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Monday 8th July 2024 – IT’S GOING TO …

… be another horrible, miserable, depressing late night going to bed tonight.

But at least it’s not been a waste of time and something good has come of it because I whizzed through this evening and not only edited the remaining sound file from those that I dictated on Saturday night, I’ve assembled the programme.

All that remains to do is to choose the final track and write the notes for it, and that’s a job that I can do tomorrow morning.

It’s quite strange really, because the sound file was one of the longest that I’ve ever dictated yet when I’ve edited out all of the umms and ahhs and the bits that were rubbish, it edited down to be one of the shortest. There are some things that are quite difficult to explain.

It was a late night last night too. I wasn’t in bed much before midnight and that’s not much good at all. I awoke at about 05:15 too and valiantly resisted the temptation to raise myself from the dead at that time.

When it came round to about 06:00 I thought “give it another five minutes ….” and the next thing that I knew, the 07:00 alarm was going off. And that was a mystery too. What happened there?

After I’d had a good wash and complete change of clothes I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, if any of my favourite young ladies had come with me.

But no such luck last night. “Swansong” in the Sports pages refers to the goalkeeper who was selected for the national team – the women’s national team, with selection issues about form etc, loss of form, new brooms sweeping clean and all this kind of thing it was necessary to find another keeper to join the National squad as first choice and she was it. At 38 years of age it was only a temporary solution while other players sort themselves out. But it was the best available at the time. It might have been unpopular but sometimes popularity is the wrong thing to do. You don’t do things for popularity you do things for success. Sometimes, for success, you have to do things like this but we’ll see where she is in two seasons and see who’s taken her place amongst this crowd of people who are almost there but not quite at the moment.

And what do I know about women’s football? My first encounter with it was AT BURLINGTON IN VERMONT IN 2015 and I might have seen the odd match since then, but I’m hardly an expert. However, Jocelyne Montoya of one of these Mexican women’s teams can come and take a throw-in with one of my footballs any time she likes.

And then later we were all at work discussing the working arrangements for the next week or so. I’d been driving a snooker player around for a week. He was someone who had been very famous but had fallen on hard times and had been extremely wayward but had slowly been dragged back onto track again. I’d been driving him around but I’d not had any instructions for the coming week so we were all in the office waiting for things to happen and for someone to come along with a work schedule. A couple of my colleagues came in and asked me why I wasn’t at the top end of the town. I asked why so they replied “your snooker player is up there looking for someone or other”. They had a huge discussion about this snooker player. I mentioned that I’d driven him last week and tried to keep him on track for all his appointments, matches etc. One or two people said “yes it’s a shame that he didn’t think about engaging you earlier because you’d been sure to have made him at least conscious of these things” which I thought was probably one of the nicest compliments anyone in that place had ever paid me. So even though no work schedule was down I had to quickly discuss where this snooker player was and then decide to nip in the car to catch him to see what his plans were for the week and maybe fit in with his anyway and do the work that he wants doing, especially as he seems to be so keen to see me around according to my colleagues, which again I thought was a pretty nice comment from someone like that.

Yes, compliments were rather thin on the ground in that place. Everything was done on the basis of “dead man’s shoes” gallantly resisting all attempts to bring things kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Trying to reorganise things there to be more efficient, I was met with "and what do you know about it?"
So saying nothing, next time that I was out I stopped at a stationer’s and bought some picture frames. That night I framed all of my taxi operators’ licences and my Certificates of Professional Competence (issued, would you believe, by my Employer) to operate a Road Passenger Transport business in the UK and in Europe, and next morning, hung them on the wall over my desk.
No-one in that office spoke to me again after that and a few months later when my boss’s office was moved to a different building it was "wouldn’t it be a good idea if you went to be based in ‘Kortenberg’ with him instead of down here?"
"Suits me fine, thanks."

But what I don’t understand is why there is a snooker player in the middle of all of this.

When the nurse came round he sorted me out and bandaged me up and then asked for my advice. He’s off to Brussels to see a concert t the Stadion Roi Baudoin and wanted to know where to park. Where I lived was about 20 minutes from there and there’s plenty of parking. And if he plays his cards right, there’s a bus that runs between the hospital at Jette and the Metro Station at the Stadion Roi Baudouin that goes along the road where he’ll be parked. Where I lived in Jette was really good. 200 yards from an exit on the Brussels by-pass and surrounded by public transport going just about everywhere, bus, tram, train, you name it.

After he left I had breakfast and then began to prepare for my Welsh Summer School that starts today. We are 10 students and a tutor, a tutor whom I’ve had before on some summer school or other. He’s sent us a little booklet of his plans but I bet that we’ll be a long way from there by the time that we finish.

It’s actually a level below the one that I was studying in the year just finished but it doesn’t hurt to go over stuff that I’m supposed to have learned and to know. And I’m not the only one doing a “revision course”.

The way I see it, if you throw a lot of whatsit at a wherever, some of it might stick at some point.

No prizes by the way for guessing who fell asleep at one point and sat there staring into space when he should have been in a break-out room. D’ohhh!

After the end of the lessons today I cracked on with the radio programme. I wanted to at least finish the editing. I could have done more too but I ran out of bread and had to make another loaf. I took full advantage of the oven being on by baking tonight’s stuffed pepper and making a pasta-bake, although that wasn’t very successful

That took me back a while. A friend of mine and his wife in the USA were so hung over one New Year’s Morning that they stayed in bed all day and their two kids were starving. I was there giving instructions over the internet on a messenger program to Tina, the 11 year old, on how to make a pasta and tuna bake in the oven

Anyway, that’ll have to do for now. I’ve been another busy boy today, following on from being rushed off my feet yesterday. Can I go for the hat trick tomorrow or will I be spending most of the day flaked out and recovering? It remains to be seen.

But thinking of Tina trying to awaken her parents reminds me of the girl who once asked me "do you wake up grumpy in the morning?"
And I replied "actually, she’s usually awake before me"

Saturday 29th June 2024 – SO FAR TODAY …

… I’ve managed to avoid falling over. However, the night is young and there’s still plenty of time yet to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

And defeat? They are the things inside de slippers of course!

There has been plenty of the day to go at too. More than usual, in fact, because once more I was up and about at an ungodly hour long before the alarm went off. I’ve no idea why that would be because, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it’s not like me at all.

It was a late night too. The other night when I was in bed before 23:00 must have been a fluke, that’s all I can cay because much as I would like that to be my target time, it’s pretty much unattainable right now and that’s something else that I can’t understand. Where does all the time go?

So last night after my misadventures on the kitchen floor I crawled off to bed late as usual as I mentioned and for a change it took a while for me to go off to sleep. After my fall you could probably say that I was shaken and not stirred.

Round about 05:00 – 05:30 I sat up, bolt upright, wide awake, and try as I might, I couldn’t go back to sleep. Just like yesterday morning too.

After lying awake for a while trying to drop off, I abandoned the struggle and took to my feet, a little more steady than last night, it has to be said. I sorted out some clean clothes and then went for a good wash and scrub up

Back in here afterwards I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was newly-retired, so I was back at home. There were all kinds of medical upheavals going on. Even I’d been interviewed for a medical and failed it completely so was going to have some kind of further treatment. A whole week had been set aside for us to receive the kind of treatment that we needed. This was to take place at home, or at least, some kind of clinic but we’d all be at home during the day, during the night. It had been arranged that I’d look after my niece’s daughter while all of this was going on. We were making plans and making appointments. Someone said something about the daughter staying with me. It turned out in the end that she was only going to stay with me for two days because Friday the had something sorted out but there were so many things arranged that this stay was gradually being whittled down until in the end it probably wouldn’t be anything. That was a big disappointment to me because I had lots of plans and lots of ideas about what I was going to do and where I was going to take her. I’d been quite looking forward to going off for a few days with her to show her around, so I was starting to be even more disappointed and fed up than I am.

Later on there was something else that cropped up which would have been a really great idea had she been staying with me. I happened to mention this idea thing that had come up but it turns out now that whatever time she had left was going to be reduced yet again as something else was found for her to do. I began to wonder whether I was completely wasting my time with all of this and trying to be nice and helpful

So here we go again. I’m planning on having a good and interesting time and various members of my family come along and spike my guns, shoving "le baton dans la rue" as they would say around here. That’s one thing on which you could count – if I were going to be having a good time they would want to spoil it. I tell you, leaving The Land That Time Forgot and coming into the 21st Century was the best thing that ever happened to me and it’s a real shame as far as I’m concerned that I couldn’t ever persuade Nerina to take a leap into the future instead of being back there in the past

The nurse told me about the fun run taking place tonight. The town is closed off this weekend and it’s a car-free “pedestrians only” to celebrate the start of the summer season. There’s a 9km trail laid out around the town and the fun run starts this evening with everyone joining in for a lap – or two, or three, or four if you want the full marathon – to celebrate the summer, the Olympics, or anything else that you like.

She’ll be taking part and she’ll give me a wave as she runs past my apartment. I said that I’d keep an eye open for her;

After she left I had breakfast and then came in here – where I promptly fell asleep again. So much for this early start, I have to say.

While I was away with the fairies I was over the hills and far away. While I was asleep during the morning I had a very clingy girlfriend, a younger girl with large thick-lensed glasses and I know who she is but I can’t think of her name now. We we were out one afternoon and evening and she was just clingy. At first I thought “how lucky I was to have someone who wanted to be so near to me so much” but after a while I began to realise that someone so clingy can also be se needy and so much closeness can be oppressive.

It’s amazing how deep your inner consciousness and realisation goes when you are asleep. I’ve come up with some profound thinking in my dreams and I quite often wish that I could think so clearly and profoundly in real life. Things would be quite different. But what the heck is the name of this girl? I can see her even now but can’t think of her name.

When I awoke I finished off all of the notes for the radio programme on which I was working and then went for a very late lunch, not that I was too bothered about the time.

This afternoon, apart from sleeping, I’ve been carrying out a few amendments to my Homepage (and there will be some more in the fullness of time too), finishing off the updates to my “Canada 2022” pages from October 2022 and once I’d finished those, making a start on updating the pages that I wrote during my recent stay in hospital. So all in all, a very busy boy today even if a tired one.

Having had my breaded quornburger last night, tonight I had air-fried chips with a vegan salad and a burger on a bap – one of those burgers that I made with this dried compound stuff from Germany;

The taste is cerainly different, but not disagreeable, especially when there’s plenty of vegan mayonnaise, dijon mustard and onion plastered all over the place.

So now, early though it is, I’m going to dictate some radio notes for editing during the week and then off to bed. An 08:00 start so if I’m lucky I might have a little lie-in.

But going back to yesterday and needing help too raise myself from the floor reminds me of a story that Bishop Bell of Chichester used to tell me, about the time that he had difficulty rising from his seat in the park
A small girl dashed over and asked if she could help him
"Are you sure you can, dear?" asked the Bishop. "It’s not going to be easy"
"It’s all right really, sir" said the girl, brightly. "I’ve often helped my daddy when he’s been much drunker than you"

Saturday 25th May 2024 – IT SEEMS AS IF …

…this crashing out during the day has become the new norm.

It seems that rather than feeling bad about the days when I do crash out, I’m now celebrating the days when I don’t. And what kind of state is that to be in?

And, more to the point, wouldn’t it be nice to have something to celebrate today instead of having yet another miserable day where I’ve spent either asleep or semi-comatose?

For a change I was in bed early last night despite all the aches and pains. I found it much easier to get into bed even if it was more painful and once under the covers I was soon asleep. For a while it was quite comfortable.

And then a strange thing happened.

It began by me awakening (so I thought) and looking at my watch, to find that it was 06:15 so I curled back up under the quilt.

The next time I awoke it was 06:10. And then 06:30. And then 06:15.

It really was thoroughly confusing.

To make it worse, I couldn’t remember what time the alarm was supposed to ring. So frightened in case it as 06:15 and I’d missed it I raised myself from the dead.

When it did finally go off, I was in mid-wash

The nurse came as usual. She said that she’d rung but I can’t have heard her so she came in here to find me.

We talked about my blood test, she dealt with my feet and legs, and then she cleared off.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone which was a surprise. There was some kind of stately home and the young girl who lived there had an Austin Metropolitan. She nearly ran me down on the way home one night so I thought that I’d call into the hall to see. There was a discussion going on about a woman who liked nude bathing. Someone was desperately trying to divert the discussion saying that she was a member of the British National Outdoor Swimming Federation or whatever it was called and went to these swimming events with her two children every year as part of her membership of this association (which we all knew was nonsense). I couldn’t find the girl so I set out to walk across the road when I was almost run down again by the car. I found it with its rear end sticking out into the street. They were about to work on it so I had a few words with them about it. A local policeman turned up and began to defend them which I thought was completely wrong. He was giving me all kinds of reasons and excuses why and I wasn’t having any of it. It was all turning into a very awkward situation

Beautiful cars, Austin Metropolitans. When I was young there were two dumped on waste land in Wistaston for years. The last time I actually saw one though was IN MAINE IN 2015. They were exported to North America in droves, where they were called Nash Metropolitans

After doing this I was keeping a close eye on the clock thinking “in 10 minutes I can go for my breakfast at 10:00” but all of a sudden it was 11:55 and I’ve no idea regrettably to where that 2 hours disappeared. Ahh well …

This afternoon was pretty much the same – trying to write radio notes in the middle of disappearing half-hours and so on. It doesn’t work, I promise you.

At least tea was nice – baked potato with salad and breaded quorn fillets as usual. Monotonous but tasty.

But something else that is monotonous is bedtime. However I’m thoroughly wasted and a good early night might help. I certainly hope so. And the problem with going to bed early is that it makes the wife put on weight.
Single women come home, see what’s in the fridge and go to bed.
Married women come home, see what’s in the bed and go to the fridge.

Monday 20th May 2024 – YOU’VE PROBABLY ALL …

… read yesterday’s embarrassing blog entry now that it’s on line.

Ohhh!! The shame of it all. I eventually managed to make my way to bed, fully-clothed, at about 02:30 which, seeing as the alarm was set for 07:00 was going to be something of an effort.

Especially as today is another Bank Holiday and usually you wouldn’t see my head poking out from under the covers until about 11:00 I suppose

But all of that was back in the olden days. How times have changed. And not for the better either

When the alarm went off I arose from the dead and went for a wash in the bathroom to clean up

The dining area needed arranging for the nurse too but I arranged it somewhat differently to make it easier for me to stand up. The heights for my arms to push up so that I can stand up have to be calculated pretty precisely .

The nurse noticed a deterioration today. I told him how fed up I was with it all. I need to start laying the foundations for my eventual depart

After he left I came back in here and with an old, pretty full A4 binder and my pillow, managed to raise up the height of the chair so I can sit down with no worries about getting up again. What kind of state am I really in?

At least I was able to write out the blog entry from last night and post it on line.

This afternoon I had a lot of personal stuff to do. And do you remember that issue that reared its ugly head in the UK? The bullet is bitten, the die is cast
"The Moving Finger writes, and, having writ,
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it"
and I shall be making one of the greatest expenditures in my life.

In fact, only the purchase of Expo, my second apartment in Brussels and my apartment downstairs here have cost me more, and the sad thing is that I won’t ever see the benefit of it.

Ahh well, such is life I suppose

That left me some time to transcribe last night’s diictaphone notes. And to my surprise, there was something. They were doing some kind of survey into criminal investigations. I’d been leading some kind of group that had a great deal of interest in this. We were comparing various things together to see about them. One year we had a graph that had an abnormal part in it so we looked further into it. That was what they called “The Irish Sex Scandal” when the Irish Government spent so long investigating a case before brining it to court that it was deemed to be – not “Perverting The Court of Justice” but whatever I mean … "defeating the ends of natural justice" – ed … to bring it to Court. The prosecution collapsed accordingly. We began to wonder whether there had been any other UK cases that had collapsed like this because of a want of prosecution. We began to look further into a lot of old cases to make sure that at least the defence had been correctly run and the correct information had been supplied to them for them to decide what to do with it

During the day I’d been crashing out here and there, which is no surprise given the sleep that I hadn’t had. When I was asleep in the morning I was doing something in the countryside. There was a campsite there. I was having a good wash but a couple of people were having a shower. It suddenly occurred to me “why don’t I have a shower instead?”. I gathered up my things and must have gone into twenty cubicles without finding a single cubicle that had everything one would need for a proper shower. There was always something missing. On one occasion I was menaced by a dog but as it approached me I menaced it back and it ran away. Twenty cabins I must have tried and not one of them had all one would need for a shower.

That sounds typical, doesn’t it?

There was still some time to write a few notes for a forthcoming radio programme before going to make my stuffed pepper and I’ll finish it tomorrow. But after my Welsh lesson. I’m going to bed now ready to be fighting fit for tomorrow

And by that, dear reader, I mean “fighting for breath and fit to drop”.

4th May 2024 – HAPPY STAR WARS DAY …

.. to all of my readers. May the fourth be with you!

What I hope is that you have had a good day today. As for me, I’ve had a better day, but then again that’s not saying all that much.

After I’d finished my notes last night I had a rush around and was actually in bed by 23:03. That’s quite early for recent times but still later than I would like it to be, with an alarm call at 07:00.

Once in bed I didn’t remember anything at all – I certainly can’t remember any phantom alarm calls going off that would awaken me

When the real alarm did actually go off I was a little boy in bed with a little girl. My mother came in and said that she was glad to see me awake and glad to see me and that the two of us had got on so well together and she was going to sing a song to awaken both of us. Just at that moment BILLY COTTON roared his “wakey waaaa….key” and I didn’t find it funny in the least.

It’s very strange but the number of times something in real life has synchronised with something in a dream, such as my mother about to sing to wake me up and we have the alarm going off just at that moment. It’s not every time, of course, but it’s an unusual percentage of times that’s higher than you might think.

Anyway I wandered off for a wash and for my medication.

Having set out the room as the nurse likes it to be, he came down after seeing to my neighbour upstairs, changed the dressing on my foot and put on my puttees. And the wound on my foot is certainly looking much better than it did several weeks ago. That’s good news.

After he left I came back in here where I crashed out – the first of several times today. I’m not doing too well from that point of view.

As for my breakfast, I did manage to stay awake long enough to make and eat my cheese on toast and coffee. And the bread that I made yesterday is really good too. I was quite impressed with that lot of baking – almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin all those years ago.

Once I’d finally awoken I went for a wash and a shave and sure enough, at 14:00 I had a visitor. One of my fellow students on my Welsh course is retired and spends months driving around Europe in his caravanette. He’s turned up in Granville this morning so he came for a coffee and a chat.

And wasn’t it lovely to see him? I don’t have enough visits, which is a shame

After he left I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was with Nerina last night. She’d come back home and we were together, but it wasn’t at all what she was expecting. She realised that my routine had changed so what she decided was that some time during the following day we’d both sit down and thrash out some rules for some kind of co-existence. I was willing to listen but obviously I wasn’t going to agree to any of the rules that might change my life drastically from how it is. Nevertheless I was interested to see exactly what her proposals might be. Of course they might affect other people like the district nurse coming round but that was something that we’d have to see about and have to negotiate anyway so that we could have some kind of life in common rather than living as two individuals in the same house

The biggest change would be that I can’t walk anywhere these days. I’m stuck inside this building and not able to go out. I’m not sure what other changes there would be after 30-odd years but there would bound to be some. The fact that I don’t have to go to work and so can have a more regulated lifestyle would be a big change for a start

There was also something else going on too about living together. A young mother named Maggie had moved in with a guy called Bill in the suburbs of Glasgow because it seemed like the best opportunity she was going to find to escape the kind of squalor in which she’d been living. His lifestyle didn’t conform to what she was expecting either so it was necessary to get together and thrash out rules between him and her but she was far less optimistic that some kind of arrangement suiting both parties would be found and considered it a great challenge to try to persuade him to conform to certain ideals of communal life in the middle of all of this Glasgow gang warfare that was going on around these tenements

There are several people whom I know who can’t bear to be on their own and have to be with someone else regardless of how it turns out. For one or two of them, it’s turned out really well but for the most part it’s been something of a disaster and they just move on to the next, with predictable results.

The res of the day, when I’ve not been asleep, has been dealing with the blog entries from when I was in Canada in 2022. The photos and the corresponding text needs to be added in so I’ve been working on that.

There’s only a handful of photos left to do but they won’t be done tomorrow as I’ll be baking biscuits. I’m running right out of those at the moment. I’m just trying to think about what kind of biscuits I should make. The last lot were chocolate biscuits and the ones before that were honey biscuits.

Tea tonight was one of my breaded quorn fillets with a salad and a baked potato. Quite delicious as usual, especially the potato cooked for 5 minutes in the microwave and then 15 minutes in the air fryer.

Pudding was delicious too. Some of the strawberries that I bought the other day soaked in a vegan cream. And there are more strawberries and cream for tomorrow after the pizza.

But right now, that’s it. My eyesight has deteriorated rapidly since yesterday and I can’t really see what I’m doing.

And that’s a problem. Not like when I lived down on the farm. It was such a small village that even though I might not have had a clue what I was doing, all the neighbours knew

Wednesday 1st May 2024 – IT’S HARD TO ..

… believe that it’s the First of May already.

We’ve had fog and mist all day, it’s been raining and it’s flaming cold to such an extent that I’m seriously considering switching the heating back on. I don’t think that I can ever remember a Spring quite like this one.

Winter may well have been one of the warmest on record but we’re certainly making up for it now with this weather. We’ve not had a really warm day yet.

Mind you, it makes little difference to me, this weather. It’s not as if I’m going out anywhere just now. The next time that I need to be somewhere is 26th June when I have an appointment here in Granville as a follow-up to my stay in hospital at Avranches.

There’s no news on the horizon about any visit to Paris. In a sense that’s good news because it would suggest that they aren’t really so worried about how things are developing. On the other hand, it would be nice if they were to conduct regular checks on what’s going on with me.

But right now, the important thing for me to do is to take more care of myself, like going to bed early for a start.

Last night was earlier than some just recently but still later than I would like. And even so, it makes no sense when I wake up thinking that the alarm is going off so I need to get up, only to find that it’s 04:00, it’s still dark and it’s not the alarm going off at all.

So what was it then? I wish that I knew. It certainly sounded like the alarm in my sleep.

Luckily I was able to go back to sleep and I was dead to the World when the alarm finally did go off at 07:00. It’s a Bank Holiday here today and how I wish that I could have had a decent lie-in as I would normally do, but not when I have the nurse coming round.

Falling out of bed as usual, I switched off the alarm and headed for the bathroom, and then for the dining area and my medication

The nurse came round later to sort me out. He thinks that my foot is improving, which is good news. But the prescription about my puttees seems to be going on for ever. I can’t remember how long it was for but it must be close to expiry.

After he left I vegetated for a while trying to summon up the enthusiasm to do something, but instead I seemed to have drifted off into the Land of Nod for a while. Obviously my body is still in the Bank Holiday spirit even if I’m not.

After my coffee and flapjack I transcribed the notes from the dictaphone. There was something going on about a car repair last night that was under investigation. When we went to check on it we found that the car, an Austin 1800, was suspended in mid-air. It was attached to a machine called a “Kibble”. The machine rotated the car rather like a rotisserie so that the car would be much easier to work on. I talked to the owner about the machine. He told me that it cost £10,000, it was portable and he would take it with him when he was going out to repair because it saved him a lot of time and energy. He’d even change the chassis on certain vehicles using this machine.

Actually I’ve seen a real rotisserie being used for welding cars and having spent mush of my life crawling underneath cars to weld them up, one of them was at the top of my list for the farm, along with a two-post lift and a tyre changer. They are nothing like as expensive as £10,000, not even a tenth of that, and the time and back-breaking effort that they would save is enormous.

However, like almost everything now, it’s all water under the bridge. I’ll never have any cause to want to go crawling around under any other car under any circumstance again.

Then I was dreaming about a ladies football team. One of the players on the team had committed a very serious foul which didn’t look much when you saw it live but when you saw the video later on it was horrific so some consequences were going to have to happen about this. My job first of all was to take the player aside and have a really good word with her about what had happened and why it had happened to make sure that she was ready for any kind of cross-examination from the appropriate Football Association.

And my opinion of ladies’ football matches has changed considerably. I can still remember the first few matches years ago that were very amateurish to say the least but in 2015 I was in Burlington in Vermont when I came across A GIRLS’ FOOTBALL MATCH at the local High School, and wasn’t I impressed? Ladies’ football has improved dramatically and quickly over the last 20 years

If ever you have the chance, look out for a game in the Mexican female competitions. It’s not just the skill, they go at it hammer and tongs with a level of aggression that you wouldn’t find in the men’s game.

After that I started to edit the last lot of radio notes that were recorded a while back but I was rather disillusioned with the miserable quality and after a good while I decided to scrap it and re-dictate it. So that’s added to the big pile of stuff.

And I didn’t dictate anything today. Things were simply not quiet enough. I’m really going to have to find some quiet time, even if it means missing out on a few hours of sleep somewhere.

This afternoon I changed a few plans and junked the radio programme that I’d started earlier in the week.

The reason for that is that the date of the broadcast falls on the birthday of someone who had no connection with rock music but nevertheless was the inspiration for dozens of rock songs in a sort-of roundabout way.

Consequently I thought that it would be a good idea to have a programme dedicated to him featuring some of the songs that he inspired and so I’ve been hunting down a few here and there to make up enough for a programme. It’ll certainly be different.

Tea tonight was the same though, a leftover curry with a naan bread. And I’ve finished the last of my garlic butter so I need to make some more at some point. Can’t have a garlic naan without garlic butter

But as for the curry, it was delicious as usual. Adding soya yoghurt to it right near the end is definitely the way to go.

And while we’re on the subject of the way to go … "well, one of us is" – ed … I’m going to find the way to go to bed. I’ve done enough for today, especially as it was a Bank Holiday and by rights I shouldn’t have done anything at all.

But before I go, I’ll leave you with A SONG to celebrate today, another one that’s on my acoustic guitar playlist. It brings back all kinds of nostalgic memories from my teenage years and the girlfriends to whom I probably sang this song.

And to one night on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR.

We sang many songs that night, and one passenger was overheard to remark to another "I don’t like that Eric Hall. He knows too many dirty songs"
"Did he sing them to you?"
"No. He whistled them."

Tuesday 23rd April 2024 – OUCH! THAT HURT!

And if you read on, you’ll find out what and why. I’ve not had a very good day.

Anyway, last night after everything had finished I sat down and READ A BOOK about an American sailor and his family, including his 6 year old daughter, captured in the South Pacific in 1917 by a German sea-going raider and who spent 10 months as prisoner on board before being shipwrecked off the coast of Denmark.

After that I settled down, fully dressed because I was freezing, under the covers and that was that.

A few times during the night I was awoken by a few comings and goings but for some reason or other I was so tired that I was back asleep almost immediately and ended up not awakening until they came to take my blood sample at about 09:15.

Actually it was the little student nurse who came on her own so I told her that if I leave here alive she’ll have earned her diploma. Anyway, she managed to find some blood. I still have some left, apparently.

Once she’d gone I went for a wash and brush up as best as I could and then a driver came to collect me. It was the rock music fan who has taken me before so we had a good chat before he dropped me off at Neurology.

While I was waiting for my appointment I had a good chat with the receptionist and another patient and saw several photos of cats and dogs before being ushered into the room where the examination was due to take place.

It was the doctor who had seen me before on two occasions. He and his sidekick gave me the electric shock tests to my arms and legs and I was right – there is a further deterioration. So no surprise there. We had a good chat and now he’s gone away to think about a Plan B.

The same driver came to pick me up for my next appointment but that’s not until tomorrow so he brought me back here.

While I was eating lunch a doctor came to slap a freezing patch on my lower back and we all know what that means. She took an age to find the correct position so I asked her "can’t you see the scars from the previous attempts?"

When she told me that she could, I told her that they ought to paint an “X marks the spot” or even a target in the correct place.

A short while later, Batman and Robin, the young ward nurse and her little student who follows her around like a shadow, came to prepare me.

It was the little student who drew the short straw and had to hold me down and I bet she wished that she hadn’t when the doctor missed her aim with the lumbar puncture and found the central nerve.

Eventually, but not soon enough by any means, the torment was over and I could go to lie down. “You’ll just need to be flat out for an hour” but she was joking. After an hour or so a nurse came round to make sure that I was still alive and to take my blood pressure, with predictable results. But in fact it was several hours before I crawled out of bed, and then only for a particular reason too.

Once I’d settled down in my chair I transcribed the dictaphone notes. Yesterday’s are now on line and then I started on today’s. I was going to start at a new school but the morning that I was due to go I had a ‘phone call that began speaking in Welsh. It was a young girl saying that she was glad to go back to live in Easingwold. I couldn’t understand who it was but the conversation became more and more intimate until in the end, I had to go, I said plenty of encouraging words and finished with “I love you” but I had no idea who this person was at all. Absolutely none. I arrived at the new school but couldn’t find out how anything worked, the system of how lessons were organised etc. In the end I stumbled across a lesson from one of my class so I asked the teacher where all the other lessons for our year were being held. He gave some kind of nebulous speech abut how I should have looked at the newspaper. Of course I knew nothing about this. I found a copy of the newspaper but didn’t understand it. In the end I found some kind of paper print-out with the details on it. It was headed with the most extraordinary offensive message that had nothing whatever to do with the subject matter. I thought it totally astonishing that they’d pin this on the wall. I couldn’t find any paper then. Every piece of paper on which I tried to write, I was making no impression with a ball-point pen. The writing was just not sticking as if it had one of these shiny surfaces. I kept on coming across paper that had already been used, carbon copies of the ‘phone call that I’d had earlier in the day from that girl etc, but nothing that I could do would be able to reproduce anything on any kind of piece of paper. It was just so frustrating because I wanted to crack on and organise myself as this was just not working at all.

Then this conversation that I’d had in the morning had completely shaken me. I didn’t have a clue who on earth it was to whom I was speaking and I really wish that I knew because it had all the air of being something really interesting. The only Welsh-speaking girl I knew at school was only in passing and it certainly wasn’t her so who on earth was it?

Then we had a boisterous kind of office party where everything was going out of control. The sad part about it was that these were all middle-aged people. The boss there had picked on someone else’s wife and was making life really uncomfortable for them. They were trying to work out a moment in which to disappear such as when the boss went to the toilet but they’d brought the PA with them so putting that into the car in the space of a couple of minutes was going to be complicated. There were all kinds of things like this. Some woman was making some very plain and clear hints that she wanted to dance etc with me but of course I was having absolutely none of this and sat stoically at my seat in the dining room watching the events unfold, taking absolutely no notice of any of the extremely broad hints that she was dropping. All in all it was an extremely sad evening watching these people behaving like this

There have been more than a few parties like this where everyone makes a fool of themselves and I note that I even made a remark about it while I was asleep, which shows you just what I think about it all.

Then I was going through the videotapes looking for a blank one but came across a football match that took place years ago that I hadn’t seen. It involved one of these obscure South American republics playing in similar colours to Portugal and who had qualified unexpectedly for the World Cup after beating a selection of prize teams from other parts of the World to make it to the finals. I’d obviously taped their opening match but I couldn’t remember how it went or what the score was so instead of doing what I was supposed to be doing I put on this videotape and settled down to watch them. I got as far as watching them come out onto the pitch before I awoke. I’d no idea who their opponents were in this particular game.

And despite what I said the other night, Castor put in a very brief appearance last night. And wasn’t it nice to see her? We were on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR rearranging the dining arrangements. I was passing the cutlery and crockery and glassware from one table to the next. There was the final piece that I picked up to take round to the other table and who should be sitting there but Castor? She was talking to someone else about their life, I suppose. She was saying that she was born into a policeman’s family. I’ll tell you that that didn’t ‘arf ring a few alarm bells with me finding out that she was the progeny of a policeman’s couple.

But even if it were true and I had known, nothing of what happened back then would have changed for a minute. As I said at the time, I would have accepted any consequence. And as Joni Mitchell sang, YOU KNOW I’D GO BACK THERE TOMORROW BUT FOR THE WORK THAT I’VE TAKEN ON

And fancy the dream stopping there! I suppose that it was the shock that awoke me.

While I was asleep in the afternoon I was going for a walk. I had all of the four cats coming with me, following in my footsteps, climbing and jumping over each other as they used to do etc. There were a few members of my family with me. I had to take some money out to pay for something or other, housekeeping or whatever. I needed €60:00. I walked as far as the cash machine but when I went to look through my wallet I couldn’t find the bank card that I usually used. In the end, looking through everything I found a selection of other bank cards but I wasn’t sure which ones would work and which ones wouldn’t. There was one from the bank in Belgium so I put that in the cash machine. It seemed to read the card because it asked for the PIN. I typed in the usual number and that seemed to accept it but that was as far as I reached in the dream.

Tea tonight was salmon lasagne with creamed spinach so some horse trading was undertaken but I’m not doing too well for food which is a shame, but not unexpected.

So right now I’m off to bed to try to recapture Castor and to hope that they try to check my blood pressure at calmer moments.

But while the little student was preparing me for my lumbar puncture I asked her why doctors always wear masks
"Is it to do with infection?" she asked.
"Not at all" I replied. "It’s in case the procedure goes all wrong. Then they can’t identify the guilty party"

Saturday 20th April 2024 – THERE’S NOTHING ON …

… the dictaphone from last night to transcribe today.

That’s not actually a surprise, really. Last night, or, rather, this morning, I was still up and about at 02:30. And at 05:00 I was up and about again, after having had probably about 2 hours sleep, if that. And if “sleep” is the correct word to use in these cases.

It really was a bad night.

It’s not strictly true to say that there was nothing to transcribe but I promise you, you really don’t want to know anything about what I could be typing, especially if you are eating your meal right now.

So once I’d finished typing out the notes from last night it was 23:35 and I could feel that it was going to be a late night because once again, I couldn’t find the energy to heave myself up and out of my comfortable chair and into bed.

It’s surprising actually, because it’s probably a distance of not even two feet, but that’s two feet more than I seem to have right now So for a couple of hours I just loitered around not doing very much at all, just stirring a few papers around.

That’s another mystery, if you ask me. I wouldn’t mind being stuck in my chair at the desk if I were actually doing something even remotely useful but I can’t even seem to find the energy for that either. All the things that I need to do and I just can’t seem to do anything.

However I did manage to drag myself off to bed eventually, but not for long. And then I just lay there waiting for the dawn and for the alarm to ring.

And that reminded me – how about switching on the alarm? It’s a good job that I suddenly remembered – and that I was awake.

When they alarm went off I fell out of bed and went off for my medication. I’ve given up with the idea of the blood pressure because what I learnt at the hospital is that
1) my machine is just too inaccurate
2) my blood pressure is up and down anyway
3) no-one has ever told me anything about what use the measurements are and what to do about them

Having arranged the living room I waited for the nurse to come. He didn’t seem to be too interested in the new prescription so I decided not to change anything.

Can you imagine it – sending my faithful cleaner to order a new lot of medication as per Avranches at considerable expense, and then only for Paris to declare it all redundant on Monday.

After he left I came back in here and slowly vegetated. Not much chance of doing anything at all in the state in which I was after just 2 hours of sleep.

However, I had a surprise visitor who disturbed me. A local taxi driver who had heard (from the nurse, apparently) that I go to Paris frequently, and would I be interested in a better, cheaper service?

Well, apart from anything else, the advantage of a company with 50 cars and several ambulances is that if they can’t fit me in, it would be even more unlikely that one man on his own with one car would.

In any case, the current taxi company negotiates directly with the Securité Sociale and is paid direct rather than me paying and claiming reimbursement. So why would I change that?

However, I kept the card that he gave me. It may come in handy for something.

Eventually I warmed up enough to update the big desktop machine with the changed files on the travelling portable only to find that half of the dictaphone files from earlier in the week were missing so I had to transcribe them again

Once I’d finished that I set the washing machine off to do a load of clothes, and didn’t they need it? While they were on the go I had a brief half-hour in the arms of Morpheus. I was surprised that it was only half an hour too.

Tonight I managed a salad, baked potato and a quorn whatsit and now I’m off to bed to catch up with my beauty sleep

I need it too after last night. It’s like the time in 2014 when I was in Rennes les Bains on the trail of the Cathars and stumbled across that Health Spa with its bargain offers.

The mudbath there worked wonders and made me look 10 years younger.

It was such a shame that the mud wore off the next day though.

Friday 19th April 2024 – YOU HAVE NO IDEA …

… – or maybe you do, I dunno. I know very little of your personal habits – just how absolutely wonderful it is to be standing underneath a constant stream of hot water out of a shower outlet after all these months of being without.

Now that my emergency backpack has arrived, complete with wash kit, spare pair of undies and the like, I closed the door to my room, put something to stop the bathroom door being opened, and away I went underneath the little shower tucked away in the corner of the bathroom.

Of course, it stopped my little student nurse from coming in to scrub my back and massage my clavicles, but it also stopped the retired Bulgarian female weightlifter from doing the same, and also stopped the nurse from coming in to remind me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom

And I’ll tell you now that it was heaven.

While we’re on the subject of the massaging of clavicles … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had a visitor during the night.

Actually, I had several because it was quite a mobile night but the most important of them all was Zero. It’s been a while since she’s put in an appearance, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but there she was last night and wasn’t it nice to see her?

All I need now is for TOTGA and Castor to come back to see me but I have a rather depressing feeling, at least about Castor. As for TOTGA, it’s not quite two years ago that … well, never mind.

So last night after I’d finished the notes and put them on line I had a pause and then attacked the notes for Monday, which are NOW ON LINE in a basic form. I’ll add the dictaphone notes in due course, whenever that might be.

It was after midnight when I went to bed and what with 05:00 diabetes checks and the like I was expecting a turbulent night.

And I was right too, but for totally unexpected reasons. As I mentioned, Zero came to see me. We’d been going to the local pub, a group of us of all ages of people. I’d made a few enquiries along the way and I’d worked out which was everyone’s favourite biscuit. There was a young girl, probably about 9 or 10 or so who loved chocolate, there was Zero who loved a certain type of biscuit etc so what I’d done ready for when we’d be going that Saturday was that I’d been to the pub on the way home from the shops and dropped off the biscuits. We rounded up everyone and prepared to go down to the pub at lunchtime. The first thing about which we talked was “a drink for the little one” – of course, she wasn’t that little. She wanted something or other. I asked her what she wanted to eat so she mentioned “biscuits”. I pulled out a pile from under the counter and had a chocolate in my other hand. I said “right, which biscuit do you want to swap for this chocolate?”. I wasn’t given any choice because the chocolate disappeared immediately. It was the same with Zero. She chose her favourite biscuit and had that as well as the other ones that were there and wolfed it down. I began to talk to her then after everyone else had had their biscuits. Zero and I began to have a really good chat. There was some paperwork involving her that needed doing so I thought that I may as well sit down there and do that while everyone is busy and maybe persuade Zero to come over and help me fill it all in.

Then another girl who has appeared once or twice in this rubbish previously puts in an appearance. It’s as we thought, with all this turmoil going on during a school dance or something we’d all been separated because we can’t behave ourselves. I’ve been put over one side and ended up dancing with this girl but I’m busy fighting her for a little more than she’s prepared to give me, like most teenage boys back in those days. There was something else going on with one of the other girls etc so in the end the teacher called a halt to the proceedings and dragged the lot of us, the entire group, down to see the headmaster and began to recount all of the problems that she was having with us and who’s been doing what wrong. Of course he picks on me and begins to give me a really good lecture as if it’s all my fault but it’s probably only some of it and everyone else was probably to blame for a lot.

And there’s nothing new in any of that either. Whatever was going on wherever it was always seemed to be my fault, even though it was nothing to do with me.

It reminded me of a tale of woe that a friend’s daughter in the USA once told me. She was 11 and had a 7 year old brother.
"Whenever I do anything wrong, my brother tells my mom on me and she yells at me" she said once. "But if he does anything wrong and I tell my mom on him, then she says it’s my fault for not watching him properly and yells at me"
That story has a very, very familiar ring as far as I’m concerned.

But there’s a funny story about a similar situation with the children of my friend Erika in Georgia. Her two kids were about 6 and 2 and the time.
"Mom!" shouted the 6 year old. "… (the two year old) … has a choking hazard in her mouth!"
So mom dashes to the rescue and removes the offending article
"Mom!" said the 6 year old in a tone of admonishment "I think you really MUST watch us better!"

Anyway we we were back in that dream again. The teacher was giving her report. One of the younger girls was up to some kind of mischief. That girl from just now was still there. It was obvious to the teacher that there was some kind of … errr … inappropriate behaviour (especially as she was a couple of years younger than me) between the girl and me that was beginning to get out of hand in the middle of one of the songs. There was a third thing happening so in the end she decided to call it all to a halt and drag us all before the headmaster who hopefully would lay down the law and even more hopefully we might all listen to what is being said and take note.

I have to admit that I admired the optimism of some of these new teachers who came to our school straight from University

It was as I said. I was messing around with this girl. There was someone else there messing around and Zero put in another appearance doing something – I think that it was she who was singing falsely at the end. Anyway we were all passing through a group of china and the Headmistress was annoyed in case we fell over and broke it all so she read The Riot Act to us all. Generally, it was the kind of place where we wished that we’d all gone home because we’d really all been getting out of hand just then and making the teacher’s life difficult.
(…And if I’ve been fooling around with another girl – no matter who it is – when Zero is there I ought to be ashamed of myself and go home in disgrace…)

But there was no sense of shame or guilt about any kind of interaction that took place between the teachers and the pupils. It was the Law of the Jungle, them or us even when it came to a group of a dozen boys bodily picking up a teacher’s car and wedging it between two brick walls. “That’ll teach her! Get out of that one!”

My own preference was a War of Nerves, but the less said about that the better in an open forum.

They awoke me for the blood test at 05:00 and also for the diabetes test, which I passed, and so I could go back to sleep.

But not for long because I soon had the morning chorus of people around doing all kinds of things and stopping me doing anything else for a while.

Breakfast then came, complete with jam, so I was left alone to transcribe the dictaphone notes for a while.

My faithful cleaner asked me if they had told me whether I could go so I told her “no news” and 30 seconds after I sent it, they came to tell me that they’d ordered my taxi for 15:00. That was when I hit the bathroom.

Doctor n°1 came to see me when I was packing and told me that I could go, seeing as my results had improved. So I told her goodbye and thanks, that I was sorry to leave and that I hoped that I’d see her again. She blushed again and I kid you not, she skipped – really skipped – out of the door as if she was about 7.

As usual, the taxi was late coming but the driver was someone who had taken me to Paris once so I knew him. We were back quite quickly and my faithful cleaner was waiting to help me up the stairs. I really don’t know what I’d do without her.

Once inside I had a hot chocolate and apart from the banana-flavoured soya drink that I’m currently drinking, that’s it. I’ve not moved from my chair, not even to make any food. I just can’t.

Liz was on line so we had a good chat and now I’m off to bed in my nice clean bedroom – my cleaner has been busy while I’ve been away. It’s probably taken her all week to do what she’s done.

So after Zero’s dramatic reappearance last night, who’ll be coming to see me tonight? My money is of course where it usually is – on one of my family coming along uninvited.

It’s hard to believe though that Zero turned up a second time and I was …. errr …. busy elsewhere. I’m clearly losing my grip. But at least I noticed her. Just imagine if I hadn’t.

Still, I’m not alone there. A friend in the Army was once selected for camouflage training. He simply didn’t go and was later commended for his disguise and attention to detail. It fooled everyone apparently

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!"

Saturday 16th March 2024 – AFTER I’D FINISHED …

… doing what I have to do in the evening I didn’t hang about and was in bed quite shortly thereafter. I don’t seem to be able to last the pace like I used to, especially if I didn’t have any sleep the previous evening.

But of course I have to admit that my bed is extremely comfortable. Seeing as I spend about a third of my life in it it went through some pretty rigorous tests, as in me lying down on every combination of bed and mattress that was on display in the IKEA in Caen.

The sofa too is extremely comfortable. That underwent the same series of tests and has been put to good use on several occasions when I have company, but that’s another story.

So last night I climbed into bed and that was that until the alarm went off at 07:00.

At that point I fell out of bed and went off in search of medication – the usual morning round of things designed to keep me going until we have the night-time’s helpings. 10 different types, and each one presumably treating the side-effects of the one that was prescribed immediately before.

In fact, as I take all of this medicine I’m singing to myself THERE’S A HOLE IN MY BUCKET because that’s exactly how I feel.

Having dealt with the medication I made the bread rolls for today and tomorrow and left them there to fester while I went and took down the puttees and rolled them up ready for the nurse. They are still wet but that can’t be helped.

When she came round she burst the blisters on my feet, put all the cream on everywhere and wrapped the puttees around my feet and legs. She’s told me that there’s no need to wash them tonight as they don’t seem to be soiling any, which is good news.

After she had left I checked the bread rolls. And for once in my life they had actually risen as I hoped that they might. I’m not sure what I did correctly today – I can’t recall doing anything any more different than I usually do and which up to now has proved to be singularly ineffective.

But anyway I had a lovely cheese on toast for breakfast which was really nice.

Back in here I checked the dictaphone and to my surprise there was actually some stuff on there. “Surprise” because for the first two dreams I remember nothing at all, which quite possibly explains why they seem to be a pile of gibberish. Anyway, There was something about being in a rock group in North Wales called Achmarchnad – “Supermarket”. We all spoke to each other in Welsh and I introduced the songs in Welsh too. We climbed up onto the stage and there was applause but when I began to announce what we were about to play plenty of people dashed off as though they were heading for the bathroom. I made some kind of comment about everyone going to the bathroom. They also turned off all of the microphones so I had to wait for someone to restart everything again before I could actually carry on. But I was dreaming in Welsh as I had to wait for these people to go as we all sit around here, phrases like that to the other members of the group.

Yes, there I was, dreaming in Welsh and presenting the music of a rock band. I’d give all that I own, and more besides, to be able to do that in real life. But as I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … dreaming in a foreign language is nothing new. Besides Welsh (which isn’t a foreign language of course) we’ve had dreams in French, Flemish and Spanish in the past.

It’s actually quite ironic really. Here I am, learning a language that I probably won’t ever speak, in practical terms, and yet during the night I’m speaking it quite fluently and can’t even remember a word of what I’ve said and could certainly never repeat what I said when I’m awake.

There was a story once about this – about some guy who had had a knock on the head and came back to consciousness speaking a language fluently that he had never learned or even heard before. I wonder if it’s some kind of similar phenomenon.

It’s a shame though that I’m no longer going to Leuven though. I enjoyed revitalising the Flemish that I learned when I lived in Brussels and was glad that I was able to put it to some use after all these years. I just speak it now sometimes with Ingrid.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed – when we had fully loaded our ambulance we were ready to leave and go back to current times but the ambulance hit a stone causing injury to Orly and someone in the back and we haul up and treat our injuries etc before we could head back and try to cross the border. Rooms were booked for us in a hotel a a place on the Welsh side of the river just before you cross the river into the English part …fell asleep here

The above two dreams I have absolutely no recollection whatever of them. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … although I’m asleep when I’m dictating my notes, when I’m transcribing them I usually have some kind of very vague recollection of them.

But not those two. They mean absolutely nothing to me

Finally, I was doing something about the radio last night, recording all my programmes. I needed a tenth track. After much messing about I actually chose the track but when it came to using it to join up the rest of the music I couldn’t find it. I was searching everywhere but it just wasn’t there. The last time that I remember, it was still attached to a set of stereo headphones with the wires dangling everywhere but I couldn’t find it at all. When I awoke I was actually searching the bed for it.

But can you imagine it – searching for a digitalised audio file in the bed last night. Sometimes I really do shake my head.

This afternoon I’ve been a busy boy. Firstly, Rosemary rang me and we had a chat. Just a short one today – only one hour and three minutes. We’re losing our touch, that’s for sure. Whatever happened to the ones that used to go on for several weeks?

Then I’ve been working on my photos from Canada 2022, writing the notes for another big pile of stuff. I hadn’t yet fallen ill so I was still getting about and doing things, like ordering the sunroof for the only Ford Flex ever imported into Europe, and having fun with STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

The dramatic collapse in health is yet to come, and it will be interesting to see how the events of that period unfolded and led to a two-months stay in hospital and totally wrecked my health.

The stuff for a couple more days was completed and I could have done so much more except for a major crashing-out – another one of these total black-outs that last for several hours where it’s as if I just switch off without any warning.

Finally there was the football – Pontypridd United v Barry Town. Both teams are languishing near the foot of the table – Pontypridd due more to administrative errors than standard of play – but they will basically safe from relegation as heaps more woe and misery pile on Colwyn Bay and Aberystwyth below them in the table.

The league position of the teams was reflected in the play – scrappy and at times rather agricultural – but playing football in a tropical monsoon as they had this afternoon down in Pontypridd can’t have been easy.

The game seemed to go in spells. Firstly, Pontypridd would have a good five minutes and then Barry, and then Pontypridd again and so on. The result, a 1-1 draw, was probably about right.

If you want to see the rather one-sided highlights of the match, they ARE HERE

You don’t need me to tell you what I had for tea tonight.

That’s right – breaded quorn fillet with baked potato and salad. Those fillets really are nice and I’m glad that, at the moment at least, they are available in LeClerc’s on-line shop

“At the moment” because even over the short time that I’ve been using the service, I’ve noticed a few things that I would buy that have been withdrawn from the range and that is more than just a pity. It’s a tragedy

So now I’m off to bed, ready for my … gulp … 08:00 start so that i’m ready for when the nurse comes. Can you imagine that too – me having an alarm call at 08:00 on a Sunday? But I need to show willing

It reminds me of the time when a girl who I knew once said to me "will you awaken me at 08:00?"
To which I replied "What should I do? Knock on your door or give you a nudge?"
There were times when I wasn’t very popular.

But as yet an alarm call might be unnecessary. Where the nurse burst my blisters, every now and again (more “again” than “now”, as it happens) there’s a stabbing pain that goes right through me and if it doesn’t subside I can’t see me sleeping tonight.

However, I’m away to finish off what I need to do before going to bed. The last task for today will be to cover myself in boot polish and eat several packets of yeast. That way I’ll rise and shine in the morning

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.

Monday 11th March 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… one of those rare days when nothing at all has happened.

In fact I felt like erecting one of those signs that I saw in Fredericton a few years ago – “On 12th April 1894 On This Site, Nothing At All Happened”.

After I’d finished my notes last night I had half an hour or so to unwind and then went off to bed and that was it as far as I was concerned.

The excitement continued this morning. When the alarm went off I staggered out of bed and checked my blood pressure – 16.1/10.1, compared to last night’s 17.8/10.3 when I was supposed to be relaxed.

After the medication this morning I went off to the bathroom. First thing was setting the washing machine off with a full load. Such is the exciting life I lead this days that doing the washing is considered worthy of note

Second thing was to thoroughly clean my lower legs as well as I can and then apply some more of this vaseline cream that I borrowed from the hospital. And although I’ve only applied a couple of coats and there was an earlier one applied by a nurse at the hospital, I can see an improvement.

That’s not difficult because they were in a shocking state. I don’t think that the doctor had ever seen skin as dry as mine.

Back in here I tidied up a little and arranged a few things. I’ve actually lost the phone charger that was plugged in by the bed. It’s been missing for a few weeks now and the more I look, the less likely I am to find it.

It seems to have come unplugged in the confusion round about the time that I had my very bad fall but I’ve no idea where it went from there.

Having done all of that I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’ve been during the night. It was coming up to weekend on the taxis. We were organising the work. On turning the page to the Saturday night there was a note stuck there – “phone Mick, Crewe 1110”. I phoned the number and it was Mick Gorton who answered. He said “you have my book, haven’t you?”. I asked “which book” and he replied “The Private Lives”. I had to think for ages and I suddenly realised that he meant “The Private Lives of Sherlock Holmes”. I remembered that I’d been reading it. He asked if I could drop it off some time. I told him that I had piles of other books of his too so he hummed and hawed about what he was going to do about all of those because he didn’t think that he had the room, he hadn’t planned on them right at the moment until he was organised so that was something else that was left up in the air fir the moment

He was actually a strange guy. I don’t want to say too much about him though, merely that he wasn’t the kind of person ever to have wanted to read a book.

And as for the handle of my trolley jack that he borrowed once, that was produced in evidence a short while later at Chester Crown Court during a hearing of a charge of “grievous bodily harm” and I was never ever given it back by Cheshire Constabulary’s finest. Until I bought a new jack I had to use a length of piping and a screwdriver.

Yes, when I had my taxis I knew some very strange people. It made life so much more interesting.

It all actually reminds me of the time that I was giving evidence at Mold Crown Court
"I’ve listened to your evidence for three quarters of an hour, Mr Hall" said the judge "and I’m still none-the-wiser"
"Maybe not, m’lud" I replied. "But you’re certainly better-informed"

We were then working out the publicity for a friend’s radio station. I was thinking that maybe there would be people who had said things about the radio, chop them out and use them as publicity snippets, such as if someone had said that the radio station was rotten, you’d have “So and So, the Rotten Radio Station” and have the people themselves talking during the adverts, and trying to find people who have something to say that correlates with something about the radio, for example with the radio station of our radio we had someone who played football for the club on certain dates and part of his appearance date and about his shirt number and the date all seemed to tie up with part of the phone number, and use these snippets as publicity to drop in every now and again through all different programmes that would be running so that people will pick them up and use them with their own everyday lives without realising that it relates to the particular radio, thinking of other things that we used to say like calling people “Brain of a Duck” or that sort of thing. There were plenty of ideas and plenty of possibility of doing something interesting and novel for the adverts.

The fact that I can run an advertising campaign for a radio station in my sleep is something of which I ought to be proud. Quite often you hear people say “I can do that in my sleep” but here, I really can.

By the looks of things, I’m clearly in the wrong job.

The thing about phrases becoming everyday sayings is not a new idea. How many people use a “Hoover” regardless of which company made the vacuum cleaner? And here in France we’ll use a piece of Sopalin regardless of who made the kitchen tissue paper.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s there was a whole series of cult films with memorable phrases that worked their way into the English language from those films. And it was the thing (and still is, in some places) to quote this cult film dialogue at appropriate moments.

For example, whenever anyone said "it’s over there!" another person within earshot would always reply "What? Behind the rabbit?"

And if anyone ever came out with an intelligent fact, they would always follow it up with "Well, you have to know these things when you’re king, y’know"

The very first thing that attracted me to Nerina was that she spoke in film clichés too. I felt that I had a kindred spirit who was on my wavelength. I hope that, regardless of everything, she’s still managed to retain it

Finally, I had a visit from a nun. Apparently there’s something about me going into a rest home run by nuns. They wanted to assess me. It was all about how I could walk, how I could pick up glasses, how I could carry things, how I arranged all of my food on the edge of the worktop so that I could pick it up so much easier than if it was set back a little and whether there was any risk of knocking it off as I went past. This carried on for quite a while. Then the question of the meat pies on Sunday came up. I said that in all honesty I didn’t really enjoy the meat pie on a Sunday but because it gave the person who made it so much pleasure to make it I pretended to enjoy it and to appreciate it. He replied “actually I hated making the thing. The only reason that I made it was because you seemed to love it so much”. I said “well, we know where we stand in the future then, don’t we, the two of us about this meat pie”.

The food in places like that isn’t much to talk about. There are only two men allowed to work in a nunnery and they are also of a religious order too. In the kitchens you’ll find them – the chip monk and the fish friar.

The hardest work in a nunnery though is in the laundry. That’s where the nuns try to deal with their filthy habits. And in many of these places there’s work to be done on a commercial basis where the nuns actually bottle their own water.

Apart from that, most of the rest of the day (when I haven’t been asleep) has been dealing with radio stuff.

The notes for the final track have been written, the music for the next programme chosen, paired off and joined, and I’ve even started on choosing the music for the programme after that.

That final programme is for 27th December which, apart from a few holes, shows you how far ahead I am. This is where I want to be because if I fall ill, detained in hospital or even worse, I want to make sure that my radio shows roll on

After all, if I can run a radio advertising campaign in my sleep, no reason why I can’t run a series of radio shows from beyond the grave. Barclay James Harvest HAVE GREAT OPTIMISM FOR US
"Like brave Explorers bold and free
We sail forever on the sea!!
Above the seven seas is one
The sea of life we drift upon
Our spirits living in the waves
Survive beyond the grave!"

The cleaner stuck her head in the door and passed me some of the stuff that she’s been able to buy, following my hospital visit and changed prescription. The rest will come on Wednesday.

But she tells me that she’s having a week off work for a rest. And that’s hardly a surprise – I’ve worn her out with all these endless trips, I reckon.

One thing that I forgot to mention was that the dreams, that I had forgotten to add into LAST FRIDAY’S EPISODE, are now on-line and ready to read.

Tea tonight was a really nice stuffed pepper. And it would have been even nicer had I remembered to add the peanuts to the stuffing.

Honestly, if it’s not one thing it’s another, isn’t it? And once you start, you’d be surprised at how many other things there are.

However right now the only thing in which I’m interested is my bed. It’s time that I wasn’t here. I have a Welsh lesson tomorrow and I need to be on form

While we’re on the subject of nuns and lessons and schools … "well, one of us is" – ed … there’s quite often a school attached to a nunnery. At some point the girls who are about to leave are interviewed by the Mother Superior.

At the school run by the nuns in Crewe (there was one and I knew a couple of girls who went there) one day the Mother Superior asked a girl "what do you want to be when you leave school?"
"a prostitute, Holy Mother"
"Ohh you wicked girl!" exclaimed the Mother Superior. "Wash your mouth out with Holy Water"
The class teacher took the Mother Superior aside. "It’s all right, Holy Mother" she said. "The girl said ‘prostitute’, not ‘Protestant’"

Monday 26th February 2024 – IT LOOKS AS …

… if I’ll be back in hospital sooner than I imagined.

In fact, if the hospital had its way I’d be there now.

The nurse who telephones me every few days to find out how I am and so I told her, and that was that. She told the doctor and he issued the instructions, and left it to the nurse to find a date seeing as I turned down “today”.

Yes, it’s “all go” here in the apartment. I wasn’t in bed very early because I had things to do, even though I was tired. And so I didn’t have much sleep.

What sleep I had was quite good though and I wish that I had had more of it. There’s no doubt that I seem to be sleeping better these days than I have done but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. As I have said before … "" – ed … my nocturnal travels are very important to me.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and went to take the blood pressure. A very low 14.8/8.9 this morning, compared to 17.1/11.8 last night.

After the medication I came back in here and had a few things to do before I could transcribe the dictaphone notes. We were at school last night. There was an issue about climate change etc. Our headmaster gave a speech to a certain organisation about something or other on this subject. It turned out to be a huge self-justification about all kinds of things. I somehow managed to access the meeting so I stood up and made a speech simultaneously criticising him for all kinds of different things that had gone on in the past in the school for which I considered him to be responsible but no-one took any notice of me at all. I thought “fair enough”. My life carried on as usual, I had a nice girlfriend (and I wish that I knew who she was). Then I noticed that there wee jobs for school leavers. A couple of them were really interesting. One was to go to Kenya for a couple of years as some kind of exchange of teacher or something like that. I must admit that that appealed to me. Anyway I wanted to go to sort out the headmaster. He had a meeting of people my year at school at the start of the afternoon so I went five minutes early and said “I want to talk to you”. He looked at me and said “and what position are you after?”. I had to be honest and explain that although I was after the one in Kenya I’d come to see him on another matter. He took the greatest amount of umbrage with me criticising him for his speech. He was really quite aggressive with his defence of what he said which I thought was way, way over the top and out of place.

It’s one thing that I’ve noticed about Climate Change deniers and the others of their ilk. When you challenge their “beliefs” the become quite aggressive and try to shout you out of their argument. Yet the facts are indisputable.

"Climate change is a natural phenomenon" – indeed it is, but that’s no reason for us to do nothing about it. It’s like saying that the Titanic was going to sink anyway so why bother pumping? The answer is that by pumping it gave them an extra couple of hours for Carpathia to come to the rescue. And that’s why we have to keep on trying to save the planet – to give us more time to find a solution.

"The Earth is simply rotating on its axis like it normally does". Indeed it does, but at a rate of 1° per 7,000 years according to calculations made by Sir Norman Lockyer, so we’re talking of arcoseconds in real terms. But if that’s what is going on according to the naysayers, why aren’t other parts of the World freezing as quickly as the High Arctic is melting?

But seriously, anyone who has been to the High Arctic can see the evidence for themselves. I was talking to an Inuit on Bylot Island who told me that he used to come to the spot where I was standing to fetch a block of ice for his old grandfather to make tea. And then he took me to the head of the glacier where it was in 2018 – a walk of 1.5 miles
"So how old were you when you did this?"
"Twelve or thirteen"
"How old are you now?"

The glacier has receded 1.5 miles in 12 years.

In the memoirs of James Rae he writes about battling through the snow and ice around Pelly’s Bay in August 1854 when he met a group of Inuit who gave him information and relics about Franklin’s lost expedition. We landed at Pelly’s Bay to refuel on our way out to Mittimatalik in September 2018 and there wasn’t a fleck of snow anywhere.

The presentation that I did on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR was afrer we’d sailed several miles up a Fjord on Ellesmere Island and I showed a slide of an Admiralty chart of 1857 which showed no fjord there – the whole island was covered by an ice cap all the way down to the sea according to the chart.

Bylot Island, where I talked to that Inuit, wasn’t even an island. If you look at the map you’ll see that the strait that separates it from the mainland of Baffin Island is called “Pond Inlet” because that’s what it was when Europeans first visited it. It wasn’t until the ice melted that they discovered that Bylot Island was actually an island.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, following on from the previous dream, the girl to whom the headmaster refused to talk … "which girl?" – ed … ended up teaching part-time at a college which was part of the story and in fact taught German to the guy who took over from her boss as whatever official position it was for which the girl was secretary, but she was still chasing her boss and trying to persuade him to either justify his speech or to withdraw it and the implications that it had against us, this particular girl.

It seems that there’s a chunk missing from these dreams somewhere, and that seems to be a regular thing. It makes me wonder what else I’ve missed, and I know that ON ONE OCCASION I missed a visit from Castor. Imagine that!

Having done that and pushed it out of the way I went to finish the radio programme that I was organising yesterday. It meant dictating the notes that I’d written last night for the final track that I’d chosen, and then editing it and adding it all in with the actual song.

And to my surprise it was exactly one second SHORT.

When they are too long, I can cope quite easily. I always include in my notes some things that can be edited out if necessary to bring them down to the correct time; but when they are too short it requires more inventiveness.

But one second isn’t too bad. That’s 20×0.050 second “silence generated” pauses in salient places and that’s the job done.

After that I chose all of the music for the next radio programme, paired it off and began to write the notes for it. I could have done much more too except that I … errr … had a rest

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper, with plenty of stuffing left over, thanks to having forgotten my mushrooms on Friday and a suspect tomato in the fridge. That will keep me going for a few more meals.

Tomorrow I have a Welsh lesson, and then there’s an order to send off to LeClerc as I’m running low on frozen vegetables. So tomorrow late afternoon will see me blanching carrots and sprouts ready to freeze. Still, there’s some chocolate cake left to see me through

Then I’ll have to think about this hospital appointment. Will it be for a stay or just a day visit? I know that it’s for a lumbar puncture which I dread, but I can’t believe that they’ll send me home on the same day.

But as Macbeth said, "If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly". And he was right. No point in waiting around because it will still be the same. It’s as Terry Venables once eloquently put it – "if history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again"

Or as Vivian Green sang, "Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain"