Tag Archives: liz terry messenger

Sunday 26th May 2024 – I CAN’T GO …

… on like this much longer. I really can’t.

You cannot imagine the amount of pain I’m in from the muscle in my right leg and you cannot imagine the amount of effort even the most simple of everyday tasks is taking me.

Crawling into bed at night is a nightmare and one I’m in I’m stuck in that position and can’t move at all. And then there’s this stabbing pain every so often that starts in the sole of my right foot.

One thing that’s certain is that I’ve had enough of all of this.

Last night I was actually in bed quite early – well before 23:00. And how happy I was about that too. If only I knew what was coming.

It was 04:15 when I awoke in agony and couldn’t find a comfortable position, couldn’t move, couldn’t turn over, couldn’t do anything

Nevertheless I decided to stick it out until the 08:00 alarm but I gave up round about 06:00 and crawled out of bed. So much for the early night and possible lie-in.

After a good wash and clean-up I found another early-bird so Liz and I had a good chat on the internet for quite a while. Liz is also planning on joining the Air Fryer Assembly and was picking my brains, such as I have these days.

Once the nurse had been and gone (and been persuaded to do my blood test on Monday) and I’d had breakfast Liz and I carried on out chat for a while and then I came in here.

At first I didn’t do much except transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. People who were believed to be British spies or spies for, the UK were being denounced by another spy organisation from the Midlands as unfaithful. The authorities were taking every step within their powers to find these members who were … fell asleep here

That’s no surprise given what I was reading last night. There was something about The Disappeared – the missing victims of the IRA terror squads – and then about a police sting that went wrong in the USA when a County Police Undercover Unit “busted” the Undercover Unit of a neighbouring County

Later on I was rolling through all the history of Billy the Kid during the night. All about the different women with whom he was consorting, about the different stories about his end, the different stories about his grave and so on. I was churning it over in my mind ready to dictate when I would remember something else so I’d start again – and again, and again. And this went on for several hours while I was asleep in the very early morning and I never actually managed to dictate anything about it.

Then I couldn’t do much because I crashed out again, and for a couple of hours too. That’s no surprise given the early start that I’d had.

Lunch was late today as you might expect after all of that. It had taken me a good while to come round into the Land of the Living today – longer than usual in fact, and that’s long enough.

Once lunch had finished I spend the whole afternoon , yes the whole afternoon baking

Right now I have a pile of pizza dough, a whole pile of naan bread dough and I also baked myself a flapjack.

A flapjack with a difference too because while I was hacking some figs about with the food processor I had a few squares of chocolate in there too.

It’ll be intriguing to see what that tastes like, all mixed up with the honey

There would have been biscuits too but I ran out of time, of patience, of energy, of enthusiasm etc.

The pizza dough was delicious and the pizza excellent but I had other preoccupations so that I couldn’t really enjoy it

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’m going to crawl into bed, pains and all, ready for tomorrow and my blood test. And this must be the very first time that I hope that they’ll have found a serious anomaly so that they can do something about it

But it all reminds me of my namesake the Arctic Explorer Charles F Hall in the second half of the 19th Century who lived up to the family tradition by being murdered by his expedition crew.

He was once treated for frostbite “in an embarrassing place” and when he asked why, told his interviewers "the USA’s Admiralty Board told me to stick it out as long as I could, but I must have misunderstood"

Sunday 21st April 2024 – AND SO TOMORROW …

… or today, if you are reading this posting on Monday, I go for my appointment with Destiny

This is when we’ll find out of this three months of medication cocktail has done any good.

Mind you, I can tell you that without having to go all the way to Paris at great expense to find out. There has certainly been a change in the situation, but it isn’t for the better.

Not that it’s any surprise really. With a illness that’s so rare that there are no records and no approved treatment everyone is just groping blindly in the dark and the last time that I tried that I had a thick ear off Percy Penguin

What is going to be interesting though is to find out what their Plan B is. They’ve had three months to think of one so I’m sure that there will be something simmering away in the background. At least, there better had be and I’ll be disappointed if there isn’t.

There was a change last night as well from the previous night, in that I actually managed some sleep.

For a change I actually managed to be in bed early but even so I couldn’t go to sleep. There was far too much on my mind, and on other places too.

However, to my surprise, there was something on the dictaphone and that was unexpected. There was something going on about toothpaste last night. Each person was given their own little cardboard box with their own little tube in it that was for them and them only. I’ve no idea why that would be the case or what it was all about.

No explanations were forthcoming either as it doesn’t seem to relate to anything at all. Just one of those mysterious things, I suspect.

After a stroll down the corridor I came back to bed and that was that until the alarm went off. I finally managed a deep, satisfying sleep and the only thing wrong with that is that there wasn’t enough of it.

No blood pressure – as I said yesterday, there’s not really much point. Instead I went into the living room for my medication with, instead of my usual half-litre of flavoured water, just enough water to swallow my tablets.

And that’s all that I’ve had to eat or drink today. Honestly. I’m working on the principle that the less stuff that goes in, the less stuff will want to come out, and that’s an advantage on a 4-hour car drive tomorrow morning when I’m not feeling too well.

The nurse came round and saw to my foot and my puttees. He thinks that the wound on my foot is ready to face the fresh air but if I’m off to Paris in shoes and socks on Monday I’d rather leave the plaster on so that there’s no friction rubbing it away.

After he left I came back in here and vegetated for quite a while. These 08:00 starts on a Sunday are killing me when I’m used to a long lie-in and a start that’s considerably later than that.

But eventually I managed to summon up enough energy to make a start on sorting out the European Paper Mountain and looking for what I need to take with me

And having found what I can (because there’s still plenty of stuff missing) I packed my backpack. I’ll take what I’ve found and we’ll have to invent the rest as we go along.

There was football on the internet this afternoon – the last weekend of matches of the regular season.

We were treated to Aberystwyth v Pontypridd United. Pontypridd are already relegated due to certain off-the-field issues, but Aberystwyth had to do better than Colwyn Bay would do against Barry Town in order to stay up and sent the Bay back down.

To everyone’s surprise, and probably theirs too, Colwyn Bay beat Barry 1-0 with a goal scored near the end of the game, but by then it was too late. Aberystwyth had already put three past Pontypridd and never looked in any difficulty.

We had the same scenario last season with a dramatic great escape on the final day and as I said then, if Aber had played for the rest of the season with the panache that they showed today they wouldn’t have been in this trouble to start with

It’s tough on Colwyn Bay on their first season in the Premier League but they were miles off the pace even on Day One when Caernarfon put 4 past them and the Bay were lucky to get nil, but the gulf between the Premier League and the second tier is immense.

Rosemary rang me for a chat at the end of the afternoon so while I was preparing a back-up memory stick to take with me, we put the world to rights. Just a short conversation today, only 57 minutes.

So now my puttees are washed and hanging up to dry, my bag is packed and my back-up is prepared, that’s my lot. I’m off to bed.

The alarm is set for 06:00 and the car should be here at 07:00 and then we’ll see.

And I hope that the taxi is on time. He was late on one of the other times that we had to go early like this
"You should have been here at 07:00" I told him
"Why?" he asked. "What happened?"

Friday 19th April 2024 – YOU HAVE NO IDEA …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 23rd March 2023 – A FEW MONTHS AGO …

… I bought a cheap hamburger press, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. It was rather like an old flat iron made of plastic, with all kinds of sizes that fit inside each other like a Russian doll

It was rather cheap, both in price and quality, so I didn’t think that it would be all that much good. However I have to say that despite all that, I really am impressed with it. Almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin, and that will stir a few memories from times long-gone.

Actually my friend in Munich sent me ages ago a packet of dried stuff that he’d found in a vegan shop down there and posted it to me. So today I added water and mixed it, left it alone to do its thing and then out came the hamburger press

It actually made a nice, professional job of the rehydrated stuff and I now have four big, really solid burgers and as I said just now, I’m almost as impressed with them as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin.

“Whatever happened to that?” I asked myself. The last time that I saw it, it was being used as a brazier to burn a pile of weeds down the garden when I used to have my raised beds and vegetable plots. It’s probably now thoroughly and completely overwhelmed with weeds and been pulled into the soil.

It’s 10 years ago since I last planted any veg down on the farm. I had quite a lot of stuff there that year too. The following year I cracked on with the bedroom all the way through the spring and summer ad finished it – and actually moved in.

But we all know what happened in the autumn that year, don’t we?

It was almost 10 years that I lived full-time down on the farm and despite the primitive conditions I really enjoyed it. I keep on thinking – and hoping – that I’ll go back to live down there once more but I doubt that I’ll ever see it again.

For a start, I can no longer drive, and that’s always going to be a serious consideration. And then regular readers of this rubbish will recall the photos of when I was last there and it was overwhelmed by brambles. I no longer have the energy to fight my way to the front door.

Last time it took three of us – Rosemary, Ingrid and Yours Truly – a whole afternoon to reach the front door, and the time before that it was with Terry and he had brought his industrial-scale equipment to clear the path.

Still, as Dan Quayle once famously said, "It’s a question of whether we’re going to go forward into the future, or past to the back"

So I shall go past into the back and say that for a change I was in something of a hurry to go to bed last night. I didn’t hang about at all.

It was another good sleep as well and I was fighting fit (well, sort-of) when the alarm aronsed me from my slumbers.

First thing was, as usual, to check the blood pressure. 15.1/9.0 this morning, up from 14.5/9.3 last night. So something must have annoyed me last night. And if you want to know what it was, you’ll have to read on.

After the medication I came back in here, but not for long. The nurse, having been late yesterday, was early today. Today’s moan was that the plastic bag I’d put out for him wasn’t big enough and that I need to wash my puttees. I wonder what tomorrow’s will be

The bread for my cheese on toast was delicious. I had a really nice breakfast later this morning. And then I had a pleasant relax and watched a film.

Another film that has come out of copyright is HELLZAPOPPIN’ so I spent a very pleasant 85 minutes watching it, and it was nice to relax for a change.

It’s not a film to everyone’s taste because it’s partly a musical and "YOU’RE NOT GOING INTO THE SONG WHILE I’M HERE" but where its interest lies is that if ever you want to know where all of the humourists of the 1960s and early 70s like Monty Python and Marty Feldman obtained their ideas, it’s all here, everything and much more besides, and it was done in 1941.

As far as comedy and humour goes, it was light years ahead of its time and will still run the course today.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. We’d all gone out as a family together. We all had lifts with various different people so we were all spread out amongst the cars etc. A guy in a mobile home, the type that’s a shell that fits onto the back of your vehicle, took a fancy to one of my sisters. He persuaded her to travel with him. They disappeared but the rest of us kept going in a kind of convoy. We ended up stopping for the night somewhere at the side of a river. Just then this guy appeared with his camper. He wound down his window and said that he was terribly sorry but something had happened to our sister – some other people had come along, taken her, kidnapped her and carried her off. My mother said “I bet that she’s in the back of your camper”, just strode over there and wrenched open the door. My sister was in there on the bed lying down. She began to tell her tale of woe about everything that had happened to her, with my mother and brother becoming more and more angry as the story unfolded about this kidnap.

So there you are – that’s the reason that my blood pressure was up. I had the family round last night. I don’t ask them to come to visit me during the night but they always seem to, far too often for my liking. Why can’t I have Zero, TOTGA and Castor round as often as them?

But kidnapping my family members one by one sounds like a good idea. But you can all think of an idea for the ransom note – "pay us £5,000 or we’ll send them back".

That reminds me of the time when I fuelled up in Stoke on Trent only to find that I’d left my wallet behind at home. I had to leave my friend at the petrol station as hostage while I went to his house to fetch some money

When I told his wife what was the problem she told me not to bother going back, and to leave him there for good

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed we had a taxi job to do, to drive someone up to Newcastle upon Tyne for a meeting and then take them on to Edinburgh later. There was only one daytime driver and me about. The receptionist left a note for the daytime driver “be in the office 04:40 ready for a long trip”. I thought that long trips and office workers all on account etc don’t pay very much in tips if anything so I’d go to do that and let the driver carry on doing normal jobs. The only car we had was an old two-door Japanese thing from the late 1960s or early 1970s. It made something of a racket but I’d been out a few times in it and it seemed to do the job. A good long run like that would probably do it good. Of course Edinburgh – I had my niece in Edinburgh so I could go to see her. I tried to contact her but there was no luck. I thought “should I just turn up at the University there and speak to her?”. I thought that that’s probably not a good idea. But I was impressed that we had this job, going all that way but I was really disappointed that we didn’t have a better car available other than this old Japanese thing.

And that was an age-old problem too. We’d occasionally have some really high-quality work to do but never seemed to have a decent car available to do it, and when we did have a really decent car we’d never have the work. At times I despaired.

This afternoon I went a food-making.

Firstly, as I said, my friend in Munich had sent me some burger mix so I added the water, stirred it all in and then left it to fester for 20 minutes as according to the instructions

There was a box of do-it-yourself falafel powder on the shelves as I discovered when I did some tidying up a few weeks ago. So I added some water to that and left that to fester as per the instructions.

While that was doing its stuff the first lot was ready so with the hamburger press I made four really good and solid burger-types of things. They are busy freezing even as we speak.

As for the falafel, I divided that up into little balls and they are busy freezing too, along with a couple of balls that I made from the left-over stuff from the first mix.

But I’m pleased with this hamburger press as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … It’s really simple and cheap but it made some really solid burgers and it gives me much more confidence about making more burgers from ad-hoc ingredients.

Finally there was the home-made mayonnaise. And once again, that seemed to work in spades. I made it rather more liquidy than before so we’ll see how that works out. It ended up making quite a lot more than I can use in its shelf-life, so I’ve sealed to top on the jars quite tightly.

Yes, having learned my lesson, I’ve put the mayonnaise in a better container or two.

Then we had the football – Y Bala V Connah’s Quay Nomads in one if the Welsh Cup semi-finals, played at Llandudno’s picturesque ground. And it was actually being broadcast on foreign carriers too after the disappointments of the last few games.

The first 75 minutes of the match were nothing to write home about, but it’s really hard to play creative football in a tornado.

However both sides made a couple of substitutions with 15 minutes to go and that kickstarted the game dramatically. Those last 15 minutes wee much more like the football we’d expect to see and Aron Williams scored a late winner to push the Nomads into the finals.

But spare a thought for Josh Ukek of Y Bala, who will probably go down in the record books as being on the field for the shortest period of time ever.

He came on as a substitute for Bala late in the game but almost immediately Kieran Smith, a central defender, was sent off for two bookings. Now a central defender down, Colin Caton, the Bala manager, now wanted to send on a central defender off the bench to shore up the defence.

And Ukek, who had only just come onto the field, was the man who was withdrawn to make way.

Tea was as usual a salad, baked potato and breaded quorn fillet. I know that it all seems to be the same, but I happen to like it so I don’t care.

And now rather late this evening, I’m off to bed. There’s an alarm in the morning for the nurse is coming (so I’ve washed my puttees already) so I’ll feel like death for the rest of the day. Today, I actually fell asleep for five minutes during the football.

But before I go, that story about tightly closing the lid on the mayonnaise jar did remind me of the guy who rang up his doctor
"You know those pills that you gave me to give me strength?"
"Yes" said the doctor. "How are they going?"
"I don’t know" replied the man. "I can’t get the top off the bottle".

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

… go in here today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 8th February 2024 – WE’RE BACK TO …

… where we were a few months ago with the freezer, and how it’s now jam-packed to the brim with food.

Actually, that’s quite good news because it means that I don’t have to worry too much about from where my next meal is coming.

Having said that though, there are half a loaf, a bread finger and four bread baps in there that are taking up some of the place and if I were to eat those there would me more room in there, but I’m not ready to do that yet. As long as I can continue to make bread, I’ll make it and if there’s any left over, I’ll freeze it for another time with all of the rest that’s in there.

That will give me something about which I can think the next time that I’m lying in bed tossing and turning 1.e.not a night like last night where, despite having a late night I was out like a light and remember nothing at all until I awoke.

First job was to check the blood pressure + 17.4/10.5, a bit of a change from 18.2/11.6 this morning. There were also some note to tape to the dictaphone because when the alarm went off I was on another planet somewhere

After the medication I came back here to start work – or, at least, to try to, but once more it was really difficult to get going this morning

Once I’d come back round into the Land of the Living I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. This time, I had managed to go for a wander. There was a Led Zeppelin song going through my head last night. I was singing it and needed to know whether there was a background music being played with it or not. If the song had background music being played to it, it would be liable to tax. I’d have to pay money but how would I know whether there was any background music being played to it or not at this time of night when I’m asleep?

And I wasn’t surprised that I dictated that last night because I’ve given up being surprised by what goes on during the night

Later on there were two of my assembled pizzas. I had two of them done and they were in the fridge. They’d been in the fridge for several days. What I needed to do was to take them out and put the tomato sauce on. I was in the kitchen but it wasn’t mine. A small girl came along to help but I don’t know why she did that either.

So if I’m dreaming about my pizzas during the night that’s a sign of something, I’m sure. But putting the tomato sauce on top? No thank you very much

When the alarm went off I was dictating the notes for a radio programme. They included a young girl bassist. I was writing all kinds of notes about her and what she’d been doing. She was quite young. I’d made my way down from the start and I think that she was one of the ones who was almost near the end of the programme

All of that reminded me OF MATT MINGLEWOOD’S BASSIST whom I met when I was photographer for the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton. As I believe I said at the time, she could come round and have a strum on my instrument any time she likes.

On the subject of radio programmes, that was today’s task but first I had to deal with a phone call. And it was exactly as I suspected it might be. "Mr Hall, we’ve had the blood test results. You have to stop taking medication X and take medication Y instead. I’ll send you a prescription."

So the prescription duly arrived, and then I had to change all of the print cartridges in the printer which is now printing and missing lines to I had to clean all of the print heads. So you ever have the feeling that it’s just not your day?

While I was printing off the prescription I printed off some paperwork about Strider. He’s now no longer officially mine and I hope that he has found a good home with his new owners.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it’s a shame about Strider. We travelled tens of thousands of miles together from the semi-tropical climate of Georgia up to the frozen peri-Arctic wastes of Northern Labrador, as far as it’s possible to go by road northwards.

He’s just the right height for me to slide in and out and using the cruise control, I can drive him with just my left foot. But I’m over here and he’s over there and that’s that.

And Liz has been very helpful too. She sent me a little parcel that arrived today with a knee support in it and also a vegan cookbook, the same one that she used when she was starting out.

It’s all an early birthday present for me and she says that she hopes that I find the cookbook helpful. Secretly though, I think that she’s fed up of me asking her all these silly questions, but I know that you love me really.

Who was next to interrupt me? Ahhh yes – I had to send off my Leclerc order as I’m running low. And so are they with this farmers’ dispute. Quite a few items of the dairy line are not available and there are no substitutes

But that’s not a real problem if I run out of desserts. Strangely enough, as it happens, I have been fancying a rice pudding for ages so when I bake my bread for the weekend tomorrow morning, I might put a rice pudding in with enough to keep me going for several days.

So halfway through writing up my notes for the radio programme the Leclerc delivery came and so I had to sort out everything and put it away, as well as de-coring and de-pithing a couple of peppers to go into the freezer. I have to build my stocks back up.

Earlier on, I’d sent a message to my cleaner about the new prescription and she popped down to pick it up and tell me the latest gossip about the building.

Back at work and I’d almost finished the radio notes when Rosemary rang for a chat. Just a short chat this evening, only 52 minutes. Barely enough time for an exchange of pleasantries

By now it was tea-time and I fancied steamed veg with falafel and cheese sauce. But I found some veggie balls made out of kidney beans that needed eating and they went down with cheese sauce just as well as falafel.

While I’ve been typing up my notes, I’ve been listening to Al Stewart again and SWISS COTTAGE MANOEUVRES came round on the playlist.

Right near the end of the song are the words "and I couldn’t say what I had won or I’d lost, or even just what I had seen. But when I’m alone I just think of her once in a while". Does it remind you of anything?

It certainly reminds me of something. I’m still shaking my head over that three days in the High Arctic. It was the strangest period of the really strange life that I have led, and there’s still no explanation that I can work out about what was going on.

Let’s face it – I’m well aware of my own limits and this was way beyond anything that would have been contained within them. I certainly couldn’t explain whether I’d won or lost, and I certainly couldn’t explain what I had just seen.

But many of Al Stewart’s songs are like that. These are of some kind of vague pining for a lost adolescence that might have been, if only we had been older and wiser, and doesn’t that apply to most of us?

It’s often been said about “how I wish that I’d had all of my adolescence back, but with all the experience (and the money) that I have today. Wouldn’t things be different?”.

Mine certainly would have been, but I don’t think that it would have been better. It wasn’t until I left Crewe and came over here that I really began to encounter real life in a much wider cultural setting. But as Paul Pena wrote and Steve Miller sang in BIG OLD JET AIRLINER"you know you gotta go through hell before you get to heaven"

And while this certainly isn’t heaven, living in Crewe was certainly hell

Friday 2nd February 2024 – JUST FOR A …

… change, I’ve had a very quiet day today, with little in the way of interruptions.

In fact, apart from my cleaner coming in to bring me my mushrooms and to start this extra hour per week on deep-cleaning the place, that’s been about it

There were however two telephone calls from the hospital. One was asking why they hadn’t had the blood test results. Had I had the blood test and did I have them.

The answer to both questions was of course “yes” so I sent them off to them

The second conversation was much more useful. “You don’t need to take this anti-potassium stuff”. That’s what I call good news. I hated that stuff and the effect that it had on me.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … office after I’d finished last night’s notes, taken my blood pressure, had the night’s medication and so on I came back in here and played the guitar.

Bashing out quite a few tunes it was quite late when I finally crawled into bed.

No-one around to awaken me either. Just Billy Cotton on the alarm as usual and that was that.

Just after I’d finished my medication and stuff like that my cleaner stuck her head in the door (I’d forgotten about this one). Was it just mushrooms and what about the anti-potassium stuff? Has the new prescription arrived?”

“Yes and no”.

So she went off to do her work and to the shops on her way back home and I came in here.

Then I went back out again. I’d forgotten that I hadn’t made the weekend’s bread so I had a very pleasant hour or two making some bread rolls.

But once again, no danger of the dough rising very much. You can use these things for cannonballs they are so heavy. Bread is supposed to be light and airy and I’ve no idea where I’m going wrong but no matter what I do, the dough doesn’t seem to want to rise.

But still, the toasted cheese sandwich was very nice even if it was rather heavy on the stomach.

Then I came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes, of which there were more than just a few. I was married and had a little cottage somewhere with my wife. We were both young. It was in rural France somewhere, in the depths of it. Just a little further down the road was another house that was quite old and had been abandoned. A single woman had bought it. She seemed to be slowly doing up the inside of the house although the outside of the house was a total mess and swamp. You needed wellingtons any time of the year to go to her front door. One day she came over and told us that the inside of the house was finished and was ready to start work on the outside, which would be good news for everyone. A short while later I needed to know something so I thought that I’d go over and ask her. I waded my way through the swamp and went to the front door. I knocked on it and when she opened the front door I noticed that all the inside was a total mess again. It was still far from finished. This went on, that every time she came over to out house and told us how her house was going on, it was finished inside. Every time I went over there it wasn’t. On one occasion she had some post for me and was going to hand it to me. I made sure that I stood away from the door so that she’d have to come out. She did, and handed me three envelopes. She’d crossed off the address on the front and scrawled our address on the back in black biro but in huge untidy letters. I thanked her and left. This was something that was totally bewildering me and my wife – why it was that every time she came over to us her house was finished yet when we went over there it wasn’t. It was as if there was some kind of magic or mysterious power gripping everything that was causing all this problem and her house was somehow possessed, or maybe she was.

People using magical or mystical powers during my dreams is exciting, that’s for sure

Back into this dream later. For some reason I received a message on my telephone. Instead of the usual telephone message it was another message alert sound that went off with the Monty Python “what is it, my good man? Do you have a message for me” sound. That bewildered me. We seem to have made it into some kind of big time with my guitar and her violin. My wife and I made it onto this folk circuit that was managed by this guy who used to do festivals. It looked as if the two of us would be doing festivals every summer which was very good news indeed. But we were still puzzled by this message that went off first thing after I’d gone back to sleep just now

And when the World is ready to hear it and the Statute of Limitations clicks in, I’ll tell you all a story about that

And while we’re on the subject of stories … "well, one of us is" – ed … that story that I told yesterday about the Byrds and SWEETHEART OF THE RODEO. It seems that I’m not the only one who likes the album.

Grahame sent me a “thumbs up” for mentioning it. I’m glad that it’s on your playlist too. It really is a most extraordinary album and well worth a listen

If anyone else wants to write to me, please feel free to do so. There’s a “contact me” button on the bottom right. Just be aware that if you’re writing to me on a Gmail address then it will be STRAWBERRY MOOSE replying to you.

Another reminder that, if you haven’t read the notice in the sidebar to the right, I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on one of the Amazon links in these pages and subsequently order something via that link, I receive a small commission from Amazon. It doesn’t affect your purchase price but the commission helps me pay some of the costs of hosting these pages so it’s quite welcome.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed a friend and I were working on someone’s house. We were tiling the work surface in the bathroom. He’d already made a start but was having a lot of trouble. When I came to join in to carry on I looked at what he was doing and asked him if he’d started from the back or started from the front. He said that he’d started from the back so I told him that normally you’d start from the front and work backwards. After some complainin ghe took up what he’d put down already and made a start. I had to cut a tile so I used the small angle grinder with a cutting disc on it. Someone else came over to me and asked how good I was at cutting tiles. I said that I could cut L-shaped bits out but I wasn’t any good at any fancy work. Anyway he brought a tile to me and asked me if I’d cut a piece out of it so that it would fit around the sink somewhere in another job that was being done in the house. I said “fair enough” and cut out this piece and it actually worked.

Can you imagine it? me with a delicate touch with an angle grinder? I ask you!

Finally, in our building we had a bunch of kitchen assistants who were a really good laugh. We also had a colleague who was extremely tight with his money. He’d pick up the offcuts of carpet that we’d sold and sell them, and at strange prices like €19.83 or €20.41, something like that and I’ve no idea why. I’d been away from work for a while on holiday. I’d come back and it was break-time, and I’d found myself in the lift with this guy so we went down together. When we reached the bottom the door wouldn’t open. Jokingly I told him “well perhaps we’re out of linoleum and it’s €12:43 so that we can leave”. We heard someone at the other side of the door so we shouted “go on! Get this goddam door open!” in a voice of, like, impatience. Eventually the door opened and it was the two cleaners. In a kind-of mock anger one of them said “trust it to be you to give grief to people who are trying to solve questions about your sport and have them correct” so we made up and she asked me how my holiday went.

It wasn’t the kitchen staff with whom we had the best time. It was the staff in charge of dealing with the rubbish. They were a good bunch of guys and we always had a laugh and a joke with them.

They would always let us look through the skips and on one occasion I salvaged a complete computer and monitor that had been binned.

When I brought it home and got it to work I found to my delight that the operating system was GEM – Graphics Environment Manager, the forerunner to Windows. One of the languages in which I’d learnt to program was GEM (T223, anyone?) so I had loads of fun playing around with it

But that was all a long time ago of course.

This afternoon passed so quickly and I can’t think why. I wrote out most of the notes for the next radio programme and there are only a couple to do now, but I can’t think where the rest of the afternoon went.

But I’ll tell you where it didn’t go. No anti-potassium stuff so despite feeling tired, I haven’t crashed out today. And that’s a novelty. I wonder if I can keep that up or is it just luck and there’s another medication causing the problem.

Tea was air-fried chips with vegan salad and the last of that pile of vegan nuggets from Noz. The freezer is emptying rapidly now and I really do need to think long and hard about making burgers, baking pies and the like. I reckon that it’s time.

Then after a quite chat with Liz and a write-up of my notes I’m ready for bed. And quite right too. I’ve had far too many late nights just recently and I’m beginning to get a stiff neck.

It’s not because I’m sitting in a draught or anything like that. It might be in anticipation of one of my favourite visitors during the night and I haven’t swallowed the Viagra quickly enough

Friday 26th January 2024 – MY BREAD ROLLS …

… were prepared quite early.

Much earlier than I expected too. When the alarm should have gone off at 07:00 I was already sitting working at my desk while the dough that I’d made was quietly rising away in the kitchen.

It was about 04:30 when I awoke, with a stabbing pain in my right foot (which is a surprise because usually I can’t feel very much in there). It turns out that these socks that I have to wear had been rubbing on a certain spot on my ankle joint and it had suddenly erupted.

Nothing that I could do would ease the pain and go back to sleep so round about 05:30 I gave up and arose from the dead. If I can’t sleep now I’ll probably sleep later, but I do that anyway so what’s the difference?

Mind you, I don’t know what the hospital will say when they see my blood pressure, taken as I was being wracked with pain. A reading of 19.8/11.7 is enough to put the willies up even the strongest of spines.

After I’d had my medication and a little pause to catch my breath, I switched off the alarm because, knowing my luck, the alarm would go off as I’m up to my elbows in dough, and then I attacked the bread.

You would think that after all of that I would have slid down another black hole but oh no! The optimistic mood prevailed. I found an antiseptic pad from about 100 years ago still in its sealed packet and strapped it around the wound with half a roll of sticking plaster. Then I could put on my socks.

Surprisingly, the pain began to ease and I could actually walk again so I walked back to the bedroom and the big computer where I transcribed the notes. And here we go again. The anti-potassium stuff that I have to continue to take did its stuff again. Apparently at some point I awoke again with that radio playing that I mentioned yesterday. I’ve no idea what’s happening here.

Later on I was in hospital and was listening to the news. There was a woman who was in Court for refusing to pay a taxi fare because the taxi had called her “Miss so and-so” instead of “Mrs so-and-so””. The taxi driver said “I’m here and you want to go there and you need to travel” so she went with him but didn’t pay. She complained about the extra £3;50 extra terrorism charge on the same day that her husband was arrested and had to identify himself and prove that he wasn’t a terrorist himself which was obviously a mysterious decision all the way round, and then there was another story about a certain company director who was denying rumours that he was paying for everything in gold coins after his company had declared untold wealth and profits and he’d been seen out socialising with someone senior from the Bank of England.

Not a lot on the dictaphone tonight but it’s not bad for only 5 hours sleep at most. And it seems that my favourite young ladies have deserted me again for the time being

For a change I made myself a quick mug of instant coffee and having checked on my bread to make sure that the dough was OK (well, sort-of) I came back and had a nice long chat with Liz. She’d found me a recipe for a black bean burger that she reckoned might work well with other sorts of beans.

As for where I’m going to find some of the ingredients, I’ve no idea. I bet that Leclerc won’t have them in stock. I can see my poor cleaner having to make a diversion via Biocoop on her way to Leclerc.

Earlier on I’d rolled the dough for my bread into a long sausage and then cut it in three equal portions. Now that it had proofed (I wouldn’t actually say “risen” – my bread is proof that I’d be no good as a spiritualist) I baked it and then made a toasted cheese and tomato and onion roll.

It was lovely with really fresh bread but I wish that I could make it rise. It’s compacted and as heavy as lead. But still nice of course.

Having had two mugs of strong black coffee, I came in here to sit at the computer – and promptly crashed out. This anti-potassium stuff really is wicked because it was a deep, complete and absolute sleep that lasted quite a while.

As a result, my lunchtime fruit was more like a mid-afternoon fruit, made even later by the fact that I did some tidying up in there as well. Imagine that! Me, tidying up!

There was some personal stuff that then needed my attention so I dealt with that and then went into the kitchen to make some hot chocolate, only to bump into the cleaner coming in through the front door with some post for me so we had a chat.

After she left I made my drink and then came back in here, where I crashed out yet again.

And if you thought that the last one was deep, what about this one? I even managed to go off on a nocturnal – although I suppose that you would say “diurnal” – ramble. While I was crashed out in the early evening before tea I was with my friend from the Wirral. He’d had some major disappointment and needed to make a phone call. There was a phone box in a cabin by the pavilion in the park where we were so we set off that way. It meant crossing some rough ground where I lost sight of him. Instead I saw a girl whom I knew so I shouted out to her “I thought that I’d lost you” and went over to take her by the hand. However I met my friend and we ended up at the pavilion. He asked me if I knew the dial code for Italy so after some thought I said that it was either 41 or 45 … "it’s actually 39" – ed … He went off to dial and I sat on the floor outside. There was obviously some kind of event taking place because a large queue built up for the Gents – all men in frock coats and top hats. Meantime I was counting out my small change because I’d promised him some liquorice allsorts but was dismayed to see that I didn’t have enough money and after some thought, decided that I’d have to use a note. Pretty soon this queue built up considerably and I found myself in the way. Some of the people began to moan and one or two people whom I knew from work told me that I ought to move or else there might be trouble. I just sat there totally impassively. Just as things were becoming quite heated my friend appeared. “Are we ready” I asked, and when he nodded I stood up and departed with him, leaving those people in the queue to sort things out themselves.

You’ve no idea, by the way, how much truth there is in a small story like that.

And not only that, have you ever had to try to work when you are totally wrecked by this miserable anti-potassiun stuff? I couldn’t see, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t write yet somehow I managed to pour out the remaining notes for the next radio programme. God alone knows what I’m going to find when I come to dictate them.

But I can’t keep going like this. It’s simply not possible. It’s only 21:30 and I’m wrecked yet again.

There’s nothing much to do over the weekend except a radio programme. I’ll probably have a day off tomorrow, spent totally unconsciously as I sink under the weight of this crazy medication.

Tangerine Dream will still be going round on the playlist as they did today but I bet that I won’t hear all that much of it. "To sleep—perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub" said Hamlet, but Richard Thompson told me that YOU DREAM TOO MUCH. IT’S GOING TO END BAD.

Mind you, Richard Thompson was singing in my ear to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE very loudly, and quite right too when I first encountered Castor and I took no notice. "I played" and I was ohhh! so close to being "stung", so what’s going to change this time? I didn’t regret it for a moment at the time, I still don’t and I will live on the energy and emotion for the rest of my life.

Mind you, that’s not saying all that much, is it?

Anyway, I’d better pack up and go to bed nice and early before I slide back into the pit again.

At least the good news is that with this knee brace stocking kind of thing I can move about a lot easier and in less pain too. Liz has found some more so if I’m lucky she says that I might end up with an early birthday present.

Nevertheless it did rather remind me of that famous story from the Crewe Memorial Hospital back in the 60s when a patient was in there with a bad leg injury

"We have some good news and some bad news, Mr Smith" said the surgeon
"OK. Tell me the bad news"
"I’m afraid that we’ve amputated the wrong leg"
"Jesus!" cried the patient. "So what’s the good news?"
"Your bad leg is getting better"

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.

Saturday 20th January 2024 – THIS BLASTED DRINK …

… that they have prescribed me to alleviate the excess potassium in my kidneys really is driving me mad.

Last night I had a drink of it before going to bed and was stark out of everything, including my head, for several hours once I’d gone to bed. Fair enough, it was after midnight when I finally retired but until about 03:20 when I awoke, in exactly the same position as when I went to sleep, I remember nothing whatever.

And then after the helping this morning I was slumped over my desk fast asleep until 11:20, and then it took a good while before I felt in any condition to stand up and make my cheese on toast.

There should have been a helping at midday too but I eschewed that. I just couldn’t imagine the idea of being stark out for several hours during the afternoon.

And so as you can imagine, I haven’t done very much today . And surprisingly, I didn’t do much during the night either. I was working on the radio at one point night and was trying to prepare a programme. We had a visitor, a little girl rather like Shirley Temple, come along so naturally I let her do a little here and there and I played a song for her etc. A few people gathered around the doorway to watch. After we’d done about 3 or 4 songs I said that we were going to continue the programme and I’d play a song for one of the girls standing at the door so I wanted everyone to be quiet. That brought something of a dispute and discussion from some of them. I thought “this isn’t going to be very good radio at all”. Eventually when I had everyone quiet I was just about to play the song when the girl … shall we say … made a noise. Of course the whole studio dissolved into a huge fit of laughter. I thought “God, this is no way to run a radio station with all of this kind of thing going on”.

Later on, my friends from the Wirral and I were out in the red Cortina estate going somewhere when I needed to stop for fuel. There was a little wayside pump at the side of the road so we stopped there. There was no cashier, no owner’s sign and no price displayed. By the time I went to fuel up it had transformed into a proper fuel station with shop, cashier, café etc. My friend told me that he’d paid so I began to fuel up. The car was quite empty so it needed a lot of fuel. I asked him how much he paid but he didn’t answer. Instead, a figure of £91:37 flashed up on the screen. I didn’t realise the significance of this so as he hadn’t answered I asked him again. Again he didn’t reply but once more the figure of £91:37 flashed up on the screen. After another couple of times of asking I suddenly realised that the figure of £91:37 was what he’d paid. The actual total was less than that. He and his wife said “I didn’t realise that you were so poor”. I asked what he meant and he said “the car stereo – you’re using something different and DAMNATION ALLEY is playing. I actually had a micro-card reader with memory card plugged into the aux socket of the car stereo. I reminded him that he needed his change but he seemed to walk away so I had to remind him to collect his change. However we ended up going into a little shop on the site. We had to queue to go in so my friend’s wife reminded me to look for some marmalade. When we finally reached the head of the queue my friend asked for a tin of something that was displayed on the wall behind the cashier. It was written in Chinese characters and was a kind-of duck-egg blue. He studied the tin for a while and said “I think the type that I have is a darker green colour” so the guy pointed to another one on the side wall. It looked the same to me and my friend’s wife whispered to him “never mind. We’ll go to (a shop name). We get more points there anyway”.

And when I awoke, “Damnation Alley” was indeed playing on the computer. How about that for foresight?

And the red Cortina estate again? It’s probably tired of sitting in the warehouse and needs a run out. It’s not been run since 2000 when I drove it from Brussels to Montaigut towing a scrap MkV Cortina on an A-frame.

That was an adventure and no mistake. No rear brakes on it either so I came at night down the autoroute in the darkness and was only stopped once by the Police

But it’ll make someone a lovely, and valuable vehicle. It needs the head refurbishing, especially the valve guides replacing as it burns a cloud of oil when it starts up, which is no surprise due to its intergalactic mileage. But then the head will need refurbishing anyway to comply with “unleaded” standards.

There are no rear brakes, as I said. There’s a strange vibration from the back axle that vibrates the rear brake pipe and fractures it at one of the cylinders so it leaks fluid. The easiest answer is to blank off the brake line and drive carefully.

The wheels need refurbishing too. They are alloy wheels but they are letting out air.

Apart from that, it’s all original, never been welded and it’s a beautiful car that’ll look really nice on someone’s drive or on a Summer Sunday drive.

But I digress … "again" – ed

So that was the story of my night. When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and took my blood pressure – still slowly rising and I don’t have a clue why – not that I am too bothered because I can’t do anything about it anyway so why worry?

Then we had the usual pantomime of me trying to dress and then I staggered off to find my medication, including this blasted drink stuff.

Back here, as I said, I crashed out for several hours and then I wasn’t in much of a state to do anything.

When I finally started work, whenever that was, I carried on with de-duplicating my computer . I disposed of quite a few files that were duplicates or earlier versions of ones already there and one of the directories (yes, I grew up with DOS 5.0) is looking a little tidier now.

While I was searching for something I came across a live football match – Pontypridd United v Cardiff Metropolitan. And I’d watched 55 minutes of it before I realised that it was from last year and I’d seen it before.

There was football later on – TNS v Abertawe under-21s in the final of a cup competition run by the Football Association of Wales.

Not that I’m a big fan of TNS by any means at all – quite the reverse, and for a variety of reasons too that would take far too long to explain. But when they are up against one of the five teams that turned their backs on the Welsh pyramid when it was created in 1992, I’ll be their biggest fan.

Of course, it’s quite true that TNS, based in Oswestry, are in effect an English club But there’s a huge Welsh heritage in Oswestry , which was part of Wales until comparatively modern times and a survey taken in 1972 indicated that a return to Wales would be popular. And the situation has intensified since.

However the big clubs have turned their backs on their country and continued to play their football in the English leagues purely for financial reasons

It’s a long and complicated story but to cut things short … "hooray" – ed … Abertawe’s under-21s made it to the final where they met TNs and I am delighted to say that TNS stuffed them 5-1 in a historic result.

Down the centre of the field it was all pretty much even but TNS’s wingers tore Abertawe’s full-backs to shreds, which you’ll see in due course when the presenting company posts the highlight video.

In the meantime, HERE’S AN INTERESTING MATCH in the second tier between Caerfyrddyn and Rhydaman. I don’t think that I have ever seen so many “sitters” missed in one game in the whole of my life.

Tea tonight was delicious baked potatoes done to perfection in the air fryer, and a vegan salad and vegan burger.

And I’ve reached a crisis because I’m running low, very low indeed on the burgers that I like, the vegetable mash type that are covered in a kind-of battery breadcrumbs. I shall have to smile sweetly at Liz and pick her brains on a way of making them. We had an interesting chat this evening and I should have asked her then.

Or anyone else’s brains if anyone else has any ideas too. Someone always comes up with something.

So that’s it for today. I’ve done enough. And no baking tomorrow means that I can take it easy. But what a life, locked in my apartment and daren’t go out in case I can’t climb the stairs on the way back.

But I’ve been thinking about this nerve issue. I’ve said before that after I’ve had a fall I always seem to feel worse.

And so I’m wondering if it’s not the fall that causing the sudden dramatic deterioration each time, but the dramatic deterioration that’s causing the fall.

Remember when I was at Noz a few months ago when I had that sudden, stabbing pain in my left (the good) leg that caused me to fall down? Maybe it’s that that’s happening in the right leg but because the senses there are dead, I can’t feel it.

If you can imagine an electric discharge or shock in your system for example that scorches down your leg and burns out a nerve, something like that.

So I’ll talk to the specialist when I see him on 14th February. Meantime I’m off to Paris again on Tuesday to have a Holter machine fitted – a machine that monitors your heartbeat on a permanent basis.

Rosemary thinks that that’s the first step before having a pacemaker fitted. I suppose that they’ll have to try to do something to keep me alive, even if it’s just to watch THIS RARE BING6NEEL SYNDROME advance through my body.

"It’s just like you, that is, not to have a simple illness like everyone else" she complained.

Thursday 18th January 2024 – JUST IN CASE …

… you are wondering, after last night’s rather intemperate outburst, I’m still here today.

Not all here, of course, but anyone who has been following these pages for any length of time will have worked that out a long time ago.

In fact I’m feeling a little better in myself and for the first time since I can’t remember when, I actually managed some breakfast today. Only cornflakes with lovely, ice-cold soya milk followed by bread pudding and hot, strong coffee, but it was something

Something else that helped was that I actually had a better night’s sleep last night and wasn’t anything like as tired as I have been of late. I can’t have travelled far during the night because there was only one thing on the dictaphone. I was out in the Midwest USA. There was some kind of car show on. I’d spent the night at a hotel and set out next morning. I was in my red Ford Cortina estate again. I found this parking with all these vehicles pulling onto it so I thought that I’d join in. I had a good seat on the front to watch these like drag racing but it wasn’t that. I watched for a while. I kept disturbing my neighbours by having to go to the bathroom. They said one or two things so I apologised, saying that I was a foreigner. They asked where I was from and I replied “not round here”. They said something about local manners but weren’t particularly unfriendly. When it came to leaving I let the crowd go then walked over to my car. I thought about how I was going to fit a stereo in and came to the conclusion that it would have to go on the bulkhead behind my head (although there wasn’t a bulkhead of course in a Cortina). As I began to leave there was this really ancient Lada estate, long before the ones that we knew in the UK and was in terrible condition. It had an MG Owners Club sticker in the back window so I thought at first that it might have been something British … "in fact it was a Moskvich 401-424E" – ed … There were plenty of old British cars around here, Austin A55s etc. An old woman went into it and began to drive. I wound down my window and shouted “you’re brave, aren’t you?”. She replied something like “I thought you might be a gentleman”. I replied that I was a gentleman but I was totally astonished that she was in this and it was keeping going. The woman said something to her companion in the passenger seat. I suddenly realised that following this woman, I was going out of the wrong entrance. I had to perform a U-turn at a road junction nearly ploughing down a pile of spectators standing at the corner so that I could head back the way that I had come and look for the exit that I particularly wanted.

But I’ve done some miles during the night in the red estate – probably more than I’ve done in Caliburn and it’s certainly travelled all over the USA during the hours of darkness.

In the daytime it still resides quietly along with a 2000E saloon and a Traction Avant in my warehouse in Montaigut en Combrailles and if you remember the diesel Escort van that I mentioned a while back, that diesel engine was destined to go into the estate but like everything else down in the Auvergne, that project is now consigned to the dustbin of history

But I do say that there was only one thing that I dictated about the night. I really am beginning to wonder whether I really am missing anything and if so, is it important? I can’t go around missing visits by Castor, TOTGA and Zero.

Having adopted a new tactic of charging up the phone during the day, it was by the bed last night so I didn’t have far to reach when it went off this morning.

And then it took me, would you believe, 15 minutes to put on my trousers. What kind of state am I in? Just as well that I checked my blood pressure before I began to dress.

Then I had to sort out the medication and watch the pile of morning medicine grow before my very eyes. Swallowing it takes some doing these days and my half-litre of water flavoured with fruit juice doesn’t seem to be enough

It took an absolute age to pull myself together today and feel something like anything but I eventually managed it, much to my own surprise. The hot coffee didn’t help much – in fact I crashed out for a while not long after drinking it

Later on in the day though I decided that I’d have a really good wash before the taxi came for me but as you might expect, it came early today, and at a most embarrassing moment too. It’s a good job that the large disabled persons’ conveniences at the Centre de Re-education were empty when I arrived.

There was half an hour of gentle musculation followed by an hour with Ophélie the ergotherapist where we didn’t accomplish much, and then half an hour with Séverine on a massage table.

Highlight of the day though was the climb back up the stairs. I actually managed four steps on my own before I needed help from the taxi driver and if that’s not progress after yesterday, I don’t know what is.

But look at this! Four steps and I’m celebrating. Are we really down to these depths?

My cleaner popped round today too. She’d been into town for this anti-potassium stuff and I bet that you can’t guess what it is – although you probably can.

That’s right – it’s this dreadful cement mixture that they gave me in the Land Of Grey And Pink. I told my cleaner about how awful it was and she suggested flavouring it with something. I’m sure that if it is meant to taste good it would have something already in it but what the heck – I have some sirop de cassis, some sirop de menthe and in honour of HIS NIBS, some sirop de fraise.

Tonight’s tea was a lazy tea. I didn’t feel like doing much so I had a frozen aubergine-and-kidney-bean whatsit with pasta and veg.

That’s a throwback to my chauffeuring days in Brussels. The hours (and days) we worked were so irregular and long that it was impossible to maintain any kind of timetable.

In my apartment in Jette I had a huge freezer which Liz will remember. Whenever I had a free afternoon I’d cook full woks of curries, chilis, all that kind of thing and bag it up in portion-sizes and put it all in the freezer

Then if ever my boss was at a meal or an event in the evening in Brussels or the vicinity (the apartment at the Avenue de L’Exposition was right by a motorway interchange) I’d nip home, throw a potato, a handful of frozen veg and a bag of frozen something into the microwave and then grab a shower, by which time tea was cooked. It would be eaten and I’d be back on the road before he’d finished his cheese and biscuits.

Despite the somewhat itinerant lifestyle, I always tried to maintain a healthy diet back in those days.

But now I’ find myself in a quandary. There’s a pile of medication that needs to be taken, and my blood pressure too. But the instructions on the blood pressure machine say “take your readings when you are relaxed … ” (yes, quite) “… just before going to bed”.

And than it goes on to say “take your readings before you take your medication”.

The amount of medication that I need to take, it will be a long time before I go to bed, so not even the makers of this tensiometer have a clue what’s going on with some people.

What hope do I have?

It’s rather like Eomer in LORD OF THE RINGS. "Do not trust to hope. It has forsaken these lands"

Wednesday 17th January 2024 – THEY HAVE RECEIVED …

… the results of this morning’s blood test. The nurse who came to inject me and take a blood sample thins morning sent the blood to the laboratory who then sent the results to me and the hospital

And the hospital sent me an e-mail. "Your potassium is still too high" they said. You know, as if they are telling me something that I didn’t know. "Here’s another prescription for some more medication"

So how many is that now? I lost count a long while ago. These days I just shovel down the stuff as if I couldn’t care less. And I don’t, anyway. So what’s one medication any more or any less to the quantity that I’m taking?

Sometimes I think that they have run out of ideas and are just prescribing any old medication in the hope that they find something that might work.

And before anyone says anything, that’s not meant as a criticism at all. Anyone who reads ABOUT THE LATEST STAGE of mutation of this illness will notice words like "extremely rare neurologic complication", "Given that BNS is so rare" and "There are a few options when it comes to treatment so the type one will choose is completely individualized".

So what the hell does the hospital do?

There’s certainly no complaint from me about the kind of care that I’m having. Everyone is going above and beyond what is reasonable to make sure that I’m being well-looked after. My poor cleaner is running her socks off with trips to the pharmacy.

And I do have to say that I was told almost 8 years ago when I first went to Leuven that the end wouldn’t be pleasant. And in fact one of the reasons for going to be treated in Belgium is that I could choose when the end would be and I wouldn’t have to put myself – or anyone else – through all of this nonsense.

But perhaps it’s as well that I’m living in a (nominally) Catholic non-laïc country because the end would have been a long while ago. I can’t keep going on like this.

In fact, the end would have certainly been this morning after the events of last night.

You won’t believe this – or, perhaps you would because some of you have been followers of these pages since they first saw the light (in one form or another) during the heady days of T102 in 1997 and are quite used to this kind of thing because it happens all the time, but one of last night’s visitors was none other than Castor – and I wasn’t there.

Well, maybe there in body but not in mind, and certainly not in Spirit. Castor and I were playing with Hawkwind last night and I died in the middle of one of the songs, DAMNATION ALLEY. Of course Castor was distraught. She was surprised that the band had played that song knowing how ill I was. She asked one of the roadies if there was anything that she could keep as a souvenir. They said that they might be able to let her have a tyre from the vehicle, presumably the “eight-wheeled anti-radiation tube” but they weren’t sure if that would be possible. Another song that they played as a kind of tribute for me afterwards but I can’t remember which one that was. They then began to play another song and again she was annoyed about this because it was very personal to me. After a while she began to realise that it was also upsetting someone else who everyone wanted to upset so they were playing it deliberately. That thought seemed to cheer her up a little.

But can you believe it?

Something else that has gone horribly wrong today is confirmation of what I’ve been saying for 18 months, in that every time I have a bad fall, it makes things worse elsewhere and coming back from Re-education today, I couldn’t get back up the stairs even with the taxi driver helping me.

The power in my left leg has now gone and that, dear reader, is that

My cleaner came round this afternoon with a lorry-load of medication today and I told her quite frankly that if someone were to give me the option of going for a really decent and complete 8-hour sleep and never waking up again, I’d take it without a second thought.

She was quite naturally horrified, but that’s where we are right now.

At least last night’s sleep wasn’t all that bad. But it was another desperate scramble to find the phone when the alarm went off. Since the tragic events of Saturday evening the phone charger by the bed has been lost in the chaos and I’m having to charge it elsewhere

After taking the blood pressure (high as usual and I’m expecting another medication for that at some point) I went for the pile of medication and then came back in here.

There was a radio programme to send off so I had a listen, and found a glaring error so I had to re-edit it.

Years of bitter experience have taught me never to over-write anything but to prepare a re-take so I have all of the speech files at various stages of re-editing saved as (the date that I recorded it)_R(evision)1, R2, R3 etc so it’s easy to go back to the earliest revision, find a bit that I’ve cut out in subsequent revisions and then add it back into the programme to make up for the error that I cut out and the programme for broadcasting on Friday then becomes “emission_240119_R1”

And then I had a listen to the dictaphone. Some of the stuff I’ve already mentioned but there was other stuff on there too. I was playing in a rock band in the back of a trailer being pulled by a car. Because it was so narrow and the field of view was so deep the sides of the trailer folded back and were pinned back so that the crowd could still see whoever was at the edges of what in fact was the stage. We played a couple of Hawkwind numbers, including SLEEP OF A THOUSAND TEARS, a song that Castor and I had messed about with on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. The dream went on from there for quite a long time but I was of course more interested in the song and kept on going back to the song and being on stage again. But I was certainly back home with my family at one or two points during the dream

I went to see my aunt in London and I’d bought her a bed. There was another young guy there when I arrived. We erected this bed together. She tried it out and thought that it was wonderful. After we’d chatted for a while we both left and headed for the Underground. I asked him where he was going. He replied that he had to go right the way round the city on the Underground to see his aunt, which is why it cost him a fortune whereas my journey back to one of the mainline stations was a lot quicker and a lot cheaper.

And that was all the work that I have done today. For most of the rest of the time I’ve been asleep. I really have. It’s been one of those days when I’ve felt like doing nothing at all. Liz had a chat on the internet with me but regrettably I fell asleep not once but twice in the middle of it.

The taxi driver who came to fetch me didn’t feel like getting out of his car and I can’t blame him in this weather so I had to struggle downstairs on my own.

Once I arrived I had Ophélie the ergotherapist trying to teach me a good way to get in and out of bed.

"Come this way" she said, leading me to the bed in one of the ante-rooms
"Well I never!" I thought. "Well, not for a while anyway"

There was half an hour on the walking carpet and then Séverine trying to help me as much as she can, which wasn’t easy.

A little earlier I mentioned the struggle to return home, and then I had my hot chocolate and a chat with the cleaner, to which I referred just now.

Having crashed out yet again, I’ve been for tea, a left-over curry, my first food of the day, and then I’m off for a hot drink and bed.

But where do I go from here? I dunno, and quite frankly I’m past caring. There has to be an easier way than this to go about things

And believe it or not, onto the playlist as I typed out the line above came Hawkwind and MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE
"IF YOU CALL THIS LIVING I MUST BE BLIND."
I couldn’t have said it better myself

Monday 15th January 2024 – YOU’VE NO IDEA …

… or maybe you have, I dunno, about how much my weekend’s excitement took out of me. Much of my day has been absolutely horrible.

Considering that there was no alarm this morning, leaving the bed at about 07:30 this morning was quite an achievement but I managed it all the same.

And I wished that I hadn’t because I didn’t last long.

Liz and I had a little chat for a while and I could feel myself slipping away once or twice but then I was gone. And gone for good too. It was like those situations that I was having when I first moved to Leuven in 2016 when I’d have these spells where I was totally unable to function.

There were several phone calls that I largely ignored and at one stage my cleaner came down to see me. She took one look at me and said "tu as la tête vraiment dans les vases" – “you’re just not here, are you?”

And I wasn’t either.

At about 14:00 I answered one phone call. It was this guy with the equipment for my apartment. “Can I come by in half an hour with the things?”

Seeing he was here, he was here, so I thought that I’d better try to do something. Margaret Thatcher once said something like "anyone can do a good job when they feel like it, but it’s doing a good job when you don’t feel like it, that’s the key to success" and really and honestly, I didn’t feel like it.

Nevertheless, by the time that he did come round (at 15:45 in fact) the place was looking better and I’d even contacted the Centre de Re-education for my timetable this week and booked the taxis.

Once he and his floozy had gone, having damaged my bath (and I’ve no idea what the landlord will say about that), I downloaded the dictaphone notes. I’d come back home from Europe. I was in a yellow LDV. I was back there and I had my old lagoon blue MkI Cortina and one or two other vehicles. We were having a huge row about something else as we usually did. My brother took out an indelible pencil and scored a huge brown cross on the back of my LDV. I asked him to remove it but he refused so I told him that I’d phone the police if he didn’t. He replied “go ahead” so I did. A policeman turned up, inspected everything, and told my brother that he’d be charged with committing criminal damage, which didn’t go down very well with the rest of the family because to date he didn’t have a criminal record. The policeman noticed my blue Cortina and that it hadn’t been taxed for over a year. He looked at his records and found that there was an entry there that it had been seized by the police. When he showed me the log book, that was what was written in there I wondered how that was possible because I actually had the vehicle in my possession so it certainly can’t have been physically seized by them. Then I began to think that I’d better do something about finding a place to hide it. If it’s been noted as seized by the police and now they know where it is, they might come along physically and seize it. That would cause me a great deal of problems. I thought that I’d better start work and do something about this particularly as now having antagonised the whole family they are all likely to seek their revenge in some way and this would be an easy way of doing it.

And if you think that that’s unlikely, you should have seen the letter that my brother wrote to the Cheshire Constabulary in 1993. I bet he hasn’t set foot in a church since. I’ve not heard any stories of any thunderbolts flashing round South Cheshire subsequently.

Really, some people are totally shameless when they think that they won’t be found out. But I’m disappointed that my subconscious is letting me down after the other night. I really had high hopes of that.

Anyway, have I told you about the “friend” that I had, someone who I thought that was the best friend that anyone could ever had and with whom I’d shared the most personal and intimate secrets of my life at one time?

Only to find that he was there on a “Yahoo” Land Rover Group repeating all of my stories and he and his mates were having a good laugh at my expense?

He turned out to be “not a companion upon whom a discerning man would rely for the purposes of hunting the tiger” as FE Smith (Lord Birkenhead) said of one of his clients

One thing that you can say is that “I sure know how to pick ’em”.

Later on I was well into a dream about a rock singer who wrote a song about being naked and searching through a rubbish bin but I cant remember what it’s called now … "neither can I" – ed … but I remember inviting one of my neighbours to come along and take part in some kind of performance while we were going shopping at 10:00 on Saturday morning but I wasn’t even sure about how we were actually going to manage to go shopping on Saturday at 10:00 but that was another question entirely.

Then I sat down to deal with the correspondence. And there was tons of it that has emanated from my last 2 stays in hospital

And have you any idea how difficult it is to concentrate on anything when you have people keeping on contacting you for photos of your knees? And I’m sure you think that I’m joking too.

Actually there’s a community nurse attached to the hospital whose job it is to contact me every week to see how I’m doing with all of this new medication.

She wanted to see photos of my knees after my fall so that she can forward them to the doctor but in the meantime, with my dramatic rise in blood pressure (it was 19.5/11.9 and Percy Penguin was nowhere about) she’s re-prescribed one of the medicaments that they stopped last week.

This kind of thing is never-ending.

Eventually I managed to sort out the most urgent stuff and that will be going about its business once I contact my trusty cleaner, whose presence really is making things so much easier around here.

Tea was a stuffed pepper, quite nice with plenty of stuffing left over for the next few days, and then I’ve been chatting to the family in Canada on the internet. My youngest great-niece is on a student exchange in Edinburgh right now so we’re trying to figure out a way of her coming over to see me, which will be lovely.

She was on a school exchange in Montréal a few years ago and strangely, I’ve seen more of her partner, Dorothée, than I’ve seen of her over the last few years.

But that’s enough for tonight. I’m dead to the world, hurt in places that I didn’t even know that I had places and regrettably, I’ve slipped into the deep pit again, and for no apparent reason too. I really don’t know what’s going on with me right now.

A short while ago I was listening to one of the Paul Rhys “The Saint” programmes, “The Saint Closes The Case”, where one of his allies says "It doesn’t matter. I’ve heard the sound of the trumpet"

But as Frodo, one of Tolkien’s characters in LORD OF THE RINGS put it, "End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it"

Unfortunately, I can’t see anything at the moment. For some reason, I can’t get the other night out of my head.

Sunday 14th January 2024 – GUESS WHO…

… spent several hours in the Casualty department of the local hospital here in Granville last night?

What at first had appeared to be just a dull, throbbing pain though the part of my right leg that can actually feel anything, I could feel it going worse and worse as the evening continued and I began to freeze.

Once in bed, the pain increased and I began to shiver violently. I can recognise the symptoms of severe shock just as well as anyone else and with no improvement with the passage of time (quite the reverse, as it happened), in the end I gave up and phoned my cleaner who lives upstairs.

She was down here in an instant and one look was all that it took. She phoned up the emergency number and we all had a very lengthy chat with three different people before they decided to send an ambulance.

While we were waiting she, following my instructions, packed my emergency bag which she promised to bring during the day, and then she helped the ambulancemen, one of whom I knew, take me to their vehicle. And that wasn’t easy either, 25 steps and no lift.

Once I arrived, I told my story to four different people, one after the other after the other, while the pain was increasing and increasing, and then I was x-rayed with my leg and foot being twisted into some of the most painful positions imaginable, without even the suggestion of a painkiller.

Wheeled out of the x-ray cabinet on a stretcher far too small for me, I was told to “get some rest” which, as you can imagine, on a tiny stretcher with a painful leg overhanging into a void and with no painkiller or anything, was pretty much impossible.

Eventually, they came back, told me that the x-rays showed no breaks, gave me a couple of painkillers and said that the ambulance will be back shortly to pick me up and take me home.

And lifting me up 25 steps with no lift was no laughing matter either for the poor ambulancemen, but I was back in bed in a state of semi-comatose stupefaction (and drugged up to the eyebrows too) by 05:00.

Liz had a chat with me at about 08:45 on the internet but I was talking utter nonsense and fell asleep again, to awaken at 12:45.

The painkillers had worn off by then but I had some more around here. I hate using painkillers because while you’re walking around on damaged bone and tissue, you don’t realise the damage that you are doing. But in my case, the right leg is damaged enough so it makes no difference.

It’s a good job that it’s not my left leg that I hurt. I really would be in difficulty. But even so, the damaged nerve in my right leg that gives me those stabbing pains in the soles of my foot that I thought that I’d dealt with is now back again, and in spades too.

After my delicious soup, bread and coffee (and it really was too) I transcribed the dictaphone notes. Yes, to my surprise there were some, but none of the young lady who was here or hereabouts last night. But we did have various musicians with us, including someone from IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK, un autre groupe … "dreaming in French again, are we?" – ed … who played in front of us. I leant over too far for something and ended up with my right knee totally collapsed just as the football was finishing. I had to watch the first two chapters on my foot but my right arm was really depressed and unstable. I’ve not able to be visited by my mother-in-law about the cables everywhere yet but when I’m too ill to see The Land Of Grey And Pink … fell asleep here … and the chairwoman as I said called the meeting to order and sent me off for these things

And then some woman was being investigated by the Tax Office for some kind of irregularities in connection with a hairdressing salon. It turned out that many years ago she’d also been the subject of an investigation in respect of a chip shop somewhere in Bradwell in Newcastle under Lyme. Quite naturally, having fallen foul of the Tax Office twice they were being quite severe with her. This investigation had been going on and I’d been asked if I would like to take part in part of it. I went along to see the people there at the Tax Office but for some reason they were extremely busy and never had the time really to talk to me. I just sat there and listened. I knew that the information that they were discussing was wrong but what business of it was mine? The interesting part about this was that they came out with something that was called “The Secret Root”. I didn’t have a clue what the Secret Root was. It turned out that it was some kind of secret and unofficial percentage that the Tax Office uses to bind all transactions together, bearing in mind of course that people have business relationships with each other and that all transactions are somehow interlinked. Back several years ago the figure of the Secret Root was 3.9 but now it was 3.1 and that made a difference to some of the calculations that had been made. I was sitting here really interested because I’d never heard of this Secret Root before. I was intent on finding out more about it because it sounded quite so interesting so I didn’t even bother to mention what it was that I’d come along here to discuss. I just sat there and listened while they were discussing this Secret Root.

One or two people who follow this blog know about my relationship with the local Tax Office in Crewe and I’d tell the rest of you about it, except that a certain law called the Obscene Publications Act is still in force. As well as that, there are certain well-enforced Laws of Libel in the UK and the site that deals with the administration of this blog has terms and conditions about its use.

So instead, let me just ask you what the Tax Office and a pelican have in common.
The answer is that that they can both shove their bills up their @rses

There was no pizza dough left in the freezer so I had to make some more. But Rosemary called me just as I was starting and I ended up being all behind. To make matters worse, I used the wrong flour so the base for the one that I baked wasn’t as good as it might have been.

It was still quite delicious though, as I found out when I came to eat it. And I’m sure that the two in the freezer will do just the same.

So doped up to the eyebrows in painkillers and falling asleep, I’m off to bed. And I’ll try to keep out of mischief while I do it. I can’t go through this again.

But final word on the subject of last night must go to my cleaner.

Having called her at some silly hour to come to my rescue, I apologised for waking her.
"Ohh, I wasn’t asleep" she said. "I was watching TV when you phoned"
"Then I hope that I didn’t make you miss anything interesting" I said.
"Don’t you worry about that" she said. "What goes on in your apartment is far more interesting than anything that I could see on TV."

Tuesday 9th January 2024 – I’VE HAD AN …

… absolutely horrible day today. Almost every minute of it has been as rotten as it can be.

So where do we start? I suppose we ought to start with the cup of sodium sulphide. Even drinking it is enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm, and it certainly dampened mine.

But despite crashing out three or four times while trying to write up my notes, I ended up in bed next to a pumping machine pumping this hydrating fluid into me.

All night it was going, like drops of water onto a plastic container. And all night I was lying there wishing that the blasted thing would shut up.

Round about 05:00 I gave up and decided that if I had to listen to a noise, I’d listen to one that I like so I put on the headphones and a Hawkwind playlist. That was about the only time that I had any real sleep.

But it wasn’t all that long. The hospital routine soon started up again and that was that.

For breakfast there was only one bread roll and I had to plead with a nurse to bring me a second

Then we had the endless stream of visitors – doctors, nurses, all of that. And ominous signs from the doctor “if you’re still here on the 24th we can see to that”. That’s like 2 weeks away and they aren’t batting an eyelid about the possibility of me still being here.

There were the telephone calls that I had to make too about cancelling my taxis and my visits to the Centre de Re-education.

My Welsh lesson began at 11:00 so at 10:50 they brought me another cup of this sodium sulphide. What a time to have one of those!

To the orderly who brought it to me I asked for a coffee and despite asking several other people several times I finally received one at 15:15. I don’t know what I’ve done to upset these orderlies on this shift but they’ve really go it in for me.

It’s like the sailor who went away to sea for 18 months and came back to find his wife with a three-month old baby.

He asked his doctor about it and his doctor told him "we have a special name for that in the medical fraternity. It’s called a ‘grudge baby’"
"A grudge baby?"
"Yes. Someone had it in for you."

And in between asking for and receiving my coffee, I’d attended my Welsh lesson (which was a disaster), fallen asleep 4 times (twice in the lesson), had several visits, had my midday meal (which was the most rotten yet) and had several other interruptions.

Some of those interruptions were welcome though. My cleaner sent me the photos of Granville covered in 2cms of snow, my friend in South Germany whose son was sound engineer for the Pink Fairies contacted me because she hadn’t seen me on line for ages and wondered how I was.

Rosemary and Liz had chats on line with me too and my neighbour, the President of the Residents Committee of our building, was in Paris so came here for a chat. She brought bananas and clementines too

And the night shift is much more friendly. They’ve given me another sodium sulphide drink but to date I’ve had two coffees to go with it.

All in all, I don’t suppose that it’s been as rotten as I said at the beginning, but you’ll have to excuse these incandescent outbursts.

“What about the dictaphone notes?” I hear you ask. Well, you don’t want to know about all of them, especially if you are having your tea right now.

But what I can repeat is that A girl of 12 with longish bobbed hair, very thinnish with all brown clothes had won some kind of competition. It meant that she, some guy and me were all living together a this particular house for a weekend. It was some kind of music competition, something like that she’d won but I don’t know why the other guy and I were there at the same time We were all expected to be crushed into the same car etc while we were there so we were going to be thrown together.

There was a couple more dreams that were disturbing to. One was a dream about Hitler’s sister who also had a half-brother from the time when his father was away on a mission at another border post between Germany and Austria. As it happens, the half-brother met the sister during the days of their adolescence and you don’t need me to explain what happened. It resulted in the suicide of Hitler’s sister

The other dream was pretty much of a similar situation but it involved someone else. When I awoke, the name of whoever it was evaporated completely out of my brain unfortunately. Shades of Eric Gill I reckon, rather unfortunately.

And finally, I was with a girl last night. I could feel that our relationship was cooling off. Later on we were invited to go to a restaurant . We had a look at the menu. We were 5 couples, 10 of us and there were 10 different things on the menu. We actually ordered one each so that everything was ordered from the restaurant, the whole menu. For some reason I couldn’t hear what she ordered. She was ordering something off the menu but she wanted something else. She had this long discussion with the waiter but I couldn’t hear a thing of it. Later she came down. Her dress wasn’t fastened so one of the other guys went over to fasten it for her. I thought “hang on, that’s my job”. But the other guy began to fasten her dress up. I thought “hang on – this should be my job. I should be doing that” so I went over and he moved away and I began to fasten it.

“Slipping through my fingers”. “Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory”. That seems to be the story of my nocturnal rambles. Seeing things like this slipping through my fingers. Regular readers of this rubbish will also recall the series of dreams that we had a couple of years ago of members of my family coming along to spike my guns just at a crucial moment in a dream.

Life is so much harder when, as well as your enemies, you are also having to fight those who are supposed to be your friends. People who want to suck you down into the maelstrom with them instead of wanting to rise up. Aren’t I glad that I left Crewe?

Mind you, I’ve encountered a couple of people elsewhere who were like that too. I seem to have a knack of attracting them.

But while I’ve been typing this, Kate has been on line sending me love and asking me questions. I mustn’t be too depressed because there really are some nice people in this world and I seem to attract them too.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … that I don’t have many friends, but those I do have are the best friends that anyone could have in the world.

It’s with your help and strength that I keep on going, and I love you all.

And just as I type this, onto my playlist comes "Moonglum, friend without a reason
Moonglum, friend without a cause
Embarrassed by a show of love
But would stand by the man of the feeble blood
This bond meant much more to him
Than a kingdom offered by a queen
No words for this silent trust
As the Sword goes on to sate its lust"

And how apposite is that?