Tag Archives: early start

Tuesday 3rd October 2023 – AND ONCE AGAIN …

… I’m up and about before the alarm goes off.

Nothing like as dramatic as Monday. In fact, I only beat the alarm by a handful of minutes, but beat it I did all the same. I don’t know what’s going on right now.

After I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. I was actually dreaming about mobility scooters etc during the night which would be good and which would not, what type should I buy etc.

Later on I was on an expedition to the Far North and came across a camp of reasonably-modern explorers that had been abandoned. There was a load of stuff lying around, including all kinds of artefacts that had been discovered and labelled, and things like entrails of different types of seal going back hundreds of years and “the presence of (something) ruled out the presence of (something else)”. Some of the people with me found a couple of photographs of a girl but they were quite busy looking at that and making comments. I was quite busy looking at the collection of books, finding that there were several books in this collection that I actually owned. There was plenty of snow about and it was fairly cold but there didn’t seem to be any reason why this camp should have been abandoned in this way and what happened to the people who were camping here. We hadn’t met anyone on our travels around.

I was back in the High Arctic later. I’d been away for 3 weeks there and I’d still worn the same tee-shirt every day for all that time. I was going through the notes of the expedition that I’d found because I’d heard a story that my journalist friend from Pittsburgh had been part of the expedition and had made some discoveries so I looked through the notes for her name. Of course it wasn’t there that I could see and in any case it probably would have been in her maiden name anyway.

Having done that, I transcribed a few entries from the backlog of stuff from last autumn. There are now just 7 days left to transcribe but some of them are quite long files so it’s not going to be as quick as I would expect.

Once today’s lot was out of the way I sat down and prepared for my Welsh lesson. And then armed with my coffee and fruit bun, I connected up to the lesson.

The camera works really well. I’m impressed with the quality of the video, much better than that cheap throwaway camera that I found in a cheap shop, and the microphone is excellent too. Although it’s a comparatively cheap camera, it’s a reputable make and that probably makes a difference.

The lesson passed quite well, which was a surprise. I actually enjoyed it and that’s not something that happens every week.

Once I’d eaten my lunchtime fruit I spent the afternoon doing some radio stuff. I’ve chosen a whole pile of music for a few programmes in advance, and shuffled a few things around.

When I’ve finished the notes for the ones that I’ve prepared, I’ll be over 6 months in advance again and I want to keep on going like this. When the inevitable happens, I want to make sure that things go on (and on, and on).

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the leftover stuffing from last night, accompanied by rice and vegetables. It was really nice, just as all my meals seem to be.

So now I’m going to have another go at nipping out for the last of the stuff in Caliburn. I didn’t feel up to it last night.

Tomorrow, the cleaner is coming round again, and I want to have a good chat with her.

The idea of going to do a big shop at LeClerc is now on hold until I’ve sorted out how I’m going to sort out my transport arrangements. Consequently, I’m going to ask her if she’d go once every fortnight for me and do my shopping on my behalf.

It is of course possible to order my food on line but they don’t have all of the things that I buy, and whatever they do have is quite expensive. If I’m going to pay someone, I may as well pay someone who will do what I want rather than what they want.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 1st October 2023 – HAVING SAID YESTERDAY …

… that I am no longer going to drive, it took me just about 20 minutes to break my promise.

After I’d finished my notes last night I decided to go to bed so I went to put my phone on charge.

However, I wasn’t able to find it. It certainly wasn’t in the apartment. I imagined that it had fallen out of my pocket into Caliburn during my gymnastics on the car park at LeClerc so I staggered out to Caliburn to see.

Sure enough, I found it on the driver’s seat. What I also found was that my little parking space just outside the building was now free so I took advantage of the opportunity and moved Caliburn accordingly.

And the moving wasn’t half painful, but not half as painful as the climb back up the stairs to my apartment – especially as I had taken advantage of the situation by bringing some more stuff up here in my backpack.

As a result of all of these manoeuvres, it was 03:00 or thereabouts when I went to bed.

What was so surprising about all of this is that by 09:00 I was actually up and about. And I can’t usually manage that on a Sunday morning when I’ve been to bed before midnight on the Saturday

So once I was up and about I eased myself gently into the day.

It doesn’t sound as if I’ve done much but I’ve not been totally idle. First task was to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. At the hospital there was some kind of monster than got inside me and was attacking all my blood. I could feel that this was reaching a crisis. Suddenly one of my blood vessels burst. It sprayed the hospital with blood everywhere. At first no-one was in a rush to do anything about it because it was happening to several patients. In the end they managed to staunch the bleeding in my leg. Gradually it subsided and the panic died down but for those few moments it was really a horrifying experience.

And then I’d been invited to someone’s party so I’d been put on the train to go to the stop where I’d have to alight and some people would welcome me. It was dark so no-one knew exactly where we were. We pulled in for a long time and alighted. A scout suddenly came over to speak to me and confirmed what was actually said. But then I slipped back into where I’d been earlier. When I was at the station waiting for the people to come for me the room erupted like a volcano. There was blood etc everywhere. They had these two nurses looking after me trying to staunch the flow of blood. In the end the bleeding closed down and the help slipped away but for that minute or so everything felt like death. It was absolutely horrifying.

Finally I was on a Paris railway station and all of my strength was just ebbing away. I didn’t know how or when I was going to be able to proceed. I was just standing there waiting for something to happen

All of that is of course extremely topical – it’s a pretty good description of what’s going on with me right now. And I actually can feel my strength ebbing away. There’s no doubt that driving and climbing the stairs is much more difficult than it was even a week ago, and strange as it is to say it, I’m actually struggling to find the force to rise up from the saddle of the porcelain horse.

While I was at it, I transcribed a few more days’ worth of arrears from when I was in hospital last Autumn.

Something else that I did was to sort through a pile of paperwork. I have the nurse coming round tomorrow morning but he’s not going to inject me. I’ve had a letter from the hospital telling me to pause the injections for now. But I’ve been sent a voucher to have a flu injection and a Covid injection and I need the nurse to carry it out.

As well as that, I’ve received from the hospital a “prescription” relating to my lack of mobility and I need to know what to do with it. I’m sure that I’ll have much better advice from the nurse than I would if I were to ask you lot.

As well as sorting out the paperwork I’ve had something of a correspondence day today. Several people sent me best wishes for my stay in hospital, to which I’m extremely grateful. However, if you are writing to me using Gmail, I can’t reply to you. Google wants me to insert a few lines of its code into my server and if anyone thinks that I’m going to be putting someone else’s code on my server if they aren’t prepared to tell me why and what it does is totally mistaken.

There’s tons of music that needs editing too – various soundtracks that need cutting up and editing so I’ve been doing a few of those too during the day.

Finally, I went through the notes that I’d recorded for a radio programme last weekend. All this – and the one I edited last weekend – needs now is a final track and the words to go with it and I can finish them of and then start on the next batch.

Tea tonight was another delicious pizza and I’ll just nip downstairs to bring up another few bits and pieces from my Saturday shop before I do to bed. A good shower tomorrow morning, the visit on the nurse, and then I’ll have plenty of things to do.

But will I feel like doing them? I just can’t find any enthusiasm right now for anything.

Friday 29th September 2023 – DESPITE ALL OF …

… my exertions yesterday, I was actually up and about before the alarm went off, and no-one was more surprised than me.

So having had my medication I had a very slow start to the day before wandering outside at 09:00 for the bus. And there’s no doubt whatsoever that it’s becoming more and more difficult.

Climbing aboard was one thing – getting off was another. But I managed not to fall over and had a very slow stagger to the supermarket.

They had a few things of interest in there that I bought and another customer helped me at the checkout and packed my backpack for me. Yes – things have really deteriorated to that extent.

Climbing back onto the bus was quite an effort. They haven’t extended the pavement out to the road where the bus stops so I have to climb in from street level and that’s not so easy at all.

The climb back up the stairs was agony and I was glad to make it back to my apartment. I put everything away and then made myself some coffee and cheese on toast for breakfast.

First thing to do was to check the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was something to do with a local cricket club. They hadn’t had their ground mowed so while they had a pause in games they’d spoken to a couple of people. As I was walking out of town one day I bumped into one of the people heading that way with all his equipment. He said that he was going to be mowing the grass. It was a hot, heavy day and he said that he wasn’t looking forward to having to do it but they’d paid him £400 so he was going to give it his best shot. I walked further on and ended up by the Sugar Loaf Corner in Shavington. I saw the lad talking to a few people who knew the guy who had gone to mow the cricket field. he was sitting in a great big sit-on mower with very extending blades. He was saying that he’d just earned¨£1500 for doing nothing but he supposed that he’d better go and see what was happening so headed off on his mower up the hill towards the cricket ground.

Later on I was with Cecile. We were having a really nice domestic arrangement going. I’d been working on the radio and had invited a couple of people for interview. I’d turned up at the rendezvous but they hadn’t so in the end I came home. Tea wasn’t ready yet but there was a box of cornflakes lying around for quite some considerable time. She asked me if I’d try them. I did and told her that they were very nice. There was nothing wrong with them so she said “put them in with the other cornflakes”. I went to put the waxed bag inside the box of cornflakes but I noticed that she’d already poured milk in there. I said “that’s probably not a good idea to put the milk in the cornflakes. Then we were discussing food and recipes, shepherd’s pies etc when the question of the radio came up. It turned out that I hadn’t sent off a radio programme to one of my contacts for at least 3 weeks. She wondered how they were getting on. I explained that they really don’t form part of our circle any more. She said that we’d end up regretting it because they paid us some money. We could do with the money because there was some good stuff in the Charity Shop. She ran through a few of the things. There was a perfume that she mentioned . I said “that’s funny because it’s an expensive cream”. She replied “yes, we need to come back so we can buy it and I’ll see what else is there for you too. I reminded her that there’s no point going there unless you have things to sell them. She said “well, never mind. We’ll have to work out something on the way down. She asked me to look at her skin and how wonderful it was since she’d baan taking products and creams like this ointment and it did actually look quite nice.

Did I dictate the dream about the guy who came with a whole pile of second-hand cars? … "no you didn’t" – ed. By “old”, I DO mean “old” like Morris Minors etc. He parked them in the street in our village and put price tags in the window. The problem was that this was right outside my barn. I shouted out of my window at him but he took no notice. Someone let loose the sluice dam. It flooded the area where his cars were parked and completely flooded his cars. After the flood had subsided I went downstairs. I had a look at his vehicles. They were all wrecks, just having been tarted up quickly. I told him that he needed to move them because they were blocking my garage. He said that I could manoeuvre around his cars. I said that I had a lorry that tows a cement mixer and I’m not manoeuvring around for anyone. This is my way out of my garage. Reluctantly he moved all of his cars to the side of the road

There was then something about the school bus. I had to run to catch it. Someone was already sitting in my seat so I had to sit somewhere else. The bus driver asked me where I was yesterday. I replied that I was sure that I was still in school. She asked “are you really sure?”. I replied “yes. I remember distinctly having to do my homework last night”. As I walked down the bus I remembered that I wasn’t at school at all. I was doing something else. So In the morning I didn’t go into school until the afternoon. I sat down but there was a dispute about seats on the bus. In the end the children from one particular school all had to alight, line up and were allowed back on in order of seniority. I thought that this was probably the strangest thing that I’d ever witnessed about a school bus but I didn’t say anything – I just let them get on with it.

Finally I was round at a former friend’s last night. Zero was there and she brought me some kind of card where you put stickers on. I asked her why and she said that I had to put stickers on it. It turned out that as of whenever you were only allowed one card per family or per person. They used a lot of this particular product so they always had plenty of stickers. They wanted to do one in my name. It made no difference to me so I agreed, especially as it was Zero who asked. It turned out that they were about to go on holiday. There were going to somewhere in Canada but they said that all the flights had been changed and muddled up. They began to talk about small towns whose names I didn’t recognise. In the end it turned out that they would have to fly to Boston (which I called Bangor in the dream) and then take an aeroplane to fly north. I jokingly asked Zero if there was any room in her suitcase for me. She laughed and said “no”. We all piled into my former friend’s ancient Land Rover ready to go to the airport. Jerry turned up. My friend said “I have another vehicle to show you”, hopped out and the two wandered off. It turned out that he had not only another Land Rover but also some really old lorry of some description and had taken him to see that.

It was nice to see Zero again after such a long time, but regardless of that there was quite a lot going on last night and I’m surprised that I had time to go to sleep.

As well as that I’ve been making a few phone calls. According to the hospital I qualify for help from the APA – The Allocation Personnalisée d’Autonomie.

That’s an official branch of the French Social Services Department and it’s crated to provide help and support for pensioners to enable them to remain autonomous at home rather than be carted off into an Old People’s Home. Such are the depths to which I’ve sunk this last 12 months or so.

As you might expect, I’ve no intention of being carried off to live amongst a bunch of old fogeys any time soon. I love my little apartment – it’s the first place in which I’ve lived in which I’ve ever felt at home – and I’m not going to move out of this building for any reason whatsoever.

Tea tonight was chips – sweet potato chips as well as ordinary ones – vegan salad and some of those nugget things that I bought ages ago. It was all really nice and I really like my meals these days. I seem to be doing quite well with my cooking.

So having done that, I’m off to bed. I’m shopping tomorrow at the big supermarket although I’m not looking forward to it – staggering around the supermarket and driving there and back.

And then there’s the stagger up the stairs with my shopping trolley. I don’t like the idea of that at all.

Thursday 28th September 2023 – AS BARRY HAY …

… once famously said – "there’s one thing that I gotta tell you, and that it’s good to be back home".

And no-one was more relieved than me when I collapsed into my chair here with my mug of hot chocolate at 18:15 this evening.

It had been a very long day. I’d had a bad night and was actually up and about by 06:40.

After breakfast I had a shower to prepare myself for my departure at 11:00, packed everything away and made myself ready.

While I was waiting, I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was in a railway station. There were two guys there with two ancient locomotives, a diesel shunter and a small diesel main line unit who had volunteered to come and help me at the stations When they arrived they parked up their locomotives, stepped out and walked down to meet me. They were immediately intercepted by some kind of Security who were unhappy for some reason and made them climb into their machines and drive away. At that point the SNCF service came along and offered to help me. I let them help me, and they asked some kind of questions , one of which was something like “what was I going to do for food at midday?”. I replied “I’d had a couple of people who had come to help me and they had probably brought something for me but you chased them away before they could even manage to talk to me so I don’t know now”. That rather upset them but I thought that it was correct to be true and honest with them.

After that I can’t remember who I was with now but the person was either male or female, I don’t know, had been engaged to make a cake for someone. The woman involved had come to see her to order a simple cake. They were there discussing styles and ideals etc. In the end the two of us and the woman and her friend, an elderly woman, rather plump, went for a walk and discussed it. We passed a lorry with a lorry-load of turf that was going to re-turf someone’s garden. I remember that I’d seen them when I was there last week ripping up the old turf so it must be the day for them. Our walk continued. The woman then said that she was going to have to try to find someone to make a quick cake for her because she had someone coming tomorrow. I said “what about an oil-based cake?”. She didn’t understand so I explained that it’s simply flour and sugar, oil and flavouring all mixed together. You pour it into a mould and then cook it. What I do with mine is to take it out, cut it in half, coat both halves with jam, stick it together and ice it. It’s really quite simple. Her friend, the old woman, looked at me and said “tell me, Eric, are you married?”. I replied “no I’m not actually” and her eyes lit up. I thought “I’m going to have a couple of problems here”. We ended up at a railway station and I’m not quite sure why or what we were going to do now that we’ve arrived.

And I’m impressed that I could remember a cookery recipe during a dream.

Finally I was with Nerina again. We’d been to see some friends in England. We were on our way back to the ferry. The girl whom we’d visited took us on a nice scenic route through the countryside then along the sea front all the way towards Dover and the ferry terminal. We were having a nice, interesting chat. At one moment Nerina tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to something huge in the bay. She asked “is that the American carrier?” because I’d heard a story that an American aircraft carrier was in the English Channel. I looked and sure enough, it was. I went to find my camera but I didn’t have it. I’d left it at my friend’s. I went to find my little Nokia phone but I couldn’t find that either. I realised that I hadn’t had that since I’d set the alarm the night before. I told her and she gave a great big sigh and said that we’d have to go home but you’ll miss your ferry. She was going on about inefficient people etc. I said “it’s not the first time that it’s happened to me. She dismissed it with some kind of shrug of the shoulders. Later on we were leaving Dover in the Jetfoil. It was moored in some kind of underground dock so when we boarded we couldn’t see very much. We boarded and they must have opened the gates at some time because suddenly the ship began to rock quite violently. It was reversed out to the Channel and shot off at a ridiculous speed across to arrive from: Dover in an hour’s time. It was really quite uncomfortable, the Jetfoil.

Just as I was about to depart I was pounced upon by a group of students who wanted to examine me, and then a series of blood pressure tests and so on, followed by a wait for the documents that I need. It was 12:45 when we finally left, with my neighbour having had to hang on for all that time.

There was no time to go for lunch but I’d grabbed a few bits off the lunch trolley so It wasn’t so bad. My neighbour helped me to my seat and then the train set off.

At Granville there were no taxis free so I took the bus into town and staggered down to the port for the bus to my place. But one of my neighbours came past in her car and gave me a lift, which was really nice.

She helped me up the stairs by carrying my backpack, and then I made myself a hot chocolate and came in here where I crashed out.

Later on I had a bizarre tea. For some strange reason I’d fancied ratatouille so I put a large potato in the oven, found a vegan burger and I actually did have a tin of ratatouille in the kitchen.

So now that everything is done, and the notes for the last few days are now on line, I’m going to bed to sleep for a week and not awaken.

But I bet that you’re dying to know about what has happened at the hospital.

They’ve found no major trace of the cancer in my nervous system, but there’s a slight swelling in several glands that might be a result of an infection. They are proposing a second series of transfusions which apparently may be dona at home, and then a return to the hospital in a month to see what’s happening.

At least, even if they can’t find the solution, they are quite prepared to keep on trying, and that’s always good news. We’ll have to see now how things unfold. But look out Paris! Here I’ll be coming again.

Monday 25th September 2023 – HERE I ALL AM …

… not actually sitting in a rainbow but sitting by my bed in the Hôpital Pitié-Salpetrière in south-east central Paris.

My room is quite basic and not as luxurious as the rooms in Castle Anthrax but I’m on my own and, to my delight, there’s a shower in my private bathroom. The place is quite cold though and I’m going to go to bed in a moment in an effort to keep warm.

The alarm was set this morning for 04:30 and it will probably surprise you (because it surprised me!) that by that time I was already up and about making my sandwiches.

Last night I’d gone to bed quite early and was asleep quite quickly. However I awoke shortly later in some kind of panic thinking that I was on my way to Paris and I’d forgotten my computer. And as a result I couldn’t go back to sleep.

But sleep I must have done because there was some stuff on the dictaphone, as I discovered later. I was in my old caravan in Virlet. Liz had gone into the house for something and 2 children were sitting inside the house playing while I was making tea. I’d had some water in a solar oven in a window. It was really hot so I was going to put it on top of the telephone to bring it to the boil. I was having a root around in the cupboards underneath and came across a few packs of pasta, biscuits etc. Although they looked in good condition I wasn’t sure how long they had been there. I decided that I’d ask Liz when she came down about whether she thought that they could still be used. In the meantime she was busy talking to the children and singing with them while she was doing whatever it was. It looked as if she wouldn’t be here for quite some time yet and everything was coming to a head with the cooking

In connection with the previous dream I dreamt that I was running late. I dreamed that I was halfway to Paris before I began to worry about what would happen when I arrived at Montparnasse with all of my stuff etc and find that I’ve missed my train or something like that.

Having collected everything and sorted myself out I was downstairs stroking a wandering tomcat, busy patrolling his territory, at 05:10.

The taxi turned up a few minutes later and a rather chatty driver took me to the station. The coffee machine wasn’t switched on but my train was in so I staggered down the platform to find my seat aboard.

It didn’t take me long to update this computer and then I was able to settle down comfortably amongst the hordes of early-morning commuters on board, and when I moved seat to let someone sit down next to me I noticed that my water bottle had leaked all down my side.

We were on time arriving at Montparnasse and my neighbour was waiting to meet me, which was really nice. An SNCF assistant turned up with a wheelchair too and I was pushed along to the taxi rank where I was ushered into a VW Caddy taxi, which was actually quite comfortable.

The driver took us on a mystery tour, chatting and waving his arms about as he drove – probably the funniest drive that I’ve ever had – and then we had to negotiate the hospital.

It’s not like modern hospital at all. They are modern skyscrapers built on a small footprint with many floors. This is a very large, sprawling site with dozens of individual buildings. The earliest date from the 17th Century and are nearest the road. The further back you go, the more modern the buildings are until you reach the newest ones at the back.

The whole site is extremely confusing, and there’s an internal bus service to ferry people around and a fleet of electric vehicles equipped to carry wheelchairs and their passengers to their various examinations.

It didn’t take long to install me and after my neighbour left for whatever it was that she was in Paris to do, I had a relentless stream of visitors asking me a whole pile of questions and giving me all kinds of tests.

One of the visitors was the dietician and they have sorted out a meal plan for me. The food is typical Institution food that reminds me of what we used to eat at school back in the 1960s and when we used to say “Grace” before we ate – “Oh Lord, for what we are about to receive, the pigs have just refused”.

Still, in a hospital, controlled by a dietician, it’s probably a balanced diet and quite nutritious. I’m not convinced about giving me a plate of baked beans when I’m due to have a pile of doctors poking and prodding me.

At one point I was whizzed off in one of these electric vehicles to a laboratory where I was run through one of these Stargate time tunnels, and then had to wait an age to be picked up and taken back here.

A specialist has seen me and examined me, I’ve had an evening meal (of sorts) and that seems to be that. So although it’s early, I’m off to bed. I’ve crashed out on several occasions today which is no surprise with a bad night and a ridiculously early start. It won’t be long before I’m asleep and then I’ll see what tomorrow brings. At least they seem to be interested in me here, which is always a good sign.

Tuesday 19th September 2023 – A DECISION HAS …

…been made about my state of health. And considering that I only sent in the documentation on 24th July and was told that there’s a 4-month waiting list, that was extremely rapid, to say the least.

But to cut a long story short … “thank heavens” – ed … it has been decided that I have a Class II disability, which means that I am classed as between 50% and 80% disabled, with issues that impact my daily and social life.

As a result, I’m classed as a priority case, and shall (when they have been printed) receive a card to that effect and a disabled person’s parking permit.

Not that the parking permit will do me much good because if my mobility deteriorates any more, I shan’t be driving any more – and I won’t even be going out at all.

So all of this will give me something to think about when I’m in bed tonight.

There wasn’t much time to spend thinking last night because I was extremely late going to bed. I just couldn’t summon up the energy to retire.

As well as that, I was actually awake before the alarm went off and when it finally did start to ring I was sitting on the edge of the bed with some of my clothes already on.

After the medication I checked my mails and messages, dealt with a few bits of correspondence and then revised for my Welsh lesson. That passed off quite well today, much to my surprise.

When the lesson finished I had some fruit and then buckled down to work. I’ve booked my train for Paris on Monday, booked some assistance at the Gare Montparnasse (which I can now do, seeing as I have a certificate of entitlement while I await my card) and then booked a taxi to take me to the station –

As it happens, I’m not looking forward to the trip to Paris. My train is at 05:55 so the taxi is coming for me at 05:15 which means that I need to be up and about at … errr … 04:30. That is just crazy but it can’t be helped. I have to be at the hospital at 11:00 and unless I want to stay the night, there is just no other solution.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too, despite the short night that I’d had. 2 small boys went to the hospital in Athens – their parents had sent them there because maybe they were British and it was the English School there. Something had happened to one of the parents of one of these children and the children had to come back by bus which was a bit of an alarming trip for someone who had never done it before, especially in those kinds of circumstances.

There was something else about someone being involved in a kind-of internet game. There was a trap set in it that harvested everyone’s details off their computer, where they were etc, but I can’t remember very much about this at all

While I was at it, I transcribed a couple of days’ worth of notes from when I was at Alison’s. There’s still plenty to go at there but I’ll keep on plugging away at it ready for the next lot.

Tea tonight was a taco roll – quite delicious too with the stuffing. And I found something interesting today – which I should have known because I’ve used this technique before.

While the stuffing was still warm I put it in the glass storage container and put it straight into the fridge. And so the container sealed up with a perfect vacuum which was quite impressive.

With a few minutes that was left later on I went through and sorted out some more music, labelling stuff and disposing of duplicates. I’m slowly fighting my way through it all and one day I might actually be finished some day.

But now I’m off to bed. I’m going to be working on the radio stuff tomorrow and prepare a couple of programmes ready for the future. High time I got myself into gear and actually accomplished something. No-one else will do it if I won’t.

Saturday 16th September 2023 – I UPLOADED …

… all of the soundfiles from the dictaphone onto the computer this afternoon. You wouldn’t believe how many there are either that accumulated while I was away. I must have had a few really lively, mobile nights.

It’s going to take an age to transcribe them and there are also quite a few from when I was in hospital from last Autumn that I have yet to transcribe. I suppose that that will make a nice task for me when I’m away in hospital.

Strangely enough, there was only one soundfile from last night. And even more surprisingly, you don’t really want to know about it either, especially if you are eating your tea right now.

But there’s only the one because I had another bad night. Despite all of my efforts during the day I wasn’t in the least bit tired. It was long after 01:00 when I went to bed and I wasn’t in the least bit tired.

It took an absolute age to go to sleep and I was actually awake again at 06:30. I’d changed the alarm to 08:00 following my late night but I was already up and about by then.

The drive to the shops was a horror. My left leg is now giving out and I had some trouble even making it to Caliburn with one crutch and my shopping trolley. And then I had a great deal of difficulty climbing into the cab.

Trying to work the brake was difficult too so it was quite a slow drive to the supermarket. Unless they can work miracles at the hospital and at this physiotherapy place, I can see that it won’t be long before I have to abandon the idea of driving.

For obvious reasons, I didn’t go to Noz. I didn’t feel as if I could manoeuvre around on the car park and then walk around the shop with just one crutch. Instead, I went straight to Leclerc.

Being early, I was lucky enough to find a reasonable parking place. Even so, it was a desperate stagger around the supermarket leaning on a shopping trolley.

There wasn’t anything special on offer today but one or two things in the clearance bin were interesting, like vegan margarine and a pack of hamburger buns.

Another slow drive back home and I couldn’t manage my shopping trolley. I had to leave a few things in Caliburn to pick up another time. And someone going past from the other entrance to the building helped me by carrying my shopping trolley upstairs for me, which was very nice.

Having put everything away I made my coffee and cheese on toast, and then came in here where I crashed out for almost two hours. I suppose that it was the tiredness of the last few days and the effects of going to the shops this morning.

At Leclerc I’d bought 2kg of carrots because they were on offer. I cleaned them, diced them and blanched them. Later on I put them in the freezer – at least, as much as I could because the freezer is full to capacity. One of the two bags of carrots has gone into the ice-box in the fridge until I can make some space.

Tea tonight was strange. I found that I’d forgotten to buy a lettuce so in the end I made a potato salad. That would have been nice had I remembered to buy the salad dressing. Instead I had to make a vinaigrette dressing with olive oil, wine vinegar and herbs.

Now that everything is done, I’m off to bed. I’ve no intention of leaving my bed early tomorrow. I have a lot of sleep that I need to catch up and so I hope that I’ll have a comfortable, relaxing night back in my own bed.

After what has gone on over the last couple of days, I reckon that I’ve earned it.

Wednesday 30th August 2023 – AS SEEMS TO BE …

… usual these days when I have to go somewhere important, I was actually awake and up and about (in principle, at least) when the alarm went off at 07:00

That was despite having gone on several travels during the night. There was something about trying to download the course book for my next lot of Welsh lessons and then trying to find and download a mannequin and various poses for when we’ll be taking off a Welsh lesson but I can’t remember too much at all about this and I fell back to sleep afterwards.

And then I was with Rosemary. We’d been staying for a weekend with a couple whom we’d met somewhere who had 2 children, a young girl and a young boy. They were in the middle of rebuilding a house so I went up on the scaffolding to have a good look around. He didn’t really understand what he was supposed to be doing so I gave him a few tips from my experience and we actually did some work together. I told him of a few things that he needed to buy, one or two tips about sanding down the wood and filling gaps etc. He was very impressed. Sooner or later it became time to go so we had to climb down and say goodbye. For some reason this was a really heart-breaking moment. I remember saying to this woman and guy that I wanted to stay. Rosemary said that it’s not quite possible and we’d have to go which was certainly true but for some reason I was truly heartbroken about having to leave. That was what was most disturbing – not so much the dream about having to leave but how I was actually feeling about leaving

Finally I had to take the young girl to the station because she was going to Boarding School. When she’d been before, she’d been taken as far as the barrier and sent through on her own to look for her own school party. She was saying that that was really difficult so she asked me if I’d come through the barrier with her down onto the platform and help her find her group of people. I didn’t see any reason why not so I said that I would. She was talking about being sent away to school, basically to give her mother some free time which I knew but I had somehow to explain to the girl that it was so that she would learn a whole variety of different things that she’d never learn at home, how it would be a big experience for her and how much of a better person she’d be because of it, although I wasn’t convinced myself. On the way to the station we walked down the street past the University Library. She made some comment about how a pile of books had been arranged in a Y shape but we were talking about the library saying how untidy it was. I said that I was surprised that the librarians would let a University Library fall into this state. I was really enjoying my conversation with this little girl. again, it was another thing that I was going to be really sad when it was all over and she’d gone.

First thing was to dive into the shower and clean myself up ready to be poked and probed by a doctor, and then, having grabbed by backpack and crutches, Caliburn and I headed off to the railway station.

Luckily there was a parking space available outside the station so we managed to tuck ourselves in without having to walk miles.

The train was already in the station and, to my surprise, the coffee machine which has been out of order since Covid struck is now working so I could fuel up with a coffee in peace and comfort. I can’t carry a mug while I’m walking as I don’t have my hands free, so I had to drink it leaning up against the wall.

For a change, I was lucky with the train. The earlier train that had set out before this one had encountered a fallen tree across the line but the issue had been resolved by the time that we set out and we arrived in Paris on time.

Being limited to what I could bring with me, I didn’t have the computer but I did have a book.

Ages ago I’d bought a copy of Dashiell Hammett’s famous novel THE MALTESE FALCON but I’d never had the opportunity to read it so I brought it along.

Much as I like THE FILM which is one of my favourites and I can watch time after time, the book goes into the story in much more detail and answers several questions that were left unanswered in the film. Some of the action is quite different too and makes much more sense.

We pulled into the station on time for a change but I had to wait a while for my lift to arrive and then they drove me to the hospital, flashing blue lights through red traffic lights, the whole works.

At the hospital I had to wait around for some time but eventually I was dragged into a room where they gave me the works. It was another one of these electrical shock things that really hurts and I really hate, and it was much more thorough than the ones that I’d had before. It took much longer too.

The doctor spent some time examining the results and then we had a chat. He tells me that there are two reasons why I might be suffering. One is that my underlying illness might be eating its way into my nervous system, or else I might have a serious infection.

However, everything that everyone has seen in all of the examinations that I’ve had, the lumbar puncture included, don’t show any of the classic symptoms that they would expect to see in either of the two situations.

The net result of this is that at the moment they are puzzled. However "we can’t leave things alone and leave you like this".

What they are proposing is that I "would probably benefit from a stay here for a few days while we undergo some more exhaustive tests".

They’ve taken all of the details about the hospital in Leuven too in order to contact them about my case and compare notes.

And so we’ll have to see how the future unfolds, but at least I haven’t been abandoned to face my destiny on my own, and that’s a good thing to know.

There’s a café outside the building where I was being examined so I went and had a coffee before I was picked up again and taken back to the station. Here, to my dismay I found that my train would be departing from Vaugirard, so I had a long walk down the platform, during which I came within an ace of falling over.

There was a very long wait for the train back home and we didn’t pull into the station until 23:10. It was 23:30 when I finally sat down in my little apartment, thoroughly exhausted and wasted. It had been a very long day and, to my complete surprise, I hadn’t crashed out at all.

However I was far too tired to do anything else so I cleared off straight to bed. It’s actually 5 years to the day that I first encountered The Vanilla Queen and 4 years to the night that I’d had the first of a short series of the strangest, most bizarre nights that I’ve ever had

All of these were events that totally changed my perception of various aspects of humanity.

The artist Samuel Gurney Cresswell who had accompanied James Clark Ross on his Arctic voyage of 1848-49 and said of Captain Robert McClure, who had almost come to grief in the ice, that a voyage to the High Arctic “ought to make anyone a wiser and better man”. All that I can say is that it didn’t work for me.

But ask me if I want to change any of it.

That’s something on which I can dwell while I’m deep in the arms of Morpheus.

Thursday 24th August 2023 – REGULAR READERS OF …

… this rubbish will recall that yesterday I had something of a moan about how my Welsh course these days seems to go in cycles – one day good, the next day bad, and vice versa (and if there’s any vice involved, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m Your Man”).

And so today we had something of a better day on the course and I was actually quite satisfied for a change.

Mind you, I think that I’ve worked out the reason why this might be.

When I first moved to Belgium 30-odd years ago I would watch the football in Flemish. You don’t need much translation to watch a game of football so you pick up quite quickly a few words and phrases, and gradually you can pick out the individual words even if you don’t understand them.

Since SGORIO won the rights to broadcast the Welsh Premier League on the internet in Welsh, I’ve been watching it quite regularly whenever I can

Throw enough stuff at a blanket and some of it is bound to stick, and I’ve been noticing that after all of this it’s my oral comprehension that seems to be working well enough right now. All I need to do now is to work on everything else.

Like my sleep, for example.

Last night I was in bed at a respectable time and managed (just about) to beat the alarm this morning, which makes a change considering the last couple of weeks.

Once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I spent much of the morning going through and revising. I noticed that on the agenda for today was a quiz about verbs and their conjugations so I made myself a chart to keep handy.

That’s all very well, of course, but having made the chart I’ll probably lose it somewhere now.

As I said just now, the lesson passed well enough today which makes a pleasant change.

During the various pauses I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was in a film, a really, really vivid film last night about Armageddon – about how the end of the World was approaching and how everyone had to flee. Some people wouldn’t leave their possessions behind and were all swept away in the holocaust. They basically ended up being just half a dozen people still living in Los Angeles. Everywhere they went, they encountered chaos, queues of traffic stuck there with bodies all over the place how had died. Even after Armageddon and a few people had been saved, there were still some people performing hold-ups etc, people shooting each other until in the end there was just one family. The narrator was saying that in years to come people will ask him how he spent his years . He’ll say that he was just hanging out having a good time and not doing any work at all. His epitaph, he said, would be that in years to come in a Society where people are valued for their work it will be the cleaners and people like that who will be the richest, most wealthy and highest-praised in the land, except of course in the communities where the little old lady do-gooders will be holding sway. That’s how my film finished.

And even though I was asleep I remember that film very well. It really did go on for a good 90 minutes, or so it seemed and I reckon, would have actually made quite a decent film in the style of Neville Shute’s ON THE BEACH. I should really begin to consider a new career

Drifting back into that dream about Los Angeles or San Francisco or wherever again. There had been some kind of race between teenagers or something. When the winners were lined up in the end the guy who’d won went down the line to kiss a few of the people. When he reached one particular young girl he turned round and walked away. Everyone was totally spellbound that he had been so rude. admittedly it was raining and there was no cover where she was standing but it was still quite awful. I was down there doing something with the organisation so after he turned and left I went over to the girl and kissed her and said “never mind, you can have a kiss from me”. There was some comment like “he’s never going to miss the opportunity to kiss a girl when it arises” that brought a smile from her. Then I turned to the guys standing behind her and said “don’t worry, you’re safe. I’ve absolutely no intention whatever of kissing you lot”, something like that, in a light-hearted humorous way

We were in France next, going through a town. There was a kind of drone going through this town on behalf of an estate agent who had several houses advertised here for sale. We all ended up in a Square. I had my bass with me and an amplifier. Someone else had something else. We were waiting for someone to come to meet us but he didn’t turn up. In the meantime there was a flautist there who was waiting for people but they didn’t turn up either so we began to chat. It turned out that he was doing the music for local concerts at some point and had some musicians lined up but they weren’t very reliable so on the spot, we all agreed that we’d perform with him so we went off to an old pavilion by the lake where we could practise. We set up our equipment as best as we could but the place was old, ramshackle and mouse-ridden. I found that i’d forgotten my guitar lead. I had everything else but the guy who was the flautist said “hang on a minute” and went found one for me.

Later on I went back into that dream and had to take all my equipment back to Caliburn which was parked on the square in the snow. Climbing up the steps onto the car park I slipped and fell. A couple of people had to help me up. I had some kind of accessory for the guitar, a tuner or something, and it fell in the water. When I tried to dry it out I broke it. This German who helped me was very kind and considerate but a typical officious German who insisted that he knew best about what needed to be done. Eventually I put all my stuff into Caliburn and walked back across the Square. By now a friend of mine from Munich who had been in the music party was having a beer. I don’t know where my photographer friend from Vancouver, who had also been in there somewhere, had gone so I asked my Munich friend what needed now to be done because I was all for going home. I’d had nothing to eat. There was a Metzgerei at the side of the bar so I was hoping that I could go to fetch some chips or something from there. However my friend was busy drinking and chatting to all his friends and didn’t seem to be too involved in what I was trying to do at that moment.

After the lesson was over I had a try to contact someone in Paris who, I’m told, has a VSL. A VSL or Voiture Sanitaire Leger is the equivalent of a taxi but is equipped to handle ill or disabled people who need transport to and from medical appointments but who aren’t ill enough to need a proper ambulance.

If your doctor thinks that you need one, he’ll give you a bon de transport, a transport voucher, so that you can travel in one free of charge.

The medical specialist whom I saw the other week gave me one so that I could have a VSL from the station in Paris to the hospital and back next week.

However, to cut a long story short, no-one answered the ‘phone so that was that.

Tea tonight was more steamed veg and cheese sauce with a vegan sausage, and that was quite delicious yet again.

Tomorrow I need to pop into town before my lesson and as it’s late right now I won’t have much sleep. But it’s the last day of my course tomorrow and I’ll breathe a sign of relief.

What I can say is that over this last three weeks I’ve certainly learnt a lot. I just hope that I will be able to remember it.

Wednesday 9th August 2023 – THERE REALLY ISN’T …

… any point going to bed and trying to go to sleep early if I wake up at 03:00 and then can’t go back to sleep again. It really does defeat the point.

However, I did manage to go back to sleep again, but not for long and when the alarm went off I was already up and about (after a fashion).

Once I’d had my medication I attacked the dictaphone notes, of which there were more than just a few. I was down in the jungle last night with a pair of socks or something that wouldn’t behave themselves. It was like if I took them off they would keep on attacking me each tme that I turned over in bed or something like that.

Later on I did a lovely turn on the football pitch last night. A foul or offside or something was given in our favour so I went back to take the kick but the full-back decided that he’d take it and kicked it upfield. It was a really weak kick and 3 or 4 different players scrambled for it including me. I reached the ball and managed to flick it behind me. I turned and caught everyone totally unawares – including me – and had a shot at goal which hit the post, came back in but unfortunately broke back up the field. We were all caught out by a breakaway back down the field into our penalty area.

I was going away to a music festival at another point. I’d made enquiries and found out the pitch where my friend from the Wirral and his wife were staying which was one of the ones in the middle in a depression or hollow somewhere. I’d arranged to have a pitch very close nearby. We went down there and were one of the first to arrive. We had to sort through all our things to erect the tent. Then I decided that I wanted a shower. The only way to have a shower was to actually have a shower on your bed. My bed was in the middle of 2 or 3 others so I had to prepare for the shower, rig up a hosepipe or something then sit on my bed and wash myself with the hosepipe. The idea that this was going to ruin my bed and bedding never entered my head all at the moment. There was more stuff than this too, including something about the security arrangements. There was a company called Fitz Security that was doing it but I can’t think now what brought that into the conversation during the night.

Back at this folk festival again. It’s now mid-afternoon, everyone is arriving and starting to set up. There’s a food stall being set up somewhere and people are starting to queue for it. Again there’s much more going on than this but I can’t remember it. Some of it relates to the kind of food that was in some cases rather unpleasant.

Actually, if I were in the UK at the moment I would be on my way to a music festival even as we speak. It’s “Cropredy” this weekend, the Fairport Convention festival in Oxfordshire.

Did I dictate the dream that I was working for a taxi company? … “no you didn’t” – ed … A woman turned up and awoke me out of bed. I had to hunt around for my dressing gown. I was most uncomfortable but I let her in. She began to talk about another taxi company, how she’d seen their adverts everywhere and how she was looking forward to maybe working for them etc. I realised that she’d come for an interview at the wrong place. I let her carry on for a while. Suddenly she disappeared, I can’t remember how, during the dream and the interview finished. Then the boss came home and I told him about this incident. I also told him that the immersion heater wasn’t working again and I’d tried to fix it but I wasn’t able to. He was annoyed with having no hot water. he had a look around. The office was quite shabby. he asked “when are you going to paint it as you promised?”. I asked him what colour. he replied “lemon”. I said “yes OK. I’m glad about that. I don’t like white”. We made arrangements that I’d start to paint the place.

There was also something about a Zeppelin type of thing. It had a leak and there was condensation inside the gasbag that was leaking out in drips of water. We landed the Zeppelin, stripped down the valve and installed a new one, fitted it. That seemed to make the matter worse. In the end we went to a Government office where we could maybe find the parts. We were sitting around there for hours. In the end one of the women with us managed to buttonhole one of the clerks to ask him about it. He replied that these parts are special. They’re on the secret list and can only be sold to people who are bona fide citizens of the UK. The guy had a strange foreign accent so I went over to the woman and we had a laugh about the idea that the parts can only be used by bona-fide British people but can be sold by just about anyone in the whole wide world. It didn’t make any sense. We carried on chatting and ere there for quite a while talking about nothing in particular

We had a long rambling dream about being up in the Arctic ready to fly back. We had to wait for a couple of weeks while the weather ship went to pick up some weather information. It went all the way across to Greenland, round the Davis Strait and back. I grabbed hold of one of the officials and asked about the possibility of going out on the weather ship the next season next year. They said that it was simply not possible but I harassed and harangued them and generally tried to insist but it was no use at all. I was there for ages trying to convince them. Then we flew back. We arrived at the airport. I was with Nerina. As we left the plane she said that she’d forgotten something and she’d see me after Immigration. We had to run all the way round this spiral staircase thing going through different rooms, round and round to our left all the time down these stairs. We reached the bottom and had to board a bus. After the long descent down the stairs we boarded this bus. There was just one other man and me. He asked what I thought about the flight. I replied “I can’t remember anything at all about it. I remember boarding the plane and having a cup of coffee. The next thing that I remember was coming in to land at Fredericton and I had a cup of cold coffee”. He didn’t realise that we’d landed at Fredericton and was surprised when I told him the name of the town. He said “you’re wrong about the coffee. You had to go to the machine yourself and put a token in etc”. In the meantime the bus was going down the road at quite a rate of knots into the city. Suddenly it came to a spot where there was a car parked on either side of the road, a lot of cars on one side and just one on the right-hand side. They hadn’t left enough room for the bus to go through so it came to a grinding halt.

There’s no doubt about it – you’re certainly getting your money’s worth with this.

There was the Welsh homework to do and then we had the lesson. It passed reasonably well today, but we have a long way to go of course.

The strange thing was that while I was awake in the middle of the night I was working through my Welsh from yesterday. It’s preying on my mind, I suppose, and I hope that some of it might stick. I can’t remember any of the vocabulary though.

The cleaner came around too and we had a little chat in the middle of everything.

When the lesson was over I attacked another radio programme. I’ve chosen all the music, paired it off and even written the notes for about half of it. I really don’t know what’s happened to me.

Tea was leftovers with a half-helping of curry from the freezer and a naan bread. I won’t be bothered by any vampires for the next couple of days either – that new batch of garlic butter than I made is pretty good.

So now I’m going to try to go to bed early again, and hope that I can have a better sleep than last night. I haven’t paid all this money for this course not to take any benefit from it.

There’s plenty of other stuff going on too so I have my work cut out right now. At least it keeps me out of mischief.

Tuesday 8th August 2023 – TODAY WAS RATHER …

… better than it was yesterday.

At least I managed to keep on going without actually falling asleep at some point.

Mind you, it was pretty much touch and go at a couple of points during the day and I’m absolutely wasted right now, to such an extent that I’ll be off to bed in a moment, well before my usual bed-time.

In fact, last night I was in bed earlier than usual and despite another turbulent night, I was actually up and about before the alarm went off. Only a couple of minutes before, but it all counts.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I had a listen to the mountain of stuff that was on the dictaphone from the night. I was having the silliest of arguments in LIDL. I was there with my brother – we’d gone to buy a few things. I went up to the cashier’s desk to pay whatever I’d selected. I had to hunt for my money in my little bag thing. While I was doing this the machine began to spew out a load of £5 notes. I asked the girl what it was doing. She replied that it was preparing your change. I replied that I’d not paid anything yet. She replied “no but it prepares your change while you organise yourself”. I told her how strange this situation was. A security guard came over to see what the hubbub was about. I explained and he explained too to this girl but she didn’t understand why we found it so strange. I said that I could just take the money, say goodbye and leave my shopping here now, couldn’t I, and not pay you at all. She still didn’t get it. The subject came round about magic and magic beasts, demons, wizards etc. I said “would you like to see my demon?” and I indicated to my brother to to the the bag on my back and pull out STRAWBERRY MOOSE. Instead he came out with a giant stuffed rat. I asked “Isn’t Strawberry Moose there?”. He replied “no” so I wondered where he had gone because I was convinced that I’d brought him into the shop. It was the strangest argument that I’ve had for quite some time.

There was then a group of is in Crewe walking down Walthall Street. I was as usual chatting up a young girl who was with us. We walked past a group of people standing at the side of the road with a stock car. They were talking about North Carolina so I asked them if they came from there and if they raced there. They replied that they did. I went to ask them if they knew someone whom I knew there but I couldn’t think of his name. I asked them if they knew such and such a town where he raced. I couldn’t think of that name either. We had the most astonishing conversation. I was trying to talk to these people but I couldn’t remember anything. We talked about the towns, how they were scattered out and round, how one town was pretty much the same as the other. This chat went on for quite a while. In the end a couple of my friends had moved on down the road. I went on to catch them up. The young girl was having her watch adjusted by another member of our party. It might have been her mother or something. It was a kind of fitbit that gave a printout on a piece of paper like a till receipt. They were fitting a new paper in it. When she finished the woman patted her on the head and said “right, you can run along to Eric now”. That was a comment that took me completely by surprise.

Later on I was back with the group of people from earlier, including the young girl with the black curly hair. I finally managed to persuade her to come round to my apartment and maybe even spend the night with me. Much to my surprise her mother didn’t make all that many objections to the idea at all. She even had a quiet little word with her about one or two things. That was something else that took me completely by surprise.

So there I was, with my meal on the plate, all poised and at the ready, and I’ve no idea what happened that caused it all to melt away just before I had my fork stuck in it. Just my luck, isn’t it?

Finally I was down at the bottom of Middlewich Street by the funeral parlour at the Cumberland bridge and there I met my journalist friend from Philadelphia. She was expressing her dismay about the new manner of speaking where people today are so touchy and easily offended about things that people write that don’t even concern them, and I was agreeing. In fact, in real life, I’m sure that there are more than just one or two people with nothing better to do than to crawl all over the internet looking for ways in which they might possibly be offended.

The Welsh lesson passed quite quickly today and we made a few long strides forward.

Regrettably though, I seem to have miscalculated, or they have. My three months away, either in Canada or in hospital, were right at the start of this year’s studies, but we’re only doing half a year – the second half. I really wanted to go back and redo the beginning of the course.

When the lesson was over I had my hot chocolate and then finished off all of the radio notes for the programme I’ll be preparing at the weekend. I might even start the next one tomorrow – who knows?

For a change, I managed to eat all my tea – a taco roll with some of the left-over stuffing. There’s not much left so I’ll have a leftover curry with a naan bread for tea tomorrow.

But that’s tomorrow. Right now I’m off to bed. I’m thoroughly exhausted and an early night will do me good.

Here’s hoping for a nice little voyage or two in the company of some good friends. As Guildenstern said in “Hamlet”, “dreams indeed are ambition, for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream”

Thursday 3rd August 2023 – YOU CAN TELL …

… what kind of night I had last night simply by looking at the dictaphone and counting the number of times I dictated something. We actually reached double figures, and it’s not every day that that happens.

Furthermore, I was actually up and about before the alarm went off too.

Only by a matter of a handful of seconds, it’s quite true, but nevertheless, it still counts. When I opened my eyes and saw that it was 06:59 on the fitbit I thought that I may as well make the effort.

One thing’s for sure is that I won’t be up early tomorrow. We had football tonight – Hwlffordd v B36 Torshavn in European competition.

1-0 down from the first leg, they rode their luck all through the first half and with half an hour to go actually managed to score a goal that made the score equal over the two legs.

The game went into extra time but Torshavn scored what can only be described as a “controversial penalty” to knock the Welsh side out. Manager Tony Pennock was quite right to be incensed but I notice that he kept very quiet about the penalty that I and the commentators would have awarded against his team earlier in the game to which the referee waved “play on”.

The post-match interviews were quite entertaining. Pennock came out with a few comments that reminded me of Ron Atkinson and his famous quote of “I never comment on referees – and I won’t break the habit of a lifetime for that prat!”

Centre-forward Ben Fawcett, who scored Hwlffordd’s goal, reminded me of Jim Finks, one-time coach of the New Orleans Saints gridiron team who once famously said “We’re not allowed to comment on the lousy officiating”

So with extra time being played, the game didn’t finish until long after 23:00 so it’s going to be a long night tonight.

It’ll be just like today when it took me an absolute age to actually start work – after a very late morning coffee.

And the first thing that I did was to sort out the music for the next radio programme. That took much longer than it ought to have done.

One thing that took the time was that I had to track down a certain track that I needed. In this programme, whenever it will be broadcast, we’ll be celebrating the birthday of a rather obscure musician.

Her partner plays a major rôle in our radio programmes and she actually wrote the words for one or two of his more rare songs and played keyboards on a couple. We can’t actually celebrate her birthday without playing some of her music.

While I was at it, I wrote the text for some of the music that I’ll be playing and I’ll write some more tomorrow. With a bit of luck, God’s help and a Bobby, I might have two radio programmes to prepare on Sunday.

And then there was the dictaphone. And I couldn’t believe the amount of stuff that was on it from the night. I was at the football last night. The town where I was living was a small French town roughly the size of Granville but in the interior down south. They were playing a game of football. I went along to watch the match. There was a lot happening that I’ve forgotten but something that sticks in my mind was that I was chatting to a group of people some of whom were young girls, schoolgirls or whatever. At one point the ball came over our way. I got off my chair and went to pick it up to throw it back in but then I found that I had real difficulty getting back to my feet. When I did, some girl had sat in my chair. I made some remark about it. She said that she’d sat in there first. I thought “never mind”. There was a couple of empty chairs around here and there so I took one of those, sat next to them and continued to watch the game. There was much more to it than this but I can’t remember now.

When the alarm went off I awoke with a real start. I was in such a deep sleep. I didn’t know where I was for a minute. When I looked round I thought that the cleaner was here. She was trying to tell me that she has to cut down her hours because one of her family needed help. I was trying to get my head round all this information. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 04:00 and I’d obviously dreamt the alarm somehow. That’s really surprising. It sounded so real too. It goes without saying that there was no cleaner here etc, just me waking up spontaneously for no good reason so I turned over and went back to sleep. I really couldn’t believe it.

Then a surprise for a friend of mine. We’d heard from a restaurant in St Malo that a well-known brand of gravy actually contained animal products. I went to make further enquiries and discovered that it was indeed true. I swapped a meal of greasy sausages and things like that for another kind of meal but I can’t remember what the other meal was now. I’m having a real problem remembering my dreams at the moment. I don’t know why that is.

There was another dream where I was having to see a heart specialist. He’d given me an appointment at 08:10. I went to see him and was there early. There were a couple of other doctors’ surgeries in the same place. One woman came in to sit down. Someone else came in, probably a doctor because he went into one of the side rooms. He then came out and began to talk to this woman about Patagonia and going to have an operation done there. That immediately appealed to me. I began to think about life in Patagonia, how I would go there, how I was going to travel, what I was going to do. I was all building myself up in this dream for a trip to Patagonia on the basis of absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

We were wandering around a place in rural Spain. I wanted to go to use the bathroom. I set out to find it. I went past a guy who had a box. He had 4 small logs in it. Sitting across the logs was a French bread pizza. He was trying to light the logs presumably to cook his pizza so I told him what a wonderful thing it was. He didn’t understand so I tried to say it in Spanish. He still didn’t understand me. Everyone with me asked me what I was doing so I explained. I found the bathroom and walked in. To my surprise it was just a communal room with about 6 WCs in it, no partitions or anything. You just sat there or stood there in full view of everyone else and did what you had to do. There was no blushing or anything like that from anyone except from me of course.

That was actually the first time that I’ve had a dream in Spanish.

There was a sequel to this dream as well. A young Spanish boy whose father went to discipline him. He suddenly had a huge pain in his groin that doubled him up. He was rolling around the floor in agony. While this was going on his son was there. This pain didn’t ease off until the guy decided that he’d change his mind about punishing his son. Once he’d made that decision the pain stopped

There was also something about a football match in Spain. While the father was doubled up in pain the opposition team grabbed hold of the football and tried to take a quick free kick and roared off down the field before the referee stopped them and brought them back. It was those two new players from Hwlffordd, Crossdale and the other one … “Owen” – ed … who were doing this.

There was something about cricket too, trying to explain it to a new player about how he could learn the game by watching so when his team was in he’d be out there and he could watch what was happening, then get himself out and come back in, then prepare to go back out again when his team was in, all kinds of stuff like that, this particular dream that I can’t remember the fine details now

And finally there was another dream that I’ve had before. I was with Nerina who was on a bike and I was on foot. We were chatting as she was cycling. We were in Stoke on Trent and came to a steep hill. Something had happened that she had done something that had not been the kind of thing that I would do. People had believed that we had separated. Nerina had strung them on a little. When we came to the steep hill there was a short cut for people on foot so I took it and she continued along the road. She fell in with one of these people who then began to ask her questions about what she was up to. When the short cut re-joined the road we joined up again. By now I was running up the hill and she was cycling. There was a couple of people standing on the pavement ahead of us, one of whom I recognised. A car that was coming up the hill suddenly mounted the pavement and hit these 2 people knocking them flying and drove off again. By now we’d all arrived at this particular point and we tried to ask one of these guys what exactly had happened

It’s no surprise that there was no time to do anything else other than this. There was tea of course, a leftover chili sin carné that was as delicious as ever, and then I dashed in here for the football.

Now the game is over and my notes are finished, I’m off to bed. I’m nipping into town on the bus tomorrow for a little shop and then I’ll probably be flat out asleep in the afternoon recovering from the effort.

That assumes that I wake up in time to go to the shops. Another night like last night and I won’t wake up for a week.

Firday 21st July 2023 – I MADE IT …

… back from town this morning.

Actually, going down into town was the easy bit because I went on the bus.

Mind you, I nearly didn’t because just as I was stepping out of the front door I realised that I’d forgotten half of the paperwork that I needed so I had to come back.

These days I can’t move very quickly at all so I was afraid that I’d miss the bus. But luckily I managed to stagger aboard just before she pulled away.

Something else that might have made me miss it was another miserable night. What with the football and everything it was long after midnight when I went to bed and it took me an absolute age to go off to sleep.

Once again, I was up and on my feet before the alarm went off, and after I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages, I went and had a shower to make myself smell nice.

Before leaving for the bus I put the washing machine on the go so that at least I’d have some clean clothes for when I came back. I’m running out of clothes at the moment.

At the Carrefour I forgot the cherry tomatoes but I remembered everything else, and then wandered off to the Post Office to post a couple of letters, one of which was the demand for a disabled parking badge, and to pick up a registered letter.

At the chemist’s the staff were fighting over serving me and I ended up with the girl who lost the bout. She gave me the Aranesp, which cost an arm and a leg as usual, and then I set off for home.

The walk back was agony. It really was. It took me an age and I was exhausted by the time I returned. I had my cheese on toast but regrettably fell asleep almost immediately.

It’s no fun waking up to a cold mug of coffee. I’ve no idea how long I was asleep but it wasn’t five minutes – I’ll tell you that for nothing. It felt like an eternity and at one point I really was contemplating the idea of going to bed.

Anyway, instead I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I was during the night. I was with a friend of mine. We’d gone to some kind of sports hall place to do a job. As we left Crewe to join the motorway there was a policewoman at the top of the motorway exit watching the drivers join the motorway. She shouted “drive safely, watch your speed limits and don’t speed”, something like that. Of course my friend immediately shouted back some kind of comment as he would about “what do you mean? I’m not going fast. What are you saying? What are you implying?”. Of course I could see exactly where this is going so I said “come on mate, let’s get to work” but he still wanted to pick a fight with this policewoman. In the end I managed to organise him and I apologised to the policewoman. The last thing I wanted was for her to chase us down the motorway. So we did what we were doing and it worked quite well. There was a roulette table and a few one-armed bandit things there. He looked at his watch and said “we can spend an hour here and have a play on that”. I’d put all the money safe so I didn’t want to go bringing it out again. I should have put my possessions into some kind of safe but I didn’t fancy the idea of it because there was no lock. Everyone could go in and take the stuff so I kept them on me. I really wanted to go home but he was dead set on staying here wasting his money so I suppose we’ll have to. But I hope that he really is only going to be here for a short while and not spin it out for the rest of the night. I could see that happening quite easily.

Later on there was another group of us who had been out for a walk. I’d ended up with a man and a woman who might have been some friends of mine, I dunno. We met an American couple. The woman-friend of mine had gone off to do something so we were just wandering around when the American couple appeared. They asked if we knew where a certain café was. My friend thought that it was the one around the corner from where we were standing although I thought that it was the one where we had been earlier in the day. We went round the corner to this one and could see that it was a really expensive place. There was nothing special about it. The guy said “let’s walk up to some place or other at the end of the track”. I asked “what about your wife?”. There didn’t seem to be much of a reply. Off we set. It was slowly going dark. We reached the end which was by the water. There was a girl there. For some reason I was asked to take a photo of her so that she could be put on a poster. I had the little Nikon and went to take a photo but for some reason the camera wouldn’t take the photo. It might possibly have been too dark. I took the big Nikon which doesn’t need the light so much and I positioned this girl in the street light at a table in the café so that the light would fall on her to give the best possible view, went to take the camera but found that the battery was flat. This American couple had a bit of a moan to me about all my things etc.

Later on I spent some time back in Canada. I’ve left Cartwright and I’m heading down the Métis Trail back towards the Trans Labrador Highway.

The area around Cartwright and Sandwich Bay in particular is populated by the Métis.

When the early European traders came out here in the 18th and early 19th Century, those employees who opted to stay usually took a native wife, sometimes an Innu but mainly an Inuit. Their descendants are known as Métis

Almost everyone out on the coast is descended from probably about 20 distinct families and it’s interesting to read the Censuses of 100 or so years ago. Each cove or sheltered bay would have its own “family” who would work the salmon fishing, the cod fishing and then go off into the interior trapping during the winter.

Even more strangely, suddenly you’ll find that in a certain location there might be a different family than in the previous Census. Almost inevitably, one family might just have daughters. When she married, she would stay at home and bring her husband to her, and he would inherit his father-in-law’s cove and trap lines

Every now and again you’ll come across a French name – Michelin being one of the most common. For a while there was a trading firm from Montreal – Revillon Frères – out here on the Labrador coast trying to establish a foothold against the Hudson’s Bay Company.

There were also a few merchants from the Channel Islands who tried to establish themselves here but a big bank crash in Jersey in 1873 wiped them out.

The Métis did not have any rights at all until the 1980s. Being the children of native women they were never recognised as Europeans by Law according to the European settlers, and because they were the children of European men, they never acquired the rights of native indigenous people. It wasn’t until Section 35 of the Constitution Act was amended in 1982 that the Métis became recognized as one of Canada’s three Aboriginal peoples and began to receive their rights.

Tea tonight was falafel, chips and salad. Quite delicious but it’s given me stomach ache and I don’t know why.

But now I’m off to bed for a good night’s sleep ready to fight the good fight around the shops tomorrow. But before I go, I’ll leave you with the HIGHLIGHTS OF LAST NIGHT’S FOOTBALL. I hope that you enjoy them as much as everyone else seems to have done.

Thursday 20th July 2023 – ZAK JONES DOES IT AGAIN

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few weeks ago at the end of the football season New Zealand International goalkeeper performed heroics in the Hwlffordd goal to drag his team from 7th place in the league all the way through the playoffs and into European competition.

Last week away in North Macedonia his young, unfancied part-time side lost narrowly, 1-0 to a team, KF Shkendija that contained no fewer than 5 international players

Tonight we had the return leg in Wales and with just a couple of minutes to go and Hwlffordd on the verge of going out, centre-half Lee Jenkins, pushed up into attack got his foot onto the end of a cross and poked the ball into the net.

So we had 22 very tired players playing 30 minutes of inconclusive extra time which led to a penalty shootout to decide who will go through to the second round and a trip to the Faroe islands.

So up stepped Zak Jones.

I forget now how many penalties he saved in the play-off matches during the penalty shootouts (and the one in open play) but however many it was, he can add two more to his list from tonight, one with his hands and another with his feet.

Consequently, the team managed by former Hull City coach Tony Pennock and led on the field by Welsh International Jazz Richards and who were written off by almost everyone before the European matches started now progress to Round Two

Every single one of them played like lions tonight.

As for me, I was more like a lamb this morning. I’ve no idea what it was that awoke me but once again I was up and about (well, sort-of) before the alarm went off.

Once more, I took quite a while to bring myself into the Land of the Living but my reverie was interrupted by a ‘phone call.

And the good news about this is that I have an appointment at this mega-hospital in Paris on 30th August at 14:30 where they are goign to try to sort out the nerves in my leg.

It’s only going to be a consultation – I won’t be staying over or anything like that, but it shows that things are moving rapidly. Much more rapidly than I can ever move, that’s for sure.

What with this Re-education place yesterday, I’m not sure whether they are going to do me any good but I’m certainly going to let them have a try.

How I’m actually going to get to the hospital is another question entirely and I spent a while “making enquiries”. These are rather inconclusive right now but something might happen sometime, I suppose.

For the rest of the day I was in Canada and right now I’m back from my sail out to sea and the abandoned settlements and I’m packing up ready to leave Cartwright in a few hours time for my trip down to North West River and another little boat trip.

There was a pause while I transcribed the dictaphone notes. There was something going on in a house last night. About moving or reorganising this property. We had a couple of security cameras filming everything frame by frame on a time-lapse photography thing. We were sitting there watching it and the changes in the season and changes in the weather during the day and how clear the images were at times and how unclear they were at other times.

Then there was some kind of ceremony taking place in a village hall or something like that. A priest was going to be there to bless us. Because I’m a foreigner I was going to be treated specially so I decided that I was going to wear some kind of Bishop’s robes so that I could bless him back. I mentioned it to one of the organisers who was one of my bosses. I knew that they didn’t take it seriously so I didn’t say anything. On the day when the crowds were beginning to assemble I asked someone official who I knew was nothing to do with our part of the event whether he had brought the Bishop’s cloak with him. He looked bewildered and pointed me in the direction of one of my bosses. I wandered over there and asked him. I could see the vacant look on his face as if he hadn’t realised exactly what I was wanting or what I was expecting of him. He took me over to a coat rail with loads of different sorts of clothes on it, wedding dresses etc but there was nothing on it suitable to be turned into a Bishop’s cloak. I knew that full well. My aim was just at that moment to embarrass him. It didn’t really make much difference whether I wore a Bishop’s robe or not – it was just something that I fancied doing.

Finally, we awoke in this car park on our coach next to this ancient, horrible, disreputable saloon of the 1930s or 40s like a Morris E or something. We were going to say something about it but decided that it probably wasn’t a good idea to brag about our own achievements and draw attention to ourselves like this. We tended to ignore it. As more and more people came to join us for breakfast we didn’t mention this vehicle at all which was quite a surprise really. It’s not the kind of vehicle that you see every day these days.

Tea tonight was a rather rushed chili sin carné with the leftovers lengthened with a small tin of kidney beans. And quite delicious too. I’ve really got the hang of making these.

So now that the football is over I’m off to bed, later – much later – than usual. I haven’t crashed out today but I bet that I will tomorrow, especially as I have to go down into town to pick up the Aranesp that I ordered.

That’ll be me done for the rest of the week, I reckon.