he left. That girl was actually a very young Marilyn Munroe who had come to Nantwich for some kind or other of show promotion but was standing in the queue at the dance hall just like any other young girl of that particular age and behaviour at that particular time. There was nothing special about her at all” which has absolutely nothing whatever with what came after it.

However, I do have a vague kind of ethereal feeling that at some point during the night not only Zero but also Castor came to see me. And if that’s the case I’m surprised that I didn’t dictate it. Maybe it’s my subconscious blocking them out for reasons that I can only speculate, or else it’s simply that I don’t want to share my experiences with anyone else. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, with coming from a large family where nothing was ever my own, I don’t “do” sharing if it’s something nice like one of Liz’s vegan cakes, and I can’t think of anything very much nicer than having Zero and Castor around.

Zero as we know drifts in and out of my nocturnal rambles, doing her own thing and going her own way, what around here they call son bonhomme de chemin but as for Castor, I haven’t seen her in the flesh since that morning in early September 2019 when she turned her back on me and walked to her ‘plane to Ottawa on that windswept airstrip at the Coppermine River, just a short walk from where in 1771 Samuel Hearne had stood helpless and horrified as his Dene guides fell on and butchered an Inuit hunting party.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it puzzled and bewildered me for quite a while as to why she left me as she did. And it wasn’t until I had to say “goodbye” to someone in similar circumstances a year or two ago that I realised that sometimes, goodbyes have to be done like that.

Castor has been back during the night a few times since then, but not for quite a while. If indeed it really was she (and Zero) last night and I missed it, I’ll be helpless and horrified too.

However, it was what happened next that was the killer.

There was another dance taking place at Wistaston. There was a group of kids and I was going but I was going to buy a big motorbike and hopefully turn up on it to arrive there. Then I had a think about first of all, it wouldn’t be registered, then it won’t be taxed. And where would I leave it because there would be no burglar alarm or anti-theft device fitted on it. Much as I wanted to have it and take it there it would cause quite a few problems. I was listening to a couple of bikers talking. One was actually knitting while he was talking. he was talking about his travels out in the USA as a road racer around a lot of circuits in California. They were talking about his bike, how it would still pass an MoT in the UK after that. Their conversation was extremely interesting. They wanted to know about the amount of Marshall Aid that would be applicable to importing over something that they’ve had in the USA but I wasn’t able to give any help. This question of this big motorbike was something eating away at me – how was I going to bring it to this dance with all of the problems that I had to face? Many of them were insurmountable because they required a lot of input from a lot of other people in a short space of time.

“Another dance” indeed because there had been a dance at the Wistaston Memorial Hall on the Saturday night of August Bank Holiday weekend in 1973 and every moment of it is etched onto my brain as if it was yesterday.

At that time I was sharing an apartment with a guy who played synthesiser in a rock band and his group had been invited to play at the Windsor Free Festival on the Sunday.

Everyone was stony broke in those days and they couldn’t afford the fuel so they arranged the dance where they would play, as a way of raising some petrol money.

My friend from the Wirral had been to school with one of the musicians so I invited him along and he turned up on his motorbike, a 350cc Triumph.

It was at that dance that he met a girl called Jane, and I met Jane’s friend Sheila, someone who has appeared in these pages on a few occasions. There was nothing particularly serious about any of this, except that my friend fell rather badly, but I imagine for the two girls is was more of a case as Al Steward described in SWISS COTTAGE MANOEUVRES as "I could see myself nailed to a dormitory tale as a holiday night’s escapade".

However, Sheila and I went on for more than a night (not much more) and I’m glad that it did because apart from the fact that she was a nice girl, her father kept a pub, the Whore’s Bed in Walgherton and that was where I met Paul Elson, drummer of “Strife” and a big friend of her brother.

And not so long ago, Paul sent me a recording of a “Strife” concert that he’d found in all his old papers and I featured it on one of my rock shows.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … Wistaston Memorial Hall, at the end of the concert we loaded up all of their gear into the back of the old J4 van that they had and they they discovered that they were still short of money. And so for £1:00 per head they would take anyone who wanted to go to the Festival. You’ve no idea how many people piled into that van with all of the gear already in it.

My friend and I decided that we’d go down on the motorbike so we set off and went a different way to Windsor.

But those in the van had a nightmare. Going down the M1 a tyre burst and with all of the weight that was in the van they were all over the road until the driver could bring it to a halt. It was a miracle that it didn’t overturn.

Horrible thoughts of 12th May 1969 must have flashed through everyone’s mind – the night that Fairport Convention’s van overturned at almost the same spot killing drummer Martin Lambie and guitarist Richard Thompson’s girlfriend Jeannie “the tailor” Franklyn, to whom the Jack Bruce album SONGS FOR A TAILOR was dedicated.

We stayed down there all weekend, without any sleep whatsoever, and then came home on the Monday night. My friend fell asleep riding back so he asked me to ride the rest of the way home but when we hit a bump in the road he fell off the seat so in the end we had a couple of hours curled up leaning over a table in a Little Chef near Oxford.

That’s not my best memory of the Windsor Free Festival either.

When I was living at home a schoolfriend and I decided one summer that we’d go to one. Not wishing to let on to my parents where I was going I said that we were going camping, which was perfectly true.

All went well until I returned home to a pair of furious parents. The Festival had been on the news on the television and there on the 21:00 News on BBC that Sunday was Yours Truly staggering past the TV camera with a Watneys Party Seven can tucked under his arm, and all of the family, friends and neighbours had seen it.

Ahhh well. We all have memories of what and what might have been. Some more than most

"Childhood comes for me at night
Voices of my friends
Your face bathing me in light
A hope that never ends
Pages turning
Pages torn and pages burning
Faded pages, open in the sun
Better bring your own redemption when you come

But anyway, after all that, I just couldn’t go back to sleep again.

So here I am, up and about, trying nicely and calmly to fit the blood pressure tester to my arm. And after several unsuccessful tries, Our Hero notes on the box that is says poignée. So put it around your wrist, you berk.

Going for a ride on the porcelain horse to calm down again, I come back and take my blood pressure.

"The aim is to have a blood pressure of below 14.0/9.0" and so with mine being 17.0/8.0, I can see that we are starting as we mean to go on.

And as for what it was at lunchtime, I forgot to take it. Start as we mean to go on indeed.

Then there were 15 pills to take and that was … errr … complicated. I earned my coffee and cornflakes after that.

So today I tidied up the kitchen area so it looks as if someone lives here, and in my spare time I made a start on the next radio programme – chosen the music, paired it off and written some of the notes. There have been a few visits and phone calls too.

But one unwelcome visitor was the taxi to take me to the Centre de Re-education. he came 20 minutes early today and I was as nature intended in the bathroom having a good scrub up

But they put me through my paces and I came back here for more spoonsful of cake and some hot chocolate.

Tea tonight was nothing complicated. Pasta and veg in a cheese sauce. Quick, simple and delicious.

With having an early start, I’ve had several moments where I’ve been away with the fairies but as usual, I’m now not tired enough to go to bed.

So which childhood voices of my friends will I hear tonight? And whose face will bathe me in light? If it really had been Zero and Castor last night, wouldn’t it be nice if they were to come back?

But it doesn’t happen like that, does it? I’ll take my blood pressure and go to bed, and probably meet some of my family heading my way. I’ve no idea why they keep on putting in an appearance like this but I wish that they’d clear off and leave room for people whom I really want to see.

Sunday 24th December 2023 – AFTER ALL OF …

… the effort that I went to so that I would be up and about at 08:20 – and on a Sunday too – the nurse didn’t turn up until 09:20.

And it wasn’t Yoan either. It was his weekend off so he sent his sidekick Isabelle to deal with today’s issues, including sorting me out.

That was actually quite nice because I like Isabelle. One of her children was on a University exchange programme in Dublin last year so they met up in Belfast and went for a wander around for a week. I suggested a few places for them to visit.

My memories in Belfast aren’t quite so pleasant as that. I used to do deliveries there in the mid-70s in a van with British number-plates and on one occasion I was “detained” by a military patrol while my bona fides were checked.

Mind you, it was coming back from one such delivery that I had my encounter with that student from Lancaster University that I recounted a couple of months or so ago – the girl who didn’t like Tuppence, my old black cat.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … apartment, it wasn’t really all that much of an effort to raise myself from the Dead in time for Isabelle. In fact, I was actually up and wandering about at 07:45 this morning.

And that’s not something that happens every Sunday, is it?

Once Isabelle had gone (and come back to see if I actually had some injections in stock, and then departed again) I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. The first was another dream of which I’ve forgotten most. They were talking about putting me under and they were asking which side of my body I wanted to come round on. I misunderstood the question and replied something to do with strawberries because I had a fancy at that moment to eat something like that. The discussion went on about the hospital. They asked me how I liked being there. I replied that it was far better than I imagined. The treatment that I’m having here couldn’t be better anywhere else. Again there was a lot more to it than this but unfortunately it all evaporated while I was trying to dictate it.

Those are sentiments that I would certainly echo about the Hôpital Pitié-Salpetrière – if only the food were better and they’d turn up the heating.

And then I’d been with my friends from the Wirral on a motorbike voyage somewhere for a while. We ended up back at their house. I was having to travel on back to my house but for some reason I needed to unwind because the final leg had been extremely difficult – even though we had been on motor bikes we’d had to lower our baggage down some kind of cliff somewhere in order to reach the bottom which was extremely complicated. While we’d been in Wrexham there had been some kind of riot or disturbance and they’d actually blown away a whole cliff so that there was a view from the town right the way down the Dee valley into the mountains there. We made our way down these mountains and this cliff. The husband caught something in a pool – he’d wandered off to a pool and was there with his hands in it. We ended up back at their house. They went and sat in their living room and I just slumped into the kitchen for a while. Then I noticed that what he had done was that he’d caught some kind of small fish and put it in a bowl. I knocked on the door of their sitting room and they opened it. I told them that one of my cats has a pet goldfish. I recounted the story of how it caught it and brought it home, then it had actually fished another one out of a pond and brought it home too. Then I began to prepare to leave. Foolishly I took off my boots and then I couldn’t put them back on again as my feat swelled up. I noticed that I was wearing odd socks – one was a dark brown and the other was a slightly lighter shade of brown.

Back into another dream that I’ve had in the past. We’re discussing railway locomotives. It turned out that not only did one railway company put a locomotive at an experimenter so that he could make his experiments, it put a whole fleet out to one guy and allowed him to experiment all up and down their main line with a fleet of locomotives. These were interesting because although they were coal-fired they actually started up on oil. To make them start you lit an oily rag and stuck it under the chassis at the air intake. This was at the height of World War I. There was a huge casualty sorting station – I said that it was at Valenciennes but it can’t have been because that was behind enemy lines – where they would take all the wounded prisoners and soldiers from the front line back to a field hospital. Anyone who was injured there and taken away was really lucky because the locomotives and the field ambulance trains really worked extremely well and all kinds of experiments went on. I should have been working there and helping these people shift coal around but I was far more interested reading books about this and talking to some of the workers. We even made whole charts of how much more efficient it would be taking all factors into account, including the factors of children killing donkeys – if a donkey was old and overworked it was put into a field to recover but all of the children would climb all over it and there were several instances of donkeys killed by over-enthusiastic children. There was one particular incident where I was reading a book when I should have been moving coal. Some woman dropped a few things as she was carrying the coal and told me to stand guard over it until she could come back to pick it up so that no-one else would take it.

Yes, lighting oily rags and holding them up to the air intake while someone else turns the motor. I remember very well doing that for my father in the winter of 1963. Gardner 5LW and 5LX engines were notoriously difficult to start in the cold and there was always an endless collection of old Fodens parked up outside our house at night in those days.

The winter that year was so cold that at times we had a paraffin heater underneath the fuel tank to stop the diesel from freezing, and I’ve seen fires lit under fuel tanks too.

But as for experimental trains running wild on main lines, the Great Western Railway company lent an experimental train to a Doctor Dionysus Lardner and the train would turn up unannounced at all kinds of strange places.

When Brunel was asked what he would do if he encountered Lardner and his train coming towards him on the same line, Brunel replied "I would increase my speed and rely on my superior velocity to drive him off the rails".

When Sir Daniel Gooch wrote his memoirs just before he died, he commented on the incident and said "whatever would be said of such a mode of proceeding today?"

So having dealt with all of that, I’ve had a very quiet day today. I’ve made my hash browns, for better or for worse, and despite following the instructions carefully, they don’t seem to be any better than any others that I’ve previously made.

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating, of course. They’ll be on the breakfast menu tomorrow along with beans on toast, vegan sausage and mushroom paté on toast and we’ll see how it goes. But I really don’t know why I can never make hash browns properly

So, tune in tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about them, if I haven’t died of food poisoning in the meantime.

Sunday 12th November 2023 – AND THERE I WAS …

… planning on a nice relaxing day today with very little, if anything, to do. But as usual, all kinds of events come along to confound me.

What didn’t help was that it wasn’t until 11:42 this morning that I first noticed what time it was. And that is far from being the same as saying what time it was that I actually arose from the dead.

And if things start badly, things can only be worse. You should see the amount of stuff on the dictaphone from during the night. I must have travelled miles and that probably explains why I was so exhausted yet again once I arose.

After I’d had my medication and checked my mails I sat down and began to transcribe the dictaphone notes.

All of them.

There had been a storm or fire or both or something in the big house in which we lived altogether and it had been badly damaged. There was a lot of repair work needed to be done to it. At the moment it was a question of trying to secure the premises against anything worse happening. We were basically divided into shifts and rotas about how to look after the property. I had to stand there on patrol at one point to keep away any onlookers or anyone who might be there for some kind of nefarious purposes. There was a lot of paperwork that had burnt and was blowing around. While I was standing there looking at it a few more bits fell from the ceiling to the ground. I was supposed at this point to go on patrol around the area to see who was about but I had a lot of difficulty walking and I’d be of no use if I had to confront anyone so I decided to let other people do that. When I walked round the corner there on the field even though it was raining were a few of my housemates playing cricket. One of them shouted “go and put the kettle on, Eric” but of course it was going to be extremely difficult because of the fire and the damage and because of my difficulties. In the end he left the cricket field and wandered off somewhere as if he was going to do it.

At some point there was a question of another young girl of woman being involved in this. When we finally met her we found that she was just as handicapped as I am so obviously she couldn’t stand her patrol looking after the building and patrolling the area for a couple of days. We felt that we should have known about her handicap beforehand otherwise we could have made certain allowances for her but now things are under way and already happening it’s rather too late now for that.

It was the custom of the hospital to send several patients dressed up as Father Christmas, his helpers and his reindeer to go and collect money for charitable purposes. This year though they decided that instead of making a sleigh they would do it with a motorbike and sidecar. They asked me if I would like to go but I couldn’t really get in and out of the sidecar very easily so that would seem to rule that out. Then they were having a lot of difficulty trying to think of someone else. I thought to myself that if I’d known that I was expected to do this sort of thing along with everyone else I’d have thought twice about coming here.

And that was another dream that I actually dictated in French.

Then there was someone in our group with a name something like Awotni but when we had a list of members we couldn’t see anyone who corresponded to that. I made some kind of light-hearted remark about Polish family names which was immediately greeted with distaste by some members of the group. Then I remembered thinking that maybe if this person had been treated for a long time he shouldn’t be in our group anyway or maybe the group isn’t the correct place for them to be because this group that I’m in is about everyone being able to do every different thing.

There was also a girl put into our group who didn’t seem to be capable of doing very much. We didn’t think much of that idea because we were all trying to be as equal as possible and doing as many tasks as we could. We didn’t really want anyone who didn’t have the courage to follow it all through. This person seemed to be treating it just as a way of relaxing than a matter of life and death like the rest of us thought that it was. We didn’t appreciate that kind of levity at these serious moments.

“I wish that you’d store your accessories and introduce them into the discussions as appropriate” we said to someone who seemed to be much more able to move about than the rest of us but who didn’t seem to work as hard. We considered that due to the health that everyone put in we ought to be doing so much more and there should be so much more solidarity amongst the patients.

Zero put in an appearance last night. Her father was talking about a Christmas dinner that he’d made and how she’d sat down from the start and eaten absolutely everything put in front of her, all the way through to the Christmas pudding. He was ever so impressed that she’d managed to take all of it. It was the way that he said it that made me think of some kind of double-entendre and to my complete surprise, in the middle of this dream I had an immense fit of jealousy.

It actually reminded me of the girl who went into a pub and asked for a double-entendre so the barman gave her one.

But it was a real surprise, as I could tell from how I dictated it. But at least after talking about Christmas food yesterday, it’s made me focus on what I need to do for Christmas. So Liz – I shall be relying on you to tell me when to start to make my cake to make sure that I don’t leave it too late.

And I’ll make sure that it’s squirrelled away so that Zero can’t find it. As Liz will tell you, I don’t “do” sharing when it comes to cake. However, if Zero (or TOTGA, or Castor) were here, I might be persuaded to make an exception.

My friends from the Wirral came to see me last night. We were talking about all the old times etc. In the end we had to go out to do something. And the wife had a pushchair with one of her kids in it. While I was eating my meal I’d seen a photo and I was trying for ages to place this photo. It suddenly occurred to me that it was the old petrol station in Hungerford Road (of course there never was a petrol station there). I eventually worked out where this photo was and decided that we had to go. There was a big problem about 2 of my cars that needed moving around, some kind of question about them having no tax, no MoT, all Cortima MkIIIs. I needed to move them from where they were stored. We had a huge debate about which one we should move first and which should be moved second. I wasn’t even sure to where I was going to move them. In the end my friend asked me about driving – how come the Senator was the only big vehicle that I had these days. I replied “actually I can’t drive any more anyway so there’s no point having a car. If I am able to drive in the near future it won’t be in professional transport so I won’t need a big car”. We then went back to discussing in which order we were going to move these 2 MkIII Cortinas.

And that’s a recurring dream, isn’t it? Having cars scattered all over the place with no tax or MoT which need to be moved around.

I was in Crewe again last night and had gone to a petrol station. I bumped into a guy … "Lee Jenkins" – ed … whom I knew who played centre-half for Haverfordwest. We began to talk about vehicles and how he’d bought a MkIII Cortina once and when he’d come to sell it he had over £1000 for it. I pointed to mine and said “do you mean like this?”. I was in my gold MkIII estate, the one in the barn in Virlet. His eyes lit up and he said “wow! It’s great!” and went to have a really good look around it. He asked if he could take it for a drive but I had to decline. He said “you’re probably afraid that I’d never bring it back!”. I replied “something like that”. I told him all about the vehicle, one owner from new, guaranteed genuine mileage etc, We had quite a lengthy chat about it.

And “wow” he may well say. Cortina MkIII 2000E models were pretty rare on the ground when they were new and current, but in my atelier in Montaigut is a 2000E saloon and the gold MkIII estate in my barn in Virlet is a 2000E estate of which there are known to be no more than half a dozen still in existence and which is worth a King’s ransom.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was at work in Belgium. I’d gone out for a coffee break, to stand outside. While I was out there a girl came up and began to attack me, trying to push me into the lake. After I’d fought her off I went into the security hut. The guy there made me a coffee. We had a little chat about how crazy some people are in this building. I had to go to fetch something from my car. On the way back I met a Post Office girl trying to talk to a cat. It turned out that cats received telegrams. You had to give the telegram to the correct cat, not just to any cat. They were trying to train the cats to accept the telegrams which I thought was the strangest thing that I’d ever seen. I walked back down to the front door of the building, pressed the button for the sliding doors to open but nothing happened. I could hear people on the inside but no matter how I pressed the button I couldn’t make the sliding doors open so that I could go in. I thought “this is good, isn’t it? I’m locked outside the building now”.

What with stopping for lunch, it took me until about 15:00 to transcribe all of that – and it might have been done quicker had I not … errr … gone off with the fairies for a while.

Then I went to make my fruit bread. I took my time making the dough and it actually turned out quite well.

After I’d finished my lunch I’d taken the last of the pizza dough out of the freezer (so I’ll have to make some more next weekend) and it had been defrosting.

Just as I was going to deal with it Rosemary rang me for a chat and we had another one of our marathon sessions. She’s rather worried because she has a major operation shortly (which I why she couldn’t have come with me to Michigan) and she wants someone to either reassure her or to talk her out of it.

She talked about her operation at great length and in great detail, despite me telling her on several occasions not to. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall exactly how I feel about operations and surgery.

But it’s not likely that I’m going to talk anyone out of surgery. No matter how ill even the thought of it makes me feel, I’m a firm believer in the principle of Macbeth and the murder of Duncan “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly”.

It’s much more painful to spend all of this time worrying and postponing it rather than to have it done quickly.

When they operated on my kidneys they didn’t even tell me. They just took me, bed and all, down into the basement, stuck a mask over my face and said “here – smell this!”. And that was the last that I knew about it.

As a result everything was running really late. But the fruit bread is, for once, cooked to perfection and the pizza was pretty good too.

So I’ll wander off and have a good sleep. For a change, there’s nothing happening tomorrow so I can push on with a few things without any interruptions.

Well, such is the theory. We all know how it works in practice.

Monday 6th November 2023 – IT’S BEEN ANOTHER …

… one of those days when I’ve spent much of it asleep.

A least, the afternoon anyway. And I’m not sure why because it’s not as if I’ve been exerting myself or anything like that.

Last night I was actually in bed at something like a realistic time – later than I would have liked but not by all that much And once I’d managed to go off to sleep I actually had a few hours of decent, deep sleep without very much at all going on.

When the alarm went off, I was fast asleep but Clive John had come round to see me. All his recording contracts had ended and he’d been handed back the rights to his material. He was thinking about relaunching his career and wondered if I’d be interested in helping him rework a few of his songs. The conversation drifted on from there. We had an idea that maybe we could find a bassist who could sing and had a few songs and a drummer who could sing and had a few songs then put together some kind of group. He was then wondering about a rhythm guitarist who could sing harmony and that was when an idea came into my head about maybe that might be a place for me. I went to have a little think and was walking down a beach. The sea came in over my feet and it was freezing so I had to walk on top of a bank at the end of a hotel garden where there were one or two people sitting drinking but I couldn’t climb up the bank – I didn’t have the force in my legs to do that.

Once I’d had my medication I waited for the nurse to come round to talk to me about his plan for the Covid injections for his housebound patients, but he didn’t show up. After a while, I gave up the idea of waiting and carried on with my work.

There was more stuff on the dictaphone from last night. I was down with this illness and it was affecting all aspects of my life including my military training (yes, it MUST have been a dream). When I’d spoken to my colleagues they hadn’t really expressed anything about the urgency of that so I’d just sent in a sick note and let it drift. A few weeks later I had the impression that there was something serious developing so I undertook that I’d go back into the office at the next available opportunity. When the next day for military training came round, I’d completely forgotten. I was at home doing some things when I suddenly remembered about it so I set off. I eventually found my officer who was not in the least bit pleased that I’d been away so long with only a simple sick note. In the end I explained that I was completely immobile and had no way of doing anything more than that for a while. He asked me a few more questions. When I mentioned that I’d been feeling better since Monday he asked me what I’d been eating. I replied “nothing”. He answered “that’s three days. You really ought to have something” and began to organise a huge meal for me. The last thing that I wanted to eat was a huge meal. I just wanted to go home and put my feet up ready to start again at the next class of military training but he was so insistent that I didn’t think that I could possibly get away without submitting to this meal.

And later on a friend of mine was to be married. His girlfriend was thin, fairly tall, had very long fair hair and round glasses. We went to church and she was waiting there already when we arrived. We left the car and went into the church and the ceremony took place. Then there was the reception that took place on the top floor of this building. We had to climb several flights of stairs, the whole wedding party, and at the top there was a footway that went across the huge void that was several floors down and into a room on the far side through a door. The pathway was only maybe two feet wide and there was no handrail. As soon as I saw it my stomach hit the floor. I had to wait until everyone else had gone then slowly try to make my way across it. I just quite simply couldn’t do it. There was nothing on earth that would bring me across that gap. Someone who was watching said that I ought to join one of these mountaineering scieties where they would help me overcome my fear of things like this. I replied “actually I already am”. They asked “which society?” and I replied “the Everest Society”. There was then an Appeal that had come through that a farmer had several of his sheep stranded on the mountains in the Bannau Brycheiniog. I happened to mention it and they asked if I was going to be one of the people going out to the rescue. I replied “not this afternoon while I’m attending this wedding”.

And that’s not like me either, is it? The amount of roofing that I did when I was living in the Auvergne and the scaffolding that I’ve swarmed over, and clinging on to a ladder 30 feet up above ground while rebuilding fieldstone walls – I won’t be having high anxiety any time soon.

After that, I made a start on the radio programme that I had in the queue and although it ended up being a late lunch, at least the programme was finished.

This afternoon, I’ve been quite busy. In between falling asleep, I paired off the music for the next radio programme and began to write the notes. Not that I actually managed to go very far because I kept on drifting off into sleep.

Something else that I did was to update a few more entries from when I was in hospital last year. And it’s a good thing that I did because there was some important stuff in there that I had forgotten.

There was the usual pause for my mid-afternoon hot chocolate and biscuits. And those chocolate and coconut biscuits with a hint of orange that I made yesterday are delicious

Something else was to try to contact my bank in Canada as my bank card has expired and I can’t access the on-line banking.

And the answer is that I can’t access my account there until I have the new card in my possession, and I can’t have it sent anywhere outside Canada. They’ll quite happily send it to my address in Upper Knoxford and then I’ll have to go to fetch it.

If that’s ever likely to happen.

It’s not a problem that was unexpected however. I remember feeling so ill a few days before I left Canada last October that I went to the bank and liberated a large pile of transfer slips, signed them all and left them with my niece. At least my property taxes will be paid when they come due, but it’s not an ideal situation

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper and for some reason, it wasn’t cooked as well as it usually is. I’m not sure why because everything was set up as usual.

So even though it’s early, I’m off to bed right now. I have my Welsh lesson tomorrow, if it’s not half-term again, so I need to be on form.

And then I’m off afterwards to the Centre de Re-education, so I suppose that I’ll be absolutely exhausted for the rest of the day once I return.

Friday 20th october 2023 – I’M ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED …

… that some people have been put on this earth for no other reason than to cause as much inconvenience, chaos and disruption to people’s lives as they possibly can.

This saga about these documents that I have to send off for my hospital visit is rumbling on and on and on.

When I returned from the shops this morning I found an e-mail that had been sent to me with a request for a whole pile of documents. It ended up being a pile of 19 documents that they wanted, several of which had already been sent.

Having collected the ones that I had and scanned in the rest I sent them off, only to receive a reply asking for more and more.

And so it went on during the day until 16:47, 13 minutes before the Assurance Office closed, asking me
1) why am I going to the hospital? What are they planning on doing to me
2) why am I going to a hospital so far away.

And so I replied
1) "On page 5 of document 2 it clearly states ‘we propose a further stay in hospital to supplement the investigation ….’" (and then a whole list of tests that they propose).
2) "If your doctors would be so kind as to look at page 2 of document 2 they will see that I have ALREADY been to a local hospital who were unable to identify the problem and the condition has since deteriorated. Therefore there needs to be a further investigation in depth"

By the time that my reply was ready the Assurance Office had closed – which means that they won’t now reply with a decision until after I’ve left – and so, being in a totally foul mood, I added a few other bells and whistles to my letter and finished it off with a "if there is anything else by which I can waste even more of my time by repeating to you information that is already in your possession, please don’t hesitate to let me know".

Many years ago, I was totally and utterly stressed out and would lose my temper at the slightest provocation. You’ve no idea what used to go through my mind back in those horrible days and it took an enormous effort to get a grip of things.

Living in splendid isolation in the mountains of Central France miles away from all kinds of interaction with people worked wonders and although things would occasionally crop up, I’d just fly to Canada, hire a car and go and sit in the wilderness and the peri-arctic tundra until sanity returned.

Back in 2019 I was walking along the old Emigrant Trail through South Pass in the Rockies, thinking just how peaceful and calm things are around here, and how I ought to spend more time in places like this. But unfortunately, these days, I can no longer run away and hide

Meanwhile, back at the ra … errr … apartment …

Last night was a slightly better night. There was still plenty going on but I managed to ignore a lot of it.

It was still a struggle to raise myself from the dead, and after I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I had a listen to the dictaphone. I’d talked to a few people about how I was going to change the kitchen round in my house. One of my friends began to talk to me about the kitchen that I had, what it was like etc so I explained. I explained that I’d probably be wanting to dispose of it completely, even down to the pipes etc. he said that he would like to have it. I said that that was fine by me. He asked if he could come to pick it up the next day. I burst out laughing and said “I haven’t even organised anything yet or ordered anything, let alone had it delivered etc”. He replied “your niece’s daughter is going to be rather upset because she’s planning on taking a day off tomorrow and coming to help me do it”.

And later I was going through the collection of solo poses for my 3D characters, picking out the individual poses and making some kind of giant collage with them all superimposed. I’d done three and was on the way to finishing off a fourth when someone came to the door. They asked me what I was doing so I explained. They thought that it was a pretty pointless task because I wouldn’t have the benefit from doing it. I’d be long gone before this project was particularly finished

Finally I’d been out drinking (so that was obviously a dream) with a couple of people from Crewe and we were on our way home. We called at a pub on the way back and outside the pub next door was a guy whom we all knew. We had a chat with him. I asked my two companions what was happening this weekend. They didn’t really come out with much. I needed to use the bathroom so I went to find it. It was in a terrible mess with toilet paper everywhere etc. I tidied it up as best as I could. I found that the door wouldn’t close. There was no bolt so in the end I teased a nail out of the wall and slipped it in where the bolt should be. That managed to close it. The next step was to sit down but the toilet seat fell off. In the end I thought that I’d abandon it as a bad job and just go home.

Deciding last week to go to the shops at St Nicolas was a really good decision. The bus whisked me off and dropped me off on the raised kerb, and then I had a slow wander around the Carrefour just picking up one or two things that I need quite quickly, like tomatoes, lettuce and mushrooms.

With plenty of time before the bus came back for me I had a nice hot coffee and then sat and watched the world go by.

As I said before, I think that I’m moving a little easier after the exercise so I can’t wait for this rehabilitation course, that should have started last week, to begin.

After my bread and soup we had this totally shambolic afternoon of dealing with all of this paperwork and fielding probably about a dozen phone calls for one reason or another.

The only one that was really welcome was Rosemary, and we had a good chat for a while.

Last night I’d dictated the notes for one of the radio programmes but when I listened to them I decided that they weren’t up to much so I re-dictated them. They are no edited and in the process of being assembled.

If I’m lucky, I might finish it tonight and even dictate the notes for the next programme in the list.

Tea was a baked potato, salad and one of those breaded quorn fillets that I like so much.

So when I’ve finished what I need to do, I’ll go to bed. I have my blood test tomorrow and then I crack on with the notes that I’ll dictate in a minute.

Many years ago, “Bomber” Harris used to greet members of the Air Ministry whenever he met them with “and what have you done to impede the War effort today?”. I had so much to do, some of which was quite important, but I’ve not done any of it, what with one thing and another.

So who’s going to come along and impede my efforts tomorrow?

Tuesday 10th October 2023 – I WISH THAT I …

… hadn’t bitten the bullet and sent off that mega-food order this afternoon.

No sooner had I pressed “send”, received the acknowledgement and watched the money go out of my account when along came an e-mail

“Dear Mr Hall. You are requested to come to the hospital for 11:00 on Monday 23rd October. Please set aside one week”.

And so that, dear reader, is that.

As it happens, it was nice to have some good news for a change. After all, I had quite a dreadful night.

It was rather later than I would have liked to have gone to bed but an ache in my foot made it difficult to sleep. The pain slowly spread up the leg until by about 02:00 my entire lower right leg felt as if it was on fire.

Consequently I spent most of the rest of the night rubbing mint-tinted cold cream into my leg in the hope that the sensation would die down.

At some point I must have gone to sleep because there was something on the dictaphone from the night. I was with my friend from the Wirral and someone else last night. I don’t know what we were doing at the start but we’d ended up at Middlewich and gone to see my father’s factory. We went in through the back door of course and worked our way round through the garage. My father was working at a vice. I asked him if he’d seen (someone). He replied “yes, he’s upstairs” so we went up the stairs onto the gallery while whoever it was was doing what he had come here to do. My father came up a few minutes later. He had a razor and a few other things. It looked as if he was going to shave someone. Then I realised that someone was going into hospital for an operation that afternoon so I imagined that the shaving is due to that so he was there with the razor. He turned to me and asked “are you ready?. I asked “ready for what?”. He replied “you’re donating the tubes, aren’t you?”. I answered “I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to discuss it, I don’t want to be involved or anything. If you want to take something out of my body just hit me with a piece of wood and do it while I’m unconscious, and don’t say anything. I don’t want to know about the procedure or anything else that happens”.

Not very much but I was surprised that there was anything at all on there.

When the alarm went off I went and had my medication and then checked my mails and messages. Having then transcribed the dictaphone notes I sat down to revise my welsh but regrettably fell asleep at the computer.

Armed with my coffee and fruit bun, I joined the lesson and to my surprise it seemed to pass quite well. However, my brain is still all churned up with rubbish and nothing seems to stick.

After the lesson I went through the shopping list to update it and have several goes at sending it. Some of the stuff that I wanted wasn’t in stock, and then the order fell below the minimum £50:00 limit so I had to track down some more supplies that I might need.

My weekly shopping bill for food usually runs out at about €35:00 and I was buying for a fortnight, so I was bewildered as to why I couldn’t reach €50:00 with ease.

What I should have done, I suppose, is to have asked one or two of the other housebound people in the building if they needed anything that I could have ordered for them.

And then I had the e-mail from the hospital. They want me to have a blood test before I go, so I had to ring the nurse to arrange for him to come round on the Saturday before I go to do the necessary.

But even though I’m looking forward to the stay in the hospital and the likelihood of having some kind of treatment that might possibly help me, I’m not looking forward to the journey. In fact, I have the feeling that the strain of the travelling is wiping out all of the benefits of whatever treatment I might be having, and more besides.

Next task was to ring up the people who handle the Autonomy issues. I spoke to them almost a fortnight ago and they promised to send me a form, but it’s never been received. I rang them back to hustle them along and they agreed to send me another one.

Let’s hope that this one arrives.

Rosemary rang me too and we had a really good chat about all kinds of things, but it wasn’t one of our usual marathon chats because the doorbell rang – the delivery guy with my food. Some of it was frozen and there was a lot of chilled food so it all needed to be put away as quickly as possible.

So right now, not only is there not even one cubic millimetre of space in the freezer, there’s not even one cubic millimetre of space in the fridge either. At least I won’t be going hungry for several weeks, even if I don’t go out again.

While I was doing all kinds of stuff with the food, Rosemary had texted me back. She has one of these small Land Rovers so I’d asked her to raise the seat to its highest position and then measure the height of the seat from the ground. The answer was “60 centimetres”.

My chair here is 50 centimetres off the ground and it’s something of a struggle to rise to my feet. If I’m to buy a different car, it needs to have a seat more than 50 cms off the ground to make it easier for me to stand up so I need to have a few measurements lined up.

What’s annoying is that Strider’s seat is exactly the right height for this kind of thing. It was so easy to get in and out of him. I suppose that in theory I could have him shipped over here but he’s as old as Caliburn and salt on the roads in Maritime Canada haven’t been kind to him.

As well as that, his engine is an old-generation V6 “Cologne” engine of 4.0 litre and drinks petrol like there’s no tomorrow.

With what time remained (and there was some, after all of that) I edited the notes for another radio programme and that’s now ready to be assembled and completed, but not tonight. I’m exhausted.

As I had my wraps delivered I could have a taco roll for tea, with some of the leftover stuffing. There’s a little left so I’ll make a curry tomorrow. But now that I have some soya yoghurt I can make some naan bread to have with it. I’m not quite sure where I’ll put the leftover dough rolls but I’ll worry about that tomorrow, I suppose.

So now I’m off to bed now that I’ve finished my notes. I’m hoping for a much better night tonight and tomorrow I’ll have to put away the rest of the food. There isn’t any room right now to put anything.

But give me a week or so and there might be some space somewhere – and then I’ll be off to the hospital. I hope that they will be able to do something that might improve my situation and I can go back to have something like a better quality of life.

Mind you, I do have to admit, I can’t complain too much. At least I seem to be doing OK for food right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 31st August 2023 – I FORGOT …

… that the nurse would be coming round to visit my neighbour and that they’d need me to open the door to the building.

So that put paid to my lie-in this morning, didn’t it?

What was a shame though was that I was in the middle of a voyage somewhere and as soon as the doorbell rang the whole lot disappeared out of my head – not that there’s much to stop it.

As seems to be usual these days it took me an age to come round into the Land of the Living and I wasn’t in any great rush to actually do anything.

However, after I’d had a coffee and something to eat I transcribed the mountain of dictaphone notes.

The memory card in the dictaphone is now full so I took off all of the files and stored then onto one of the hard drives.

That led me to a great idea. What with an external hard drive and the hard drives in the array on the shelf I set about consolidating the drives and back-ups in a project that is going on even as we speak.

Having set all of that off I then wrote up the notes for yesterday.

The backing up has gone on all day and I’m creating tons of space that I didn’t know that I have. And it’s high time that I organised all of this in a way that makes some kind of sense.

As for my voyages from last night, we started off with some drawings and photographs and had to describe them – I’m not sure now in which language we were doing it. People picked a photo and said something about it. Mine was a photo of an athlete which was done in 16 shades of blue and white. I wanted to say that the colour was flat. There was no gloss or anything about it. It was like a faded newspaper image. I couldn’t think of the word to describe the colours that I wanted to use when I was halfway through the sentence.

I was next with my friends from the Wirral last night. They each received a teddy bear. The girl’s, you could tell it was for her because there was a label attached to the bear saying something or other and the same with that of the guy. It was a different type of bear but again with a label that made it quite clear that it was to be given to him.

Then I was with a friend from school. We were talking about coffee. He’d been doing something and the previous day he’d had some strong coffee to keep him awake. He said that that had kept him going all day. I agreed with coffee and as a 3rd person came to join us I said something like “with my coffee if you stir the coffee and the teaspoon comes out bent then you know that the coffee is about the correct strength”.

I was also with Nerina last night, back in that dream about motorbikes. I was showing her those motor bike engines again with the different attachments like the Francis Barnett engine in a generator frame and the other ones lying around that I never managed to go very far before I awoke. We’d been out for a drive during the night in the snow, driving around looking at everything and the snow was really quite deep. We were having a lot of fun driving, looking at things. It was becoming quite late and the snow was falling quite heavily. Earlier in the evening I’d suggested that we’d go to have a look at it in Winsford because I was still living in Winsford at the time. Round about 00:00, 01:00 she said “let’s go up to Winsford and have a look at the snow, then go to your house for coffee. Where we stopped to look at those engines, the first thing that I had to do was to clean up. I was absolutely filthy. I was scrubbing all this oil etc off. A couple of other people came by and wondered what was going on, why I was looking so dirty. I explained that I’d just been changing a car gearbox – that’s why I was all covered in oil. Someone else who was with us, I can’t remember who it was, was talking to one of these guys. He came over to me and asked “are we going to see that other guy now? He’s invited us round”. I replied “I’m showing Nerina these motor bike engines but you can go. But come back when we’re ready to leave”. He said that he’d do that but he walked up with us to look at the motor bikes. I said to him “I thought that you were going to look at cars, aren’t you?”. He replied “yes I am” but he still came with us. I said “don’t be too long because we’re going soon but if that guy has any Ford Cortina bits let me know and I’ll come down too”.

Finally, there was also something about a single decker bus but a noise in the street awoke me and it vanished out of my head just as I was about to dictate it.

Tea tonight was a leftover curry with the last naan bread, and it really was delicious. I shall have to make some more of that in due course.

But not right now because I’m off to bed. Tomorrow I’ll be carrying on with my back-up project and see where that takes me. And I must send off my order for my new course book otherwise I’ll be up a creek without a paddle.

That’s a condition in which I usually find myself and from which I’m trying these days to extricate myself.

And by the way – that’s to everyone who sent me messages about my trip to Paris. But there’s some kind of problem with G-mail right now and my mails to thank people have been returned as undelivered. I’ve no idea why but I’m sorry about it.