Tag Archives: dennis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

they are sentiments with which I can relate too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 24th December 2023 – AFTER ALL OF …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 19th December 2023 – THE GOOD NEWS…

… is that if there is a change in condition of my heart, it’s an improvement. The cardiologist put me through my paces this morning and her opinion is that whilst the evacuation of the heart isn’t 60-65% as it’s supposed to be, it’s not the 48% that the previous cardiologist recorded.

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few, let me explain.

A normal blood count should be between 13 and 15. My carcinogenic protein is attacking my red blood cells so my blood count is less than it ought to be.

If, for example, I have a blood count of, say, 9, it means that my heart has to beat 50% faster to move enough oxygen around my body.

If the evacuation is, say, 48% instead of 60%, it means that it has to beat 25% faster still to take the oxygen loss into account, and that means that it’s beating at 185%-190% – almost twice as fast.

The heart can do this for so long of course, but not for ever. And this is why they are keeping a close eye on mine.

But the bad news is that they gave me the tests where they pulse electricity through my nervous system to see how the nerves and muscles respond. It’s the fourth time that I’ve had this test and each time they have noted a deterioration.

And that’s how it was today. I’m losing more strength in my legs.

But returning to last night I mentioned yesterday that my blood level had dropped below the critical limit, which is 8. Then there’s not enough oxygen to make the body function. And, I suspect, that’s why I’ve been feeling so miserable these last few days and why my co-ordination is going.

And so at 23:44 they cam around with two pochettes of blood to give me a transfusion.

It took four hours for the transfusion to be completed, with someone coming around every half an hour to check my pulse and blood pressure. And being the light sleeper that I am, it awoke me every time.

And what was the worst about this was that at one point Zero came to check on me too but just as I started to talk to her one of the nurses awoke me to take my blood pressure, and I couldn’t go back into the dream afterwards to carry on our conversation.
"Candles burn
dull red lights
illuminate the breasts of four young girls
dancing, prancing, provoking …
Dreams are always ending far too soon
Life’s to short to be sad
wishing things you’ll never have
You’re better off
not dreaming of
the things to come
Dreams are always ending far too soon"

It seems that CARAVAN HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE ME and know the feeling only too well.

But as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … that after having lived a life full of excitement, the only excitement that I seem to have these days is what goes on during the night.

I’ve been told on many occasions that I ought to take sleeping pills to have a good night’s sleep and I’d cope with things much better during the day

And miss out on what goes on during the night and the possibility of a visit from TOTGA, Zero and Castor, and anyone else who comes along to keep me company? You must be joking!

And strangely enough, the walls of my room are actually grey and pink.

By about 07:15 I’d given up the idea of a good sleep and once I’d gathered my wits, such as they are, I set out for the bathroom and a good wash.

However no sooner had I started than a nurse came round to take a blood sample. It was quite a while before I made it into the bathroom and the chance of a shower was gone.

Having said that, the van to pick me up to take me to Cardiology was rather late but the driver stuck me in a wheelchair and pushed me outside to his vehicle.

Once more, for the benefit of new readers, this hospital isn’t built “up” like most modern hospitals, it’s built “out” on 33 hectares with a whole series of buildings built since the earliest hospital building on the site, in 1648. Consequently there’s a fleet of electric vans with drop floors and ramps in the back for wheelchair-bound passengers and a bus service for those who can walk, to take people from one building to the next.

First stop was Cardiology, second was Neurology and finally, after much waiting about, I came back here in time for lunch.

For each of the trips I had the same driver and vehicle. He’s a rock music fan and one-time musician so we had a good chat. He imagines people like us in an Old People’s Home in out 70s and 80s still rocking the crowds of old women, and 70-year old groupies throwing their panties onto the stage.

Back in 1973 a group of us was hired as roadies for “The Sweet” when they played at the Liverpool Empire and the things that we saw, well, perhaps they are best left unrecorded.

This afternoon I had an endless stream of visits from different medical personnel doing all kinds of different things. But my neighbour, the President of the Residents’ Committee, is in Paris again and she came round for a chat which was very nice.

She stayed for about an hour and we chatted about nothing in particular and then she had to nip off.

However her visit coincided with afternoon coffee so they didn’t bring me a cup. But I managed to blag a cup of coffee later on from one of the nurses.

They don’t like my blood pressure. They think that it’s far too high and there’s no real reason for it as far as I can tell.

However it wasn’t as high as the time at Castle Anthrax when the young student nurse with the low-cut overall and no t-shirt underneath climbed all over me to couple me up to the machine.
"I don’t know why your blood pressure is so high this morning."
"I do" I thought to myself. "And if you climb over me like that again it’ll go even higher."

There was plenty of work that I have to do but I didn’t accomplish all that much. Last night’s lack of sleep took its toll on me and I was falling asleep for 10 minutes here and there all day.

However I did manage to transcribe the dreams from last night. I’d been to a Saturday lunchtime class for my University course. Coming out I went a couple of doors away to where Zero was living. The house was empty but I had a key so I went in. There was a book there. It was part II of “500 photos of the Bangor area of North Wales Published Consecutively” or something like that. I sat down and began to read it. After I’d been reading it for a couple of minutes the front door opened and I could hear Zero’s voice along with my elder sister and her husband. That was quite a surprise. It was Zero’s birthday today and there was a party later on to which I’d been invited. Zero opened the door into the room where I was sitting. I said “hello gorgeous” to her and at that moment I awoke.

It seems that the medical staff of the hospital has joined forces with my subconscious in preventing Zero from succumbing to a virtual fate worse than virtual death.

And of course, I couldn’t step back into that dream, could I?

There was also a golfing competition taking place. The club decided that it would have an annual tournament so many of its members took part. I went along a a sort-of adjudicator, not that I knew any rules about golf. There were all kinds of things happening. On one occasion one player lost a stroke, or, rather, he had a ball moved so he had to play an impossible shot and then play on because of some infringement. People wondered if that was legal. Then someone hit a ball which was then lost from view so he took a penalty and another shot, and he found that ball but it was right by the one that was lost so he wanted to play the first ball again and withdraw the penalty but I didn’t know what to do. It was another one of these long meaderings that seemed to go on for ever and ever. As I said, I know nothing about golf and I don’t know why I was there. I don’t know any of the rules and couldn’t give any decisions on anything.

We were next building an armoured lorry for a trip into the Middle East. We came down to the question of the doors. We found a door that would fit, an armoured door, but it had seized up. We tried to dismantle it but one of the things was that the cover on one of the inspection hatches where the lock was, a bolt had seized solid and there was nothing that we had that would free this bolt. The girl who was going to drive the lorry also pointed out that it didn’t seem safe because the window winder had broken . I took it apart and found that there was a bearing and retaining clip missing so while the window winder would go round, if it went over a bump or something it might drop off and the window would fall down again to the bottom. That wasn’t in accordance with the idea that we’d had about this armoured lorry. She was insisting that we found another door where the window worked. My father was more interested in trying to remove this inspection panel off so that he could check the lock. The girl and I were joking about 1 or 2 things, talking about unnecessary heat that would ignite any kind of conversation. One of the guys had some WD40, sprayed the bolt with it and fetched a cutting torch with the idea that he’d use the cutting torch to set the oil alight that would heat up the bolt to free it from the hosing where it was stuck so that he could unscrew it. It was funny him doing that just as the girl and I were talking about heat so of course we had to smile. All the time my father was trying to remove the lock. He had someone else there who was freeing off another inspection panel to show the girl how the lock worked, trying to convince her that this was the most secure door that could be found but the young girl was extremely frustrated because she was still insisting on doing something about the window. If that dropped down in the middle of the mountains or something people would be able to enter or fire a gun into the cab. She was much more concerned about that but no-one seemed to be taking any notice of that. They were all trying to prove to her that this door was secure when it was quite obvious to the girl and me that it wasn’t, because of the window.

Having told them this morning (again) that I’m vegan, tonight’s tea was veal and carrot soup followed by salmon lasagne with spinach in cream

Luckily the nurse who came later saw what was going on and made me a bowl of cheap vegetable soup with bread, and my neighbour had brought me some bananas and clementines.

But it’s not that I’m unprepared. Following what went on at Riom over the food when I was there for my “second opinion” in 2016, I have brought a few supplies with me “just in case”.

In a few minutes I’ll be off to bed, and hope that Zero comes back to check up on me, or maybe TOTGA or Castor might come along.

But Castor seems to have disappeared now. It’s been ages since she’s come to visit me. Our three nights on the upper deck of THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR looking at the midnight sun and the northern lights and singing to each other are long gone now.

Life’s too short to be sad, wishing things you’ll never have, but when you are sad wishing for things that you actually might have had and which slipped through your fingers on a deserted, windswept airstrip in the High Arctic as a ‘plane prepared to take-off for Ottawa, life is never too short for that

Before I went to bed, a Dutch group called Alquin came round in the playlist and we had their song THE DANCE from their second album THE MOUNTAIN QUEEN.

As we were talking … "well, one of us was" – ed … about ships that pass in the night and that kind of thing, somehow some of the lyrics of “The Dance” seemed relevant to our parting.
"Where will you be tonight?
Where will you be tomorrow?
Fly in your silver kite
And leave me here in sorrow
Hey dude can you see what you’ve done to me
Oh I’m feeling so bad
Yes I’m feeling so blue"

Friday 15th December 2023 – YOU HAVE PROBABLY …

… already guessed what has happened today.

At roughly about 11:40 when I was comfortably settled deep down in the Arms of Morpheus, the telephone rang.

"This is the hospital here in Paris. We’re doing our planning for next week. Can you come on Monday instead of Tuesday? You’ll still be staying for several days."
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we started off with Tuesday, and then it was already changed from Tuesday to Monday a few days ago, and then changed back again to Tuesday at a later date.
"I shall have to see what the taxi company has to say about it. I’ve messed them around enough with all of these cancellations and it is rather short notice"

And so I phoned the taxi company to chat to them about the situation. We had an “interesting and illuminating” discussion which eventually led to them agreeing to take me on Monday instead. The appointment isn’t until 13:15 which means leaving at 09:00 instead of 04:30 and hitting the rush-hour head on, so that might have helped to persuade them. And the lie-in will be useful for me too.

Having had the agreement from the taxi company I phoned back to the hospital and confirmed the situation. So that is that.

When the cleaner came round, we had a discussion about the situation, as we do.

With my usual air of optimism I added "well, it’s 16:00. Still plenty of time for a further change of plan"
"Not at this time of the afternoon. Everyone will be ready to go home" she replied.

And I must admit that I really did admire her confidence. Five minutes later the telephone rang.

This time it was the taxi company. "Would you possibly consider doubling up and sharing a taxi with someone else going to Paris on Monday, leaving at 07:00?"

So much for my lie-in then. But considering how they’ve been messed about by all of these changes to the programme, I have to show some bonne volonté I suppose. My cleaner hopes that it will be a belle blonde travelling with me, but my money is on a retired Bulgarian female weightlifter

They probably won’t say anything to the Social Security about the car-sharing and charge for two trips, but in that position I’d probably do the same too.

But anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, I had a good play around on the guitar before going to bed, something that led me down another road to somewhere deep in the past.
"She moved her hips
And swayed in my direction
I thought we could make it yet
And beat the isolation
But in that gentle dark
We tore ourselves apart
Through fire and rain
Through wilderness and pain
Through the losses, through the gains
On love’s roller coaster train
I call your name"

So hauling myself out of the pit wherein lives the Black Dog, I hauled myself off to bed where I had another turbulent night. And although there was quite a lot going on, I didn’t have any special visitors.

When the alarm went off this morning I already had the bedroom light on and was just about to swing my feet out of bed, so effectively I fell short of an early start by a matter of a handful of seconds. Still, a miss is as good as a mile.

After the meds I came back in here to print off a justificatif de domicile – a certificate issued by the Electricity Board as proof of your occupation of your premises, and then transcribed the mountain of dictaphone notes. It seemed to have been “quantity” last night, not “quality”.

I started off busily organising my bread, dividing it into portion-sized helpings for the future when I awoke this morning. The ambulance had already come for me and there was something going on there too about organising a wholesale supply of food and daily helpings for different people but I wasn’t actually involved in what was going on down there. They’d just come to pick me up and at that moment I awoke.

And then I was doing my English homework at home. I had a list of words and had to find their equivalent in the second column of this list and then insert them in the correct place in the test that I was reading. It was about an American guy from the Mid-West who was finishing work and coming home. Some of the language in this text was extremely dubious so I wouldn’t read it out loud because we had a young girl staying with us. Then my father came home from work. He asked what I was doing so I explained. The girl explained a little too. My father then began to say things like “do they have an equivalent in there for ‘stripper’?” – words like that. As a matter of fact they did but I didn’t want to read them out because of the young girl. My father didn’t seem to care at all. We began to make tea. On the table, there were all kinds of stuff on this table that you wouldn’t believe. There I was with these hot dishes and there was nowhere to put them. I went to move some things out to the side but someone grabbed hold of it and began to use it. Someone else asked me if I wanted a slice of apple pie. That had been put on the floor because it was the only place to put it. This was in my opinion a completely unacceptable way that everything was just scattered about everywhere

Continuing on that dream later on, there was some of my mother’s cooking there and that was something of a mess. No matter how much I actually like hummus I decided that when my mother presented a bowl for the evening meal, I’d rather give it a miss.

My mother’s cooking was legendary, but for all the wrong reasons. When I used to go round to a friend’s house in Nantwich after school his German mother always served me up with piles of food. When I was in Munich with him last year, we talked about it and I asked him why.
"Don’t you remember?" he asked. "I stayed for tea once at your house. Only once."

To be honest, it wasn’t until I met Nerina that I began to eat well

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed it was a Monday morning and I was slowly preparing to go to work. Suddenly I looked at the time. It was 08:20. I had to rush around and find everything really as quickly as possible. I hadn’t even had a wash and probably smelt to high heaven but had to do the best that I possibly could. All the time there were the usual interruptions, people in my way, not being able to find anything. There was a discussion going on about why Manchester United hadn’t done as well as everyone had expected over the last couple of seasons so I had my three ha’pence-worth as I was going around. But I was really fighting a hopeless task and was nothing at all like ready when I realised that the bus had gone and that I’d be late for work. In a fit of exasperation etc I stormed into the kitchen, dropped my things onto the floor and said “this is it! I’ve missed the bus again! I’m not going to miss this bus again whatever happens”.

Believe it or not, I actually laughed in the middle of the dream when I dictated that. I’ve heard those promises before.

A short while later I had exactly the same dream again about preparing for work or for school. Exactly the same thought about never being late went through my head again with exactly the same response from my subconscious during the dream. I ended up storming off out of the room, bad-tempered. I spent some time doing some Welsh revision while I was waiting for the alarm to ring

While I was in Munich I’d gone to see something or other on the outskirts. When I was driving back I came to a roundabout where there was some evidence of bomb damage still – burnt-out buildings etc. I stopped and took the camera but I couldn’t find a good spec to photograph it, where I could fit everything in without the sun interrupting me. At one stage I was trying to cross the road when 3 BMC 1100s appeared one after the other and performed some kind of pirouette around me as I tried to reach the other side of the road

Finally I came across some people who had a Bristol Lodekka double-decker bus, a green one, in their barn in the centre of France. The destination blind on it read ROUTE 929 – LEEDS to OPORTO. They told me some of the story of the bus but not everything. We’d recently come to settle down there. Before leaving someone had given me a box of things with fish in it. I made a little pool for these fish but instead it turned out that they were some giant cormorant birds. They looked quite ridiculous sitting on my little pond. They, at least, one of them, could actually talk and I had some very interesting conversations with the cormorant about laying eggs and hatching, etc. But it was the bus in the neighbour’s barn that intrigued me. I’d love to know what it was doing and how it had ended up there when it should have been somewhere in Oporto

When the bus (the local one, not the 929 from Leeds to Porto) came, I clambered aboard, declining a lift from a neighbour because I have to push myself onwards on the bus whenever I can, and we set off for St Nicolas and on the way, the driver forgot to stop at the Ecole d’Hotellerie to let off the High School baking class

At St Nicolas the first stop was at the Post Office where, armed with my justificatif de domicile, I jumped through various complicated hoops in order to open a bank account.

So shortly I’ll have a bank card and actually be able to draw some cash at some point. As I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … there’s not another cash point in the town accessible to me because I can’t climb back onto the bus afterwards.

It took so long that I didn’t have time for my coffee at the Carrefour but at least I have tomatoes and mushrooms and a few other things. I met the guy with whom I’d had a long chat the other day.
"A British guy who likes our bread and our coffee " he said. "That’s a rare sight"
"If I’d only wanted tea at four o’clock" I replied "I’d have stayed over there".

At the bus stop I had a long chat with a local guy also waiting for the bus, and then with a woman on the bus on her way to the doctor’s.

People are starting to notice me. I’m not sure that that’s a good sign.

Back here I had another chat with a neighbour and then climbed up the stairs to my apartment where I made my coffee and cheese on toast

Despite phone calls, the attentions of the cleaner and the occasional drift away into nothingness I finihsed off the radio notes that I’d started yesterday, and they are now ready for dictation, which I’ll do tomorrow night as usual.

Rosemary rang up too and we had another one of our lengthy chats that seem to go on for ever when we talk about almost nothing.

However, I have made an executive decision, and for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than a few just recently, an executive decision is a decision that you make which, if it goes wrong, the person making it is executed.

And that is that I’ve decided what to have for Christmas dinner.

For a while now I’ve been thinking about making a vegan pie because I haven’t made one for ages. But this one is going to be different – I’ve ordered some puff pastry rolls.

Making pastry like that from scratch is difficult. You have to roll it out thin, coat is with oil, fold it over, roll it again, coat with oil, fold again ad infinitum. I can imagine exactly how mine would turn out.

However the LeClerc poverty-spec pastry rolls are vegan so that’s what I’ll use.

  • Put a cup of lentils in the slow cooker, cover with water and slowly bring to the boil.
  • When they begin to boil, drain them out and rinse them thoroughly, then put them back on the lowest heat with more water, plenty of herbs and spices and leave them overnight on the lowest heat
  • Next morning, cut up your tofu into small squares and fry with onion, garlic, mushrooms, whatever else you like and plenty of herbs and spices.
  • When they are nice and golden brown, tip in your lentils and stir it round, and then add a few spoons of oats to absorb the liquid and make a glutinous mass
  • Empty it into your pie case, add the top, brush with soya milk and bake until golden brown

As usual, any other suggestions and ideas are welcomed.

Tea tonight was salad, chips and some of those nugget things, something that went down really well.

So having finished my notes, I’ll carry on with the guitar for a while. I’ll have another go at trying to sing MOONAGE DAYDREAM while playing the bass.

At least I’m not the only one how finds it difficult. Grahame wrote that he doesn’t find it easy either. Maybe we ought to hold a “Ziggy Stardust” masterclass at some point.

But if anyone else wants to write and say “hello” or exchange ideas, there’s a link on the bottom right of the page. But if you use Gmail, I can’t reply to you.

In Google’s quest to take over the internet the company wants webmasters to embed its code into all minor domains and until I know why and what it does, I’m not putting it in mine. Consequently Google is blocking me from writing to anyone with a Gmail address.

Tomorrow I have no plans, but as usual, something will probably pop up to distract me. And then on Sunday, I’m baking bread and biscuits and a few other things besides, I reckon.

That means that I’d better remember to order some more vegan butter. I’m going through it at an alarming rate.

Wednesday 15th November 2023 – ALL MY SESSIONS …

… at the Centre de Re-education were cancelled today, and cancelled tomorrow as well. No-one has told me why but I suggest that Severine has been overcome after a couple of sessions of massaging my feet.

She’s not the first, of course. I remember when Nerina wanted us to have one of these Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs.
"What will it eat?" I asked
"The same food as us" she replied
"And where will it live?"
"In the house with us" she answered
"And where will it sleep?" I asked
"On the bed with us and the cats" she answered it
"And what about the smell?" I asked
"The pig will get used to it" she said. "The cats and I had to".

So with no physical training today, I’ve been very busy.

And not just during the day either. I was quite busy during the night too. There was something about a rock group having produced a follow-up album to one that was a great success. There was something to do with 9 minutes in this follow-up which made the disk less attractive to anyone who wanted to buy it. A discussion was going around about how the recording society was really compromising this album in respect of this particular 9 minutes and something needed to be done for the group to reassert itself. But it was like one of these dreams where I walked into the middle of something that was already going on and then walked out again before it finished. I can’t remember any more than that but it was well under way when I first became involved in it

We were back with this group again later, when they had gone to ground over something to do with this 9 minutes. While they were doing it they discovered some music that had been registered by someone who had been there a couple of years earlier and which had been totally overlooked. Now they were saying that this piece of music might make all the difference about how their new album is going to progress.

There was something going on last night about food prices. Prices were starting to go through the roof. People were beginning to stock up. One of the issues was cat food which had begun to be really expensive. Someone in the house where I was living gave me a voucher for 4 tins and asked me to go to the Co-op. As I did, one of the cats ran to the door and ran outside. I had to grab it and bring it back inside the house before I could set off. That had me thinking about walking to the Co-op. I was after all quite ill but was still going along doing all of this, going to the hospital, still doing as much as I could. I remember my father when his wife was ill, how he basically dropped everything and just stayed at home, ostensibly to look after her but I suspected that it was a kind-of fatigue that enters your body once you are old and you just don’t want to do anything any more. I couldn’t understand why it was that so many people seemed to give up hope as soon as they have some kind of severe illness and allow the illness to sweep them away etc instead of standing back up and fighting.

This is pretty much similar to several conversations that I’d had in the past. With most people, if you aren’t feeling too good today you can always leave the task until tomorrow when you’ll be feeling better. Anyone with a terminal illness will tell you that if you aren’t feeling too good today you can’t leave it because you know that tomorrow you’ll be feeling worse. You have to press on regardless.

It’s surprising how an illness like that can change your life for the better, because it keeps on driving you forward.

When I was on the taxis in Crewe I saw dozens of people who had worked all their lives to the sound of the factory hooter and had died a few months after retirement because they didn’t know what to do and so had sunk into a fit of lethargic depression that proved to be terminal.

Mind you, Crewe is rather like that. It’s the kind of place that when the Luftwaffe dropped a stick of bombs across the town during one of the “Baedecker Raids” in 1941, they caused £14,000,000 worth of improvements. It’s the kind of town that sucks your soul out of you and I’d had my fill of it long before I actually left.

There was a competition on the internet a while back for people to submit the most depressing photograph or slogan that they had ever seen. The winner, by a country mile, was a banner seen at a football match that said
“Born in Crewe – Live in Crewe – Die in Crewe”

On the subject of football, during the night I remember something about being at a football ground last night for a football match. It was a windy evening and I was carrying these large pieces of plastic that I’d picked up as littler. I opened my arms and legs in a form of St Andrews’s cross with the plastic as a form of background, just for a bit of fun I suppose, when a gust of wind hit me. It caught the plastic and blew the plastic and me all the way across the ground into a wooden bench seat on the far side which broke into several pieces. I remember thinking to myself that it seems to me that I’m just being dogged around by all kinds of misfortune and bad luck at the moment. Everything that I’m touching seems to be going wrong.

Nothing new there.

I remember thinking, in connection with the last dream, that I’d much rather wait a couple of weeks and have what I want at a price that I could afford rather than going out and buying the first thing that I saw that would do the job but was probably 5 times more expensive than it actually ought to be.

And then I was in Virlet last night down on the farm. In the neighbourhood all running around was a load of little kids, probably 8 or 9, something like that. A few of them were girls and one of them seemed to be pretty much attached to me, which was rather sweet and reminded me of someone who appears occasionally during my nocturnal rambles and makes me go all broody thinking about the daughter whom I always wanted, which I didn’t actually realise until I had a daughter for 3 years. Anyway I took out my bike and decided that I’d cycle to Montlucon to go to the shops. It was night but I reckoned that I’d be there by the time that it was morning and the shops would be open. I set out. The front light was working but the rear wasn’t, but that’s never bothered me before. The father of these kids said something about the rear light but I pretended not to notice. I cycled off and ended up in Longton. I went into a butcher’s shop. Who should also walk in but Zero’s father. I can’t remember now what I ordered. It was something like a meat faggot (it must have been a dream). I asked how much and he told me so I paid it and took it. I could see that Zero’s father was intending on doing something with her, buying something, but I couldn’t make out what was going on in his mind. I got back on the bike and set off. I went to inspect the roadworks along the road out of Stoke on Trent. Just as it was becoming light I was cycling into Stockport which had been one of my planned destinations.

But fancy that – Zero hovering around somewhere on the periphery of my voyages last night and I didn’t manage to see her. Mind you, with one or two things that did unfold during the night and which you really don’t need to know if you are eating your tea, maybe it’s just as well that I didn’t.

So today I’ve finished off the notes for the radio programme on which I’ve been working, and then I’ve tidied up the Radio directory on the big computer.

After that, I carried on with editing the photos from Canada 2022. Right now, STRAWBERRY MOOSE, Strider and I are on our way to Woodstock to do our shopping for our stay.

Before we set out though, we had to give Strider a thorough cleaning because with having stood idle for three years it looked as if someone had been growing potatoes in him.

And it’s a good job that we cleaned him out because we needed the space. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, by the time we got to Woodstock we were half a million strong.

There were also several interruptions as we went on our way around. The cleaner came, of course, but she brought with her a letter inviting me to a hospital appointment in the cardiac unit in Paris on 24th April next year.

And then an hour later, they rang me up to ask me to go for another consultation, this time with the haematology department. They wanted me to come next Wednesday and interesting as it might be, it’s not really practical to make the arrangements that quickly.

So instead, we agreed on 1at December – 2 weeks or so’s time. That should give me enough time to arrange transport.

This will presumably be when they will let me know whether they will take on my case from Leuven. Much as I love going to Leuven and meeting my friends there, I just can’t cope with the travelling.

Tea was a leftover curry lengthened with supplies from the European Potato Mountain. And I was right about the garlic butter on my naan bread. Every time I breathe out, I burn another 2 layers of paint off the wall.

So having done that, I’ll make myself a drink, dictate the radio notes and then go to bed for an early night. We’ll see how much work I can do tomorrow, but I also have to order food, so blanching and freezing carrots will interrupt my flow.

But the sooner we start, the sooner we finish. We have to make the most of our couple of unexpected days off.

Thursday 26th October 2023 – THE GOOD NEWS …

… is that I can go home tomorrow. The car to pick me up has been arranged for 14:30 but if the last time that I was here is anything to go by, it’ll be long after midnight before I arrive back home.

My cleaner contacted me too. As I won’t be back until late, would I like her to fetch my Friday shopping for me?

As I have said before, the solidarity amongst the residents of my building is something that I’ve never ever encountered before.

The bad news is that it has not been confirmed that it is indeed the carcinogenic protein that has entered my nervous system.

That means that unfortunately the end is nigh because it will slowly creep through my body, including what’s left of my brain. And they did warn me right at the beginning of all of this that the end will not be very pleasant.

To be on the safe side, I gave my doctor a bit of lip this afternoon. In fact, she cut out a sample of the nerves in my lip to examine it – to see how far the cancer is advancing. If it’s that far up my body it won’t be long.

And I have made an executive decision – and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, an executive decision is a decision where if the person making the decision makes the wrong decision, he is executed.

And the decision is that seeing as I can now barely walk, and I’m entitled to transport to any hospital up to 500 kms from my home, I have decided regrettably to end my association with Leuven and transfer my papers here. I really can’t struggle around on the train any more these days

In all honesty I don’t think that I’m very far off having to have a carer. It’s a shame that Percy Penguin can’t drive. 30 years of working in an Old People’s Home will have prepared her for whatever she might encounter with me but it’s no good if she can’t take me to the shops.

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … hospital I had a bad night last night. It took me an age to go off to sleep, for a reason that I really don’t know

At least there was no blood test at 05:20 this morning but they did awaken me at 07:10 for something and again at 08:50 when they brought breakfast. So once more I had breakfast in bed.

After having a really good wash I sat down and listened to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was something about changing one of my appointments around because of this therapy thing. I managed to do it absolutely fine. It wasn’t until the Tuesday when we were talking about my Welsh lesson that I realised that I’d promised to go on behalf of the class to some kind of meeting or conference on the Tuesday afternoon. Of course, that was now out of the question. I began to think about what I was going to do about it and how I was going to solve this problem.

There was something else too about being round at a girl’s bungalow. It was a girl whom I knew from school and a few of her friends. It involved going up a ladder onto the roof and doing certain things. I noticed while they were up there that part of the roof hadn’t been slated properly. There was someone else with me so I sent him up the ladder and gave him instructions as to how to do the roofing. In the end all the girls came down except the one whom I knew. She was still up there so I threw her a small pot of white paint and a brush and she painted some kind of slogan on the roof. She ended up with more paint on her than on the roof but never mind. When she came down, she reached as far as the edge of the roof and realised that her bra had come undone. She was having to fiddle around with it and fasten herself back in etc and hope that no-one else would notice before she came down the ladder. I noticed that her bra was a red tartan one. Eventually she managed to put it n beneath her clothes. As she came down she turned to me to ask if I’d sorted out the roof for her. I told her that someone had been up to realign the slates. She said that it didn’t look correct. I replied “no it doesn’t but that’s probably because you have the wrong slates. It’s certainly all properly realigned now”. She then began to talk about a few other jobs she needed doing like putting an electric junction box in the wall etc.

When we were living in Shavington there was a path that led to Willaston that went over the railway. The kids around there had all kinds of fun scrawling incorrect messages on the zebra so the controllers of the zebra decided that they would no longer stop there. It had already messed up all of my timetables before and it was going to do it again. One of the boys and I had this plan that we’d tackle this mess of graffiti by me climbing into the back of the truck and asking a pile of questions while this cat was crawling up my leg onto my lap. It took a long time to arrange this kind of meeting and it was as if she knew what most of it was about. She’d been talking for about 0.7 days even though I couldn’t walk and the cats were stuck in and the doctor had said so much about it and the kids couldn’t concentrate on doing their homework without thinking about the mill.

Usually, although I’m dictating while I’m asleep, when I come to transcribe the notes I can recall little bits of what’s been going on that ring a bell with me from the night. However for that one, I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of that one and it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever – not that many of my nocturnal travels actually do.

So back into the night and we’d all gone round to someone’s house in our family to watch a football match, Arsenal against some European side. We were all there watching this game in the living room. Just then my father pulled up in a van. We heard that he might be coming but he hadn’t been there at the start. As we watched, he just parked up outside. I opened the door and asked him “why don’t you reverse the van up the drive?”. He made some remark about how he couldn’t reverse like many other people. Then he opened the door and my mother and 6 or 7 other people swarmed out. We all said that it was totally stupid bringing that many people in this little van. They all came into the house and we had to explain to them how the wiring system works because we had special plugs for the television. While we were looking at the TV plugs we noticed that the wallpaper on one of the walls was becoming really damp. We all settled down – or at least, they settled down taking everyone else’s chair. When we came back in there was nowhere really for us to sit. There was just one seat so I said to one of the girls “you’d better sit in that seat because you’ll be comfortable there” because her seat had been occupied by my father’s sister’s husband. He had a reputation for chasing after the girls. She felt extremely uncomfortable when she saw him sitting in her seat.

When the nurse awoke me I was talking about gardening. We had all kinds of fruit trees, plants and so on and we’d been transplanting them. The girl with me had taken a couple of apple trees and planted them outside. A few hours later she brought one of them in to plant inside the house again, saying that it wasn’t doing very well outside and had caught some kind of disease or something. I was looking at one of the flowering plants in a pot. It hadn’t done very much for a couple of years but I noticed that now it had about half a dozen flowers on it and a couple more were forming. I told her about them but she was too busy at that moment to come to have a look.

For much of the day I was left on my own and was able to pile on with selecting the music for future radio programmes. In fact I’m now at 25th October 2024 but there are several gaps in there. I have to think about what music I’m going to play for my Hawkfest and to commemorate the first Isle of Wight Festival.

There were the usual nurses coming to and from and I had the usual gaggle of doctors come to see me, and that was when they told me the bad news. But they tell me that there are all kinds of follow-up action to come, some to be undertaken here and some that can be undertaken closer to home.

And so I’m going to be very busy in the near future, and the local ambulance service is going to be making a lot of money out of my health insurance providers. In case you don’t know, here in France they have what they call VSLs – Voitures Sanitaires Légères – that are like taxis but equipped to take people who aren’t mobile to their hospital appointments etc.

This afternoon the doctor came back with a friend. They wanted to take a sample of my lip tissue with a piece of my nervous system. So they injected my lip with a local anaesthetic and then attacked it with a scalpel. It took three attempts before they actually ended up with a nerve.

They did tell me that if I didn’t want the lip thing they could take a sample of grease from somewhere else but that would involve a surgical intervention. But sod that for a game of soldiers.

Importantly, while they were doing that I missed my coffee so I had to go out and hunt it down. They didn’t want to give it to me because of what I’d just been through but I insisted.

After tea I began to write my notes but a nurse came to see me to tell me that I must be à jeun tomorrow morning as I’m having something done to me at 12:00 for which I have to have an empty stomach.

But that fasting starts at 06:00 so as she’s coming to put a needle in me at 05:30 I persuaded her to bring me some bread jam and coffee. I’m not going without a meal.

So right now I’d better go to bed and make myself ready for tomorrow morning. I’m not looking forward to the needle, I’m not looking forward to whatever it it that they are going to do to me, but it will be nice to be back home.

Tuesday 10th October 2023 – I WISH THAT I …

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

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

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

And so that, dear reader, is that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s hope that this one arrives.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 5th October 2023 – I’M HAVING TO …

… go back to the hospital at Paris in a couple of weeks. They rang me up today to tell me.

The original proposal was to give me a series of intravenous antibiotic perfusions that I could take at home over the period of a week. However they’ve had a close look at my medical results from my last visit and decided that my medical state is far too fragile for the perfusion to take place without medical supervision.

Therefore they are calling me in and moving on directly to the next stage of the proceedings, whatever that might be.

It’s nice to see that they aren’t going to let the grass grow under their feet and that they are pressing on regardless. One thing that I’m sure of is that I can’t carry on like this much longer.

The big question is though “how am I going to make it to the hospital?” because I don’t want to have to go through that journey again. As I’ve said before, I can feel things slipping away day by day.

Something that I didn’t actually go through today was the stress of an early start. I was flat out when the alarm went off, miles away in the Land of Nod.

Nevertheless I struggled to my feet and went to take my medication and to check my mails and messages.

Once I’d dragged myself round into the Land of the Living I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was a new boy on a way to a class on board an old double-decker bus. I was the only passenger. The bus stopped to pick up a teacher. Apparently something had gone wrong somewhere and he was looking for the culprit. For some reason he fastened on me although it was nothing at all to do with me. I told him what I knew about anything, which wasn’t much, and he grudgingly accepted. In the end he said “drop me off at (such and such) bus stop”. I had no idea where this bus stop was, being new, so I just rang the bell for the next stop. Sure enough the bus stopped. He alighted first and I was about to alight second. The driver had obviously seem the person alighting in his mirror and he put his foot down at that point to move off. I was half on, half off the bus so the back of the bus hit me on the top of the pelvis and spun me off onto the ground on my face. It didn’t half hurt.

Later on I was round at someone’s house having a coffee, chatting to him and his wife. He asked me to tell them a limerick. As usual, I couldn’t think of one on demand like that. It took me ages. In the end I went to the bathroom and came back with a really weak effort. They guy then began to tell me a joke about another man who had come to his house. This joke went on and on and on. When he finally reached the punchline I thought that it wasn’t funny at all. he looked at me and said “you’re a case apart, you are”. This joke that went on for ages just fell completely flat.

And then we’d been camping somewhere. I’d had to leave Nerina and return home for something or other. I drove back all the way. I ended up going a strange way that I didn’t recognise. I suddenly found myself back on the road that I knew and couldn’t work out how I’d reached that particular point. I drove home and ended up talking to a few members of my family. I then emptied my vehicle and prepared to go back to pick her up to bring her home. It was about a 7-hour trip each way so I was effectively going to be driving 21 hours out of 24. Back at home I’d been into the house, which was our old one in Vine Tree Avenue. Someone had been in to feed the cats because the key was still in the lock in the bathroom door. On the way out I had to close the barrier. A little baby girl who was there told me how to close it. I’d seen some shoes that were really caked in mud and it turned out that they were my aunt Doreen’s. My father began to chat to this little girl about her. When we were about to set off the discussion came round to my yellow Cortina estate, about how it needs to go for its MoT etc. I wasn’t very optimistic be he said that he’d take it anyway. I wasn’t looking forward to having the fail certificate for that to tell me everything that needed doing. He was telling me about his own car, another Cortina where he’d had to change a couple of bushes in order for that to pass its MoT. In the meantime I was about to set off to go back to where we’d been camping to pick up Nerina and bring her home ready to go to work next morning. Looking at my watch I was going to be cutting it fine to have her back here in time to go to work.

Once I’d finished the notes from last night I cracked on with another batch of arrears and if I keep on going like this, I’ll have them finished by the end of the weekend. And then I can set out to update all of my notes. It’s high time that I did my best to catch up on various arrears of work that are hanging around.

Over the past few weeks or so there has been quite a large amount of correspondence piling up. I went through all of that this morning and filed away a pile of stuff. A few other letters needed scanning so that I can have copies, and there are one or two forms to fill in that I’ll have to complete quite soon.

And while we’re on the subject, I’ve heard that my disability cards have now been printed and are on their way. They should be here by the middle of next week. Not that the driving permit will do me much good because of course I’m no longer going to drive – unless something rather dramatic crops up out of this hospital treatment.

There have been a couple of very long messages to write too. One of which concerns Strider, my Ford Ranger in Canada. I’ve decided, for obvious reasons, that he’ll have to go the Way of the West.

It’s a shame really because the seat is exactly the right height for me to slide into and it’s an automatic too I could in principle drive him as I am. There would be no issue shipping him to Europe but with an old-technology V6 4.0 litre engine he drinks petrol like it’s going out of fashion, which it is, but that’s not what I mean.

Had I been healthy, it wouldn’t have been a problem because I have a variety of diesel engines down on the farm that would slide right in. But if I were well enough to change an engine, I would be well enough to carry on driving Caliburn.

Next task was to write a letter to my doctor. There are several issues that have cropped up just recently that I feel he ought to know. That includes the question of travel to Paris, and also involves some of the stuff that I scanned today.

We’ve not finished yet. Yesterday I said that I needed to prepare an emergency bag in case I’m whisked off to hospital at a moment’s notice. That took a while but it’s all ready now.

The rest of the day was spent finishing off writing the notes for the second radio programme and then ripping through the third one. They are well over half-way written now.

Tea tonight was interesting and I enjoyed it very much. It was pasta and lots of vegetables, and when it was cooked, fried in vegan butter with vegan cheese and vegan tomato pesto. I’ve had some really nice meals just recently and this was certainly one to match the best of them.

So having written my notes I’m off to bed. I’m going to have a go at going into town tomorrow morning. I’m not too optimistic that it will turn out well but I’ll have to give it a go and see where it takes me.

There’s some food that I need and it will have to be at the local supermarket by the port as I have to drop off the letter at the doctor’s. I can quiz the bus driver to see what the bus stop is like at St Nicholas, if it’s any better for me to climb in and out of the bus.

But before everything I’ll just go through the supermarket’s on-line catalogue to carry on making my list of my favourite products. If I can do that, it’ll make my on-line shopping easier.

Wednesday 6th September 2023 – AFTER YESTERDAY’S DISASTER …

… I’ve had a much better day today.

Mind you, having said that, it couldn’t have been any worse at all.

In fact, with a little application I could have been up before the alarm went off because I was awake at 06:56 but I wasn’t quick enough to haul myself out of bed.

When the alarm went off I stirred my stumps and hauled myself out of bed. As expected, it took me an absolute age to bring myself round into the Land of the Living, but at least I managed to have my morning coffee and fruit bun.

Later on, I staggered into the bathroom for a shower in the hope that it might awaken me and whether it did or not, at least I felt better – and cleaner too.

And while we’re on the subject of “cleaner”, I had a lap around the kitchen and dining area to make sure that the cleaner wouldn’t die of fright when she came.

The rest of the day has been spent on the radio programme. I completed the one that has been hanging around for a couple of weeks waiting to be finished, and then I managed to finish off the notes for the next one.

There was even a few moments for me to make some kind of desultory start on choosing the music for a further one.

The cleaner came round this afternoon and attacked the apartment. It’s looking much nicer and cleaner now which makes a change. Although how long it might last like this is anyone’s guess.

I don’t suppose that it will take too long to mess it up. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … my kind of life reminds me of Ezra Pound’s comment about Ford Madox Ford – "Put Ford naked in an empty room and within an hour behold total chaos"

After she left I put the washing machine on. There was some bedding in there from the other week so I put it all on quite a hot heat today to give it a really good and deep washing. Normally I just put everything on a 40°C “mixed fibre” wash but every now and again it needs a little extra.

Having set that off on its way I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And I’d gone quite a distance too. I’d been quite friendly with a girl and decided that I’d ask her out to the cinema or something. We agreed that we’d go out for the Friday night. In the meantime I was very friendly with a girl who worked in the Building Society (as indeed I used to be in real life years ago). I was laughing and joking to her about taking her out. She said “why not?” so we arranged to go out together on the Saturday to the theatre because there was something on. Later on (I’m not sure whether this would be the Saturday) I was with this girl walking through Crewe. She wanted to know about going home. I said that I had my car parked somewhere nearby. She then added “unless you want to go for a walk-around in the woods or something like that. It would be a great place to find some firewood. Do you need any firewood?”. Seeing as she was keen and it was her idea I said “yes, OK” and we walked into the wood, actually down on the west side of the town. We were in the town centre. We had an interesting discussion about Spain and the castles, how in certain circumstances some rebellious knights could be charged with treason for attacking the King but the charge for treason would be raised by the Constable of Spain. That seemed to be a strange situation in which to be, where it was someone else who would be deciding on treasonable activity and not the King. We had a really lengthy discussion about that.

There was another lengthy dream. I’ve forgotten most of it. It was about me owning an electric bus and doing some work in it. We were dividing up a kind-of list of things, ecological things, between us. I asked if I could do the beekeeping. That was agreed but it was disappointing news to someone else who wanted to do it. Later on we were told that we could have an assistant part-time so the lad who was refused the time before when I was given the job came over to me to ask if he could help. Considering that he was interested and seemed to know more about beekeeping that I did, of course I said “yes” because it would be quite useful to have someone who knows his stuff and is keen working with me.

And then we’d been out with my father somewhere around the Audlem way. He had a Rover 2000 estate and we’d gone in that. He was driving extremely quickly. The people whom we went to see were in some way distantly related to me. Another friend of mine was there with us too. He had to go inside to see these people. When he came out ha was going on about how poor they were etc. I don’t think that he realised that they were part of my family. I asked him if there was a weedy man there with a very short, very fat woman to which he replied “yes”. These were of course my uncle and aunt but I didn’t like to say anything to him. We drove back extremely quickly. My father was telling us of a Portuguese guy who lived in the village who had really been something of an odd-job man but had now bought one of the local small businesses and was running that. When we came into Nantwich my father said that it’s probably quicker to go home via Wells Green so we ended up driving through the centre of Nantwich past the bus station.

There was a Court hearing taking place about something or other. I was involved in some kind of abstract way as a potential witness or similar. We were taken in a vehicle to somewhere and left in the vehicle while they went into Court. This went on until about 13:00 when someone came back to tell us that we could go but we needed to come back the next day. So we had to sit in this vehicle again, and no-one came at all. In the end I was outraged and so were the other people sitting in the vehicle. We saw on of the Clerks of the Court walking down the street. I grabbed hold of her and asked her what was going on. We found out that it was 16:00, I’d missed a football match, I’d missed everything. I was really angry and tore strips off this girl. In the end several people came over. They explained that this Hearing was still going on and hadn’t finished. I still couldn’t get over this discourtesy of leaving us sitting here in a car or van in the middle of the town centre while all this was happening. We’d been there for what seemed like 8 hours, no refreshments or anything so I was in an absolutely foul mood. I was tearing shreds off everyone and they were scattering and disappearing. In the end there was someone on the ‘phone and I asked him about what was happening. He said that he was still on the ‘phone to the Court trying to make them hurry up with the case otherwise everyone would be going and the case would collapse. I told him a lot of home truths about my thoughts and opinions on the way that this was going on, how everyone had been treated and I was on my way up the stairs to this ‘phone in the gallery to wrench the ‘phone from his hands to speak myself to whoever it was to whom he was speaking.

That dream was something quite interesting. When I said that I was involved “in some kind of abstract way as a potential witness or similar”, it wouldn’t be anything unusual.

In fact in the Old Days in the Crewe and Nantwich Magistrates Court they had a special term to describe people like me. We were called “The Defendant”.

Some people would even say that I gave the local farces of law and order in South Cheshire a great deal of assistance. They always seemed to be asking me to help them with their enquiries.

Finally, I had another dream that I can’t remember how it began. We had to go somewhere. Someone was having to organise the trip. My mother was somehow involved but she was prevaricating about it and decided that she wouldn’t go. After some discussion I asked her to state unequivocally that she didn’t want to go, which she did so I said to another person “then we can go any time at your convenience then”.

Tea tonight was the remainder of the stuffing lengthened with a small tin of kidney beans, with rice and veg. With a little extra chili added to it, it really was delicious. But, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, my meals might be boring but they are delicious.

There are just a few things to do and then I’m off to bed. Surprisingly, I managed to go the whole day without crashing out and that’s something well-worth noting after yesterday. I hope that I can keep it up for the next few days.

Maybe an early night might help – I dunno. But it can’t do any harm.

Monday 4th September 2023 – I HAVE HAD …

… visitors today. And that’s not like me at all, is it?

And not only that, but I’ve actually been to the local bar this afternoon too. And that’s even less like me.

They say here in France that jamais deux sans trois – “never two without a third” – and so what else I’ve done that is unusual these days is that I was out of bed this morning before the alarm went off.

Not by much, it has to be said, but by enough to make a note of it.

After the medication etc I went and had a shower – I need to look my best because the nurse would be coming to inject me. I needn’t have been in a rush because he was late again today

Once he’d left I carried on with a few bits and pieces until my visitors arrived.

It’s been a good couple of years since I’ve last seen Liz and Terry. They immediately entered into my good books by bringing 20 tins of baked beans with them. That should put the wind up everyone in the vicinity.

Much as I’m a big fan of European food, no-one else can make proper baked beans like the British. Even the “British Recipe” baked beans on sale in Canada taste nothing like the baked beans from a British supermarket.

There was so much that we had to say to each other, much of which was said in my apartment and more of it was said in La Rafale, the bar down the road. With the temperature at 28°C at lunchtime it was really nice to be out and about for once.

Liz bought a baguette so we went back to my place and rustled up a huge salad of all kinds of different things that I had lying around or in tins and it all went down very well.

Once everyone left I made myself a drink and came in here where I crashed out for well over an hour. Totally dead to the world, but then I’m not used to going walkabout like that these days.

Having eventually recovered consciousness, I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. My father and I were going up to Scotland on a motor bike. The only problem was that we had our sister’s mouse to take care of. We were trying to work out how we were going to do it. In the end I was rooting through all of my storage cupboards and came across a large, flat, wide sandwich box kind of thing. We thought that that would do and lined it with newspaper and put the mouse in. It was a struggle to close the lid with the lid being so large but eventually we closed it. Then we were thinking about how we were actually going to transport it. It wasn’t until we were almost ready to go that I had the thought that we were going to be on the road for 8 hours and had made no provision for drinking water or food etc for the mouse. I wasn’t convinced that it would survive the journey without it.

At another moment I awoke and I had headphones on listening to some music – Alice Cooper’s I’M 18 was playing. In the background I could hear some other music. I thought that the alarm must be going off so I’ll go to turn it off. I went to the bathroom and noticed that the time was 08:00. My father was late for work, my brothers and sisters would be late for school so I had to dash round awakening everyone. In real life I looked at my watch to see whether I ought to get up but it was actually 02:54 so that must have been some dream.

It rather reminded me of Tommy Cooper and “I knew a man who dreamt that he was awake, and when he woke up, he was!”

Someone had run a bath in an apartment on the ground floor of a big building. No-one was sure except me about what was happening. I don’t know what happened next but towards the end a young girl stripped off and stepped into the bath ad began to wash herself. The Police arrested a guy who lived in this apartment who had cancer. Apparently the bomb was a trick to fill the apartment with gas and he was going to light it to blow up the building and himself with it. He didn’t care because he had terminal cancer and only a short while to live. It would look extremely like an accident and of course he wouldn’t care about dying with such a short time left to live. He would be a hero to whatever cause it was that he was following.

Finally I was out last night with someone whom I used to know. We were driving around the outskirts of Stoke on Trent going to see a friend of his. We were in a Hillman Hunter. When we came to a road junction he seemed to have a lot of difficulty pulling out. It turned out that part of the fascia panel or something had fallen down and was blocking the accelerator pedal so we couldn’t advance in the car. In the end we had to stop, which nearly caused a big accident, while he investigated. He pulled off the panel and we could set off. A big tractor pulling a huge trailer had seen us stop and he decided that he’d pull out of the side street just as we set off so there wasn’t really enough time. He had to try to accelerate his tractor, the trailer swung round, went into a ditch, overturned and spewed all the contents out all over the side of the road, and then pulled the tractor into the ditch after it. We ended up back at his friend’s house. His friend was married to an actress. At first we had to wait my companion was searching around for some stuff fof his. Then the guy came in, an old guy, extremely simple, not the sort that you’d think would be associated with an actress. he showed me a set of brake shoes and aske me if I knew what they were off. They were like nothing I’d ever seen. He explained that they were used in some kind of mountain pathway as a shock absorber for tourists who slipped off the path and hit the barrier. It’s an extremely complicated system. At some point I’d left my red Cortina estate parked in a lay-by for a couple of days. When I returned the interior light was on. I thought that it would never start now after 2 days with that light on. I sat in and turned the key and it did actually struggle into life. I was extremely surprised by that.

Tea tonight with a delicious stuffed pepper with plain rice and the rest of the salad from lunchtime. Having marinaded in the dressing for several hours the salad was even more delicious than earlier in the day.

So now I’m off to bed. I really ought to restart work tomorrow. I’ve wasted far too much time just recently doing very little of anything important. High time that I got to grips with everything before I fade away.

Friday 1st September 2023 – FOURTEEN MINUTES …

… of added time was played at the end of the second half of the game between Caernarfon and Connah’s Quay this evening.

When a spectator ran onto the pitch after 53 minutes I thought “here we go again. A repeat of what happened at the game of Y Fflint v Caernarfon towards the end of last season”.

However, it was slightly different this evening. The fan was wildly gesticulating at the Medics’ bench and they suddenly got the message because they sprinted over to the supporter with their medical bags.

After much confusion and a lengthy waiting period, we saw the two medics helping from the ground someone who was clearly in a great amount of distress. And then the game could restart.

When I awoke this morning I was in great distress too because I’d had another turbulent night, as seems to be the pattern these days. I managed to beat the second alarm, but not by much, and then gradually dragged myself into the Land of the Living.

The 09:10 bus was late this morning and so I had to hang around in the wind for a while. But I made it to Carrefour with enough time to do some shopping for the weekend. A few bits and pieces including a couple more small peppers.

The freezer is now full of those but that’s just as well because I can’t ever find them when I want them. Giant peppers I can find by the dozen but they are too big for my air fryer. and there is too much of them anyway for a small appetite like mine.

Back here I had my coffee and cheese on toast and then attacked this back-up task that I’ve been planning.

And by now it’s all ready in principle. I just want one more hard drive for the images which I want to keep separate from everything else. There’s a spare drive bay (in fact there are two) in the array on the shelf so there’s no problem there.

While I was waiting for things to happen I transcribed the dictaphone notes. And I had a surprise visitor. I’d been round to Stoke on Trent to talk to someone whom I used to know. Just at that moment Zero came back home. She went into the house and came out on a scooter, a 3-wheeled thing where you put both feet on and push yourself off and go whizzing down the hill. Her mother ran after her and I ran after her too. Then her mother was on a bike and I ran. She shouted at me “come on Eric, keep up”. I thought “there’s no way that I could keep up with people going at this speed the way I am”. She reached the bottom of the hill, turned round and came back up, came up alongside me, stopped and jumped off She said “get on, we’re going to ..” I thought she said “Meir” so I replied “that’s miles away”. “No” she replied” My house nearby”. She shot off and I chased after her on the scooter thing.

Mind you, I didn’t catch her. Even in the ethereal world she manages to keep well out of the way of my evil clutches as, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, so does TOTGA.

That wasn’t the only excitement of the night either. I’d been away somewhere and then come back with a load of clothes etc all of which I’d washed and hung up. We were a big family living in this house, sleeping anywhere. We didn’t so much have bedrooms allocated. I slept on the sofa in the living room and my chest of drawers of clothes was behind it. Someone whom I knew came and began to disrupt my entire routine. I had to go to have a shower. The first thing that I needed was some clothes so I went to fetch some but the only top that I could find was a thermal vest top. I thought “never mind – I’ll take that”. My mother asked me if I was taking that. I replied “yes”. Once I’d climbed over this rubbish and back to my settee I had to climb back because I needed my deodorant etc to take with me into the bathroom. The visitor was ever so confused about what was happening and so I think was everyone else including me.

Later on I was looking for clothes for one of my 3D figures. I’d just uploaded a whole pile of brand-new stuff and the folders weren’t sorted out correctly as I would like so things were in a bit of a mess. I wasn’t quite sure where I should be looking to find the item of clothing that I wanted my figure to wear. This meant that I was going to have to start to do a big organisation of all of that but I certainly didn’t feel like it at this time of the morning when I’d been asleep.

I’d also invented some kind of leg brace to improve the posture on young girls, like a V_shape with holders at the open end of the V in which you’d put your legs so your legs were always a constant distance apart and could only go forwards and backwards so much. This was intended to keep their composure and poise while walking. They could buy one for use at home if they didn’t have access to one during the day

Finally, and depressingly, I was with my family last night, a whole bunch of them. Everyone was there and many more besides. My youngest sister was marrying and I’d been invited to the wedding. I didn’t want to go but I couldn’t find a good excuse to turn it down. There was some pre-wedding meeting. I’d finished doing a taxi job so I went. From the freezer I brought some things that I’d cooked to take with me as some kind of offering, only to find that they’d leaked in the car. I arrived and everyone tried to hoist onto me the job of giving my sister away. I flatly refused, saying that it’s my father’s job. He was unwilling because he wasn’t very confident. I just didn’t want to become involved at all in any respect other than to be there and then only reluctantly. I was telling my father that he’d been working up his life for giving away his daughter and there he was, “bang!” she’s gone and I’ve given her away. Everyone looked at me, outraged, when I said that. But I added “well, that’s what the gist of it is, isn’t it?”. It wasn’t very popular at all but then again neither am I.

So much for all of that. After the sunshine comes the rain, as we all very well know.

Tea tonight was chips from the air fryer with vegan salad and some of those nuggets. Eaten quickly because of the football.

Caernarfon were second in the table, unbeaten so far this season, and Connah’s Quay were uncharacteristically quite low down having been swept aside by TNS the other week and then beaten by Y Bala. So we were expecting a really tough match

The Cofis, having been known for their flaky defence for the past few seasons, had been playing much better this season and had been the main reason why their team was second in the table, so no-one expected them to fold up so dramatically.

Although they had their moments in the attack, they didn’t amount to anything and conceded four of the sloppiest goals that I have seen ever since Aberystwyth shipped a miserable bagful against TNS 9 months ago.

A 0-4 home defeat was a disaster and they are going to have to do much better than they did tonight.

But not right now because I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow but I won’t need much Rosemary gave me a quick ring this evening just before kick-off so she’s going to ring me tomorrow. I’ll have to lay in some supplies though as it will be a long phone call.

Sunday 13th August 2023 – SO WHILE WE’RE WAITING …

… for my webhost to upgrade the *.php version to correspond with the latest *.sql configuration, we’ll continue the notes ready for upgrading.

And despite not going to bed until about 02:30 this morning, I was still up and about at 10:00 this morning and had I forced myself, I could have been up even earlier. But let’s not go berserk on a Sunday, hey?

It took me a while to wind myself up ready for work but once I was feeling up to it (which takes much longer than it really ought to) I made a start on the radio programme.

What with one thing and another (and once you make a start, you’ve no idea how many other things there are) it took me all day to finish one of them. I dictated the other set of notes last night too but I haven’t even started on that lot yet

It’s probably due to the fact that there was so much stuff on the dictaphone. I had a really busy night last night. A was working for a French radio company last night. We’d prepared a whole series of programmes. As they started, we found that there were changes to be made. One was the introduction to the programme. It needed someone to say something like “it’s now 09:00 and the following programme is ..” whatever. We decided that I’d do that. I picked up a microphone and one or two other things then set off on my motorbike and sidecar down Bedford Street into Gresty Road and headed out of Crewe. I’d no idea what time it was etc but it looked like the correct time so I pulled off the road onto a footpath where I could park a 2-wheeled vehicle. I had to force my way down the track on this motorbike and sidecar, damaging pillars etc until I came to the other end of the parking area where there was somewhere to park. I began to make my announcement but I couldn’t remember what to say at first. I had to give the matter a great deal of thought. Someone else had to help me with that. But the idea of recording all of these introductions then just pressing the relevant button before the programme began just didn’t enter into my head.

The people in these provocative tee-shirts set out, the Americans, these people for 24 hours, the British being much more polite. The people set out on this kind-of race. At the radio station we had to manage to cover it somehow but we had no real equipment and very little time spare left over, and not much size on the radio station’s internet storage on which to store it all. Whatever all that is about, I really don’t know.

There was also the question of the English boy’s vest and pants didn’t fit. They had to break into somewhere and steal another one, much to the annoyance of the Welsh tutor and that’s all that I can remember.

Then I was having another dream in French just now about all this food that was to be eaten at this horror show party. A mother cat came along and brought her kittens one by one. When she thought that each kitten had had enough to eat she took it out of the bowl where the food was, take it somewhere else and fetch another kitten, repeating the process. It was really interesting to watch, the way this mother was making sure that all of her kittens had enough food to eat without overdoing anything.

Later on when these important people took to the stage I began to dream in Welsh to present them. It’s all happening here.

I was back with my cats playing American Football again. I had a cat n°11 who was complaining that he had a stone in his eye. That was presumably while he’d been acting like a wild thing during the earlier stages of the game. Once more I’m missing loads of this dream that I knew happened but I can’t remember as soon as I picked up the dictaphone.

Then there was a discussion about the Saudi Arabian football team and their n°11. Sure enough he was the first name on the screen, a description about him and how he was going to be their star player during their next World Cup adventures.

Finally I was with my father and someone else. The other person and I had come into our village by coming through the mountains on an old road that was all overgrown with brambles and weeds etc. It had taken ages. We passed several old roads on the way that looked extremely interesting. When we met my father we recounted our journey so he asked us to take him. We agreed and set off back, fought our way back all the way up the hill through a forest, undergrowth etc. We came to a spot where someone’s back garden of a house backed onto the path. Those people were in there having a party. I told my father “what we’ll do is to climb over the hedge here, push those big weeds around there and climb over the one there and not take any notice or pay any attention to the people in their back garden”. We explained the procedures so he replied “fair enough”. He’d noticed a post box and said “I have to post a letter. I’ve already written it, it’s in an envelope with a stamp. Seeing as there’s a post box here I’ll put it in there”. I said “well ok but this is the kind of box that’s only emptied once every Preston Guild. You want at least to make sure when the next connection will be otherwise it could be in here for ever”.

It’s hardly surprising that it took ages to type out all of that. It’s even more surprising that I was up and about so early too

There was football on the internet too this afternoon so as well as trying to resolve my web-hosting issues I was watching the football – Colwyn Bay v Caernarfon in Colwyn Bay’s beautiful, modernised stadium.

Colwyn Bay’s first match in the Premier League watched by the biggest crowd in North Wales for several years, and they were treated to a full-blooded affair with no holds barred. A proper North Wales derby.

For the first hour or so Colwyn Bay had the upper hand although Caernarfon had far too many old hands on the field to be caught out and were actually leading 1-0.

But then lack of experience, lack of concentration and a few silly mistakes undid them and Caernarfon rattled in 3 more goals quite quickly and the game petered out.

If the final whistle had gone after an hour, Colwyn Bay could have been quite satisfied about their prospects for the rest of the season but how quickly the fell away at the end is bound to be a source of worry for the manager and the team.

But right now I’m going to worry about my Welsh course tomorrow, my *.php coding and whether I’m going to have a good night’s sleep. I need to make the most of whatever time I have in bed if I want to be fighting fit in the morning.

Thursday 10th August 2023 – I HAD ANOTHER …

… really mobile night last night. And a busy day too. Things seem to be warming up.

When the alarm went off this morning at 07:00 I was with a couple of people who were planning on going on a cycling tour. They were showing me their bikes and how the framework for the pannier fitted on. I could see that there was some recessed bolt holes in the frame and the pannier mounts slid down them and you just pushed a bolt through the frame and the bolt hole in the pannier outfit.

So not having beaten the first alarm I was still able to beat the second. And then after the medication and checking the mails and messages I listened to the rest of the night’s travels on the dictaphone. Nerina and I were going somewhere on a night out to Nantwich or Audlem, somewhere like that. We had to hurry to catch the bus. There was then some talk that we might stay over a couple of days so I had to find some clothes. I couldn’t find any so in the end I had to find an old suitcase of mine with some clothes in it. That was inside the cats’ house. I had to persuade the cats to leave their little house which took a long time. Then I had to take out my suitcase and look through it. I couldn’t find any trousers. I wasn’t sure if I could still fit in my jeans so I had to try on a pair. Then I couldn’t stand up. I needed help for that. In the end I tried them on when I was standing on the floor. I then looked at the time. It was something like 22:10 and the bus was going to leave any minute now. We were clearly going to miss the bus and then next one would make us ridiculously late so I began to think about going in the car and arriving quicker like that

And then I had another long dream that all immediately evaporated the moment I reached for the dictaphone. I can’t remember a thing at all about it. Not a thing. I’m soaked in sweat though so it must have been something interesting.

Later on I’d been somewhere to do something in connection with the group in which I played and we were on our way back. Coming from Congleton towards Crewe there was plenty of traffic. I had my foot down and was going quite quickly, passing the traffic wherever I could. There was a part where you came to a roundabout where the road split into two lanes. I went into the outside lane there and drove all the way down the outside of a line of vehicles, reached the roundabout, spun round the roundabout and came off at my exit, probably cutting in on someone else. The engine of the car cut out. I couldn’t restart it. I had to get out and push the car across the roundabout into a side road. There were vehicles in the way. I rolled into a vehicle. By now this roundabout had transformed itself. It wasn’t the roundabout in Hungerford Road where it was earlier on but now a roundabout back in Sandbach. It was where the guy who played drums lived. There was all sorts of things going on around this area, people using bad language etc. I thought “I wonder how my drummer’s family who were quite respectable people, were coping with what’s going on in the other houses and families around here”.

I was also at a huge factory place last night. 2 huge square glass buildings situated on the far side of a really wide river. The car parking was on one side of the river and you had to walk down a path and across a – not even a bridge but like a concrete path that went across the river and into the factory complex. We’d been there with a couple of people and walked back to the car park. I decided that I wanted to go back to look at some more of it. I said “I’ll be back shortly”, turned round and walked all the way back down the long path, across the concrete path across the river and back to the complex. It took me about 20 minutes to walk there and will take me another 20 minutes to walk back later plus however much time I’d want to spend walking around the factory complex. I’d left them sitting on a car park waiting for me. I’m not going to be very popular by the time I return. I thought to myself that I’d be lucky if they were still there waiting.

Finally my car needed some work doing on it so my father said that he’d help me if I took the car round to him. He lived in Norway north of Narvik so I said that I’d go round after work. While I was at work I was trying a cut-and-paste of a section of an image over an object in an image that I wanted to hide. For some reason I couldn’t make the piece that I’d cut out transfer over via a memory stick or an external hard drive or anything. There was a crowd of people round watching me including TOTGA. I carried on trying but it wouldn’t work. I said that I’d do it after work so a couple of people said that they’d stay behind to watch. Then I remembered that I had to go to see my father. At 16:00 I apologised to everyone who was disappointed that I was going, and set out. Narvik is a long way from Brussels and it was late in the evening. I was in Norway and seen the signs for Narvik. Somehow I’d missed my turning and ended up at a riverside on a gravel road looking at all these boats. I had to rurn round to retrace my steps to find where I’d gone wrong. Then I encountered a load of Volkswagens that had all been in accidents and were heading off somewhere. They had headlights taped into the wing with sellotape so that at least they’d have some light when it went dark. I remembered that my father’s wife had wanted me to sort out some money for her and do a couple of other things. By now it was really late at night. I was thinking that I have all this to do, fix my car, sort out my father’s wife, fix this image that needs doing and be back at work in Brussels in the morning. I’m just never going to fit all this in.

An hour or two were then spent working my way through my notes for my Welsh lesson. But as usual, with having a teflon brain, nothing is sticking.

The lesson itself passed quite quickly again but it was rather patchy. Some of the stuff I could do quite happily but some other stuff was rather … errr … challenging and I don’t know what I’m going to do about that. Nothing, I reckon. You can’t teach an old dog like me new tricks.

When the lesson was over I waded through the radio programme and finished off all of the notes for the second radio programme I’ve done this week. And who knows? I might even start a third tomorrow.

Another exciting task was to write an article for a Welsh newspaper. The new JD Cymru League season starts tomorrow so I’ve written a few hundred words about the teams competing and what I think of their chances

Whether or not it’s published is another thing entirely but it’s one of those things that has to be done by someone at some time.

Tea tonight was one of the vegan burgers out of the European Burger Mountain in the fridge with some pasta and veg in tomato sauce.

Tomorrow morning I have to nip into town early in the morning to do my shopping before the Welsh lesson. It’ll have me running around so I’ll need to have an early night and have some rest.

But if I go off on a few travels during the night in the same way that I have been just recently, I’ll need a rest to recover when I wake up.

Tuesday 11th July 2023 – TODAY’S LESSON …

… didn’t pass as quickly as yesterday’s.

In fact, we overran our allotted time and there was still some work left to do. It looks as if tomorrow I shall have to do some homework before the lesson begins.

And today was one day where I would have liked to have had a shorter day. I’d had a very bad night again and I wasn’t really in much of a fit state to do my course. To make matters worse, I had as the other half of my break-out pair the only person on the planet who knew less than me.

During the night I hadn’t had a great deal of sleep. What with the pain in my foot – that was something. And the amount of travels on which I’d been engaged was something else completely. I’d chosen 4 songs for some reason. At first I thought that they all came from the same album. It turned out that only 1 of them was from the album that I actually wanted. The other 3, although they fitted into the kind of mood of the piece that I was creating came from an album that had nothing at all to do with whatever it was that I was planning. I was rather bewildered about how this had come about

Having gone back to sleep I was using the cut-and-paste facility to chop the narrative and dialogue around so that it all fits together and runs together in some kind of sense and vague chronological order as much as I could

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson were staying at someone’s house investigating some kind of crime. The guy had a sister. Dr Watson became quite friendly with her. The brother objected strongly and asked Watson to swear on oath that he wasn’t up to no good. Watson was quite happy to do. The girl then went missing from home. Shortly afterwards Watson returned. The guy accosted him, threatening and bullying etc. Watson pulled from his coat pocket the papers that he’d signed saying “I’ve just come back to the house to deposit my oath that I recently swore so that rather negates your argument doesn’t it?”.

Did I dictate the dream about driving through the forest and all these clearings? … “No you didn’t” – ed Some boys on a motorbike based on a Fordson E83W van. I stopped to talk to them but they moved off. I followed them and this took place 2 or 3 different times. Eventually I caught up with them at a clearing in the woods where they were wandering around. I went over to talk to them. I complained about them driving off every time I stopped to talk to them. I asked them about their motor bike. They really knew nothing about it, not even what it was. To them it was just some engine lying around so they’d put it in a frame. It was up for sale they said but they didn’t have a clue what it was worth. My thought was that it was either worth a lot of money because of its rarity value or it’s worth nothing because of its total impracticality. The only worth it has is for someone with some kind of nostalgia like me but I wasn’t going to give them an elevated price if I could afford it. I recommended that they speak to someone else and had some kind of figure from them, then come back to talk to me about it when they had more of an idea of what they wanted.

And I was impressed that I could remember the correct designation of the Ford van. When we were kids, my father had two of them – KLG93 and XVT772. We drove all over the country in those in the late 50s and early 60s before we upgraded to pure unashamed luxury and had a CA Bedford 967NVT

On the subject of my father, at some point he wanted to know if I wanted to go and do another job for a friend of his, taking his artic somewhere and coming back later. There would be a couple of hours break in the middle where I could go and play football if I wanted. It meant trying to find my hammer which was buried somewhere on the bed. I had to hunt for it and found it underneath the bedclothes in a suitcase in a pile of sand. I had to take the hammer from the pile of sand. There was a motor race taking place with small miniature lorries. The idea was that they were attached to fishing lines. People threw the lorries on the end of a hook down a hill. When the whistle sounded they had to reel in the lorries so they would come back up the hill on their 4 wheels. It was the first one past the finishing line that would win.

Just for a change I was up before the alarm went off. Only by about 30 seconds though. I awoke with a start at 06:59 and it was too good an opportunity to miss, with the possibility of beating the alarm for once.

Having transcribed the dictaphone notes I revised for my Welsh course today but it didn’t do much good because with having a teflon brain, nothing whatever would stick.

But then I grabbed a big pot of coffee and a fruit bun and went on the attack.

It wasn’t until about 16:20 that we finished so I went to grab my hot chocolate and the last of my chocolate biscuits. Tomorrow I can start on the honey and oatmeal ones that I made at the weekend.

Having organised that I did some work on my Canada 2017 trip and I’m out in the bay heading towards a fishing station. But I was side-tracked because I found another handy guide to navigation off the Labrador coast with a lot of useful information that isn’t in the other two that I have.

As well as that, I’ve written a couple of notes for the radio programmes and I’ve been rescuing data from the hard drive that I’ve repaired. I’ve been busy.

Tea tonight was another delicious taco roll but there’s not very much stuffing left. I’ll probably end up with a curry and naan bread tomorrow which should be nice

But that’s tomorrow. I’m off to bed right now and tomorrow morning I’ll have to have a shower because the cleaner will be round at some point and I don’t want to frighten her away. Here’s hoping that I can have a good sleep tonight them.

Monday 3rd July 2023 – I HAD A VISITOR …

… during the night, someone who hasn’t been to visit me for some considerable time.

TOTGA put in an appearance last night for the first time in in absolute age. I can’t remember very much about this but I was going out and someone was coming round. I had to wait for them. There was someone else in the house who might have been one of my sisters making up a pile of accounts. Everything was all in a mess. She’d lost a cheque. A car pulled up. It was my brother. He had a big carpet on the back seat of his car. He came in and said yes, he’d brought some pet stuff that TOTGA had ordered but they’d bunged him for her back wages and he’s had to pay 4/6½d. He was most indignant about this. I wish I knew where TOTGA appeared in this dream but she was certainly there. I certainly saw her and was talking to her but I can’t recall the exact details.

And then later on we were waiting to close down the ovens in this fish-frying place. We had to set the controls to various positions before we could do that but we couldn’t remember what it was. TOTGA didn’t appear so in the end we had to try to decide ourselves what it was from memory. We came up with some kind of contribution to the idea. It meant switching off some of the switches but we had to use a coat hanger but we found that we could do that so we had to wait for TOTGA to arrive. In the meantime one of our party had been detained by the police for some reason. They’d gone and searched through his or her affairs but found nothing but there was this big woman in the luggage. They let her out and she went for a walk around the marshland there that wa sin between the sea and the land.

How nice is that to see a familiar, friendly face again? At least, I’m convinced that I did and it’s such a disappointment that I can’t remember any actual facts about our meeting.

All of that made me feel better than I did yesterday, although to be honest, it couldn’t have been any worse. And particularly because there was a huge pile of stuff on the dictaphone. I must have had a very restless night.

Apart from what I’ve already written about my meeting (or otherwise) with TOTGA, I can’t remember now whether we were going somewhere or going home or setting out on holiday but all my family was there. We had 2 Ford Zephyr Mk IIIs. My father, mother and some of their friends were going in one and we children were going in the other. My youngest sister was driving. We loaded up the car and there was no room for anyone once they were loaded but somehow most people managed to squeeze in. I wanted to wait to make sure that my father and his party had left safely but they took so long trying to get themselves ready that in the end I thought “this isn’t fair on my youngest sister” so I had to leave them. When I returned to the car with my sister in it she was sitting in the back seat behind the driver but was going to drive from that position. I had to sit on her knee while she was doing it. She said “there’ not going to be very much room in here. There’s a little leg adjustment but not very much”. I clambered in anyway. It was so far for my feet to the ground that I wasn’t sitting down anyway. She started the car. I thought that it was a miracle that she could reach the pedals and the gears from here and that she could drive with someone sitting on her lap blocking her view. All the time I didn’t think anything at all about the driver’s seat of the vehicle being empty with no-one in it and the rest of us crammed in like sardines. It was really uncomfortable.

When we were kids, by the way, we did have a Mark III Zephyr 6. We were a big family too so we needed a shoehorn to fit us all in.

But returning to last night I had an appointment at a solicitor’s office at 13:00 but it was cutting things fine because I had a plane at 14:30. I was there at about 12:50. There was a couple of other people waiting. I just waited and waited and waited but no-one ever came out. By now there were quite a few people there waiting. It was 13:50 and I had to go to the bathroom. I explained to one of the other guys “if the solicitor comes out looking for me I’ll be in the bathroom. He’ll have to wait a moment”. It took him a minute to understand what I was saying then I shot off thinking to myself “if I come out it’ll be getting on for 14:00 and I’m just going to have to go. Tough luck on the solicitor and his plans because I have other things to do”.

Later on I was driving down the autoroute and came to some roadworks. Part of the road was blocked off and there was a huge queue to merge into one lane. I thought that I’d stop here and make a sandwich. I took a loaf of bread. It was all dusty and dirty but I spread it with some kind of paste. A workman was walking past. I asked him what was going on but he totally ignored me. I hurled some vulgar abuse at him, got back into my car, cut down the inside of this queue through part of the roadworks to find a gap and join in. There was another car that was extremely upset by this. I told him to cut in behind me but he said no. I told him to grow up and stop being 5 years old. We drove through Monaco. Then I noticed that the MoT Certificate out of the window was missing. He said “didn’t you see it fly out of the window?”. I replied “no I didn’t”. He asked “aren’t you upset that you lost your MoT Certificate”? I replied “quite frankly I couldn’t care less”. That made me thing that the guy had thrown it out of the window in a fit of petulence. I couldn’t be bothered to deal with someone quite like him at the moment so I didn’t really pay much attention. I just carried on driving up the hill out of the city.

Finally I was driving through the Auvergne on the back road from Evaux les Bains. In front of me was another vehicle. We came to the steep zigzag drop all the way down to the moulin there. Somehow I managed to go in front of them when I took a very steep short-cut. I reached the bottom of the hill first and drove through into the town. Then I had to go back up the hill. By now I was pushing a chair but it wouldn’t go in a straight line up the hill. The other 2 people walked past me dragging their chairs and made it look so easy. I couldn’t understand why I was pushing mine and it was so difficult. There had been 2 other people in this line of us coming down the hill. I thought that if I carry on at this speed they’ll eventually catch up with me and then can help me back up the hill again. They didn’t come so I’d no idea what had actually happened to them. I was making a real load of difficulty for myself trying to go back up the hill with this wiring harness abd this chair.

Yes, last night, apart from seeing TOTGA, I spent an awful lot of time out on the road.

And even despite all of that I was still up and about before the alarm went off too, and after everything that happened yesterday, the difficulty that I had last night of going to sleep and all of the travels that I’d been on during the night, that was even more astonishing.

It has to be said though that I wasn’t in much of a mood to do much work today which was a shame. The nurse came and injected me, and we made arrangements to have my blood test on Thursday morning. I can’t eat or drink anything before he comes so I hope that he’ll come early.

One thing that I’ve been doing this morning is to hunt down a huge pile of documents that I need. There’s a School of Music in a neighbouring commune and it’s taken over some premises here in Granville.

There’s a proposal to have some kind of musicians’ workshop where interested people can congregate to discuss things, have some kind of technical education and even form some kind of unofficial orchestra with choirs and classical music.

And it didn’t escape my notice that in the small print there was a section for “electric guitar, bass guitar, piano and drums”. That is something into which I ought to be looking.

But the amount of paperwork that I needed to fill in was astonishing. For example, I had to read 13 pages of “behaviour in the school” and sign a form to say that I had done so. Lots of stuff like that.

All of that inspired me to have a good session on the guitar too in order to flex my muscles and make sure that I’ll be in some kind of shape if I am lucky enough to be invited for an interview. I won’t know until the end of August.

The rest of the time I’ve been in Canada walking around on the Furdustrandir about to inspect the cemetery of the abandoned settlement of North River. It’s another settlement that was devastated by the influenza epidemic of 1918 and a credible source suggests that half of the village died in November and December 1918.

And we had a disaster tonight cooking the tea. We had a stuffed pepper as usual but when I put my pyrex dish in the sink it cracked. That was pretty dismal because that was exactly the right size of bowl for the air fryer.

The stuffed pepper was nice though, cooked exactly right after 20 minutes at 160°C.

Tomorrow I’m going to do some Welsh revision, restart my radio work and go to count graves in the cemetery at North River.

But that’s after I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I hope. But if TOTGA comes to see me again, or if Zero or Castor put in an appearance, I shan’t complain at all.