Tag Archives: late night

Wednesday 8th May 2024 – IT’S GOING TO BE …

… another late night tonight, if last night wasn’t late enough.

My great little niece (or is it “my little great niece) sat around the dining room table for hours this evening discussing all kinds of things. It’s good to know that it’s not just her sister and I who see things in the same way.

But then that’s what going to University is all about – making you see different things from a real-world perspective rather than a small-minded rural perspective that’s stuck inside a time-warp. For example, those of us who sharpened our claws in some of some of the more confrontational conferences on our University’s debating forum certainly met several new ideas.

The two of us were having a good chat last night too and it wasn’t until quite late that she left. As a result it was about 01:00 when I finally crawled into bed and I’ve a feeling that it’s going to be pretty much the same today.

Once in bed though, I slept the Sleep of the Dead and didn’t show a leg until the alarm went off at 07:00 when I fell out of bed to switch it off.

Having done that I crawled off into the bathroom to prepare myself for the day, and then went for my half-litre of flavoured water and pills.

Once they were out of the way I arranged the dining room for the nurse. When she came round she was able to change the plaster on my wound and fit my puttees. We had the usual apocalyptical warning about what I can and cannot do, to which I took absolutely no notice whatsoever. No-one’s going to chain me up – at least, not without the changing hands of a considerable amount of folding stuff.

After she left I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I was during the night. There was some kind of strange war being fought last night between two groups of people. They were fighting each other quite heavily but there were umpires and judges, everything like that who supervised it. After one game, the fight broke out again. Everyone was fighting, I was busy fighting someone or other and I came across the fact that 30 or 40 of their members had actually come as prisoners on a barge and all of a sudden were now fighting. I thought that that was cheating so I made the point but no-one else took it seriously and began to laugh. I didn’t know at all what to do in this situation

And that’s the kind of chaos with which I’m usually associated. Apart from that, I don’t understand the significance

There was also something about a football team changing its goalkeeper at half-time without notifying anyone but I’ve no idea where that fitted in. I suspect that it might be to do with one of the football matches that I watched at the weekend. Having followed one particular team throughout the season I noticed that they had a goalkeeper of a different ethnic origin between the sticks for the first time at the weekend and that confused everyone, including me.

There was a live football match on the Internet afterwards – the USA women’s team against an Asian side – so for a change I settled down to watch it. Yet, not surprisingly, I fell asleep after 25 minutes. And a real, proper deep sleep too.

As a result I was late for breakfast – A couple of slices of hot, buttered toast with fresh bread and that made me want to eat it again

There were two mugs of hot, strong black coffee too and it’s a total lie about coffee keeping you awake because it didn’t work for me. In fact when my visitor texted me to say she’ll be here shortly I was flat-out away with the fairies.

However I awoke in time and when she arrived we began our little discussion, which went on for a couple of hours. She’d researched the area and the area where I used to live and was able to have a really good conversation.

One thing about her is that she’s definitely her father’s daughter. Strong, determined, self-reliant and confident, and "This new learning" that SO AMAZED KING ARTHUR and which seems to have gripped most of her generation hasn’t reached her yet which is very good news.

After a while she left to go to visit the Dior museum and I came in here to carry on working, selecting the music for the next radio programme.

Not that I got very far. Rosemary rang me and we had a very lengthy chat, putting the World to rights as we usually do, not that the World ever listens to us

We’re both convinced though that there’s a major breakdown in social order in the UK these days and, funnily enough, my little great niece who is wandering around the country on her own for the first time and seeing things from a totally different perspective, happened to mention that very same thing in out discussions.

After Rosemary’s phone call I did a little more work but my visitor returned. We carried on our discussion and I also made a chick pea curry with rice and veg. The soya yoghurt gave the curry a creamy taste and it all went down very well

Our chat continued for ages but after a while with her falling almost asleep on the table she set off back to our hotel and I did the washing up.

She’s on an early train in the morning so won’t have time to come here to say goodbye which is a great pity. I’ve enjoyed seeing her and having her come to visit me. I still can’t get over how quickly she’s grown since she was a tiny dot in my arms 20 years ago in 2003 when I was there in Canada that winter.

So tomorrow I’ll carry on with what I’ve been doing and hope to make some progress. Tomorrow is another day of course but as Kris Kristofferson sang, I’D GIVE ALL MY TOMORROWS FOR A SINGLE YESTERDAY

Yes, especially the days (and nights) when Castor, Zero and TOTGA would come to see me. I can’t remember now who I was with when, the next day someone asked me "who was that lady I seen you with last night?"
"I saw!" I replied. "It’s ‘I saw’!"
"Well OK. Have it your way" he answered. "Who was that eyesore I seen you with last night?"

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

… the dictaphone from last night to transcribe today.

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

It really was a bad night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 25th March 2024 – THE FIRST DAY …

… of my Welsh course went pretty uneventfully today.

There was no-one in the class from any of my old stamping grounds, which was what I suspected and for which I am extremely grateful.

However there is someone on my course with whom I’ve been on a short holiday course before. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … this World is becoming far too small for my liking.

It’s like The Vanilla Queen, for example. Here’s someone who is from an island in the Canadian High Arctic. We bump into each other in Montreal, find ourselves on the same ‘plane to Edmonton, are staying in the same hotel in Edmonton and meet up next down a dirt track in, of all places, Yellowknife in the North West Territories.

Or like when I go away for a week to a remote Canadian village in the north of Quebec along the “Forgotten Coast”, stay in one bedroom in a two-bedroom house and find that the other bedroom is occupied by the solicitor from the next town down from Pionsat.

Sometimes I wonder what is going on in the ether when there seems to be someone somewhere shuffling the pack and moving the cards around.

Last night I was moving around very late after all of the delays and so on that seemed to be happening yesterday. In the end I was glad to be in bed even if there wasn’t going to be too much time to enjoy it.

It was a strange night too. There seemed to be such a lot going on for such a short time and I ended up having a disturbed sleep pattern

When the alarm went off I wasn’t at all ready and I would have given all that I had, and much more besides, to have stayed in bed for another couple of hours.

Nevertheless I hauled myself out and once the room stopped spinning around I took the blood pressure. 16.8/10.0, in contrast to 16.2/9.8 from the previous evening. Something must have wound me up during the night or else it was the disturbed sleep playing tricks.

In the kitchen I sorted out all of the medication and then tidied up the worktop. My hot cross buns are magnificent and I’m really looking forward to eating them, toasted and soaked in butter, but for now they are crammed into an airtight tin where they will remain until the Easter period.

Having done that I prepared the stuff for the nurse and it was just as well because he was early today and I didn’t even have time for a wash.

He did his stuff and that’s the last of him that I’ll see for a week. It’s his sidekick now for the next 7 days and I hope that she’s in a better humour than when she was here last.

Back in there I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. We were in the USA. My family was actually working as prison guards. If I wanted to see them I had to go to the prison and be grilled and generally quizzed over everything before I’d be allowed inside. This went on for ages that I’d come and go and see how they were etc. Then of course I became ill which meant that I couldn’t live on my own. It was coming towards the final situation when they told me that I’d have to move back. I decided to go back to the family for the last while so I was saying goodbye to a friend outside the prison. She watched me prepare and I made a gesture to the guards. One of them came over to find out why and I told her that I needed to be accompanied to go back into the prison because of my state of health. She accompanied me over the road bridge that they had there, through the first of the checkpoints and into the prison itself where everyone waiting. This went on several times and with each step I was becoming weaker and weaker.

So now you know the reason for the raised blood pressure. Firstly, the family put in an appearance and secondly, I was slowly shuffling off this mortal coil.

And that reminds me – I must do something about my end-of-life directive. One of the reason why I was being treated in Belgium for my illness was because I could choose the moment when I have had enough, without having to cling on to the bitter, painful and undignified end.

That’s not possible in France unfortunately but still I need to make everyone aware of my intentions. There must be some way of making sure that I make it to Switzerland or Belgium when the time comes and I need to begin to investigate the options and possibilities

One thing is absolutely certain though, and as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … having sat by the side of someone whom I liked for several months and watched her slowly die, that’s something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone else, from the point of view of the sitter or the sittee.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed so having made good my escape I set off cross-country. I’d gone maybe 3 or 4 miles before I was grabbed by the ankle and pulled in towards a person hiding in a hedge. It turned out to be someone to do with the regional hostel. This person had me in a compromising position moving me onto one side, and running their hands all over me. Then being certain of who I was she radioed back to base and told her that there was a witness. The other girl was comfortable about who was in the way so I was marched over to where the other girl was. They held me upright and questioned me in front of this girl. They asked her if she recognised me at all. Of course she did and they told her that they could avenge her together

And I wish that I’d recorded the rest of that because it sounded so interesting. It’s a shame that I’ve missed off the front somehow but what goes on during the night is way beyond my comprehension.

Then we had a dream where a young boy was chasing a mother’s young daughter around. The mother decided to intervene because it was going to be rather too much. However it seemed that her daughter was apparently enjoying the attention that she was receiving from this young boy before the mother intervened.

And that’s usually the case too. Girls complaining about boys chasing them around, and then complaining when their mothers stop the boys from doing it. At least, that’s how it used to be when I was that age. It’s probably all totally different now and I’d be completely politically incorrect

In my day though, we used to play “hide and seek”. But in my case, I’d go off and hide in a cupboard and the others would never come to look for me.

Later on I had the works’ Ford Escort estate and was driving around in it when the exhaust fell off. I was in such a bad situation at work that I didn’t want to tell anyone about it so I pretended that nothing had happened and put it inside the car thinking that I’d do something at the weekend. Then there was an issue with the radio. That was irritating and annoying too. These 2 issues together would combine to make a big problem at work for me with this car. I didn’t say anything to anyone and resolved to put an exhaust on it myself and do it as soon as possible when I could get away from the office. All of a sudden there was a job at 16:30 – one of the officials wanted bringing back so at least I could dispose of the exhaust. I went to Barlow Brothers. They had a scrapyard that was at a traffic island that was about 2.5 miles down a certain lane. As I turned in I saw one of the brothers so I stopped for a chat with him. He said that I could dump it more-or-less where I was. I dropped it off and he made a few remarks. I asked if he had a good one second-hand. He said no, he was selling them all for racing cars. He let me have one anyway which we fitted. It sounded very rich and looked strange on the vehicle …fell asleep here

We did have a Ford Escort estate at work and it was just used in and around Brussels and had never ever been anywhere in its whole life.

One day when my car was being serviced and there were documents to take to Luxembourg I took the Escort. It ran pretty badly for about 150 kilometres when suddenly there was a “bang”, a huge cloud of black smoke for a moment, and then it ran like a dream afterwards. Nothing like a good run to burn out all the carbon coking up the cylinders.

There was also a scrapyard in Crewe called Barlow Brothers. As well as the usual run-of-the-mill stuff they had piles of interesting stuff like several Ford V8 Pilots, a Daimler ambulance and so on. I tried for years to prise a Mark II Zephyr estate, rare as hen’s teeth, out of them with no success.

It was run by two brothers, identical twins, which was very confusing if you were trying to carry on a conversation that you’d had the last time that you were there.

There was a whole lot more of stuff too but you don’t really want to know about it, especially if you’re eating your meal. I told you that it was a disturbed night

Having done that I prepared for the lesson and having made my coffee and grabbed a slice of flapjack we began. There are eight of us students in the class which is rather strange because I don’t think that any of us actually comes from Caerfyrddin. We seem to be scattered all around North-West Europe.

Several people, including Yours Truly, are from the north of Wales and that makes things confusing for everyone. I know that I’ve put my foot in it a couple of times and said “Gyda” and “Rwan” instead of “Efo” and “Nawr”.

The tutor though is really quiet and I have a hard time hearing him. He also has these silent pauses that seem to last for ever and make you think that his screen has frozen.

However, I’m not complaining. At least I’m on a course that will hopefully keep my wheels oiled.

After the course (during which I almost crashed out once or twice) I went for my hot chocolate. And then riding the porcelain horse afterwards I actually DID crash out, and even imagined someone bringing round a pile of meals on a large tray. That was strange.

While we’re on the subject of meals … "well, one of us is" – ed … my stuffed pepper was delicious tonight. I seem to have grasped the hang of cooking it in the air fryer.

So having washed my puttees and written up my notes I’ll do the rest of the chores and then go to bed.

Day Two of my lesson tomorrow and I hope that it’s as interesting as today’s. At least with only 8 students, we have plenty of participation time and that’s a big plus

And there are several reasons why it’s so good to go to live in Switzerland. The flag is a big plus, for a start.

I’ll get my coat.

Friday 22nd March 2024 – I’M NOT HAVING …

… much luck with my footfest this weekend. Cymru’s Under-21 match against Lithuania isn’t being streamed on a foreign carrier either tonight.

It’s just my luck, after last night’s stunning victory of the senior team against Finland following on from Cymru’s “C” team against England on Wednesday night. I was really looking forward to some football tonight. Watching Stranraer slump to a controversial 2-1 defeat to Elgin City on the swamp that is Stair Park was hardly any compensation

It’s been a really long time since I was at Stair Park – almost 50 years in fact. I was coming off the ferry from one of my trips to Northern Ireland when I saw crowds (well, perhaps not “crowds”) of people heading all in one direction, all wearing blue and white scarves. So I had to follow them to see what was going on, as if I didn’t know.

It’s so long ago now that I can’t remember who they were playing. Probably someone like Arbroath or Montrose or something. And as I don’t have my photos here from that period, I can’t even tell you the colours. But one thing that I can tell you is that the ground hasn’t changed one iota in that time. It still looks the same as it did back then.

Mind you, that’s a relief. The Taylor Report swept away many traditional football grounds and with football attendances in Scotland being what they are, we were left with far too many of these modern, soulless one-sided wonders with “room to build the other three sides when attendances improve”.

Yes, quite.

The problem in Scottish football can be summed up in two words, “Celtic” and “Rangers”.

Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous versions will recall that I stood outside Albion Rovers’ ground in Coatbridge where the average attendance was about 300 watching busload after busload of people wearing green and white or blue and white scarves all heading into Glasgow.

And then I was at Broadwood in Cumbernauld once watching a game between Glasgow Rangers reserves v Celtic reserves, both teams full of players that would have been a boon and an asset to any other club in Scotland. Rangers and Celtic had signed them not because they needed them but because they didn’t want any other club to have them and become a competitive threat.

And absolutely nothing whatever has changed, except that Albion Rovers have been relegated from the Scottish pyramid into the Lowland League. But as former Spurs manager Terry Venables once famously said, "if history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again"

However, I digress … "again" – ed

Last night was another one of those nights where I couldn’t tear myself out of my chair and into bed. It was something like 01:30 when I finally moved a muscle and set about doing my nightly chores. I’ve absolutely no idea what’s happening to me right now about this.

Anyway it was another really deep sleep like last night where I can’t remember a single thing until the alarm went off

When it awoke me I really was dead to the world and I had quite a battle to raise myself from the dead. They talk about “the quick and the dead” in Biblical terms but there was nothing whatever quick about it.

First thing was to check the blood pressure. 15.9/100, pretty similar to last night’s 16.0/10.1, taken when I was feeling rather stressed out trying to exert myself to go to bed. So what was winding me up during the night?

Anyway I wandered off into the kitchen to sort out the medication. I’m beginning to run low on certain things again – just supplies of a few of the tablets for a couple of weeks. I need to keep an eye on everything to make sure that I don’t run out.

Next task was to make the bread. And I put a lot of thought and effort into this lot and tried my best to knead it correctly, which is not easy.

After that I went for a good wash, scrub up and shave and all of that kind of thing, as well as washing to shorts that I’ve started to wear in bed. But I didn’t get as far as I would have liked because for once in his life the nurse was here early.

When he came in, he saw the bread buns slowly rising, said “oh look, bread!” and poked one, which promptly sank

He eventually managed to find a vein and extract some blood. And I’ve had the results already. The red blood count is slowly rising, which is no surprise given the amount of stuff they are injecting into me every Wednesday, but so is the carcinogenic protein. It should be between 59 and 104 and it’s increased from 267 to 275.

So if the red blood cells are increasing, what is the protein attacking? The answer is that it’s now attacking the platelets. They should be between 140 and 380 and they have decreased from 108 to 92. That would seem to indicate that the cancer is now moving into my bone marrow.

So what’s the next move going to be? Someone will tell me something in due course, I imagine.

Having switched off the heating in the apartment, I checked the bread again and it had risen really well and for once I was impressed, especially as I’m making hot cross buns on Sunday and I need some confidence and encouragement.

The bread baked perfectly too, lovely and soft. It made some really nice cheese on toast and there is bread for the next couple of days too

Later on today I went to pay the Property Taxes on my place in Canada. I tried for an age unsuccessfully to log into my bank account, only to discover that I was trying to access Scotia Bank Trinidad and Tobago rather than Scotia Bank Canada.

Once I’d found the correct bank, everything went really smoothly. I do like how easy it is to make payments and so on in the Canadian banking system

It’s not so easy making payments on-line in France to the French Government.

The French Government has at long last started a system of on-line payments where you can pay your bills via internet rather than sending a cheque. I went to set it up for me this afternoon, but it’s not easy.

The logical way to organise payments is to index everything by reference to a person’s identity card number, so you can log in, see your account, see what’s owing and pay it off all at once with just one payment.

Instead, everything is indexed by invoice number, so if you have more than one bill to pay, as I did, you have to log in more than once, entering all of your details, including card details, more than once, and it takes an age.

What makes life even more complicated is that it asks you to enter certain details from the invoices into certain boxes on the computer screen, and the names don’t correspond. You have to use some intuitive guesswork to figure it all out.

But what am I going to do about my place in Canada?

it was an inspired decision to buy it because all you need when dealing with Canadian administration is a Property Tax Assessment. I could open bank accounts, buy pick-ups, obtain insurance, have mobile phones, all of that, simply on production of a Property Tax Assessment and it eased my passage (if you’ll pardon the expression) around Canada.

But I’m never going to use it now and it’s just going to sit there with the apples falling off the trees year after year until the cows come home unless my niece goes up there to pick them up.

But while we’re talking about Canada … "well, one of us is" – ed … I wonder how Strider is getting on with his new owners. We travelled miles together, him, me and STRAWBERRY MOOSE. I hope that they are looking afer him.

And that reminds me – I told my niece to dispose of most of the stuff that was in there – tools, camping gear, expedition equipment and so on – but there was a Fender bass and amp in there that I used that I wanted her to keep for me. I need to think of a way of bringing them over here.

The cleaner came round this afternoon for her Friday cleaning spot, bringing my mushrooms and tomatoes with her. I retreated into my bedroom while she was here but I actually had a fall while I was in the bathroom. Luckily the chair was in my way and I fell onto that, otherwise it could have been nasty

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too, surprisingly. I had several Ford Corsairs in my drive last night. One of them was driven away and I can’t remember where it went. Someone else borrowed a set of my number-plates but hadn’t brought them back and I was becoming rather concerned about that. Anyway there was some more car-swapping that needed to be done. I had to bring another Ford Cortina into my drive. That was parked in Gainsborough Road so I had to go down there to it, start it and bring it back. That was a Safari Beige colour but I was thinking that if I were to paint it blue I could put on the number-plates that this guy had borrowed because they belonged to a blue estate. I could make a set of plates but what would be the position if someone saw both vehicles, mine and the one on which presumably the guy had put the plates, and noticed that there were two vehicles with the same set of plates? What would my neighbours say if I were to turn up with yet another car after I’d just had one taken away somewhere? I got into the Cortina Estate. The clutch was right down on the floor and it was difficult to start. I thought that I better hadn’t leave vehicles lying around for so long without actually starting them up otherwise I’m just going to make myself a lot of problems

This is something of a recurring dream, isn’t it, having Cortinas scattered all around the town. It’s just like in real life when I actually did, including a beige Cortina estate and a blue one too.

But swapping over number plates from one car to another? And VIN plates too? I look back on those years with amazement and wonder how on earth I managed to keep clear of some serious trouble. Six months at Her Majesty’s Pleasure would have been nothing. I had to stop and leave the country because those years were catching up on me rather rapidly

My excuse was though that when you are up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to realise that you are really trying to drain the swamp. Taking drastic and rapid steps to solve short-term issues can lead to some really long-term problems further down the line.

It’s a surprise though having Ford Corsairs around the place for a change. I didn’t think that it would be too long though before a Cortina or two appeared.

So this afternoon I’ve chosen some more music for another radio programme and began to pair it off before tea but I ran out of time, mainly due to going away with the fairies for an hour or so. And miles away too, it has to be said.

But tea was lovely – the last Kale and Quinoa burger from Noz, and I’ll have to find a way of making those because they were nice, especially in breadcrumbs.

Last of the home-made mayonnaise too, although it might not have been had I used a more convenient container. Still, you live and learn.

However, the mayonnaise was an unqualified success. It was too thick and I’d used too much garlic, but those are minor problems. The principle was perfect and tomorrow, I’ll make some more, having learned from my first batch.

So what with that and making hot cross buns on Sunday it looks as if I’m going to be in for a busy weekend. And it’ll do me good right now because I seem to be doing too much of nothing right now.

So what else can I make while I’m at it? I shall have to pick Liz’s brains, and I’ll welcome any suggestions from anyone else too

But before I go, the story of my mayonnaise in the wrong bottle reminds me of that aerosol that came onto the market in the 70s. The publicity for it went something like "enough paint to cover 70 square metres of panelling"
And someone wrote underneath the advert "and enough propellant to get just about a quarter of it out of the can"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 18th March 2024 – I’M SUPPOSED TO …

… be going to Paris tomorrow for a visit to the opthalmologists’s at the hospital.

When I was at the hospital just now I mentioned that this blurred vision that I’m having right now is interrupting just about everything that I do.

It’s not just blurred vision either but for objects close too, I’m actually seeing double. Double just about everything, except my bank account, that is. You try watching a football match on the internet when you see it like that.

At least that explains why there are so many tpying errors and faults in the speling. I’m not able to poof-read what I type because I can’t see it.

However, there is absolutely no chance whatever of me being anywhere near Paris tomorrow. For a start, I need a bon de transport for the trip, which they never sent, and then the trip needs to be approved by the Social Services.

And then I need to book a car to take me, always assuming that there’s one available at short notice and always assuming that the trip is approved.

Approval won’t be for a couple of weeks, so that immediately rules out any possibility whatever of going tomorrow.

How I found out was by reading my text messages this afternoon. No-one called me or spoke to me. The message just appeared and I didn’t notice it until it was far too late to ring up to cancel it

It goes without saying that I’m impressed, as I always am, with the speed of reaction of the French Health Service, but I can see that I’m going to have to train the hospital much better than this. At Castle Anthrax, for example, we finally managed, after much trying, to synchronise the appointments so that they all took place while I was there at Haematology. I need to do the same here.

In theory, seeing as I’m going on a day visit and carrying no luggage, I could attempt the train and have help to see me to and from a taxi in Paris but firstly, I need at least 24 hours notice to apply for the service. Secondly, with these puttees on my feet I can’t wear my shoes and thirdly, I have a Welsh class tomorrow.

In other words, it’s a total non-starter.

There will probably be a rude message for me later on tomorrow, rather like the time that I was late for work.
"You should have been here at 09:00" shouted the boss
"Why?" I asked. "What happened?"
After a few weeks he called me into his office.
"You are coming into the office later and later" he said
"I do actually make up for it" I said
"How’s that?" he asked
"Well look how early I leave for home!"

But problems with my vision will probably explain why I’m having trouble finding my bed.

Last night was another 02:30 switching off of the computer. I was actually really tired but far too tired to stir my stumps and rise up from my chair. It’s been a few times that that’s happened and I really don’t know what to do about it.

What I probably need to do is to force myself and make an effort, but that’s easier said than done. I have said before that I have so many things to do but keep on forgetting to do them. Actually, the problem is that I have so many things to do but can’t find the effort or the motivation.

It’s not just my dreams that are going through my death-throes, it’s me, I reckon, and I’m taking my dreams with me as I go.

When the alarm went off you can’t imagine (well, actually I suppose that you can) the struggle that I had to leave the bed. I managed to beat the second alarm but it was just like the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo and "the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life".

First things first, and I did manage to remember the blood pressure – 14.8/8.2 this morning, down from 15.8/10.0 when I’d checked it before going to bed.

After the medication I went into the bathroom and had a really good wash and scrub up in the hope that it might awaken me but it didn’t seem to work. I was in no fit state to do anything.

When the nurse came to see me, I got my own back. Taking off my puttees last night I lost one of the clips, so when she came in this morning I said "You’re going to have a go at me again today"
"I didn’t have a go at you yesterday" she said
"Yes you did" I insisted. "But anyway, taking of my puttees last night I lost one of the clips"
And she was quite nice about it.

But I certainly saw a side of her yesterday that I had never suspected.

But she’s off now for a rest and it will be her sidekick for a week starting tomorrow. He’s the one who can’t ever find a vein in my arm for his blood sample so on Wednesday we’ll probably have a “discussion” about that too.

After she left I came back in here but really I was in no fit state to do any work. In fact I missed my morning coffee and lunchtime fruit because I couldn’t find the enthusiasm to leave my chair.

It was late afternoon when I finally moved and went for some hot chocolate – the first food or hot drink that I’d had all day.

My cleaner came in the stuff that had finally arrived at the pharmacy, and we had a chat. I gave her a shopping list of things that I need from LeClerc tomorrow that they won’t deliver, and she photographed a couple of bottles and jars as an aide-memoire

An energy drink later on did something for me, and I transcribed the dictaphone notes, such as there were from such a sad night. The tenant of one of my apartments wanted my friend to meet two new sub-locataires but she didn’t have the slightest bit of interest whatever in seeing them and felt that the management of the property in their respect should fall on the guy who’s leasing it rather than whoever was the principal leaseholder . She didn’t have the slightest wish whatever to become involved in his sub-letting.

Although I dictated that it was my apartment, it actually belongs to the friend who was included in the dream. She owns a couple of apartments and is actually, even as we speak, having issues with one of her tenants and the management company involved that are on the verge of escalating.

But the whole letting industry in the UK is all descending into total chaos anyway. A property that was completely rewired five years previously failed its electrical certificate at next renewal.
"Why was that? What was wrong with it after five years?"
"Well, nothing actually, but standards have now changed and what was good enough five years ago is no longer adequate"
"So you’d better have someone fix it for me"
"We would have already done it, but we can’t find any tradesmen to do it."
Conversations like that actually do take place.

There was time to finish off the radio programme that I started yesterday (apart from dictating and editing the notes that I wrote for the final track) before going for my stuffed pepper. Quite delicious again. The couscous instead of the quinoa or bulghour works really well.

Plenty of stuffing left for my taco roll tomorrow and there will probably be some for the basis of a leftover curry too on Wednesday.

But that’s Wednesday. Right now I’m going to make a huge effort and go to bed. Walter Reisch said "tired minds don’t plan well. Sleep first, plan later" and he’s not wrong. The way that I feel, I couldn’t even plan a whatsit in a wherever right now.

It’s more a case of Maccbeth and "to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day" and as everyone knows, after my experiences in the High Arctic, I’LL GIVE ALL MY TOMORROWS FOR A SINGLE YESTERDAY

Tuesday 5th March 2024 – I’M NOT GOING …

… to have a mechanical aid fitted, so I’m told. I imagine that the mention of such a device in the letter that I’d received was just something to tempt me to turn up.

It certainly had me puzzled though as to what it might have been and I bet that it had a few of you scratching your heads too.

First things first though.

There were a few things that needed doing last night and as a result I was once more rather late for bed. Very late in fact, so I didn’t have as much sleep as I would have liked.

Rather less, in fact, than it might seem because it was another night like the previous one where I was tossing and turning around for quite a while

But when the alarm went off I rolled out of bed and had a search for the blood pressure tester. 14.9/8.5 this morning, compared to 17.1/10.6 from the previous evening. What had made me so worked up yesterday evening then?

On that note I went off and organised the medication for today, checked all of my papers, had a wash and waited for the car to come for me.

It eventually turned up and I was able to have a lift down into town and the Centre de Re-education.

After quite a wait she eventually saw me. We discussed my medical case, she inspected my legs and prescribed an ecograoh and 30 sessions of physiotherapy; transport included. I can see that I’m going to be a busy boy.

Back here I managed the stairs fine, so I’ll give them a couple more goes before deciding whether or not to resume shopping on Friday. I’m longing to get out and about and go for a bus trip and my morning coffee, but it’s no good if I have difficulty coming back home again

By the time that I’d made my coffee and warmed my fruit bun my Welsh lesson had started so I joined in. And it wasn’t as successful as the previous couple, mainly no doubt due to the fact that I hadn’t prepared for it

That’s something that I really should have done last night, knowing that I wouldn’t be here this morning. But even if I had, I wouldn’t have remembered any of it.

And then I had to listen to the dictaphone. I know that there’s some stuff on there from the night because I remember having to search for the batteries while I was asleep. Yes – I can do that too.

So anyway something must have happened to have made the King of France, whoever it was … "if she was Aliénor d’Aquitaine, it was Louis VII" – ed … dispose of his wife Aliénor as quickly and dramatically as possible because when I fell asleep all I could see was the flash of an explosion – a metaphorical explosion and him waving his arms around driving her away out of hid palace. It must have been a famous eruption for him to have disposed of Aliénor like that.

And if it was indeed Louis VII and Aliénor of Aquitaine, there really must have something of an explosion when their marriage was over because she went off and married the prince who was to become Henry II of England. She took with her the province of Aquitaine and thus the seeds of the Hundred Years War were sown

With Louis, Henry and Aliénor all having met in France very shortly before the separation, there must have been something going on of which Louis suddenly became aware. Their marriage was described as “shaky” anyway, but that would be nothing unusual in those days and no cause for alarm.

Mind you, you can’t blame Henry. Even though he was 9 years or so younger than Aliénor. The Carmina Burana, a contemporary manuscript discovered several centuries later writes
" Si tout l’univers était mien
Depuis l’Océan jusqu’au Rhin
J’y renoncerais avec joie
Pour pouvoir tenir dans mes bras
La reine d’Angleterre"

“If all the Universe was mine , from the ocean to the Rhine, I’d give it up with pleasure to be able to hold the Queen of England in my arms”. Sounds rather like me with either Castor, Zero or TOTGA.

And then one of the teams in the feeder leagues had been promoted to the Premier League so there was a big discussion about the kind of players that they needed to sign. One or two suggestions were made but I wasn’t very happy with either of them although I liked the full-back whose name had been bandied around by the club. In the Premier League games themselves I found that they were defending too far back towards their own goal and the back line could be pushed forward another 20 yards to make an effective stopping zone for everything to happen but it took a while to convince the managers concerned

And that reminds me of that dreadful game in the summer between TNS and that Swedish team whose name I forget … "it was BK Hacken" – ed … when they camped out on the edge of their own penalty area and waited for the opposition to attack them – with the inevitable results.

Later on I was up on the Scottish Borders again … "again" – ed … Someone – it might have been Claude – had given me the surround for an electric fire and it had an image of all these coal-fired electric fires that lit up when you plugged it into the mains. I’d given it to the people up there to put next to heir coal fire. It meant a complete redesign of their living room which was a work in itself, disturbing the children and everything. In the end we managed to make it fit on the wall right next to their coal fire. I have to say that it did look impressive even though we’d had to shorten it somewhat. It made that area look so much nicer. But as usual there were all kinds of debates, discussions and complications that went on up there about all kinds of various things, very little of which had to do with anything. There was also a meeting of the folk festival committee so we had to go down to the village hall as well for a discussion. I remember that the trip between the house and the village hall was nothing like the real trip with the house being situated several miles outside the village. It was much closer than that in the dream.

And I’ve no idea why this area should suddenly have come into my subconscious. None at all. Apart from the fact that ONE OF MY THESES FOR MY DEGREE was based on that area, the only person who ever meant anything to me out of that crowd has been pushing up the daisies for a considerable period of time now.

I wonder – did I dictate that load of nonsense about a song and a guitar that I dreamed that I was dictating stuff for the radio programme and it was all coming out absolute nonsense and I couldn’t remember half the names of the groups … "no you didn’t" – ed …. I had Adrian Gurvitz and the Adrian Gurvitz Army doing something at one point but I’m sure he’s never appeared on any of my programmes… "he hasn’t" – ed … I remember thinking as I was dictating that this is a total load of nonsense and it’s never going to work – me dictating a radio programme in my sleep.

Yes, another dream in which I was dreaming that I was dreaming. It’s al good stuff, isn’t it? Mind you, as for dictating nonsense, it’s par for the course, isn’t it? Even I don’t understand it, and I’m the one talking about it all.

And as it happens, I agree that my radio stuff is nonsense. What I’ve been doing this afternoon is going through the notes for the two programmes that I dictated on Saturday night and rewriting them. They were absolutely dismal, with all kinds of errors. There really are times when this medication is totally screwing up my mind.

However, I’ve been typing – and talking – nonsense for all these years. Why blame it on the medication now?

The cleaner came by and brought some more soya yoghurt as I’m almost out.

And I let her photograph the jar of tahini that I finished yesterday, so that she knows what she’ll be looking for at the shops. Two jars of that in stock will keep me going with hummus for quite a while and we’ll keep the vampires and werewolves away for quite a while.

But there’s been quite a storm about the decline in standards of English grammar with the remake of that old film "I Were A Teenage Waswolf"

Tea tonight was a delicious taco roll with rice and veg, with the last of the rice pudding for a while seeing as I now have sufficient stocks of soya desserts. But the rice pudding was really nice and made a pleasant change.

So tomorrow I have the injection, the blood test and I wonder what will happen next. It’s been a couple of weeks since they last changed my medication and we can’t go on like this. The cleaner hasn’t been there for a fortnight and I’m sure that she’s missing the journey.

It’s a good job that she goes and not me. I went there once and asked for a packet of condoms
"What would you like?" she asked. "Normal, ribbed, extra-sensory or multi-coloured?"
"I’ll have a pack of the multi-coloured, I reckon"
Nine months later I went back in and asked the pharmacist
"I’d like to buy a maternity dress for a friend, please?"
"Certainly, sir" she said. "What bust?"
"The red one" I replied.

Sunday 18th February 2024 – MY HOME – MADE …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that was rather confusing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That will be tomorrow morning’s job.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But retournons à nos moutons as they say around here.

Last night, I couldn’t go to bed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 12th February 2024 – BYD BACH!

Yes, what a small world!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 1st February 2024 – I HAD A …

… visitor last night.

There I was, tucked well up under the bedclothes but in my head I could see my bedroom door

And then in came Zero

Whether or not I was dreaming, or whether or not I was hallucinating after taking another dose of that horrible sand-like medicine I really don’t know. It could have been either, I suppose

All that I could say is that it wasn’t for real. And isn’t that a shame?

It’s been a while since she put in an appearance. Apart from Castor who featured in a little voyage, the first for quite a while, a couple of weeks ago, my three favourite young ladies seemed to have fallen out of the picture.

Several others, such as The Vanilla Queen, have long ago dropped off the edge of whatever it is that goes on at night and I really would be disappointed if Castor, TOTGA and Zero were to go the same way, so it’s really nice to see Zero back in the fold again.

But while we’re on the subject of last night … "well, one of us is" – ed … instead of the nice early night that I promised myself, I ended up spending almost an hour cleaning the heads of a printer. How long should it take to print a medical prescription of one page of A4?

Having crashed out well and proper after tea, I was already running far later than I intended and that was the last thing that I needed.

And so in bed there I was and my mind was a-roving like it does. I was at work and one of my colleagues, a big aggressive guy, was complaining about one of our other colleagues who would never come when he was called. You had always to go to fetch him and he never seemed to be awake. This guy said “he’ll soon be awake in a minute. I’m going to sort him out”. He strode off down to the other end of the office. All of a sudden I heard my alarm go off and the strident tones of Billy Cotton, minus Band Show, shouting “WAYKEY WAY …… KAY!” followed by the opening bars of “Somebody Stole My Gal” just like he used to do on the radio when we were kids. I thought to myself “God! It’s not me he’s talking about, is it?”.

Yes, that’s my alarm call in the morning. I used to have David Bowie and WAKE UP LITTLE SLEEPY-HEAD but I’d sleep through that. No danger of anyone sleeping through Billy Cotton – not even my neighbours.

So having discovered that that was actually a dream, I fell out of bed and went for the blood pressure machine. A mere 17.8/12.7 this morning, compared to 17.6/10.1 last night. Obviously Billy Cotton gives me quite a jolt in the morning.

Mind you, having said that, I took last night’s blood pressure before I had the printer issues. I wonder what it would have been like afterwards.

In the kitchen, I had the medication – the last of this SODIUM POLYSTYRENE SULPHIDE and it really does say “polystyrene” on the label.

Last night I sent a mail to the hospital to say that if they wanted me to continue to use it they would have to send a repeat prescription, but they haven’t so it looks for the moment as if that’s it.

So it will be interesting to see if that’s the drug that’s causing me all these problems, or whether it’s one of the other new ones.

But on the other hand, thanks to my poor cleaner, there’s another new medication to start taking tomorrow, so that’s bound to stir up the deck a little.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night, because there was more than just Zero and a rude awakening. There was another long dream that seemed to go on for ever about me playing bass in a band. We were supporting Hawkwind. A little later on I’d had my illness and Hawkwind held a benefit concert for me. Things were slowly deteriorating and I’d been called back to the hospital again. They were to review all of my medication and change some of it. That didn’t bother me because it’s not the first time. When I went back in there was a football match on TV. I was back in at a certain time but they were running hours late so I had to amuse myself during this particular time. On the TV was a football match between Crewe Alexandra against someone. It was a match that I really wanted to see. Crewe played really well and in the end won 3-1. It was extremely important because it kept their place alive in the promotion. Then it was one of these films in black and white, cowboys from the 1930s and 40s with John Wayne, but first a film that actually went back further than that to the date of American independence about them being in forts and travelling from one fort to the next. I really can’t remember much more than this about this dream but it went on for ever.

We also has the European Union launching a space rocket. We were involved in the final preparations for its departure. There was no actual countdown as such which surprised us completely because everyone would like to know how long they have to do various jobs. We were working away and occasionally a voice would announce “20 minutes to blast-off” or something but there was no clock, no person giving the time and we had no idea what was happening. In the end we had everything ready and were waiting for the astronauts. Of course one of them had to use the bathroom, didn’t he? That was when the timing became critical. he really had to rush and even the person who said “10 seconds to blast-off” made some kind of remark. In the end he must have been back because ignition took place on time and the rocket left.

On the subject of rockets, the British had a space rocket at one time and it was called “The Civil Servant”. When asked why it was given the name, a Government spokesman replied "it costs the country a fortune, it won’t work and we can’t fire it"

Somewhere along the line there was a young girl who somehow managed to fall into a lake. There were two of us walking through the park talking and we dived in, rescued her and put her back on land. We just carried on walking and didn’t think anything of it. A week or so later Nerina was talking about a colleague of hers who worked at the Council who had been fired because he’d been messing up all the street names. For example, Edleston Road in Crewe he’d now changed to Market Street but Market Street was somewhere else in the town. It was all starting to become crazy. In the end he was fired. Nerina told me a story about how he was painting the yellow lines marking the edge of pavements in the wrong place. On one occasion he’d put them so wrong at a lake that a girl had fallen in and two men had rescued her. I told her that that was us, me and the other person. She was totally surprised about that. She had no idea that I’d dived into the water to save someone.

This reminds me of a time when Nerina saved me from drowning when I once fell into a lake. When her friends asked her how, she replied "Simple. I took my foot off his head".

There was much more to what went on during the night, by the way, but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your meal right now

After my nice strong black coffee and slice of bread pudding I attacked the Isle of Wight Festival 1968.

Much to my surprise, not only did I manage to track down tons of obscure material by many of the obscure bands that was there, I even found, embedded in a documentary, an elusive 40-second piece of music, the only known recording of the only known concert appearance by a group the basis of which went on to be “Queen”.

You’ve no idea how difficult that was to tease out of its setting, not being helped by being interrupted by my cleaner who brought me another lot of medication.

There was nothing whatever by the group that opened the Festival, an obscure isle of Wight band that didn’t last long and disappeared without trace long before portable home taping. However I found the name of the band’s guitarist and even found a short guitar piece that he played as an advert for a local pub on the island. So that’s in the mix too.

And then I found a major issue. Even though the Festival was officially advertised for the Saturday and Sunday, there were two bands that played on the Friday night to the assembled campers there so I can’t really say that the Festival started on the Saturday morning.

That means that what I’ve done so far will have to wait for another … gulp … five years.

So instead I began to prepare another programme for the missing date. I’ve chosen all of the music for it and even paired some of it off. I would have done even more except that, once more, I was out like a light with no warning whatsoever at about 17:00 and didn’t come round until 18:48 – and then I was in no fit state to do anything for a while.

Tea tonight was different. I have tons of tinned food around the place that I bought when I first moved in here as a kind of emergency reserve if I can’t manage to go out due to illness. It’s now becoming rather well out-of-date so tonight I made myself pasta with a tinned kind-of complement to a dish of couscous and meat.

Of course it wasn’t that simple. I friend some onion and garlic with herbs and spices and then added the couscous vegetables with some tomato sauce before I tipped it into the saucepan with the pasta.

There are chickpeas in the mix so there is some protein going in.

As I use up the tinned stuff I’ll be replacing it with more modern in-date food, but the stuff that I bought from Noz is irreplaceable of course so I don’t know what I’ll do about that.

So with no printer to worry about tonight (as yet – the night is young) and still over an hour to bedtime I’m going to have a bash on the guitar.

Over the last day or two I’ve been having fun with Tom Petty’s version of the Byrds’ version of Bob Dylan’s YOU AIN’T GOIN’ NOWHERE. I thought that the title was somehow appropriate given my state of health these days

“Strap yourself to a tree with roots” as the song goes, but I can’t even go outside to find a blasted oak, never mind a flaming beech.

But leaving that aside, the arrival of country musician Gram Parsons to the Byrds could have been a total disaster and could have completely ruined the band but instead they produced ONE OF THE FINEST ALBUMS OF 1968, which says a lot considering how many fine albums there were that year.

It brings back many happy memories for me singing IN SOUTH CAROLINA THERE ARE MANY TALL PINES as I was driving down through the tall pines of South Carolina in 2005 on my way to Rhys’s wedding.

"But now when I’m lonesome, I always pretend
That I’m getting the feel of hickory wind"

And wouldn’t it be nice to have the feel of hickory wind right now? But if I play my cards right I might not be lonely. Having had Zero through the door last night, whose turn is it tonight?

Knowing my luck, I can guess. It won’t be TOTGA or Castor. But as they used to say, you have to take things as you find them and make the best of it. "In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts" as Théoden said.

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.

22nd December 2023 – BYE BYE STRIDER!

strider centreville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022Amongst the fall-out from the developments over the last 15 months is the parting of ways from one of my faithful companions.

Strider will be off to a new home as soon as his log book arrives here and I sign it and send it back to New Brunswick’s Motor Vehicle Bureau.

He’s not going far at all, as it happens, but even half an inch is too far to be separated from someone who has served me well for 9 years and God alone only knows how many thousands of miles.

strider ford ranger centreville canadaHe first appeared on the scene in November 2014.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the disputes and arguments that I’d had with car hire companies in North America who found it impossible to believe that “unlimited mileage” meant that mileage was unlimited and you could go as far as you like.

After 2010 when I’d taken CASEY, THE CHRYSLER PT CRUISER over the TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY one of the first vehicles to travel across 1800 miles of the worst roads in the World when the final 300 miles over the Eagle Plateau and through the Mealy Mountains were finally opened, I was on some kind of blacklist.

labrador city 813 kilometres canada september septembre 2017So when someone turns up with a lightweight 4×4 pick-up with off-road pack, how can you say “no”?

STRAWBERRY MOOSE And I found our soul-mate and we set off on our adventures that took us thousands and thousands of miles all down the Eastern side of the North American continent.

And apart from a gearchange linkage falling apart in Québec in 2019, he never gave a moment’s trouble. And even then we still limped home after a fashion.

We’ve been as far north as it’s possible to go by road or trail in Labrador and Northern Québec … "and on several occasions too" – ed … as far south as Georgia in the USA and as far west as several miles beyond Ottawa

But we aren’t going any further. I can’t travel over to Canada any more and it makes no sense having him sit around when someone else can use him.

The total irony of all of this is that his seat is exactly the right height for me with my disability, his brake pedal can easily be operated by the left foot and the cruise control will move him along without using the accelerator.

There’s no reason at all why, if he were over here or I were over there, I couldn’t continue to drive him.

He drinks petrol like it’s going out of fashion though … "well, it is" – ed … being an old-technology V6 4.0 litre, but down at the bottom of my field I have another scrap Transit with a 2.5 diesel engine that would drop straight in.

However, if I were fit enough to change an engine over these days, I wouldn’t need the vehicle in the first place.

"What do you want us to do with the stuff that’s still in it?"
"The only things of interest to me are the Fender bass and the Fender combo amp. Share the rest out amongst yourselves and bin the rest"
Tons of tools, camping equipment, vehicle maintenance stuff, expedition equipment, all gone just like that that. But what can you do?

Here’s hoping that Strider has a good home.

Luckily, I have a good home, and I’m glad to be back in it.

Last night I finally went to bed at 02:30 and with no alarm, I was still awake at 07:15 and up and about by 07:45. There’s not much point in having a lie-in these days.

As usual, it took an age to wind myself up ready for work and I began by unpacking my backpack and sorting out the washing.

And if anyone tried to listen to “The Mountain Queen” and Hein Mars and Paul Weststrate last night or early this morning, I posted the wrong link. I’ve corrected it now and it’s THIS LINK that you want.

Sorry about that.

Armed with a coffee I had a look at all of the papers that I’d brought back. I couldn’t make head or tail of some of them so my cleaner said that she’d come round later to help me look.

And so I went off to listen to the tons of stuff on the dictaphone. Firstly there was a continuation of a dream that I’d had a couple of nights ago. It concerned some kind of exhibition of ancient vehicles or something or other. I was going through my photographs trying to identify the people, the location, the vehicle that they had with them etc. I came across a photo where I recognised the person. He was a radio presenter. It just so happened that at that very moment he came out of the building towards the car park so I ran after him and caught up with him as he was standing by his car. I showed him the photo. he replied “that’s not me”. I replied “the car’s a Rover 90” – it was a red Rover 90. He suddenly said “ohh yes, 1954, that”. I asked “what? The car, the photograph or you?”. He replied “no, the car. The photograph was probably taken in 1974. It’s the car that’s 1954”.

Later on we were spread out on a desk in a laboratory obviously run by this doctor. A girl was going through, counting off so many. When she arrived at the number that she wanted, the person she was standing next to, she pointed out and that person was taken away. She said that she was preparing a table and discussion for, I think, her brother who was obviously the psychiatric doctor. As it happened, the people with me and I were saved. We attracted his attention when we went into the boudoir to be interrogated

And I’m doing it again – dictating into my hand. We were going to have a practice with our rock group so I went round to pick up our singer. She was a young girl, and wore one of these party/ballroom dresses type of the 18th Century when she came out. I had to practically lift her up to climb into the van because it was so high up. I climbed in afterwards. She asked “what’s new?”. I replied “we have a gig on Tuesday”. She asked where so I told her “Nantwich”. We set out from her house and drove, and ended up at the back of Alvaston Hall going over a bridge that had been built to keep the vehicles off what was a prehistoric settlement on the ground. We were heading for the recording studio where our group practised.

And this is really strange (or maybe it isn’t). Talking about Simon House yesterday, and the times that I’ve played the bass to some of those tracks, something came into my head yesterday about a girl at our school. She was 4 years or so younger than us, quite small, long dark brown hair, brown-rimmed glasses and a round face, but she sang and played the violin and piano, and to a really good standard too. I was actually imagining her weaving her web around me playing her violin as I played the bass lines to Damnation Alley or Steppenwolf.

Bizarrely, this isn’t the first time that she has come up in a discussion. In Munich 18 months ago my German friend, who was in my class at school, and I were discussing her and her violin for some reason, and neither of us could remember her name. And I still can’t.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was in the gold 2000E estate that’s in the barn in Virlet. I was driving to Stoke on Trent. I had to be there for 18:00 but was early. There’s a place that I know where you can park where there’s a good view of the city (if ever there’s a good view of Stoke on Trent from anywhere). I parked on there with about 3 or 4 other cars. It was just underneath a pub. By now the gold estate had transformed itself into a service bus. I was sitting in the seat behind the driver. The door opened and a couple of people came in. One was a young girl. She was obviously waiting for someone but she had her phone and was describing the passengers on board this bus to whoever was on the phone presumably for security reasons. She looked at me and said “there’s an old guy with a small face” so I stuck my head up and said “yes, and extremely handsome” which made her laugh. She moved on to another guy there. She said “he’s the guitarist from the pub”. Another couple of people came on and everyone began to chat. It became quite friendly. Someone asked me why I was there. I replied “I have to be here because I have to be at someone’s front door at 18:00 on the dot and not be early”. They thought that that was an extremely strange command which I suppose it was but if that’s what the person wants, that’s what the person is going to have “so I’m just sitting here killing time”. After a couple of minutes I had to make my excuses and leave. It was time for me to be heading off.

Having done that, I set about photocopying all of the paperwork that I’d received from the Hospital. There was a whole rain-forest of it too, and it all has to be distributed amongst the appropriate recipients.

Anyway, the cleaner came round and we sorted out everything that needed to be sorted out. And then she set off for the Chemist’s.

When she came back and gave me the stuff, I arranged it on my shelf. And now I’m well over into a second shelf of medication.

And do you want to know how much a month’s medication is costing? If you do, then I’ll tell you that it’s €7104:00 and I know because I’ve seen the bill. And my contribution to that is nothing whatever (I almost said “Zero” but that could have been misconstrued).

On top of that I’ve been issued with a tensiometer and a heart monitor.

My blood pressure needs to be measured 3 times a day, morning, noon and night, when I’m sitting calm and comfortable without stress. And when is that ever likely to happen?

The aim is for the blood pressure to be below 14.0/9.0. And when has that ever happened?

There’s to be an injection of this Aranesp substitute every Wednesday by the infirmier ambulant and it has to stop if my blood count rises to 12.0.

And how do we know if my blood count rises to 12.0? That’s because the nurse has to take a blood sample every week. He’ll enjoy that because he can never find my veins.

With the heart monitor, I have to send off the readings and the blood pressure figures every day to the hospital for further instructions – keep on doing what I’m doing jusqu’à nouvel ordre in fact.

There’s another couple of IRMs that needs to be arranged – one for the heart and another for something else that I forget now.

And then there’s the medication. When I walk around in future, you’ll hear me coming because I’ll be rattling. Honestly, I have never seen so much anywhere except in a chemist’s, and then not all the time.

At this rate, sorting out all of this paperwork and medication and keeping all these records, I’ll be far too busy to die.

In between all of this I prepared an order for food and sent it off to LeClerc. It was shockingly expensive today but I’ve bought presents for everyone who has helped me this year, to express my gratitude.

Nothing really exciting because LeClerc’s home shopping isn’t blessed with a great deal of choice. Just boxes of chocolates and also a bottle of champagne for my cleaner. Anyone who comes round tidying up after me thoroughly deserves it.

Tea was a salad with burger and chips, some of which were sweet potato chips – LeClerc’s home delivery won’t deliver less than 1kg of sweet potatoes and I only needed a few hundred grammes for the wellington. And it was all delicious too.

So tomorrow I’m going to start on the vegan wellington. I don’t have everything but I’ll do what I can with what I have. It should be delicious anyway, whatever goes in it. I have all kinds of vegetables to go with it – 7 varieties of different veg in fact.

Yes, there was more broccoli on offer so I bought another one. Once more it’s mostly stalk so I’ll be having broccoli stalk soup again tomorrow.

So there is broccoli and 2kg of carrots to blanch in the morning, and the vegan wellington in the afternoon – if I’m still here after taking my first tablet.

This is all beginning to look rather uncomfortable to me.

Sunday 17th December 2023 – I AM ABSOLUTELY …

… exhausted.

And not just the usual fatigue from which I seem to suffer but I’ve been on my feet for 5 hours without a break and without even a moment to sit down, starting from 15:15

Things aren’t finished yet either. I have my packing to do and my sandwiches etc to make before I can go to bed. And then I have an alarm call arranged at 06:00.

This was the last thing to which I was looking forward, this early morning trip to Paris, but it has to be done and I have to make the best of it.

What didn’t help matters was that, surprisingly, I didn’t have a very long sleep tonight. Although it wasn’t until 09:45 that I raised myself from the Dead, it was something like 02:00 when I went to bed this morning so it was hardly anything like the usual Sunday lie-in.

There were the radio notes to dictate, a play around on the guitar to do and a few other bits and pieces before I went to bed.

And it was a mobile night too. There was quite a lot of stuff on the dictaphone so I must have gone quite far. I was playing with a rock group last night, me, a guitarist and a drummer, accompanying a female singer. We were preparing for a concert. I had my notes. For some reason the other guy had some note for my sister which he’d given me in a notebook which I’d put underneath the bus. My guitar was underneath the bus too. I was busy having a think about trying to organise myself ready when the singer suddenly appeared and began to performance. The first song was “Rock and Roll Hootchie Coo”. The other 2 musicians began to accompany her but I couldn’t find my bass. Eventually I remembered that it was underneath the bus so I pulled it out from underneath. Then I couldn’t remember how to play it. I was just standing there miming something or other thinking to myself “how on earth am I going to play this?” I couldn’t remember.

Next, wee were making a radio show, but it was a radio show with a difference. The artists had to sing their actual song down the telephone so that they could be recorded in the studio and the programme assembled. I made out a running order of people etc whom I wanted to take part, contacted them all. Of the 10 people or groups who were assembled one guy refused to take part. he didn’t actually say that he wouldn’t but he just never turned up until we were well under way, and then he kept discreetly to a corner hoping maybe that we wouldn’t see him. But it was awful. I had to do about 10 takes for whatever I was doing and so did 1 or 2 other people, the order became completely and utterly confused, things were being recorded in all kinds of different ways. In the meantime the young guy was still keeping out of everyone else’s way in this room while the rest of us were at the telephone singing our songs. Then we looked around and noticed that he’d gone. One of the teachers came over and asked us why we had only 9 instead of 10. We explained the situation about this guy but he replied “why don’t you go to fetch him back?”. We replied “he lives in Tarporley. That’s a long way away to go to come back again”. As I was wandering away I suddenly realised that I didn’t have my keys. I began to look for them but couldn’t find them and had another panic attack about the keys.

Then I had another girlfriend. There was something to do with Chester. Whether she was at the college in Chester and I was in Crewe I don’t know but I ended up going to see her, walking home and then going back to see her. It was all becoming extremely complicated. The question of a car came up. I explained that I would have to buy a car, it would have to be something rather more modern and I don’t know where the money would come from. She offered me a mug that had about £500 in it. Of course I couldn’t accept it. We had a little dispute about that. I ended up talking to her friend about it and the story about Chester came up. There was also something about a load of entries being written in the margin of a piece of paper. I was rubbing them out one by one as I checked them off but I can’t think what this was supposed to be about and where it was involved. There was also a feeling running through my mind that maybe this girl didn’t like me as much as she perhaps ought to but I dunno. She was also at one stage checking some grammar for a letter than she was writing. She was asking me questions . For some reason I was replying with Welsh grammar and words. She asked “what’s the word for this?” and I’d reply to her in Welsh. It was all just so confusing

And I did have a girlfriend for a while at Chester College too. One of the rock bands in which I played bass and sang topped the bill there in 1975 at a Students Union event and in the audience was a girl whom I knew from school and with whom I’d had a brief adolescent fling. She was a student there.

After our performance she came over for a chat and one thing led to another. And, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … once you actually make a start, you’ll be surprised at just how many other things there are.

On one occasion the steering box seized in the van and it was off the road for a while while I tried to find one (I dug one out of a vehicle abandoned in a hedge on a farm in the end) and so to go to see her I’d catch the bus from Nantwich to Chester.

There were several occasions when I walked back home all through the night to my squat near Audlem, all 20-odd miles of it, arriving just as dawn was breaking. In those days, walking that kind of distance was never ever a problem.

It all came to a halt when she came home from College for Easter. Her parents actually knew me from “elsewhere” and they made their displeasure quite evident.

But anyway, that dream was surprisingly accurate in parts.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, I was back out with the rock group again but I can’t remember very much about this at all except that the floor to this building was of cracked marble times. It looked really nice and ancient. Somehow words were passing from one end of this great hall to the other end underneath the tiles and coming out where the tiles were missing or had been worn away. It was an interesting phenomenon that impressed quite a lot of us.

I’d also been on my holidays. For some reason I’d gone to Ilkeston where I’d watched a football match between Ilkeston Town and someone else. I developed quite a rapport with Ilkeston’s goalkeeper and couple of fans so I stayed on for a week to watch a few games. Then I hit the road and ended up in Scotland. There was a Scottish 2nd Division match taking place between Alloa Athletic and someone else which might have been Morton so I went to see it. It was pretty agricultural. As I was walking back I bumped into a girl whom I knew with whom I’d been on a night school course once. She had an arm in plaster. We began to chat, chat about the game at first. “Did I call this game ‘entertainment’?”. I replied “for Scottish 2nd Division it’s not bad. I’ve seen worse than this”. A couple of her friends from work came to join her. They all began to talk about work things. The Department of Work and Pensions was mentioned and 1 or 2 other things. I began to feel left out of the conversation, which was only to be expected. This was another one of those dreams that went on for hours and hours, and when I awoke most of it evaporated immediately.

There was another dream at some point where a herd of migrating wildebeest ran into a couple of prides of lions at a river crossing. You don’t really want to know any more about this, especially if you are eating your meal right now. But interestingly there was even a pile of chimpanzees joining in with the carnage at one particular point.

After I’d awoken I had something of a slow start to the day (which is no surprise) and then attacked the radio programme for which I dictated the notes last night. It took longer than usual to edit the notes because, as seems to be the case these days, I made something of a dog’s breakfast of it and there was a lot of editing to do.

By the time that I’d added in the eleventh track and the notes that do with it, I had over-run by 8 seconds but I always include phrases in my dictation that I can edit out without changing the sense of anything or interrupting the rhythm.

Having finished that, I went into the kitchen and began to work.

First thing was to make the dough for a small loaf with which to make my sandwiches

Second thing was to make the dough for the biscuits. And following the recipe, the dough was far too wet for what I wanted so I heaved in a handful or two of oats and put the mixture in the fridge to cool down.

Thirdly, I made my chestnut stuffing. Unfortunately it ended up without chestnuts in it because the packet of chestnut that I had had evidently been hanging around here for far too long so they ended up going the Way of the West.

Instead, I had to make it with some ground almonds, extra breadcrumbs and some various kinds of oil

After my lunch I’d taken out a lump of frozen pizza dough and it had been defrosting. So next I kneaded it, rolled it out onto my pizza tray and put it on one side to prove.

The biscuit dough, I rolled it out, dusted it with flour and cut it with my 50mm biscuit cutter so that I ended up with about 40 biscuits.

While they were baking, I assembled my pizza and when the biscuits were done, the pizza and the stuffing went it.

While they were cooking, I washed everything up and cleaned the kitchen.

Once the pizza and stuffing were cooked (and the stuffing does actually smell like stuffing) the bread went into the oven while I ate my pizza.

Now I’m off to make my butties and pack ready for tomorrow The car comes for me at 07:00 and then I’ll be gone. Until when, I don’t know.

The internet in the Neurology department was dreadful. I don’t expect that it will be any better in the Haematology department so as usual, it will be just brief notes typed on the ‘phone using a mobile hotspot, and I’ll update everything when I’m back home.

Whenever that might be.

Saturday 11th November 2023 – THINGS TODAY WERE …

… somewhat different from yesterday.

in fact it was the morning when I was crashed out on my chair. And I was totally out of it too. I find it very hard to believe that yesterday took so much out of me.

Admittedly I was later in bed that I would have liked to be, but I was determined to dictate the notes that I’d been preparing for a future radio programme. They were all done and dusted and I crawled into bed.

When the alarm went off this morning I have to say that I have never felt less like moving – at least, not for a good while anyway. But I did make it to my feet before the second alarm went off and I staggered into the kitchen for my medication.

Back in here I settled down to do some work but ended up drifting in and out of sleep for much of the morning and I really didn’t feel like anything at all.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’d been invited to a wedding in Nantwich so I set off. As I pulled up outside the church there were all these people milling around with huge banners and floral decorations etc. It looked like a really sumptuous wedding. All the people with the banners went inside and I hung around outside. I had a good look round but didn’t recognise anyone. After a while I mentioned to someone “I hope that I’m attending the correct wedding”. They didn’t really say anything. Just at that moment a group of people appeared carrying a huge tray above their heads, full of beer. They swooped down onto the outside of the church and began to put the tray down so that everyone outside could have a drink. I thought that this is not like the kind of wedding that I would ordinarily attend, that’s for sure.

I didn’t mention that going to that wedding I actually walked some of the way, and walked some of the way without crutches. That astonished me, even in the dream.

There was a story about two people, a man and a woman, working in a kitchen. For some reason the man misunderstood a comment made by the woman. As a result the situation in that kitchen became extremely uncomfortable for a while. There was a lot more to it than this but it was another one of these dreams that disappeared the moment that I reached for the dictaphone.

However I don’t need to know how this ended. I know all about misunderstandings like this

Finally last night I was with a girl whom I knew for a while in Brussels, living in an apartment somewhere. She had go out out to sell some kind of Employee Management software database to a company. I tagged along with her. When she began her discussion the elderly woman in charge of the situation was extremely aggressive. My friend was talking about this product and the woman said “it’s not something that you have to use every day, is it?”. My friend was there patiently explaining “it’s a dispute-management system, yes, but it has lots of underlying parts to it. You only need the disputes part infrequently but everything else is important”. She replied “we’ll strip that out for a start”. The discussion continued and the woman found that it was based on Word-Perfect. “We can strip that out too”. I remembered smiling at 2 girls sitting at a nearby desk looking as horrified as I was. I whispered to them “I think that I’d have been long gone from here at this point”. My friend kept going patiently and the woman kept interrupting her. Every time Nicole tried to insist on speaking the woman went “interrupting me! How rude!” even though she was the one doing al the interrupting. I thought that I would never ever make a career in sales because I wouldn’t have put up with this kind of comment for a minute.

Following that I made a start on editing the radio notes that I’d dictated last night. It was a very slow process, for reasons that I mentioned a little earlier, but the programme is now finished and ready for broadcast on … errr … 7th June 2024.

With plenty of time on hand despite the fatigue I carried on editing the blog entries from last autumn. I managed to do a pile of them, and I’m now having a good drive around various Ford agents in Eastern Canada trying to find a sunroof to fit the only Ford Flex that was ever imported into Europe.

It’s quite true that I sometimes end up with doing some most unusual tasks.

There was some football on the internet later. It’s Welsh Cup weekend and the match that was featured for live commentary was Llanelli v Penybont.

Llanelli have a good history in Welsh club football but unfortunately it is nothing but history. There have been some very hard times down in South West Wales but the club is slowly rising back up the pyramid and is currently leading the Southern pool of the Second Division

Penybont on the other hand is a fully-established Premier League club that qualified for Europe this season.

The gap between the Premier League and the Second Division is immense under any circumstances, as clubs like Flint, Airbus and Afan Lido will testify over the past few years so no-one was under any illusions.

And that was how the game started, with Penybont rampaging forward. Consequently everyone was taken completely by surprised when Ethan Cann’s brilliant finish out of nothing from the edge of the penalty area put Llanelli ahead.

By half-time however Penybont had restored sanity and were 2-1 to the good.

A brilliant point-blank save by Scott Coughlin in the Llanelli goad right from the second-half kick-off kept them in the game and then up popped Ethan Cann again with one of the best goals that you’ll ever see from a Second-Division player.

Even more surprisingly, Llanelli went ahead later, only for Penybont to equalise in the dying seconds of normal time.

We ended up with a penalty shot-out in which Scott Coughlin was once again the hero as a couple of excellent saves saw the Second Division side through to the next round, totally against the run of play and totally against the odds.

Tea tonight was a baked potato cooked in the air fryer, with a vegan salad and one of those breaded quorn fillets that I like so much.

And it seems that I’ve cracked the system of baking potatoes with the air fryer. First, give them a couple of minutes in the microwave to cook the interior. That worked really well

So tomorrow I can have a day off. I’ve done all of my work.

All that remains to be done is to make my fruit buns for the next fortnight. For a change I have everything that I need so they should turn out really well, I hope.

But in the meantime I’ve been reading up on what I need to make my Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. The Christmas cake that I made 2 years ago turned out really well and I’m keen to make another one.

A Christmas pudding will be a new experience but Jackie told me what steamer to buy and sent me a recipe for a vegan pudding. One or two things I’m short of but I’ll order what I can and invent the rest.

When I was in Canada last year I was lucky because I found some brandy and some rum essence and that should give my Christmas baking a lift. I’ve no mixed spice but my friend in Munich thinks that he might be able to find some German gingerbread spice and that might actually work too.

One thing that I mustn’t forget to do though it to check my marzipan and make sure that that works too. I didn’t use it last year, with recovering from my hospital efforts so I hope that it’s still good.

if not, I shall have to think of a Plan B.