Tag Archives: joan

Tuesday 23rd January 2024 – SO THAT’S ANOTHER …

… French hospital that I can add to my ever-growing list. And remind me to cross it off my list of ones to revisit. Florence Nightingale was there and dropped her lamp on my toe.

But seriously, old and creaking though the hospital might have been, I couldn’t fault the service that I had yet again

“But I don’t want another one of these 06:30 starts again” said he, setting his alarm for 06;15 tomorrow. “I’m not as young as I was”.

Indeed I’m not. It took me over half an hour to wash and dress this morning which meant that I didn’t have time to make my sandwiches for the journey. Consequently I’ve been without food and drink all day until I returned home.

That’s actually not a bad idea either. It’s something along the principle of a long journey where “what doesn’t go in won’t want to come out” at an inconvenient moment.

The taxi was late arriving so I had to ring up to chase them up. And when it arrived, what kind of state was I in to stagger to the car in my condition? This is really beyond a joke now.

But eventually we set off, with the driver telling me that she had no idea where the Hospital St Antoine was so she programmed it into her GPS.

She was … errr … past her prime, shall we say, and moaned and complained all the way to Paris about just about everything.

When we reached Paris we zigzagged up and down the streets as she kept on misreading her GPS, we almost speared another vehicle on a couple of occasions as she swerved dramatically across carriageways and nearly took out a couple of bollards as she did another handbrake turn at a missed junction.

A proper olde-worlde taxi driver she was, and I’ll tell you something for nothing, that I’d travel with her again. She made the journey quite interesting.

Finding the hospital was one thing. Finding the building that I had to visit was another. And then finding a parking space was something else quite difficult. In the end we negotiated with two ambulances and persuaded one of them to leave.

It was a desperate, agonising crawl on my crutches to the lift, to the reception and then to the waiting room. And my driver was helpfulness itself. Nothing was too much trouble for her and once she was away from the steering wheel she was actually quite a pleasant person.

We were 30 minutes late, not a problem because I telephoned them en route to say that we were “held up in traffic”. I suspected that something like this that happened.

There were quite a few people waiting but I jumped the queue and they saw to me straight away. Now I have a machine and its terminals stuck to me until tomorrow morning.

Yes, they want me to bring it back by 10:00 but they are of course joking. I’m not going back tomorrow. If it’s that important they should have given me a bed for the night.

Anyway I have the Holter Machine now, and I left the Technical Department here, the Haematology Department at Hospital Pitié Salpetrière and the taxi company fight it out between them if the hospital wants it back tomorrow.

Whatever the outcome was, the net result is that I have to be up and about to hand it to someone at my door at 06:30. And I suspect that it will be what my old boss when I was chauffeuring in Brussels would call a “Spanish 06:30”, meaning “any time they like”.

Having done all that, we set off for home. On the way back I had a message from the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière – "Please stop taking medicament X and we’ll send you a prescription for medicament Y instead".

And I bet that After the blood test results on Wednesday There will be further changes.

We arrived back early, which was nice, and my helpful cleaner met us at the door to help me up the stairs. I’d be totally lost without her.

Once I’d settled down I made some hot chocolate and a nice baguette sandwich of lettuce, cheese and tomato which was excellent for a starving man.

And then back here I downloaded and printed the prescription for my long-suffering cleaner to take to the pharmacy tomorrow. She came down to collect it and we had a chat.

Then there was the dictaphone notes. Tons of them. I travelled miles during the night. I can’t remember much about this dream but it was one of those that rambled on. I was back at home with my family. One of my niece’s children was there. Everyone else was there. The girl was in a wheelchair because she’d had a problem and was going to the doctor’s very soon. They were going to give her a respray of her artificial suntan before she went. There were 2 other people disabled in that house and me too. I said to my mother “don’t you think that there’s something wrong somewhere with us that you have so many disabled people here all at once,”. She replied “yes you don’t usually have that many disabled people in a household do you?”.

Disabled people apart, there was a lot that was wrong about our family and household and disability wasn’t one of them.

There was then a dream about my youngest sister. A woman had decided to teach her to dance some kind dance. She held her backwards so that my sister couldn’t see what was behind her. They began this dance. There was a huge snake that lived in this room. When my youngest sister had her eyes closed and was dancing near that direction. Someone shouted “it’s OK baby. The snake (they used the snake’s name) has her jaws closed quite tight”. Obviously the inference being that this woman was going to lead my sister up towards the snake and the snake would devour her. My sister was immediately on the defensive and became much more nervous and tight in this woman’s arms than she had been before that person shouted out that comment.

And then my sister was there again later on. There was a digger there that slowly picked her up. She was dangling over different parts of the audience of the State Fair. Then she happened to fall or something fell from her hand. Instead of reaching for it this machine’s hand took her higher until she was in some kind of despairing reach of what she’d dropped. It slowly lowered her and she kept that position. The arm of the machine moved around. My sister actually soared up and went off in a very nice aeroplane. Someone standing by me tried his best but was carried away and the plane once it got going went more and more out to Haverfordwest. Before she left she gave me this little ball of dough and told me how to ply it and pull it apart … becomes very indistinct and tails off

Not much of that latter dream makes sense but it was really difficult to decipher, especially as I began to taper off into nothingness. I wonder how it would have ended had I not done so.

Then I was back in a dream from a while ago, I think about some people investigating a murder. They were following up several clues, one of which was something that had fallen from a TGV. Anyway, a TGV was going full speed ahead when there was an enormous bang from underneath. They slowed right down and stopped. This stopped the whole TGV network. They looked underneath the line but couldn’t see anything so they walked slowly back along the track to see if they could see anything. They came to the TGV that was following them but was stopped. he said that just 20 metres back he had run over a dead cat. He was certain that it wasn’t there before when he was on the outbound trip. They began to look for this cat but couldn’t find it.

This dream moved on to someone having been killed. They’d picked up some evidence about a vehicle being seen somewhere. They made a few enquiries at an isolated farm in the vicinity. The farmer said that he knew absolutely nothing but it was the pace that his denial went that made them extremely suspicious They looked further around and came across another farmer who had a vehicle but something about this didn’t seem to fit anything. Eventually they found a third farmer who had had a Bedford CA van but had taken it to be scrapped. He was in the area at the time but had left the van unattended for a while and then gone back to it. He was sure that it had been moved. They were then convinced that they’d found the vehicle that was used so they went and bought the van and drove it back, deciding that rather than have it forensically tested they would try shock tactics and drive to the first farm in it. As soon as the farmer saw the van coming he ordered his men to open fire. A couple of them did but when he saw that it was quite pointless he put his gun to his head and shot three bullets through it, finishing himself off.

There was plenty more where that came from, but you don’t really want to read it especially if you are having supper or something.

My supper tonight was a taco roll with rice and veg – really delicious yet again. I don’t know why I complained about the taste yesterday. And with no sauce left I made my own with olive oil, wine vinegar and lemon juice with some garlic paste. Totally delicious.

And now, having already crashed out twice and an early start in the morning, I’m off to bed. Today has really exhausted me. But there’s my blood pressure, my medication and my on-line food order before I can go to sleep, not to mention my early start tomorrow.

It’s never-ending, isn’t it?

Sunday 21st January 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… another one of those days where I have emulated my namesake and done three fifths of five eights of … errr … nothing.

And that’s hardly a surprise. In between my leg and this blasted stuff to cure this excess of potassium, I’ve not been in any fit state for anything at all.

While we’re on the subject of this anti-potassium stuff … "well, one of us is" – ed … after taking the stuff last night I stayed up to see how long it would be before it overwhelmed me if I tried to fight it.

It’s as well to know these things, I suppose.

So I stayed up, and up, and up, and fought, and fought, and fought, but by 03:30 I was well and truly done and I crawled off to bed as best as I could.

It was round about 10:50 that I finally awoke, and that’s no sleep at all for a Sunday.

And I had a head like lead too. I don’t know what’s in that stuff and I really don’t think that I want to. But it really is the pits, as John McEnroe would say.

So having made it out of bed and dressed, I staggered off into the kitchen for the next batch of medication, and then back in here it took a good while for me to come back into the Land of the Living.

Once I’d gathered my wits, which, seeing as I have so few these days, takes much longer than it ought, I sat down to listen to the dictaphone to find out if I’d been anywhere during the night. I was living in Wistaston last night with a group of people last night and had to go into Crewe. I set off on foot and I went down to the end of our road which was a dead end, and found that the obstruction had been cleared away and we could walk through. I carried on walking and ended up in Crewe on Brookhouse Drive. I thought “this is going to be convenient if they leave this footpath open like this without the obstructions that they’d had before. I went to do my shopping and then came back and announced to everyone “do you know what they’ve done? They’ve moved the obstructions from down the road now so that we could walk through”. Someone made some kind of remark and my mother showed me an article in the newspaper about how they’d now created a road between Wistaston and Shavington. “I suppose that that’s it” she said. Reading the article I thought that it looked like it. That’s bad news because they would be building apartments or something like that alongside and there’s a little more greenery gone so I was disappointed. I mentioned it to a couple of people but they weren’t sympathetic at all. One of them was certain that apartments would be built and thought that it was a good thing. In the meantime there was some more school to attend that morning. It was Saturday morning and I had my music lessons. My mother wrote out a shopping list. I asked “do you want directions to this new street?”. “No” she replied. You’ve been there once, you’ll know it now”. She put 2 extra streets on this list and handed it to me. It was just like the usual shopping list with these 2 extra streets on it. I set out and halfway down I came to some kind of yard like a school yard. There were people playing so I went in. Somehow I ended up on my knees so I walked on them instead. When I was inside I met a guitar teacher. He had a girl whom I knew with him. She was about 10. I said “hello” to her because I knew her. I had a look around the yard and then I left. I said to her “not going to music school today, are we?”. She asked “why not?”. I explained that it would be 10:00 soon and it’s a long way to go. She said “it’s only 5 minutes and it’ll take me less time because I’m not on my knees” which I thought was rather insulting but never mind. I smiled and laughed with her. I set off on my knees on my travels down this new footpath thing. There were many people on it. I thought that it was looking like the M6 on a Friday afternoon these days.

Yes, I know. My family yet again.

Mind you, I had better luck next time. I was with my Dutch friend. She’d come to visit me in the Auvergne. We were talking about all of our friends because she was now living in a commune. She mentioned someone who had transformed a cellar there into a small apartment. It sounded really interesting so she asked me if I’d like to go. We went along and had to climb down these steps. It was really nice, what he’d done. It was very small but everything was well laid out to make the most of the space. I was quite impressed. He didn’t have very much in there so I said to him “it’s rather Mies van der Rohe, isn’t it?”. he didn’t understand the significance so I said “you know – less is more”. He said “yes, certainly”. He had a friend down there who was caulking the joint between the skirting board and the wall, doing a good job of it. It really looked quite nice. My Dutch friend and I ended up back in the main house again. I said that I’d come to see her in a couple of days. A couple of days later I set out from my house. I was nearly hit by a car reversing out of a driveway. He pulled away but I overtook him and carried on. He was behind me for a while but then disappeared. I turned up at my friend’s with an old denim jacket that I wore occasionally. I’d mentioned earlier to her about embroidering it. She’d agreed to do it so I had it with me. My friend and I ended up in bed together but it wasn’t a sexual thing, just lying there talking. She said “I can’t pay you, except maybe for an afternoon or something like that”. I said “you don’t owe me anything. There’s no need to pay me anything at all. Let’s just stay here and be comfortable

With a little voyage like that, what would you do when you had read all of the notes. I gave her a ring and said "I dreamed about you last night."
"Did you?" she asked.
"No" I replied. "You wouldn’t let me"

And Mies van der Rohe – there’s a name to conjure with. He was a director of the Bauhaus, the modernist school of architecture in Germany and after the excesses of the Victorian period of architecture, pioneered the idea of minimalism in design and construction with his famous slogan of "less is more"

The ghastly buildings of the immediate post-war period prior to the arrival of the even more horrific Brutalist movement of the 60s and 70s can be laid fairly and squarely at the feet of Mies van der Rohe and his fellow crew of Bauhaus barbarians

Having finished the dictaphone notes I went off for my porridge, cheese on toast and strong, hot, black coffee. I’m back eating again after the last few days that I mentioned when my appetite went for a while.

However, having said that, I’m not sure how long I’ll continue eating because I’m in total agony every time that I try to stand up and try to move, with this perishing leg. I really have done it a major mischief but a scanner and a handful of X-rays can’t lie, I suppose.

And it’s no good if I can’t stand up because I can’t make any food to eat.

And then there’s the question of this anti-potassium stuff. This is killing me. Every time I sit down I either fall asleep or if I close my eyes I begin to hallucinate again. If I could walk I’d be forging prescriptions for this stuff and hawking it around the back streets of Granville.

It goes without saying that I’ve crashed out more than once this afternoon, and quite definitively too.

Whenever it’s been possible, I’ve been chatting to people here and there. Ingrid rang me for a chat, then Liz and a couple of my neighbours have been texting me too. I seem to be in demand these days, which is nice.

In fact I was speaking to Ingrid for so long that I forgot about my pizza in the oven. It’s not like me to forget my food, is it?

As I said yesterday, it’s the wrong flour so the pizza wasn’t the dazzling success that it might be, but it was still nice, edible and filling.

So that’s it for the day. I’m off to take my blood pressure, take that nasty horrible stuff with the rest of the medication and then go to bed. I’ve had enough for today and I’m not sorry.

Tomorrow I restart work after my Christmas break, hospitalisation, recuperation etc. But I don’t feel much like it. Not with this flaming leg and this blasted anti-potassium stuff. If I could stop those I’d probably feel a little better but if I don’t, then when I come back from Paris on Tuesday I’ll start writing out my … errr …. instructions. It’s about time.

What I hope for is that someone will give a good and loving home to STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve travelled halfway round the World and well into the Polar regions with, quite often, only him as company. My faithful companion and I have travelled miles together and so he deserves a nice comfortable retirement somewhere where someone will look after him properly.

Wednesday 3rd January 2024 – THE NEXT POSTING …

… or the one after that, or the one after that, may well be from a hospital bed somewhere down the coast of the Baie des Granvillais – either Granville or Avranches, I dunno.

There was a blood test this morning and this evening the doctor rang me up. “There’s a desperate anomaly with your blood and you need to go to the Hospital urgences immediately”.

However as I said the other day, I’m far too busy to die right now, or
"to make my grand departure
from a world getting way too small"

as SEMISONIC would have it.

There’s a man coming here at 11:00 to talk about stairlifts and then in the afternoon I have no fewer than 4 sessions of people at the Centre de Re-education. So I can’t possibly go to the Urgences until Friday morning, I reckon.

But too right! The world is really getting way to small. I know 6 people in Greenland well enough to call them by their first name and on one Saturday night here in Granville we had 5 of them present.

And then there was the occasion when I booked a room IN A TWO-ROOM GUEST HOUSE in a tiny village down the “Forgotten Coast” of Québec and found that the other room was occupied by the notaire or lawyer from a town adjacent to where I was living in the Auvergne.

There are dozens of stories that I can tell you about things like this – amazing coincidences of meetings, including one legendary one between Nerina and me in Brussels – that prove that the world is shrinking rapidly.

Did I ever tell you the story of my mother, living in Margate, who went to Frome in Somerset to visit the people to whom she had been evacuated in 1940? There was a “mystery trip” advertised by the railway departing from Frome so on a whim they booked tickets. Anyone care to guess where they ended up?

Meanwhile, back at the ran …errr … apartment, when the alarm went off I was somewhere – I don’t know where. I’d been to a meeting with some girl. It was a kind-of political meeting but there were all kinds of people there, including some religious folk. The subject of the Conservative Party came up. Someone announced “yes we reduced the price of Covid fees and injections to £1:50 so I wrote underneath it in a space where people could see it “what? You mean that you pay for Covid tests and vaccinations in the UK?”. We proceeded onwards with this meeting. I ended up chatting to this girl afterwards because someone had said during the meeting that you could receive £1500 for a Covid test under certain circumstances if you ere disabled. I asked “how do you apply?”. She replied “don’t you remember? We did but we were 2 days late with the application”. Then I recalled that I’d made a lot of enquiries with the Government departments and even sent a large pile of correspondence to one particular Government office but I was leaving the UK to go back to France so I wondered how this was going to work because the person who would intercept all this post eventually after it had been redirected a couple of times would be my father . I’m sure that he wouldn’t know what to do with it. We ended up talking to a girl about living accommodation. She was showing me around her house. I explained that my apartment in France was just 2 streets from the sea and was probably as big as 2 rooms in her house that were joined together with â passage down the side but I was talking just about the 2 rooms and paying just £4:00 per week for it which I thought was a good deal but was fairly normal for that area in France where I was living. She was extremely impressed by the price that I paid.

But I managed to pull myself together and take my blood pressure. Then I went off for my medication, all 15 tablets of it, and managed to forget one of them

Back here I made a start on my concerts, completely forgetting that the infirmier – the nurse was coming to take a blood sample and to give me my injection

It was Isabelle today and she found a vein with the second go. Good for her.

After she had gone I carried on sorting out these concerts and chatting to Liz who put in her appearance on line.

At lunchtime I completely forgot to take my blood pressure and to compound the agony the taxi company forgot me again and I to remind them

It was electrotherapy to start with, followed by this relaxing muscle therapy, finishing up with Severine, my masseuse

Back here there was plenty of work to do like transcribing the dictaphone to find out just where I’d been during the night. I was actually with a girl from school last night. She was with a guitar. She decided that we’d break up. I was totally devastated and couldn’t believe for a moment but it was certainly the case. She’d written a song about the break-up, which wasn’t particularly helpful about the break-up. All in all I felt totally and utterly crushed by the news. I tried to convince her to stay with me but she said that she’d completely and utterly made up her mind that she wanted to do certain things but wanted to do them alone but in another 6 months if things didn’t work out how she liked, maybe she’d be back. I said that of course in 6 months time I can’t guarantee where my heart would be but she still didn’t pick up the real message that I was trying to say. This dream went on between us for a very long time as I was trying to argue with her to stay, she was trying to convince me that leaving was the best thing and it was a scene that drifted all over London including Kilburn. We were at Kilburn where we decided that it was a 20mph speed limit because of all the accidents on the road. There was a lot of unhappiness and disappointment, people protesting in the streets. I was there but I don’t know about her. There was this organisation and their members erected a kind of barricade on the railway line and the road. There were hundreds of people from the locality out there on the street. No matter what I did though, I still couldn’t persuade this girl to stay with me and I was totally distraught.

This brings back a few adolescent (and not-so-adolescent) memories, I can tell you. Young girls at school wielding guitars? Who can they possibly mean?

Tea tonight was a taco roll with some of the leftover stuffing, and rice with vegetables. All very nice and there’s enough stuffing for a leftover curry, if I’m still here tomorrow evening.

“Still here tomorrow evening” sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? But seriously, I don’t have the time to die right now. I’m far too busy for that. Here’s hoping that it’s only a minor ailment. If it’s something serious, well, there’s not much more of me that they can cut off now.

Friday 15th December 2023 – YOU HAVE PROBABLY …

… already guessed what has happened today.

At roughly about 11:40 when I was comfortably settled deep down in the Arms of Morpheus, the telephone rang.

"This is the hospital here in Paris. We’re doing our planning for next week. Can you come on Monday instead of Tuesday? You’ll still be staying for several days."
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we started off with Tuesday, and then it was already changed from Tuesday to Monday a few days ago, and then changed back again to Tuesday at a later date.
"I shall have to see what the taxi company has to say about it. I’ve messed them around enough with all of these cancellations and it is rather short notice"

And so I phoned the taxi company to chat to them about the situation. We had an “interesting and illuminating” discussion which eventually led to them agreeing to take me on Monday instead. The appointment isn’t until 13:15 which means leaving at 09:00 instead of 04:30 and hitting the rush-hour head on, so that might have helped to persuade them. And the lie-in will be useful for me too.

Having had the agreement from the taxi company I phoned back to the hospital and confirmed the situation. So that is that.

When the cleaner came round, we had a discussion about the situation, as we do.

With my usual air of optimism I added "well, it’s 16:00. Still plenty of time for a further change of plan"
"Not at this time of the afternoon. Everyone will be ready to go home" she replied.

And I must admit that I really did admire her confidence. Five minutes later the telephone rang.

This time it was the taxi company. "Would you possibly consider doubling up and sharing a taxi with someone else going to Paris on Monday, leaving at 07:00?"

So much for my lie-in then. But considering how they’ve been messed about by all of these changes to the programme, I have to show some bonne volonté I suppose. My cleaner hopes that it will be a belle blonde travelling with me, but my money is on a retired Bulgarian female weightlifter

They probably won’t say anything to the Social Security about the car-sharing and charge for two trips, but in that position I’d probably do the same too.

But anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, I had a good play around on the guitar before going to bed, something that led me down another road to somewhere deep in the past.
"She moved her hips
And swayed in my direction
I thought we could make it yet
And beat the isolation
But in that gentle dark
We tore ourselves apart
Through fire and rain
Through wilderness and pain
Through the losses, through the gains
On love’s roller coaster train
I call your name"

So hauling myself out of the pit wherein lives the Black Dog, I hauled myself off to bed where I had another turbulent night. And although there was quite a lot going on, I didn’t have any special visitors.

When the alarm went off this morning I already had the bedroom light on and was just about to swing my feet out of bed, so effectively I fell short of an early start by a matter of a handful of seconds. Still, a miss is as good as a mile.

After the meds I came back in here to print off a justificatif de domicile – a certificate issued by the Electricity Board as proof of your occupation of your premises, and then transcribed the mountain of dictaphone notes. It seemed to have been “quantity” last night, not “quality”.

I started off busily organising my bread, dividing it into portion-sized helpings for the future when I awoke this morning. The ambulance had already come for me and there was something going on there too about organising a wholesale supply of food and daily helpings for different people but I wasn’t actually involved in what was going on down there. They’d just come to pick me up and at that moment I awoke.

And then I was doing my English homework at home. I had a list of words and had to find their equivalent in the second column of this list and then insert them in the correct place in the test that I was reading. It was about an American guy from the Mid-West who was finishing work and coming home. Some of the language in this text was extremely dubious so I wouldn’t read it out loud because we had a young girl staying with us. Then my father came home from work. He asked what I was doing so I explained. The girl explained a little too. My father then began to say things like “do they have an equivalent in there for ‘stripper’?” – words like that. As a matter of fact they did but I didn’t want to read them out because of the young girl. My father didn’t seem to care at all. We began to make tea. On the table, there were all kinds of stuff on this table that you wouldn’t believe. There I was with these hot dishes and there was nowhere to put them. I went to move some things out to the side but someone grabbed hold of it and began to use it. Someone else asked me if I wanted a slice of apple pie. That had been put on the floor because it was the only place to put it. This was in my opinion a completely unacceptable way that everything was just scattered about everywhere

Continuing on that dream later on, there was some of my mother’s cooking there and that was something of a mess. No matter how much I actually like hummus I decided that when my mother presented a bowl for the evening meal, I’d rather give it a miss.

My mother’s cooking was legendary, but for all the wrong reasons. When I used to go round to a friend’s house in Nantwich after school his German mother always served me up with piles of food. When I was in Munich with him last year, we talked about it and I asked him why.
"Don’t you remember?" he asked. "I stayed for tea once at your house. Only once."

To be honest, it wasn’t until I met Nerina that I began to eat well

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed it was a Monday morning and I was slowly preparing to go to work. Suddenly I looked at the time. It was 08:20. I had to rush around and find everything really as quickly as possible. I hadn’t even had a wash and probably smelt to high heaven but had to do the best that I possibly could. All the time there were the usual interruptions, people in my way, not being able to find anything. There was a discussion going on about why Manchester United hadn’t done as well as everyone had expected over the last couple of seasons so I had my three ha’pence-worth as I was going around. But I was really fighting a hopeless task and was nothing at all like ready when I realised that the bus had gone and that I’d be late for work. In a fit of exasperation etc I stormed into the kitchen, dropped my things onto the floor and said “this is it! I’ve missed the bus again! I’m not going to miss this bus again whatever happens”.

Believe it or not, I actually laughed in the middle of the dream when I dictated that. I’ve heard those promises before.

A short while later I had exactly the same dream again about preparing for work or for school. Exactly the same thought about never being late went through my head again with exactly the same response from my subconscious during the dream. I ended up storming off out of the room, bad-tempered. I spent some time doing some Welsh revision while I was waiting for the alarm to ring

While I was in Munich I’d gone to see something or other on the outskirts. When I was driving back I came to a roundabout where there was some evidence of bomb damage still – burnt-out buildings etc. I stopped and took the camera but I couldn’t find a good spec to photograph it, where I could fit everything in without the sun interrupting me. At one stage I was trying to cross the road when 3 BMC 1100s appeared one after the other and performed some kind of pirouette around me as I tried to reach the other side of the road

Finally I came across some people who had a Bristol Lodekka double-decker bus, a green one, in their barn in the centre of France. The destination blind on it read ROUTE 929 – LEEDS to OPORTO. They told me some of the story of the bus but not everything. We’d recently come to settle down there. Before leaving someone had given me a box of things with fish in it. I made a little pool for these fish but instead it turned out that they were some giant cormorant birds. They looked quite ridiculous sitting on my little pond. They, at least, one of them, could actually talk and I had some very interesting conversations with the cormorant about laying eggs and hatching, etc. But it was the bus in the neighbour’s barn that intrigued me. I’d love to know what it was doing and how it had ended up there when it should have been somewhere in Oporto

When the bus (the local one, not the 929 from Leeds to Porto) came, I clambered aboard, declining a lift from a neighbour because I have to push myself onwards on the bus whenever I can, and we set off for St Nicolas and on the way, the driver forgot to stop at the Ecole d’Hotellerie to let off the High School baking class

At St Nicolas the first stop was at the Post Office where, armed with my justificatif de domicile, I jumped through various complicated hoops in order to open a bank account.

So shortly I’ll have a bank card and actually be able to draw some cash at some point. As I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … there’s not another cash point in the town accessible to me because I can’t climb back onto the bus afterwards.

It took so long that I didn’t have time for my coffee at the Carrefour but at least I have tomatoes and mushrooms and a few other things. I met the guy with whom I’d had a long chat the other day.
"A British guy who likes our bread and our coffee " he said. "That’s a rare sight"
"If I’d only wanted tea at four o’clock" I replied "I’d have stayed over there".

At the bus stop I had a long chat with a local guy also waiting for the bus, and then with a woman on the bus on her way to the doctor’s.

People are starting to notice me. I’m not sure that that’s a good sign.

Back here I had another chat with a neighbour and then climbed up the stairs to my apartment where I made my coffee and cheese on toast

Despite phone calls, the attentions of the cleaner and the occasional drift away into nothingness I finihsed off the radio notes that I’d started yesterday, and they are now ready for dictation, which I’ll do tomorrow night as usual.

Rosemary rang up too and we had another one of our lengthy chats that seem to go on for ever when we talk about almost nothing.

However, I have made an executive decision, and for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than a few just recently, an executive decision is a decision that you make which, if it goes wrong, the person making it is executed.

And that is that I’ve decided what to have for Christmas dinner.

For a while now I’ve been thinking about making a vegan pie because I haven’t made one for ages. But this one is going to be different – I’ve ordered some puff pastry rolls.

Making pastry like that from scratch is difficult. You have to roll it out thin, coat is with oil, fold it over, roll it again, coat with oil, fold again ad infinitum. I can imagine exactly how mine would turn out.

However the LeClerc poverty-spec pastry rolls are vegan so that’s what I’ll use.

  • Put a cup of lentils in the slow cooker, cover with water and slowly bring to the boil.
  • When they begin to boil, drain them out and rinse them thoroughly, then put them back on the lowest heat with more water, plenty of herbs and spices and leave them overnight on the lowest heat
  • Next morning, cut up your tofu into small squares and fry with onion, garlic, mushrooms, whatever else you like and plenty of herbs and spices.
  • When they are nice and golden brown, tip in your lentils and stir it round, and then add a few spoons of oats to absorb the liquid and make a glutinous mass
  • Empty it into your pie case, add the top, brush with soya milk and bake until golden brown

As usual, any other suggestions and ideas are welcomed.

Tea tonight was salad, chips and some of those nugget things, something that went down really well.

So having finished my notes, I’ll carry on with the guitar for a while. I’ll have another go at trying to sing MOONAGE DAYDREAM while playing the bass.

At least I’m not the only one how finds it difficult. Grahame wrote that he doesn’t find it easy either. Maybe we ought to hold a “Ziggy Stardust” masterclass at some point.

But if anyone else wants to write and say “hello” or exchange ideas, there’s a link on the bottom right of the page. But if you use Gmail, I can’t reply to you.

In Google’s quest to take over the internet the company wants webmasters to embed its code into all minor domains and until I know why and what it does, I’m not putting it in mine. Consequently Google is blocking me from writing to anyone with a Gmail address.

Tomorrow I have no plans, but as usual, something will probably pop up to distract me. And then on Sunday, I’m baking bread and biscuits and a few other things besides, I reckon.

That means that I’d better remember to order some more vegan butter. I’m going through it at an alarming rate.

Monday 11th December 2023 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

… showers might be back on the agenda at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The ergotherapist came around with a selection of useful gadgets and appliances for helping me and we managed to figure out something that I could adapt to help me into the bath and to stand up for a shower.

It’ll be a while until it arrives of course, because there are all kinds of hoops to jump through, and it’s a question first of awaiting her report and recommendations. That won’t be any time soon, I bet.

And then there’s also the question of whether I’ll be still here when it arrives. The way I felt today, that isn’t necessarily going to be the case.

It doesn’t seem to make any difference whether or not I go to bed early. Or whether I’m still fast asleep when the alarm goes off. Both of those situations took place through the night but the end result was still the same as usual – me flat out on my chair later on in the afternoon.

At least there was sparking water for my medication, flavoured with a dash of grape juice. And then back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was at home last night. I can’t remember what I was doing but all my brothers and sisters were slowly coming home from school. We were having the usual kinds of arguments. There was a dog there too, an old dog, probably one of the collies that we used to have as kids. She was there being quite quiet. When people came to the door they’d knock and wait until someone opened it which was very difficult for me being on crutches. Every time it happened I’d go and open the door and let in another sibling until one occasion when there was a knock on the door, I went to open it and it was my mother. She was there with 2 great big dogs. They came into the kitchen and began to jump up and down at me. I don’t like dogs at the best of times but when I’m on crutches and not very steady I don’t like them jumping up at me at all. This was something that I just couldn’t accept. I became rather angry. There was some mention at some point of one of the daughters of my niece who was there. She turned up in a Volkswagen saloon. Another one of my cousins on my father’s side asked “do you have one of these now?” in some kind of derogatory tone. She replied “yes. It’s a lovely car, especially when it has some power in it”. Apparently it also doubled as an autonomous standard lamp of table lamp that could be used to throw some light on whatever it was that you were working.

And then we were in the middle of Covid, the height of it and we were going to school in California somewhere. There were no school buses running so we had to walk. It was a long walk away. We set out to walk on this long grass verge, a couple of us, and slowly began to climb this embankment which led to a road that passed over the motorway When we reached the top and looked down, it was one of these 16-lane motorways. Of all the traffic going in one direction there wasn’t a single vehicle at all. Going in the other direction were all the cars in the world, all parked nose to tail and looked as if they hadn’t moved for weeks. We couldn’t understand the folly of these people who even in the middle of a pandemic had felt it necessary to go out in their car and just sit in a traffic queue as if things were back to normal. We carried on walking and came to the school. There weren’t very many people around but there were plenty of police officers there interrogating everyone about why they’d come. To us it seemed quite obvious that we’d come in order to attend our lessons

Later on I’d gone to night school. My partner, whoever she might have been, had gone too for her lesson. In our Welsh class there were only 3 of us there and no tutor so we just chatted amongst ourselves quite vaguely for a while, talking about the history of the group, how we were learning and how I was miles off the pace. I did my best to recount a long rambling conversation about how I once went from Brussels to Austria for a pizza and came back again the same night in the Opel. Afterwards when we came out I met my partner again. I asked her if she’d done anything exciting. She replied that she’d found a body. I asked her to repeat it. It turned out that they’d had to go into a dark recess of one of the storerooms in the school to look for some ink for something. While they were rummaging around in the back corner they came across the mummified remains of a new-born baby. It was probably there 40 years. You could see from the deformed skeleton that it had had a fall. There was very little hair on it which implied that it was new-born. She was wondering about it. To me it seemed quite obvious that some girl at the school had had a child without telling anyone and concealed the birth. It wouldn’t be the first time that that had happened. Later on, for some reason when the police came round to our house to take a statement they took me with them to go back to a clothes shop near the school which they said had something to do with the crime. I went with the policeman. He had a Volvo 740 estate, one of the flat square ones. He lifted up the bonnet to look for something . I had a look underneath it and saw how simple the layout was and how much room there was. I began to regret that I hadn’t had a couple of those on the taxis.

Finally I was with a boy from my class at school last night. He wasn’t anyone special and so i’ve no idea whey he would suddenly put in an appearance. Several weeks earlier I’d been to church with Marianne, a new modern church in the south part of the city centre of Brussels. It was a place that she’s wanted to visit before she died so I’d taken her there. Later, I decided for some reason to go again. That was when I met him. We walked down a road past a big brick-built church dating from probably the late Victorian period. There were a lot of roadworks outside. I explained to him that there was a statue of Jesus inside who was preaching to the congregation over a lake. The lake was actually a river of which the exit had been blocked. It looked to me as if they were freeing the exits so that the water could flow through the church and out the other side because of so many stories of Jesus preaching by running water. he wondered if that was the church to which we should be going but I explained that it wasn’t. We carried on walking. By now I had a young girl with me instead. She was asking questions about the church so I explained things to her. We eventually arrived just as the service was about to begin. I had STRAWBERRY MOOSE with me whom I was holding. The girl as soon as she saw from the top of the bank of seats the service starting she dashed to grab a seat with a spare one next to it so that I could sit down. There were some people whom we knew who were there who had 2 small girls. Of course the 2 girls were chatting to Strawberry Moose. Most of the women and girls were in bathing costumes It was something to do with blessing the swimming or something like that. I didn’t quite understand it at the time so many of the girls and women were in swimming costumes.

When Marianne was dying I did my best to take her to places that she wanted to visit but it wasn’t easy because her illness advanced so quickly. I sat by her side for 5 months and watched her die, and it was the most horrible thing that I could ever imagine. She was quite religious and her response to anything was “my Saviour will call me when he’s ready”. I’m not going to put anyone at all through that kind of torture, and the medical staff where I’m being treated know what to and when to do it.

It reminds me of a story about Sidney Smith, a Home Office pathologist who was giving a talk on this subject.
"If ever I begin to lose my faculties, my coherence and my dignity" he said "I’ve told my wife that she must “have an accident” while cleaning the shotgun"
"Blimey!" shouted a voice from the back of the hall. "She’s leaving it rather late, isn’t she?"

After my morning coffee and fruit bun I began the process of tidying up. There’s not much that I can do and it takes me forever to do it but I have to show willing.

It’s not as if I mind people seeing for themselves that I’m struggling to manage, especially someone whose job it it, but even I have my pride and my limits. However, as was said in Proverbs Chapter 16 Verse 18, "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall"

When the ergotherapist came round we ran through my routine about cooking, eating, working and all of that kind of thing and she didn’t have too many suggestions in that respect. It was the bathroom that drew most of her attention and we spent a lot of time in there working out a few things.

She did ask me if I wanted a raised seat in the WC and that is probably the most humiliating incident yet with this illness.

One thing that she wanted to do was to watch me make a pot of coffee, but I suspect that that didn’t have very much to do ergotherapy. She declined my biscuits though.

After she left I came in here I had a phone all to make to one of my neighbours, and then I crashed out definitively for quite some time. So much so that when I finally did awaken I felt absolutely dreadful. But once I’d finally come back round into the Land of the Living, I paired off the music for the next radio programme.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg, just as nice as usual, and there’s plenty of stuffing left over for the next couple of days

Tomorrow I have the doctor coming around, the Welsh lesson (the last of the year) and then the Centre de Re-education in the afternoon. And right now, I have never ever felt less like it. I hope that I have a good sleep tonight.

It’s one of those things for which I have sore misgivings, and even worse, I have no ointment to rub on them.

Thursday 7th December 2023 – I HAD ANOTHER …

… telephone call this afternoon.

"Mr Hall. Your appointment on 19th December is cancelled"
"And why is that?"
"We want you to come on Monday 18th December instead. And bring your jammies because you’ll be staying for a few days".

The appointment on the 19th was with the Cardiac Unit but this stay is with the Haematology Department. So things are definitely pushing along from that point of view. They did say “the beginning of the New Year” but events are unfolding quicker that I expected.

Getting out of bed wasn’t unfolding as quickly as it has done just now. It took me about 20 minutes to raise myself from the Dead this morning. But even so, I was still sitting at my desk working at 06:20, 40 minutes before the alarm went off

After I’d had my medication I came back here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I awoke with a really bad attack of cramp in the middle of a dream about events taking place in a village and so forgot most of this dream. It concerned certain goings-on in the village and in some localities. Some localities were only known by their informal name and there were many other names for some of these places so if someone had a secret about one of these places and it was known by its proper name no-one would ever find it. This was a question of these secrets that needed to be discovered. There was one thing that was very interesting. It was something concerning a girl’s bikini. I noticed in a house as I was passing through it doing something or other, that on top of a shelf in the sewing room was one of these mannequins that is used for adjusting clothes. There was a girl’s bikini on there. I was wondering whether this was in fact that particular girl’s bikini. Of course the easiest way to hide something is to hide it in plain sight and not draw anyone’s attention to it.

And then there was a plan to build new railway headquarters in Crewe. I was asked if I would like to supervise the overall control of the project. With nothing better to do I agreed and called for all the paperwork. I received a large box with almost nothing in it, no plans, no nothing. When I asked for it I was told that it was all arranged by photographs. That was the modern way of doing things these days. I thought that it was one of the most crazy things I’d ever heard. It’s quite simply not possible. And they hadn’t even sent the photographs in this box. A couple of days later someone from the Home Office came to see me and began to talk about the project. he asked how much they’d agreed to pay me. I said “they haven’t agreed anything”. He was surprised and said “you ought to be paid”. I answered “I thought that that was your job to pay me. These instructions came down from your department that I was to oversee it. I wasn’t told to contact the project managers for payment. The instructions came from the Home Office so I imagined they they would pick up the bill”. I told him about the complete and utter miserable state of affairs of this big box with almost nothing in it.

At another moment there had been a huge issue about some kind of property boundaries in the centre of a small town somewhere. I had a total feeling that it was all wrong. After a huge, lengthy investigation and battle I finally discovered that I was perfectly correct and that land that had been in dispute in the town centre was actually mine and I could move into it. It made me extremely happy because first of all I could park my car somewhere. I went for a walk after this with a girl friend of mine to celebrate. We came round a corner and in a yard was an axle that I recognised immediately as off a BMC half-ton van. I looked up and they had one attached to a crane that they were just going to winch off somewhere. I went to have a word with the guys to tell them that I’d been looking for one of these for years. Why hadn’t he told me anything about it? Of course, I had had BILL BADGER for a great length of time and travelled miles with him. The discussion then came round to a BMC FG pickup with a damaged cab and we talked about that. I explained that there was nothing wrong with it and the cab can be replaced on these anyway. We began to talk about Bill Badger again and those kinds of days back them.

I had that half-ton van for several years and went miles in it. But one of the rear leaf springs broke and being a very obsolete vehicle I couldn’t find another one. I had car springs on it for a while but the slightest load sagged the rear right down and after an uncomfortable moment with some of Cheshire Constabulary’s finest I decided that it was time to move it on.

When I awoke I was in bed but the cleaner had just come into the apartment bringing me a big mug of really hot coffee. I told her to put it on the kitchen worktop, wait a couple of minutes and I’ll be ready. I’ll come in and drink it. Then I awoke with cramp again.

Later on I had been at work all day. In my spare time I’d been doing something else. When I’d finished I’d gone to my University night classes and didn’t return home until 23:30. There was some bricklaying that needed doing so I began to sort out a few bricks prepare some stuff to mix some cement. My mother who was sitting around with her feet up and the other kids who were just sitting there playing around all said “you aren’t going to start work now, are you?”. I replied “this job has to be done. All you lot have been doing is sitting around here all day doing nothing”. My mother said something about the kids being delicate or something. I replied that they were all just bone-idle and that she was the woman who had made them. Whatever it is that her kids have turned out to be is a reflection on her more than anything else.

Actually, my University experience was nothing like that. It was usually a ‘phone call at 03:30 “My Hall, we have to go to Dusseldorf (or Bielefeld, or Berlin, or Den Haag or somewhere else like that)’
“Very good, Sir Brian. I’ll be round in half an hour”
And then into the boot went a flask of coffee, a pile of sandwiches and my course books. And while he was entertaining visiting dignitaries, putting the World to rights and dining on lavish slap-up dinners I was curled up on the back seat of the car on a draughty corner of a freezing military air base with a sandwich and a mug of coffee poring over a course book

When I was trying to do my degree it was one of the most crucial times in Western History in modern time and I had the misfortune to be associated with someone rather pivotal. We didn’t have a break for 18 months.

It meant that I wasn’t able to complete any of the practical work. Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous versions will recall that I had taken a week’s holiday to go and do some water sampling of a river. I’d hardly put on my wellingtons before a group of people flew a few aeroplanes into a couple of buildings, all leave was cancelled and we were recalled to work.

That didn’t just put paid to the practical work for that part of the course, it put paid to the exam too.

A couple of people have suggested that I ought to write a book about that period of my life. But it’s one of those situations where if the first impression isn’t published posthumously, the second impression certainly would be

But meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed there was also something somewhere about me being in Canada with my niece’s husband (but it wasn’t him). I was making a pot of tea and when I was rinsing the teapot in the sink it fell apart in my hands.

Next stop was the radio programme. I’ve chosen all of the music, some of which was complicated, and then I paired it off and wrote notes for some of it

There was an interruption – yet another phone call. This time it was the ergotherapist. She’s going to come to visit me here on Monday afternoon, inspect my apartment and suggest ways in which my life could be improved.

After a good wash and scrub up the car came for me and we went down to the Centre de Re-education.

And how the mighty have fallen! If it was depressing yesterday being taught how to go to bed and how to get up, today was even worse. Can you really imagine that it’s necessary for someone at my kind of age to need lessons on how to put on my socks?

The ergotherapist had noticed something with one of the muscles in my left thigh and she had a word with Severine, who spent our session working on that muscle to try to free it off. Not that it worked very much.

There are three lifts in the Centre de Re-education and two of them were broken down. As a result it was chaos trying to leave the building. In the end I climbed up the stairs and by the time that I was halfway up, that was me done for the rest of the day

Back here I bumped into my cleaner as I entered the building and she helped me up the stairs into my apartment.

The doctor rang me too. He’s already sent off the demand for the taxi to Paris but I wasn’t going to tell him to cancel it – at least, not until I have something in writing from the hospital.

But I’d told him that I was running low on medication when I’d written to him so he’s going to come to see me on Tuesday to check me over before he issues a new prescription.

And then I came in here and crashed out.

Tea tonight was something from the European Vegan Burger Mountain, with pasta and veg, and now that I’ve finished my notes I’m knocking off. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … all of this remedial treatment is al l very well but if the journey is killing me off it’s all pointless.

So right now I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow if the weather is better, and that’ll wear me out as well.

This weekend I’d better tidy up the apartment ready for all these visits next week. I seem to be in demand right now. It’s not usually like this, is it?

Wednesday 22nd November 2023 – AND THERE I WAS …

… sitting on a chair outside the doctor’s office and she asked me to come in – and I couldn’t stand up.

She had to help me up out of my chair and the two of us nearly went AOT onto the floor. What kind of state am I in?

However, it’s an ill-wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good and every cloud has a silver lining. After our struggle outside her office door she agreed to extend my stay at the Centre de Re-education until the end of January instead of the end of December.

Leaving the bed this morning wasn’t actually a struggle this morning. I had half a leg out of the bed when the alarm went off and I’m not sure why that might have been because I had another late night – having a bash about on the acoustic guitar before going to bed.

After the medication and checking the mails I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, who had come with me. In between everything else that was going on last night I was working on a website. I’d taken plenty ot photos of different railway installations and was making some kind of geographical record. I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t working properly and nothing seemed to be going right with it. As well as that I kept on being interrupted by all kinds of different things with my family. Eventually I found out the reason why it wasn’t working. In the past I minimised the images so that they’d fit down the column of a page with the text on the other part of the page. You clicked on the image to see a full-size reproduction. For some reason I was just including the full-size images directly onto this web page and it was distorting absolutely everything. There were some really nice photos in there including some of the electrification work of lines in the spine of England. Then my mother called me for something. After a couple of minutes I went to see. I saw on the table a great big parcel wrapped in brown paper addressed to our family in Canada, seeing my mother’s writing. She also gave me a parcel. Apparently it was my birthday but I’d forgotten. I unwrapped it and inside the parcel was a camera exactly the same type as one that I had already. I couldn’t understand why it was that she’d given me this as a birthday present.

I was also at some point in the proceedings last night clutching a hoe in my hand rather like a Roman centurion. Don’t ask me why because I awoke wide-awake at that particular point. Everything that I was dreaming just disappeared completely out of my mind.

later on during the night I was back in Crewe. I had to go back to our old family home in Davenport Avenue. When I arrived the whole site had been cleared and they were making preparations to build a huge housing estate on the site of several of the houses and the old petrol station and tyre depot that was at the back of it. I didn’t recognise anything. It had just so completely changed. In the end I went to Shavington to a house where a schoolfriend of mine lived at one time. That had all changed too and I couldn’t remember anything. In the end I found the house where it might possibly have been and talked to the neighbours. They told me about all the changes. They agreed that this was the house that I’d thought was the old house of my friend even though it was now submerged in the middle of other housing. There was still a tiny plot of land there that had not been built on, belonging to a guy called Bob Hope who I imagined to be my schoolfriend’s father although that wasn’t his name. In the end there were about 10 of us sitting around there chatting and reminiscing about things that had taken place in the area in the 1950s and 1960s when we were living in Shavington. It was really most unsettling and uncomfortable to see how everything had changed and how everything in Crewe where we lived had been swept away and was a demolition site.

And finally I met a girl somewhere during the evening – a big girl which is of course quite unlike me. We got on really well with each other. In the end we went back to her house and stayed the night together. Next morning we awoke. There was no alarm. I couldn’t understand why. We got up and I wanted to take a photo of the two of us together with me holding this girl off the ground in my arms. It was rather complicated with her being on the large side. Then we found that not one single telephone that we had between us had any charge left in it. Then the subject of breakfast came up. It turned out that she would go to eat breakfast at a local café. She set off first while I did a few things to prepare everything. I found half a bread roll on a table at a café just round the corner from where she lived. I thought that it must be for me. She wasn’t there so I picked up the bread roll and walked around the next corner. She was there with 3 or 4 other people at a table. There were all kinds of breakfast things laid out on this table. She was chatting to these people as if she knew them. I went and sat down but no-one said a word to me. I was there with this half a bread roll. I felt rather guilty that I was going to be eating a bread roll brought from some other establishment with the jam that this proprietor had provided and presumably not paying anything for breakfast. It didn’t seem right to me at all.

After a brief … errr … relax I carried on with the notes for the radio programme and they are now complete. I’ll dictate them later on before I go to bed. And then I paired off the music for the next one and I’ll start to write the notes for that one when I’ve finished making the current one.

The one after that should be quite interesting, but I’ll tell you more about that in due course.

While I was doing that I had a listen to the one that will be broadcast this weekend to make sure that it’s all correct. And then I could send it off to be added into the radio’s playlist.

After a good wash the car came to pick me up to take me down the hill into town and my appointments. I mentioned the doctor just now, and then I went off to Severine for some physiotherapy. Whatever it is that she’s doing, it seems to be doing some kind of good because coming up the stairs back here was easier than it was the other day.

After my hot chocolate and chocolate biscuits I came back in here where I went away with the fairies for over an hour and it really was a very deep sleep too. I was with Christian and we were talking about rock groups who were lost in the High Arctic. There was a map that someone had found that listed the routes of several rock groups who had disappeared and so we went to look but we had a lot of difficult trying to unfold the map. There were several tracks in all kinds of places, each one in a different colour showing the supposed routes and one on or two of the islands there were legends such as “no information”. But we had a real struggle to open this map correctly.

There was also time to carry on with the tidying of the shelves. And I came across two boxes of breadcrumbs and a small Christmas pudding that I must have bought when I was living in Leuven. But nevertheless I’m still going to have a go at making my own, starting over the weekend.

And while we’re on the subject of Christmas baking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had a chat on line with Liz about marzipan. It’s not available for delivery from LeClerc so I’ll have to see if I can find it in Carrefour on Friday. If not, I’ll have to order it on-line from an internet vendor. After all, you can’t have a Christmas cake without marzipan.

Tea tonight was a leftover curry with the last of my naan bread dough. I’ll have to make some more but the soya yoghurt has disappeared off the menu on the LeClerc delivery site. That’s something that I’ll have to check at Carrefour on Friday.

So now I’ve finished my notes I’ll have my hot drink and dictate my notes before I go to bed. Tomorrow I have the engineer coming and I also have to ring up about Caliburn’s Controle Technique too. It expired a long time ago now.

Not that I imagine that I’ll be using Caliburn again. I don’t think that even Severine’s magic touch can restore enough power to my right leg to work the brake. But I have to do something about it. I can’t leave things like this.

Saturday 18th November 2023 – I’VE HAD ONE …

… of those days where I haven’t really accomplished all that much.

Not that I can complain too much though. I accomplished everything that I intended to do, and with plenty of time to spare as well. And that’s not something that happens every day.

For once I was awake a long time before the alarm went off and had I really pushed myself I could have been up and about as well. But let’s not go getting ahead of ourselves.

After the medication and checking the mails I had a very slow start to the day and it wasn’t until I’d had my mid-morning coffee and soup that I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was a wedding taking place amongst the family. We were all assembled staying somewhere in a house for the night. Tea was pretty rudimentary so we all had tea in our room, a kind-of bedroom with about 12 beds in it and rubbish and mess everywhere. It really was untidy – much more untidy than anything I could ever come up with. While I was serving out the tea a cat came in. I offered it some of the tea but it promptly threw up everywhere which put a lot of people off their meal. I cleaned it up then we sat down to eat as best as we could amongst the debris and mess. Then I collected up the dishes to take into the kitchen to wash. My brother in law was there. His part of the room was the worst of all. He was saying “just take this for me – just take that for me – go and pick this up – go and pick that up” so I exploded at him and told him “instead of standing there giving orders if he went and did the jobs himself he’d find that it would probably be done a lot quicker” and stormed out of the room into the kitchen where I bumped into my mother. She asked what was going on so I explained that I’d just upset her son in law to which she made a remark to him too. I put the dishes down on the table.

Actually, to give you some idea, that particular member of my family actually tried to provoke me into a fight with him – at a family funeral in 2000, would you believe?

50 years or so ago another member of my family was marrying. I was living in the ground floor apartment of this building at the time. I remember having to look out of the window at something that was going on outside but I really can’t remember what it was. I had things to do to prepare myself for this event. Someone whom I knew but had forgotten now made some kind of derogatory remark about my appearance. I reminded them that I could probably give them 50 years in age and the idea of what is smart is set by convention rather than by just one person’s idea

And that’s nothing new either.

Everyone in the house was asleep. I was doing the accounts for the taxis. Roxanne was awake and came to see what I was doing. We had a chat while we were doing that. When we finished I suggested that we go downstairs and so something. She ran over to her slippers but instead she took her heavy clog-type shoes that were by the door by where her parents were sleeping. I told her to put on her slippers but she said that she might be going out. I told her to pick them up and bring them with her but she said that she wasn’t allowed bare feet in the house. She began to put on her clogs but made a noise so I told her to be quiet or she’d awaken her parents. She said that I’d awaken her parents by making a noise to her and that’s what always happens. I didn’t really explain to her that what was actually awakening them was the noise of her putting on her clogs, not me telling her off about it. She put her clogs on and went dancing off down the corridor and luckily her parents didn’t actually awaken at that moment.

Yes, Roxanne was a lovely, happy child. When she was 9 years old she and I were sitting outside a café in Ixelles while Laurence had gone to the shops. Roxanne was sitting next to me drawing a picture and we were talking about what she was doing. One woman sitting at the next table said to her friend, in one of these stage whispers “you can see whose daughter she is” and I’ll never forget the big beaming smile on Roxanne’s face.

When she was 6 I taught her to ride a bike and to swim and by the time she was 9 she was riding my Honda scooter up and down the street and steering the car (sitting on my knee of course) down the country lanes around Virlet.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, while I was out walking last night something came along and hacked all my dwarf or gnome followers into bits. When I returned it was like a huge jigsaw puzzle and I had to spend hours slowly matching up the bits to remake the bodies. Eventually I began to make one or two correctly and even one or two of their house animals correctly. It was taking a very long time but I could see that I was going to be able to solve this and end up with all of my dwarves and gnomes reassembled.

My father asked me to drive over to the Shetland islands for a job that he had lined up for me. Full of mystery and suspense I set off. I eventually arrived. It turned out that one of his friends who lived on this particular island had had the opportunity to sponsor a lamp post outside his house and wanted to talk about it to someone. All this sounded extremely vague to me and the directions that my father gave me to the guy’s house weren’t of any help but he produced a couple of photos and that at least gave me some kind of idea where the house might be situated. I set off and eventually found it. It was a house in a dip with a great big street light right by it that was shining over the dip so it was really as if the house was completely floodlit. The old guy had the idea that he would sponsor it as a form of advertising. We had a lengthy discussion about the Shetland Islands, the Faroes, etc and even touched on the islands in the Arctic archipelago – strangely enough, ones of which I’d dreamt, not ones that actually exist. In the end her persuaded me to go to see his neighbour, an elderly Colonel. I went off to see him. He was completely bewildered. I explained that it’s certainly the aim of several counties in the UK to have their street furniture sponsored as a way of raising money and a way for people to advertise themselves or their possessions etc. He thought it rather strange which it probably was. he showed me around his house which was full of all kinds of different things, hardly anywhere spare of clutter on the floor or walls etc but it was all neatly arranged. After this guy left me alone for half an hour I began to sit and wonder that this was probably the strangest thing in which I’ve ever been involved. If this Colonel guy has to start moving around all his things for any particular reason we’ll be here for ever organising it. I just wondered what was going through this old man’s mind.

I went into a pub in Crewe for a drink – something that I haven’t done in years. I found to my surprise that I’d been barred. I had absolutely no idea why. It must be 40 years since I last had a beer. The next day I was at work. There was a kind-of complex confrontation going on about my timesheets. At one stage my manager took my phone and began to scroll through it. I asked him if he had a search warrant which made him immediately drop it so I immediately went onto the offensive and we had the most amazing row. I left and decided that I’d go to another pub to see if I could have a drink there. I asked for half a pint of mild but she served me half a pint of milk. We laughed about that and she gave me a drink. I began to drink it. As I was leaving I overheard a couple of conversations. One was a barman talking to one of the girls sitting at the bar. There was definitely something not correct about that conversation. He was trying to persuade her to do something and I could tell that she wasn’t all that keen at all. The other one was some people discussing councillors. A guy came in and began to talk about the building work taking place next door. Some guy had had several thousand pounds to do some digging there but as soon as he had received the money he dismissed the contractors and had the gipsies in to do it for cash. They were discussing the guy and how crooked he was. It was someone whom I actually knew so I stayed to listen to the conversation. As it happened, the guy was a Conservative Councillor so as I left I asked “what was that you were saying about councillors earlier?”. There was still a few minutes left before my bus so I thought that I’d walk through the shopping precinct off Victoria Street. I’d heard some depressing stories about it. They were right. all of the buildings were flaking, the paint was coming off, many were closed and areas of the precinct were in complete darkness as the street lights weren’t working. It looked like something from Chernobyl. I thought that I’d walk around for a while then go back to the bus station to catch my bus home.

Actually, that’s a slight exaggeration. The last time I had an alcoholic drink was in 1994. We’d been skiing up in the mountains on the border between Bulgaria and Greece and the fog came down. When we finally arrived at the gondola to take us back down to the valley it was all locked up and everyone had gone home.

We had to pick our way down the mountain on skis, completely off-piste and when we eventually reached the valley the only place open to relax was a bar and all that it had was beer.

That was the year that there was an oil embargo on Serbia and a friend (who figures occasionally in these pages although not as much as she did a good while ago and for the benefit of regular readers of this rubbish, didn’t feature in these pages anything as often as she deserved) and I were standing on a railway bridge over the main railway line from Thessaloniki watching oil train after oil train after oil train heading north.

Greece’s imports of oil tripled during that period.

Claire came on line too and we had a chat for a while. She’s been seriously ill for the last three or four weeks with something that has compounded her underlying health problems but she’s slowly feeling better and in a couple of weeks she might be up and about.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … we’re all pretty much of a similar age and we are all growing old and infirm together.

Something else that I did was to finish off all the notes for the radio programme that I’ve been preparing. I’ll dictate that tonight before I go to bed.

Much of the rest of the time has been spent trying to bring order into chaos and tidying up some of the directories. That’s an ongoing process what with having to merge 30 years-worth of hard drives together and it won’t be finished any time soon either.

There was time to have a good play on the guitars too. A couple of songs that bring back memories of those 3 missing nights in the High Arctic were of course THE FIRST SONG THAT WE SANG TOGETHER.

This was also ANOTHER ONE that we worked on together on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

There were plenty of others too so I’m going to restart my playlist. I even managed to find time to work on the bass lines for WIND UP and, of course, not to mention the track WITH THE GREATEST OPENING 1:20 EVER

Anyway, that’s enough nostalgia for now. I can’t see me ever playing in public again if I can’t ever hold a guitar and I can’t stand up And sitting here with a guitar on my knee means that I can’t sing.

And even if I could sing sitting down with a guitar on my knee, I no longer have the breathing to do it.

What kind of state am I in?

Tea tonight was a breaded quorn fillet with salad and backed potato, delicious as usual. And now I’m going to dictate the radio notes and go to bed.

Tomorrow I have pizza dough to make and I intend to attack the bread and butter pudding to see what damage I can do to that so a good lie-in will do me good.

But we’ll have to see about that. It would be nice if some nice people came to visit me rather than the endless stream of relatives who keep turning up.

Even The Vanilla Queen coming along TO HAUNT ME IN MY DREAMS would be a great improvement. I wonder how things are these days on Baffin Island.

Thursday 16th November 2023 – I AM ABSOLUTELY …

… exhausted.

You have no idea just how tiring even putting away the shopping can be. And what didn’t help was having to clean, dice and blanch 2 kilos of carrots for the freezer.

Actually, today was just one long continuation of how the night had been because at one point I’d been lying awake for several hours in the middle of the night trying to go back to sleep after a really bad attack of cramp.

Last night I tried a new approach.

When my legs were functioning properly, I had some tough rubber bands that I used to build up my leg muscles when I was going running. Last night I dragged one out, put it around my two ankles and went to bed like that.

My nights are really quite mobile, as you can imagine, so while my legs are moving around in my sleep they are actually acting on each other and that might do something about the leg muscles. It can’t do any harm

And it actually seemed to work – ay least, judging by the way my legs were moving during the night.

At some point I must have gone off to sleep because I was flat-out when the alarm went off, and I staggered to my feet before the second alarm.

After the medication and checking the mails I ended up having a chat on the internet with one of my neighbours. There are several things around here that need attention and there will be one or two workmen coming into the building. As I’m here for most of the time these days, would I be a point of contact to let people in and out of the building?

In theory, it’s no problem to me but as usual, it’s the kind of thing that will happen just at the moment when I’m likely to be busy.

Next thing was to order a few things off the internet. Usually I would go to the shops for things like this but even if I could travel there on the bus, I wouldn’t have the strength to bring the stuff home.

Then there was the shopping from Leclerc. And such was my surprise when I found out that this week there were only the pears that weren’t available. I ended up having to take some stuff out of my on-line basket.

There’s a minimum order of €50 for delivery so I have my priority list and my “extras” list and I move things around depending on availability. So when almost everything in my priority list is available, I put some of the “extras” back ready for the next time in case the next order falls short

The problem was that there was no delivery window until the afternoon.

And so what I did was to go through some of the drawers in the kitchen, sort things out and … gulp … throw some things away that I no longer need. I’m clearly not feeling very well.

What prompted this was having ordered some ground ginger 2 weeks ago as I had run out, while I was filling up the cumin seeds last night I found three packets of ground ginger at the bottom of the box in which I keep the spare spices. High time that I sorted that out and made a list of what I have – and what I don’t have.

Luckily I have plenty of Indian spices so I’m not going to be short of spices for a while but with not going to Leuven and “Exotic World” – the Asian wholesalers – any more, things might become complicated in the future.

But anyway, I ended up with one kitchen drawer completely empty, and I have much more of an idea about what’s in stock here. Quite a few people have “made remarks” about the amount of food in stock around here, but there have been several times in the recent past when I have been totally unable do do anything about buying in food and the stock has come in useful.

While I was having a drink I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. There were all kinds of things like food crumbs all over the bed because I’d strapped my legs together and had gone to bed like that so that in the exercise that I’m forced to do during the night, one foot would affect the other and give it a kind of workout. It wasn’t quite as easy as that during the dream because I could hardly move and wasn’t able to tidy up or clean up and the place was deteriorating quite rapidly. I was extremely dismayed but there was nothing much that I could actually do about it.

When I saw my mother gliding across the room I asked her if she was on her way to dictate her first thought of the day, which was a silly thing to do because she replied that it was her second or third. The act of actually asking her made me completely forget what it was that I was going to dictate. But this thing about keeping my legs tied together is working to a certain degree but not to a certain other. I had a terrible attack of cramp in my left leg at that moment but it will ease off after I’ve had a few agonising moments. We’ll see how it goes on.

And later we were building some kind of framework to go in a gap in the bricks, like a window frame. Because I was unable to do anything someone else was helping me. It was so frustrating because he was doing this kind of thing in a very slapdash way trying to cut out lengths of wood with a cheap tooth-saw etc. When it came to trimming 20mm off something or other he did it by eye and it looked as if he was cutting off a whole centimetre. That would have defeated the whole purpose of this framework. In the end I had to stop him. I asked “wouldn’t you be better with a jigsaw doing that?”. He replied “if you have one” so I immediately produced one. Then I produced a battery-powered circular saw and asked “wouldn’t this be any better?”. I sat down and began to measure everything up and put a batten down to follow with the circular saw so that it would cut accurately. I was just so astonished by this guy trying to do this job without measuring properly or without any kind of proper tools – something that was so important.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that my DiY skills are nothing to write home about, particularly right at the beginning when I made a start on rebuilding the farm, but at least I knew how to measure up and cut with guides.

And some of the stuff that I was doing just before I fell ill was really impressive. My bedroom down there was magnificent.

It was really quite funny, actually. When I finished rebuilding the walls and putting the roof on and I began to fit out the attic and I thought that it was really good. But the further on I pressed, the more I wanted to go back to where I started, rip it all out and start again.

That’s one thing that I can say about the farm – I may not have been much good but I certainly learnt a lot.

When the shopping came I was … errr … resting, so it was a rather rapid struggle to my feet to open the door to let him into the building.

After I’d put away the frozen food I attacked the carrots. I hadn’t expected them to be available – the 2kg “econopacks” aren’t there all that often – so I was rather caught unawares. But the big soup tureen thing comes in handy for that.

They also had the econopacks of peppers so one went into the fridge for next Monday and the other was cleaned and trimmed and put in the freezer for another time.

To my surprise, the econopacks of aubergines were availabile too so now that there is some space in the freezer I did something that I haven’t done for ages and made one of my mega aubergine and kidney bean whatsits

There was enough for 5 meals so I had one for tea with pasta and veg, and the other four were packed ready for the freezer.

The freezer is in something of a disreputable state so I took out the vegetable drawer, cleaned it, repaired it and packed everything back in it, including the carrots that I’d blanched. It’s amazing how much room there is in the freezer when you tidy it out.

Here and there, I’ve been editing those radio notes that I dictated before going to bed last night. I was hoping to finish the programme today but I was overwhelmed by events as you can tell.

That should be a task to finish for tomorrow and then I’ll have to start the next one, hopefully to record on Saturday night.

Even though there’s some time before bed though, I’m not going to do it tonight. I’m thoroughly exhausted and after my blackcurrant, honey and lemon I’m off to bed.

While I’m asleep I’ll be trying that trick of the elastic strap around the ankle. Exercising in my sleep seems to be the way to go right now.

Monday 23rd October 2023- I MADE IT …

… in Paris, and I have to say that if I in a cowslip’s bell were to lie I’d probably be more comfortable because there’s no heat in the room.

There was no heat in my apartment this morning either – I’ve not switched it on as yet – but with solid granite walls 1m20 thick, it’s not as important as it would be in some of this jerry-built modern stuff.

And as usual, even though I’d set the alarm for 05:20, I was up and about by 05:00. I always have a bad night when I have to be up early and last night was no exception. I hardly slept at all.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone however. I was in the witness box in Court for some reason, and the subject of Percy Penguin came up. I found it very hard to convince everyone that it was just something to relax and to sit there in the quiet, the reason why I wanted to see Percy Penguin. I had to do everything that I possibly could to try to avoid being rearrested or imprisoned etc while at the same time being frank and open to the Judge. I wasn’t sure how to go about doing it.

Later on we’d been to Nantwich shopping and decided that for once in our lives we’d take a taxi home. Someone in a Ford Cortina estate came to pick us up so we piled in. When we reached where Smiths was in Nantwich by the church the driver stopped to fuel up. Two shots rang out. We don’t know where the first one went but the second one went through the roof of the taxi and hit my mother in the head. The ricochet hit my youngest sister. Immediately, a crowd gathered. I was absolutely appalled so I left the car and shouted at the people “for God’s sake have some dignity and let my mother die in peace”. When the ambulance arrived I took my sister out of the car and tried to clean the blood off her etc. She was crying and really upset. I felt absolutely helpless because I hadn’t any idea at all what to do or what I was going to do.

When I awoke I had another one of those thirsts that you could photograph. I ended up drinking two large mugs of my patent blackcurrant, honey and lemon drink. You can tell that we are approaching winter if I’m back on that.

Next task was to make some sandwiches and to finish the packing. I had planned to have a shower but I didn’t fancy trying to climb in and out of the bath while I’m trying to keep to a tight schedule.

Instead, I had a good strip-down wash and was ready when the car came for me.

On the face of it, it was a good idea to have a car to take me to Paris, because I really couldn’t do it on the train. Not at all. Whether it will be a good idea if I have to end up paying for it is another thing entirely

But the downside was that the car was a SEAT and it had done my back in before we even reached Caen.

The journey went quite well with just one or two hold-ups, and we stopped for 15 minutes for a coffee and pit stop

At the hospital I was shown to my room without even having to check in. And then we had the usual pantomime about trying to fit a catheter in my arm. 2 nurses had a total of 5 goes and it’s still not done.

Next task was to be shoved through one of these Stargate time tunnel things. I had to walk much of the way there and back, which upset me, and then they had to have three goes at passing me though the machine as apparently I was moving my head too much.

Back here again and another nurse had 3 goes at my arm before she could finally take a blood sample.

A couple of doctors have been to see me and discuss my treatment plan, and they have confirmed that my health is deteriorating. They don’t think that I could withstand another series of perfusions and in fact they suspect that that’s why the hospital in Leuven has stopped doing them and has been relying on Aranesp injections

The food is rubbish as usual so my neighbour, who is in Paris this week and popped her head in to see me, says that she will bring me some bananas

So now that everything is finished and the computer is backed up with the latest copies of the files, I’m going to bed. I’m tired after my exertions today and I’ve already crashed out twice, but it’s more to do with the fact that it’s the only way that I can think of right now to keep warm.

Thursday 12th October 2023 – I’VE JUST FOUND …

… myself flat out on the chair asleep. I’ve no idea why but what it probably means that I’m going to have another restless night tonight.

Actually, last night was one of the better nights that I’ve had just recently and I didn’t move around much during the night. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough of it. It was extremely late when I went to bed

You’ve no idea how much of a struggle it was to leave the bed when the alarm went off, but I did manage to beat the second alarm to my feet.

And I was right about what I thought yesterday about the fall that I had making things worse. I can’t walk with just one crutch now, and I can no longer rise up from my knees.

After the medication I came back in here and didn’t do very much for quite a while as I slowly came round into the Land of the Living.

However I was disturbed on several occasions. Firstly the nurse came round. The hospital want me to have a blood test before I go so I had asked him if he would do it. He came round to collect the prescription to check what he needed to bring with him when he comes.

Next was the doctor’s secretary. I’d written to him a few days ago and apparently he wants to come round to see me to discuss the points that I raised. We tentatively arranged Tuesday morning, but that will of course depend on his other commitments.

After that was the cleaner. The forms for this Autonomy service had arrived in my letter box so she brought it up to me. There’s tons of stuff that they need, including bank details and a medical certificate. So I’m glad that my doctor will come round to see me.

There’s something going round in the back of my mind that someone else disturbed me too but I can’t think of who it was.

Despite the much calmer night, there was still some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’d been away for a few days and was coming back home to Virlet in my yellow Cortina estate. When I pulled round at the front of the house there was my mother and some small girls cutting up some firewood, burning brambles etc. My mother looked at me and burst out into a tirade of nonsense about “what on earth am I doing coming home?”. She’s the one who’s supposed to be working tonight. How’s she going to make her money if I keep on taking hours away from her? I didn’t understand anything. I’d been away from home for a few days, I’d just come home and I was going to go to bed, sleep for a week and leave everyone else to do the work as I usually do on a Saturday night. I’d no intention of taking any work away. Instead we had this absolutely hysterical outburst

There was also something about a demonstration taking place going from somewhere in the Midlands to the Isle of Anglesey, coming by Virlet. Out of all the people taking part they had arrested one motorcyclist for something or other. I had a look at his motorbike. It was a big 4-cylinder thing. I tried to climb onto it to sit in the seat but found that I couldn’t. That was when I reluctantly came to the opinion that motorcycling is not going to be for me now.

Next thing to do was to to deal with the correspondence that’s been building up. Some of it is extremely important too and can’t be left loitering around for too long. It was extremely complicated too and involved a lot of research. But now that’s all done and I can take it to the Post Office tomorrow.

That’s one thing to which I’m looking forward about going on the bus to St Nicolas. They have said that the Carrefour is bigger than the one here, it’s much closer to the bus stops, which are both raised to a reasonable height, but the crucial point is that the supermarket, the Post office and a Chemist are all right next door to each other so I don’t have to stagger very far.

There isn’t much time though so I suppose that I’ll be having a coffee in the Agora Centre while I wait for the following bus.

The rest of the day was spent working on another one of the radio programmes for which I dictated the notes at the weekend. That’s all assembled now, and there’s just one of that batch left to do. That’s the task for tomorrow afternoon.

Tea was exciting tonight. To create some room in the freezer I finished off the last slice of the lasagna that I made a while ago. I had with it steamed vegetables and vegan cheese sauce. all of that gave it a certain je ne sais quoi.

So now that I’m awake again I’m off to bed and if I have as good a sleep as I had last night I’ll be more than happy. I just hope that it’s much longer than last night.

Saturday 16th September 2023 – I UPLOADED …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 15th September 2023 – AS BARRY HAY …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 13th September 2023 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hawkfest one is going to be quite interesting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 6th September 2023 – AFTER YESTERDAY’S DISASTER …

… I’ve had a much better day today.

Mind you, having said that, it couldn’t have been any worse at all.

In fact, with a little application I could have been up before the alarm went off because I was awake at 06:56 but I wasn’t quick enough to haul myself out of bed.

When the alarm went off I stirred my stumps and hauled myself out of bed. As expected, it took me an absolute age to bring myself round into the Land of the Living, but at least I managed to have my morning coffee and fruit bun.

Later on, I staggered into the bathroom for a shower in the hope that it might awaken me and whether it did or not, at least I felt better – and cleaner too.

And while we’re on the subject of “cleaner”, I had a lap around the kitchen and dining area to make sure that the cleaner wouldn’t die of fright when she came.

The rest of the day has been spent on the radio programme. I completed the one that has been hanging around for a couple of weeks waiting to be finished, and then I managed to finish off the notes for the next one.

There was even a few moments for me to make some kind of desultory start on choosing the music for a further one.

The cleaner came round this afternoon and attacked the apartment. It’s looking much nicer and cleaner now which makes a change. Although how long it might last like this is anyone’s guess.

I don’t suppose that it will take too long to mess it up. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … my kind of life reminds me of Ezra Pound’s comment about Ford Madox Ford – "Put Ford naked in an empty room and within an hour behold total chaos"

After she left I put the washing machine on. There was some bedding in there from the other week so I put it all on quite a hot heat today to give it a really good and deep washing. Normally I just put everything on a 40°C “mixed fibre” wash but every now and again it needs a little extra.

Having set that off on its way I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And I’d gone quite a distance too. I’d been quite friendly with a girl and decided that I’d ask her out to the cinema or something. We agreed that we’d go out for the Friday night. In the meantime I was very friendly with a girl who worked in the Building Society (as indeed I used to be in real life years ago). I was laughing and joking to her about taking her out. She said “why not?” so we arranged to go out together on the Saturday to the theatre because there was something on. Later on (I’m not sure whether this would be the Saturday) I was with this girl walking through Crewe. She wanted to know about going home. I said that I had my car parked somewhere nearby. She then added “unless you want to go for a walk-around in the woods or something like that. It would be a great place to find some firewood. Do you need any firewood?”. Seeing as she was keen and it was her idea I said “yes, OK” and we walked into the wood, actually down on the west side of the town. We were in the town centre. We had an interesting discussion about Spain and the castles, how in certain circumstances some rebellious knights could be charged with treason for attacking the King but the charge for treason would be raised by the Constable of Spain. That seemed to be a strange situation in which to be, where it was someone else who would be deciding on treasonable activity and not the King. We had a really lengthy discussion about that.

There was another lengthy dream. I’ve forgotten most of it. It was about me owning an electric bus and doing some work in it. We were dividing up a kind-of list of things, ecological things, between us. I asked if I could do the beekeeping. That was agreed but it was disappointing news to someone else who wanted to do it. Later on we were told that we could have an assistant part-time so the lad who was refused the time before when I was given the job came over to me to ask if he could help. Considering that he was interested and seemed to know more about beekeeping that I did, of course I said “yes” because it would be quite useful to have someone who knows his stuff and is keen working with me.

And then we’d been out with my father somewhere around the Audlem way. He had a Rover 2000 estate and we’d gone in that. He was driving extremely quickly. The people whom we went to see were in some way distantly related to me. Another friend of mine was there with us too. He had to go inside to see these people. When he came out ha was going on about how poor they were etc. I don’t think that he realised that they were part of my family. I asked him if there was a weedy man there with a very short, very fat woman to which he replied “yes”. These were of course my uncle and aunt but I didn’t like to say anything to him. We drove back extremely quickly. My father was telling us of a Portuguese guy who lived in the village who had really been something of an odd-job man but had now bought one of the local small businesses and was running that. When we came into Nantwich my father said that it’s probably quicker to go home via Wells Green so we ended up driving through the centre of Nantwich past the bus station.

There was a Court hearing taking place about something or other. I was involved in some kind of abstract way as a potential witness or similar. We were taken in a vehicle to somewhere and left in the vehicle while they went into Court. This went on until about 13:00 when someone came back to tell us that we could go but we needed to come back the next day. So we had to sit in this vehicle again, and no-one came at all. In the end I was outraged and so were the other people sitting in the vehicle. We saw on of the Clerks of the Court walking down the street. I grabbed hold of her and asked her what was going on. We found out that it was 16:00, I’d missed a football match, I’d missed everything. I was really angry and tore strips off this girl. In the end several people came over. They explained that this Hearing was still going on and hadn’t finished. I still couldn’t get over this discourtesy of leaving us sitting here in a car or van in the middle of the town centre while all this was happening. We’d been there for what seemed like 8 hours, no refreshments or anything so I was in an absolutely foul mood. I was tearing shreds off everyone and they were scattering and disappearing. In the end there was someone on the ‘phone and I asked him about what was happening. He said that he was still on the ‘phone to the Court trying to make them hurry up with the case otherwise everyone would be going and the case would collapse. I told him a lot of home truths about my thoughts and opinions on the way that this was going on, how everyone had been treated and I was on my way up the stairs to this ‘phone in the gallery to wrench the ‘phone from his hands to speak myself to whoever it was to whom he was speaking.

That dream was something quite interesting. When I said that I was involved “in some kind of abstract way as a potential witness or similar”, it wouldn’t be anything unusual.

In fact in the Old Days in the Crewe and Nantwich Magistrates Court they had a special term to describe people like me. We were called “The Defendant”.

Some people would even say that I gave the local farces of law and order in South Cheshire a great deal of assistance. They always seemed to be asking me to help them with their enquiries.

Finally, I had another dream that I can’t remember how it began. We had to go somewhere. Someone was having to organise the trip. My mother was somehow involved but she was prevaricating about it and decided that she wouldn’t go. After some discussion I asked her to state unequivocally that she didn’t want to go, which she did so I said to another person “then we can go any time at your convenience then”.

Tea tonight was the remainder of the stuffing lengthened with a small tin of kidney beans, with rice and veg. With a little extra chili added to it, it really was delicious. But, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, my meals might be boring but they are delicious.

There are just a few things to do and then I’m off to bed. Surprisingly, I managed to go the whole day without crashing out and that’s something well-worth noting after yesterday. I hope that I can keep it up for the next few days.

Maybe an early night might help – I dunno. But it can’t do any harm.