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Sunday 7th April 2024 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… horrible, gruesome, miserable day today again.

And if you thought that the one the other day was bad, this beats is easily. In fact it beats any day that I have ever had and I wish that I were dead.

It was at about 05:30 when I awoke this morning which, considering that once more I didn’t go to bed until long after midnight, is simply not enough.

Whatever it was that awoke me I really have no idea but I do know why I couldn’t go back to sleep, and that is this nerve ending in the sole of my right foot that is absolutely killing me.

It was doing its best to unsettle me last night, not without success. I’m getting to the stage where I’m simply afraid to move or to do anything in case it flares up again. And then after a while it flares up again all of its own accord anyway.

What would be nice would be in I knew what was causing it so that I didn’t do it again, but that’s far too easy a solution.

So when the alarm went off first thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. Maybe because of the stabbing pain in the sole of my foot it was 17.1/10.1 whereas last night, despite the stabbing pain then, it was 16.2/10.1

The nurse was early again today and I hadn’t finished my toilet so it was a very dishevelled me who went to meet him. And he’s given me instructions to wash the puttees for next time, but not to worry as I have the spare set which are already clean.

After he left I made myself some coffee and corn flakes, and went to carry on reading THE DAWN OF ASTRONOMY for a while.

Considering that the book is over 100 years old, it’s absolutely fascinating. It’s interesting to read his speculation about a lot of the ancient Egyptian temples, and then read subsequent modern research into the sites that proves his theories

The amount of old, interesting out-of-copyright books that I’ve found on these archiving sites is phenomenal and I’ve enjoyed every one.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night last night. There was a group of girls being used as entertainers. I had a woman who wasn’t all that much older than me supervising them and making sure that they were well-behaved. While they were eating the supervisor was hanging around the girls so I wondered what was going on. I went over to find out. I found out that she had a series of plates, cups and saucers etc that were made in bright green plastic. She was trying to have her whole network to buy these products and use them so that she could identify them whenever she went away or was on some foreign soil etc but one or two of her members I suppose were quite keen on the idea but the rest weren’t so she was having a really difficult job trying to explain this to them.

When we were up in the High Arctic we were all given bright blue jackets. Firstly, they stood out really well against the snow and ice so that we could be seen quite easily in case we lost the way
Secondly many of our landings were dependent upon winds, currents, tides, polar bears and ice flow. All that could change in an instant and if we had to be called back to a zodiac or to THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR we could be distinguished quite easily from a local.

Not for nothing was our party always known as “The Smurfs”.

My jacket from 2018 is hanging up in my cupboard here, but the one from 2019 was last seen hanging from a coat hook in a hotel in Calgary with my notebook and a few other bits and pieces in its pockets.

The whole of my progress around the Northern Hemisphere is marked by the objects that I’ve left behind, scattered to the four winds like that

By now I’d crashed out, for the first (but not the last) time today and was gone on this occasion until 12:00.

But even though I was feeling so bad, worse than you will ever know, I pressed on as well as I could with my radio notes to try to make some kind of progress.

After lunch I crashed out again but managed to awaken in time to make a start on the biscuits. And nice as they are, they would have been even nicer had I remembered the desiccated coconut to go with the coconut oil that I put in there.

It’s just a basic 10/8/4 mix of flour, butter/oil and sugar with nutmeg, cinnamon, ground ginger and cocoa powder.

While the mixture was firming up in the fridge I was crashing out again and then while it was baking I was dealing with tonight’s pizza. Not that I wanted to because I wasn’t hungry but I forced myself. And you can tell that I’m ill when I’m off my food

To everyone’s surprise, especially my own, I’ve brushed up in here and washed the floor. I’m likely to have a visit tomorrow afternoon. A party of Auvergnats has now arrived in the immediate vicinity and I’m likely to be called forward for inspection.

So I’ll need to pretty myself up too – an impossible task these days, I know. But if I have a better night’s sleep that will be a start.

But talking about polar bears just now reminds me of the time that they decided to have some cycles available for the more intrepid tourist on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR
Two polar bears were admiring the advert and one of them said to the other one "high time someone started a ‘meals on wheels’ service around the Arctic"

Friday 29th March 2024 – THIS MORNING AT …

… 04:30 I was up and about making bread, would you believe?

And I’m still up and about now. In fact, this is probably one of the very few times that I’ve actually sat down today.

Not that I’m complaining about the early start though. I made the nicest bread that I have ever made. It actually looked and felt (not to mention smelt) like proper bread, and I do have to say that it was a triumph.

If I could make bread like that all the time I would be more than happy. Especially as, being short of money, I would knead the dough.

Earlier this morning, at 04:11 to be precise because I looked at my watch, I awoke. And I couldn’t go back to sleep no matter how much I tried so in the end I abandoned the idea and went into the kitchen.

It didn’t take too long to knead the dough but what I’d done differently was to use a little more water than usual, and warmer water at that. and then rather fighting it, I folded it over and over, just as gently as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles.

And not just once either but a couple of times to make sure that it was properly kneaded. And off we went. And up it went too. It rose faster than my blood pressure when I realised later in the day that I had forgotten to take it this morning. Last night’s was 18.1/10.4 by the way.

While it was rising I put it carefully aside. I don’t want any nurses poking and prodding it. But I tidied up the kitchen area a little because it’ll be busy in a couple of hours.

When the nurse arrived she put on my puttees, had a chat and then left, pleased that we’d ordered her supplies for her. And then, as LeClerc’s home delivery was now open, I sent off my order. “Delivery between 10:00 and 12:00”.

Next task was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night. There was some kind of art school taking place last night with human models being used in the sculpting and painting classes etc for people to practise drawing or working on human figures. When they began to introduce a second model to work as a pair with the first one there were quite a few people who objected and there were obvious reasons too. It caused a great deal of unrest and unease amongst everyone because many people believed that art was pure and could not be corrupted and other people who believed that corruption was everywhere in the world and this was just another part of it. There were two extremes of people who were busy arguing over what the models were supposed to be doing. Everyone else was really quite bewildered that someone could make such an issue about something that was so ordinary, familiar and so straightforward.

And that’s a common occurrence these days. I’m convinced that there are some people who have nothing better to do except trawl the internet or their immediate neighbourhood to find ways in which they might be offended

And when they do find something that offends them they spend all their time and effort actually aggressively trying to upset everyone else by forcing their viewpoints on the World and expecting the 98% majority to suppress their own interests in favour of those of the 2%

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have every sympathy with minority groups but sometimes consider that some of them go way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable behaviour.

When you see people complaining about what they see as pseudo-eroticism, like girls wearing bikinis and the like, and saying how indecent it is, that tells me far more about what’s going on in their mind than it does about what’s going on in the mind of the pseudo-offender.

And then I went back to sleep and this argument was still continuing. No-one was making any progress at all about either performing the piece of art or about having their points of view agreed. I quite simply didn’t understand the whole issue because there’s no objection to the art being displayed in museums etc and that’s where you’d think that people would be most upset but I dunno. I just didn’t understand it.

Later on I was still in this dream but I was actually dreaming it in Welsh. At one point while I was watching something on the TV there was a big crowd. I took something out of my pockets, some paper and rubbish, and simply threw it on the floor which was greeted by a barrage of heckling from the various people standing nearby. I didn’t just do it once but did it twice as well, I seemed to think, and it may have even been three times but I was having this dream in Welsh at that point.

So there I was, back in the same dream three times all told. And had I stayed in bed there might have been even more. But it was interesting that I was dreaming in Welsh because I’ve been thinking – and talking to myself – mainly in Welsh today which has surprised me. I must really have enjoyed that course.

As for talking to myself, of course I do. I’m reminded of Gandalf in LORD OF THE RINGS when he said "For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to".

When the LeClerc delivery arrived I put away the frozen food and then had breakfast. And my hot cross buns are superb. They were a definite success too – well worth waiting for.

After putting away most of the food I set about blanching dicing and blanching the carrots, followed by the broccoli, ready for freezing.

And the cleaner caught me in flagrante delicto. She came in to tell me that I can’t have my injections any more.

The situation is that according to the prescription they can only be given if the blood tests show a result of less that a certain figure for something. But seeing as the prescription for the blood tests has run out and the tests aren’t being done, they can’t check the figure.

That sounds quite logical to me, but it meant that I had to sent an e-mail to the hospital to ask for clarification

So tonnes of carrots and broccoli to freeze, and there’s a broccoli stalk to make a soup tomorrow for midday – dipping my fresh bread into it too. It should be delicious.

There was football this afternoon – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth Town. Both teams propping up the table and they played like it too. Having seem the beautiful, flowing football of TNS last weekend, ths game was a disappointment.

Mind you, played on a swamp in a monsoon, that was hardly a surprise. Colwyn Bay have a beautiful ground as far as the grandstands and terracing go, but the pitch is awful.

Aberystwyth took the lead early on with a scrappy goal that was really the only exciting moment of the first half. Things improved for Colwyn Bay after the break and they looked more lively but it was the introduction of a couple of substitutes by each team on 75 minutes that livened up the game.

From then on, each team was throwing the kitchen sink at each other with gaps opening up everywhere in the defence as each side went on the attack, only to be caught out by a quick breakaway

Just as the game was going into stoppage time Colwyn Bay scored a dramatic equaliser, but blow me if Aberystwyth didn’t roar up the other end and score immediately.

So Aberystwyth won and move up above Pontypridd United, but things look dark for Colwyn Bay. And they’ll be even darker as they’ll be without manager Steve Evans next game. I don’t know what he said to the ref after the final whistle but it was worth a yellow card.

And then he must have said it again because he received another yellow card. So that’s him out of the dugout and in the stands for the next game.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m fed up of these petulant football players having crises all over the place during a game, and when the managers begin to do it, that really is the end.

The cleaner came not long after kick-off to do her stuff, and she left so quietly that I didn’t hear her go. But I now have a clean kitchen again which is nice.

The rest of the afternoon was either spend working on my Canada 2022 stuff or else, regrettably, asleep in my chair. Not that I’m complaining about that either. I’m surprised that I’ve kept on going as long as I have.

Tea was a burger on a bap, one of those burgers that I made from the stuff that my friend in Munich sent me. With chips and salad too, and it wasn’t disagreeable. It was rather gritty but that’s the ingredients I reckon and you can’t like everything absolutely

But it worked, and that was what counts.

Fighting with the freezer to put away the carrots and broccoli I dropped the carrots all over the floor. But picking them up (I’m glad that the floor is clean) I found the clip for the other puttees that I’d lost. Having found yesterday the other one that I lost a long time ago, I now have all four for each set which is just as well.

But I’ve also been busy booking Welsh courses. I’ve booked a week at the start of July with Coleg Cambria (and I hope that my own tutor isn’t tutoring it because doing a course with her two levels down would be embarrassing for both of us) and a two-week Summer School with Coleg Morgannwg at the end of August. So more “gyda” instead of “efo” for when I go back on my main course in September

It beats me though why Coleg Cambria’s courses are so early in the Summer break. I would have thought that they would have run their Summer courses just before the restart to set people off running when they start their next course.

But that’s enough from me for tonight. I’m off to bed. But doing all of these courses reminds me of the famous poem about Crawshay Bailey and his "engine
which was always wanting mending"

"he went to Cardiff College
for to get a bit of knowledge"

With this course at Coleg Morgannwg I’ll have been to most Colleges in the whole of South Wales "for to get a bit of knowledge" and it’s still not working, just like Crawshay Bailey’s engine.

It just reminds me of the small boy at school who had to repeat Year 6 three times. When asked how he felt about it he replied "I’m not bothered"
"Why’s that?" asked his parents
"At least I’m cleverer than my teacher"
"Why’s that?"
"Well" he replied "she was in Year 6 when I started at this school, she’s been in it all the time that I’ve been here and she’ll still be it again next year after I’ve left!"

Wednesday 27th March 2024 – A LITTLE EARLIER …

… this evening I was lying slumped over the edge of my desk, forehead leaning on the top, totally out of it altogether. Miles away from what was going on in the real world.

Since all of these problems began I’ve been having some weird sleeping fits to be sure, but this one totally beat anything that I have had to date. “Out like a light” was hardly the word.

Whatever is going on with me and my body right now totally defies all comprehension. There’s no logical reason for it at all, except to say that it must be one of the pills that I take.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that at first I thought that it was that horrible anti-potassium stuff. It certainly seems to be that which was making me have those hallucinations, but this crashing-out is carrying on nevertheless, so it must be one of the others

The hospital knows about it because I’ve mentioned it, but as yet they have taken no action. and I know what their response will be, because we’ve been here before. They’ll just give me another tablet to counter the problem, and then I’ll need yet another tablet to counter the side-effects of that one.

And so we’ll continue on … "and on, and on, and on etc" – ed

It wouldn’t have done me much good last night either because once more I was hours late going to bed. There’s far too much to be doing here these days. Most of it just seems to be administration too and I’m beginning to think that “never mind a cleaner – I need a secretary”.

Still, I don’t think that I could pay a secretary to take my blood tests for me.

In bed, for what there was of it, was relatively relaxed and I wasn’t disturbed at all as far as I remember. But I would have loved an extra few hours in bed.

When the alarm went off I was in the middle of a really interesting journey but I immediately forgot all of it which was a shame, instead, I fell out of bed (literally) and went off to take the blood pressure. 15.9/9.0, which might sound high but nothing like as high as 19.4/11.2 which it was last night. What on earth was going on to make it so high?

The nurse came round later and I was lucky that I’d finished my wash and brush up by the time that she arrived. I’ve managed to persuade her to give a ring on the doorbell as she arrives so I’ll have a few minutes to prepare everything while she’s attending to my neighbour rather than just bursting in when I am incommunicado – and in somewhere else as well.

She almost forgot my injection this morning too. Apparently this “injection of the last resort” goes on for another three months and I’ve no idea what happens then. Anyway she remembered just in time (it’s no use asking me to remember anything these days) and so I’m like a dartboard again.

Checking my mails and messages I found a mail from an old friend of mine, someone with whom I’ve had no contact for almost 50 years.

He was a friend at school and we hung around together for a few years but then, like the Knights of the Round Table,WE WENT OUR SEPARATE WAYS. We do have a mutual contact and it seems that news about my condition is slowly circulating around.

It’s really nice to speak to people from the past like that. There’s a lot of catching up to do as our time draws slowly on to its conclusion. I say that because he’s not doing too well either.

Then I had to prepare for my Welsh lesson which didn’t take long.

And the lesson passed much better today than it has done over the previous two days and despite the fact that I can’t remember anything, I feel so much better about it. And that’s progress too.

The cleaner came round today too in order to make the place look pretty, and we went through the medication and made another list. She’ll go to the chemist’s tomorrow to order what I need, including some new injections, and pick it all up on Friday.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night. I’d started up in business again. I had a radio operator and driver for the daytime. And I did things a little on the way, like I made a little snack, something like baked beans on toast or mushrooms on toast or something, not very appetising or anything but at least I made sure that they had something to eat at lunchtime. I was sitting down doing a summary of everything and I asked how things were going. The subject of this food came up. They admitted that the food wasn’t particularly substantial but it was nice that I’d thought of them. They were really pleased about that but one girl had something of a moan about it. I’m not saying that she was wrong but I’m saying that there were limits as to what I could do during the daytime when I was supposed to be sleeping and that way they were lucky that they were receiving something.

And that would be a horror show if I started up in business again. I’ve had my fill of working hard for a living and the only kind of working in which I’m interested in doing is work where I’m sitting here at my desk within easy reach of the bathroom and the coffee machine.

That way, there’s only one person whose interests I have to look out for, and it’s not anyone else’s, that’s for sure. I’ve done enough of that, especially when its usually been the interests of the wrong people and not the interests of those who really matter.

But talking about food not being substantial, the thought of a good plate of beans on toast made my mouth water and had I had a loaf of bread here instead of baking it to order, I would have been really tempted.

While I was rummaging around looking for something or other I came across my collection of EAST OF EDEN albums.

Now that’s a blast from the past. They were a group from Bristol who buzzed around the festivals and concert circuits for years.

Apart from their hit single, JIJ A JIG that is nothing whatsoever like the rest of their music – they are a typical late-60’s rock band – their claim to fame is that violinist Dave Arbus was the musician who played violin on the Who’s BABA O’RILEY, one of the greatest singles of all time.

Once everything had calmed down I made a start on the next radio programme but regrettably I didn’t get very far, for reasons that I explained earlier. I can see this being a continual story.

Tea tonight was a delicious leftover curry, lengthened with some lentils, quinoa and peanuts, and accompanied by rice, veg and naan bread. And there’s no better meal than one of my leftover curries.

However I’ve now run out of dough for my naan breads so I’ll have to make some more for next week. We can’t be doing without that. Luckily I still have some soya yoghurt left.

But that reminds me – my biscuit-making operation (and delicious they are too) has meant that I’m running perilously low on vegan butter. I need to place an order for the food from LeClerc. I can’t be doing without my butter for my hot cross buns either.

It’s a surprise that I’m not putting on any weight with all of this food that I seem to be shifting. It’s rather like the little girl who noticed that her mummy’s stomach seemed to be growing bigger and bigger, so she asked her mummy about it.
"Well dear" said mummy "Daddy’s given me a baby"
"but hat’s that got to do with your tummy?"
"Because the baby’s in there dear" said mummy
So the little girl goes off to her daddy
"You know that baby you gave mummy?" she asked
"Yes dear?" asked her father
"Well" replied the little girl "SHE’S EATEN IT!"

Wednesday 20th March 2024 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… night where I ended up not going to bed until after 02:30 or so. And this is becoming ridiculous.

As usual, it’s just that I can’t seem to find the effort to carry out the simplest of tasks, like going to bed. Everything really is churned up at the moment.

Some of the side-effects of some of these pills and tablets that I take are frightening. Eyesight issues is of course one of them, and a state of confusion and disorientation is another. And I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they are correct.

The burning question of the day is not O’Rafferty’s Motor Car but that if they are right about those effects, what about the others? And if so, why haven’t I noticed them? And if I haven’t noticed them, has anyone else?

It reminds me of the story that Dr Keith Simpson, the Home Office Pathologist used to tell after he’d retired
"I’m not going to sit around and become old, decrepit, doddery and senile" he said. "If ever I get like that I’ve told the wife to have an “accident” cleaning the shotgun"
"Blimey!" piped up a voice from the crowd. "She’s leaving it rather late, isn’t she?"

Another one of the side effects of one of the tablets is “impotence”. And by that I don’t mean that you have your own article in Who’s Who, or even like some famous animals who have their own article in Who’s Zoo.

But that side-effect probably explains why TOTGA, Castor and Zero haven’t been around for a while. It tells me everything that I need to know.

Every cloud though has a silver lining. And while I was trying to find the motivation to go to bed I came across a couple of albums from a Hungarian rock group called Karpàtia, about which I’d completely forgotten. There isn’t half a pile of all kinds of obscure stuff around here.

Anyway I eventually found my way into bed, fully-clothed because there was no point undressing for such a short period of time in bed.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and you’ve no idea how much effort that was – or maybe you can imagine it. It was all of about 10 minutes before I could manage to open my eyes and find the blood pressure machine. 14.6/8.6 so the night can’t have been all that bad.

And to my surprise, I noticed that I had taken it before hitting the hay earlier. 15.1/8.5, and that’s not all that unreasonable either, compared to how things have been in the past.

Sticking my head under the cold tap didn’t help much but I went off and took my tablets, hoping that one of them had a side-effect of insomnia.

While I was waiting for the nurse I had another go at re-arranging the medical stuff, which he promptly re-re-arranged into a state of disorder just a few seconds after arrival.

He didn’t realise that he had to do these puttees every day, and then there wasn’t enough room in my apartment, and I didn’t have any disposable gloves, and my veins aren’t good enough for home-sampling, etc. etc. etc und so weiter.

In the end he abandoned the attempt at the blood test and he’ll do it tomorrow when he has more time. That’s what I call “famous last words”, isn’t it?

After all of that I was in no state whatever to start any work this morning and it wasn’t until this afternoon that things set off under way. I reviewed and dispatched the radio programme for this weekend and then started on another one. I’ve chosen the music, remixed it for broadcast, paired it off and joined up the pairs, and even written some of the notes. That was quite an effort, the way that I’m feeling.

The cleaner came round as well, so I have a nice, clean apartment. And we had a good moan at each other too, putting the world to rights. Not that it’ll do much good, but there you are.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night, which was a surprise. There was some kind of convention with a lot of guys from work etc. attending. I had my list of keep fit exercises that I do in bed and I’d brought it with me. For some reason or other I ended up in a real tangle doing one set of exercises and had to call in the stewards or something to help me untangle myself. I can’t remember all that much about it.

That’s actually a real issue. With not having sufficient force to raise my legs when I’m lying down in bed, they do have a tendency to become tangled up in each other on occasions and I have to use my hands to pull on a leg to free it off from the other. What I’m going to do when I no longer have the force in my arms, I haven’t decided yet.

Tea was lovely. A beautiful leftover curry with rice, vegetables and a naan bread. A leftover curry may not sound exciting but the way that I cook it, it really is.

And that reminds me – while we’re on the subject of curries … "well, one of us is" – ed … I shall have to make certain arrangements about acquiring some more spices from the Asian supermarket in Leuven now that I can no longer go. I’m not running out yet, but I don’t want to take any chances and I need to make sure that I have a good stock on hand.

So that’s my notes written up, and I’ve only crashed out twice, I’m off to do what I need to do before going to bed. As Gandalf said in LORD OF THE RINGS, "Go where you must go, and hope".

And as Shakespeare wrote in “Henry VI” – "Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends.". But I can’t remember now whether he said that in Henry VI part I, part II or part III.

One thing that I always wondered about when Shakespeare wrote those three parts of the play, did he run adverts in between the parts or was it just the News?

Tuesday 19th March 2024 – I’M RATHER LATE …

… writing my notes tonight as I’m in the middle of an exciting, busy week this week.

We’re having a footfest right now – on Thursday there’s a World Cup qualifying match between Cymru and Finland, then on Friday there’s Cymru under-21s in a Youth Cup qualifying match against Lithuania.

On Saturday there’s league football where Y Bala entertain a stuttering Connah’s Quay Nomads, who last weekend lost their third game in a row for the first time in 9 years, and then Sunday in the Scottish FA’s Challenge Cup, it’s the final between Airdrie and TNS, where the latter attempt to bring the Cup out of Scotland for the first time ever apart from when Berwick Rangers won it.

Tonight though it was the turn of the Welsh Premier League’s representative 11 to take on England’s National League team at Stebonheath, the home ground of Llanelli FC.

The match was a very tight affair with few chances for either side but a beautiful free kick right on the stroke of half-time from Caernarfon’s Sion Bradley was enough to win it.

How ever it could all have been so different but for a brilliant save from Y Bala’s goalkeeper Kelland Absalom deep into stoppage time.

It’s not quite the heady 4-0 win at Caernarfon 2 years ago but it makes up for the 1-0 loss at Altrincham last season

It’s an exciting annual competition this, but wouldn’t it be nice if they could broaden the challenge a little and include semi-pro teams from Scotland and the two Irelands, and make it a real league.

That’s not all the football by the way, but the match in this strange European amateur challenge competition between second-division Llantwit Fadre and Enfield Town isn’t being broadcast anywhere as far as I can see.

That was an interesting match in the previous round when Llantwit Fadre, the minniows in the competition, knocked out the Danish club that had founded the competition.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

Last night, despite finishing my notes with time to spare, there’s that much to do at the end of the evening that it was still later than I would have liked before I ended up in bed and it’s the kind of thing that is getting on my nerves.

But once in bed I actually had a good sleep and to my surprise, I was wide-awake quite early. So much so that I was actually up before the alarm went off. And it’s been a long time since that happened.

After taking the blood pressure – 14.2/8.5, so it must have been a calm, refreshing night because before going to bed it was 16.2/9.4 – I went off to take the medication and then did some tidying up of the medical stuff in the living room and rearranged it all.

Mind you, I needn’t have bothered. The nurse apparently forgot me, or some such thing, because he never turned up to wind on my puttees. That was really annoying because I had to wait around when I had plenty of other things to do.

Mind you I’m seeing him in the morning when he comes to inject me and take my blood sample, so we’ll discuss the matter then.

There were the dictaphone notes to transcribe. Not many of them again, which is disappointing. I’d travelled to Limoges on a job. Then I was relaunching my delivery service. There was a big building there that was occupied by a company called Locanest which gave me the impression that it was actually one of these cubicle rental-types of places. I thought that that might be a good place to go in order to hand out some leaflets. I tracked down the building, parked up outside and went in. A followed the signs and walked through a door into a room where there were about 20 or 30 people buzzing around. This looked like Locanest’s head office but no-one took the slightest bit of notice of me, even the people who were coming past. After I’d been standing there a few minutes I said “it’s OK, don’t rush, don’t bother. I can stand here all day if I have to”. Some girl piped up something about “well, we all have our work to do, we all have our jobs to do. We have to do them here” to which I replied “yes. So as I said, I’m quite happy to stand around all day. We can all stand around all day and that will be fine”. Eventually someone came to see me and to talk to me.

Yes, I can be sarcastic in a crisis. The keys to this kind of problem are

  1. 1 – Unlimited time
  2. 2 – Unlimited money – well, in a realistic sense

It brings back many happy memories of AN EX-NEIGHBOUR OF MINE who in a similar situation once said "I’ll stay here as long as they will" and then if you have the time, you can grind them down with your persistence and patience.

A schoolfriend of mine once told me that his parents went to see someone in his office but he had persistently refused to see them in the past. So having been stonewalled by the receptionist yet again, they sat down at a table, took from a bag that they had taken a thermos flask of tea, a pile of sandwiches and a couple of good books, and prepared for a siege.

It didn’t take them long to be seen after that.

Of course, if you have the money too so that there’s no pressing need to be elsewhere, then it’s an even more comfortable situation to be in.

Unfortunately, these days, the competitive spirit in these kinds of situations is evaporating rapidly and the response now is to “call Security” and have you bodily ejected from the premises. As I said the other day, the world is changing, and it’s not changing for the better. The lunatics have taken over the asylum.

So with no nurse, I prepared for my Welsh lesson. And despite putting a lot of effort into it, I still wasn’t happy with my performance today. I need to improve, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … so here’s hoping that this Easter course will inject some life into me.

It was our last day today before Easter and lessons don’t restart until 9th April. So it’s a long time to go from after my Easter course finishes until we restart. I shall have to think of a cunning plan. Mind you, with all this football that I’ll be watching, there might be some more stuff that will stick if I’m lucky.

Towards the end of the lesson I caught myself just as I was about to have one of these moments where my lights go out. That could have been embarrassing had I slipped over the edge into the void so I was lucky. But it’s actually disturbing how easily it happens. What with that and my double vision, it’s a good job that I no longer drive.

While we’re on the subject of double vision … "well, one of us is" – ed … I rang the hospital 4 times ti cancel my appointment but with no luck at all to be put through to the Opthalmology department. Then I was in my lesson, and after the lesson it was too late.

That’s a shame, isn’t it?

This afternoon I’ve not done much. Just a pile of personal stuff. That took me up to teatime and my taco roll with rice and veg. Plenty of stuffing left for a base for a vegan curry tomorrow with my naan bread.

But were OK for cheese and so on at the moment because my faithful cleaner was at LeClerc and she stocked up. Apparently it’s selling out quite quickly so next time she goes, she’ll have to buy all that she sees

So with everything finished, I’m off to bed. I suppose that tomorrow I’d better start work again after a few lazy days once the nurse has been to inject me, if he remembers.

But I’m sorry that I missed that eyesight test. I suppose that I could always reply by saying "I couldn’t see the entrance to the building" – that would confuse them.

The last time that I went to have my eyes tested, the optician told me "I’m terribly sorry, but the results of your tests aren’t very good"
"That’s bad news" I said. "Can I see them?"
"Probably not" said the optician

Sunday 17th March 2024 – WHOSE SILLY IDEA …

… was this for me to make a start at 08:00 this morning?

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the alarm had actually gone off but somehow for some unknown reason it didn’t fire up and that was that.

Strangely enough, five minutes later, at 08:05 exactly, I sat bolt upright, wide-awake and that was something really quite extraordinary, especially as first of all it’s a Sunday and secondly, I didn’t go to bed until 00:20 this morning. I’ve really no idea why I should awaken like that just five minutes after the alarm should have gone off, but didn’t.

It’s actually quite surprising how long it takes to do everything that needs to be done before I go to bed. There’s the list of what I needed to do that I posted the other day, and even then I forgot about taking the blood pressure. Seriously, I’d forget my head if it wasn’t so firmly screwed on

And that’s why a baby never falls out of a pregnant woman – because it’s screwed in. But I digress … "again" – ed

Last night after I’d finished the notes I wandered around doing everything that I need to do before retiring, apart from washing these puttee-things. They aren’t soiling so there’s no need to wash them until we have the second pair.

And then, thinking that I’d set the alarm, I fell into bed.

As I mentioned earlier I fell out of bed at 08:05 and then checked the blood pressure. 16.0/9.9, compared to last night’s figure of 16.1/11.1. We shouldn’t go round taking these figures as gospel because there’s quite a discrepancy between what they show at the hospital and what is being shown at home. I have grave suspicions about my little machine.

Having taken my medicine I arranged a few things in order ready for the immediate arrival of the nurse.

When she turned up she tore into me because the stuff wasn’t here from the pharmacy. As I said, “what can I do about it? I’m firmly and completely in the hands of other people”. However, that’s no excuse apparently, and she carried on with her endless verbal assault.

She also had a good moan about me not taking painkillers. The whole of France is awash with Doliprane and I have no wish to join them. We’ve seen far too many cases in the past where people, pumped up to the gills with painkillers, fail to notice the damage that they are doing by continuing to use whatever member of the body is being numbed and the damage becomes permanent.

You suffer pain for a very good reason.

After she left I didn’t do too much. I had some food and then simply drifted around in cyberspace, that is – when I wasn’t asleep. I’ve fallen asleep a couple of times, once at the table in the dining room after two large mugs of black coffee. Something’s clearly not right there either.

But I did manage to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I had another dream … "when was the first?" – ed … where all the passengers were soaked inside a coach. This time I’d been to a local bar and seen on the counter top a couple of trips advertised to different places, one of which was a trip around the nuclear power station up the coast. so when the landlord had a moment free, for he was the type who was friends with everyone I asked him about it. He had a moan about him hoping that I wasn’t someone who had just come in to waste his time but he let me see the itinerary, the brochure etc and I thought “yes, I’ll sign up for this” and put my name down. He was at the point of asking me for a payment and a deposit but we ended up playing football. I was substituted quite early on pretty much the same as that dream at the start of the evening … "which dream?" – ed … where all the passengers were given a soaking by the coach driver who pulled the choke mechanism and that released a water tower into the air vents

That was another dream about which I recall absolutely nothing at all and I’ve no idea at all to what it refers.

But later on I was back singing in a rock group again … "presumably in English tonight" – ed … One of the things that I had to do was to speak to someone there about singing some of the songs in a mixed-up kind of fashion like singing a song by the Moody Blues, giving a false title and having people guess who it was and who wrote it. I had to communicate with someone about it, another group’s arranger. He was speaking to someone else so I had to interrupt him. A policeman there tried to take hold of me and usher me away. I had to be really insistent to the point of actually almost being arrested before the policeman would let me speak.

That’s something similar to a quiz that we had a few months ago on the radio. There, we were snipping out sound-bytes from popular songs and having people identify them. Being ushered away by a policeman is however quite a new experience. Usually, from what I’ve seen, it would be “out with the handcuffs” or, these days, more like “out with the truncheon”.

When you look back to the 1960s and early 70s and the Monty Python sketches of violent policemen going berserk with their truncheons and how we all laughed at the satire because it was such an unreal situation, and yet here we are today where policemen going berserk with truncheons is par for the course.

We’ve come a long way since those days, and all of it completely in the wrong direction. It’s like Théoden said in LORD OF THE RINGS"The world changes, and all that once was strong now proves unsure"

And as Erma Brombeck wrote, "When humour goes, there goes civilization", and humour has long-since departed from this wretched world.

I’s easy to understand the sentiments of Bhuwan Thapaliya who said "The older I get, the more I cherish the company of children and the flowers. The children have no prejudices. They are what they are. And so are the flowers". That’s a position with which I sympathise.

What work I’ve done today has been to make a start on editing some radio programme notes. Not much of them because, being so tired as I am, I’ve not really felt in the mood for work.

In fact, I almost forgot about making my pizza tonight. Luckily I remembered just in time, and it was another delicious one.

So here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow. A good sleep might put me right, and then I have plenty to do. It’s never-ending. Who said anything about retiring making life easy?

It’s the one thing about old age, and that is that you have so much to do but you keep on forgetting to do it. That’s where I am now. It’s like the character in The Navy Lark who said "All of which reminds me of a funny story I once heard and which now completely escapes me"

As for me though, I’m like the character in “Gunsmoke” of which it was said "A lot of things can happen to people who get too lonely" – but as long as it only happens to me when I’m asleep, that’s OK.

Rather like the police who raided that woman’s apartment and found a knife under her pillow
"What’s this for?" they asked
"That’s in case someone breaks into my room while I’m asleep" she said "and brings me a cake".

Thursday 14th March 2024 – IT’S BEEN ALL …

… go in here today.

It doesn’t seem like it but it’s been an extremely busy day today. I didn’t even find the time to crash out until 18:00, and that’s quite late.

What was surprising was that for the first time for an absolute age, not only did I sleep right through the night, there was nothing on the dictaphone either.

Last night after I finished my notes I took my blood pressure and then wandered off to take my medicine for the night. There’s enough of that as well to keep me going for a while.

Strangely, I didn’t feel tired and so I watched the start of a Sherlock Holmes film, an old black-and-white one from the 1940s

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that that always does the trick. On the portable computer is a pile of old black-and-white films and when I used to travel I’d switch one on at night to watch – and I’d always fall asleep straight away.

There have been countless times when I have awoken to find the computer still whirring on or, on one or two occasions, with a flat battery, as in times on the road in the wilds of Northern Québec and Labrador when I used to camp out in the Dodges that I used.

So I staggered off to bed and that was the last thing that I remember until the alarm went off this morning.

That was the cue to fall out of bed and the first thing was, as usual, to check the blood pressure. 16.1/10.1. Compared to last night’s 15.0/7.8, you wouldn’t have thought that last night would have been so relaxing.

As I have said before… "and on many occasions too" – ed … I really don’t understand how this blood pressure works. The figures are not at all as I would have expected them to be, from an amateur’s point of view.

Second thing was to give my feet and lower legs a really good wash. I didn’t cover them in vaseline cream though because the nurse is coming round today to do that for me.

Third thing was to have a chat on the internet to Liz. We haven’t chatted for a while, which is a shame. She sent me a recipe that she’ll be using for her hot cross buns, in the hope that it might work for me rather better than the one that I have.

However, it’s not the recipe, as we now. My issue is making the dough rise, and I’d give all that I own, and much more besides, to be able to make it rise properly like it ought.

The nurse came round at 08:45.
"Will you be coming round at this time every day?" I asked
"Yes, if that’s OK for you" she replied
"What choice do I have?"
"Well, none really"

So 08:45 it is every day including Sunday. Bang goes my usual lie-in. Still, I suppose that I ought to be keeping some kind of normal hours somehow – come and live in the civilised World.

When I lived with Laurence I didn’t have much of a Sunday lie in. After a while I’d hear from the kitchen "go and wake up Eric" and then a few seconds later several stone of child would leap on top of me, and that would be that. I loved it really.

So the nurse has rubbed ointment on my feet, put plasters on the worst places, and then wound these elasticated puttee things around my lover legs.

My legs now look like Bibendum, the Michelin Man and I can’t put on my shoes over the top. That means no going out for a while, as long as this prescription lasts.

So instead of sending off my LeClerc order on Monday, I’ll send it off tomorrow and order my mushrooms on line. That was something else that I needed to do – to bring my order up-to-date and make sure that I’ve missed nothing. I probably have, but it’s too late once I’ve sent it off.

After my coffee and flapjack (which was an absolute and total success) I sat down with a radio programme.

There are several where I’ve dictated the text but not edited it so I did one of those today. It’s all finished now and mostly assembled. The last track has been chosen and remixed and the text written I just need a quite hour or so to dictate it and everything else that needs dictating.

However, quiet hours are practically unknown around here anywhere near where I am.

The cleaner came round during the afternoon. The nurse had written out a prescription for stuff that she needs so my cleaner will sally forth tomorrow and arrange everything.

While she was here we went through the medicines, pills and tablets that I have, made a note of where I’m likely to run out in the very near future, and she’ll organise that tomorrow too while she’s down there in town

After my hot chocolate I even found time to carry on with a project that was side-lined a few weeks ago – namely, to review my blog entries for the period when I was in Canada in October 2022.

The details of my mega train trip ARE NOW ON-LINE. It’s not actually the definitive version as it needs poof-reading, spel-checking, the tpying reviewed and the all-round plan
ning verifying.

Had I not had an unexpected … errr … relax, it might have been finished, but as it is, it’ll give you an idea of what I had to suffer.

There’s no doubt at all that Canada’s rail network, such as is still left, is nothing but a shambolic mess. And “shambolic” meaning that half of it is a sham and the rest of it is … errr … everything else.

Tea was a nice lot of steamed veg with these vegan meatballs in a cheese sauce. And it was delicious as usual. This cheese sauce that I make, a simple bechamel with a handful of grated vegan cheese, tarragon, chives and freshly ground black pepper in it, is really nice.

So am I going to watch a film now and crash out, or shall I just go to bed? I’m at the stage where my body is telling me one thing but my mind is telling me something else.

The end result will inevitably be the same – that I’ll fall asleep while I’m doing it.

So here’s hoping that my dreams come back. These days, they are the only excitement that I have. Like the time that I dreamed that I was eating a giant marshmallow, and then next morning had to buy a new pillow.

But thinking about all of these quotes from LORD OF THE RINGS that appear in these notes, I’ll probably end up Tolkein in my sleep.

Wednesday 13th March 2024 – THE DEED IS …

… done and I’m now registered for an Easter Welsh course with … errr … Caefyrddyn

Enrolling on a Welsh course rather like Macbeth and the murder of Duncan actually and "If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly". Caerfyrddyn was the only centre that had any spaces left on its Easter revision course when I went to sign up.

It’s a symbol of how popular learning Welsh became at Covid. When the courses were face-to-face (or wyneb-wyneb for regular readers of this rubbish who recall a dream a week or so ago) they had about 100 applicants each year. When Covid hit and the courses went over to video-conferencing, they had 1031 applicants.

That’s not the kind of thing for which infrastructure exists and they had to be quite inventive to fit everyone in

With my class, I’m quite lucky because already being involved and registered, my place is assured. However, for this revision course, I’m dropping down two levels and so I have had to re-register

So with studying a course down in the south, I’ll be saying things like gyda-gylid instead of efo-gylid and caeth e instead of cafodd o. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago why it was that the Welsh language evolved differently in the south and in in the north.

If I had had any sense, not that that is likely of course, I should have enrolled last night while I was talking about it and maybe I would have found something more convenient. But instead I had a little relax to unwind before going to bed.

Once in bed though I felt nothing at all. Nothing whatever and it was as if I’d slept all the way through the night undisturbed.

When the alarm went off though I was already awake and it didn’t take much to have me out of bed.

First stop as usual was the blood pressure. 16.0/10.0 this morning, compared to 17.4/10.6 last night. It really MUST have been a calm, comfortable night.

Second stop was to go to take my medication for the moment, half a tonne of it as usual. And then some tidying up ready for the nurse to come round. I’d like her to think that people actually lived here.

We had a good chat about the things that the hospital wants the local nursing staff to do. Some of the things don’t come within their remit, so it’s tough luck on me but the rest is going to start tomorrow at 08:45 and how I’m not looking forward to that, especially on a Sunday

She took the blood sample and gave me my weekly injection of the Last Resort and then wandered off while I organised some breakfast.

The coffee is really nice around here, and my flapjack is definitely a success. I’ll make some more of that another time if I can remember the ingredients that I used. They biscuits that I made on Sunday are overcooked, but not so much as they are in-edible. I’ll make more of those too at some point.

Next step was to listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night. And I must have been stark out last night as I remember nothing at all of these. Did I dictate the dream about the person that I’d killed in that motel room? … "no, you didn’t" – ed … He was beaten quite badly and I was about to finish him off when someone began to come into his room. I quickly had to clean him up, tidy him up and remove as many visible marks a possible to make it look as if he was treating himself for his wounds before they came in, which was difficult. Somehow I managed it and he passed by quite normally without having any suspicions. Then I had to restart these videos, all three of them, to find out exactly where the secret place was where you had to puncture the skin in order to kill someone – someone had worked out that you could leave very minimal marks by just putting something long and pointed in through these three places. He’d prepared a video of it, that I’d been watching but of course with this other guy coming into the motel room to see what was happening I actually lost the place in the video and couldn’t find it again on all three tapes for all three points on the body

That’s the stuff that dreams are made of, isn’t it? If videos like that really did exist and I really did have access to them, there would be far fewer people on this planet than there are today. I can think of quite a few who would shuffle off this mortal coil with my assistance, if I had any say in the matter.

But I di have some gruesome dreams; don’t I? And many have been far more gruesome than this. It reminds me of Dr Cameron in Tannochbrae in the good old days of Dr Finlay’s Casebook – or Dr Kenley’s Feesbook
"And what’s the matter, Janet?" asked Dr Cameron
"Och Dr Cameron, it’s gruesome" she replied
"Well, look again Janet" he said. "It’s gruesome more"

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was going on a flight somewhere so I had to walk through the airport and look for my train to London. I eventually arrived at the station part and the next train to London was 22:02. It was only 21:00 so I thought that it was going to be cutting it a little too fine. I’d better go to find something to eat. I found what looked like a bakery or hot food stand and asked if they had a pâté végétale. She replied “no, no” and pointed to half a dozen things that she had on the shelves, the usual mainstream type of normal kind of food. She did have some large fruit bread. I thought that I could buy one of those but that would be quite a waste because I wouldn’t be able to eat all of that.

Not that anything like that would normally bother me, especially if I’m going on a flight somewhere. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I always take food with me on a plane. I’ve learnt from bitter experience that you can’t rely on airlines to always respect special diets on their planes, and it’s a long way and a long time across the Atlantic with nothing to eat.

Yes, my spicy or fruit bread has saved me from a fate worse than death on many occasions, as have my Subway sandwiches from the airport at Montreal. Consequently a large fruit bread would have been a gift from Heaven on a flight from an airport

Back in here and surfing around on the internet looking for something, I made a fantastic discovery. Carol Reed’s famous and spectacular film THE THIRD MAN starring Orson Cart and Joseph Cotton is now out of copyright and is available to download

What a film that is, too. It’s not so much the acting and the dialogue but the way that it’s directed that makes it a classic – with all these cuts of ordinary, old people filtered into the scenes that really give it the kind of panic-stricken atmosphere that must have existed in the immediate post-war Vienna.

My acquaintance with Vienna is somewhat more recent than that. And the last time I was there, actually in the city, was 1998 when I took a 15-tonne lorry there from Brussels.

It’s a film that in my opinion is on a par with THE MALTESE FALCON as one of the greatest films of all time.

The cleaner came round with my missing pieces today, and it’s a shame but she’ll have to be going back because the nurse needs some stuff to treat me, so she’ll write out a prescription tomorrow morning. We’ll go through the medication tomorrow too and see where I’m short, as one or two things are running out.

But poor cleaner. She’s not had much of a rest on her week off, has she?

The rest of the day has been spent finishing off the notes for the radio programme that I began the other day. They are done and ready for dictation sometime, but I’m not sure when. It won’t be at 01:00 on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, I’ll tell you that, not it I’m having to be up and about by 08:45.

After a session on the guitar I went for tea – another one of my delicious leftover curries with naan bread.

But while I was in the freezer I noticed that I seem to be running low on frozen vegetables again. It looks as if my last pre-Easter order from the supermarket will be going off on Monday.

That means that I’d better check my hot cross bun recipe and make sure that I have everything that I need. And then work out how to make the dough rise properly.

Hot cross buns are made with milk, not water, and that makes the issue far more complicated. I tell you – it’s not easy baking and being a master-chef when your oven only works when it wants to and you don’t have a clue what you’re doing anyway.

But you can’t have an Easter without hot-cross buns so I’d better learn quite quickly. It’ll give me something to eat while I’m taking part in my Welsh lesson, I suppose

At least I don’t have to worry about the Easter bunny coming to visit me. It’s not like the time years ago, when I had that part-time job just before Easter looking after these small bunny-like creatures just after they were born and making sure that they grew into responsible adults.

That was what I would call a hare-raising experience.

Tuesday 12th March 2024 – I’VE ALMOST FALLEN …

… asleep not once, but twice, just sitting here on my chair and only a dramatic grasp at the edge of the chair on both occasions has stopped me from dropping off, in both senses of the word.

In one of them I’d actually gone as far as having a dream, fitting the clutch cable to a transverse engine car but some of the strands of cable snapping. It was amazing, because on both occasions I’d had no warning of going off to sleep.

It’s not as if they have put me back on that horrible potassium stuff either, so it must be one of the other pile of medicaments. But it really tells you about what a state I’m in when we have this issue about side-effects and there are so many of the medicaments that I can’t work out which one it is.

For two pins I’d dump the lot and let nature take its course
"Have you thought of an ending?”
“Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant."

as Frodo and Sam discussed in LORD OF THE RINGS. I know that mine will be anyway – I have been told so – but at least “while there’s life there’s hope”, as Cicero once told us. Dum spiro, spero.

That’s a far different position than a couple of weeks ago when I was all ready to throw in the towel but honestly, I don’t know where I am these days.

Last night though, I know that I was in bed. After relaxing for a short while I went and did everything that needed doing and crawled off to bed, much later than I wanted but that’s how things are going these days.

When the alarm went off I was watching a fork-lift truck load some stuff on a pallet onto something. There had been something going on about sugar, sugar in its nitro-cellulose form is extremely harmful. A company had sold some and another one had bought them, and there was an argument about who was responsible for ensuring that it complied with the regulations. That was what was going on at the time.

With that kind of dream, I’m surprised that the alarm going off didn’t frighten me to death. “Start the day with a ‘bang'” I say.

First thing that I did this morning was to check the blood pressure. 17.1/9.8 this morning, compared with 18.4/10.5 last night.

It’s always a good sign if it decreases at night, from some points of view. On the other hand, it’s quite often a good sign if it increases, but the kind of events that would cause that are few and far between. Usually, if it increases during the night, it’s always for the wrong reasons.

Next thing was to sort out the medication for the morning, followed by a trip to the bathroom to deal with my feet. There’s no doubt that this vaseline cream is making a real difference to my dry legs and feet. I hope that the improvement continues

And while we’re on that subject … "well, one of us is" – ed … the nurse rang up to see if I was at home. She’d heard that I’d gone to hospital last week.

To put her at her ease I told her that I was back, and we also had a chat about the new prescription. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow because all the stuff that she needs isn’t here yet.

Back in here I transcribed the rest of the dictaphone notes from the night. There was an important series of exams that my girlfriend was taking. She needed to have a year in tutelage under the relevant tutor in a relevant subject. Actually she’s not been as faithful as she ought to have been with this course that she’d been following but when I went to see the person who was supervising it I was told with shock that she wasn’t going to be eligible because the person who had been guiding her had left the University after six months. Someone else had taken over but my girlfriend hadn’t taken the necessary steps to introduce herself so she was basically voided. This was really awful news but the examiner suggested a way around He said “knowing you, I’m surprised that you haven’t contacted the departed tutor directly to explain the situation and have her give your girlfriend the certificate directly even though she’s no longer at the University. She’s married and gone to live in Scotland but you should be able to find her and contact her. If she’s satisfied that your girlfriend has followed the course and done the necessary work etc, there’s no reason at all why she can’t issue the certificate of presence or whatever its called to prove that she’s followed that course for a twelve-month period but you’ll have to be quick because all the paperwork needs to be in very shortly. It looks as if we had work to do, my girlfriend and me.

And a girlfriend? I wish that I knew who she was. She won’t have been anyone we’ve met so far on our travels, that’s for sure. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I wish that I could put names to these girls who have been appearing every now and again, and for several reasons too.

As for the “knowing you, I’ surprised that you haven’t …” – it seems that even in my dreams people are beginning to know me quite well and that’s rather disturbing. I prefer to passer inaperçu – pass by un-noticed and it worries me when people begin to recognise me.

Especially when they recognise something like “… I’m surprised that you haven’t …” – and it’s in a dream too. That’s what I call “worrying”.

Then there was something about an orange Cortina that had to be taxed. It would mean queueing at the local Tax Office for hours. We’d done all of the paperwork etc already. We’d bought some new parts for the vehicle. We’d been to Minibits for them. We noticed on the way round that on the corner of Flag Lane where it turns round were shops that had wire grilles put all over the windows. We noticed that they’d been working there for a day or two and we wondered what they were doing. They were actually moving the wire grilles down one position – it looked as if they’d installed the wire grilles on the wrong windows and were just moving them further along the street, these grilles. The first window was being missed out. It was rather puzzling. I went into work where someone asked me if I’d seen the Ryanair van. I said “I’ve just seen it in Flag Lane”. He asked “are you sure? It should have been here a while ago”. I replied “yes” so he said “I’ll contact Head Office to say that the van’s not been here but it’s been seen in Crewe at 15:15”. It worried me why he was being so precise about this. We went into Minibits to pick up some bits. I made a comment that he could open his windows now that the wicked European Union has moved its grilles away from his windows. The girl who was serving me growled a little and opened them but it didn’t make much difference in there. It was still dark. Then we had to go along to queue up to tax this orange Cortina. Just as we were standing in the queue with the papers ready to pounce on an open window the dream ended.

Now, Minibits in Crewe was a place to remember in the 1980s. It was run by an old guy called Ken and was a dirty old shop on a street corner in Crewe, full of all kinds of stock for minis, stuff that he had bought probably 30 years earlier and was all covered in dust.

As Fords became more popular in the early 1970s he began to accumulate Ford bits and pieces. They too sat and gathered dust for years.

We had a trade card for a car spares warehouse in Manchester but rarely used it because he was still selling stuff at 1970s prices. That didn’t matter as long as you blew off the dust.

And as mechanically a Ford Cortina MkIII, MkIV and MkV were all the same car, stuff from 1971 would still fit cars from the 1980s.

Body panels too. He had a contact in a metal fabricator’s in Oswestry and they produced pattern-part body panels for all kinds of cars. Just cut out the rot and weld one of the correct panels in place. I still have tons of those that either I never managed to use, bought for stock or bought for projects like the 2000E saloon in the warehouse in Montaigut.

What would they be worth now?

So many plans and projects that I had on the go or on the back burner, and look where we are now.

Never mind though. As Gandalf said, "no need to brood on what tomorrow may bring. For one thing, tomorrow will be certain to bring worse than today, for many days to come. And there is nothing more that I can do to help it. The board is set, and the pieces are moving"

Then I was back in that dream again … "which dream?" – ed … still trying to load that Land Rover but it wasn’t as easy as I had thought it was before because there was a big sack on the floor and with all the stuff in my hands I couldn’t bend down to pick it up and my arms wouldn’t reach low enough to the ground to pull it. I was stuck in this really awkward position with a huge pile of boxes in my hands and the thing that I needed on the floor. I couldn’t make any progress with regards to putting the stuff in the back of the Land Rover. I was stuck in that position just like that.

So have I missed yet another dream? Judging by the timestamps, with only 20 minutes between this one and the last one, it can’t have been much of one, if there was one that has been missed.

Having finished the notes, then armed with a mug of instant coffee, which is not like me at all, I prepared for my Welsh lesson.

To my surprise the Welsh lesson passed quite well and I was rather pleased with what I’d done, which makes a change.

It just goes to show you what you can do with a couple of hours of preparation. I shall have to do it more often, that’s for sure

And that reminds me. While we’re on the subject of Welsh lessons … "well, one of us is" – ed … tomorrow morning I need to look for a course to cover the Easter period. I have to keep the pressure on. I’m using the philosophy of “if you throw enough whatsit at a wherever, some of it might stick”.

First job this afternoon was to sort out the webhosting renewal – “bank card declined”.

That’s no surprise seeing as it’s a new card. I had to do a huge pile of virtual paperwork and then still it wouldn’t work. So that involved an exchange of mails. It’s a good job that renewal is 30 days away otherwise I would have run out of time at this rate.

But that reminds me. While we’re on the subject of webhosting … "well, one of us is" – ed … the webhosting for these sites of mine isn’t cheap at all.

You’ll see some “Amazon” links aside and occasionally, some links crop up in the text. I’m an Amazon affiliate so if you make your next Amazon purchase by using one of these links, it costs you no extra but I earn a small commission. That helps towards the cost of web-hosting.

After that I had an exciting job – helping someone with a video that he’s making of several Welsh football grounds. I have some strange tasks sometimes.

The rest of the afternoon was spent writing out radio programme notes.

Tea was a taco roll with stuffing (and inserted peanuts) veg and rice, just as delicious as always. And there’s enough left over for a good start at a leftover curry tomorrow, which is always nice, especially if soya yoghurt and naan bread are involved.

Anyway, that’s enough for today. I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I really have a struggle to keep going these days

But while we’re on the subject of football grounds … "well, one of us is" – ed … I’m reminded of the woman who went to her solicitor’s to ask him to obtain a divorce from her husband
"On what grounds?" asked the solicitor
"Manchester United’s, mainly" she replied "but he has taken her to several away matches"

Sunday 10th March 2024 – TODAY IS THE …

… first day of the new regime, in which I have an alarm call on a Sunday morning.

It was set for 11:00, which makes for a nice lie-in after working until 02:00 dictating radio notes that I’d written, but it will be a different time next Sunday and for every Sunday onwards for the next few months as the nurse comes to visit me.

Yes, a much different time on Sunday mornings in the future, so make the most of it today.

Sure enough, when the alarm went off I was deep in the arms of Morpheus but I still managed to stagger to my feet.

Last night had been quite calm after I’d finished my notes. I went back to reading THE DAWN OF ASTRONOMY and the baffling phenomenon of Sothic time periods and the calculation of epacts until the street outside had quietened down and then went to dictate the notes for three radio programmes

In fact though, there were only two. I hadn’t finished the third, what with being in hospital and all of that. It had completely slipped my mind, thanks to my teflon brain, to which nothing whatever seems to stick. Still, it will give me something to do on Monday.

So just two to dictate, and that was enough. The usual nonsense and garbage because first of all I’m all up to my eyes in a state of confusion and secondly, with the cancer now beginning to affect my eyes I can’t see what I’ve written anyway.

In fact, it reminds me very much of the student at art school when his teacher checks his art folder
"What on earth is this?" asks his teacher, waving a piece of the student’s work around
"I assure you sir" said the student "I paint what I see"
"Well the shock will come" said the tutor "when you see what you paint"

Having done that I cleared off to bed where I had a rather bizarre night, as you will find out in due course.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and the first thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. 16.9/10.7. Last night was 18.0/10.6, but that was after dictating the radio notes so it’s no surprise.

After the medication I went into the bathroom and gave me feet a really in-depth wash. At the hospital they had put some kind of vaseline cream on my legs to hydrate them and it seemed to work. Somehow the tube was left behind in my room and it found its way into my rucksack.

Now that it’s here in my apartment I may as well make use of it before they work out that it’s missing.

Having done that I came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. We’d been to a restaurant, a group of us. We’d been having a meal. We’d ordered dessert but dessert was served in a strange way. There was a big bowl and everyone’s dessert was in the bowl. We would pass the bowl and had to help ourselves to our dessert from it. People were dipping in and taking their bits and pieces. I’d ordered some kind of pastry which was served as round balls covered in cream … "profiteroles" – ed … I was having a look for them but couldn’t work out which was mine or not. I lifted one up and said to the assembled multitudes “is this one of my balls?” which of course stopped the conversation and brought forth a whole gulf of eruption of laughter from the table, so much so that it actually awoke me.

That was what I mean by a bizarre night. The sound of the laughter did actually awaken me and I did actually sit upright with my eyes wide open

And then we’d been fighting a war against the Germans in World War I. We were in our front line somewhere and I vaguely remember walking in the air over the front line looking at all of the people still in the trenches as I passed by over their heads. It was a weird sensation. Then there was an attack, apparently the French attacking the Germans because the Germans had massacred all of their French prisoners in a certain town as some kind of reprisal for this particular raid.

It really was a strange feeling, that. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall several years ago I had a strange dream where I was running down some marble steps when I took off near the bottom and actually flew for some distance. It was a similar sensation to that, floating over the trenches looking at the heads of the soldiers in there.

It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder if that’s what happened to the soldiers when then died. Was it just as case of the light going out, like a switch being switched off, or did something live on afterwards?

There are lots of stories about people in a high emotion doing all kinds of things that they could never normally do, and there can’t be a much more heightened state of emotion than being psyched up to charge an enemy trench.

Later still I was with a friend and another guy. We were up in the hills looking down over a beach waiting for the D-Day landings to begin. The guy had one of the latest cameras that was capable of taking photos in the dark. He was playing with it and taking some really good images with the camera stopped quite low down. So I had a play with the little NIKON 1 J5 and that was producing some pretty good pictures too so I decided to go as low as it was possible to go and take a photo to see how it would come out. I pressed the shutter and knew that I would have to wait for several seconds but then my friend went and stood right in front of the camera to block the light. Every time I moved the camera he moved again with it to block the light so I was really quite annoyed about that because I was sure that regardless of the money that the guy had spent on his new camera my Nikon would take photos even better than the ones that he’d managed to squeeze out of his new camera.

Having my friends step in to confound my progress is not a new experience either. There was one of my friends who seemed to enjoy doing that as a matter of course but it wasn’t this particular one. Having said that though, I can think of a couple of occasions when I put my mind to it …

Finally the eldest daughter of my niece came to see me last night. She asked if I’d heard of a certain beach, (and she mentioned the name of it, but I’ve forgotten). I said “no”. She said that her friend suggested that they take me there. It’s very quiet and there are hardly any cars there. It would be nice. They handed me a card and after a little while I noticed that it said “credit cards accepted” so I wondered what on earth type of place it was.

Most beaches in North America are private. It’s not like Europe.

In the UK, for example, when lands began to be allocated shortly after the Norman Conquest, there was already an established road system and lands were allocated “back from the road”.

In North America however, there was no road network at the time of the allocation of lands and access was by the river, so lands were allocated “back from the river” and that included the beaches of course.

Québec is really interesting in this respect because much of the traditional medieval French system of allocation of lands is still reflected in the current system. For example, if you go around the St Lawrence valley you’ll see première rang or “first row” back from the river, and then deuxième rang or “second row” back from the river and so on that still exist today when you look at a map of current land allocations.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

After lunch, or breakfast, or whatever, I made a start on the next radio programme but I didn’t go far. I had pizza dough to make as I had now run out. And having used the same flour and the same yeast as yesterday I’m totally bewildered as to why it went up like a lift as I watched it.

There’s really something not quite right here with this dough and I don’t know what it is.

“Watching it” because I was making biscuits while it was proofing.

On the internet last night I found a recipe for oat and syrup biscuits, and I had all of the ingredients if I were to use honey instead of the syrup. That was what I did for the flapjack and it seemed to work perfectly, so why not?

It was quite an interesting way of making biscuits, more in the American line than the European but once I figured out what was going on (which took a while and wasn’t easy) they were absolutely fine.

The pizza was delicious too. The base had risen just as it ought to have done and it was well cooked too. I really seem to have found the knack of making these now, but I wish that I could pass on the skill to the bread-making activities.

The radio programme is almost finished now – just the notes for the final song to write and dictate. So I’ll do that tomorrow too along with everything else.

It looks as if I’ll be extremely busy this coming week with all that I have to do. Still, it keeps me out of mischief and I’d only be bored.

But right now I’m tired so I’m going to bed. But before I go let me just mention that it’s not just Rosemary who has joined the Air Fryer revolution. Grahame tells me that so has he, and he doesn’t know what he’d do without it now.

In the future I can see huge “hint-swapping” and “recipe-swapping” sessions on the agenda

The best recipe-swapping session took place in the mid-west USA in the 1940s when two farmers were having a discussion
"I hear that your old cow had the colic" asked one. "How did you treat it?"
"I made up a mixture of three parts turpentine, two parts paraffin and one part molasses" said the other.
"Very good" said the first.
Two weeks later they were talking again
"You know that recipe that you gave me for the cow with colic?" asked the first
"What about it?" asked the second
"I made it up and gave it to my cow and it died"
"That’s strange" said the second. "So did mine"

Monday 4th March 2024 – JUST LIKE OLD …

… times last night.

Yes – while I was in bed last night I was tossing and turning around all through the night, there’s plenty of diverse stuff on the dictaphone and I’ve not crashed out once.

And so I’ve no idea what I’ve done wrong – or right, as the case may be – but it’s certainly working. So make the most of it – carpe diem.

It wasn’t as if last night was an early night either. It was just one of the normal “God help me – I’m running late again” type of nights that I seem to be having right now, but eventually I hauled myself off into bed and to sleep – after a fashion, that is.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed again and went to check the blood pressure. 15.3/8.5 this morning compared to 15.5/10.0 last night. So not much difference there.

So eventually I managed to crawl off and and go for my medication.

The fruit buns that I had cooked yesterday were sufficiently cooled to go into the freezer. There’s enough in total for three or four weeks. What with that and my home-mode bread, I’m glad that I ordered some flour at the last delivery.

Having tidied up and put away most of the things in the kitchen I came back in here to make a start on the dictaphone notes – and to finish them after breakfast. Erik Dromore, a Norwegian, whoever he is but I don’t know him, who had come to live in Wales. He was very interested in cars when he was young. He had a car when he was only 14 which made all of us jealous. He had a lot of fun trying to insure it etc and was always being involved in Police interactions etc. He developed it so that it would split apart so that if he was stopped the part with him in it could escape leaving the other part behind as a kind of dummy that would be investigated and found to be nothing whatever of any importance. But it made all of us jealous that he had his own vehicle and we didn’t and he was that age.

Later on I also had a message from someone at school; asking me if I’d seen a certain girl. She was at school yesterday and should have been there today but wasn’t. I told them to speak to her brother because he’d known much more about her movements than I would. After all, it wasn’t as if the girl and I were actually being a lot involved or dong anything at this particular moment.

And that was a shame because I would have loved there to have been. She was a girl on whom I had quite a crush when I was at school but like most girls whom I knew, she had far more sense than to become entangled with me.

She went to University in Manchester after school and to my surprise we actually bumped into each other while I was living there. We went out on a couple of dates, much to my delight, but it was clear that h whatever interest she had was going in a different direction than mine and it was pointless trying to pursue it

That was definitely some kind of story, not of “what might have been” but more of “what would never ever be in a month of Sundays”. There I was, a long-haired rocker playing bass and singing in a reasonably successful pub-rock band, driving either an old J4 van or a Ford Transit that wasn’t much newer. Picture me in a three-bed semi in suburbia with a wife, 1.8 cars and 2.4 kids.

And then … being involved … "did you miss the front off this?" – ed … in all of this liquid that we had to collect – I did mention that, didn’t I … "no you didn’t" – ed … where there was a liquid that had been made with porridge and garlic, stuff like that poured into a great big vat and we had to collect it together as a team despite being attacked by balls of this liquid being thrown by other people? We had to collect 5 big bowls of it. That was our prize but the other teams were progressively trying to stop us. This was another occasion where it seemed that every time we made one step forward we ended up taking two steps backwards. We were really struggling until I found a huge bowl of this product that had come into my bedroom during the night. I’d no idea how or why but it actually matched the consistency and colour so I took it in and they counted it.

Now come on. You don’t really expect a dream to make any sense, do you? But it certainly sounds exciting. Maybe someone will invent a TV reality programme about it.

But I liked the bit about making a liquid. It reminds me of 1998 at Nottingham where a group of us from the University at Summer School successfully invented a liquid that dissolved absolutely everything with which it came in contact.

And then at the University Summer School at Norwich in 1999 (where I went with Annette, the young girl from Barbados) where we unsuccessfully tried to invent a container in which to store it.

After that we were on a motorway somewhere. There was someone on a motor bike who had had a joust with someone who had been going on the same carriageway as facing them as they tried to prevent us from going anywhere. In the end, after several attempts we managed to get under way. As we were under way I’d been talking to the boy who had joined us for the first time. he was telling us that his father was involved in this and he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Several of us told him that it was a wrong decision because your father would be there continually criticising you and measuring you against things that he did. In the end we talked him into going into our business. He was an extremely good catcher. At the end of the day he finished with cutlery in and none of any other runs of cutlery that the other team was throwing at us. He managed to identify our things correctly, keep them with us and throw away the other things despite how many other things they threw at us and how quickly they did it.

Then some girl was living in a houseboat. She was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a singer. She had accepted the nomination and was busy rehearsing things with her father ready to go up and receive the award. She lived in a houseboat, so it appeared, and had ween another community so had sailed up the canal to this other community to make her home. She saw a plot of land with landing stage that hadn’t been occupied by anyone. She asked the land agent about it who confirmed that it was free. She spoke to the estate agents about buying it and was quoted £5002 which was a really good price so she bought it and introduced herself to her new neighbours and said something like she hoped that everything would go according to their plans, to which they replied “they certainly would as long as she was to keep the music down and keep her pets from going in all the adults’ waste materials in the barn

Finally there was some guy loitering around the entrance to one of the caves in LORD OF THE RINGS. He was hoping to see a young elf-girl and sure enough, she appeared. He told her that he was planning on buying a new dress for the ball that was taking place shortly and would she like to come? She agreed. She felt with her fingers and was able to write on him his size so that the girl in the clothes shop would know what size to buy without having to measure him. He rushed off to the dress shop. To his dismay the dress shop was closed for holidays until 16th July and the dance was taking place on the 2nd. Never mind – he went to the elf shop to pick up his elf-weapon but again, the elf shop was also closed until 10th July for holidays so he was really frustrated about this – nothing he wanted was going to be available. One of the elves then sent him off in an unusual direction where he encountered a German clothing specialist who was unable to sort him out but came up with a few suggestions. He also encountered an armourer who likewise gave him a few suggestions. He shot off to the orc workshop and found that that was undergoing some kind of building repair work but nevertheless they agreed to give him something.

In the past I’ve had plenty of people make all kinds of suggestions to me when I’ve been stuck for something or other. But many of them have been physically impossible and the rest have been far from helpful.

However, wouldn’t it be nice if I could find a nice young elf-maiden to take to a dance with me right now? Not that it would do me much good of course, except for my self-esteem, and that’s quite important. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I may not be able to walk the walk but I can certainly talk the talk.

And that reminds me of when I was going to a dance at the Grand Hotel in Oostende a few years back. I squeezed into a crowded lift and said "ballroom, please"
Another passenger in there said "I’m sorry – I’ll move in further"

There was a pause in the middle of all of that for my fruit bun and coffee. And I do have to say that the fruit buns were the best that I have ever made, especially warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave. I think that I have the hang of those now, and the diced dates make a nice difference too.

But while we’re on the subject of baking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I need to think about my hot cross buns. Check my recipe to make sure that I have everything because my next order from LeClerc might be my last before the cut-off date for baking.

My buns from last year were something of a failure because the dough didn’t rise. But at least they tasted like hot cross buns and that’s important.

For the rest of the day I’ve been dealing with the radio programme that I should have finished yesterday.

There were plenty of interruptions, including time out to have a really good wash and to bandage my ankle where I have this problem

Luckily I have plenty of sanitary dressings which is good news. They should help keep the wounds clean

And my chili hummus? Absolutely wicked. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … no danger of any vampires ever coming around here with the amount of garlic that I use.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper and how I enjoy making these. With pasta and vegetables they are delicious.

There’s enough stuffing for a couple of days too. I want stuffing on Wednesday to put in a left-over curry to go with my naan bread. Now that I have divided the flour mix correctly into 6 portions of 90 grams instead of 9 portions of 60 grams, things on the naan front are going better

So having finished my notes, I’m off to bed where I’m hoping for another restless night with plenty of dreams about food.

And about Zero, Castor and TOTGA too. It’s been a little while since they have been around

But then like that character whose name I have forgotten in “An Item Of Cartography” – "Life is all one big huge joke. Nothing matters much except having a sense of humour"

Sunday 3rd March 2024 – I’M NOT TELLING …

… you what time I awoke today. It’s rather … errr … embarrassing.

And I’ve no idea either why it should have been what it was. I was in bed at 02:15 – a pretty reasonable time for a Saturday night/Sunday morning and I’d had plenty of sleep during the day too so I can’t have been all that tired.

There wasn’t much tossing and turning about during the night either. In fact I can’t remember moving at all while I was asleep.

The only thing that I can think is that I’ve had another one of those fits that I’ve been having just recently. But even then, I’ve been aware of my surroundings. This morning I was completely and utterly out of everything.

But we have to learn from lessons like this. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks and as of right now this minute, I shall be setting an alarm call for a Sunday. 11:00 might not sound particularly alarming for an alarm call for me, but it’s certainly a novel situation in which I find myself these days.

When I hauled myself out of bed I checked the blood pressure – 15.8/8.4, which is no surprise considering that my ears were steaming. Last night’s figure of 16.2/11.2 was due entirely to the frustration in having to track down some new batteries.

Why they can’t fit rechargeable batteries into machines like this is beyond me. My fitbit is rechargeable and even my kitchen scales will recharge off an USB port. How my life has changed since I’ve had my RECHARGEABLE KITCHEN SCALES and don’t have to scrabble around any more for batteries.

Once I’d done that I cleared off into the kitchen for my medication, and then I suppose that I’d better have breakfast, seeing what time it was – porridge, cheese on toast and hot black coffee – whilst I carried on reading some more of Sir Norman Lockyer’s THE DAWN OF ASTRONOMY.

He’s the guy who came up with the idea that the ancient Egyptians were star-worshippers and that their temples and pyramids were located and orientated so as to catch the light of certain stars as they rose and set. And I suppose that Lockyer was over the moon when he worked that out.

But several thousand years further on from the Ancient Egyptians there’s still plenty of star worship that goes on these days. But they aren’t the kind of stars of which Lockyer was thinking.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes, such as they were. A propos l’acteur Davy Buell il a continué vers le Texas où il a travaillé pour un petit moment, entré dans une Ordre réligieuse et puis était acteur à la télévision et acté dans les filmes qui sont biens connus par la publique américaine.

Yes, that’s what I said – In French, which surprised me completely. “About the actor Davy Buell – he continued on towards Texas where he worked for a short while, entered a religious Order and then had been an actor on television and in films that were well-known to the American public”.

It’s not the first time that we’ve had dreams in French. There have been several in the past. We’ve also had dreams in Flemish, Welsh and in Spanish too.

Yes, Spanish. Apart from having several Spanish colleagues at work from whom I was able to pick up the kind of language that you’d never learn in class, while I was having my “year out” after work in 2004/05 I went on a Spanish class at the University down the road from where I was living in Jette

That was quite an enjoyable year and an enjoyable class. I met that nice Asian girl with whom I had something of a fling but I can’t believe it (well, I can, actually) – even as recently as those days I still encountered parents warning their girls about me, and the girls taking notice.

It seems that I am fated to go wandering through the universe encountering this kind of opposition until I myself turn into a star – but no Egyptian will ever erect a pyramid of temple to worship me.

But do you know why there are pyramids in Egypt?
It’s because they were too heavy to move to the British Museum.

That reminds me of the time that I was in Egypt visiting the Great Tomb of Seti, I was told by a tourist guide that it was 3,200 years 3 months and 16 days old
And so I asked him how come they could date the tomb so accurately.
He replied "when I started work here they told me that it was 3200 years old, and I’ve been working here 3 months and 16 days."

There was more on the dictaphone too. Did I dictate the dream that I had twice … "no you didn’t" – ed … about being in that house and there being some kind of machine that had to fit on me like a blood pressure sleeve that would hopefully make me feel better but was one that I found very difficult to actually fasten on with one hand. It took a great deal of doing yet in the end I managed to fasten it on. It seemed to support me enough for whatever it was that needed doing. I had this dream not once but twice, once after the other.

That’s obviously related to this meeting that I have on Tuesday when they are going to be talking to me about some “mechanical aids” or whatever to help me with my problems. I wonder what they are likely to be.

Having done that I made a start on the radio notes – editing some in order to prepare the next programme.

The stuff that I dictated last night is going into the bin by the way. Whatever I wrote last week was total rubbish and makes no sense at all. Not that much of my stuff ever does, but we have to pretend about it.

There is however some stuff in a kind-of backlog so I made a start on some of that.

Not for long though because I had some hummus and some fruit buns to make.

Fruit buns first, and no banana today so I had to use more water. But piles of dried fruit, crushed nuts, sunflower seeds, desiccated coconut and the like. It’s all good stuff, took an age to knead but it went together quite well and rose nicely too.

While it was rising I made my hummus. One batch with chilis and a second batch with olives – and the missing ingredient was almost blood as I had cut myself quite badly on the blade of the food processor.

There was pizza dough to roll out too for tonight’s tea. And being plain flour it did really well too.

So the pizza was delicious, the hummus looks (and tastes) excellent and the bread rolls look great. I had a really good afternoon in the kitchen.

Shame about the morning though, but I hope that an alarm call in the future will help in that situation.

Nevertheless, what a state to be in? I ought to be ashamed of myself. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I can’t go on like this. It’s ridiculous

If I go on like this people will be calling me Rip van Eric and that’s not the reputation I want. Geoff Goddin called the volunteers behind the resurrection of the Talyllyn Railway as having a "Boy’s Own comic spirit of adventure, involving enthusiasm, ingenuity and a fair degree of irresponsibility" and that’s much more like my style of doing things.

As Tennyson put it, "my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset and the baths of all the Western stars until I die" – which won’t be long a-coming but I’ll do what I can until then

Hence the alarm on a Sunday as of now. And about time too.

Saturday 3nd March 2023 – I’M FED UP …

… of falling asleep during the day and not having anything done.

Fighting off wave after wave of sleep while trying to watch the football, I ended up crashing out for several hours later on and I’ve even crashed out while typing these notes.

It beats me what’s responsible for it. One of these medicines, that’s for sure, but which one? But all I can say is that I’m glad that I don’t drive any more, because this would be driving me up the wall.

It was another late night last night, simply because of the highlights of the football for the evening being posted. Connah’s Quay’s defeat at Bala means that TNS would be handed the championship yet again if they win against Cardiff Metro this afternoon.

So on that sombre note I wandered off to bed, later than usual, and settled down for a good night’s sleep.

When the alarm went off and awoke me, I was dreaming about people wearing different clothes, being in different epochs that they chose. I could just imagine the scene when awakening, asking for a pair of 1950s undies, something like that. Think of how confusing it would be for people. But there are many people who don’t want to live in the modern world today

And I for one, entangled in the technological jungle, think fondly of my past life in Crewe where we didn’t have these new-fangled inventions like the wheel to bother us and where the most exciting thing that happened was when that tree fell down in 1847 and people still talk about it now.

They have these blue plaques on some houses that say something like “between 1903 and 1926 this house was inhabited by no-one of any importance”.

First thing this morning was to check the blood pressure. 15.4/8.5 this morning, compared to 13.0/8.3 last night. So something during the night must have wound me up. I shall have to go back and see.

It’s nice though to see it generally falling. They were quite worried about that at one time. Mind you, I wish that I knew how to control it without medication.

On that note I staggered into the kitchen for another helping of medication

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night, apart from discussing historical underclothes of course. This is where my Wing for the Air Force has been split up and the daughter of one of the pilots, a young girl probably 7 or 8, has been kidnapped somewhere between Iceland and Greenland. It was the patrol’s light-hearted way of doing things that had enabled this to happen Now, their next job was to try to find this little girl even though they had these transatlantic patrols to maintain all the time every so many hours they were out flying over the ocean

This sounds as if it might relate to part of the novel that I’ll never ever write now, where I had my anti-submarine patrols bases in Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, the Caribbean, Brazil and the Azores fighting the Battle of the Atlantic in 1943.

Later on I stepped back into that dream again afterwards … "which dream?" – ed … but there was another part of this dream that was based in an office where I worked. I’d applied for some annual leave but it was over a busy period. The annual leave was about my health issues. On one particular afternoon I was being confirmed into some kind of religion or other ready for my eventual death but when the boss called me in he talked to me about the possibility of promotion, how I needed to show that I was a firm, loyal and committed member of his team in order to be promoted. Feeling that it was rather late now for me to change my ways I basically mentioned to him what was happening and asked him what I could do about it to ensure that I’d be promoted, which event should I abandoned, which postpone, which cancel, what should I do with something else so that my cancelling it with some kind of higher position in the league or in a higher division would be a much better option for everyone than me going off and being treated for my health issues.

Then I had a dream about being in the Air Force with people in the front line, forming this special squadron that must be provisioned properly when requested. Bomber Command tried to hoist onto it a raid that was out of their jurisdiction – involving bombing somewhere south of Crewe and flattening it. The senior officers objected. In the end senior officers were put into the plane but had to board it in senior order or near enough. In the lower ranks what they did was to quite simply transfer everyone to shore-going establishments where there were no provisions to attack anything.
Then the dream changed later on. I was back in it when it was 3 officers who were on their way to the camp which was in the middle of Shropshire, lost in a backstreet somewhere. They asked me about it and I told them where it was, but decided to follow them just in case they weren’t who they said they were and were up to no good. It was a good job that I did because I noticed a couple of things that brought my attention to them.

Why would anyone want to bomb anywhere south of Crewe and flatten it? In my opinion, Crewe would be an ideal target for all of that. During the “Baedecker Raids” a stick of bombs fell on Crewe and caused £14,000,000 of improvements and we could do with a few more of that type of thing.

The town centre right now looks like Dresden after an Allied air raid and I shudder to think of what they’ll erect in place of the bus station and the shops that were there. As the current King Charles said a while back, "You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe. When it knocked down our buildings, it didn’t replace them with anything more offensive than rubble"

What beats me about the current plans for the town centre are firstly, why are they building the multi-storey car park first when there is nothing for anyone parking there to see or do in the town centre? And secondly, why are they building shops there when they couldn’t find tenants for the shops that were there just now?

But as long as they build a new bus station complete with public convenience. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I passed my Biology “O” level with flying colours thanks to the helpful drawings on the walls of the gentleman’s rest room and I want others to have the same chance as I had.

Having dealt with all of that I had a few things to do and then I went for my lovely cheese on toast. It would be nicer if the bread would rise more, but I really must work harder than I do with it. But “gently” is the word, don’t fight it. Pretend that I’m massaging Zero’s clavicles.

What I’ve been doing today, when I’ve not been asleep, is going through that mass of stuff that I sorted out last night and splitting it up into tracks. I’ve not done much, because I’ve been asleep for quite a while today, to my bitter regret.

There’s a few done, but I really could have done with doing a few more.

Football on the internet, as I said today. TNS v Cardiff Metro. A win for TNS would see them win the championship with about 8 games to spare, which out of a 32-game season is some impressive going.

And as expected, they swept the Met aside in a canter and strolled to an easy 4-0 victory. And it should have been many more than that.

There’s no stopping TNS on the domestic front these days, but how I wish that they would transfer this form into Europe and win a few games there

Many people say that the dominance of TNS is killing the game, but the fact is that it’s the fans who are the winners because in the race to try to keep up with TNS, the quality of teams, matches and facilities has come on in leaps and bounds, so everyone is a winner.

But while we’re on the subject of football and winners, THIS ONE is the kind of game that I like. Where one club is pushing and pushing forward with wave after wave of attack and fail to produce anything, whereas the other team goes racing away downfield in a breakaway and score a goal from their only attack.

Tea tonight was another one of these breaded quorn filets that I like, with salad and baked potatoes. And the potatoes were so nice that I baked another one.

Rice pudding for afters too, and I can’t complain at all.

Tomorrow I have some hummus to make, and also some fruit buns as I’m running out of those. That should keep me busy for an hour or so while I’m making my pizza, I suppose. There is some pizza dough left – I checked.

But the hummus will be nice, one batch with chilis and the other with olives and I’ve forgotten the sun-dried tomatoes again. I’m not sure what I have that will go with olives in a hummus.

Garlic, obviously. That goes without saying. never any danger whatever of vampires coming around here with the amount of garlic that I use.

When I was at Castle Dracula in Romania that time in the early 1990s I actually met a vampire there. We had a race together and it was neck and neck all the way.

But seriously, when we were kids the neighbour’s boy told us that he’d been reading a book where someone killed a vampire with a stake.

"That’s nothing!" we retorted. "Our mother could do that with her egg and chips"

They are actually running a remake of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA so I shall take myself away and carry on reading it while I wait for everything to quieten down so that i can dictate my radio notes.

It’s one of these books that has already been reworked to correspond with the New World Order and stars a trans-sexual cross-dressing vampire. Known, as you might expect, as Count Dragula.

I’ll get my coat.

Friday 1st March 2024 – DYDD GWYL DEWI HAPUS …

… to everyone who can understand that.

And a happy St David’s Day to those of you who can’t.

It didn’t occur to me until this morning that I ought to be making a leek and potato soup, or maybe some bara brith or lava bread. It completely slipped my mind until it was far too late to do anything about it.

However, I did remember to prepare a “St David’s Day Special” for the radio featuring nothing but Welsh rock musicians. People like Man and Deke Leonard pumping out the stuff, but also stuff like Kim Simmonds from his heyday with Savoy Brown.

And also The Neutrons, desperate for a female voice for one of their songs on TALES FROM THE BLUES COCOONS, and someone drags in this young dancer who they found in ballet school down the road, Caromay Dixon, who was only 15 at the time but whose voice hypnotised all of us there.

They even WROTE A SONG for her to sing on the album.

But anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

Last night was another late night and I didn’t have much sleep yet again. No football match to keep me awake – I was busy doing other things.

However for a change, it was good night’s sleep and I felt much better for it when the alarm went off. I still didn’t want to drag myself out of bed when the alarm went off, but it couldn’t be helped.

First stop was the blood pressure, and after all this time it seems that this part of the medication is working. Last night’s was 16.3/13.5 but this morning’s was 13.5/7.8, well within the parameters that they sent me at the start.

In the living room I had to track down some medication and then I could fuel myself up.

This morning’s task was to make bread for the weekend – three bread rolls. And even though I did exactly the same as I did last week, the dough didn’t rise today like it had done then.

The only difference was the yeast. Is this cheap yeast no good then? And ought I to be using the more expensive yeast that seemed to work last week? That’s an interesting idea.

My cheese on toast was still nice though so I’m not complaining too much.

While I was at it, I made a large rice pudding again to last me for the next couple of days. I’m becoming quite a fan of those too.

Having had my breakfast I came in here to listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, who had come with me. There was a group of us at some kind of athletics meeting last night. We were the ones putting out all of the hurdles etc for the athletes to jump etc. This went on for quite a while and then they announced the winner. I wasn’t paying that much attention but they also said that he’d won the student games and the National Indoor games in the summer. I was very keen to find out who he was so I decided to use the internet so I could look it up. We drifted on from there and were on our way home. Liz – the “other Liz” was with us and I was with Percy Penguin. We came out of High Street in Crewe and walked up Market Street in the pedestrian area. Percy Penguin and I had a very happy air about us as if something important had happened.

we were actually turning into Victoria Street at that moment from Market Street.

Next weekend it will be 15 years since the “other Liz” shuffled off this mortal coil. We served on the same University committees so we often found ourselves travelling together from one end of the country to the other – from Milton Keynes up to Newcastle upon Tyne and then down to Bristol for meetings of the Disabled Students group.

On one occasion, stopping off at Shrewsbury for a meal on our way from Bristol to Newcastle upon Tyne we encountered an old girlfriend of mine from school. On another occasion we came across a Wishbone Ash concert so we hung around for a while until it started.

She came to Brussels as a guest of the Belgian Association and attended a couple of meetings of the North European Students in Cologne with Jackie and me.

After she died I took her daughter to Canada to install her at University there and, leaving STRAWBERRY MOOSE to take care of her, I went off on my EPIC JOURNEY ON THE TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY

But anyway, all that was a long time ago.

After breakfast I made a start on finishing off the radio notes but I had another one of those cataleptic-like trances again – sitting for a couple of hours totally unable to function. It was just as if I had switched off. It was really strange.

But at some point I must have gone off to sleep because at some point in the proceedings I was changing the clutch cable in a Ford Sierra – and what a messy job that was having to route it through the bodywork. We ended up with most of the front panelling out of the car to fit it.

Being miles away like this, it took an age to come back into the present world but when I did I hauled myself off into the kitchen to make it look a little more respectable for the cleaner

While she was here I finished off the notes and then began to convert a pile of the music in the queue into an appropriate format to use on the radio. There’s tons of that in the waiting list and it will take an age to convert.

But at least I’ve managed to salvage a couple of albums that had become lost in the technological piles of spaghetti and I’m sure that there will be others hidden in there too.

Tea tonight was salad and chips with some of these nuggets. The air fryer came to the rescue again. I’m nevertheless going to have to look to see if I can make better use of it.

There must be dozens of things that I can be doing with it that I’ve not even explored yet. Cake-making, for example. I have a small cake tin that will fit.

And what else?

But as long as I can remain awake long enough to make them. I’m completely fed up of falling asleep at the drop of a hat. It’s really getting on my nerves.

Our old friend Gotthold Lessing said about some other subject "A man who does not lose his reason over certain things has none to lose" and I’m certainly going to lose my reason over this.

If I had a spleen I would vent it, that’s for sure.

And that reminds me of the doctor in that hospital in Verdun in 2017 who said that he wanted to check my spleen and began to undo my shirt
"I hope that you have good eyesight" I said
"Why’s That?" he asked
"Because my spleen’s in a glass jar on a shelf in a hospital in Montlucon 300 miles away from here"

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.