Tag Archives: France

Saturday 24th February 2024 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

… to me.

yes, and it’s one of these “significant milestone” birthdays, as several people have been quick to point out, thank you very much.

Not that I’m celebrating too loudly because at my age it’s not how many birthdays you have but how many you have left

However I did like the card that my friend Robert in Shetland sent me – "Seen it all, done it all, heard it all – just can’t remember it all". In my case though, I can’t remember anything these days.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … two things happen to you when you reach my age. The first is that you forget absolutely everything
"what’s the second thing?" – ed
I don’t know. I can’t remember.

Last night I remembered eventually to go to bed. Round about 02:00 it was because I didn’t set an alarm this morning. I decided to have a lie in. and I would have had one too apart from the barrage of text messages that started at 08;02. It’s actually quite nice to be popular for once.

Anyway it was 11:15 when I finally arose from the Dead and that’s about right for a lie-in.

This morning’s blood pressure – 17.7/10.0. Last night it was 18.3/10.8 so there was nothing exciting happening during the night to make my blood boil

After the medication I came back in here and began to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. We were in some kind of competition or something like that to try to reach the end of the obstacle course. We had several difficulties. The first thing was that we had two young people with us who were perhaps not as committed as maybe I would have liked them to have been. One was a famous singer and she kept on having her photograph taken. She had it once taken at a very inconsiderable point when she should have been singing something for us and a group photograph was taken of us and then, say, the two of them singing or the two of them dancing when they’d been performing a completely different task that the rest of us have been performing, usually on their own. We didn’t win, which was no surprise with those two young people but it was an extremely stressful occasion. But one thing that we learned was that we weren’t the only people who cheated by a long way. The other people cheated by much more than we did. They cheated in real terms and real figures. We of course used to fly the odd strange rin and dress him in uniform, a fire brigade uniform or school uniform or whatever and infiltrate them into the group as a whole, but only after they had died and it had all been over and there was still plenty of work to do. I’d engaged a drummer and he … fell asleep here

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m actually asleep when I’m dictating these notes. So when I say that I fell asleep, what I mean is that everything suddenly goes quiet and after a few seconds I hear a low, sleeping breathing.

Or occasionally a deep snoring sound, and I’m sorry for not believing you, Percy Penguin

Another thing, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, is that even though I’m asleep, dreaming and dictating, I usually have some recollection of a dream that comes back to me as I’m typing it.

But sometimes I have absolutely no recollection at all of them, like the one above. I could recall nothing whatever of it.

In complete contrast to the one below.

I’ve forgotten most of this dream thanks to having to look for the dictaphone that I’d lost in bed. We’d had a foreign girl staying with us. She was one of these people who knew everything and made sure that you knew that she knew everything. I can’t remember anything about it except that we all went to bed at the end of the night. She was sleeping in my room as a child. All of a sudden her alarm clock went off. I had a look at the time and it was 08:02. I suddenly realised that it wasn’t an alarm clock at all but someone sending a message and it was my phone that had given its message signal

In this dream I was in Worcester. My German friend and another guy were busy picking out a tune on a guitar. I was wondering all the time whether to go and fetch my acoustic bass to join in. They carried on picking out this tune but it was winter and we were outside and I was freezing and so was everyone else. Gradually they worked it out and gradually we walked up a hill with the two of them playing this song. We had a small child with us and it was complaining about how cold it was. I was wondering when we’d go to find some food as I was starving. But we carried on walking up the hill. We reached the top and my car was there. I opened the door to my car and a charity collector turned up. He was collecting money so I asked him what for. He replied “for taxi passengers to wish them a happy Christmas and they’d give the money back as tips for the driver”. I put my hand in my pocket and threw in what change I had- about 5.5p. he said “that’s more then 10p” and pulled some strange object out of one of the collection boxes. “I’ll give you the change for that next week”. I couldn’t see what it was. Now this situation i the town is becoming crucial. I thought that we’d drive into the town and go to the railway station to look around for a while. But I was picked up in this dispute by Worcester Council. They, or some other people wanted to change everything from “Wulfrunian” to “Worcester” o the grounds that no-one knew where Wulfrunia was. But I was opposed to that idea because it’s just another “dumbing down” exercise for the UK and they’ll sink to the level of the Americans at this rate.

It looks as if “dumbing down” has already commenced because, as any schoolboy might know, “Wulfrunian” related to Wolverhampton, not Worcester.

And as it happens, I do have an acoustic bass. In all of the various apartments in which I’ve lived in Belgium, I don’t think that I ever had the electric bass out. I probably didn’t play it for 20 years.

Instead, I had the Ibanez acoustic and I could play that anywhere, including in a van and occasionally at Folk Festivals like the one on the Scottish Borders where a few of us from University hung out and did voluntary work.

It was there that I met a few people and had a great deal of fun playing bass with a few different people here and there.

It wasn’t until I was set up in Virlet that I had out the EB3, and of course I play it here along with the 5-string fretless electric bass. Not for nothing have I found an apartment in a building with solid granite walls 1.20m thick.

But the EB3 is a genuine Gibson guitar from the early 1960s, totally original. It’s exactly the same model as played by Jack Bruce. I bought it in 1975 when the group in which I played was going on the road after a couple of months of rehearsals.

It cost me an arm and a leg back them but I’ve been offered a King’s ransom for it and turned it down. They’s have to take it …. errr … “from my cold, dead hand”.

Later on I’d been on a University course and we were at Nottingham. It was a course that I didn’t like for some reason. There was something about it that irritated me. At the end of the course we were all assembled, given a closing speech and then dismissed. I set out to walk to the railway station. It was along a public footpath that wends its way out of town and crossed over a railway bridge of this really elaborate cast-iron railway bridge that had been a railway bridge a long time before but was now part of the footpath. There was a girl in the distance who had been on the course. She shouted at me and pointed “what’s this area here that looks all desolate?”. That’ son the other side of the bridge, a huge flat area. I replied “that would have been the marshalling yard for the old railway line on which we’re walking”. She made some kind of disparaging remark abour Nottingham and said that she didn’t know why she was walking this way because she’d understood from the University that if she’d been on this course you’d have to stop in your own time and look around areas like this. I couldn’t remember any such instruction in the instructions that I’d received but if that’s what she’d received then fair enough, I couldn’t see why she was arguing about it.

This reminds me of an on-line course I was studying. It was an aeronautics course provided by Oxford University. I had immediate misgivings when they began to talk about the Messerschmidt Me109.

Although colloquially it is often referred to as an Me109 it was actually designed by the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke before it was reformed as the Messerschmidt company in 1938 and so the correct description of the model is the Bf109

Not that a thing like that would normally bother me but a University teaching a course ought to get it right.

This morning to celebrate (although I’m not quite sure what I’m actually celebrating) I made myself a cooked breakfast. Some of the hash browns from the freezer, tinned mushrooms, a vegan sausage and some beans on toast with my porridge and coffee.

For once I decided to treat myself, and why not? It’s not every day that you reach a milestone like this.

This afternoon there was football on the internet – Pontypridd United v Colwyn Bay. The bottom two clubs in the League desperate for points to overhaul the teams above them and scramble to safety.

But for a few administrative errors and subsequent penalties, Ponty would have been clear already but they had ground to make up

And they played like it too. There was no-one special who caught the eye but they played as a team, which is a strange thing to say seeing as when I saw them 18 months ago they played like a clueless, leaderless, headless rabble.

On the other hand, Colwyn Bay played like a team already dead and buried. There was no leadership out there today and in fact (for I timed it) it was just over 60 minutes into the game before I heard one of the commentators mention the name of their captain.

Colwyn Bay certainly had a couple of chances and the crossbar will long be rubbing itself where Owen Cushion’s shot hit it, but they spent most of the time trying to walk the ball into the net, without the skill to do so, when they have players like Creamer and McCready who can launch screamers towards the net.

And height! High balls into the penalty area from corners and free kicks that sow panic and confusion into the defence instead of low flat balls easily and monotonously cleared away by the first defender ….sigh

The final result was 4-0 to Pontypridd, a margin that was rather unfair to Colwyn Bay but just underlines the size of the mountain that they have to climb. If you are going to make mistakes at this level you will be punished for them.

At the end of the match I went for a slice of my chocolate cake. I lit the candles on the top but a couple of icebergs in the Arctic immediately melted so I was obliged to extinguish them

But it was nice, chocolatey and gooey. And the cream certainly worked, which was very nice to know. I was worried about that for a while in case it had given up the ghost during the night.

Tea tonight was a slice of my wellington from the freezer, with roast potatoes, steamed veg and gravy, followed by rice pudding. The air fryer did a perfect job on the wellington and roast potatoes.

A real birthday treat that, and I reckon that I deserve it.

So here I am, another year older and deeper in debt as they say. Uma Shanker said "Life teaches us two important things – we are careless when we are young and by the time we get old, it is too late to be careful!" and that’s certainly true.

It was a long time ago that I passed the stage of caring about anything. I’m going to grow old disgracefully.

What consoles me is that half the population of the UK my age or older are dirty old men and I’m going to be like them.

And why can’t I be like the other half? That’s because they are dirty old women of course.

So when I’ve dictated the two radio programmes in the queue I’ll go to bed and plot the course of my life for the next 10 years – my next 10-Year Plan – knowing full well that it will be something that will never ever be fulfilled.

I’ll be pushing up the daisies a long time before then.

Friday 23rd February 2024 – MY DAY OF …

… baking was quite a success.

And it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that

Yes, everything that I did today seemed to work and I’ve ended up with some pretty nice stuff. I’m quite pleased.

Ad for a change I actually had a good night too. In bed nice and early and I didn’t have much that kept me awake . And once I’d gone to sleep, I stayed asleep until the alarm went off.

Billy Cotton made me leave the bed and the first thing that I did was to take my blood pressure. 15.1/8.6. That’s low compared to how it has been. You can tell that I didn’t have a visit from Castor, Zero or TOTGA last night.

Before I went to bed it was 17.5/10.4 so the sleep did me some good by the looks of things.

After the morning medication the first thing that I did was to make the dough for the bread. And kneading it gently, as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles, I was careful not to overwork it by resorting to violence.

When I was quite satisfied that it was ready, I rolled it out into a long sausage, cut it into three equal sections and then flattened it all down.

A handy small baking tray with a piece of baking paper was called into service upon which they could repose and hopefully rise.

Next step was to make the vegan cream filling. Whizz ip some milk until it’s quite frothy, add sugar, a little butter, vanilla extract, cornflour, and whizz it all up while slowly heating it in a saucepan.

That was complicated. I had the hand-whisk whisking it all over the kitchen until I managed to rig up a saucepan lid as a shield.

Meanwhile, melt some chocolate in the microwave and when it’s melted, whisk it well into the mixture

When It’s all whisked and nice and thick, leave it to cool. And there’s my chocolate cream filling.

Then the chocolate cake. A mixture of flour, sugar, oil, water and cocoa powder with a few extras. All mixed up into a kind-of batter-like goo, poured into a cake tray and then baked for 40 minutes.

By now the vegan cream was cold so it went in the fridge and I put the bread in the oven to bake.

They had risen quite nicely and were baked to perfection too so I had some lovely cheese on toast.

Rosemary rang me in the middle of everything so I phoned her back. Just a short chat today – a mere 58 minutes during which we put the World to rights but I also ended up going for a virtual drive around Montlucon.

Once everything was finished and the chaos was over I had a listen to find out where I’d been during the night. I’d started work but there was still a girl at school who I happened to like. For the last few mornings I’d been taking her into school. One particular morning we were running really late. It meant that I was going to be late for work if I dropped her off at school but nevertheless I was going to drop her off. We were preparing everything and panicking a little – I wasn’t dressed even. One of my friends came along and asked me what was happening. The girl briefly explained. He immediately said “I can run you into school to save Eric some bother”. I said that it’s no bother because I was quite interested in spending as much time as possible with her but he absolutely insisted and insisted until in the end she went off with him. I was furious. I sent him a text message “after all you promised me last time …” (because we’d had a similar situation a while ago where he’d done exactly the same thing and spiked my guns with a certain young lady. So I was set to go to work but there was a whole crowd of schoolkids around. I was in my Ford Cortina estate. I had to make the kids move so I could leave the car park but for some unknown reason they didn’t want to go. At that moment the car turned into a kind of cross between a bus and a taxi. All the kids were pleased because that was what they were waiting for. They said that they’d been waiting for a bus but the school had produced something else so there were some issues. I had to watch them safely aboard. I wasn’t sure which school they attended or where they went so in order to prevent a stampede I said “Primary School children first”. A few came on. Then I had to think of another way of dividing up these schoolkids so that I wouldn’t have all of them on board at once. But I was absolutely furious with my friend for spiking my guns with that other girl. It’s exactly what has happened before with him and it’s exactly what has happened in loads of dreams before this. Any time I’m anywhere close to getting the girl someone comes along to spoil it

Looking back at what I dictated, I was surprised that I’d been able to express myself like that during a dream. They must have been things that I felt quite deeply.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it’s usually my family who appear during the night and forestall all of my plans, sticking the baton dans la rue of whatever project I’m undertaking. They are always appearing at the crucial moment just as I’m about to Get The Girl and blow my chances out of the water.

But in the past, there have been a couple of friends who had the habit of doing that. One of them pretended to be looking after my best interests, as if I was senile or something, but in actual fact he had another agenda completely.

The second one, the one in the dream, he couldn’t stand to see anyone Get The Girl, whether he had already got a girl or not. He was of the opinion that only he should ever Get The Girl, no matter how many other girls he already had and that’s not an exaggeration either.

Anyway, this is all water under the bridge. There’s no point really in raking up stuff like this. Ambrose Bierce said "A year is a period of 365 disappointments" and we should all simply be resigned to it

It’s as I said though, there are some things that drag you down. Instead of trying to rise up, people simply want you to be down at their level. And in the end you either sink in with them or cast them all aside.

In Matthew 10:14 the Bible tells you "if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet"

So abandoning another good rant for the moment, the cleaner was here again so I finished off the radio notes and hacked a few sound-tracks about to extract and convert a few tracks that I need for the next programme.

While I was at it, I hacked around a few sound-tracks of Louis de Funès films to collect a few more sound-bytes. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that although he’s been dead for several years, he and I have some interesting chats on my radio programmes.

Of course, having served on the Students’ Executive Committee and on other committees dealing with the various University bodies, I’m quite used to communicating with the deceased.

But Louis de Funès is my favourite French actor. Who will ever forget the MUSKATNOOS, HERR MULLER? or the NUDISTS sketches?

His sound-bytes really fit in well with my programmes and I keep on looking out for more in order to enlarge our conversations.

When the cleaner had gone I went into the kitchen, took the cake and cut it into 3 equal sizes. The took the cream from the fridge, whisked it again and used it as a filler in order to layer the slices. It was then wrapped in baking paper, clingfilm and put in the fridge.

And from what I tasted from the crumbs that were scattered around, it will be a world-beating cake. Nice and rich and chocolaty. I hope that it will last a while too. I’m fed up of things going off so quickly

Tea was chips from the air fryer with some of those vegan nuggets. There was a salad too which was delicious, and it would have been even more so had I remembered the mushrooms. I really don’t know what’s happening to me right now.

The vegan mayonnaise that I made though is holding up really well and was delicious.

So no alarm in the morning, a nice lie-in with a cooked breakfast and chocolate cake for my afternoon snack. It doesn’t get much better than this. A nice lazy day is planned with a football match in the late afternoon and a cooked tea with vegan wellington and roast potatoes.

That should give me something to celebrate, right enough. And i deserve it. I never thought that I’d ever arrive here. But as Mae West said, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

However, it’s too late to do anything about that now. I’ve managed to live to a ripe old age, and there’s no doubt that as I’ve grown older, I’ve certainly grown riper.

Anyone nearby will tell you that.

Thursday 22nd February 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a better day today and I feel as if I’ve actually accomplished something too.

And considering how my day was messed around, that is an achievement because once more dealing with people who ought to know better, I find myself thinking of the words of John McCone, the USA”s Director Of Central Intelligence talking to Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defence, and saying "We will find ourselves mired down in combat in the jungle in a military effort that we cannot win".

Going to bed was quite straightforward though and once again, I had a good sleep. Strapping my legs together with an elastic strap is a really good move on my part if I want to bring some life back to weary muscles.

When the alarm went off I was talking about the Titanic disaster, but a similar disaster closer to the shore where a ship like the Titanic had split in two and sunk. Several of the passengers were arguing whether the front or the back was the stern but the radio was broadcasting the names of the people who in small boats had somehow managed to rescue some of the people but several people had died in the attempt – like “Mr So-and-so rowed 12 people home, Miss So-and-so rowed 2 people home, Mrs So-and-so was drowned when her boat overturned with so many people in it”. That was going on

This is probably something to do with the Empress of Ireland disaster. Sailing against the flow of ships, she was in a collision with a freighter off Rimouski in the St Lawrence River in May 1914 and sank with the loss of over 1,000 people. Several local boats took to the water to rescue who they could

This morning’s blood pressure was interesting – 16.8/9.2, contrasting with last night’s figure of 16.1/10.1. It’s usually higher in the evening than the morning.

Having sorted out the medication later, I came back in here to transcribe the rest of the disctaphone notes. At one point during the night apparently I was with that group of people. We were making bread. There was some kind of competition – a bread-making league or something like that and we were competing in it. I was ready to give instructions to my particular side. One thing that I wanted to make sure was that the period of the flour was different than the period when I expected people to look at me so they weren’t looking at me while I was adding the flour and then breaking up the process. So we made the very first mixing so I put it on the side while the alarm went off. Then the other team went to make their bread using their technique and timing to see how they could manage to make it.

A bread-making league of competition might sound interesting but I don’t think that any bread that I might make would be good enough for any competition. And that’s really depressing – I ought to be doing much better than I do.

Ane then at school I had to mention that despite the “nil” returns that I’d sent in during the week I had been involved in some kind of gangland activity and I wanted to talk about it. I was whisked off to the headmaster’s office. What interested them was on which days did I perform the gangland activity? What kind of activities were they? How many people were involved? All these kind of sub-headings to bracket the offence rather than to talk about the gangland activities and try to resolve the issue. It really was a perfectly strange situation.

And as if I am ever likely to be involved in any kind of gangland activity, at school or otherwise. I was always one who kept himself to himself mainly and didn’t interact with many of my peers

But then after this I ended up being in an office. There was a lot of work and it had been building up all the time. For one reason or another I hadn’t been doing it. Then I thought that I’d better grasp the nettle and see. I collected everything in. A lot of it related to work in another office so I went down there to see them to explain that in a couple of weeks I’d be having a huge pile of work to deal with. We worked out where the work was going to be done. It was going to be done by one particular person so I went to explain to him. He was extremely cynical about the whole affair. He showed me dozens and dozens of pieces of work relating to enquiries that he’d sent out to work that I was doing and which hadn’t been replied. I told him not to worry and I’d help him with the replies anyway once I’d actually replied to his messages. I could see that this spectre of not having done any work for ages was suddenly now going to haunt me for some considerable time while I tried to put everything straight

This actually a recurring dream, isn’t it? Something similar occurs quite frequently during my dreams, although it hasn’t reared its ugly head for a while. Being overwhelmed with work that I haven’t done is, however, something to which I can relate these days as I don’t seem to be doing as much as I ought to do and it is building up.

Back in this dream again … "errr … which dream?" – ed … and here were two burnt-out tanks and also the remains of a Panther …indistinct … had come to the rescue. I’d been attacked by the same machine and it was being slowly destroyed. Then the second Panther turned up too late to save its colleague and ended up with a pounding and beating too

Have I dreamed something like this before in the recent past? If not, I don’t see how I’m stepping back into it. But then again, not very much surprises me about what goes on during the night in my bed. Not these days anyway.

so having dealt with all of that I settled down to think about maybe doing some work, and the telephone rang.

And I don’t know why it is that I can give unequivocal and concise instructions to two people, make sure that they are perfectly understood, and four months later to the day, nothing whatever has been done about it and we have to start all over again.

That’s the kind of thing that totally depresses me.

So after several phone calls I have to write a couple of letters and send a few e-mails, and that takes all of the morning until long after midday, compounded by the fact that I had to clean the print head nozzles in the printer again.

They say that if it’s not one thing, it’s another. But with me, it seems to be everything all at once.

So with letters written I had to send messages to my cleaner about posting them, and she’ll drop by in the morning to pick them up.

After the midday fruit I turned my attention to the radio programme that I’m preparing. And I managed to pair off the music, merge the songs together and write most of the notes for it. It won’t take long to finish tomorrow

And that’s some Famous Last Words, isn’t it?

For tea tonight I tried an experiment. I have a small circular metal dish that is for making small pies in the oven. I tried it in the air fryer and it fits.

consequently, with my pasta, veg and tomato sauce cooked in a saucepan, I fried a burger with onion and garlic in the air fryer in the little metal dish – and it cooked the food to perfection.

Too much perfection actually – I didn’t need to cook it for 10 minutes. 7 or 8 would have done just as well

But now I know that that works, I can experiment with more stuff. Roast potatoes, anyone?

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed when I’ve checked my blood pressure and had my medication.

Tomorrow morning I have a shopping list to write out for my cleaner. And then I’m going to be busy.

There’s bread to make of course followed by a chocolate cake to make and then I’m also going to experiment with some cream filling. If the mayonnaise worked so well, there shouldn’t be any reason why I can’t make a sweet variety and use it as a filling in a layer cake. Or even flavour it with chocolate.

Yes, I’m feeling like being bold and adventurous tomorrow morning and I’m wondering now what else I can make while I’m there with my cooking stuff out.

None of the aforementioned might work but as Edward Appleton said, "I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill" and for a moment I seem to be full of enthusiasm (which is not like me these days) so I intend to ride the wave.

However Théoden said "night changes many thoughts" and I wonder how I’ll be feeling in the morning. But as Mona Lott used to say in ITMA, "it’s being so cheerful as keeps me going".

Wednesday 21st February 2024 – I DON’T KNOW …

… why but I seem to have lost all of my motivation today.

It’s been rather flaky for several months, even years, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but today, there it was – gone. And never called me “mother” either.

It’s not as if I didn’t have a good night either. I was in bed early, wasn’t interrupted too much, all of that kind of thing. Anyone would have thought that I’d have been ready for anything.

But at some point during the night, and I wish that I knew where it was, all of my “get up and go” must have got up and gone, leaving me behind. And so that was that.

It was an early night too. It didn’t take too long to finish everything off after I’d done my notes. And then I hauled myself off to bed, pushing STRAWBERRY MOOSE out of the way. He’s worse than a cat, monopolising everything around here.

And for once, I had a good night’s sleep and I hardly remember being awoken at all during the night. I had my musculation band around my thighs, but it’s no good if it isn’t doing the exercises. I have been hoping for dramatic results from it but if things carry on like this, it’ll be unlikely.

And who was it a couple of months ago complaining about his awful sleep?

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and went to fetch the blood pressure tester to see where we are. Last night was 17.7/10.2 and this morning it was 16.3/9.6, and still no-one has told me what to do to try to reduce it to this mythical figure of 14.0/9.0

Following this, I dragged myself off into the kitchen for the medication, all 10 items of it (11 or even 12 if I need them). There are 5 (and maybe 6 or even 7) to be taken at night before going to bed, and that’s not including the painkillers that I’ve been prescribed but don’t take, so when I walk around, I rattle.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m not a fan of painkillers. They’ll kill the pain for sure, and make it easier for you to move around, but how much damage are you doing to yourself by continuing to put weight on whatever is damaged and that you can’t feel it?

At least, with a pain, you know that you have to take it easy, walk rather gingerly, or find a work-around.

Back in here I listened to the dictaphone to find out what’s upon it. And there wasn’t much. Iceland was playing Scotland in a World Cup elimination match, the finals of the heats or whatever. The score had been 4-2 for Scotland in the first heat at Hampden and in the second heat the Icelanders were leading 2-0 so would qualify for the final stages on “away goals”. Then an incident occurred in the penalty area and a penalty was awarded to Scotland which they scored. Everyone looking at it later from slow motion replays couldn’t see any contact that might have led to a foul. It was up to the adjudicators to say that he’d awarded it because of contact – even though it was only slight, it was still contact. An Icelandic football player went over and punched him three times in the face. There was an inquiry and a really lengthy suspension for the Icelandic player. Even the newspapers said “you can’t do that as a football player”.

And this is all very reminiscent of the 1977 incident involving Joe Jordan and Welsh defender David Jones where Jordan clearly handled the ball in the Welsh penalty area during a World Cup qualifying match.

The referee however gave Scotland a penalty from which Scotland scored and which effectively ended Wales’s chance of qualifying for Argentina 1978 to which Scotland went.

Scotland also went to the 1990 World Cup in Rome and a few days before the start, as I was driving down the A500 towards the M6 overbridge, a double-decker bus went past overhead on its way southwards, painted dramatically overall as a blue-and-white saltire for Scotland.

Scotland’s performance at that World Cup was quite dismal and they were eliminated early. And as I was driving down the A500 towards the M6 overbridge a few days after their final match, a double-decker bus went past overhead on its way northwards, painted dramatically overall as a blue-and-white saltire for Scotland

Things had obviously not gone well.

Things didn’t go well for me today either, as I mentioned. The nurse came on time to give me my injection and to take a blood sample, and then I was left on my own for a while. I should have done plenty of work but somehow I just couldn’t make a start and I don’t know why.

We all have days like those, that’s for sure, but I seem to be having more of them than most

It was only when the cleaner arrived to clean the apartment and I had to stay in my room here that I actually pushed on and now the notes for the radio programme that I started yesterday are complete.

The aim once that was finished was to start on choosing the music for the next programme but I actually fell asleep, and not once either but twice and once in an … errr … very embarrassing place.

It reminds me of one particular time in Montreal.

Originally, I used to stay outside the city at Dorval, catch the 202 bus to the DuCollege Metro Station and then the underground into the city. It wasn’t until i became ill that I took up lodgings in the city centre.

Anyway, the problem with being in a hotel outside the city is that if I was feeling tired, I couldn’t go back to my room for a lie-down and a coffee.

However I did have certain places where I could go for a rest, but was always on the lookout for others.

One day while I was exploring the Complexe Desjardins shopping centre in the rue St Catherine, I came across the public conveniences. Now they looked clean, comfortable and tidy, and with my jacket rolled up tightly to make a good pillow, I was really comfortable riding the porcelain horse and leaning against the cubicle wall asleep.

What I hadn’t taken into account was that to deter the homeless and the layabouts like me from loitering, they arranged for an automatic flush of the toilets every 5 minutes, which was about 30 seconds after I’d gone to sleep.

That was quite embarrassing.

So being rather late for tea I was quite starving too. But it was another delicious leftover curry with vegetables, rice and a naan bread cooked to perfection and as I said last week, I’ll eat that again.

Something else that I’ve repeated about my tea … "and on many occasions too" – ed … is that the idea of using couscous as part of the filler for the stuffing has made a real difference – and a positive one at that.

So what will tomorrow bring? Gotthold Lessing tells us that "better counsel comes overnight" and I do feel better after a good, relaxing night’s sleep. But I don’t seem to be having too many of those right now. The last time that I had eight hours sleep, it took me three days to have them

In the meantime, I shall have to be just like Ernest Hemingway who said "I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake".

And doesn’t that sound just like me?

Tuesday 20th February 2024 – MY WELSH CLASS …

… passed surprisingly well today and I’ve no idea why.

It’s not as if I’ve done anything different at all. I’m still having no end of trouble trying to remember anything with this teflon brain that I have. And “teflon” because nothing seems to stick to it.

Homer Simpson is famous for saying "every time I learn something new, it pushes something old out". My problem is the opposite. I can sing you any kind of song lyrics from any kind of obscure rock song of the late 1960s but trying remember why I’ve just walked into the kitchen is something else entirely

So I have this brain, but nothing is sticking to it.

At least I can remember where my bed is. That would be a catastrophe if I couldn’t.

But I couldn’t remember to go to it at any kind of reasonable time. It was another depressingly late night and I have to stop doing it. I ought to be going to bed much earlier than I do.

Even though it was only a short night, it was a comfortable one without too much tossing and turning. When the alarm went off I was in our bedroom at Gainsborough Road checking on Nerina. She seemed to be fast asleep tucked up under the blankets so I whispered gently “I’m just going up for my lunch now” and turned to go. Just then the alarm went off. I thought to myself “it’s just typical, isn’t it? I’ve just made sure that Nerina’s nice and comfortable and now she’s going to be awoken by the alarm”.

However it was in fact mine in my bedroom, Billy Cotton shouting his WAKEY WA…..KEY! to half of the street and the people on the Ile de Chausey so I fell out of bed and checked my blood pressure. Only 15.4/9.6 this morning compared to 17.6/10.6 last night. Things are getting better.

There was a full house of medication this morning. I have all of the pills and tablets that I need for another few weeks, as well as four injections that my cleaner brought me yesterday. In fact I’m not really short of much at all right now so I fail to understand how my next LeClerc delivery next week is going to be over €60:00 and 33 items. I must be going all suburban these days instead of living the usual hand-to-mouth.

Back in here I had a listen to the rest of the dictaphone notes from the night. This was the story of Springsteen’s first album. It was a totally unexpected hit and how the leader of the group – it wasn’t Bruce Springsteen – was actually in the bath when the news broke. All of the reporters and journalists came his way but he didn’t understand what was going on either. When the reporters found out that it was Bruce Springsteen who had written them some of the journalists tried to interview him but he was ready with a quip about how his girlfriend had written one of the tracks but no-one wanted to talk to her. But they were all taken aback by the success. Springsteen related to the fact that none of them could actually speak the language that was being used. It was all a kind of elite grammar and pronunciation whereas Morse and his friends came from the back streets and spoke in a different fashion than Sprinsteen who had written most of the lyrics of the songs.

But this is really the Springsteen story. When Columbia Records fist saw him he was a solo artist playing his acoustic guitar and they immediately thought “the new Bob Dylan” and signed him up. When he turned up with all of this friends and their electric instruments Columbia Records was so disappointed and shunted him off to a studio out in the sticks

With no promotion his first couple of albums bombed but I remember back in the 70s seeing a television programme in which he was complaining about the lack of back-up. And then BORN TO RUN happened.

And although Springsteen’s then-girlfriend Karen Darvin didn’t write any of the lyrics, it’s been claimed that the song SHE’S THE ONE, one of my favourites and for obvious reasons too, refers to her.

"no matter where you sleep tonight or how far you run
Whoa – she’s the one, she’s the one"

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … bed, an office trip had been proposed and various people were thinking of going but the organisation was completely chaotic. The person who had taken on the job had suddenly fallen ill. In the end they managed to complete something and have some people ready to go, so everyone was ready for the next weekend. In te meantime they’d proposed some kid of race and I took part in it. I just followed someone round until the last minute and then overtook them and went through the chequered flag but she came and berated me for not telling everyone about this office trip. I told her that I hadn’t organised it. When she asked who had, I gave her a list of people whom I knew, all of whom are off sick. “I don’t even know who’s going but I’m sure that you can find someone around the office who can give you the information and see whether there are any places left to go”.

And I suppose we’ll now have all the old jokes about the certain people who were so disappointed when they learned that that proposed “Office Outing” referred to a day trip at the races.

But the funniest thing that I knew about office trips was the person who proposed a day trip on Concorde (when Concorde was flying) to somewhere interesting at a price not unadjacent to several hundred pounds per head.

He collected all of the money and when all of the passengers turned up at the airport they found that no such trip had been arranged and their erstwhile colleague had disappeared with all the money.

That’s the kind of thinking that I appreciate. It’s certainly a most elaborate and novel way to hand in your notice.

Having dealt with the dictaphone notes I revised for my Welsh lesson for a couple of hours and then went to make some coffee. The bread and butter pudding went the Way of the West on Monday so we’re back on the fruit buns.

The bread and butter pudding was in some senses a big disappointment. I made it beautifully and it tasted really nice too, but nature overwhelmed it quicker than I could eat it. Even dividnng it up into weekly amounts didn’t work if, like this last lot, there was a day that overran a weekend for some reason.

So we had a really good lesson and for a change I finished on the podium during a class quiz. And that’s something that hasn’t ever happened before.

This afternoon I had a little relax without doing very much for a couple of hours, and then attacked the radio notes. I’ selected, paired off and joined up all of the music for the first one and even begun to dictate the notes for it.

And while I was at it I even began to choose the music for the following programme. And if I manage to do that and dictate both lots of notes I’ll be up to the end of October once I’ve edited and assembled the backlog.

Having a stock saved up for the future is a good plan, and for obvious reasons too. I intend to live on, long after I’ve gone.

So having sent off the programme for this weekend, I went and made tea. A taco roll with stuffing, with rice and veg.

As for my new mayonnaise, the taste is absolutely delicious but it’s too thick. I was hoping that it would pour out of the bottle but it’s even thicker than store-bought mayonnaise. Next time I’ll use more milk to make it thinner so that it’ll pour.

So while the mayonnaise isn’t exactly what I wanted, it’s certainly proper mayonnaise as mayonnaise is supposed to be, and I’m not going to be troubled by vampires while I have any of this around the place. I might have gone a little overboard with the garlic.

IN a few minutes I’ll be going to bed. Despite a few wobbles here and there I’ve kept on going all through the day so I’m quite tired. A good sleep will do me good because I have plenty to do. My hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche tells me that "at present there are such goings-on that everything is at a standstill" and that sounds about right.

But not that I have much hope of doing it. When PG Wodehouse used to write his novels he said that quite often "I just sit at a typewriter and curse a bit".

In my case though, it’s a keyboard and I curse a lot.

Monday 19th February 2024 – I HAD A …

… visitor last night. One of my favourite young ladies came to see me, and I even ended up waltzing with her.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Castor – since she turned her back on me and walked so dramatically to her ‘plane on that deserted, windswept airstrip in the High Arctic in September 2019.

Those three days were probably the most dramatic of my life but the World isn’t yet ready to hear the story. However, they were three days that changed my life for ever.

Samuel Gurney Cresswell, the British naval officer and painter who ha accompanied McClure on his trip into the Arctic via the Western passage, witnessed the frightening and dramatic brushes with death that the expedition had in the Ice and seen McClure change almost overnight from an ebullient, gung-ho cavalier to a frightened, timid mouse, wrote that "A voyage to the High Arctic ought to make anyone a wiser and better man"

My previous expedition ought therefore to have taught me a lesson, but the following year, as Kenneth Williams once said, "I was so far in that only my head was showing".

But be that as it may, for once I was in bed early last night, and isn’t that a change?

When the alarm went off, it took me quite by surprise and it was a real struggle to leave the bed this morning. Nevertheless, the blood pressure this morning was a mere 13.7/7.4 – and last night it was 45.4/10.4. It looks as if that blood pressure medication is slowly working on me.

It’s taken its time, that’s all I can say.

We had a little medication issue this morning. The chemist had to order a box of medication because she had none in stock. It didn’t arrive until this morning by which time I’d run out. My cleaner didn’t bring it round until this afternoon by which time it was too late to take it.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone note from the night. The cleaner came and awoke me this morning at 04:15. I don’t know why and I don’t know what happened but I was awake. I’d been with a rock group earlier. I’d been in and out but I’d been called back to play because the leader had died. We’d had a play and everything went well. We did this big concert which everyone seemed to enjoy. Afterwards when things had quietened down and people had left we all had a meeting to discuss events. They asked me what was my greatest feeling during this particular concert. I replied that it was a very personal moment. They all insisted and insisted, so after a while I was obliged to tell them

And then later on Castor was here! I was going round to drive a taxi for someone. It was quite a big family and they’d left me a pile of instructions. There was a taxi job to do from Stoke on Trent into Crewe followed by one from Manchester Airport. I had to fill the car up afterwards because he had an early morning job. I did the Stoke on Trent one and then went to Manchester Airport via Tarporley to go to see the girl whom I know there. From there, I went to Manchester Airport, fuelled up the car, picked up the passenger and came back to Crewe then carried on taxi-driving until it was time to go home. I cashed up and left the petrol receipt on the table as I usually did. Next day I went round to see how everything went and began to chat to one of his daughters, who was Castor. We had a really good chat until eventually she wandered off. I carried on doing what I was doing then on my way home out of the house I went into one of the bedrooms, which was actually outside and you went into it by a set of stairs and she was there with her younger sister teaching her to write. They were having something of an argument about how the “e” and the “s”, to make sure that there was no confusion. I watched for a while and then had a little chat to Castor. I said “maybe I’ll see you tomorrow”. She said “you aren’t coming this evening? as if to drive the taxi. I asked “why? Will you be here?”. She replied “no, I’m going to a party. I have to go to buy a dress at 17:00”. I asked about the party. It turned out that it was a grown-ups’ affair, not a kids’ affair and everyone would be there in formal dress, suits and ties, that kind of thing. We chatted about this for a while. In the end she looked me in the eye and asked “would you like to come with me?”. Of course I said “yes” so we we were there at this party and people began to dance. It was a waltz so I picked her up from her chair but she said that she couldn’t dance so I was there on the dance floor teaching her how to waltz with my arm around her etc.

The “girl in Tarporley” by the way was the one who wanted me to abandon Tuppence, my old black cat. But no-one comes between me and my cat.

She was a very anti-social cat who used to go to hide if anyone came to the house, but she set out to drive away that girl who was in danger of taking her place as mistress of the house.

With Nerina though, Tuppence didn’t have the opportunity. Nerina loves cats as much as I do and when she saw Tuppence the first time that she came to my house, it was “ohhh, a cat!” and Tuppence was in her arms before the poor cat had time to think about it

There is however quite a funny story involving a “first time” between Tuppence, Nerina and me, but it’s another one for which the World will have to wait for another time.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I stepped back into that dream (so don’t let me tell you that I never step back into dreams that feature my three young ladies) and was dancing with Castor again, doing a waltz with her.

So after all this time, Castor puts in another appearance in my nocturnal voyages. Welcome back.

And dancing with her was the best that I could do. Still, it’s better than nothing at all. George Bernard Shaw allegedly said that dancing was "a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire" so I shall just have to be content with the perpendicular expression and leave the rest, if there ever is any more, for another time.

The saddest part though is how we parted. As I said, I couldn’t understand it until two years or so ago when I had to say goodbye to someone at an airport. And had I known how difficult it would be to leave someone, I’d have departed like that too (except that it wasn’t me departing, but never mind)

Some goodbyes have to be said like that. My suitcase wasn’t big enough to bring both her and STRAWBERRY MOOSE back to Europe.

Having dealt with the dictaphone (and there was more, but you don’t want to read it if you are finishing your meal or something) I made a start on the work for the day.

Not that I managed to go very far because Rosemary rang me with a problem with which she needed help. It concerned one of these on-line meeting programs, and what do I know about those? I did what I could anyway.

Ther’s talk that she and a few people from the Auvergne might come to see me soon. That will be nice. Not that I can do very much right now, but nevertheless I might be able to manage something, even if it’s just to sit in a car or a café and chat.

Having finished my chat with Rosemary someone else then wanted a chat and what with one thing and another (and once you start, you’d be surprised how many other things there are) it was quite late when I finally restarted work and I eventually managed to finish the radio programme that I started yesterday.

And then I was hunting down some more music that I need and eventually found it. Then I had to extract it, reformat it and re-mix it so that it’s suitable for broadcast. There are still a few more songs that I need for the next programme but I’ll deal with that tomorrow after my Welsh class tomorrow morning.

Going round and round on the playlist for the last couple of days has been Bruce Springsteen.

Just like Neil Young, his battles with depression have led to some really diverse music. There’s the very dark, moody, brooding NEBRASKA written when he’s in the pit, contrasting with the exuberance of some of the songs of BORN IN THE USA written when he was on the crest of a wave.

But all through his music is the spectre of the Failed American Dream. I was told once by someone with whom I used to work that "the USA is a great place to succeed, but a terrible place in which to fail". All over the USA there are the evident signs of failure and depression and much of Springsteen’s music is about those.

His song THE RIVER is probably one of the saddest songs of all as it follows the downhill spiral of Bruce Springsteen’s brother – teenage pregnancy, unemployment and despair. It sums up much of the hidden USA that’s never shown in the media.

"Down to the river, but I know that the river is dry". All his hopes and dreams are washed away.

But the track that I’ve been listening to is RACING IN THE STREET off DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN.

That’s a really sad track about two ageing men desperately trying to cling on to their long-gone youth while the wife of the singer, who was with him in his youth, now sits at home alone in despair.

It’s something that I’ve actually lived. Substitute “From the fire roads to the interstate” to “From the fire roads to the Trans-Canada Highway” and I’ve been there, done that, with various people.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … you could move the whole of southern New Brunswick into Tennessee and neither the Tennesseens or the New Brunswickers would ever notice the difference. Living there for months on end was in danger of turning me into a redneck.

But never mind that for a moment. Aren’t the lyrics "She stares off alone into the night with the eyes of one who hates for just being born" some of the saddest lyrics you have ever heard?

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper. And really delicious too with the stuffing made of couscous. That was a good invention, that was and I’m glad that it worked so well.

So now I’m off to bed, to sleep and have pleasant dreams. And hopefully Castor will come back to me again, although it’s unlikely.

While we’re on the subject of Springsteen … "well, one of us is" – ed … in “The River” you probably heard him sing "is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?" I can answer that question.

And that is that it’s something worse. My dreams don’t ever come true and I’m never likely ever to dance a waltz with Castor. I won’t ever see her again in real life.

But not to worry. Gene Kelly said "you dance love, you dance joy and you dance dreams" and I shall just have to dance the dreams, that’s all. Remember that Neitzsche said "those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music", and I’ve always been able to hear the music

That’s what’s kept me going.

Sunday 18th February 2024 – MY HOME – MADE …

… vegan mayonnaise worked to absolute perfection and if I can do it like that every time things will be great around here

It’s slow and time-consuming, but the results are well-worth it, and it’s another good reason for having bought my food processor at the end of last year.

The end of last night was rather a mess. I didn’t go to bed until well after 02:00, but that was after dictating two radio programme notes though. And as usual these days, they are a real mess and will take a lot of editing down to make them sound any good.

However that wasn’t a problem for last night. Being half-asleep I hauled myself off to bed

And it was a really good sleep that I had too. When I pulled my head out from under the covers and checked the time, it was 11:55. A good sleep indeed

When I eventually rose from the Dead, it wasn’t 11:55, I’ll promise you that. But there was the blood pressure to take – 17.4/10.6, surprisingly similar to last night’s 17.6/10.0

After the medication I went into the bathroom and put the washing-machine on the go. There’s my bedding and plenty of clothes that need attention. The bedding in particular could do with a really good hot wash.

Then I came back in here to check the dictaphone. I was sleeping solidly when I awoke with a start. Somebody pointed to me saying “this piece goes under the yellow”. It was someone from the hospital. They were trying to put something in the bed underneath the blanket but STRAWBERRY MOOSE was in the way. I went to help them but awoke instead. It seems that there had been a football team playing in a football league. It was one of these leagues where they had physical plans like musculators for the legs and things like that permitted. I was signed up to play and I had my legs all strapped up so that the bits of me that weren’t working were protected but the bits of me that were working were active so I joined this team and played n°s 5 to 11. I mostly played in attack. I remember two people saying that if I have as much more luck in attack then they’ll be conceding goals in the other team’s attack and I should be absolutely great, obviously referring to my periods in hospital. Instead, after a few days I demanded some annual leave so that I could clear out my bus and the shed where I’m living and clear out the dirt of my café. I was granted a bus and went to change it. I noticed from the change that this was a priority, not an ordinary run-of-the-mill school bus so I rang them up to find out about it because this should never have gone on a trip like this with me but kept in reserve until it was needed.A t the reserve they told me that it was all mine if I was careful so I put most of my things in and went back to prepare for leaving.

And that was rather confusing.

Later on I went to the hospital. The prescription was for double the treatment to my legs, i.e. double the injections and everything down there. On the way home I stopped and thought. There was a shop that was selling St Bernards and Alsatians. I thought that seeing as they were already in and around the farm somewhere so I might as well … fell asleep here … I knew that having a twin tailpipe was going to cost me twice as much in fines as having that single tailpipe just now but I thought that it was well worth it because of the difference in performance and difference in layout and well-being of their house, it would be much better this way

Here I am, having a dream within a dream – that’s an interesting concept. DENNIS WHEATLEY in his Satanist collection of books has his hero travelling between various levels of dreams within dreams but so far, I’ve only managed the two levels.

That’s complicated enough. I shudder to think what it would be like by the time that you arrive at your eighteenth or nineteenth

I was fast asleep just now dictating to nothing and I can’t remember now but it concerned our final match of the season, at the end of April against another Bangor team. We had all the support so we should overcome them quite easily but I mentioned the fact that the other team in Bangor now, mine was so much better with this new steering and I did a really good series of turns with it on the road to Amlwch. I was delighted with it and that I’d spent the money on it having it done

That sounds like something else where there’s a bit missing out of the middle. I wonder where it went

And finally I was with a friend from University (yes, I did have some) last night. I’d been absent from work for a while and was retiring on health grounds. She and I bumped into each other somewhere and ended up having quite a nice chat. She asked me about what I was doing so I explained. She said that I’d been very much missed in the office with people sending me their regards etc. Before I retired I had some kind of relapse and was not doing very well at all. She said that she’d asked someone how I was. They said that he seems to be OK but he’s gone a little wild these days. I thought that that was a pretty good description. She filled me in with all the news. I began to explain about things that I’d been doing before I retired and the office was going to be in quite a shock because I was doing so much. I had all these meetings arranged including one on the day that I was supposed to be retiring and no-one as yet has approached me to ask me how they are going to be covered. As far as I was concerned they aren’t going to be covered at all and I couldn’t care less. She was surprised at my attitude because she thought that I was going to leave thousands of ordinary people sitting around with less money than they ought to have. In a way she was right but I was just up to my ears in anger, I suppose, and I just couldn’t wait to leave that office and leave them with all kinds of complications that they’d have to sort out. maybe then they’d realise just how much work I was doing in that place.

It’s quite strange really. Before I retired I did take off some time as sick leave. And I counted – three different drivers rang me up about different aspects of the job that I was doing. In other words, it took three people to replace me.

But what was quite funny there was when I made a suggestion about how things might be improved. I was told “what do you know about this kind of work? ” by the guy in charge.

So on the way home I stopped at the stationer’s and bought some cheap A4 picture frames. And next morning as the guy in charge watched, I hung up my framed couple of Taxi Owners’ Operators Licences from Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council and from Congleton Borough Council, my framed copy of my Certificate of Professional Competence to Operate a Fleet of Coaches in the UK, and my framed copy of my Certificate of Professional Competence to Operate a Fleet of Coaches in Europe – the latter two being issued by the European Union .

Having done that, I asked him if he needed to see anything else, Strangely enough, he never said anything to me again after that.

In most jobs these days though, they have taken to sending home on the spot people who hand in their resignation. It was much more fun in the old days when you could plant time bombs in your working routine to go off after you’ve left, like asking 12 people to come in for an interview at exactly the same time when you know that there will be only four officials present, or booking 12 coach jobs simultaneously when the company has only 5 coaches.

You could spend hours thinking up imaginative and inventive time bombs to confound, confuse and demoralise an antagonistic employer.

All of the above was interrupted by brunch – porridge, strong black coffee and my cheese on toast. At the end of the day I wasn’t too discouraged by the bread. It still tasted nice with bread, cheese, tomato and onion.

Once I’d finished the dictaphone notes it was time to make the mayonnaise.

  • 120ml of soya milk was whizzed around until it began to thicken
  • Once it started to become thick, add a teaspoon of wine vinegar and also your flavouring, like garlic, tarragon, sea salt, lemon juice, chives, diced onion
  • Whizz that lot up for 30 seconds or so
  • Scrape around the sides and base of your whizzing bowl to free off anything that is stuck to it and then whizz again for 10 seconds.
  • Start up the whizzer and while it’s whizzing add 240 ml of vegetable oil drop by drop by drop.
  • Once about a third of the oil has been added, you can slowly increase the speed at which you are adding it
  • Scrape around the sides and base of your whizzing bowl to free off anything that is stuck to it and then whizz again for 10 seconds.
  • Put it in a pot in the fridge

It takes an age adding the oil drip by drip and it’s quite uncomfortable holding the container. I will have to think of a work-around to make it easier. Some kind of plastic container maybe with a pin hole at the bottom perhaps

Back in here I started with the radio programme, one of the ones where the soundtrack was recorded a while ago but not yet edited. And by the time that I’d knocked off for tea it was almost all ready. The final, 11th track has been chosen and remixed, and I just have to write, dictate, edit and assemble the notes that go with it and then assemble it.

That will be tomorrow morning’s job.

There were a few interruptions. For a start … "or for a finish" – ed … the washing machine finished its work and I had to hang out the clothes. And this little trolley really is worth its weight in gold being pushed around the apartment by my crutches, with all kinds of different things on it.

After lunch I’d taken out some pizza dough from the freezer and by 18:00 it had defrosted so I could knead it again and roll it out onto my pizza tray.

After it had stood for an hour or so I went back, assembled the pizza and then baked it. And it’s not denying that it was one of the best that I’ve ever made. Everything about it was just about right tonight.

So that’s all that I’m doing today. Despite Sunday being a Day of Rest I’ve really been quite busy, and like the Duke of Wellington said after the Battle of Waterloo, "I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there".

Right now I might actually go to bed if I can summon up the energy to do so but I dunno. Maybe I should remember the words of baseball coach “Yogi” Berra and "If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And they’ve improved considerably since.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s much more in my line of country.

Friday 16th February 2024 – THIS WEEKEND’S BREAD …

… was not as good as last weekend’s, but much better than the weekend’s before.

And that’s a shame really. I massaged it gently as if I were massaging Zero’s clavicles (per Sean), used a little more water and folded it rather than fought it (per Liz) and adopted the tips that other people sent me and I’m sorry that I forgot who sent what, but that was that.

It seems that the difference is in the flour. When I used plain, industrial bleached flour it went up like a lift but with cereal flour or wholemeal flour it doesn’t go up anything like as well. But I’m not sure what to do about that. I don’t know enough about baking.

However, it seems that I know plenty about sleeping because despite going once more late to bed I actually had a good sleep yet again.

Not that you would have thought so because it was yet another night when I didn’t really feel like going to bed and could have sat up all night here in my chair. But I can’t make a habit of that so after a while I hauled myself off.

Billy Cotton awoke me from a deep, satisfying sleep. When it went off there was a musician, a guitarist rather like Carlos Santana or John McLaughlin who had a bassist and a drummer. he was playing under one name. For some reason or other the sound that he was creating wasn’t really what he wanted to do so he upped and went to San Francisco. Being there for a short while he recruited the two members of his group from before and brought them with him to San Francisco where they created a new group under the name of “The Family”. They began to play together again but the sound that they were creating was much more like the sound that he was trying to create. People were wondering what exactly was the difference between what he’s doing here and what he’s done when he was elsewhere but which didn’t really sound the same as what he’s producing now. What’s the difference? What’s he doing that’s making the sound better?

That’s not as bizarre as it might sound. I owned a van, an old J4, that would never start on the starter in Manchester. Anywhere else, yes, but not Manchester. It was as if the battery was flat so I had to use the starting handle

Once I changed the lead that went from the solenoid to the starter it would start anywhere, anytime. I came to the conclusion that one of the soldered joints was too susceptible to damp in the air in Manchester. So atmosphere plays a big part in things like that and really can influence the sound. I’ve even heard of records being recorded in toilets because of the differences in atmosphere.

But power trios of guitar, bass and drums. That’s the way forward, rather like Savoy Brown, The Groundhogs, Robin Trower, Budgie and so on. That was how I loved to play and if possible, sing as well but I always seemed to end up with guitarists who loved to sing too.

Yes, it seems that I’m dying to go back on the road. Rather like Bilbo Baggins and "I want to see mountains again, Gandalf". I want to see a stage and an audience again. Last time that I saw a stage was in Winnipeg in 2019 when I walked across the stage where my grandmother had topped the bill over acts like Jackie Coogan and Lon Chaney 100 years ago.

But all of that is for another day. First thing was to check my blood pressure. A mere 15.1/8.0 this morning, and 16.0/8.5 last night. This medication might be beginning to work after all. It’ll be interesting to see what it will be tonight.

After heaping down the medication and doing the usual things that you need to do after 8 hours sleep, I washed my hands and then went to make the bread

It kneaded up quite nicely and when I reckoned that it was done I rolled it out into a long tube, cut it into three equal lengths and then flattened them down onto the baking tray.

There was a rice pudding to make too, seeing as I’m running short on desserts. And after all of the trouble last week, Brain of Britain remembered this week that he had a selection of bread moulds that would fit into the oven with the baking tray and one of those would be good enough to use as a rice pudding dish.

When the bread had finished baking I let it cool while I made coffee and then made some cheese on toast with one of the bread rolls. And it was lovely – warm fresh bread just out of the oven with cheese and toast all over it, washed down with strong black coffee.

After breakfast I came back in here to listen to the rest of the dictaphone notes. We were a brigade of soldiers last night being interviewed to go abroad to fight. Of course we had our families to consider so they asked us where we would like to go. Our response was that we’d like to go somewhere as close to base as possible but on the other hand if an interesting war was being fought somewhere 100 miles away we’d quite happily go there if there was good rail connections to come back to London where all out families were living. As most of us came from South London, the Wimbledon area, we reckoned that we were probably going to end up in South Africa anyway and given a chance to make a name for ourselves there rather than some mundane, dispirited and disorganised clash of arms closer to home in the UK maybe

We were back in the military again later on. The girl who lived next door to us in the family there was my eldest sister’s age but she was dealing in drugs and distributing them about the army base. It seemed at first that no-one was after her. She also had a little side-line going stealing sidecars from army motorbikes and sidecars and selling them on into civilian life. She’d borrow a motorcycle – fill in a form to say that she’d taken a motorcycle but in fact taken a motor cycle combination and undone the couplings so the combination of the sidecar and taken back the machine as it was just written on the form that it was a machine so she was covered in case anyone ever noticed that the sidecar was gone. She had sold several like that and was continuing onwards

But if that’s ever likely to happen – me in the military. If a war ever were to break out again I’d be in the Merchant Marine, unarmed, not fighting, but nevertheless in the front line confronting the odd submarine or ten.

And that reminds me of the time that I started my chauffeuring in Brussels.
"Are you armed, Mr Hall?"
"No I’m not" I replied
"But what would you do if we were confronted by an armed villain?"
"I’d rely on the force of my personality, Sir Brian" I replied.

We didn’t even have a police escort either. Just an ordinary, large family saloon with ordinary, not diplomatic, number places and we used to just pass by quietly and un-noticed. And he survived to live to a ripe old age of 82 and die peacefully in his bed despite my best efforts, which just goes to show …

After the dictaphone notes I had a few matters to attend to and then I began the next radio programme.

First task was to track down a film. And then to extract the sound-track, followed by cutting out a certain song which I needed for a forthcoming radio programme. And you’ve no idea how long that takes to do all of that.

But once it was done I had to track down another song and download that, and then convert both songs into a usable format.

Having collected them, I could then go on and collect another 8 to make the basis of a programme, pair them off and join them together.

By the time that I was ready to call it a day I’d written the notes for three of them too. I’ll try to have the other seven done tomorrow ready to dictate Saturday night, but that’s unlikely as there’s a lot happening, including Y Bala v Mynydd y Fflint in the Cwpan Cymraeg, live on Youtube.

The cleaner came round today and had a lap around the apartment. Now it looks as if someone lives here, and that’s always nice. It won’t last long, though.

Tea was some of those nuggets (first thing that I could grab from the freezer) with a vegan salad and chips. And it really is a nice meal. My air fryer really is good for the chips.

The salad is really good as well, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, mushroom and olives with a liberal helping of vegan mayonnaise.

But while we’re on the subject of mayonnaise … "well, one of us is" – ed … I’ve found a recipe for making it without eggs and using a food processor. And seeing as I actually have a food processor I feel that I ought to try it out. In fact that might make a nice Sunday afternoon activity seeing as there’s no baking this weekend

As Keats said in a letter to Benjamin Bailey, "he will have the pleasure of trying the resources of his spirit", or as Aragorn said,"there are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark"

And "the end may be dark" will probably be a pretty good description of my home-made mayonnaise.

Thursday 15th February 2024 – I REALLY DON’T …

… know what’s happening to me right now.

Once again, I was absolutely flat-out this afternoon, sleeping quietly on my chair for a good 90 minutes. And nothing whatever disturbed me, not even a message on the ‘phone from Rosemary, and regular readers of this rubbish will recall the racket that this ‘phone makes whenever I receive a message or ‘phone call.

It was just like yesterday in fact, where I was well away with the fairies on the way home from Paris.

One thing that I can’t blame is tiredness. Just for a change I was in bed early and actually had a comfortable night’s sleep without waking too much.

Mind you, I could have done with another couple of hours when the alarm went off. It took me several minutes to work out what was going on (and that’s not unusual, is it?). What I mean by that is that I had the impression that there were several beds in here with several people, and a whole series of alarms was going off to awaken different people. I had a hard time believing that my alarm call was real.

But anyway I slid eventually to my feet and went for the blood pressure machine. 17.2/10.6 this morning. But as for last night’s, where did I record the figures? They aren’t written on my little booklet thing where I record them so I don’t have a clue.

They’ll turn up one day so I left them to it and went for my medication. Tons of it as usual and it’s really becoming quite ridiculous, but never mind. 10 tablets or powders in the morning and 5 at night before I go to bed is where we’re at right now.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was having a dream last night about the words dim ond da – that’s “not but good”, messing around with them, trying to fit them into different sentences that I’d written. Then we came across some of the radio notes that I’d written and just dictated. I decided that they were horrible and needed amending. I added in some bits but they were even worse, but then I couldn’t remember how to return to the original. That confused me for quite some time. When I did, I found that I’d still missed some out. Nevertheless the programme sounded better but there were so much more that I could do with this particular programme that I thought that I was going to start to rewrite it and dictate it again but that would have to be something that would have to be done later and not now.

And there have been more than just one or two occasions where this kind of thing has happened in real life when I’ve been writing a radio programme or editing a website, ending up forgetting all kinds of important things that I had included and somehow seemed to have managed to wipe out some important stuff that I really wanted to include.

This was another night where I was with my former friend. We were chatting to two other people whom we knew who we’d met some time previously. We’d arranged for this meeting so they came round . We showed them how to climb into my attic up the electric cable but the guy’s girlfriend was afraid to do it so my former friend’s wife stayed down with her and the other four of us climbed into the attic which was full of rubbish as usual. We spread ourselves out to make ourselves comfortable to talk. This started in the attic but ended up standing in Nantwich Road by the old police station. We were as usual discussing cars. My ex-friend was talking to him about several cars including one with a particular registration that would suit his wife but not while they were living in Porthcawl because it was a dangerous place to be apparently, according to him. I was talking to the other guy, telling him that I was having to dispose of some of my cars because I’d sold my house and had nowhere to keep them. I was renting a warehouse at the moment but that was precarious. However there was also a car that I wanted to buy, a yellow Ford Zephyr 6. While this was all going on there was a road rally taking place and all these old historic cars were going past. While I was talking to him about that particular one, I could hear something going past running on 5 cylinders instead of 6. It was this Zephyr so I pointed it out to him. I told him the story about how the driver had taken it out for a run 2 weeks ago but the insurance wasn’t correct at the time and he’d had a collision with a police car. As the policeman was looking round his car and preparing to nab him for no insurance, there was another bigger accident immediately right by them. The policeman went over to that and waved this guy away which was probably about the luckiest break that he’d ever had in his life

These days I seem to have a thing about Ford Zephyr 6s. There was one in my dreams a couple of nights ago and I’m sure that there have been others. They are MkIII Zephyrs, the kind that my father had in the late 60s and early 70s. Lovely, comfortable roomy cars with plenty of woomph.

A couple of nights ago I mentioned the one that I had – a MkIV model – that caught fire after a Jethro Tull concert in Manchester.

However, the story about “no insurance” rang a bell with me. When I was living in Winsford I bought a Rover 2000 at the auctions at Prees Heath and took a chance on driving it home. It goes without saying that I was pulled over by the police and asked for the documents for the car, like the MoT and the … errr … insurance.

Not having any of course, I pleaded ignorance and so was given the dreaded white slip “to produce your documents at your nearest Police Station within 5 days – or else …” – “or else” being anything from a slap on the wrist to three months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure, and in my case, it would be nearer the latter than the former. The Cheshire Constabulary and I didn’t get on very well.

Two days later I had a phone call – “this is PC Grindlay here. I stopped you the other day in that Rover. I forgot to write the date on the copy of the white slip. You will write it on for me, won’t you?”.
“Of course I will” I said, lying through my teeth. I could just picture the scene in the Nantwich Magistrates’ Court. “Five days from WHAT date, Your Honour?”.

But to be on the safe side I promptly put the Rover through the auctions at Queensferry so that someone else, presumably in North Wales, would have more headaches than I would.

Queensferry Auctions was quite fun though in the old days. Having little money we once bought a Citroen Dyane from a scrapyard for £25, drove it to Queensferry and put it through the auctions where it fetched £35. A few of those used to keep us going when we were hard-up

Another thing that we used to do when we were broke was to wander round the scrapyards and take the back seats out of cars. You’d be surprised at the amount of money that had slipped unnoticed out of people’s pockets.

It wasn’t just money either – all kinds of things were “salvaged” including, on one occasion, a really complicated food tester with temperature probe.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

Once I’d returned to the Land of the Living I started on the notes for the radio programme. There were several that I hadn’t written so I worked my way through them and now they are all ready for dictation on Saturday night. Hopefully all of the Carnivalers will have gone home by then and we’ll go back to being quiet again.

THis afternoon I was doing paperwork. It was the middle of October when I last filed away my papers so there were piles here in all kinds of heaps all over the place.

Anyway, they are now all sorted away, bills paid, actions taken and quite a few filed under CS. The place is looking much more like home now in my bedroom/office.

My cleaner came round too. Yesterday I’d given her the prescription that I’d had from Paris and she’d been this morning to the chemist’s. Now you can’t move around here for medication.

Then there was another task that needed doing now that it was after 09:00 in North America.

My Canadian bank card expired in March last year and of course I hadn’t been to North America this autumn and so didn’t have the new one.

After six months I had the dreaded “your account is now placed in suspense” notice so that was that. And then I had a letter from Service New Brunswick about paying my property taxes on my place there, which, with a suspended bank account, will be extremely difficult.

Consequently I had sent my niece along to ransack my mailbox and she found it under a pile of rubbish, and she posted it to me – the card, not the rubbish.

Now I needed to unfreeze the account and that was not the work of five minutes either. I shudder to think how much the ‘phone call will cost me at the end of the month but it needed to be done. So now my Canadian bank account is working, my bank card works, and the letter from Service New Brunswick wasn’t even the demand for payment in any case.

But buying that place in Canada was an ace of a move. No-one asks for Visas, your right of residence in Canada, that sort of thing in Canada. You can buy cars, take out insurance, open bank accounts, have mobile phones, absolutely everything as long as you can produce a property tax certificate.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve blagged my way through all kinds of situations that would have forestalled many other people, thanks to my little piece of Canada. I might have the noisiest, most mentally-unstable neighbours in the World on my southern border, but so what?

After that I went for my hot chocolate and then came back in here ready to work but as I mentioned earlier, I went off with the fairies instead. And I can tell you where I ended up too. I’d been running some kind of football training sessions for boys and girls. I’d heard a complaint that two boys had been overheard saying that they couldn’t wait to see a certain girl use the toilet again so I went to check and was confident that no-one using the toilet could be seen from outside. The rumours continued so I arranged for a piece of white canvas to be fitted to block the window arranged in such a way that it would shield the toilet but still allow light in. I was sure that there could be no possibility of anyone being seen from outside but the rumour gained ground again, I checked the toilet and was confident, so I didn’t really know what I could do now apart from bricking up the window. And I wasn’t convinced that that would stop the rumours either.

Tea tonight was that vegan sausage-meat patty with baked potato and a tin of mixed peppers that I’d found on the shelf. I felt rather like Mr Carmichael and SUPPER WAITS ON THE TABLE INSIDE A TIN.

The patty wasn’t a success. Not that it didn’t taste nice, but that in the fridge it hadn’t really kept its shape and consistency. But never mind – it was a rather ad-hoc thing using up some left-over stuffing. I’ll just have to work on it and improve my technique.

So right now I’m going to work on my sleep and improve my technique there. Having felt like Tommy Cooper this afternoon and "I knew a man who dreamed that he was awake, and when he awoke, he was!", I want to dream of nicer things.

However, rather like Barbara Follet, "my dreams are going through their death flurries. They are dying before the steel javelins and arrows of a world of Time and Money" and that will be the end of the World if that does happen. It’s only my dreams that keep me going these days

And as Dietrich Bonhoffer said "the only fight that is lost is that which we give up" so I’ll go and fight the good fight in bed right now.

See you all tomorrow.

Wednesday 14th February 2024 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 13th February 2024 – I’VE BEEN SUMMONED …

… back to the Centre de Re-education. They’ve arranged a visit for me for the 5th March, and even sent me a bon de transport so that I can have a taxi there and back.

There were several pages of notes setting out my medical history and what they have discovered during the examination. They reached the conclusion that

  1. dealing with my case was difficult due to all kinds of problems
  2. technical aid is proposed
  3. a timed walk that should have taken 43 seconds took me 6 minutes
  4. a further appointment is planned

And so by the same post an appointment on 5th March was sent to me.

And at 09:20 too – be there 10 minutes beforehand. What do they think that I am? I know that I might be up and about on my own two legs by that time but I’d hardly say that I would be coherent enough to discuss my medical affairs so early in the morning.

Mind you, I’m hardly coherent at the best of times so I don’t suppose that it makes much difference

However, I’m intrigued as to this “technical aid”. I wonder what they have planned for me. There isn’t much that would work around here that immediately springs to my mind.

But retournons à nos moutons as they say around here.

Last night, I couldn’t go to bed.

What I mean by that is that I couldn’t summon up the motivation to leave my comfortable chair and drag myself off to bed. Instead I wandered aimlessly through the internet and it was well after 01:00 when I dragged myself off.

You know the feeling though – when you can’t seem to find whatever it takes to raise yourself up and go to bed.

It would be no surprise to anyone if I had had a difficult start to the morning but instead I seemed to be quite lively for a change – and that’s a surprise. I shall have to do this more often

So I hauled myself off into the kitchen to take my medication.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I had been during the night. We were back in some kind of music dispute between Hawkwind and a group called Wyneb Wyneb … "which is Welsh for Face-Face" – ed …. It concerned a song that Wyneb Wyneb wrote. There was a considerable amount of plagiarism in the song, so Hawkwind said, and they were very unhappy about it. The two groups found themselves at the same music festival and this led to a great deal of complication and confusion with people threatening to sue and to counter-sue etc. It was sorted out at the last minute by Wyneb Wyneb withdrawing from this concert and playing at another at a later date with a couple of other acts who were also withdrawn. Basically anyone who bought a ticket for the main concert and didn’t want to go because Wyneb Wyneb weren’t appearing could claim some kind of refund that would go towards the cost of a ticket for the next festival.

Anyone would think that I have an obsession with Hawkwind. They have been regular visitors during the night over the last couple of weeks. It would be interesting to find out what’s going on that’s triggered off something like that.

What else has happened ever since they’ve been appearing is that my whole dream pattern seems to have changed and they are nothing like what they were in the past. So is one of the tablets that I take in the evening playing havoc and disturbing my subconscious? Or is something else happening?

But be that as it may, I had a Welsh lesson to deal with and that went on until 16:30, with a couple of breaks and an interruption from my cleaner who brought me my post as mentioned above.

Once it was all over I had my hot chocolate and then had a good scrub down and a change of clothes to make myself all pretty for tomorrow.

During the breaks I was dealing with the radio programme that I’m planning, and writing the notes. I managed to complete some and was planning to write more but instead I crashed out this evening.

All through the lesson I was fighting off waves of sleep but my bad night eventually caught up with me and I didn’t finish it.

Tea was a nice taco roll with some of the rest of the stuffing, and I’ll finish that off tomorrow in a leftover curry with one of my naan breads. I’ll have to make some more naan dough sometime soon as I’m in danger of running out

So that’s it now, ready for tomorrow. I need to take some bread from the freezer to defrost ready to make my sandwiches because it will be a long day. My appointment is at 12:40 when I shall find out my future.

What I suspect is that they’ll transfer me to a more local hospital – either Caen or Rennes, and more likely the former. I’m sure they won’t keep me there, going back and forth to Paris with what it costs to transport me.

Nevertheless, "how you gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?" And knowing hospital food as I do, at least I had friends in Paris and Leuven who would smuggle me some supplies now and again. I know no-one in either Caen or Rennes who can help me break the monotony of the dreadful food supplied in these places..

And as Joni Mitchell SANG,
"I was a free man in Paris
I felt unfettered and alive
Nobody was calling me up for favours
No one’s future to decide
You know I’d go back there tomorrow
But for the work I’ve taken on
Stoking the star-maker machinery
Behind the popular song"

And I am going back there tomorrow, maybe for the last time. I can’t see me going there again, certainly not unfettered and alive anyway.

That’s a shame because of all the times that I’ve walked through the city singing that song, and the nights that I’ve spent trying to get the metre of the song correct when I’m trying to play it on the guitar.

The last time that I walked through the city was almost two years ago, in the company of someone who figures regularly on these pages, usually during the night, but right now I can’t even wander around my apartment.

Frank Harris, in his rather … errr … explicit autobiography said "all human beings took what pleasure they could get whenever they could get it" and that’s certainly true of the past and the present. Make the best of whatever comes your way because that’s all that there is.

As for what happens after tomorrow, I shall just have to rely on my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche and "all along the untrodden paths of the future, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand".

When I climb into that taxi in the morning I shall remember the words of Tom Bombadil – "be bold, but wary! Keep up your merry hearts, and ride to meet your fortune".

Monday 12th February 2024 – BYD BACH!

Yes, what a small world!

In my half-term revision class this week is a woman who lives just down the road from where I used to live in Crewe

Having had in one class a year or so a woman who knew all of my old hang-outs in Nantwich, having in my current class a person who is a teacher at my old school and now this, it’s as if the world is closing in on top of me.

We’re reaching the stage where I’m beginning to shudder about what happens next in this crazy world.

At least it won’t be any of my family contacting me. They are still struggling to come to terms with such modern inventions as the wheel. It’ll take several more millennia for them to adapt to the complexities of rolling down the Information Highway.

The complexities with which I was struggling last night, namely completing my Hawkfest programme, meant that at the end of the day (and I mean that quite literally) it was after midnight when I finally let it all hang out and went to bed.

And for a change, quite rare these days, I had a deep, rewarding, satisfying sleep. And it’s been a long time since I can say that. In fact I’m regretting that I didn’t go to bed an hour or two earlier so I could have had more of it.

So when the alarm went off I was surprised, disappointed and tired, but I hauled myself out of the bed and took my blood pressure. 21.1/17.0? You can’t be serious. That’s actually life-threatening.

After the morning medication I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was in charge of a group of people who had been withdrawn from front-line bomber attacks because of their opposition to Harris’s policy of killing German civilians. They had been sent into my care where I’d organised them into groups of five, then two groups of five to make ten. They played football with each other and now they are having to sort themselves out into playing musical instruments so there are not two of the same one in the same group. If there are two bassists one of them has to retrain for another instrument etc. They are all going to be different

There’s something of a story about this too. I had the idea to write a book, a novel about a group of similar airmen withdrawn from front-line bomber squadrons for this reason, and sent instead to fight the submarine menace in the Atlantic.

There was what they called the “Air Gap” in the Atlantic where no aeroplane could reach it, and the submarines could work unimpeded there to sink defenceless ships. It was filled later in the war by a series of lightweight aircraft carriers sailing with the convoys.

My plan in my novel would have been to have a fleet of bombers stripped of everything except the absolute essentials, fitted with extra fuel capacity and flying from bases in Northern Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Brazil and the Azores.

But that’s something that someone else will have to write.

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … bed we had to go to a Land Rover place near Audlem to pick up some spare parts. It was rather an obscure place, difficult to find, so I went along with them and gave them the most minute instructions how to arrive there. It turned out that they all knew where it was anyway. The laugh was on me about this particular trip. A week or two later I had to go to a party. There was quite a bit of alcohol involved so I’d arranged for a lift down and a lift back. We agreed that my brother-in-law would run me. There was some girl who wanted to go too so I said that she could come with me if she came round to my house. Suddenly a bit later on I remembered that I hadn’t given her a time. There were things that I had to do on Saturday so I did all of those. It was almost 15:00 on Saturday afternoon when my brother-in-law turned up. I’d basically forgotten about this girl. I thought that she’d either be at this party already or she wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t see her again. I went into my brother-in-law’s car and he made a few offensive remarks about that trip to Audlem and I needn’t bother giving him directions to Audlem because he’s sure that he knows the way there and he’s quite happy to manage without me.

As if my eldest sister’s husband would ever help me do anything. He married her in 1968 and spent the next 25 years insulting me until I left the UK.

And then when we happened to find ourselves at a funeral together in 1999 he actually tried to provoke me into a fight. At a funeral! Some people have no shame whatsoever.

There really are times when I wonder whether these stories about fairies and changelings – whether there might actually be something in them.

Having dealt with the dictaphone I had a few things to do and then prepared for the first day of my two-day course. I made a full pot of coffee and warmed some bread-and-butter pudding in the microwave.

There was the last quarter of that in the ice-box in the fridge and I took it out last night to defrost.

In its place are the sausage rolls that I baked yesterday. The ice-box isn’t an ideal place for them but it will have to do until I can make some room in the freezer in the bathroom

In the Welsh course are 12 students and a tutor. And probably half of the first period of the course was spent telling us about the rules and regulations and the like, how we have to respect everyone and so on. Things that we were taught by our parents to do in the old days. It seems that the modern world has totally lost its head.

In the middle of it all the hospital rang, and they nearly had a heart attack when I told them of this morning’s blood pressure. Serve them right, I reckon.

When the lesson finished I made my hot chocolate and then began to pair off the music for the next radio programme. That’s now all done so I’ll start to write the notes during the breaks tomorrow.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper, with the stuffing based on couscous again and that’s an excellent idea. It really does make an excellent difference.

Plenty of stuffing left too, for a taco roll tomorrow and a leftover curry with naan bread on Wednesday. That stuffing patty thing on Thursday and that’s the meals organised until the weekend. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I eat simply here, but really well.

Arthur Conan Doyle said that "fatigue and too much food is the fuel of nightmares" and that probably explains why my family members appear so often in my dreams.

What I’ll have to do then is to cut down on my food and have more sleep.

But is that ever likely to happen? Beregond once noted that "at the table, small men may do the greater deeds" and I am shrinking fast.

Sunday 11th February 2024 – MY VEGAN SAUSAGE …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 10th February 2024 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… miserable night with very little sleep.

How many is this now just recently? I’m feeling like death right now.

Just for a change I was in bed at a respectable time and went to sleep quite quickly – but not for long.

It wasn’t the burning sensation but instead an agonising pain in both my ankles. It was a real killer. Every time I moved and the bedding touched the sore points on the ankles the pain drove me through the roof

Strangely enough, when the alarm went off and my ankles were still wracked with pain, I was afraid of standing up. But somehow standing up seemed to ease the pain and that surprised me. I wandered off into the kitchen to take my medication with a sigh of relief.

Back in here I had plenty of things to do before I could look at the dictaphone. And to my surprise there was actually something on it from the night. The night can’t have been as bad as I thought. “The Mole”, a Welsh poem, was written by someone with the aim of aiding people with Educational difficulties by learning French but it didn’t have a great deal of support. In some places the Government disliked it and many other organisations disliked it too because they said that it showed disabled people in the wrong batch by segregating them into groups run by them or not but that’s a complete red herring because the whole point is that everyone joins in and gains something from it.

Well, that’s what I said. And you don’t expect me to make any sense out of it, do you?

Rosemary rang up with a quick question. And it was a quick question too – only 52 minutes today. One of our shorter ‘phone calls. She was going out for afternoon tea with a couple who had just come back from Australia so I told her that they might have brought her back a kangaroo seeing that Australia is overrun with kangaroos right now.

During our conversation I told her about the earliest European explorers to go into the interior, and they took a native guide from the coast with them
They saw a strange animal bouncing around and so they asked their native guide what it was.
He replied "kangaroo" so they captured one, put it in a crate, labelled it “kangaroo” and sent it back to Europe where anthropologists officially called it “kangaroo”, by which name it’s been known ever since throughout the world.
So the explorers went back into the interior with their native guide and they saw a strange tree. "What’s that tree called?" they asked the native guide
He replied "kangaroo"
"Don’t be silly" answered the chief explorer. "You told us that the bouncing animal was called a kangaroo. How can the tree be a kangaroo? What’s it called?"
"Kangaroo" he insisted.
The explorers dragged the native guide back to the coast and to his chief. They told him the story of the tree and demanded an explanation.
The chief burst out laughing. "In our language" he said "”kangaroo” means “I don’t know”."

The rest of the day has been spent with some sound tracks, converting them to a format that I can use and then chopping them up into the bits that I want.

But it wasn’t easy. Being exhausted as I am I crashed out two or three times in the middle of something exciting, and I reckon that there will be a few more times before I can go to bed.

And during one of these spells, I was off on my travels. That will give you an idea of how deep the sleep was. I was with a group of people, several of whom I knew and a few who were quite young. Thee was something organised at the local church and one of the women and I Had been up quite late making food for the event. On our way there one of the small children said “I used to go to Sunday School, didn’t I?”. So we arrived there and that child was shocked to see how people were going in. She piped up “when you go into church you’re supposed to go in quietly and kneel down” in the shocked kind of voice and tone that only a young child can do. Everyone looked at her so I said “we’re all going to have a lecture now about going into church” in a light-hearted was but everyone still looked daggers at us. After the lecture or whatever it was, it was the buffet. And I’ve never seen food disappear so quickly. When I arrived there was very little left. I said in a loud voice to the woman with whom I’d come “what time late at night were we up to making this food?” in attempt to try to shock and embarrass everyone but she replied in a horrified tone “you don’t talk about things like that”. Some woman looked sympathetically at me so I replied “don’t worry. I can always go outside and wait until the event is over. It doesn’t bother me”.

As if you’d really get me into a church. Fair enough, I went into plenty with Marianne but that was out of friendship and respect. I’ve also been in plenty as a tourist too.

However in the UK, the first time that I went into church, someone stuck me in a pool of water. The second time, someone attached me to a strange woman. The next time that I go into a church will be over my dead body.

As for Nerina being strange though, that’s certainly not the truth. If we hadn’t both been under such stress and if I hadn’t been in such a dark place, things might well have been different. As I once said to my niece in Canada, it wasn’t until I met a couple of other girls on a more personal level that I realised how lucky I might have been when I had Nerina.

On another subject that cropped up in that dream, I remember being in a meeting in Toronto in Canada and they announced at the end that there was a buffet.

Seeing a few of my friends on the podium I stopped to chat to them so I was late joining the queue for the food. And when those of us near the end of the queue arrived at the front, the buffet had been totally stripped of food. Yet some people early in the queue had their plates piled high with sandwiches.

What I did was to shrug my shoulders and walk down to the nearest “Subway” and have a sandwich there.

Something else that interrupted me was the football on the internet. In fact I was asleep when the match between Penybont and Y Barri kicked off so I missed the first 25 minutes of it but luckily it was streamed via a recording site so I could go back to the start.

Penybont are having a strange season. For all of their experience and organisation, they are having a wretched season and are in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle.

On the other hand, Y Barri might be low down in the table but as a newly-promoted side and with such a gulf between the Premier League and the feeder leagues, they are coping better than some have expected.

THE MATCH seemed to reflect the situation. Penybont were much more organised but Y Barri played with more flair and improvisation.

The result at the final whistle was probably about fair, I suppose.

Penybont’s Chris Venables was sent off yet again for another stupid off-the-ball incident, and I really don’t understand it. He’s one of the better and more articulate players in the league and could easily be a regular in the “C” International side, yet the problem would be to keep him on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes.

There’s far too much of this niggly off-the-ball stuff in the league and I do wish that some of the players would grow up.

Tea tonight was one of the breaded quorn fillets that I like, now that I’ve had a Leclerc delivery, along with vegan salad and delicious baked potato started in the microwave and finished in the air fryer. And it was so nice that I went and baked myself another potato afterwards.

Now, I have a few notes to dictate before I go to bed, but I’m not sure how I’m going to do it. It’s Carnaval weekend, there are hordes of motor caravans parked on the public carpark outside and crowds are going back and forth singing and making a noise.

For the weekend half of the town join in the celebrations with gusto along with the other 150,000 people who attend here as visitors. As for the other half of the town though, they all make themselves scarce and head for the hills.

For people who don’t want to be here but can’t get away, the constant noise and sound of the entertainment can be quite overwhelming.

In fact, as my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche once remarked, even "little children who could neither walk nor talk were running about in the streets cursing their Maker"