Tag Archives: donald

Saturday 27th January 2024 – SITTING IN MY FRIDGE …

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

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

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

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

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

But that Italian restaurant was a riot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 15th January 2024 – YOU’VE NO IDEA …

… or maybe you have, I dunno, about how much my weekend’s excitement took out of me. Much of my day has been absolutely horrible.

Considering that there was no alarm this morning, leaving the bed at about 07:30 this morning was quite an achievement but I managed it all the same.

And I wished that I hadn’t because I didn’t last long.

Liz and I had a little chat for a while and I could feel myself slipping away once or twice but then I was gone. And gone for good too. It was like those situations that I was having when I first moved to Leuven in 2016 when I’d have these spells where I was totally unable to function.

There were several phone calls that I largely ignored and at one stage my cleaner came down to see me. She took one look at me and said "tu as la tête vraiment dans les vases" – “you’re just not here, are you?”

And I wasn’t either.

At about 14:00 I answered one phone call. It was this guy with the equipment for my apartment. “Can I come by in half an hour with the things?”

Seeing he was here, he was here, so I thought that I’d better try to do something. Margaret Thatcher once said something like "anyone can do a good job when they feel like it, but it’s doing a good job when you don’t feel like it, that’s the key to success" and really and honestly, I didn’t feel like it.

Nevertheless, by the time that he did come round (at 15:45 in fact) the place was looking better and I’d even contacted the Centre de Re-education for my timetable this week and booked the taxis.

Once he and his floozy had gone, having damaged my bath (and I’ve no idea what the landlord will say about that), I downloaded the dictaphone notes. I’d come back home from Europe. I was in a yellow LDV. I was back there and I had my old lagoon blue MkI Cortina and one or two other vehicles. We were having a huge row about something else as we usually did. My brother took out an indelible pencil and scored a huge brown cross on the back of my LDV. I asked him to remove it but he refused so I told him that I’d phone the police if he didn’t. He replied “go ahead” so I did. A policeman turned up, inspected everything, and told my brother that he’d be charged with committing criminal damage, which didn’t go down very well with the rest of the family because to date he didn’t have a criminal record. The policeman noticed my blue Cortina and that it hadn’t been taxed for over a year. He looked at his records and found that there was an entry there that it had been seized by the police. When he showed me the log book, that was what was written in there I wondered how that was possible because I actually had the vehicle in my possession so it certainly can’t have been physically seized by them. Then I began to think that I’d better do something about finding a place to hide it. If it’s been noted as seized by the police and now they know where it is, they might come along physically and seize it. That would cause me a great deal of problems. I thought that I’d better start work and do something about this particularly as now having antagonised the whole family they are all likely to seek their revenge in some way and this would be an easy way of doing it.

And if you think that that’s unlikely, you should have seen the letter that my brother wrote to the Cheshire Constabulary in 1993. I bet he hasn’t set foot in a church since. I’ve not heard any stories of any thunderbolts flashing round South Cheshire subsequently.

Really, some people are totally shameless when they think that they won’t be found out. But I’m disappointed that my subconscious is letting me down after the other night. I really had high hopes of that.

Anyway, have I told you about the “friend” that I had, someone who I thought that was the best friend that anyone could ever had and with whom I’d shared the most personal and intimate secrets of my life at one time?

Only to find that he was there on a “Yahoo” Land Rover Group repeating all of my stories and he and his mates were having a good laugh at my expense?

He turned out to be “not a companion upon whom a discerning man would rely for the purposes of hunting the tiger” as FE Smith (Lord Birkenhead) said of one of his clients

One thing that you can say is that “I sure know how to pick ’em”.

Later on I was well into a dream about a rock singer who wrote a song about being naked and searching through a rubbish bin but I cant remember what it’s called now … "neither can I" – ed … but I remember inviting one of my neighbours to come along and take part in some kind of performance while we were going shopping at 10:00 on Saturday morning but I wasn’t even sure about how we were actually going to manage to go shopping on Saturday at 10:00 but that was another question entirely.

Then I sat down to deal with the correspondence. And there was tons of it that has emanated from my last 2 stays in hospital

And have you any idea how difficult it is to concentrate on anything when you have people keeping on contacting you for photos of your knees? And I’m sure you think that I’m joking too.

Actually there’s a community nurse attached to the hospital whose job it is to contact me every week to see how I’m doing with all of this new medication.

She wanted to see photos of my knees after my fall so that she can forward them to the doctor but in the meantime, with my dramatic rise in blood pressure (it was 19.5/11.9 and Percy Penguin was nowhere about) she’s re-prescribed one of the medicaments that they stopped last week.

This kind of thing is never-ending.

Eventually I managed to sort out the most urgent stuff and that will be going about its business once I contact my trusty cleaner, whose presence really is making things so much easier around here.

Tea was a stuffed pepper, quite nice with plenty of stuffing left over for the next few days, and then I’ve been chatting to the family in Canada on the internet. My youngest great-niece is on a student exchange in Edinburgh right now so we’re trying to figure out a way of her coming over to see me, which will be lovely.

She was on a school exchange in Montréal a few years ago and strangely, I’ve seen more of her partner, Dorothée, than I’ve seen of her over the last few years.

But that’s enough for tonight. I’m dead to the world, hurt in places that I didn’t even know that I had places and regrettably, I’ve slipped into the deep pit again, and for no apparent reason too. I really don’t know what’s going on with me right now.

A short while ago I was listening to one of the Paul Rhys “The Saint” programmes, “The Saint Closes The Case”, where one of his allies says "It doesn’t matter. I’ve heard the sound of the trumpet"

But as Frodo, one of Tolkien’s characters in LORD OF THE RINGS put it, "End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it"

Unfortunately, I can’t see anything at the moment. For some reason, I can’t get the other night out of my head.

Monday 27th November 2023 – IT WAS A GOOD …

… job that I rang up the taxi company to tell them that the authorisation for my journey to Paris had been received from the Social Services.

It seems that the letter that I gave to the driver the other day hasn’t found its way into Head Office so they hadn’t reserved a car for me. But that’s now arranged and at about 08:30 on Friday I shall be on my way to the Haematology department at the Hôpital Salpetrière in Paris.

This is presumably when they’ll decide whether or not to take over the case of my cancer from Leuven. If they do, then all well and good.

If on the other hand they don’t, then we’ll be at an impasse. The last time that I was in Leuven was in September and the travelling was total and utter agony. Had I not had the support of Alison, Jackie and Hans while I was there I would have been finished.

My health has deteriorated since then and I won’t be able to undertake the journey.

It goes without saying that no matter how good the treatment might be in Leuven, it’s all totally pointless if the strain of travelling is going to make me worse. I’m quickly reaching the point where the best and most comfortable way of proceeding is to do nothing and let nature run its course

Obviously, staggering down the stairs into a taxi and being driven to Paris is the lesser of several evils, but then we have the climb back up the stairs when I return home that will negate the effects of whatever treatment I might have had.

At least, last night was rather less mobile than some have been just recently so I could have a good relax, even though I was quite late going to bed.

And there were some strange goings-on during the night too. I was awake early this morning and after a while I looked at the time on my phone – it was 06:00 so it must have been about 05:30 that I’d awoken. At some point I must have gone back to sleep because my brother awoke and asked me what time it was. I told him that it was 05:00 and to shut up and go to sleep. He obviously didn’t believe me because he got out of bed, switched on the light disturbing everyone else in the room and went to look. Once he’d satisfied himself that I was correct he went back to bed and began to listen to his radio. After a few minutes of this I told him to put an earpiece in. Then I must have gone to sleep in the dream because I began to dream about some child who was ill but at that moment the alarm went off and awoke me.

It’s actually been a while since I’ve dreamed that I’ve fallen asleep and dreamed that I was dreaming in a dream – if that makes sense

From the bedroom I tottered into the dining area and had my medication, and then came back in here to check my mails.

After a while when I’d come 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 at a beach seaside resort with a small port last night with a couple of girls. We were standing on the cliffs watching the storm. There were some kayakers in the port, in individual or in North American canoes in which could fit several people. They were being tossed around like corks in there. It looked really interesting so in the end went to arrange for one of them. We climbed into two and were having fun in the storm. By now the boats had grown into more like canal barges and were having an enormous amount of fun either trying to ram each other or trying to pass each other. In the end it developed into a race on foot between me and someone else with a couple of shopping trolleys dashing through the centre of a town going through roadworks etc. I was in the lead but the other guy kept trying to overtake me. I was all like something out of a Formula 1 car race.

Later on I was in Crewe waiting to turn left into Nantwich Road at the traffic lights. As I pulled up to the lights an Austin Healey Sprite with Swedish number plates and huge tyres pulled up in front of me. The guy in it, an older type of guy with a young girl sitting next to him was doing wheelies in this Sprite and generally showing off. As usual I thought tl myself ‘this is a recipe for disaster”. With the lights being on red he left his car and went for a walk around. I was itching for the lights to change before he came back so that I could give him a full blast on the horn. Just then a load of Austin Cambridge MkII cars pulled up. There must have been 4 or 5 of them. They all looked in really good condition except that the paint was missing on part of the bodywork. I left my car and began to paint the bodywork with the old BMC maroon-type paint and a brush. I ended up painting the wheels with it too.

After I’d had my coffee and bread-and-butter pudding I sat down to make the next batch of hummus for the next few weeks.

And my new FOOD PROCESSOR really is the business. It made pretty short work of grinding and mixing everything up, much better than the little machine that I’ve been using up until recently.

There are now 5 small containers of hummus, four in the freezer and one in the fridge for current use.

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are a few just recently, a decent hummus is quite easy to make if you have a decent food processor or way of whizzing things up. The recipe is

  • 50% chick peas, drained
  • 25% tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 10% olive oil
  • 10% chick pea juice
  • A large handful of fresh garlic
  • some sea salt
  • plenty of black pepper

Whizz all of that together into a nice purée and then add your extras. Whizz that in just enough to break the extras into pieces but not so much that it dissolves into the purée.

Half of my batch has chilis added to it. The other half has olives and there should have been sun-dried tomatoes in there too but I didn’t like the look of them.

Having been to Transylvania and walked the parapets of Castle Bran (and I have, too) I can confirm that garlic is a very important ingredient in my cooking, for all kinds of reasons.

After lunch I had to telephone the hospital at Caen about this IRM that they want me to have on my heart and then to telephone the ambulance company about my trip to Paris.

The cleaner came by too to drop off my mail and we had a chat too. It seems that my neighbour who is ill isn’t going too well right now and people are becoming worried about her. The nurse also put in an appearance and we had a chat about my next Covid injection.

And in between falling asleep I made a start on another radio programme. I’ve chosen the music, paired it off and written over half of the notes. I can finish off the rest of them tomorrow and dictate them tomorrow night.

Tea was a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg and there’s plenty of stuffing left for my taco roll tomorrow and a leftover curry for Wednesday along with one of the naan breads the dough of which I made on Sunday.

Plenty of garlic in there too, and soaked in the garlic butter that I made the other week, that should be really good. I won’t ever be worried about vampires coming to see me in the dead of night, although it might actually explain why Zero, Castor and TOTGA have been keeping their distance.

So now I’m going to have a hot drink and go to bed. Welsh lesson in the morning so I need to be on my best form.

At least I can have a good sleep in the afternoon afterwards.

Wednesday 1st November 2023 – THERE WON’T BE MANY …

… people having much sleep tonight. And there’s a police patrol out on top of the cliffs just outside the front door making sure that no-one goes too close to the edge.

We are currently being battered by one of the fiercest storms that I’ve encountered so far, and seeing that this is the windiest corner in France, that’s saying something. It’s absolutely raging outside.

There wasn’t much in the way of sleep last night either.

It was rather later than usual when I went to bed and despite it being another turbulent night, I was actually up and about by 06:20. I couldn’t sleep at all.

Of course, being up and about is one thing. Being awake is something else completely and it took me quite a while to come to my senses. And that’s a surprise, seeing how few senses I have these days.

Once I’d livened up, after my morning coffee, I went tidying up. My bedroom is now looking a lot better than it did earlier. There were books and papers all over the place but now I can actually see some work surface.

In the kitchen and the dining area too. It’s been a couple of weeks since the cleaner has been and so the place is in a bit of a mess. You’ve no idea how difficult it is to perform even the simplest of tasks around here.

One thing that I did today was to switch on the heating. I’ve put it off for a couple of days because I wanted to see November in before I switched it on, and I was desperately clinging on towards the end.

Just now I mentioned the turbulent night. There were tons of stuff on the dictaphone. I started off with a girl whom I knew from Nerina’s office but I can’t remember very much at all about what was happening in it. I seem to have forgotten it all. I do remember suddenly realising that it was a Tuesday night. I’d been off sick for several days and if I didn’t go back into work in the morning I’d be in all kinds of serious trouble. I needed to get a grip, get my things together and head back into work in the morning.

Later on I wanted to sit down and write a letter about the apartment downstairs, how I thought that I ought to be moving into it. There were so many hoops and so on through which I had to jump that it was extremely complicated and needed a great deal of thought before I could sit down and write out a letter about it, making sure that the letter said everything that needed to be said without actually causing any problems for the recipient.

And then my brother and I were at it again last night … "again" sigh – ed. We’d had something to do and he wasn’t at all happy about it. I just couldn’t care less. I carried on going on my way anyway. We ended up in this building that had an Indian restaurant in it. I had a job there as a delivery driver. He’d been hanging on behind me as usual. I prepared everything and went out through the door into the street. For ages nothing happened so I had a patrol around the building to see whether there was anything else happening in there or anything else I could be doing because I needed to be earning some money. In the end I went back into the restaurant. My brother, who had now become some kind of girl Was actually preparing meals. He was moaning, complaining and shouting all the time about what he was having to do and how he didn’t want to do it etc, how he didn’t even like waiting on tables. The proprietor said “yes, I didn’t tell you about the waiting on tables bit but you knew everything else” but that didn’t stop him having a really good moan about everything. He was really unhappy about what was going on.

Meanwhile, I’d had an engine out of one of the Cortinas and had taken it to pieces to have a good look. I’d reassembled the block and sump and put them in position and had all the ancillaries like the manifolds, camshaft etc all there ready to go in. Nerina came round to have a look to see what I was doing. I showed her how the engine worked, what bits were where and what they did. She put her hand in there and touched something. She said “oh it’s loose”. I explained that everything there has to go in under tension – you can’t put one piece in, tighten it up completely, then put another bit in. You had to put all them pieces in together and tighten them up bit by bit while it all goes into tension – it’s all tightened up together slowly. She asked if I’d done anything to the engine. I replied “nothing, except to scratch the name on one of the pistons. This vehicle has done 300,000 miles and there isn’t a sign or wear in the bores, anywhere. I’d never seen an engine quite like this”. We were putting it all together. Also in the garage was an Austin A30 or A35. Some young person came into the garage to look around and saw the Austin. They noticed that the way that the grille and headlights were arranged made it look as if it was smiling and said “of look! This car’s really cute! It really likes me”.

But never mind that – last time I rebuild an engine from scratch in a Cortina it sheared off a big end cap from a con-rod while I was going down a dual carriageway at a rapid rate of knots

And finally a little girl came to see me in hospital. She was all of these “My Little Pony” humanoid figures lying around so she went over to look at them. Later on she began to play with some of them. I told her that she could choose one to play with because it had some work to do in the hospital and it was very important that it was ready when it was required to perform this particular task of work.

While we’re on the subject of letters, there’s a very important letter that I had to write today. I’ve not sent it off yet because, due to its nature, I want someone else to read it first. And so I’m going for coffee with the President of the Residents’ Committee tomorrow afternoon.

While the cleaner was here I finished off the notes for the radio programme, paired off the music for the next one and then wrote half of the notes for that one too. I’ll finish off those over the next couple of days and then dictate them late on Saturday night, assuming that the gale has subsided by them.

Tea tonight was a leftover curry and it was one of the best that I have made. The leftover stuffing needed lengthening, and as 5kg of potatoes was cheaper than 2.5 kg so that I now have the European Potato Mountain in my apartment, I lengthened it with a potato.

Into the mix was some soya yogurt to make it nice and creamy like a korma, and I took from the freezer some of the naan dough that I’d made a couple of weeks ago and had a garlic naan with it.

So I’m off to bed now, with my head stuck firmly under the quilt until tomorrow. And then we’ll see what people think about this letter that I’ve written. I’ve always worked on the principle that “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” and asking costs nothing anyway.

It might even be beneficial, and that would be something!

Tuesday 31st October 2023 – BANE OF BRITAIN …

… strikes again!

This morning, trying to connect to my Welsh class, nothing was working. My camera didn’t seem to connect to the site and neither did my microphone. Even worse, no-one accepted my request to be connected to the group.

You’ve no idea what I went through to make it work – connecting and reconnecting, even switching off and restarting the computer.

Eventually, the light went on in the back of my head and I worked out what was going on. It’s half-term, isn’t it?

Still, start as you mean to go on. I was asleep when the alarm went off this morning but I struggled to my feet fairly quickly. I went and had my medication, drinking the wrong drink this morning (yes, it definitely wasn’t my day) and then listened to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been.

I was in my Welsh class at first and told my tutor that I’d have to leave at 12:00 to go to the Re-education Clinic. She pulled a face which was a surprise. So i went outside and there was some old World War II equipment lying around outside. I could see various types of scenery relating to different arrangements. For example, Year 1 was a hat and a haversack, Year 2 was a grip bag and something else. I had to put them on the passenger seat in my car in the correct kind of order before I set off. It took some juggling to do. I thought that when I arrive where I’m going I’ll have to leave this stuff in the car while I attend my re-education lesson.

And then I was in hospital and had to go for an operation. They gathered me up but I couldn’t find my head and couldn’t find my thoughts and couldn’t find anything physical either that I needed to take with me. It was just my body that they put on the trolley. They began to discuss a few things. The story of putting things on the seat of the car – Army soldiers’ possessions – reared its ugly head too. That made me wonder because I imagined myself having a car that was comfortably and luxurious up to the operation. I didn’t count on having anything uncomfortable and rustic like a Land Rover.

We were then working in the shed last night, my brother and I. I’d spent hours going through all my tools tidying them up and sorting them out but he’d come along and borrowed them and they were in all kinds of mess and confusion. I couldn’t find half the stuff I wanted. he was building a framework in the shed to put one of his power tools on using big, thick beams of wood that he’d drilled through and nailed using a big sledgehammer to fasten these nails in. Where he was doing this, he was stopping me reaching my benchtop angle grinder, a machine that I used all the time. I could see straight away that we were going to be heading for an enormous row about how things were unfolding because my patience was drifting away considerably at a rapid rate of knots.

Finally we were all back home again and I couldn’t work out what time it was on my watch. In the end I finally managed to send a message to a group on my social network. They all came back that it was 08:11 and I should have been up at 07:00. I staggered to my feet and began to rush to make myself ready. Everyone else left their beds and as usual in the morning when everyone was up and about it was total chaos. My brother was getting in the way as usual as I was trying to dress. I had this lovely white suit that I’d found somewhere and was trying to find some clothes that matched with it. I was trying to make myself look really smart (it must obviously have been a dream) but it wasn’t actually working (nothing new there, then). There was some kind of exchange between the two of us about some money that I’d had on top of my dressing table. In the end he ran off to tell mother what I’d said so I hurled some abuse at him. I went in for my breakfast, hours late, but no-one said anything. It was all just complete chaos from start to finish. I think that I had my tie on outside my shirt rather than under the collar etc.

Next step was to send off my order to LeClerc. And as usual, several items that I would buy were out of stock, even if they were shown as available on the website. That’s actually quite depressing because much of it is important.

Even worse, the grated vegan cheese isn’t even offered, and if I’m not careful I’ll be running out.

Having done that I had a couple of e-mails to send off and then I could finally sit down and revise for my Welsh class. That was interrupted because the shopping arrived and the frozen food had to be put in the freezer.

Back in here at the computer, and having realised that there was no class today, I went back into the kitchen, washed, peeled diced and blanched the carrots that had come with the shopping.

While all of that was going on I put away the rest of the shopping, had a really good wash and then made myself ready to go out.

The car that came to pick me up was early so I had to rush around but in the end we reached the Centre de Re-Education. I was led a merry dance around the building trying to find out where I had to go but in the end was directed to the reception.

There, I was registered as “in” and had to fill in a pile of forms. I was then sent off to see a nurse who filled in some more forms and asked me a pile of questions.

Eventually, I was taken to see the doctor, a young girl, who asked me a load more questions, gave me a good examination (and I felt sorry for her having to run her hands over my feet) and we had a good chat.

Apparently, my sessions of treatment aren’t starting until next week. Today was just the induction and to give them an opportunity to have a think about what to do with me. At the moment it seems that sessions of physiotherapy and sessions of ergotherapy are how they intend to start.

The doctor thinks that I ought to do better with a walkframe than crutches so I asked her if, bearing in mind my generation and my passions, whether anyone had launched the Sony Walkframe for people like me, but the comment went right over her head.

She also talked to me about hand-controlled cars but that’s a job for these APA people, whenever they might get around to it.

Back here, I struggled up the stairs . I can’t raise my left leg high enough now to climb the stairs and that’s the most depressing thing that can happen. If that continues, I’ll be a prisoner here in my apartment.

Armed with a mug of hot chocolate I came back in here where, regrettably, I crashed out for a while. I ended up doing nothing at all for quite a while, but to finish off the evening I’ve been editing and cropping a few very large sound files, just to say that I’ve done something today.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the stuffing left over from last night. There’s still some left so I’ll be making a leftover curry tomorrow. I’d forgotten about the naan bread but when I was organising the freezer earlier I came across all of the naan dough that I made a while ago.

Tomorrow morning I have an important letter to write and then while the cleaner is here I’ll finish off the radio notes. And I might even be brave and start another programme.

While there’s nothing much going in, I may as well push on with some work and see how far I can get. But it’s not quite as easy as that.

Monday 16th October 2023 – MEANWHILE, ON THE …

… telephone –
Our Hero "I have to travel to the hospital in Paris and the doctor has given me an authorisation for transport"
Health Assurance Official "you need to bring the form in here so that we can stamp it"
Our Hero "if I were able to bring the authorisation into your office, I wouldn’t be needing the authorisation"

You can’t make up stories like that.

And so it’s been another day when I’ve done almost nothing at all.

There was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night too and strangely, I don’t remember some of it. Although I’m asleep when I’m dictating the notes, when I’m transcribing them there’s some kind of lightbulb that goes on in my head about most of them.

But last night there were a few that meant nothing at all to me when I came to listen to them.

When the alarm went off this morning I staggered out of bed and went off to take my medication. And then I came back here.

It took a while for me to come round into some kind of working mode, but my relaxation had been interrupted by the doorbell. The nurse had come to see my neighbour but she didn’t open the front door for him so I was obliged to stagger to the door in here to press the switch.

When I finally felt more like it, I had a listen to the dictaphone. Nerina had gone to the hospital to have an operation to have an operation on a cancer or something. Everyone else had disappeared and I was at home on my own. I’d been in Canada, dealing with the fall-out of a ferry that had sunk in one of the big rivers there. There was a great deal of talk about conspiracy theories regarding it, how it was time-expired and couldn’t find insurance for it etc. Whoever it was who was also with us then came back and handed me an envelope. I’d asked them to bring me £1000 cash back from the bank so they brought it back for me. It was all wrapped up in a little packet and they thought “why has the bank gone to this length with this money?”. I asked about Nerina and explained that there was a phone call that she needed to make but I’d left the details back downstairs. Then this person began to talk to me about a British aircraft carrier, “Eagle” that had also sunk in mysterious circumstances. That person seemed to think too that there was a problem with insurance etc, how it was a faulty build etc, how sinking was probably the best answer for it as far as the Navy was concerned. This conversation went on at some length. I explained that there was talk of this ferry, that suddenly the insurance offer had increased from several hundred thousands to¨£3,000,000. The person said that the same thing had happened with “Eagle” but that was done under the counter in a pub or café. I began to ask about Nerina and her operation, how she was doing.

In fact Nerina did once go into hospital back all those years ago and I did go to see her – but not for long. I have a horror of operations, tubes, pipes and all that kind of thing and if I had stuck around I’d have found myself in the next bed.

What I’m going through when I go to hospital is my worst nightmare. They are all well aware that the staff isn’t allowed to discuss operations with me and when I went two years ago to have the carcinogenic bit cut out of my kidneys no-one said anything. They came, pushed me out of my room to downstairs and stuck a gas mask over my face and that was all I knew about the entire proceedings

It’s one of the reasons why I never wanted children – because I’d be expected to be in the delivery room and there would be no way on this earth that that would ever happen. Of course, it’s always possible to be excused attendance but it’s the kind of thing that would be thrown back at you in any kind of dispute. And quite frankly, there are enough reasons to moan at me and complain about me without actually going looking for them.

Later on there was a group of us doing some things around the Crewe area. One was my brother and the other was a girl whom I knew when I lived in Chester. We had to go to some shops for some medication from the chemist and something else. We climbed into my car and drove. At a certain moment going up the street a woman appeared on a bike on the wrong side of the road. I didn’t see her until the last moment. I swerved to miss her. I hit the tyre on the kerb and burst it. I went for a slow limp to somewhere where I could change it but then another tyre burst. I thought “this is no good”. There was some stuff that we needed in the car so I was trying to group it all together in a bag. It was extremely difficult. My brother was making his usual remarks so in the end I gave him the bag and said “here, you carry it”. We set off but they began to wander off in the wrong direction. I said “if we go to the chemist’s in Bedford Street we’re only a couple of hundred yards away from Nantwich Road. If that chemist doesn’t have everything there are 2 or 3 chemists there. The other thing we need can also be bought from a shop there too”. We set off to walk down Bedford Street. I was talking to this girl about the area where she lived in Chester. I told her that I thought that the pub “The Beehive” had now become something else but she didn’t know. I asked where she lived, if she still lived in Chester. She said no, that she lived in Scapa Flow. We ended up taking a short cut through a building. I said to my brother “how do you fancy a nice cheap flat in Edinburgh,” because it was very cheap and it wasn’t really all that bad for the money. We went through this flat and out of the front door into the street.

And then a few of us were talking about my sister’s van. She had a Morris 1000 van and was having a few transformations done to it. When it was finished it looked like a pest on wheels. She would go round the shops with it until one night we stole it and hid it. One night we were down at a pub and she was out in a car. She came past and tried to attract our attention. We thought that we’d better disperse. We scattered and a couple of us ended up in Queen’s Drive in Nantwich where we were being overtaken by a film – a ship thing had passed which was this Morris 1000 van covered in brambles and weeds etc. There was something too about asking my sister the old question of days, the 21st, 24th and a couple of other occasions in that month. She found out the dates wrote them down on a piece of paper and stick them against the bridge behind my headboard in the dark.

Finally I had to go to Whitchurch to see a member of my father’s family. A letter had been delivered to my house for one of them. It was now 04:00 and we were finishing off the taxi work so I set off to deliver it. When I arrived at where I thought they lived I couldn’t identify the house. I saw something that might have been it and began to prowl around. In one of the outbuildings I found the bodyshell of an ancient 1950s Standard Vanguard Vignale … "actually a Phase I" – ed. There was also a set of number-plates on the floor written in Latin alphabet and then in Arabic. I wondered what they’d been doing with the number-plates off a Turkish lorry at one time. As I walked out of the barn I bumped straight into the guy. I came up with some kind of feeble excuse and handed him a letter. He seemed to be extremely delighted. I suddenly realised that it was his taxi wages that I was giving him. We had quite a chat. He asked me if we’d been busy on the taxis. I replied “very busy. I’ve not had my tea yet” and dawn was breaking the following morning”. Then I set out for home. As I was trying to put the key into the ignition some car tried to squeeze through the gap where I was parked. I told her to be a little patient but she snapped at me. When I set off I was driving on the wrong side of the road for a while. When I ended up in Whitchurch I was now on a bike. There was a cyclist in front of me moaning and complaining that I wasn’t in the correct lane, I was too close to him, all that kind of nonsense. He and I had a few words then I carried on heading for home.

Later on, the doctor came round to see how I was doing.

He gave me the famous bon de transport to go to Paris, another one for when these sessions at the Centre de Réeducation begin. Then there’s a prescription for something to help me in and out of the bath (not a student nurse, unfortunately) and finally, a prescription for an ergo-therapist.

An ergotherapist is one of those people who come to study your lifestyle and habits, and suggests ways and items that might improve your quality of life.

If he examines my lifestyle and habits he’ll have a hell of a shock.

Next step was to arrange the purchase of this IMac. I’ve decided that I’m going to buy it because at the very least it’ll replace the laptop that I’m using in the dining room to watch DVDs when I’m having my tea.

There was another visitor too. My cleaner came to see me and brought me my post. She’d heard about my story with the transport authorisation and as she’s going to the veg market tomorrow morning at Yquelon she can drop my form off as she’s passing, and also pick up my bathroom thing.

We went through a pile of stuff too about these chairlifts and tomorrow I’ll be ordering brochures.

Tea was later than usual – stuffed pepper and pasta. Just as nice as usual. So now I’m going to bed.

But I’m sickening for something again. This evening I’ve developed a really raging thirst and that’s always a sign that something is going on in my body. A collapse in health usually follows and what’s sad is that there isn’t much health left to collapse.

But if the Health Assurance people do agree to pay for my trip in a taxi to the hospital, that will be an enormous weight of my mind. I’m not looking forward to the trip if I have to go by train.

Wednesday 11th October 2023 – I ALMOST FELL …

… out of the bath this afternoon. as I was climbing out, my right knee gave way again and luckily I was able to grab hold of the shelving unit before I hit the ground.

Not that it’s any surprise. I was wondering how long it would be before I actually fell over in here. I’ve been expecting it for quite a while.

But I’ll tell you one thing for nothing – and that is that I was right about what I’ve been thinking. I’ve had the idea for quite a while that each time the leg folds up it seems to make things worse subsequently. And that certainly seems to be the case today.

Not that things could be much worse actually. It was yet another miserable night although while I had the pain in my foot again, I didn’t have all of the burning in the lower leg. But whatever it was, it still kept me awake for much of the night.

When the alarm went off I was nevertheless fast asleep and had something of a battle to leave the bed.

After I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages it took me a good while to come round into the Land of the Living and then I sorted out the rest of the food that needed to be put away.

And there was quite a bit of it too. It’s not exactly that I’ve gone berserk but I need a minimum order of €50:00 before they deliver so I’ve had to think about things that I’ll need sooner or later when it comes to making up a large enough order.

Next stop was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. And there was an enormous pile of it too. I was with someone who might have been Captain Povey from the Navy Lark last night. he was telling everyone about how his wife had gone on a course and afterwards he was intending to apply for a course so he could go to join her, which was met with a great deal of guffaw from a lot of people. The scene then moved to Crewe, a railway station. But to reach the railway station you had to go down what was called the Horse Landing last night. They’d extended the station out from the main part of the building to that particular point. All the vehicles. All the vehicles were driving down the Horse Landing to drop off. As we watched, there were two old Mark II Consuls or Zephyrs. One was being driven by a woman. Both the vehicles picked up fares at the same time at the bus stop and both were to go down to the railway station. One got away quite quickly but the other was in all kinds of problems. It took a good deal of time to actually depart. It then put its indicator out to turn left down the Horse Landing. It was a standard series II big Ford like that with a roof bar with the taxi sign. I was interested to know that the indicators weren’t on the bar but where they normally would be, on the bodywork. I thought that that would make life confusing as they would be less visible than if they would be up on the top where everyone could see them.

Later on I was at another railway station that was all built in wood. It was in beautiful repair and the colours were all reds and yellows and lilacs, it all went really well together. To access it you had to walk round by a car park somewhere where there were bus stands, crush barriers etc. Even though it was no real practical plan, the fact that it was a beautiful building, I loved actually going there to it and walking around down the path that led to the front door.

It had been hot, miserable and sweaty while I was having the other dream just now but when I started to think that I’d roll the bedclothes back it was cold but it became a really nice environment for me to sit back, relax and sleep which might sound strange because there was nothing happening. Just me and the cool breeze here trying to sleep.

And then I was back in that dream at that pretty wooden station again. A vehicle began to reverse across the car park and made the people crossing there dodge for the pavement. One woman wasn’t quick enough and the bus almost hit her. She fell to the ground and her fibre mug of coffee went everywhere. In the end the crowd called out for the driver to stop. Luckily he did so before he ran over the woman. That would have been painful if she’d actually ended up underneath it.

We were back in an earlier dream where I’d been visiting some kind of hotel. Several members of my family were there but weren’t actually involved in it. I’d gone to my little sister’s room to have a look round and for one or two things while she wasn’t there. I was quite distracted so I left everything as it was, including some of my things there while I went to do what else needed doing. But time caught up with me and I could hear all kinds of people moving around in the building. I thought that I’d better run back to her room to collect all my things and hurry back to my room. One of the things that I had in that room was STRAWBERRY MOOSE and he wasn’t very easy to smuggle down the corridor so I was looking for a towel in which to wrap him so that I could pretend that he was a bundle of clothes. As usual, every time I organised something it created 2 other problems. Going forward to gather my things and leave the room as quickly as possible, there were just more and more things coming along to delay me. I felt that at any moment now I’d be caught and have to explain what I’m doing.

We were back in that hotel where I’d been just now. We were preparing to leave so we effectively left, but we’d left behind all our things. In the end we went back. The room in which my sister had stayed was an absolute mess. There was all amount of stuff everywhere. My brother had been sharing the room too so there were things of his there. At that moment the receptionist knocked at the door to ask about breakfast. She saw the state of the room and made some kind of commentary so I thought that we’d better start to pack it up. I was holding up clothes etc asking “whose is this?” and throwing them to the person concerned. By now my sister had transformed into Zero and she was now being an extremely busy bee, dashing around getting all her things together. Every time she had a bag prepared she’d rush off downstairs with it and then rush back upstairs again for the next one. This was going on quite quickly and the room was being emptied quite quickly. I had a smile, and her parents saw me smiling. They asked me why so I explained that I’d met a girl a few years ago who would have been Zero’s age now. I could see exactly the same characteristics, exactly the same behaviour and it’s really funny to think that even though they come from opposite sides of the World they seem to have become clones of each other. That was what was making me smile.

So hello again to Zero. It was nice to see her again. And strangely enough, when I was on a ferry across the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundland and Labrador, I did bump into a girl who would have been the spiting image of an “a few years-older Zero”. And there was also the girl in the café in Brussels.

For the rest of the day I finished the radio programme that I’d started yesterday. That took an effort to align because it ended up over-running by quite a distance and I had to do some hefty editing

In between, I went to have a shower and to meet my fate as I climbed out At least, though, I’m nice and clean. But what I’m going to do is to look for some plastic boxes that I can use as steps to climb in and out of the bath until I can make a better arrangement. I’m disappointed that I’ve had no reply as yet to my letter to the doctor.

While the cleaner was here I wrote the notes for part of another radio programme. But we also had a good chat, part of which was that I’ll tell her and the other housebound inhabitant of the building when I’m next about to order from the supermarket.

If I can persuade them to add in their orders to mine, I can make up the €50:00 without having to go mad myself, help out everyone else and the delivery charge is the same no matter how much I order so it makes no real difference to me.

For tea tonight I had a left-over curry, and I made some naan bread dough seeing as I now have some soya yogurt. And it really did taste nice too

So much later than usual, I’m going to bed. Tomorrow I have a few letters to write and a few radio programmes to prepare. The if the doctor isn’t going to reply, I’ll need to sort out a train and a couple of taxis to go to the hospital. I don’t want to leave myself stranded.

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

… and about this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 27th September 2023 – THEY’VE HAD ENOUGH…

… of me at this hospital. They’ve told me that I can leave

In fact I could have left this evening but there would have been an issue about trains going home, so instead I’m going home tomorrow .

The train that I’ve booked departs at 13:54 for Granville so my neighbour, who is in Paris at the moment, is coming to collect me at 11:00, we’ll find a taxi to take us to the station and then I’ve invited her for lunch before the train departs.

Last night I departed quite rapidly and actually had a good night’s sleep. Someone came to take a blood sample at 05:45 and someone else came in a little later but I didn’t pay much attention.

It was at about 08:00 when I arose from the dead and I had a slow start to the day, but it didn’t last long. My doctor came to see me, with a gaggle of students, to give me a thorough going over. And thorough it was too. They were here for quite a while.

After lunch I had a social worker come around. She had a lengthy chat with me about this and that and made copious notes. It remains to be seen why she did that and what the outcome of it all would be.

The next visitor was one of the students from this morning. She asked me a pile of questions again about my mobility, my capabilities and the like. And then she had a little game for me.

WHat I had to do was to pull a few phials from something like a honeycomb, and then put them back – a test designed presumably to test my co-ordination. With the right hand it took 25 seconds and with the left, 24. Apparently those times are quite good.

She then had me walking up and down the corridor for 6 minutes, timing me and measuring the distance that I walked. I can’t remember how far I walked but it was a depressingly small amount.

Finally, the doctor and her student came back later and sliced open my lip to extract a few living nerve cells that they are going to examine to see whether there’s any infection, or whether there’s an sign of my cancer having entered into the nervous system.

But the fact that they are going to these kinds of lengths goes to show that they haven’t found any signs of anything yet and so they are probing deeper and deeper into everything.

It’s quite likely that they won’t have finished analysing everything by the time that I leave, so they’ll probably reply to me by letter.

While all of this was going on, I was transcribing the dictaphone notes. I was having a really interesting dream about a CA camper that I had. I was living in the Auvergne but the Bedford was still in the UK and I was loaning it out to my friends who wanted to go camping or something like that. Nerina was in charge of looking after the keys, paperwork etc.. Liz and Terry had borrowed it and they were saying that they’d gone all the way to Southampton and it didn’t miss a beat all the way there. I don’t know why they went to Southampton but I ought to know. One of my friends from the Wirral asked if he could borrow it. I told him to contact Nerina and she’d organise it for him. Then I began to think about the insurance and MoT – do I know if these are still in effect? Do I need to do anything or change anything or Sign anything or are they renewed? I began to have this really complicated question going round in my head about the paperwork that was involved in looking after the camper.

At some point in the early 1980s I had a Bedford CA camper, a really old one with a three-speed gearbox. I bought it cheaply because I had a lot of plans for it but they never worked out and in any case the camper didn’t survive its MoT test.

And then I’d had another huge row with my brother. A short while later I was walking past his house and he came out and began to chase me – he and his wife. They were trying to catch me but they couldn’t. I managed to slip away. I ended up at some kind of meeting where they were present. It was extremely unpleasant. In the end he paid someone £100 to kill me. He gave them the money and asked them to meet him somewhere in a few days time to discuss the proceedings. Then he did the same with another couple. He paid them £400 to kill me. I thought that that was stupid, for giving them money in advance he would never see them again despite the arrangements that he had made to meet them on Winsford railway station on the Saturday. I somehow ended up in the same car with them and someone else. We were going towards Manchester. We stopped for a drink and his wife made some food and offered me some but I refused it. I was thinking that we’d stop at z chip shop on the way and I could find something there. The chip shop in this town had been voted the best chip shop in the Northwest so there was an enormous queue outside the door. At the one just down the road there was no-one there so I thought that I’d stop and buy some there. We ended up looking in a junk shop. My brother and his wife went off to look at something but the other guy and I just carried on walking. He said that if we were to run now and return to the van we could leave them stranded here. However my opinion was that we should stay with them – “Keep You Friends Close But Keep Your Enemies Closer” so that I could keep a really good eye on them and see what they were doing because I don’t think that they would have the courage to kill me – I’m sure that they would need someone else to do it. As long as I could keep an eye on them and keep them away from someone else I would be OK.

After that, Nerina and I were in a restaurant. It was like 05:00. We walked in and sat down. The waitress came over with her notes and a couple of small cakes which she left on the table for us. She asked what we wanted. I thought that we’d come here for a main meal because we’d had nothing to eat the previous evening. She went off and came back with 2 menus, 2 small bags of sweets with some 20p pieces in them. She said “we offer you a glass of port with your meal” which didn’t make any sense at all. I was looking through the menu but I couldn’t see anything vegetarian, never mind vegan. Then I noticed, written in biro on a corner “vegetarian meals available – add £1:00 to the price”. That piqued my interest so I hoped to catch the eye of the waitress when she came to ask her some more about the vegetarian options.

And finally there was something about a van for sale. Someone rang up but they had no way of going to see it. As I was going up that way I d=said that I’d take them. There was me and the girl with me in my old Reliant van that I’d had when I was at school. We picked them up, this couple, and picked up another person too. For some reason there was a load of children’s and dolls’ clothes hung up on the sides of the van. We set off but of course the van only had a 750cc engine in it. It was not very powerful so we weren’t going very fast. Hills were a struggle. Then I was stuck in a town centre. All the time this couple in the back were giving a running commentary, making remarks about the van thinking that they were funny but after a while it was really getting on my nerves. At a certain point I pulled into a lay-by, stopped and told everyone to get out. This led to quite some arguments and disputes. In the end they gathered their things and prepared to leave. They were still making remarks but by this time I didn’t care. The guy on his own who was with us had a few things to say too but I told him that I had an incurable disease that was going to kill me so anything that I wanted too do, I had to do it quickly. I couldn’t mess around waiting. He wasn’t convinced and tried to argue with me about it. In the end I was glad that I got rid of all of these people. There was just me and the girl in the van, going to where we wanted to go in the first place.

There was also a time when I had a Reliant van, anothet one that was a old as the hills. I’d had a motor bike when I was 16 but I had a serious accident when I broke both knees. My father refursed to allow me to have another nike and so I had the Reliant.

It was quite exciting. These vehicles had to weigh less than 5cwt in order to be classed as a motor cycle, so as it had a really old 750cc side-valve, the bodywork weighed next to nothing. However we found a 700cc all-alloy overhead valve engine and dropped it in. It weighed next to nothing and so it went like stink, but it sheared off half-shafts like nobody’s business. IN he end, when I left home and moved to Chester, the Reliant went the Way Of The West and I had an Ariel 250cc motorbike.

While I was chatting on the phone to Rosemary, the evening meal came round, with white fish again. That chat with the dietician really did some good.

So right now I’m off to bed. I’m going to have a good sleep (I hope) and prepare myself for my journey home. And then I have a couple of plans to put into action. I have had a couple of ideas for the future, always assuming that I have one.

Sunday 24th September 2023 – I WAS THINKING …

… and that’s always dangerous of course, about how much things have changed.

6 years ago to the day, I was in South Carolina visiting Rhys. I was at the end of a mega-voyage where I went to say goodbye to everyone whom I knew in North America and to cross off a few more things from my bucket list.

That voyage was because I felt that I was coming to the end of the road and didn’t want to forget anyone whom I knew.

However 6 years of living here in peace and quiet and comparative luxury gave me a new lease of life but tomorrow I shall be off to Paris for what will be a make-or-break hospital examination. During the next few days they’ll be examining me and it’ll either be good news or bad news. There’s nothing in between.

It’s a pity really that the decline in health over the last 18 months has happened at this time. I was having a lengthy chat on the internet today with one of the daughters of my niece currently in the USA. She’s getting married in November and, having followed her adventures quite closely, how I would love to be there to celebrate it with her.

However, as my trip to Leuven went to prove, I simply can’t make it. I even went to the lengths of costing how much it would cost to invite a friend to come with me for a week to hold my luggage and my hand. However there are few people whose company I would enjoy for that period of time and every one of them is either too ill to travel, otherwise occupied, or with other responsibilities.

My responsibility last night was to have a decent night’s sleep and for some reason, despite not going to bed until after 02:30, I was up and about by 09:45. That’s something that I don’t understand. It’s not like me at all on a Sunday.

For the morning I didn’t do very much – just a nice quiet relaxing morning, and then I had a listen to the dictaphone. I was back at home going through my record collection. There were some records there, some of this death-metal stuff. My brother decided that he didn’t particularly like it and this led to a huge argument between us. This argument turned violent. He started to attack me. At one point he was on my shoulders beating me so I took him to the top of the stairs and quite simply dropped my head forward. He fell off and went right down the stairs onto the floor of the hall below. I thought that this was really only a temporary solution. It’s just going to lead to yet more trouble and I really don’t know how I’m going to get myself out of this. It was another one of these occasions where I actually awoke with quite a start as if it was something that was extremely real.

And you really don’t want to know the rest of that, especially if you are eating your tea or something.

Later on, Alison had gone off to see some friends. I was at home having to get ready to go to Paris where someone was going to meet me to take me to the hospital. Rather than rush around I thought that I’d have a nice lie-in and then make myself ready to go. Then I realised that trains are only every three hours to Paris. If I didn’t catch the one that I intended I would be 3 hours late, no-one would be waiting for me, the hospital would have closed its admissions and I’d be left high and dry. I had to start to hurry. It took me a couple of minutes to realise that the best thing to do would be to just take what I could carry and leave everything here, hope that Alison won’t mind, come back for it when I’m out of hospital and then move on back home. I couldn’t see how I was going to do that either. I was just in a state of total confusion. I’d written to Alison previously about a couple of special offers on things. She’d been impressed by an offer on cheese and had taken a pile of tickets with her. She had written to tell me that the cheese was a great success and she wished that she had some more. Was there any way that I could obtain some before I left? Of course it was far too late to do it now. She was talking about another type of cheese she’d had but I didn’t understand the message. Of course all the time I was sitting there worrying about my train. Would it go? Will I miss it? What am I going to do? in a total state of confusion.

Feeling energetic at that moment, which is not like me at all, especially on a Sunday, I transcribed a couple of entries from my hospital stay last November. There’s still plenty that need to be done but if I do a couple each day, it won’t take long.

Having had a lengthy chat with my niece’s daughter in the USA, I finished off the afternoon by dealing with one of the sets of notes that I’d dictated for those radio programmes. It was a miserable attempt at dictating and took a great deal of editing. One of them is now almost completed and I’ll deal with the other in due course.

Earlier on I’d taken out a lump of dough from the freezer and I made another pizza for tea, just as delicious as usual.

So now I’m off to bed. I have to be up at 04;30 and that’s not going to be nice. But once I reach the hospital, if I ever do, I can crash out and sleep for several days until they throw me out. But at least I’ll know what’s going on and what, if anything, they can do about it.

Friday 15th September 2023 – AS BARRY HAY …

… once famously said, "there’s just one thing – IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK HOME".

And you’ve no idea the size of the sigh of relief that escaped from my lips when I collapsed into my chair here in my office.

Hardly surprising since I’ve been on the road since 05:20 this morning. That was when my alarm went off and I was already packed and dressed. It didn’t take too long to load up the car and then hit the road.

Alison dropped me off at the Kortenberg railway station and it took me a while to work out how to reach the platform. It’s not like a conventional station and things take some hunting down.

nevertheless I was soon on the platform and in time for the 06:28 to Brussels. And it was just as well that I chose that train because these are low-line commuter units where the floor is level with the platform, not like the urban express double-deckers where there’s a climb up into the carriage that I can no longer accomplish.

The rain pulled in bang on time so I had about 75 minutes to wait.

However, what I’d learnt so far today was that the 65 minutes to traverse Paris isn’t going to be enough. I need to think of another plan.

At the booking office they wouldn’t let me change my ticket, but up on the platform, speaking to the train manager I had better luck and she let me hop aboard one of the casual seats at the back of the bar, which I thought was very nice of her.

And it was just as well too because with the renovations taking place at the Gare du Nord they have moved the taxi rank from just outside the door and now it’s a real marathon trek to the rank. I really was finished long before I reached it.

As luck would have it, the taxi marshal waved me to the front of the queue and I had a really nice and chatty lady driver who drove me to Montparnasse.

There was 33 minutes to wait for the departure of my train so it was just as well that I’d caught the earlier train. I was able to grab a cup of coffee which was also just as well – that’s all that I had to eat or drink on the journey because I’d forgotten my bottle of ginger beer in Alison’s fridge.

The train was packed and we were crammed in like sardines. I managed a brief five minutes of … errr … relaxing, but that was all.

It was on time pulling into the station and I was lucky in that I only had to wait two minutes for the bus to the town centre. And from there I had a horrible, miserable walk to the bus stop at the port for my bus up here.

There’s no kerb there and the buses don’t kneel down very much so climbing in was a real effort. And then climbing up the stairs to here, I just couldn’t do it. In the end I had to take off my backpack and drag it on the floor behind me. I am not ever going to do this journey again.

Back here when I finally arrived I made myself an ice-cold drink and came in here where I crashed out on the chair and that was really that.

Tea tonight was sausage chips and beans (I’ll end up looking like a sausage after this week) and then we had football on the internet – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth.

The match was a real bottom-of-the-table shocker that Colwyn Bay won 3-1, and I have to be honest and say that they won’t ever have a victory as easy as that again. After only 40 minutes the commentator said “Mae Aberystwyth yn siomedig” – Aberystwyth are disappointing – and that was aun understatement.

One bright spark for Aberystwyth was that at half-time they brought on a left-back called Akeem Hinds. I hadn’t seen him before. He certainly livened up the team with some good interceptions and some beautiful crosses into the penalty area.

What with Colwyn Bay’s Nigerian forward Udoyen Akpan who has come to the club from Cyprus, here are two players on whom I shall be keeping a very close eye.

Mind you, I said the same about Okera Simmonds who played for Y Fflint last season, and he disappeared without trace. I must be the Kiss of Death.

Surprisingly, despite the short night there were tons of stuff on the dictaphone. I don’t know what was happening here but I was pulling nails and plastic skewers out of my foot. I took one out and it didn’t ‘arf hurt. I just wondered whether that was symbolic of the pains that I’m having in my feet or something at the moment.

The next thing was that the alarm went off so I trued to turn off the dictaphone and tried to turn off a couple of other things. I suddenly realised that it was the phone. I fell out of bed and crawled across the floor to turn off the phone. For some reason my brother wouldn’t leave the bed so the girl with me was wondering what on earth was the matter with him. Suddenly I looked at my watch and saw that it was 01:27. I’d awoken and actually dreamed of the alarm going off.

I was with my mother and brother. We pulled into Paris. We left the train and walked outside the station ready to walk across Paris to the next railway station. There were kids on bikes and scooters having fun in one of the squares. My mother said something like “we need to be careful around here because of all these kids” but they looked fairly harmless to me. For some eason we became separated. My mother and brother went off down one street and I went off down the other. I was sure that I was correct. This road took me to the top of a hill where I could see right over Paris. It looked miles away but the way my mother was going was even further away. I shouted for my mother but couldn’t hear anything so I carried on walking by myself in a field. I shouted again and this time she answered. The fence was quite high and I couldn’t climb it so I had to walk back to where the fence was low and then climb up a bank to go over the top. As I climbed up the bank the top kept falling down and I kept sliding down to the bottom again. This happened several times. In the end there was a vehicle, some kind of army lorry buried in the bank. Suddenly it gave a lurch and rolled over, throwing me onto the floor near where my mother and brother were . They said “quickly, grab that guy …” and mentioned someone’s name “… and he’ll take us”. But I couldn’t see who it was that she meant because I couldn’t see anyone around

I was with my friends from the weekend. We’d just left the train and gone walking. We came across a big bush that was on fire. We tried to stop the fire by stamping it but it burnt me. The fire gradually burnt itself out. All the climbing ivy over this object died so we scraped away some of the ivy and that was a job and a half of its own. We found a woman sitting there. Apparently she was with some kind of Social Services and had come to check up on us to make sure that we were all OK and not up to mischief. Of course we caught her like this.

When we finally did leave the house we ended up at the end of the drive and across the road into the chemist’s, nearly being knocked down by a big old Humber that stopped to let us through. I handed a form to the chemist and said “four dailies”. He said “this isn’t the correct form. Where’s the rest of it? It should be twice this size”. He showed me a full example of a form. The last thing I wanted was an argument so I took the form back and said “just give us four dailies”. She rattled off four dailies. One of my friends went to pay but it was £30 and something. That horrified him but I thought that this job of getting to the station to catch his train was just so complicated that we weren’t ever going to manage this at all at this rate. All we want is four tickets and it was turning into a right pantomime

I was in a butcher’s buying food for tea for about a dozen meals that I needed. He sat down with some huge piles of meat and began to give me things like brains of DH Lawrence etc. I wondered what on earth was going on because I was a vegan and he was giving me all these cuts of meat to eat for my tea

Anyway, I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow and I don’t feel at all like it. As I said, I’m not going to be doing this journey again. I just can’t.

Wednesday 13th September 2023 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

… I’m slipping back into my old routine again, as far as sleep goes right now. For the first time for several days I awoke in the middle of the night.

Not only that, I crashed out again in the middle of the afternoon for 20 minutes and it’s been a good few days since I’ve done that – apart, obviously, from when I’ve been exerting myself by going walkabout outside.

Regardless of all of that, I was still wide-awake before the alarm went off, just on the point of putting my feet down onto the floor.

However, it seems that I’ve been going one place backwards yet again. The sofa is quite low and for the first couple of days the only way that I could stand up is by going via a chair. After that, I was able to push myself up from that low position. But today, it was a real struggle.

After Alison had gone to work I spent all of the day sorting out stuff for the next series of radio programmes that will be broadcast in the second half of next year.

Importantly, there are two festivals that have caught my eye. One programme will be broadcast on the anniversary of the first Hawkfest and another one will be broadcast on the anniversary of the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival.

The Hawkfest one is going to be quite interesting.

There are half a dozen groups which, if my listeners and the radio station manager would stomach it, I would broadcast during an entire programme non-stop from start to finish. Hawkwind would be one of them. Unfortunately that’s not really appropriate.

Hidden away in my music collection is a whole pile of esoteric stuff relating to groups who have played at one or other Hawkfest so what I’m going to do is to recreate my own Radio Hawkfest for broadcast on the appropriate anniversary date. That’s one of the things that I’ve been doing today.

The Isle of Wight Festival is a much easier proposition. I’ve found a list of bands, a few set lists and all that kind of thing so a programme like that won’t be too difficult to assemble. Most importantly, I’ve been able to trace quite a few press reports and the like that give interesting facts about the performers and the music that I can add in as appropriate

It’s not easy though, doing all this audio-editing on the laptop. It’s not the most powerful of computers and that was one of the reasons why I bought the monster desktop version. But whatever I can do here, regardless of how long it takes me, means that I have less to do when I finally return home, even if it will be much quicker.

In between everything else I had another wash. Once more in the kitchen because I cant make it up the stairs. This time I remembered to close the blinds in the kitchen before I started so as not to surprise anyone who might be walking down the path of the house next door.

Alison had even found be a bucket so I could give my feet a good scrub. I can’t fit them in the sink and I’m not able to climb onto a chair.

Really? I ask you! What kind of state am I in these days?

There was a lot of stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’d had a huge row with my family, a really violent argument. In the end I stormed away, climbed into Caliburn and set out to drive away to the family home. I didn’t really want to go home because that was where they’d come looking for me. In the end I parked up somewhere in a field and sat and watched these vehicles driving down the track alongside the river suddenly come to the end and trying all to find ways to drop down into the field. There were things like these old Morris vans, a 3-wheeled version rather like Heinkel bubble-cars but enormous ones that were trying to drop down into this field with 1 or 2 overturning on the way. In the end I set out to walk into town from there. My brother bumped into me and insisted on following me about. While I was in one particular street there was a place advertising Bed and Breakfast. I thought that with it being a Sunday tomorrow I’d go in here and see. It meant climbing down a couple of weird flights of steps to reach the front door but the people came out. They seemed nice and friendly and charged me £30 per night which I thought was reasonable. My brother insisted on hanging around and I couldn’t get rid of him – he just wouldn’t leave me alone. I remember saying that¨£30 per night, I’ll remember this place if I have to come around in this kind of situation again.

And then I had a Ford Cortina that was causing me a few problems. I had it in the garage and was crawling underneath it. I could see that the exhaust was broken. I had to cut off the back box part to have a look to see what was happening. I cut it off and I could see the air filter inside the exhaust. Cecile came down and she was interested in what was happening. I showed her and she went to fetch a friend to show her the air filter. At that moment a girl whom I knew came in. She had a boy with her and they were talking so I thought that I’d go into the kitchen and wash my hands. My mother was in there. We were talking about washing my hands when the phone rang just once then stopped. She had a look and said that it’s Nigel Gregory ringing for your sister to apologise for last night. I said “she’s in the garage with some guy at the moment”. She replied “it won’t take long”. While I was washing everyone came in for tea. We were talking about the exhaust. I said that the exhaust for a 1.6 is cheaper than for a 2.0 so I suppose that we ought to have that, waiting for some kind of comment from Darren. He didn’t actually say anything at the time. Earlier on I’d been in some kind of woodworking class where there was a kind-of bench. I was trying to draw a circle on a piece of OSB with a set of compasses but it was much more complicated that I thought. The people next to me were borrowing my tools and putting them back so I didn’t object too much. They made a comment about my little socket set that I had. I said “just wait until you see the big one that I have in the car”. When I’d drawn my circle to some kind of satisfaction I took a G-clamp and went to clamp it to the bench but there was no threaded rod in it so I had to find another one then clamp it to the bench. I borrowed the wood saw off the guy in the bay next to mine and began to saw away at these marks that I’d made ready to cut the circle out of this OSB

Someone posted a photo of the National League South table pointing out “look how well Torquay were doing” but someone else commented that that was the National League South and it’s the National League here so that photo shouldn’t be posted, which led to some kind of heated debate

Tea tonight was pasta in a cheese and tomato sauce with vegetables and a couple of those delicious vegan sausages. They really were delicious too.

It’s Castle Anthrax tomorrow where they can check up on me and see what this last 4 months has done to me. So I’ll probably go to bed and hope for a good sleep on my comfy sofa. It’s an early start as Alison is dropping me off on her way to work. I’ll have to catch the bus home afterwards though.

It’ll be interesting to see how I’ve been doing after all this time without treatment for my cancer. That might be stable at the moment but the problem is that everything else is breaking down.

It’s for that reason that my trip to Paris will be interesting. Not so much that I’m expecting them to work miracles – it will just be nice to see them try. You never know what might happen.

Tuesday 1st August 2023 – I’VE HAD AN …

… early tea tonight.

There’s football on the radio (not, unfortunately, on the internet) tonight, the return leg of Swift Hesperange of Luxembourg v TNS and I don’t want to miss it.

But I’m surprised that I was awake enough to listen to it because, once again, I’ve been asleep for much of the day unfortunately. It was another one of those nights about which I promised not to speak.

When the alarm went off I was flat out yet again and struggle to get to my feet before the second alarm went off.

After the medication it took me a while to wake up, and another late coffee again today. And once I was back in the Land of the Living, whenever that might have been, I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was a whole night spent wandering around in the most bizarre kinds of places with all kinds of strange people. It went on for ever and ever and ever. I was in Canada at one point and all kinds of exciting places. The moment that I picked up the dictaphone everything completely evaporated. I remember nothing whatsoever except the fact of the huge variety of different things that I’d been doing but not exactly what I’d been doing.

And then we were at a football match. The opposition was taking a corner. A TNS defender yelled at everyone to leave the ball as it flew over. A Holywell player complained to all his team-mates about it. Everyone seemed to complain to everyone else about not intercepting this ball that flashed across the defence.

Later on at one point last night 3 or 4 of us were walking on the beach round by Parkgate, Neston, that area looking across to what was going on in Wales but we couldn’t see anything happening over there. Ironically, when I lived in Chester in the early 1970s I walked along the beach at Parkgate and Little Neston on several occasions

Someone posted a photo of a rare S-series Foden lorry with a showman’s body on the back of it, saying that he was going to part it out if anyone needed any spares. Someone took an injunction out in the Court against him doing that on the grounds that it was an extremely rare and historic vehicle and shouldn’t be broken up.

Finallt I’d been to school in Nantwich and met up with my mother and brother (I can’t keep them out of my dreams, can I?). We decided that we’d cycle home. We reached Shavington and went out on the old road towards the Hough. They’d been resurfacing it and there was a lot of loose gravel and stone etc. Cars were sliding everywhere. I made my way through to the other end to near Cobb’s Lane. When I turned round the other two weren’t behind me. I waited there but they didn’t show up. There was a huge car accident, cars and lorries etc sliding on the loose gravel, ending up on the wrong side of the road and shooting through the roundabout there. It was complete mayhem for a while. I was sitting there waiting thinking that if they have a problem they’ll phone me. The bus to Crewe turned up so I went to sit on the bus out of the rain – by now it was raining heavily. Still no-one showed up. Suddenly the bus started and set off. It went in a strange way that I’d travelled before in another dream at some point in the past, past a huge skyscraper-type building at the back of North Staffordshire that was some form of Bible college, past a historic church and a couple of castles. Everyone on this bus was asking the driver about these castles. He said that they’ll see 10 before the bus reaches the end of its run but they’s only counted 4 at this point. I was looking at my watch thinking that considering that I left at 17:00 for what would be a 15-minute run it will be 19:30 before I return home. I’m not going to want to take this trip more than once in my life. There’s still no phone call message from anyone to find out where they were for the last stretch of road that they hadn’t come to join me.

That road, incidentally, reminded me of the road alongside the Sioule from Menat towards St Gervais where Chateau Rocher is, and the road that runs at the back of Audley down towards Keele past where Heighley Castle used to be.

For the rest of the day, when I’ve been awake, I’ve been back in Canada with my trip around Labrador. Right now I’ve started to stumble across the Valard and Nalcor site operations.

All of that is extremely controversial. Having built the huge power station at Churchill Falls in the 50s and 60s and finding that they had no customers for the electricity, they sold the electricity to Québec Hydro for peanuts.

When Labrador developed in the 1980s the region had no other source of electricity to they had to buy their own electricity back from Québec at an extortionate price.

Since then, there has been a variety of projects to generate electricity, of which Muskrat Falls is the most controversial. Tribal areas have been devastated, hunting grounds destroyed, settlements flooded and electricity generated “somehow” ending up at St John’s, the Province’s capital in Newfoundland.

Add to all that the fact that cost and timescales have been dreadfully overrun, and even the conservative Canadian Broadcasting Corporation refers to “years of scandals related to Muskrat Falls”.

Financial and Project management in Newfoundland and Labrador is a history of calamity and disaster. It seems to me that no-one in the Government has the first clue about what they are trying to accomplish and end up lurching from one catastrophe to another.

Tea was a taco roll with rice and veg (and very nice it was too) and now that the football has had its disappointing end I’m going to bed.

Ready to fight another day, I don’t think. I may not be doing so well during the day but you’re certainly having your money’s worth during the night.

Monday 24th July 2024 – SO MUCH FOR …

… my plans for today.

Usually there are about 2 or 3 entries on the dictaphone most nights. If I’ve had a particularly restless night there might be as many as 5.

But if you want to know about the kind of night that I had last night, there were actually as many as 10 entries. TEN!

And between 02:18 and 03:50 there were seven of them recorded. That was some night.

On a few occasions too I actually stepped back into dreams where I’d left off. That’s no real surprise I suppose, with a night as mobile as that.

It took me quite an age to go off to sleep too, and then later on I was actually up and about before the alarm went off.

And so, as you can gather, I haven’t been in any kind of condition today to do anything. The only surprise was that I managed to keep awake until 15:30. But once I’d gone, I’d really gone.

However, back to this morning. After the medication I went and had a shower ready for the nurse. She came round later to inject me and then I came back in here and didn’t do very muct at all. It was a real struggle to keep awake and in the end I gave up trying.

later on I had a listen to the dictaphone and that took most of the rest of the day. I went into our kitchen. There was a strange cat in there. All the other cats and kittens were confronting this silver tabby which was doing its best to hide under a piece of cardboard. When I came in it tried to sneak out underneath the cardboard and through a pack of kittens that were trying to fight it. It made its way to the front door but couldn’t work out how to find its way out of the cat flap again so it was cowering in a corner. I couldn’t take a good shot at it because other kittens were around it. In the end I managed to corner it on its own. It hid behind a stuffed giraffe as a gun fighter would do if you tried to draw a gun on him. It looked so interesting and so intelligent this cat so I called my brother to come and see. By the time he arrived the cat had come out from behind the giraffe. I had the door open and was trying to usher it out with my feet. My brother thought that I won’t have many marks for kindness and politeness by doing that. I replied that it’s soon going to go out anyway. After a couple of attempts I managed to put my foot underneath its stomach and heave it out through the open door then close the front door behind it so it couldn’t re-enter. The thought then occurred to me that I hope that the kittens that went outside can work their way through the cat flap to find their way back in otherwise we’ll have problems with that too

TOTGA appeared last night, so hello to TOTGA. She had an audition for a modelling agency so someone was coming round to see her. I spent some time choreographing some dances and had been putting her through them. On the final morning that we were working through them there was so much that still needed to be done that while she was rehearsing I was buzzing around. Someone who was there watching suggested that I was distracting her and getting in her way. My response was first of all that we needed this information and secondly, when she’s taking her exam there will be people getting in her way then. She needs to work out her routine based on the movements of other people anyway. After this discussion I went into the storeroom to try to find something from one of her earlier sessions. She came in, still dancing, saying that she needed to find the heat treatment for a twinge in her muscle. We discussed where that might be, which box it was in. She had to find it but she needed to be quick because the person would b ehere in a minute.

Back on the subject of ballet again. This time I had a couple of groups of young toddlers and small children who were being put through their routines. They were extremely interesting, especially one who could barely walk and had one of her front teeth missing. She did a really nice dance. I told her how now it was but I was thinking that it’s such a shame that she couldn’t have waiting another half-hour for that performance because the examiner would have been here and he would have loved to have seen that dance.

I went straight back to sleep and immediately saw the housekeeper or cleaner of the hall where we dance looking totally aghast. I asked her what was the matter. She replied that she had seen the first ever seal killed by another seal. It was that that had upset her.

After that I stepped back into the previous dream again with my ballet class of toddlers. There was a police inspector who was there. For some unknown reason he was in a bad mood. I asked him whether it was because of the lack of preparation on his behalf that was causing the problem or whether there was something else we needed to know

I bet that you didn’t know that I was an ace at the ballet! But actually I had two younger sisters who needed taking to dance class on a Saturday afternoon and when my elder sister started a Saturday job I drew the short straw and I spent many an hour watching what was going on.

That’s why I used to go to watch Port Vale play football in the late 1960s. Our local team played on a Saturday afternoon so I couldn’t go, but the Vale always played on a Friday night. It was actually a good night out, walking back from Burslem to the railway station at Longport late at night, grabbing a bag of chips on the way.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, there was more trouble later about a kid who wanted someone here to cut off some material for him, a length of dark green and a length of red so that he could wrap them around himself to pretend that he was a school mascot. That way he’d stop being annoyed by these other people at the gate of the school

I was going into Crewe town centre for an interview for a job in a shop. I was having to change my employment because of my illness and needed something less stressful with less travel. I was chatting to a girl when the bus came in. She boarded it. I suddenly realised just as it was about to pull away that it was my bus too so I leapt aboard and just about managed to scramble onto the platform before it took off. I saw the girl so I waved to her. We came into Crewe town centre and I alighted. I thought that I’d go to my brother’s shop for a form for a CV and fill it in to hand in at this other place. It was just after midday so I wondered if he’d be at lunch. I went there and began to climb the steps into his front door

Then I had the first part of that dream again about having to prepare for this meeting or exam whatever it was, finding all my things etc before going out for the bus

I was also giving a lecture on brewing last night. I’d ordered some beer but it hadn’t come so I contacted the brewery. They launched one by catapult. It flew through the air, 8 miles high, this barrel of beer through the sky all the way and dropped to earth in my living room where there was a crowd of people. They denied having received this beer at first but I think that they were teasing me. In the end they gave me a glassful. It had a huge head on it of course. I tasted it and said that it was the most beautiful beer that I’ve ever tasted. I let 1 or 2 other people have a drink. Some girl asked me about the secrets of brewing. I explained that the real secret is in the water. The underlying soils are all on different rocks. The rainfall that percolates through the rocks picks up different minerals depending on the area where it is and what the rocks are. The water that they take to make the beer depends on the area from where it comes, different minerals in the water react in different ways with the yeast and barley and grain etc. That’s why beers are different, because of the minerals in the water. Some ares have really good water for brewing but others don’t. There’s different beers made with different kinds of water. I was impressed that I could give a lecture on brewing and breweries while I was asleep.

Finally, Caliburn and I were on our way back from Virlet to Brussels going the way that we used to go through the mountains. When we left one town heading north it seemed that all the traffic was being diverted over a rough tarmac path through a field. The old road was overgrown with weeds. There were no signs or anything so I carried on down the old road. After about 50 yard all the weeds etc had gone and it was the normal road again. I was travelling down there at a good rate of knots in a rainstorm. It suddenly occurred to me that this isn’t the town that I know where I was entering. There was a steep hill down into the town centre to a T junction where I had to turn left. As I was three quarters of the way down the hill a lorry began to reverse out of a parking space into the road in front of me. I blew the horn and the horn stuck. Eventually the lorry got the message and drove back in so that I could go past. There was a milk float on the corner that was reversing up the hill on my side of the road. He received a horn blast too because I couldn’t go past him because of the road junction. Eventually I had to get out and push the milk float out of the way. He got the message too and drove off the right way this time so that I could reach the bottom of this hill to turn left. There were hordes of people milling around here, so much traffic, the rainstorm. I didn’t recognise anything of this. I didn’t know where I was at all.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper which was really nice but for some reason or other I seem to have lost my appetite again

Anyway, that’s enough for this horrible day. I’m glad that it’s over. I’m going to bed and I’ll start again tomorrow – if I wake up. I really do feel as if I could sleep for a week with no problem whatsoever.

Saturday 22nd July 2023 – AS YOU MIGHT …

… expect, I’ve spent much of the afternoon asleep. Going to the shops this morning was, once again, far too much for me.

It might have helped if I’d had a decent night’s sleep but apart from going to bed later than I would have liked, I had to get up in the middle of the night for a reason that anyone of my age would tell you.

A few years ago that was quite a normal thing, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but I thought that I’d put it all behind me a long time ago.

When the alarm went off I was deep in the Arms of Morpheus and I had a struggle to leave my stinking pit before the second alarm.

But once I’d organised myself (which takes much longer these days than it ought) Caliburn and I headed out to the shops.

There was a parking space at the front of Noz so I could go there without a struggle. Mind you, I needn’t have bothered because there wasn’t anything interesting. I bought a couple more of those breadcrumbed quorn fillets and a couple more packets of digestives. I think that I have all of those now.

LeClerc didn’t come up with anything out of the ordinary. There was some falafel on offer, 350 grammes for €3:09 so I bought a box of those for the freezer seeing as the stocks are running down.

Back here I had my cheese on toast for brunch and then ended up yet again with another mug of very cold coffee after several hours flat out on the chair in the office.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. There were some people outside a courtroom who had some kind of tube with a candle in it. The idea was that as they took a brick out of the wall of this building and pushed this tube with a candle through the home they could somehow hear the proceedings of what was going on on the inside. They managed to remove the brick by putting 2 screws in it, twisting it round and pulling and then inserted the tube. It went into the room and was disguised by a window shutter on the inside that was folded back. There was me and someone else in there being tried for something or other. In all probability we were going to be found guilty. The penalty for this was death, which we knew very well Many people thought that we might just be transported but we were convinced that we were going to die. The one guy with me had some plans of his own and I also had some plans. I was going to have a way to sneak out of this prison one night before we would be moved away. I ended up at my friend’s in the Bourgogne on New Years Eve. He, his wife and I had a little party. He brought me a few items of food that he’d made himself and we were settling down to have a really nice evening. After everyone went to bed I took the opportunity to take his car and drive off and disappear, hopefully making good my escape.

Later on I had to go into work. As my brother was around I brought him with me. There was a group of us who were going. We reached the Place Madou. I explained to him that it was extremely complicated to manoeuvre around here and it’ll be even worse on the way back because of the one-way system against us. We crossed over the road and I had to look for the side street. Some of the people with me went off down the side street without any problem. For some reason I had a mental blank and couldn’t think where the side street was. I tried 3 or 4 back entries to shops etc. Suddenly I remembered where it was. I shouted at my brother to come but he was too busy looking himself. He wouldn’t come for a minute. In the end I started to go and he began to follow me. We bumped into our friends again who were waiting for us around the corner wondering what on earth had been the matter and what had been going on with us.

I was also on the radio last night. We’d been doing a series of programmes. One of them was about different pet foods. It turned out that the pet food we recommended was being run down. You couldn’t find it any more in the shops. I went to a grocer’s to try to find it. There was also something to do with someone asking why were we advertising events so far away when we don’t tell anyone anything about things in the area. I answered that that’s because people in the area don’t tell us about their events. Someone asked about a special offer for soup that was available at the local supermarket. I was in the supermarket at the time so we had a look around and found the offer but it had expired 2 years ago. There was a woman working in the supermarket who worked for the radio who I asked to do something. I gave her the information to collate but she was just sitting there at her desk not doing anything. She told me that she was waiting for bits and pieces but I couldn’t understand that because she didn’t actually need anything. I’d given her everything that she needed and I was beginning to become extremely frustrated by all of this

Rosemary rang me up too and we had another one of our mega-chats. It’s been a while since we have had a good chat. It’s quite funny really. We can talk for hours on the telephone but we don’t actually say all that much.

There wasn’t much time to spend on my trip to Canada. I managed to write some stuff but once more I was side-tracked. In 1848 Bishop Feild (and that’s not a spelling mistake) of St John’s in Newfoundland decided to go to visit the coasts of Labrador.

There’s no record that I can find of a priest having visited there before and it was really only about 20 years or so after the first settlers had made their home there. He kept a diary of his visit, which is really probably the earliest erudite account of “liveyer” or settler life out on the Labrador coast, and I managed to track down a copy of it.

Consequently I’ve been immersed in its pages. It’s full of all kinds of interesting anecdotes, including reports of the first marriage ceremonies carried out on the Labrador coast.

“Nine couples were married, and one couple rejected, because the man, as it appeared, had lived with another woman, whom he had deserted, or turned off… He is an Englishman from Devonshire—no credit, I fear, to his country or Church.”.

Tea was one of the breaded quorn fillets with chips and salad, delicious as ever and properly cooked too.

So seeing as I’m exhausted I’m going to dictate the radio notes now that it’s quiet, and I’ll sleep until I awaken. There’s nothing to do tomorrow so if necessary I can even catch up with my beauty sleep. And having looked in the mirror just recently, I certainly need it.