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Sunday 3rd December 2023 – IF MY CHRISTMAS …

… cake tastes as nice as did the bits that bubbled over the top of the cake tin onto the base of the oven, I shall be extremely pleased. It was phenomenal!

And yes, Liz, “bubbled over”.

Trying to bake a cake with no self-raising flour or eggs and just using sodium bicarbonate and red wine vinegar to produce a chemical reaction is very much a hit-and-miss process.

The last time I tried, when I made my bread-and-butter pudding, it exploded in my face, presumably because it was insufficiently cooled and mixed before I added the vinegar, but today it went perfectly and I was so impressed

But I was also so tired too.

Not that a really late night had much to do with it, but the fact that all through the night I had the Return Of The Stabbing Pain.

It defies my understanding, all this that goes on with my body. I’ve mentioned in the past … "and on many occasions too" – ed … the fact that at times during the night there’s a stabbing pain in my right foot as if someone is pushing a hatpin into the sole of my foot, and last night it occurred probably almost every 5 minutes

It went on for ages too and when I finally brought myself into the Land of the Living today at about 11:40, it was still going on.

After I’d had the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. A group of resistance fighters of undercover British soldiers had been parachuted into the Occupied Territories to attack the headquarters of a German General. One of the people who worked in that office was a member of the Allied resistance and had been feeding them information. What they did was to make sure that this person made good her escape. Then they walked in and hauled a hand grenade through the door into the other office where the German General would normally work. The hand grenade exploded and there was a cry of agony from in there so they dashed inside. The General’s secretary was there. She’d been very badly injured by the bomb. She staggered out of the room into the office and saw that the office was empty save for these British soldiers. Her first thought was “where’s Madame So-and-so?”. It quickly became clear to her what had happened but no-one in the party of Allied soldiers had the courage to finish her off. 5 minutes later the German General came back in his car with a load of companions who’d been out somewhere. They stepped right into the middle of this carnage, rounded up the soldiers easily and led them away to be shot. During the whole of this dream the British soldiers made absolutely no effort whatever to resist capture and no effort whatever to try to escape or evade.

Several young children, both boys and girls, who had been dancing had come together under the tutelage of a well-known ballerina and were planning to put on a concert. It was called “The Icepedia of Madame Clifford”. She was busily arranging them into groups and teams etc, choreographing dances etc. These children were due to start any day now having their formal tuition in whatever this Madame Clifford wanted to do but just as they began, I awoke.

Later on, a group of 4 or us, 3 girls and me, had been away for a while on a kind-of touring holiday or road trip. As usual there was one girl whom I particularly liked but she was far too busy being friendly with the other 2 girls than she was spending any time alone with me, which was rather disappointing. When we reached the end of our journey there was some kind of issue or confrontation. The girl whom I liked ended up having lost her clothes so she was there basically with all that she had on. I noticed that she was wandering off to the car of one of the other girls so I went over to ask her if she was going to borrow some clothes from her. She replied “no” so I wondered if there was anything that I could do for her or to help her, give her a lift somewhere as she had no clothes, no money etc but she assured me that she’d be OK. I couldn’t actually see how but she was quite adamant. In the end I could hear the 3 girls making up some other kind of plans to meet somewhere on the way home. I felt rather annoyed that I was being left out of everything but I didn’t say anything. I got into my car, and then realised that I was going to be rather short of money for going home. Someone passing by pointed out that one of my tyres had a slow puncture so I wondered how I’d manage to resolve that too. Then the girl pulled up in her car alongside me so I began to talk to her. I had it in my mind to say that I was jealous of the fact that she spent more time with the others than she had with me etc but for some reason I just could not push the words out of my head and out of my mouth to say them. It ended up really unsatisfactory from my point of view. Then the other 2 girls turned up and talked about meeting somewhere in Munich or wherever. I realised that my timetable was going to be really tight and I couldn’t even make it if I was invited. I wondered how these girls were going to do it too. It turned out that they were going to be flying so where was the one with no clothes and no money going to find the money for that? I set off anyway, disappointedly and came to a road junction where there was a car waiting. I waited behind it but it didn’t move. I suddenly realised thet there was no driver in it so I pulled around it, checked that the road junction was clear and began to drive away.

A disabled boy with whom I used to work appeared in a dream somewhere and we talked about my illness. I told him that I had a lot of appointments unofficially registered on 22nd October and I was going to go to the hospital to talk to a few people about how things were going on. We’d been parked in Shavington outside the small parade of shops talking, then he pulled out of the parade without looking and nearly hit another car that was coming our way. Luckily he managed to stop in time but the car carried on driving. We ended up following it for a while then both it and we turned into Chestnut Avenue and began to go down the hill. He’d completely lost the thread of what he’d been saying and told me that that was a problem when his concentration was disturbed. He lost track of just about everything.

And then I was with Alison, Hans and Jackie. We were in Germany somewhere going for a meal. We all piled into one of the cars and someone drove to this restaurant out in the countryside. We went in and the restaurant was actually up some stairs but I struggled up. We eventually managed to find a place to sit. We had quite a good time talking about all kinds of different things. When the bill came mine was €30:06. While I was sorting out my money everyone disappeared. I heard them downstairs. Someone was saying something to Jackie about “shall I run you to the station now?”. That took me by surprise because I understood that we would all be staying together for the weekend. I went downstairs and to my surprise I walked down the stairs without my crutches. We were all milling around in the cloakroom gathering our clothes together. Hans told a joke that made everyone laugh. he said “that was one of Eric’s”. We collected all our coats and set off outside. It was pouring down with rain. Hans made a remark about how lucky we were that we had hats with us. He would be soaked to death walking to the car.

A group of us from the radio had gone to watch Man play in Brussels. The auditorium was packed but I managed to find a little place at the side of one of the mixing tables to put the ZOOM H1 so that it would record the sounds of the group. I wandered off to do something but when I came back there was a family sitting around this table so I went up to tell them that they needed to be very quiet because there was a live microphone recording taking place. They apologised and said that they hadn’t known that it was my seat. They stood up and left. Taking advantage of the empty seat I sat down. I suddenly realised that I hadn’t brought any spare batteries for the Zoom. it it goes flat I’ll be having a real problem. I switched off the machine while the preliminaries were taking place but just them all of the musicians came onstage. I had to switch it on again hurriedly. I’d done it so quickly that I wasn’t sure whether it was on or off. I had the feeling that this was turning into another complete mess. After the first couple of numbers I was chatting to one of the guys from the radio. I told him that if we have issues about space there are only two numbers that are absolutely essential in the recording. I told him of one but I couldn’t remember the name of the second. At that point the dictaphone began to go flat so I gathered up my things and left. After I’d been walking home after 10 minutes I realised first of all that I still had the elastic strap around my ankles and secondly, I didn’t have my crutches. I walked past the street fair and the place where people left food out for the live slugs and fish. I came to a set of steps but I thought that I better hadn’t push my luck too much with these steps without my crutches. I walked the long way round and headed home. I remember thinking that I hope that everything would be fine from now on because if I lose my crutches that’s really the end of everything. I’ve no idea what I’d do then. That was the thought that was worrying me for the rest of the way home.

Something like that actually did happen to me once while I was recording an outside broadcast. The batteries in the ZOOM H8 went flat and the spare batteries were just as dead.

Of course, I haven’t done any outside broadcasts since last Summer before I went to Canada, and for obvious reasons too.

Another reason why I’m exhausted, and probably the most relevant one, is that I’ve been on my feet all afternoon. So much so that my back, my thighs and the muscles in my calves are aching in places where I didn’t even know that I had places.

Firstly, I prepared the mix for the next batch of biscuits. Fresh ginger, fleur d’orange and ground almonds together with the usual spices

And anyone who has been following these pages for any length of time won’t need to be told about what happened just as I was up to my elbows in flour and vegan margarine. For the benefit of new readers, the telephone rang.

There was no other option but to answer it. It was my neighbour, the President of the Residents’ Committee, wanting to know how I was and what happened on Friday so I cleaned myself up and had a good, lengthy chat with her.

She was the one who tipped me the wink about the apartment downstairs. At one of the residents’ meetings the owner of the apartment just happened to mention quite casually that he was thinking about selling up.

She told me and the owner and I had negotiated a price, agreed a deal and I’d paid the deposit to purchase all before he’d even had time to consult an estate agent.

All I have to do now is to wait for the lease to end and the tenant leaves the property, and then I won’t have all these stairs to climb and I can install a proper kitchen and shower. And, it goes without saying, find a cat to adopt me

Of course, the tenant can always leave before the lease expires. “Negotiations are proceeding”.

Next step was to make my Christmas pudding. That was quite straightforward and it was all placed in the steaming container that I’d greased and lined with baking paper. Three hours of steaming in a bain marie to cook it, and seeing as I didn’t have one, I had to invent something.

But that’s now steamed and it’s currently cooling down before I open it to see how it’s looking. And I hope that it works.

Then there was the Christmas cake. That really took some mixing too but I do have to admit that my soaked fruit looked and smelt delicious. Anyway, it all went together, thanks to everything that I’d bought from LeClerc and fitted quite nicely into my moule à charnière.

You’ve no idea how difficult it is to find proper cake tins here in France so when LeClerc had brought in a pile of stuff for a baking sale a couple of years ago I bought two – a large one and a small one that fits into an air fryer.

Yes, I have a cunning plan about that.

Earlier on I’d taken out of the freezer the last of the pizza dough, and while the cake was baking I was busy defrosting and then assembling my pizza.

When I was satisfied that the cake was baked properly I put the pizza in to bake and while it was baking I rolled out the biscuit dough and cut out the biscuits.

Once the pizza was cooked I put the biscuits in the oven and while they were baking I ate the pizza.

So now I have a Christmas Cake, a Christmas pudding, 40 ginger and orange biscuits and a partridge in a pear tree and I’m totally exhausted. I really am.

What I should have done today is to edit a radio programme but I’ve not had time as yet and right now I don’t have the energy to even move. I’ll have a hot drink and then go to bed.

But while I was making my hot drink the phone rang yet again. For several years in the early 1970s I had a girlfriend whom I knew from school. However we ended up going our separate ways, as you do when you’re that kind of age.

In 2006 Liz (not “this” Liz but “that” Liz”) and I were on our way from a meeting of the Disabled Students Group in Bristol (Liz was in charge of Student Support and I was on the Disability Committee) to a University Region 9 Meeting in Newcastle upon Tyne.

We stopped off at a pub in between Shrewsbury and Oswestry for a meal, and who should walk in?

Quite honestly, you could have put her in her school uniform and she would have been exactly as I remembered her – not a single day older.

Since then, we’ve kept in some kind of desultory touch.

So now that I’ve had my hot drink I’m going to go to bed. A good sleep will do me good, as long as I don’t have the person with the hatpin again.

Wednesday 22nd November 2023 – AND THERE I WAS …

… sitting on a chair outside the doctor’s office and she asked me to come in – and I couldn’t stand up.

She had to help me up out of my chair and the two of us nearly went AOT onto the floor. What kind of state am I in?

However, it’s an ill-wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good and every cloud has a silver lining. After our struggle outside her office door she agreed to extend my stay at the Centre de Re-education until the end of January instead of the end of December.

Leaving the bed this morning wasn’t actually a struggle this morning. I had half a leg out of the bed when the alarm went off and I’m not sure why that might have been because I had another late night – having a bash about on the acoustic guitar before going to bed.

After the medication and checking the mails I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, who had come with me. In between everything else that was going on last night I was working on a website. I’d taken plenty ot photos of different railway installations and was making some kind of geographical record. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working properly and nothing seemed to be going right with it. As well as that I kept on being interrupted by all kinds of different things with my family. Eventually I found out the reason why it wasn’t working. In the past I minimised the images so that they’d fit down the column of a page with the text on the other part of the page. You clicked on the image to see a full-size reproduction. For some reason I was just including the full-size images directly onto this web page and it was distorting absolutely everything. There were some really nice photos in there including some of the electrification work of lines in the spine of England. Then my mother called me for something. After a couple of minutes I went to see. I saw on the table a great big parcel wrapped in brown paper addressed to our family in Canada, seeing my mother’s writing. She also gave me a parcel. Apparently it was my birthday but I’d forgotten. I unwrapped it and inside the parcel was a camera exactly the same type as one that I had already. I couldn’t understand why it was that she’d given me this as a birthday present.

I was also at some point in the proceedings last night clutching a hoe in my hand rather like a Roman centurion. Don’t ask me why because I awoke wide-awake at that particular point. Everything that I was dreaming just disappeared completely out of my mind.

later on during the night I was back in Crewe. I had to go back to our old family home in Davenport Avenue. When I arrived the whole site had been cleared and they were making preparations to build a huge housing estate on the site of several of the houses and the old petrol station and tyre depot that was at the back of it. I didn’t recognise anything. It had just so completely changed. In the end I went to Shavington to a house where a schoolfriend of mine lived at one time. That had all changed too and I couldn’t remember anything. In the end I found the house where it might possibly have been and talked to the neighbours. They told me about all the changes. They agreed that this was the house that I’d thought was the old house of my friend even though it was now submerged in the middle of other housing. There was still a tiny plot of land there that had not been built on, belonging to a guy called Bob Hope who I imagined to be my schoolfriend’s father although that wasn’t his name. In the end there were about 10 of us sitting around there chatting and reminiscing about things that had taken place in the area in the 1950s and 1960s when we were living in Shavington. It was really most unsettling and uncomfortable to see how everything had changed and how everything in Crewe where we lived had been swept away and was a demolition site.

And finally I met a girl somewhere during the evening – a big girl which is of course quite unlike me. We got on really well with each other. In the end we went back to her house and stayed the night together. Next morning we awoke. There was no alarm. I couldn’t understand why. We got up and I wanted to take a photo of the two of us together with me holding this girl off the ground in my arms. It was rather complicated with her being on the large side. Then we found that not one single telephone that we had between us had any charge left in it. Then the subject of breakfast came up. It turned out that she would go to eat breakfast at a local café. She set off first while I did a few things to prepare everything. I found half a bread roll on a table at a café just round the corner from where she lived. I thought that it must be for me. She wasn’t there so I picked up the bread roll and walked around the next corner. She was there with 3 or 4 other people at a table. There were all kinds of breakfast things laid out on this table. She was chatting to these people as if she knew them. I went and sat down but no-one said a word to me. I was there with this half a bread roll. I felt rather guilty that I was going to be eating a bread roll brought from some other establishment with the jam that this proprietor had provided and presumably not paying anything for breakfast. It didn’t seem right to me at all.

After a brief … errr … relax I carried on with the notes for the radio programme and they are now complete. I’ll dictate them later on before I go to bed. And then I paired off the music for the next one and I’ll start to write the notes for that one when I’ve finished making the current one.

The one after that should be quite interesting, but I’ll tell you more about that in due course.

While I was doing that I had a listen to the one that will be broadcast this weekend to make sure that it’s all correct. And then I could send it off to be added into the radio’s playlist.

After a good wash the car came to pick me up to take me down the hill into town and my appointments. I mentioned the doctor just now, and then I went off to Severine for some physiotherapy. Whatever it is that she’s doing, it seems to be doing some kind of good because coming up the stairs back here was easier than it was the other day.

After my hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits I came back in here where I went away with the fairies for over an hour and it really was a very deep sleep too. I was with Christian and we were talking about rock groups who were lost in the High Arctic. There was a map that someone had found that listed the routes of several rock groups who had disappeared and so we went to look but we had a lot of difficult trying to unfold the map. There were several tracks in all kinds of places, each one in a different colour showing the supposed routes and one on or two of the islands there were legends such as “no information”. But we had a real struggle to open this map correctly.

There was also time to carry on with the tidying of the shelves. And I came across two boxes of breadcrumbs and a small Christmas pudding that I must have bought when I was living in Leuven. But nevertheless I’m still going to have a go at making my own, starting over the weekend.

And while we’re on the subject of Christmas baking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had a chat on line with Liz about marzipan. It’s not available for delivery from LeClerc so I’ll have to see if I can find it in Carrefour on Friday. If not, I’ll have to order it on-line from an internet vendor. After all, you can’t have a Christmas cake without marzipan.

Tea tonight was a leftover curry with the last of my naan bread dough. I’ll have to make some more but the soya yoghurt has disappeared off the menu on the LeClerc delivery site. That’s something that I’ll have to check at Carrefour on Friday.

So now I’ve finished my notes I’ll have my hot drink and dictate my notes before I go to bed. Tomorrow I have the engineer coming and I also have to ring up about Caliburn’s Controle Technique too. It expired a long time ago now.

Not that I imagine that I’ll be using Caliburn again. I don’t think that even Severine’s magic touch can restore enough power to my right leg to work the brake. But I have to do something about it. I can’t leave things like this.

Monday 9th October 2023 – I’VE BEEN OUT …

… and about this morning.

There’s something happening at the radio studio and for my sins I’m involved in it so I’ve been out at St Nicolas.

And some good news is that while I was there I was able to inspect the bus stops near the other Carrefour supermarket and the pavements are indeed raised up. So this trip to the supermarket at St Nicholas on Friday may well be on.

My cleaner tells me that she reckons that it’s bigger than the one down by the port and so I might be able to choose from a wider range of produce and that will be good news.

But meanwhile, back in the bed, I had another depressing night tossing and turning at round about 06:45 I was thinking about raising myself from the dead but I fell asleep and had to be awoken by the alarm.

The shower didn’t look as inviting as it did yesterday so I had a strip-down wash in the bathroom and then when I received a message to say that my lift was on its way I struggled down the stairs.

At the radio station the climb up the stairs to the first floor was agony and I was glad to sit down. A mug of hot coffee was thrust into my sweaty mitt (followed by another one) and then we spent the morning working.

As for what we were doing, you’ll find out on Friday, maybe.

From the radio station I was given a lift back home where I staggered up the stairs into my office and didn’t move for a considerable period of time, which was hardly no surprise.

There was quite a bit of stuff on the dictaphone from the night, which probably accounted for the turbulent night. I had to go to see my solicitor. My siblings were invited too. A few of us set out from here on the train to go to the next railway station but when we pulled in, the next train that we needed to catch was already there. On crutches, I can’t rush so by the time I’d alighted the next train had gone. There was no-one else at all standing around. Eventually I found my way on the next train to the next station and went to the solicitor’s office but there was only me in the waiting room. I waited for a while, then my brother and his wife appeared followed by my other sister. We waited for a few minutes and in the end my brother’s wife opened the door to see if whoever was missing was in there. He came out quite angrily. Apparently he’d been looking at some papers thinking that we hadn’t turned up. He said “I might have expected a knock on the door!”. We apologised and explained the situation to him, that we’d all been held up by confusion with the trains.

There was something else but I can’t remember very much about it, something about being in my doctor’s office. There were some fruit cakes like mine so i wrapped one in a napkin and went to put it in my pocket. There was much more to it but I can’t remember any more apart from that.

I was in Virlet later on last night. There was a girl with me. We were putting things into the back room but the things were being damaged after it had been left in there. We wondered what was happening to it. She had to go somewhere so off she went. A short while later I heard the most incredible noise outside. They’d come by with a big kind of earthmover thing to go into the field at the back. There were probably half a dozen men with it. One of them came dashing around to ask “where’s the toilet?”. I replied “I don’t know. There’s probably one in that field somewhere”. he asked “could I use yours?”. I replied “no. We don’t have one installed yet”. All these guys were rushing around etc and eventually disappeared. I went back to do what I was doing. Then I happened to look quite by chance into the back room and saw 2 squirrels. That would explain why the things in there were being damaged. In the end I was having a good look around and hunt around for things like the Ryobi drill that had somehow gone into an outhouse. I suddenly looked up and there was a guy there with an enormous pair of shears in the doorway to my house looking as if he wanted to talk to me about something.

I was then back doing my Philip Marlowe impressions. I had a huge 1940s-type American convertible that was parked in a lock-up garage. When I went to fetch it out there was a car parked there with 2 guys sitting in it talking about business. I went in and started up my car and much to my surprise it started immediately. I had to manoeuvre around the garage to try to exit but the door had blown closed. I was having to stop, leave the car and open the doors. One of the guys opened one for me so I tried to squeeze trough but I couldn’t because there were a couple of bicycles in the way against the other door. I had to stop and try to leave the car again to move the bicycles. The 2 guys began to move the bicycles for me. In the meantime the interior of the garage was becoming full of exhaust fumes and was beginning to become rather uncomfortable.

At some point during the night I was out with the Liz who died in 2009. We were walking around somewhere and I happened to make the observation “look – I’m walking around without my crutches”. It wasn’t a very steady walk but it was a vast improvement on how I’d been the previous day. Everyone was quite impressed with it but they told me not to push it too much. Let it slowly develop if it is improving. We were sitting down having a coffee when a girl whom we knew came by. Liz had gone to the bathroom by this time so there were just me and the girl and it took me a minute to recognise her. She said “I’m glad that I’ve caught you because the football is kicking off in half an hour”. I had a look in my programme of events and she was actually correct. I’d have to get a move on if I wanted to go to watch this game from the beginning.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper with pasta and vegetables. The stuffing was excellent but I don’t think that I’ll be having my usual taco roll with the remainder because I forgot last time I was at LeClerc to buy any wraps.

What I’ll have to do tomorrow is to order some, so after my Welsh lesson tomorrow I’ll place an on-line order. If it arrives later in the day, all well and good, but if not I’ll have to make other plans.

That’s what you call “First World Problems”.

Sunday 2nd July 2023 – IT’S BEEN ANOTHER …

… miserable day today. One of those days that are best written off and we start again.

In fact I’ve spent most of the afternoon in a cataleptic fit on my chair – not asleep and totally aware of what was going on around me, but totally unable to function.

Things started off quite well too. Despite not going to bed until about 02:30 this morning I was actually up and about by 10:00 and that’s quite unusual for a Sunday.

There wasn’t very much on the dictaphone either so it must have been a fairly decent sleep. I had a group of children with me at one point. I can’t remember exactly the circumstances now but I remember saying to them that whatever happens you have to be like big boys and girls. Secretly I was thinking to myself “that’s extremely ironic because I know that I’ll be running around like a headless chicken in panic if that kind of thing were to happen to me” and I wish that I knew what it was now.

And later we were out last night on a sea wall above a beach. There were loads of people wandering up and down the wall but there was a gate halfway across it with a couple of people patrolling the gate. One of them was a friend from the radio. I was there taking photos of the people who were coming through the gate. Someone was complaining about the gate being there so my friend sent for someone from the local Council. He said “this is Councillor So-and-so. Does anyone have any complaints? If so would they like to speak to the Councillor?”. No-one said anything. Some guy said to me “I don’t understand why your friend is doing this”. I replied “it’s dead easy. No-one will say anything to the Councillor so he’ll go away. My friend will carry on, people will complain but now he’ll tell them ‘well there’s no point complaining. You had your chance to speak to the Councillor but no-one said anything to him so tough luck’ “. At that point someone came round with some sandwiches. There didn’t seem to be anything for me so I was going to take a cheese and tomato one and take off the cheese but I couldn’t find one of those.

Finally, for some unknown reason,we were in a bakery. Someone said something about a recipe for something they’d baked for someone. She opened a drawer and there were all things like wooden tablets in there like small chopping boards. She was rummaging through them. Apparently when someone asked for a special recipe they wrote it down on one of these boards then filed the board away for future reference in case someone wanted it again.

When I’ve not been out of it all, I’ve been having a look at my Canada 2017 voyage. I’ve not been doing very much with it today – in fact I’ve not been doing very much of anything – but I’m just sailing up to the beach that I believe is the Furdustrandir and am on the point of stepping ashore.

And once there I shall be checking a rumour that was started by Vaino Tanner when he was there in the late 1930s and which was subsequently denied by almost everyone else

The pizza tonight was as good as it usually is these days since I started putting the tomatoes on top of the cheese, and now I’ve run out of dough. Next weekend I’ll have to make some more

But that’s all something about which I can worry some other time. I really am feeling quite dreadful at the moment. I’ve had enough of today and I’m going to bed. Here’s hoping that I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Friday 19th May 2023 – AT LONG LAST …

… the internet is back up and running, as you might have noticed.

What has apparently happened, as the technician who came round just after lunch told me, was that there was a short-circuit in one of the apartments that had fused the main installation in the building.

They had repaired the installation but the short circuit persisted so they had to disconnect the circuit and gradually reinstate it apartment by apartment until they could find out which one it was.

Of course, it was in one of the apartments that is a “second home” for someone from Paris who wasn’t here so it couldn’t be fixed until they’d contacted the apartment owner and found a keyholder so they could go in, and of course it was in the circuit before mine which meant that I was disconnected while all of this was going on.

Whether that’s the case or not, I don’t know. But it will explain why the connection flickered on a couple of times quite briefly during all of this.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and it’s a real ill wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good. It gave me an opportunity to catch up on a mountain of outstanding work, which isn’t all done but it’s still progress, and also, because the technicians were coming to check my installation, it meant that I had to tidy up the bedroom. I even had the vacuum cleaner going for a while.

And while I was tidying up, I found the missing spare battery for the NIKON D3000 that I lost a long time (as in several years) ago. It had fallen underneath one of my bookcase units.

So how did I celebrate everything? Well, while I was in town this afternoon I treated myself to an ice cream. I felt that I deserved it.

Especially after last night. I was so engrossed in a couple of tasks that it was long after midnight when I finally crawled into bed. And when the alarm went off at 07:00 I was stark out. It was an effort to haul myself up out of bed before the second alarm went off five minutes later.

Mind you, after the distance that I travelled durning the night, I was surprised that I made it back in time for the alarm. At one point I was living with a group of Mexicans from 100 or so years ago, the time of the Revolution. We were living on the margins. We weren’t actually revolutionaries or criminals. I can’t remember most of this but there was one part where we were in a cave and there was some kind of event taking place concerning someone who had made a promise that he’d pay to have his wine crop blessed and fruitful but hadn’t done so. And so they held him to submitting his youngest daughter, who was 10, to be sacrificed. He had to fill in all this form to state about her etc and that he was willing for her to go and that he recognised that he was in default for not having thanked whoever it was properly for promoting the fruitfulness of his crops

Did I mention the story … “no you didn’t” – ed … about the 2 girls who had tried to buy some wine from an off-licence to get a teacher at school into trouble? The server recognised them and wouldn’t sell it to them. He had his revenge quite accidentally. It was the school outing and he’d forgotten to tell the parents of one of these girls. She hadn’t gone to school that day – she was paying truant. She thought that everyone else would be at school and cover for her but of course not being there on a day when there were so few students her absence was noticed and someone complained to her parents. When this all came out, the shopkeeper had forgotten to tell the parents about the trip as well, he said “don’t forget that I remember you from the day when you were in my shop so be careful not to make a fuss. You can see why karma has caught up with you”.

And then I had to go to meet someone in the centre of London so Aunt Mary had given me a book, an ancient book about Civil Engineering that she wanted to sell and have some money. All of the booksellers were around Angel Bridge Railway Station. I arrived at the Metro and the guy in the ticket office saw me coming. He had a ticket all ready. I asked for a return too but he replied “no. This is a weekend ticket and you can use it any time like but you’ll have to hurry. The train is in”. I took the ticket, paid for it and dashed downstairs but missed the train, found that I was on the wrong platform, walk back up halfway and enquire of the guard or look at the sign to find myself on the correct platform ready to go. But there was something else in this dream about someone being pregnant. They were discussing the pregnancy and talking about gifts that they should buy. One of the girls was very upset that someone else had been chosen to buy the nappies etc because she said that she didn’t have all that much money. That would have been an ideal present for her bearing in mind her shortage of money.

And we’ve had quite a few dreams when I’ve been wandering around the Underground in London, haven’t we?

Finally I had to go to do some research on Emerson Lake and Palmer. I found someone who had some information on them who lived in London so I went down. She was a bus conductor on the buses. Rummaging around in her office I came across a book that was an assembly of photocopied press cuttings going back all the way to 1967, news articles and everything. It was an absolute goldmine and I was enthralled reading it. It mentioned a whole load of clubs and places in London that you could see from the window of this woman’s house. I was there making notes. When she came up onto the top deck of the bus to show someone some damage that needed to be repaired I told her about the book and told her that on no account was she to let it out of her sight. It’s something that she really ought to keep for posterity. When I finished I was going back downstairs to her house. They were talking about a car going for an MoT. I thought “I’m not doing anything this afternoon so I can take it”. I put the book in my rucksack hoping that no-one noticed and went round to see about this car. It turned out to be a pedal car for children. I thought “this is strange” but I’d already offered now so I’ll have to go. I asked her where I’d go. She replied “turn out of here, go up the hill to the roundabout and it’s the 5th street on the right down there”. I was trying to make a mental note of this but it sounded like more than 5 minutes away but I was already committed now so I’d have to go and do it. This book of press cuttings is a little gold mine. I’ve never seen anything quite like this, especially in a dream.

After the medication I came here and slowly unwound myself and then attacked another project. A while ago I’d found the soundtrack of an obscure German rock band that had performed at one of the Hawkfests some time ago.

Back in those days technology wasn’t what it is today and this was full of holes from a worn recording tape. Using the techniques that I’d been practising just recently about “cutting in” pieces of music from elsewhere in the track, I set about repairing the holes. It wasn’t easy, but I managed in the end to make something quite presentable and you’d never find the joins. Even I was impressed.

There was a break for coffee and a fruit bun and I do have to say that the fruit buns that I made in the week are excellent. And as for the biscuits, that I have yet to mention, they have really worked and are even better than the chocolate ones that I made a while back

By now it wasn’t far off lunchtime so seeing as I was expecting visitors I started to prepare for a shower but bang on the dot Rosemary rang me for one of our marathon chats.

Just as she finished, Christian from the radio came round for the radio programme that will be broadcast this weekend. We had a drink and chat, and he told me about a local musician who is looking for a bassist. That piqued my interest, as you can imagine. It’s quite lonely here sitting in my bedroom playing with myself.

As soon as he left, the technician came round and checked that everything was working properly, and once he’d gone I could finally have my shower.

It was a painful walk into town to find some mushrooms for my salad tonight, and whet there were were pretty grim. Mind you they had some of those small peppers so I bought a couple for future use.

Next stop was the estate agent to drop off this paperwork, and then the long painful walk back up the hill to home, punctuated by a call at the new ice cream parlour that’s just opened

Back here I cleaned the peppers and put them in the freezer, and finally the physiotherapist turned up. His “marathon session” turned out to be 20 minutes but he had me working quite hard. I was glad when he left and I could have my hot chocolate and delicious ginger oatmeal biscuits.

And then , regrettably, I crashed out for about an hour.

Liz awoke me and we had a chat on the internet (now that I have an internet on which to chat) for a while and then I ended up with a late tea. Chips and mini sausage rolls cooked in the air fryer with a salad.

The mini sausage rolls are starting to run out now so I’m going to have to search for a vegan savoury stuffing so that I can make my own. Puff pastry is quite time-consuming and difficult to make so I might have to by a roll of ready-made stuff and use that.

So shopping to morrow, so I’d better have an early night. I’ll pop into Noz and see what there is there on offer. I could do with a change of diet. I’m still wading my way through the asparagus tips that they had but there are bound to be other exciting things.

Mustn’t forget the vegan yoghurt either. I’ve run out of that and it makes a lovely addition to my leftover curries. Things are definitely looking up around here.

Monday 12th December 2022 – YOU MAY NOT …

… believe this, but Caliburn actually started up this morning on the battery that was on the van. And that’s astonishing, especially as he hasn’t run for over 11 weeks. There’s a small leak in the electrical circuit somewhere that slowly drains the battery so I was expecting it to be dead by now.

What wasn’t nice though was that I’d left open the window in the driver’s door. It had rained in somewhat but one of my neighbours had stuffed a black plastic bag in the door and taped it up to keep the worst out.

Nevertheless, fancy Caliburn starting. I gave him a couple of laps around the block to warm him up and charge up the battery but I’ll tell you something for nothing, and that is that driving him in my condition is a nightmare.

And so as you can imagine, I’ve been outside this morning, and in the freezing fog too. I had to take some rubbish to the bins across the road and even though it is just “across the road” it took me an agonising 25 minutes to do it, going in baby steps. I thought that having had a good relax and a gentle easing off of the stiffness would have made things better, but far from it.

This trip to Leuven for 2nd January is therefore looking less and less likely.

In other news, Strawberry Moose is back home. On eof the reasons why I put a battery on charge last night and then went to start him today was that a couple of guys from the radio had told me that they would be around today at lunchtime.

It was my intention to ask them to help me carry the battery downstairs and to couple it up in order to start him but that wasn’t unnecessary. But they brought back my suitcase completr with His Nibs.

It was interesting too because they work for the local council and they were able to give me some useful hints about dependent living. Having had some kind of impromptu interview, they told me that someone would be in touch.

And I’ll need it too after last night, which was another awful, horrendous night. I kept on waking up, went for one or two walks down the corridor and so on. I was also on my travels quite considerably during the night in another sphere as well. I was with my friend from the Scottish Borders last night. To my surprise she was heavily involved in Black Magic and Spiritualism. She had one of the original books from that period and she had lent it to me. Every time I tried to make a start on reading it someone came past and I wasn’t comfortable about reading this book in full view of whoever it was so I kept it hidden below the desk or down the bed or something until that person had gone. After a while my friend became frustrated and quoted some phrase in the book about “whoever has taken me from my possessor” or something like that. I explained that I hadn’t actually done that. I’d explained what I was doing but she thought that I had to be a lot more forthright about reading the book even though I was uncomfortable. In the end there was always a piece of music that I played that stopped us arguing. She handed me my guitar and asked me to play this piece even though I hadn’t played for quite a while. My performance was bound to be suspect but I thought that I’d give it a go, although I felt that this was just a sticking plaster over a wound and wasn’t actually solving the problem of me getting down to actually reading this book. Whether or not I has an interest in Spiritualism I had an enormous amount of curiosity and I was intrigued just as much as anyone else to see what was in this book and how everything would unfold. However just glancing through a couple of pages made me seem to think that she had at one time or another said something about almost everything that was in there

There was something in there as well about working in the suburbs of Brussels, how some people were complaining that it was expensive. The question was then asked “why don’t they move even further out? That way they could find somewhere more affordable”. The reply came back about the cost and time of commuting which would put them back to Square One even if they were to do that.

Percy Penguin sent me a text to ask me if I could run her to a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. I replied “yes I would” but then I had a realisation that there was no MoT or tax on the car. I had to send her another e-mail straight back. She said that she had cancelled her transport at work so now I was pretty-much obliged to take her unless I could find someone else or someone else would volunteer. Then I was with friends walking around Middlewich. I was pushing something like a pram or a push-chair or whatever. We came off the street around some kind of semi-circle parking place to try to get through to where Walgrens and Marks and Spencers was. We’d been talking about the traffic problems being caused by people turning into their car park. I said that they should get all the nouveau-riche pretentious people, put them in Marks and Spencers and Walgrens and then drop a bomb on the place. That didn’t go down too well with my friends. We were trudging round this semi-circle car space with a cinder base thing. I suddenly wondered if we could get through to Walgrens from here. They replied “no, we should have gone through somewhere else”. On the skyline 100 yards ahead of us were these most peculiar buildings, tall and really narrow. They looked most unsafe. It turned out that these were single-bedroom flats for single occupancy. We were thinking that maybe Percy penguin could find a place there. Then we thought that they looked so delapidated that they would be bound to be closing down these places and demolishing them soon. Nevertheles we went in. There was only a small ladder on the ground floor on the inside. I thought that we had to climb up this ladder, look out of the top by poking our heads through the roof to look out over the top to see how we could get to where we wanted to go. If this ladder wasn’t tall enough for us to be able to do that then we would have a great amount of difficulty. I didn’t fancy leaning too much against the wall of one of these buildings in case we pushed it over because it was really unsafe.

I was also having a dream involving Rosemary. A Government had arbitrarily cut some kind of rate on bankruptcies. She couldn’t see a problem except that someone else had noticed and pointed out to me that it had wiped out the whole market for Insolvency Practicioners. This led to a big discussion about the acounts already agreed with Brussels. The only difference was that the dissident who was supposed to have been held in Moscow at some time but turned up eventually in China. She had a talk that they had a benefit concert for this guy in China but the two people who contributed most in bringing his name to the forefront never actually turned up for it. That name rang a bell with me.

When the alarm went off at 06:00 I felt absolutely awful and I was all ready to stay in bed but I forced myself out. I’d already written half of the notes for my radio programme so I finished the rest, recorded and edited them and then assembled everything.

For a change, I was working backwards so I fell about a minute short so I had to expand my notes and re-dictate some of them. Therefore I didn’t really save as much time as I might otherwise have done.

Then I had Caliburn who required attention, and then my visitors.

Once everyone had gone I had a play around on the computer but fell asleep on my chair. That prompted me to go to bed, something that I have been trying not to do but there was no alternative as I have never in my life felt so tired, as all of … errr … 7% of my daily target will testify.

When I finally crawled out of bed (due mainly to a need to go and take a ride on the Porcelain Horse otherwise I’d probably still be there now) I ended up doing … shock! Horror! … some tidying up. Not much but just enough to take me up to tea time.

So now I’m off to bed. I have a Welsh lesson tomorrow so I need to be on form and then I’ll (hopefully) take Caliburn for another spin. See how I feel and maybe in a few days I’ll pluck up the courage to go to the shops.

Tuesday 27th July 2010 – Terry had other things to do today …

… so he didn’t come down today. Mind you he did ring me at 08:00 to tell me not to wake up, which was kind of him.

So I had a relaxed morning doing not very much. I checked on Lieneke’s house to make sure things were okay and that was that. I was going to do some washing but the weather wasn’t stable enough for that. I need to do some soon as I’m running out of clothes.

This afternoon we went to record our monthly programmes and this was full of hitches. The guy who takes us had his floosie with him and so engrossed were they in talking that he missed our exit on the Motorway and we had to drive miles out of our way to get to the studio. And then they had a technician in repairing the computer so we had to wait an hour or so.

And then the computer still wasn’t working so we had to record our programmes on the analogue tape machine.

And then the tape jammed

And then we ran out of tape.

So all in all it took hours.

And that is really that. I’m thoroughly exhausted and I’m going to have another early night. I’ve not even managed to make myself any food.

But summer has returned. The solar shower reached 35 degrees and if I had made it home earlier than 18:15 I would have had a shower. And the automatic water heater started up again. Only 20 minutes but it pushed the water temp up by 4 degrees.

Tomorrow I may even have a shower if the weather keeps up.

Saturday 5th June 2010 – I was in Marcillat en Combraille this evening …

… for a meeting about tourism. I arrived promptly at 19:30 to find out that the meeting actually started at 17:30. At that time I was in the swimming baths at Neris les Bains.

But nevertheless I was well-entertained by the woman who runs the tourist board and towards the end of our discussion I realised why it was that I had been invited. It seems that the Allier’s equivalent of SMADC also run some kind of programme on local radio – in this case Radio Tartasse – and they are interested in an English-language programme. Of course, before I say anything I need to speak to Liz about it but I did suggest that they talk to Christian at SMADC and see about syndicating what we do for them.

donjon marcillat en combraille allier franceAfter the meeting I went for a drink with Marianne at the local hotel and in there drinking were Geoffrey and Francois from the Anglo-French group. We had a good chat about things while we were there.

On the way back to Caliburn, just as the sun was setting I couldn’t resist taking a pic of the village square and the donjon. It was just at the right time too – not too light and not too dark either – and it’s come out pretty well. It does help, having a good tripod.

new fence between field and potager les guis virlet puy de dome franceIt’s been probably the hottest day of the year today. The temperature reached as high as 35.8°, which is the highest temperature since 7th September last year.

Not much chance of having me working in that. I spent the morning watching the local farmer repair the fence at the back of the house here and then bring his cattle along, and then I spent the rest of the morning doing some work on the website.

This afternoon was shopping and nothing exciting, and then into the pool at Neris.

But I’ll tell you what – I’m noticing more and more tattoos on more and more people over here and I can’t do with tattoos at all. There was one woman in the pool, clearly in her early 50s and with a figure that most women half her age would die for – and she knew how to show it off to the best advantage too – and covered with tattoos. I just don’t know how people can do it and I don’t know what pleasure there is in it either.

There was another woman in there too – and as she went swimming past me on her back I thought of saying to her “for God’s sake don’t breathe in!”.

So here I am in my room tonight – it’s 00:20 and I’m shirtless and it’s still 27° in here, even with all of the windows open. In fact it reached 28.7° degrees in here at one point.

Heaven knows what it’s going to be like in August.

Tuesday 9th February 2010 – This radio programme is taking shape

We were out at the SMADC offices today – the SMADC being something like Syndicat Mixte pour l’Amenagement et Developpement des Combrailles – where we discussed our tactics for the radio programme. Christian was there with his floozy and I was there with Liz. I have plenty of ideas and Liz approves of them and as far as the SMADC and the radio station go, then I don’t imagine that they will care less as long as we do it.

Apart from that, this morning I cracked on with my plasterboarding and it’s all but finished now. All I need to do now is to join things up with the tape and then fill over it. Of course I have put my jointing tape somewhere safe – so safe in fact that I can’t find it now. That’s a badger! But as soon as I find it and tape things up I can start to do the ceiling – with tongue-and-grooving. I can do that on my own and I don’t have any inhibitions as to how it’ll look.

And Claude came round. Yesterday finished him off for good and he wants to pause until Monday. He’s getting his son up over the weekend to move the heavy objects ready for us to load on Monday. But on Monday Terry is giving blood, Tuesday Liz and I are in studio and on Wednesday we are all at the bank. This timetable for moving Claude is shrinking rapidly.