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Saturday 29th June 2024 – SO FAR TODAY …

… I’ve managed to avoid falling over. However, the night is young and there’s still plenty of time yet to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

And defeat? They are the things inside de slippers of course!

There has been plenty of the day to go at too. More than usual, in fact, because once more I was up and about at an ungodly hour long before the alarm went off. I’ve no idea why that would be because, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s not like me at all.

It was a late night too. The other night when I was in bed before 23:00 must have been a fluke, that’s all I can cay because much as I would like that to be my target time, it’s pretty much unattainable right now and that’s something else that I can’t understand. Where does all the time go?

So last night after my misadventures on the kitchen floor I crawled off to bed late as usual as I mentioned and for a change it took a while for me to go off to sleep. After my fall you could probably say that I was shaken and not stirred.

Round about 05:00 – 05:30 I sat up, bolt upright, wide awake, and try as I might, I couldn’t go back to sleep. Just like yesterday morning too.

After lying awake for a while trying to drop off, I abandoned the struggle and took to my feet, a little more steady than last night, it has to be said. I sorted out some clean clothes and then went for a good wash and scrub up

Back in here afterwards I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was newly-retired, so I was back at home. There were all kinds of medical upheavals going on. Even I’d been interviewed for a medical and failed it completely so was going to have some kind of further treatment. A whole week had been set aside for us to receive the kind of treatment that we needed. This was to take place at home, or at least, some kind of clinic but we’d all be at home during the day, during the night. It had been arranged that I’d look after my niece’s daughter while all of this was going on. We were making plans and making appointments. Someone said something about the daughter staying with me. It turned out in the end that she was only going to stay with me for two days because Friday the had something sorted out but there were so many things arranged that this stay was gradually being whittled down until in the end it probably wouldn’t be anything. That was a big disappointment to me because I had lots of plans and lots of ideas about what I was going to do and where I was going to take her. I’d been quite looking forward to going off for a few days with her to show her around, so I was starting to be even more disappointed and fed up than I am.

Later on there was something else that cropped up which would have been a really great idea had she been staying with me. I happened to mention this idea thing that had come up but it turns out now that whatever time she had left was going to be reduced yet again as something else was found for her to do. I began to wonder whether I was completely wasting my time with all of this and trying to be nice and helpful

So here we go again. I’m planning on having a good and interesting time and various members of my family come along and spike my guns, shoving "le baton dans la rue" as they would say around here. That’s one thing on which you could count – if I were going to be having a good time they would want to spoil it. I tell you, leaving The Land That Time Forgot and coming into the 21st Century was the best thing that ever happened to me and it’s a real shame as far as I’m concerned that I couldn’t ever persuade Nerina to take a leap into the future instead of being back there in the past

The nurse told me about the fun run taking place tonight. The town is closed off this weekend and it’s a car-free “pedestrians only” to celebrate the start of the summer season. There’s a 9km trail laid out around the town and the fun run starts this evening with everyone joining in for a lap – or two, or three, or four if you want the full marathon – to celebrate the summer, the Olympics, or anything else that you like.

She’ll be taking part and she’ll give me a wave as she runs past my apartment. I said that I’d keep an eye open for her;

After she left I had breakfast and then came in here – where I promptly fell asleep again. So much for this early start, I have to say.

While I was away with the fairies I was over the hills and far away. While I was asleep during the morning I had a very clingy girlfriend, a younger girl with large thick-lensed glasses and I know who she is but I can’t think of her name now. We we were out one afternoon and evening and she was just clingy. At first I thought “how lucky I was to have someone who wanted to be so near to me so much” but after a while I began to realise that someone so clingy can also be se needy and so much closeness can be oppressive.

It’s amazing how deep your inner consciousness and realisation goes when you are asleep. I’ve come up with some profound thinking in my dreams and I quite often wish that I could think so clearly and profoundly in real life. Things would be quite different. But what the heck is the name of this girl? I can see her even now but can’t think of her name.

When I awoke I finished off all of the notes for the radio programme on which I was working and then went for a very late lunch, not that I was too bothered about the time.

This afternoon, apart from sleeping, I’ve been carrying out a few amendments to my Homepage (and there will be some more in the fullness of time too), finishing off the updates to my “Canada 2022” pages from October 2022 and once I’d finished those, making a start on updating the pages that I wrote during my recent stay in hospital. So all in all, a very busy boy today even if a tired one.

Having had my breaded quornburger last night, tonight I had air-fried chips with a vegan salad and a burger on a bap – one of those burgers that I made with this dried compound stuff from Germany;

The taste is cerainly different, but not disagreeable, especially when there’s plenty of vegan mayonnaise, dijon mustard and onion plastered all over the place.

So now, early though it is, I’m going to dictate some radio notes for editing during the week and then off to bed. An 08:00 start so if I’m lucky I might have a little lie-in.

But going back to yesterday and needing help too raise myself from the floor reminds me of a story that Bishop Bell of Chichester used to tell me, about the time that he had difficulty rising from his seat in the park
A small girl dashed over and asked if she could help him
"Are you sure you can, dear?" asked the Bishop. "It’s not going to be easy"
"It’s all right really, sir" said the girl, brightly. "I’ve often helped my daddy when he’s been much drunker than you"

Saturday 25th May 2024 – IT SEEMS AS IF …

…this crashing out during the day has become the new norm.

It seems that rather than feeling bad about the days when I do crash out, I’m now celebrating the days when I don’t. And what kind of state is that to be in?

And, more to the point, wouldn’t it be nice to have something to celebrate today instead of having yet another miserable day where I’ve spent either asleep or semi-comatose?

For a change I was in bed early last night despite all the aches and pains. I found it much easier to get into bed even if it was more painful and once under the covers I was soon asleep. For a while it was quite comfortable.

And then a strange thing happened.

It began by me awakening (so I thought) and looking at my watch, to find that it was 06:15 so I curled back up under the quilt.

The next time I awoke it was 06:10. And then 06:30. And then 06:15.

It really was thoroughly confusing.

To make it worse, I couldn’t remember what time the alarm was supposed to ring. So frightened in case it as 06:15 and I’d missed it I raised myself from the dead.

When it did finally go off, I was in mid-wash

The nurse came as usual. She said that she’d rung but I can’t have heard her so she came in here to find me.

We talked about my blood test, she dealt with my feet and legs, and then she cleared off.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone which was a surprise. There was some kind of stately home and the young girl who lived there had an Austin Metropolitan. She nearly ran me down on the way home one night so I thought that I’d call into the hall to see. There was a discussion going on about a woman who liked nude bathing. Someone was desperately trying to divert the discussion saying that she was a member of the British National Outdoor Swimming Federation or whatever it was called and went to these swimming events with her two children every year as part of her membership of this association (which we all knew was nonsense). I couldn’t find the girl so I set out to walk across the road when I was almost run down again by the car. I found it with its rear end sticking out into the street. They were about to work on it so I had a few words with them about it. A local policeman turned up and began to defend them which I thought was completely wrong. He was giving me all kinds of reasons and excuses why and I wasn’t having any of it. It was all turning into a very awkward situation

Beautiful cars, Austin Metropolitans. When I was young there were two dumped on waste land in Wistaston for years. The last time I actually saw one though was IN MAINE IN 2015. They were exported to North America in droves, where they were called Nash Metropolitans

After doing this I was keeping a close eye on the clock thinking “in 10 minutes I can go for my breakfast at 10:00” but all of a sudden it was 11:55 and I’ve no idea regrettably to where that 2 hours disappeared. Ahh well …

This afternoon was pretty much the same – trying to write radio notes in the middle of disappearing half-hours and so on. It doesn’t work, I promise you.

At least tea was nice – baked potato with salad and breaded quorn fillets as usual. Monotonous but tasty.

But something else that is monotonous is bedtime. However I’m thoroughly wasted and a good early night might help. I certainly hope so. And the problem with going to bed early is that it makes the wife put on weight.
Single women come home, see what’s in the fridge and go to bed.
Married women come home, see what’s in the bed and go to the fridge.

Monday 20th May 2024 – YOU’VE PROBABLY ALL …

… read yesterday’s embarrassing blog entry now that it’s on line.

Ohhh!! The shame of it all. I eventually managed to make my way to bed, fully-clothed, at about 02:30 which, seeing as the alarm was set for 07:00 was going to be something of an effort.

Especially as today is another Bank Holiday and usually you wouldn’t see my head poking out from under the covers until about 11:00 I suppose

But all of that was back in the olden days. How times have changed. And not for the better either

When the alarm went off I arose from the dead and went for a wash in the bathroom to clean up

The dining area needed arranging for the nurse too but I arranged it somewhat differently to make it easier for me to stand up. The heights for my arms to push up so that I can stand up have to be calculated pretty precisely .

The nurse noticed a deterioration today. I told him how fed up I was with it all. I need to start laying the foundations for my eventual depart

After he left I came back in here and with an old, pretty full A4 binder and my pillow, managed to raise up the height of the chair so I can sit down with no worries about getting up again. What kind of state am I really in?

At least I was able to write out the blog entry from last night and post it on line.

This afternoon I had a lot of personal stuff to do. And do you remember that issue that reared its ugly head in the UK? The bullet is bitten, the die is cast
"The Moving Finger writes, and, having writ,
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it"
and I shall be making one of the greatest expenditures in my life.

In fact, only the purchase of Expo, my second apartment in Brussels and my apartment downstairs here have cost me more, and the sad thing is that I won’t ever see the benefit of it.

Ahh well, such is life I suppose

That left me some time to transcribe last night’s diictaphone notes. And to my surprise, there was something. They were doing some kind of survey into criminal investigations. I’d been leading some kind of group that had a great deal of interest in this. We were comparing various things together to see about them. One year we had a graph that had an abnormal part in it so we looked further into it. That was what they called “The Irish Sex Scandal” when the Irish Government spent so long investigating a case before brining it to court that it was deemed to be – not “Perverting The Court of Justice” but whatever I mean … "defeating the ends of natural justice" – ed … to bring it to Court. The prosecution collapsed accordingly. We began to wonder whether there had been any other UK cases that had collapsed like this because of a want of prosecution. We began to look further into a lot of old cases to make sure that at least the defence had been correctly run and the correct information had been supplied to them for them to decide what to do with it

During the day I’d been crashing out here and there, which is no surprise given the sleep that I hadn’t had. When I was asleep in the morning I was doing something in the countryside. There was a campsite there. I was having a good wash but a couple of people were having a shower. It suddenly occurred to me “why don’t I have a shower instead?”. I gathered up my things and must have gone into twenty cubicles without finding a single cubicle that had everything one would need for a proper shower. There was always something missing. On one occasion I was menaced by a dog but as it approached me I menaced it back and it ran away. Twenty cabins I must have tried and not one of them had all one would need for a shower.

That sounds typical, doesn’t it?

There was still some time to write a few notes for a forthcoming radio programme before going to make my stuffed pepper and I’ll finish it tomorrow. But after my Welsh lesson. I’m going to bed now ready to be fighting fit for tomorrow

And by that, dear reader, I mean “fighting for breath and fit to drop”.

4th May 2024 – HAPPY STAR WARS DAY …

.. to all of my readers. May the fourth be with you!

What I hope is that you have had a good day today. As for me, I’ve had a better day, but then again that’s not saying all that much.

After I’d finished my notes last night I had a rush around and was actually in bed by 23:03. That’s quite early for recent times but still later than I would like it to be, with an alarm call at 07:00.

Once in bed I didn’t remember anything at all – I certainly can’t remember any phantom alarm calls going off that would awaken me

When the real alarm did actually go off I was a little boy in bed with a little girl. My mother came in and said that she was glad to see me awake and glad to see me and that the two of us had got on so well together and she was going to sing a song to awaken both of us. Just at that moment BILLY COTTON roared his “wakey waaaa….key” and I didn’t find it funny in the least.

It’s very strange but the number of times something in real life has synchronised with something in a dream, such as my mother about to sing to wake me up and we have the alarm going off just at that moment. It’s not every time, of course, but it’s an unusual percentage of times that’s higher than you might think.

Anyway I wandered off for a wash and for my medication.

Having set out the room as the nurse likes it to be, he came down after seeing to my neighbour upstairs, changed the dressing on my foot and put on my puttees. And the wound on my foot is certainly looking much better than it did several weeks ago. That’s good news.

After he left I came back in here where I crashed out – the first of several times today. I’m not doing too well from that point of view.

As for my breakfast, I did manage to stay awake long enough to make and eat my cheese on toast and coffee. And the bread that I made yesterday is really good too. I was quite impressed with that lot of baking – almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin all those years ago.

Once I’d finally awoken I went for a wash and a shave and sure enough, at 14:00 I had a visitor. One of my fellow students on my Welsh course is retired and spends months driving around Europe in his caravanette. He’s turned up in Granville this morning so he came for a coffee and a chat.

And wasn’t it lovely to see him? I don’t have enough visits, which is a shame

After he left I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was with Nerina last night. She’d come back home and we were together, but it wasn’t at all what she was expecting. She realised that my routine had changed so what she decided was that some time during the following day we’d both sit down and thrash out some rules for some kind of co-existence. I was willing to listen but obviously I wasn’t going to agree to any of the rules that might change my life drastically from how it is. Nevertheless I was interested to see exactly what her proposals might be. Of course they might affect other people like the district nurse coming round but that was something that we’d have to see about and have to negotiate anyway so that we could have some kind of life in common rather than living as two individuals in the same house

The biggest change would be that I can’t walk anywhere these days. I’m stuck inside this building and not able to go out. I’m not sure what other changes there would be after 30-odd years but there would bound to be some. The fact that I don’t have to go to work and so can have a more regulated lifestyle would be a big change for a start

There was also something else going on too about living together. A young mother named Maggie had moved in with a guy called Bill in the suburbs of Glasgow because it seemed like the best opportunity she was going to find to escape the kind of squalor in which she’d been living. His lifestyle didn’t conform to what she was expecting either so it was necessary to get together and thrash out rules between him and her but she was far less optimistic that some kind of arrangement suiting both parties would be found and considered it a great challenge to try to persuade him to conform to certain ideals of communal life in the middle of all of this Glasgow gang warfare that was going on around these tenements

There are several people whom I know who can’t bear to be on their own and have to be with someone else regardless of how it turns out. For one or two of them, it’s turned out really well but for the most part it’s been something of a disaster and they just move on to the next, with predictable results.

The res of the day, when I’ve not been asleep, has been dealing with the blog entries from when I was in Canada in 2022. The photos and the corresponding text needs to be added in so I’ve been working on that.

There’s only a handful of photos left to do but they won’t be done tomorrow as I’ll be baking biscuits. I’m running right out of those at the moment. I’m just trying to think about what kind of biscuits I should make. The last lot were chocolate biscuits and the ones before that were honey biscuits.

Tea tonight was one of my breaded quorn fillets with a salad and a baked potato. Quite delicious as usual, especially the potato cooked for 5 minutes in the microwave and then 15 minutes in the air fryer.

Pudding was delicious too. Some of the strawberries that I bought the other day soaked in a vegan cream. And there are more strawberries and cream for tomorrow after the pizza.

But right now, that’s it. My eyesight has deteriorated rapidly since yesterday and I can’t really see what I’m doing.

And that’s a problem. Not like when I lived down on the farm. It was such a small village that even though I might not have had a clue what I was doing, all the neighbours knew

Monday 26th February 2024 – IT LOOKS AS …

… if I’ll be back in hospital sooner than I imagined.

In fact, if the hospital had its way I’d be there now.

The nurse who telephones me every few days to find out how I am and so I told her, and that was that. She told the doctor and he issued the instructions, and left it to the nurse to find a date seeing as I turned down “today”.

Yes, it’s “all go” here in the apartment. I wasn’t in bed very early because I had things to do, even though I was tired. And so I didn’t have much sleep.

What sleep I had was quite good though and I wish that I had had more of it. There’s no doubt that I seem to be sleeping better these days than I have done but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. As I have said before … "" – ed … my nocturnal travels are very important to me.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and went to take the blood pressure. A very low 14.8/8.9 this morning, compared to 17.1/11.8 last night.

After the medication I came back in here and had a few things to do before I could transcribe the dictaphone notes. We were at school last night. There was an issue about climate change etc. Our headmaster gave a speech to a certain organisation about something or other on this subject. It turned out to be a huge self-justification about all kinds of things. I somehow managed to access the meeting so I stood up and made a speech simultaneously criticising him for all kinds of different things that had gone on in the past in the school for which I considered him to be responsible but no-one took any notice of me at all. I thought “fair enough”. My life carried on as usual, I had a nice girlfriend (and I wish that I knew who she was). Then I noticed that there wee jobs for school leavers. A couple of them were really interesting. One was to go to Kenya for a couple of years as some kind of exchange of teacher or something like that. I must admit that that appealed to me. Anyway I wanted to go to sort out the headmaster. He had a meeting of people my year at school at the start of the afternoon so I went five minutes early and said “I want to talk to you”. He looked at me and said “and what position are you after?”. I had to be honest and explain that although I was after the one in Kenya I’d come to see him on another matter. He took the greatest amount of umbrage with me criticising him for his speech. He was really quite aggressive with his defence of what he said which I thought was way, way over the top and out of place.

It’s one thing that I’ve noticed about Climate Change deniers and the others of their ilk. When you challenge their “beliefs” the become quite aggressive and try to shout you out of their argument. Yet the facts are indisputable.

"Climate change is a natural phenomenon" – indeed it is, but that’s no reason for us to do nothing about it. It’s like saying that the Titanic was going to sink anyway so why bother pumping? The answer is that by pumping it gave them an extra couple of hours for Carpathia to come to the rescue. And that’s why we have to keep on trying to save the planet – to give us more time to find a solution.

"The Earth is simply rotating on its axis like it normally does". Indeed it does, but at a rate of 1° per 7,000 years according to calculations made by Sir Norman Lockyer, so we’re talking of arcoseconds in real terms. But if that’s what is going on according to the naysayers, why aren’t other parts of the World freezing as quickly as the High Arctic is melting?

But seriously, anyone who has been to the High Arctic can see the evidence for themselves. I was talking to an Inuit on Bylot Island who told me that he used to come to the spot where I was standing to fetch a block of ice for his old grandfather to make tea. And then he took me to the head of the glacier where it was in 2018 – a walk of 1.5 miles
"So how old were you when you did this?"
"Twelve or thirteen"
"How old are you now?"

The glacier has receded 1.5 miles in 12 years.

In the memoirs of James Rae he writes about battling through the snow and ice around Pelly’s Bay in August 1854 when he met a group of Inuit who gave him information and relics about Franklin’s lost expedition. We landed at Pelly’s Bay to refuel on our way out to Mittimatalik in September 2018 and there wasn’t a fleck of snow anywhere.

The presentation that I did on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR was afrer we’d sailed several miles up a Fjord on Ellesmere Island and I showed a slide of an Admiralty chart of 1857 which showed no fjord there – the whole island was covered by an ice cap all the way down to the sea according to the chart.

Bylot Island, where I talked to that Inuit, wasn’t even an island. If you look at the map you’ll see that the strait that separates it from the mainland of Baffin Island is called “Pond Inlet” because that’s what it was when Europeans first visited it. It wasn’t until the ice melted that they discovered that Bylot Island was actually an island.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, following on from the previous dream, the girl to whom the headmaster refused to talk … "which girl?" – ed … ended up teaching part-time at a college which was part of the story and in fact taught German to the guy who took over from her boss as whatever official position it was for which the girl was secretary, but she was still chasing her boss and trying to persuade him to either justify his speech or to withdraw it and the implications that it had against us, this particular girl.

It seems that there’s a chunk missing from these dreams somewhere, and that seems to be a regular thing. It makes me wonder what else I’ve missed, and I know that ON ONE OCCASION I missed a visit from Castor. Imagine that!

Having done that and pushed it out of the way I went to finish the radio programme that I was organising yesterday. It meant dictating the notes that I’d written last night for the final track that I’d chosen, and then editing it and adding it all in with the actual song.

And to my surprise it was exactly one second SHORT.

When they are too long, I can cope quite easily. I always include in my notes some things that can be edited out if necessary to bring them down to the correct time; but when they are too short it requires more inventiveness.

But one second isn’t too bad. That’s 20×0.050 second “silence generated” pauses in salient places and that’s the job done.

After that I chose all of the music for the next radio programme, paired it off and began to write the notes for it. I could have done much more too except that I … errr … had a rest

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper, with plenty of stuffing left over, thanks to having forgotten my mushrooms on Friday and a suspect tomato in the fridge. That will keep me going for a few more meals.

Tomorrow I have a Welsh lesson, and then there’s an order to send off to LeClerc as I’m running low on frozen vegetables. So tomorrow late afternoon will see me blanching carrots and sprouts ready to freeze. Still, there’s some chocolate cake left to see me through

Then I’ll have to think about this hospital appointment. Will it be for a stay or just a day visit? I know that it’s for a lumbar puncture which I dread, but I can’t believe that they’ll send me home on the same day.

But as Macbeth said, "If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly". And he was right. No point in waiting around because it will still be the same. It’s as Terry Venables once eloquently put it – "if history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again"

Or as Vivian Green sang, "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And they’ve improved considerably since.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s much more in my line of country.

Wednesday 14th February 2024 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

… I’ll be back in Paris at the end of April, despite what I said yesterday.

There’s a heart test already arranged for 24th April, so the doctor said “we’ll make it a stay for a few days and run a pile of tests on you”. Ahh well, can’t be helped, I suppose

All that way there and back and I was only with him for about 15 minutes, and even then he spent much of the time being interrupted on the phone by other people.

At least, it’s good practice, I suppose. Especially for me having to organise myself ready to travel.

Having had a good wash yesterday I still had plenty of things to do before I could go to bed so it was rather late when I finally crawled under my covers.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed to switch it off and then to take my blood pressure. A mere 16.6/9.5 this morning – quite a change from the 18:8/10.9 of the night before.

Once I was up I dressed and then went to make my sandwiches for lunch – nice thick slices of home-made bread that had been stored in the freezer and left to defrost overnight, and filled with cheese, hummus, lettuce and tomato with garlic mayonnaise.

The taxi driver was someone who had run me round to the Centre de Re-education once so I knew her. We had a very interesting chat during which I learnt that she is on good terms with one of the guys off the radio. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" … – ed, the World is becoming far too small for my liking.

She’s not been taxi-driving long so she didn’t know the way very well, but I helped as well as I could and we arrived at the reception desk bang on time. And then I was called for the interview.

When I’d been there last time his office was right at the far end of the corridor and round the corner so I went to sit there. Today, his office was right next to the reception desk so he had to come to find me.
"Walk this way" he said, beckoning me in his direction
"If I could walk that way" I thought to myself "I wouldn’t be in this flaming hospital having this blasted treatment in the first place"

He went through all of my results with me, and everything seems to be an improvement (that’s not how it looks to me, but never mind) so he’s pleased with the progress of his cocktail of medication.

He thinks that an in-depth examination will be called for after a few weeks, and so he reckons transforming this day visit into a hospitalisation for several days.

One of the things that he suggested was another lumbar puncture – and I went cold at the thought.

As for all of my detailed and comprehensive notes about my blood pressure, he scarcely gave them a glance. So much for those then, I suppose.

Finding a nice quiet corner I ate my butties, went for a visit down the corridor and then found my taxi driver, and we set off for home.

Shame as it is to say it, I slept almost all of the way back and I’ve no idea why. But both the outward and the return journey were the most trouble-free that I have ever had. The traffic was slow-moving on the Prif but we weren’t ever held up, either on the outward or the return journey.

My cleaner was waiting for me when we arrived. She’d volunteered to help me up the stairs but strangely, I didn’t need it today. I could climb up all 25 steps without any help. So maybe there really IS progress after all. I must admit that last night, for the first time since my bad fall, I’d felt well enough to restart my musculation process with my elastic strap around my legs.

Back in the apartment I made myself a nice mug of boiling hot chocolate and then came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes. And there were tons of them. No wonder I was tired. I’d travelled miles during the night.

We were managing a rock group last night. The drummer in this group was only very young but was a prodigy, extremely good at his job so one of the other teams in the league decided that they wanted to sign him. I said that he’d only go if they made a ridiculous offer and we had another drummer to replace him. My team in the transfer window arranged a few more transfers in, a defender, an attacker and one player whom I didn’t know. I didn’t recognise his name so I wondered where he came from and what he did, thinking that he might be a replacement drummer to replace the one whom we were about to lose but it wasn’t. In fact he was another outfield player. So I explained to the club that it doesn’t matter how much money they offer, they can offer as much as you like but if he’s still under contract with us and we don’t have a replacement then he can’t leave for another club.

And that really does make a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Mr Teale, our geography teacher at school was telling our class about the Midwest USA. He was talking briefly about the Oregon and California Trail that they took. So when he finished I told him about the time that I’d visited there and seen it. I had my photos that I showed everyone. I mentioned the big baskets at the top of the hill where the descent into California starts, where back in the past they went through and found all old bits of wood lying along the trail. They picked them up and stuck them in this basket. It’s extremely likely that much of the wood in there comes from these crashed Pioneer wagons that failed to make the descent correctly and came to grief somewhere along there on towards the end of the trail on this downhill slope

Regular readers of this rubbish in another format will recall that we have spent a considerable time on the Oregon and California Trail. in 2002 I went to see the famous trail ruts and Register Cliff IN GUERNSEY, WYOMINGand then went back there IN 2019, and one day I’ll finish editing the … gulp! … 6,000 photos from my famous trip

Then I put some knock-out drops into the air when our Geography teacher and one of the other teachers were talking about the summit of the Oregon and California Trail. I’d been there of course and knew all about it but it seemed appropriate for the class to have a break and go to sleep so that the rest of the room could occupy ourselves for a bit

As for the summit of the trail, it’s not easy to know what is meant by it. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we have been TO SOUTH PASS which is the watershed, where rivers to the east drain either into the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico, and to the west where rivers drain into the Pacific, so I suppose that that might be described as the summit.

However you’ll never lose a wagon down the descent there. Edwin Bryant, in his book WHAT I SAW IN CALIFORNIA described the slope either side as being so gentle that you’d hardly know that it was there, and that was my opinion too.

I also started later on talking about my Will, where I was going to leave money and to who. Actually finding it is a bit of a struggle but it was above the treeline on the route that these Oregon Trails took. But I found it sure enough and opened it to read. It’s different from the one that I have at home. My property will just be left to my heritee whoever that will be, with no mention of sorting it out amongst the people who ought to benefit so I hope that other people will understand, if they find this document, exactly what I want to do. I’ll have other ideas but I probably won’t get them down

That’s something that I really need to do – to write my will. It will be pretty straightforward and simple, and won’t take long. But that won’t be the end of the story because there will be a lot of work to be done in its respect and also in the respect of carrying out my wishes.

Apart from a few bits and pieces, it’s all going to be dropped into the lap of one person, and that person will certainly earn their share of the inheritance at the end of it. Mind you, they’ll deserve it

So who will that person be? The answer is that even though there’s a lot of ground between us, there’s really only one person honest and reliable enough in my entourage upon whom I could in theory rely.

And if that person doesn’t carry out my wishes? Well, there’s not much I can do about it, except to come back and haunt them, rather like the two gay ghosts who really gave each other the willies one night.

But that reminds me of Liz (not “this Liz” but “that Liz” who died in 2009) going in for a serious operation, and writing down a list of names
"Is this the list of people you want us to tell how it went, mum?" asked Kathryn?
"No, dear" replied Liz. "This is the list of people whom I’m going to come back and haunt if it all goes wrong".

Liz would have known about all of this, though. Having served on many University committees she’s had plenty of experience of holding hands sitting around a table and trying to contact the living.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed – as I said … "when?" – ed … but didn’t record, the people making this programme … "which programme?" – ed … presented her … "who?" – ed … with a teddy bear afterwards as a kind of memento of a trip that she’d made. Of course no-one from that voyage is with us these days except of course the teddy bear. That’s the only survivor of that first 1840s voyage across from East to West

That looks like an awful mess, doesn’t it? It looks as if it’s related to the Oregon and California Trail, but what’s the rest of it all about?

And then I was back at my little house in Winsford as well last night, wondering how things would have been if I’d actually stayed in Winsford and not taken the opportunity to move to Gainsborough Road in Crewe.

That’s a really good question. I quite liked my little house in Winsford but for some reason I felt really uncomfortable there.

Nevertheless, even though it was a Barratt House, I won’t ever hear a bad word against them as they helped me onto the property ladder. I went in three years from living in a van to owning (with a mortgage of course) a brand-new semi-detached house and I wouldn’t ever have done it without them.

While I was writing out my dictaphone notes I fell asleep again. It’s one of those days, I reckon, so in the end I went and made my leftover curry. It was delicious and the naan bread was cooked to absolute perfection. I’d eat all of this again and again if I could.

But now I’m off to bed. And I go, as Joachim du Bellay said, "heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage" “happy is he who like Ulysses has had a good journey”.

What I’ll be hoping is for more pleasant dreams like I used to have when TOTGA, Castor and Zero used to come to see me. It’s all very well giving me medication that has a side-effect of blanking them all out but as Tennessee Williams said, "If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels"

Sunday 11th February 2024 – MY VEGAN SAUSAGE …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 11th November 2023 – THINGS TODAY WERE …

… somewhat different from yesterday.

in fact it was the morning when I was crashed out on my chair. And I was totally out of it too. I find it very hard to believe that yesterday took so much out of me.

Admittedly I was later in bed that I would have liked to be, but I was determined to dictate the notes that I’d been preparing for a future radio programme. They were all done and dusted and I crawled into bed.

When the alarm went off this morning I have to say that I have never felt less like moving – at least, not for a good while anyway. But I did make it to my feet before the second alarm went off and I staggered into the kitchen for my medication.

Back in here I settled down to do some work but ended up drifting in and out of sleep for much of the morning and I really didn’t feel like anything at all.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’d been invited to a wedding in Nantwich so I set off. As I pulled up outside the church there were all these people milling around with huge banners and floral decorations etc. It looked like a really sumptuous wedding. All the people with the banners went inside and I hung around outside. I had a good look round but didn’t recognise anyone. After a while I mentioned to someone “I hope that I’m attending the correct wedding”. They didn’t really say anything. Just at that moment a group of people appeared carrying a huge tray above their heads, full of beer. They swooped down onto the outside of the church and began to put the tray down so that everyone outside could have a drink. I thought that this is not like the kind of wedding that I would ordinarily attend, that’s for sure.

I didn’t mention that going to that wedding I actually walked some of the way, and walked some of the way without crutches. That astonished me, even in the dream.

There was a story about two people, a man and a woman, working in a kitchen. For some reason the man misunderstood a comment made by the woman. As a result the situation in that kitchen became extremely uncomfortable for a while. There was a lot more to it than this but it was another one of these dreams that disappeared the moment that I reached for the dictaphone.

However I don’t need to know how this ended. I know all about misunderstandings like this

Finally last night I was with a girl whom I knew for a while in Brussels, living in an apartment somewhere. She had go out out to sell some kind of Employee Management software database to a company. I tagged along with her. When she began her discussion the elderly woman in charge of the situation was extremely aggressive. My friend was talking about this product and the woman said “it’s not something that you have to use every day, is it?”. My friend was there patiently explaining “it’s a dispute-management system, yes, but it has lots of underlying parts to it. You only need the disputes part infrequently but everything else is important”. She replied “we’ll strip that out for a start”. The discussion continued and the woman found that it was based on Word-Perfect. “We can strip that out too”. I remembered smiling at 2 girls sitting at a nearby desk looking as horrified as I was. I whispered to them “I think that I’d have been long gone from here at this point”. My friend kept going patiently and the woman kept interrupting her. Every time Nicole tried to insist on speaking the woman went “interrupting me! How rude!” even though she was the one doing al the interrupting. I thought that I would never ever make a career in sales because I wouldn’t have put up with this kind of comment for a minute.

Following that I made a start on editing the radio notes that I’d dictated last night. It was a very slow process, for reasons that I mentioned a little earlier, but the programme is now finished and ready for broadcast on … errr … 7th June 2024.

With plenty of time on hand despite the fatigue I carried on editing the blog entries from last autumn. I managed to do a pile of them, and I’m now having a good drive around various Ford agents in Eastern Canada trying to find a sunroof to fit the only Ford Flex that was ever imported into Europe.

It’s quite true that I sometimes end up with doing some most unusual tasks.

There was some football on the internet later. It’s Welsh Cup weekend and the match that was featured for live commentary was Llanelli v Penybont.

Llanelli have a good history in Welsh club football but unfortunately it is nothing but history. There have been some very hard times down in South West Wales but the club is slowly rising back up the pyramid and is currently leading the Southern pool of the Second Division

Penybont on the other hand is a fully-established Premier League club that qualified for Europe this season.

The gap between the Premier League and the Second Division is immense under any circumstances, as clubs like Flint, Airbus and Afan Lido will testify over the past few years so no-one was under any illusions.

And that was how the game started, with Penybont rampaging forward. Consequently everyone was taken completely by surprised when Ethan Cann’s brilliant finish out of nothing from the edge of the penalty area put Llanelli ahead.

By half-time however Penybont had restored sanity and were 2-1 to the good.

A brilliant point-blank save by Scott Coughlin in the Llanelli goad right from the second-half kick-off kept them in the game and then up popped Ethan Cann again with one of the best goals that you’ll ever see from a Second-Division player.

Even more surprisingly, Llanelli went ahead later, only for Penybont to equalise in the dying seconds of normal time.

We ended up with a penalty shot-out in which Scott Coughlin was once again the hero as a couple of excellent saves saw the Second Division side through to the next round, totally against the run of play and totally against the odds.

Tea tonight was a baked potato cooked in the air fryer, with a vegan salad and one of those breaded quorn fillets that I like so much.

And it seems that I’ve cracked the system of baking potatoes with the air fryer. First, give them a couple of minutes in the microwave to cook the interior. That worked really well

So tomorrow I can have a day off. I’ve done all of my work.

All that remains to be done is to make my fruit buns for the next fortnight. For a change I have everything that I need so they should turn out really well, I hope.

But in the meantime I’ve been reading up on what I need to make my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. The Christmas cake that I made 2 years ago turned out really well and I’m keen to make another one.

A Christmas pudding will be a new experience but Jackie told me what steamer to buy and sent me a recipe for a vegan pudding. One or two things I’m short of but I’ll order what I can and invent the rest.

When I was in Canada last year I was lucky because I found some brandy and some rum essence and that should give my Christmas baking a lift. I’ve no mixed spice but my friend in Munich thinks that he might be able to find some German gingerbread spice and that might actually work too.

One thing that I mustn’t forget to do though it to check my marzipan and make sure that that works too. I didn’t use it last year, with recovering from my hospital efforts so I hope that it’s still good.

if not, I shall have to think of a Plan B.

Friday 10th November 2023 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… miserable afternoon when I’ve spend a good proportion of it fast asleep on my chair in here.

You’ve no idea just how much it takes out of me, staggering two or three hundred metres on crutches and then climbing up 25 stairs back to here, all of which with a very low blood count and a leaking valve in my heart. I was dead to the world for a good couple of hours.

For a change, I’d actually been to bed early. And that’s not something that happens every day. And although I didn’t go far during my travels, it was still quite a restless night.

When the alarm went off I staggered to my feet and went off in search of my medication. And then back here I made a start on my shopping list from LeClerc for next Wednesday and to see what I need from the shops this morning.

In the freezing cold I crawled downstairs and over to the bus and although the driver was on there sitting comfortably she didn’t let me on until departure time. I know that she’s well within her rights to do that, as she’s on an official break, but it was still freezing.

At St Nicolas I alighted and the first port of call was the Post Office. I’m having “issues” at the moment with my bank in Canada and the only way to wind them up is by mail. Phoning them is a waste of time as I proved the other day.

In the Carrefour next door I bought some of the worst mushrooms that I’ve seen for quite a while – I have to say that the fruit and veg at the Carrefour at St Nicolas is nothing like as good as the one at the Port – and a few other bits and pieces.

While I was packing my backpack I dropped something on the floor and as I remembered what happened the last time I bent down to pick something up when I had a backpack I had to ask someone to pick it up for me.

My coffee was quite nice while I waited for the bus, and then I wandered off outside to the bus stop.

While I’d been in the supermarket the weather had been reasonable but the moment I set foot outside the weather changed dramatically and I got the lot.

As soon as I climbed onto the bus the sun came out but as we pulled up at the bus stop outside we had another downpour.
"The rain falls down upon the just
and also on the unjust fellow
But mostly on the just because
the unjust steals the just’s umbrella"

The climb up the stairs was agony as you might expect, and then I made some soup to eat with the crusty bread that I’d just bought.

Back in here, when I wasn’t asleep, I transcribed the dictaphone notes. One of my favourite rock groups was playing in London so I went down on the train to see them. When I arrived in London I couldn’t remember the name of the venue or the place to go to pick up the tickets. I knew that a friend was in London so I thought that I’d phone him so that maybe we could meet somewhere. I began to walk towards the centre but I didn’t recognise anywhere. It was nothing at all like anything I ever knew about the way into the centre of the city from where the train would bring me in. We ended up talking on the phone. He asked me to say where I was but I couldn’t. He asked if I was at such-and-such a place. I didn’t know. Then I found myself standing alongside one of the sections of the old London Wall. I told him that I was here and to come to meet me . This whole affair was really one of total chaos again. Everything that could possibly go wrong seemed to be going wrong at that moment

And later on it was time to return from London. We were round at a girl’s house and she had lent us a Ford Transit diesel. It was quite a mess. The exhaust pipe on it stretched out about 6 feet at the back with a kink in it. My friend had changed the oil, the oil filter etc in it. When we started it there were clouds of blue smoke, it was burning that much oil. I remember a plane going overhead and we couldn’t see the plane because of the smoke. We put everything in the van and set off. My friend was driving like a maniac. It’s not very often that I’m concerned but I told him to slow down as he drove it flat out right past the turning where we were supposed to go. I told him to slow down and he replied “this is how you drive your office car, isn’t it?”. I really didn’t know what to say about that.

While I was at it I finished off the notes that I’d started yesterday for the next radio programme and I’ll dictate them before I go to bed. if I complete the programme tomorrow I can actually have a day off on Sunday – the first time for ages – but I do have some fruit buns to make.

The estate agent turned up this afternoon too. He came “to value the apartment”, apparently. I did ask if the owner was planning on selling it because I have a cunning plan, but apparently not. “It’s being valued for his personal reasons and he has no intention of selling it”.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there are at least two prices for every property on sale in France. The first price is the price that it is advertised and which is aimed at British people and Parisians. The second price is the realistic price that the owner will sell it to a local person and it’s usually much less than the first price, especially if you can stump up the cash.

Following that, I carried on updating the notes from last Autumn. I’ve done all of those that relate to the hospital and I’m now sitting in the Place Gamelin in Montréal making the most of the last of the Canadian sunshine and the really beautiful autumn colours on the trees.

Montréal, and Canada in particular, is really beautiful in the autumn and I really miss my annual visits to pay homage to the land of my Grandmother. I’m hoping that one of these days my cousin Sandra will come over from Ottawa and bring some autumn with her.

It’s all well and good that I’m pressing on, especially as I’ll have much more time on my hands following the death yesterday of one of the largest social networks.

We always suspected that this “it’s free and it always will be” was a load of nonsense and so it has proved. Now, you have to automatically agree to have your personal information sold off to anyone and everyone, or else pay to opt out.

So if anyone wants to chat to me from now on, you’ll have to use the Social network that works with reference to the telephone system.

If you want my phone number you’ll have to write and ask me for it – unless you have a G-mail account in which case I won’t be able to reply.

That’s another issue, isn’t it? Google is blocking its mail-servers to all “minor domains” like mine, unless you include in your webserver a few lines of code that Google sends you.

And if anyone thinks that I’m going to include any form of Google coding on my webserver without them telling me exactly what it does, then they are mistaken.

It’s fair to say that with all of this turbulence going on right now with these major players in the tech world, it looks as if we are beginning to see the start of a technology crisis. They are obviously sensing a danger of losing their grip on things and maybe the revenue coming in isn’t what they would like it to be.

It makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing a renaissance of something like Myspace or whether we’ll be going back to the good old days of 30 years ago when people like us were cutting our teeth on Local Area Networks, Bulletin Boards and the anarchy and chaos that was Usenet.

Tea tonight was chips, vegan salad and some of those strange veggie balls based on kidney beans. And it was actually quite nice.

So now it’s nearly bedtime I’ll go and make myself a hot drink, dictate my radio notes and then go to bed.

We’ll see what tomorrow might bring.

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.

Saturday 4th November 2023 – I WON’T BE …

… sorry to go to bed later on tonight. I’ve had a horrible day.

Even though I was in bed at a reasonable time last night and managed to struggle to my feet when the alarm went off, I was still totally out of it and I’ve been asleep on my chair in here for several hours on a couple of occasions during the day

It’s probably the after-effects of my wandering off around the shops yesterday and going visiting later. You’ve no idea just how much all of this takes out of me.

But at some point or other I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. We started off by planning a rail trip for some reason. In order to connect ourselves up to the system we had to press on a link on our computer and drag it into another link. That way it would connect. We were there in our room trying to connect these two links together but it wasn’t happening. Everyone was starting to panic. Suddenly the link connected and we had the screen. We saw an ancient 1960s-type of diesel multiple unit in the railway station in the centre of the town of Llanidloes (in fact nothing like Llanidloes and actually the railway station there has long gone and taken the line with it) in the snow, with people running for it and leaping aboard as it pulled away. We were sitting there thinking “if we’ve connected why weren’t we taken on board?”. We discussed that for a couple of minutes until in the end we realised that it was only a single track and the train that we’d seen had been heading towards the west but we really needed the train that was heading towards the east.

And then I was with a famous actor last night, interviewing him for the radio. At the end there was a pile of photos so I asked about them. He explained that they were his so I asked if I could look through them to choose a few. I asked if they were in any kind of order. The guy with me suggested that they were in reverse order. The actor himself began to have a look through the clothes that he was wearing which by now were heaped on the side of the bed in layers. He thought that they were in the order of “oldest first”. We ended up having a lengthy discussion about his pyjamas, how modern pyjamas are much lighter and much more aerated and generally much better for the skin in your sleep. But I couldn’t help noticing that going through his pyjamas from all those years ago up until today how the size had changed. It may not look like it on the film but this guy for the last 20 years had been putting on rather a lot of weight that he’d been doing very well to try to hide.

Finally, we’d been performing some experiments, my partner and I, on some certain products, setting up this chemical experiment and letting it run to see what happened. It was a Friday evening and I thought that we’d have plenty of time but judging by how it was unfolding it would be 03:00 or 04:00 by the time that it finished, if by then. I began to wish that maybe I should have done it on a Saturday night when I could have had a good lie-in on a Sunday morning instead of getting up at 07:00 on Saturday morning. We carried on doing it all the same. I was having some kind of brief desultory chat with my partner while I was overseeing this experiment. I suddenly decided that I’d like a cup of tea (yes, it MUST have been a dream). I asked her if she wanted a cup of tea but she said no – she’d be going to bed in a moment so I was sorely tempted at that point to abandon the experiment for the night and go to bed with her but as usual it was one of these situations where I was caught in indecision again.

At one time these dreams that were riddled with indecision used to be a fairly common occurrence but we haven’t had one like that for a while.

What else I’ve been doing is some tidying up in the dining area and the kitchen. It’s true to say that only the basics are being done round here, like keeping the place clean, but the lack of tidiness is starting to spiral out of control and I need to do something about it.

And that’s something else that is taking its toll. It’s totally exhausting doing things like this and it takes so long too. I can only work in bursts of a couple of minutes and then I have to go to sit down to recover for a couple of hours.

Another thing that I’ve been doing is to chop up a few more sound-files. There’s stuff here that I recorded back as far as 2019 with which I’ve done nothing at all. It’s high time that I caught up with everything.

There’s only another … gulp … 31 hours to chop up and then I can get on with some more stuff. But there will probably be a lot more after that hidden away in the bowels of my computer.

For a start, there are probably a dozen or so soundtracks of Louis de Funes films and there will be dozens of soundbytes to be cut out of those. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall, if they have listened to my radio shows, that Louis de Funes is a special guest on my programmes and we present them together.

Another task is to go back to when I was in hospital last year and add in the dreams. I’d finished transcribing them a good while ago but I’d never managed to find the motivation to add them into the relevant entries. Anyway I made a start and I’ve now done a dozen or so.

But reading through the notes of my hospital stay – all two months of it – it’s interesting to watch how my thoughts changed over that period. They swung all the way across the whole spectrum of emotions from relief to sadness to depression to anger to incandescent rage

One of the (many) reasons why I keep these notes is because they are an important gauge of how my mental health is doing as I battle this illness. At one time it was interesting to watch my health swing back and fro, but over this last 18 months or so it’s been all downhill.

While I was going through my notes, I came across a reference to ZERO SHE FLIES.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that this “girl, she is almost a woman” refers to someone whom I knew very well and who, every so often, comes along to visit me during the night. She unfortunately had a lot of baggage attached, none of which was her doing and she struggled on valiantly despite everything, but in the end the baggage overwhelmed me.

Quite often, I’ve wondered what became of her and what she would be like today. I remember in 2016 being in a café in Belgium drinking a coffee when in walked a girl who would have been the spitting image of how I imagined her to have looked just then. I was so surprised that I dropped my coffee.

And then, in 2017 I was on board ship going across the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundland and Labrador when I bumped into a girl who was exactly as Zero was when I remembered her. And that surprised me too

So this afternoon I did something that I haven’t done for a while, and that was to have a play about on the acoustic guitar. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that after having spent all that time with Castor up in the High Arctic teaching each other the ukulele and the guitar, I started to play again quite seriously.

When we were on Spirit of Conrad down the French coast I was giving concerts and I even went and treated myself to a new 5-string fretless bass to go with the big amp that I picked up in that pawn shop in Ottawa.

But the bass is now too heavy for me to hold and while I can still play the old EB3 and the acoustic guitar, I just can’t find the time or the motivation.

The difficulty is that even the most simple tasks are taking so much time and so much effort that I can’t manage anything else right now.

So instead of continuing to feel sorry for myself and brooding on the infinite, I went and made tea. Baked potatoes from the European Potato Mountain cooked in the air fryer, a vegan salad and a burger from the European Vegan Burger Mountain.

And now I’ve finished my notes I’m going to dictate the radio notes that I wrote out during the week and then go off to bed. Tomorrow I’m going to be baking biscuits, so I need to cheer up .

What went on in the past can’t be changed so it’s pointless brooding on it. Here’s looking forward to my chocolate and coconut biscuits.

Saturday 7th October 2023 – HAVING HAD MY …

… first of what will probably be many Saturdays without going to the supermarket, I’ve been quite busy again nevertheless.

It actually all got off to a good start too with me being up and about before the alarm went off. Not by much, I have to say, but all the same it was still an early start.

And yes, there will still be an alarm on a Saturday morning. I have to keep up a routine otherwise I’ll just melt away into oblivion.

After the medication it took me a while to come round into the Land of the Living and then I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. There was some kind of dream about an old couple who had a young baby living with them. They were all living in squalid circumstances. Some man came along to try to take the baby away to give it a cleaner existence but he had to be extremely careful in the way he approached and tackled it. If the grandparents thought that the baby was being taken away for ever then they wouldn’t be quite so co-operative in letting him come in and see the baby. This evolved into my being at my sister’s old house in Gresty Road. I had to leave there and go home. It was a 7-hour drive. The bathroom was really insalubrious and I hated that end of the house so I wasn’t going to go there to have a wash. I’d wait until I’d reached home if I could. All of the stuff that I needed to pack into Caliburn which otherwise would have to go out of the back through the bathroom and down the fire escape and out through the back yard to where the car was parked wasn’t going to happen. I’d have to take it out of the front. I’d need to fetch Caliburn round to the front but there was no waiting or no parking there. I’d be interrupting everyone and risking a parking ticket by doing that. While I was thinking about what I was going to do I found a huge, enormous box of Quality Street chocolates so I took a large handful and went and sat to eat them. I realised that I couldn’t wait because with an extremely long journey, the longer it too to sort myself out the longer it would take to reach home. I really wanted to be on the road as quickly as possible.

And later I was in a pop group playing drums last night. I only had a really cheap beyond-basic kit but I didn’t do too badly and I could keep the beat of the songs. We were sitting there rehearsing once and there was another drummer there. he began to play some kind of drum beat music and I joined in. Much to my surprise it was quite accurate. The guitarist joined in, playing a guitar piece that I recognised but I can’t name it. The guitarist said that he was playing this particular track because it was one that he’d like to work out. By now I was playing the guitar but I wasn’t at all confident in the idea that I’d be able to master this song to a sufficient standard to be able to perform on stage.

Nerina and I were then running our business last night, going through the cars cleaning them from top to bottom to within an inch of their lives etc, having them really sorted out. Another taxi driver from a different company came round to see what we were doing and for a chat. It slipped out in the conversation that I’d won a contract with a major motor vehicle repair place in Northwich. He asked whether that was the place that dealt with rebuilding cars after accidents or after they’d been out on lease. I replied “as a matter of fact it is but I’m far more interested in their military vehicles”. he said “you mean training vehicles?”. I replied “no. I mean vehicles that have been used by Generals being chauffeured around etc”. We were busy washing one of the cars at that point. When we scraped away the years of grime and washed it we found that one of the doors was distorted and there was paint of a different colour on it. We wondered how that was happening. In the meantime Nerina was having trouble with a jug of warm water. She shouted so I went in to see what she was doing and to juggle with this huge jug of hot water. The other driver said that he’d like to see me for a while sometime if I could spare him the time. he wanted to talk to me about his business. I didn’t really understand what he meant by that but I’ll talk to anyone so I said that I’d let him know when I was free, something like that.

After that four of us were going off to watch car racing somewhere. We stopped off at a motorway service station to have a coffee. Here we bumped into my friend from Munich on his way there so we had a really lengthy chat with him and talked about his plans. We then went back to our motor bikes. It really was a beautiful afternoon made for motorbiking. We thought that it would be lovely to be out on the road in this beautiful weather. We could have a nice leisurely ride up the drive of the place where this hotel had been built.

At another point I was sitting on a beach somewhere and a vendor came round selling mugs of hot coffee. I’m not sure why I wanted a hot coffee in the middle of summer but it was £1:30 so he poured me a mug of coffee. While I went through my pocket for the money he wandered off somewhere. Just then I heard a voice behind so I said “£1:30” but it was in fact a man asking me if I’d seen his wife. Of course I hadn’t so I said “no” so he wandered off. The coffee vendor came back. He stood there for quite some time waiting for me to sort out my money while I had it in my hand. parked right opposite me was a Standard 10 which had a Canterbury registration number so I must have been in Kent at that particular time.

Finally, there were several of us wandering around the London Underground, some of us who knew each other well and one girl who didn’t. When we arrived at a main underground station we found all the doors locked and we were effectively locked inside. I saw a door open and someone emerge so I went to grab the door before it closed so that we could leave but it turned out to be the door of the gents’. We all then decided to make for the main-line platforms and go home that way, my group going one way on one train and our lone friend another way on another. We all agreed to meet here at some other time. I asked “whereabouts here,” and someone else replied “here – on this spot”.

As you can see, it was quite a mobile night and I didn’t have much sleep at all. It’s no surprise therefore that I fell asleep again at some point later in the morning. And for an hour or so as well.

But I also spent a lot of time this morning making a start on updating the blog entries. I hadn’t added the dreams that took place when I was in Leuven just now so I edited all of those and brought them up to date.

This afternoon I wrote out the notes for the music that I selected yesterday for another radio programme. They are now complete and tonight before I go to bed I’ll dictate as many of them as I can.

It’s the kind of thing that has to be done late at night because there’s too much noise outside during the day with traffic going past and buses idling at the bus stop.

There was football on the internet later on early in the evening – Pontypridd v Hwlffordd in the Welsh Premier League.

It was a proper basement battle that in the first half was quite agricultural and Pontypridd were well on top. Hwlffordd improved quite considerably in the second half but the sending off of Tyreese Owen for two yellow cards put paid to any hopes of a revival, even if they did have a couple of excellent chances.

The final score was 2-0 for Pontypridd and that was probably about right. It’s difficult to explain what has happened down in south-west Wales. Hwlffordd did really well in the latter half of last season and performed quite well in Europe, but the fire has gone right out.

Tea tonight was salad and chips and one of those vegetable burgers of which I bought a supply a while back at Noz, along with a vegan salad. Of course, with Noz being off the agenda now I’m not sure what I’ll be doing when the stockpiled stuff from there runs out.

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’ll dictate the radio notes and then go to bed. A nice lie-in tomorrow will do me god so I hope that it actually works.

Tuesday 13th June 2023 – IF I KEEP …

… on going like this, I’ll be meeting myself coming back. It was another depressing, dreary night.

But when the alarm went off at 07:00 I was flat out asleep and it was much more of a struggle than it has been of late to haul myself up out of bed.

Nevertheless I beat the second alarm, but not by much.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages, I had a listen to what was on the dictaphone. We were taken on a quick trip around Outer Space to have a look at what was considered by many people to be a form of Paradise. While we were looking we noticed that many of the people were living in caravans which seemed strange to us but the situation was that they paid much less rent and much less in charges in order to live like that and it turned out to be very beneficial

But at oone point I actually did undergo the sensation of falling because of my knees giving out, while I was asleep lying in bed. It was extremely uncomfortable and extremely real as well. And very disturbing too.

After that I spent some time revising for my Welsh lesson. That didn’t pass as well as I would have liked. Some of it was pretty good but some of it was just the reverse. And there were very few of us this week, which meant that I had to work harder than usual.

My coffee and fruit bun were nice though. I enjoyed them very much and I really ought to make some more like that. i’ll have to bake some at some point early next week, and some more biscuits too because I’m on the last packet of ginger biscuits that I’d bought from Noz the other week.

The physiotherapist had sent me a message to say that he’ll be coming on Thursday and Friday only. That’s quite annoying because I would much rather he came on the same days and the same time every week, and I’ve told him that before. But he takes no notice.

So instead I did some more work on my Canada 2017 notes. At the moment I’m on my way from Mary’s Harbour along the Alexis River. In a short while I’ll be coming into the old lumber camp of Port Hope Simpson where I’ll be getting my head down for the night.

It’s taken me ages to write out the notes for this particular day, which is no surprise because there were 127 photos that I took from the moment that I pulled up at Sainte-Barbe to board the old MV Apollo to cross the Strait of Belle Isle to Labrador, and some of those were divided in two.

When I’ve finished that day I can move on down the road to Cartwright, stopping at the cemetery in the settlement of Paradise River, a village that was practically wiped out in the flu epidemic of 1918-19.

A lot of people were quite upset about the lengths to which the Canadian Government went to enforce the Covid quarantine rules, but anyone who has read anything about the devastation that the flu epidemic caused up and down the Labrador coast will understand completely.

One village was totally isolated for several months and when rescuers finally reached it, they found just one person, a girl of 8, still alive living amongst the rotting bodies of her family and neighbours.

As an aside, my grandmother lost her first husband and father-in-law to the flu epidemic in Winnipeg in 1918 and, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we WENT TO WINNIPEG a few years ago to try to find their grave.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the stuffing that was left over from yesterday. There’s still a pile of that left so I might make a chili with some kidney beans with what is left in the fridge.

So right now, as I’m totally exhausted yet again, I might go off to bed. But as usual, I probably won’t be able to sleep. I’ve no idea what’s going on right now with all of that.

Saturday 27th May 2023 – WE ARE NOW BACK …

… in the position where we were a few months ago. The freezer is now full to bursting once more.

It was a good day round at the shops to-day and once again, Noz came up trumps as it does every so often.

But anyway, I didn’t beat the alarm this morning. I was somewhere down in Newcastle under Lyme at the PMT bus garage where I was to pick up a bus to work a local service around Newcastle. They’d given me the information and then given me a route map but the map was a kind-of abstract map. I couldn’t identify anything on this map compared to how it is in real life so I had to find someone to explain the route to me. I was wandering around this depot trying to find someone. I found one or two people but they were of no help whatsoever. I really needed an inspector or something but I just couldn’t find anyone at all. There were all these buses parked up. No-one had actually told me which one was mine. I thought to myself “I can see this being a disaster too if I don’t organise things quite quickly” and that’s something that is a recurring theme too.

It didn’t take too long to organise myself this morning, which is a surprise. and it’s just as well because Alison phoned. She needed to talk about things like kitchens and showers so we were there on the ‘phone for about an hour discussing various things.

As a result I was rather later than usual going out to the shops but who cares? I’d much rather talk to my friends than almost anything. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’t have many friends but those whom I have are the best in the World.

So at Noz, the first thing that I discovered was a pile of McVitie’s ginger biscuits, and the vegan version too. I know that I like to bake my own biscuits these days but I’m not going to miss out on several rolls of these.

And in the deep freezer they had carrot burgers from some Italian company and a pile of those breaded quorn fillets that I like, only a Findus variety with the labelling in Danish and Swedish.

My diet can be somewhat monotonous if I’m not feeling adventurous so I’m not going to miss out on the chance to add some extra stuff into it so I grabbed several boxes of each of those to shake things up a little.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, Noz is a chain of shops that buys bankrupt stock, surpluses, short lifespan products and the like and sells them off quite cheaply. I’ve had piles of stuff from there over the past 10 or 12 years since I first encountered one and there’s usually always something in there to add some excitement to my diet.

LeClerc came up with the goods too. Some of that sliced fondue vegan cheese in the clearance range so I liberated a pile of that too. I also bought some lasagne. It’s years since I made myself a lasagne and I had a sudden craving for one. I might have a go at that next week.

But there was something rather surprising in LeClerc today. They have a few assistants who roam around the store to help the elderly and infirm with their shopping, and one of them came over to me to ask if I needed help.

In the past I’ve been told, and on one or two occasions quite bluntly too, that I didn’t look as if I’m dying. But after my adventures last autumn everyone who saw me on my return told me how ill I was looking and how they were worried that I might not pull through – even my doctor. But I reckon that it’s becoming clearer by the minute now and if Regina is reading this, then “I told you so”.

It’s all very reminiscent of when I used to live in Brussels and one of my friends happened to see me
“Eric!” he exclaimed. “We thought that you were dead”
“Not at all. It just smells like it.”

Back here the first thing that I did was to clean and dice the 2kg of carrots that I’d bought and set them off a–blanching. I’m running low on carrots in the freezer so I need to stock up. And then I had breakfast – cheese on toast and some nice, strong coffee.

There was time to transcribe the rest of the dictaphone notes, because I’d been on my travels quite a lot during the night. I was in a group last night with a few other people. There was a keyboard player and a guitarist whom I remember. The guitarist was quite young. We took the stage and began to play. A girl came up and went over to the guy playing the guitar and singing and began to gyrate around him. It was clear that she was putting him completely off his stroke. When it came to the part where he was supposed to sing he turned to the keyboard player and said “you’ll have to sing this”. This led to an argument between the two of them. As soon as the concert finished and it was already undignified with a few spectators and someone was getting an awful amount of mileage out of this, teasing them both about their group, how disorganised and how bad it was.

And isn’t that a shame? I seem to have gone beyond the days when girls would come along and gyrate all around me – even when I’m off on another plane of existence. I’m losing count of the number of times that I’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in this respect during the night, without counting the number of times members of my family have come along to queer my pitch in the middle of something exciting.

Later on I’d been staying in a cabin with a couple of old guys, the type of thing that you’d find on the frontier 150 years ago. Cabin fever was definitely striking and we were arguing about just about anything. One of the guys decided that he would let rip with a full-blown argument point out to me all my faults and defects. I had an answer for everything that he said but it was just one of those things that if you became involved in this argument you’d be there for ever and nothing would ever be resolved.

And that’s something else, isn’t it? Cabin fever is quite a well-known phenomenon in the High Arctic and there were several cases amongst some of us after several months on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. My suggestion that we round up the more cantankerous members of our party and send them ashore on the first zodiac to see whether there were any polar bears about did not however meet with universal approval, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Immediately after that little episode I awoke with a terrible pain in my right knee as if I’d over-exerted it yesterday. However it eased off after a while and I went back to sleep.

Once the carrots were draining and drying off I headed into town in the beautiful sunshine. And do you know – it’s taken me about 6 months to realise that if there is a set of steps with the handrail on the right, I can go down much quicker and easier if I go down backwards?

The Aranesp was waiting for me so I picked it up and headed home. Having struggled with my shoulder bag falling off my shoulder and knocking me and my crutches out of balance, I’d found a backpack that I’d bought ages ago to use as a day pack when I go out walkies (not that I’ll be doing much of that these days) and that was much better.

On the way back I fell in with one of my neighbours, Pierre, the one who owned the Spirit of Conrad on which we sailed down the Brittany coast FOR A WEEK a few years ago. We had a good chat about this and that. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I seem to be the flavour of the Month since I now own a share of this building.

From there I came back in a regrettably, at that point I … errr … had a little relax, just as I thought that I might. It’s all becoming rather monotonous, but there’s nothing that I can buy in Noz to alleviate that.

While Alison and I had been chatting earlier I’d told her that I’d sort out a few photos of the kitchen that I’d had installed in Expo so I had a rummage around in various old directories (yes, they are still “directories” – I haven’t recovered after learning DOS 5.0) and sorted out a few to send to her.

The rest of the day has been spent resurrecting an old project. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when they opened the road over Eagle Plateau in 2010 so that you could drive all the way across from northern Québec to the Labrador coast, I was one of the first TO ATTEMPT IT

At that time I went as a tourist and I had no idea what to expect so after I returned I did a pile of research and went again in 2014 and then in 2015 by which time I’d bought Strider who was a much-more suitable vehicle for going off-roading. The aim on those occasions was write a sequel but from a historical and social point of view.

Unfortunately that project ground to a halt because a few months after returning in 2015 I was swept up in all of this.

And as well as that, I went again in 2017 when I went out in a couple of small boats to visit some of the abandoned settlements that were cleared out under Joey Smallwood’s “bigger is better” policy of the 1950s and for which even 70 years later the people of the Labrador coast are still paying the price.

However, I digress … “yet again” – ed.

The task therefore, if I choose to accept it, is to resurrect what I was doing in 2015 and to add in the stuff from 2017 and start again. So this afternoon I’ve been trying to find all the notes that I made back in those days.

Tea tonight was a couple of small breaded quorn fillets that I’d bought ages ago and were festering in the freezer. Wo while I pulled them out, I stuck the carrots in. I had the fillets along with a salad and some fried potato cubes done in the air fryer. That was really nice.

Tomorrow is a Sunday of course so I’ll be having a lie-in. But I have some radio notes that I’ve written and I’ll dictate them tonight once the street outside is quiet. That’ll give me something to do tomorrow and on Monday, and then I can crack on with this and that.

But before I go, yesterday I was talking about South Pass. There’s one song that I always associate with South Pass and THAT CAME ROUND on the playlist.
“We rolled across the high plains
Deep into the mountains
Felt so good to me
Finally, feelin’ free
Somewhere along a high road
The air began to turn cold
She said she missed her home
I headed on alone, oh, oh”

(and who do those last two lines bring to mind?)

The song is all about “The High Plains” of Wyoming, which WE VISITED IN 2002 when I was on my course at the Solar Energy Institute but the photo in the posted extract is a long, long way from the High Plains of Wyoming. Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its earlier guises will recall having seen that image BEFORE.

“Next time
We’ll get it right”