Tag Archives: liz terry messenger

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?

Monday 8th January 2024 – NOW THAT I …

… have figured out how to tether my phone to my computer using “bluetooth”, I can access a phone hotspot with the computer and post the days’ entries directly.

In fact, you might have noticed that the completed entries for the last 3 days are now already on line.

Once again, I make no apology for anything that is contained therein that might distress or upset people.

Firstly, I have no control whatever over what goes on in my head during the night. And how I wish that I did! I’d have Zero, Castor and TOTGA in there all the time, with a succession of other people who have been so nice to me in the past. Even Nerina. After all, she had a lot to put up with in the old days.

Secondly, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … as this illness unfolds and heads towards its inevitable climax, the state of my mental health is just as important as the state of my physical health and needs to be controlled in a similar manner. And so any intemperate or unpleasant outburst needs to be recorded in the same way that a blood pressure recording is.

Thirdly, these are stressful times and you have no idea. Having a blood test on Wednesday, a desperate ‘phone call on Thursday and a 350-km dash in a taxi early on Friday morning is enough to tell you that something has gone horribly wrong.

And so here I am. Like the famous Maréchal MacMahon, "j’y suis, j’y reste" – “here I am and here I stay”.

So here I stayed, all through yet another miserable night of doors banging, people talking, trolleys rattling and the like. And by 06:00 I’d given up all thoughts of sleep.

Mind you, with the amount of stuff on the dictaphone, and no hallucinations either, I must have done a lot of sleeping at some point somewhere.

First port of call is the bathroom for a wash and brush up and to put on my day clothes. Then an endless stream of visitors to see me – nurses, nursing orderlies and the like, taking my temperature, taking my blood pressure, giving me my medication etc. You can imagine.

There’s been a change of crew too and it took “some negotiation” to have a second roll of bread when breakfast eventually came.

They aren’t very willing to hand out the coffee either and as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that is a catastrophe of tsunami-like proportions.

Once the breakfast was out of the way I sat down to try to decipher the huge mass of notes from the night. The girl who was here a couple of nights ago was there again last night, at school. We were all at school and it was the fancy dress ball so everyone was dressed in fancy dress. I had on a pair of tights and a girl’s skirt which actually belonged to a girl with whom she was friends but I’d carefully concealed it about me somehow even though I was wearing it. She was wearing white tights and a pink top. I didn’t really notice if she was wearing anything else. We both came out of the school door together, she on one side and me on the other and headed for the lift. There was a German World War II jeep heavily camouflaged with bales of hay etc. I always had a great deal of affection for this vehicle and the people who drove it and I even happened to like one of the girls on it, whom I was hoping to bump into at some point. We were all waiting there for the lift. The lift came and the jeep drove on, then it looked as if the lift was about to leave. I said “oh no, it’s not going to leave, is it?” but it stayed so the girl and I boarded. At that point, all through this dream Alquin had been playing YOU CAN ALWAYS CHANGE. that was one of the tracks that we were going to play on stage during the concert. I had a feeling that the girl was going to talk about the track, or someone was, and I wanted to keep our selection secret but it was going on and on and on as this dream continued. When I awoke it was actually playing on the computer.

Then we were making arrangements about times to go to do the family banking for the family business that we had. I noticed that I was down to go between 14:30 and 14:45 which was going to be rather difficult because I started work after lunch at 14:00. Trying to evade myself out of the office every day for any length of time without anyone noticing is going to be extremely difficult as I’d already been back that late on a couple of occasions. In the meantime there was something going on in Brighton where there was a killer on the loose. His modus operandi was exactly the same as a series of murders several years ago so naturally the police were following up the trail of the murders committed then. One of them was by a bookcase in a side street so they arranged to set up some kind of dummy person there that this guy could shoot. But a journalist went along with the police and he decided that he’d arrive first and case the area which of course was a really bad thing to do because the guy would notice him but he turned up on his train but there were problems with his train. This meant that the journalist couldn’t get out there at the time that he had planned to be there, maybe 10 minutes before. It was cutting it extremely fine with the journalist doing his dummy run there and the correct kind of time that the murderer committed the crime on the previous occasion at the spot. There were all stories about how the journalist was going to totally wreck the police trap and spoil the show.

When the alarm went off I was in the middle of a dream musing on the state of the world and thinking of a particular woman who had left the oven on too low and too long and had dried out the food that she was trying to cook. There were 11 articles in there altogether to replace articles that had been cooked in the microwave and the previous table-top oven. I had a quick look and the time was only 04:00 so i was obviously a false alarm for some reason – maybe I dreamt it I dunno. Anyway I checked that I wasn’t supposed to be leaving the bed at this time and went back to sleep.

I was home from work and was with Laurence. A woman from work came round. The living room was in a really appalling state with stuff everywhere. I was quite embarrassed and apologised to the woman. I began to pick up clothes but most of them were Roxanne’s. I explained “it’s really difficult trying to live with a preteen daughter. Roxanne is 11 and is at .that age”. I walked out into the hall and threw these clothes upstairs but they missed, fell down and draped all over the stairs again. The woman said that she had a daughter who was 10 but was extremely well-behaved in that matter. I said that Roxanne was very well behaved and was a lovely girl but was in the “attitude” kind of stage. It was very difficult to try to make her see things from maybe our point of view. But it wasn’t just Roxanne’s stuff that was everywhere. It was ours as well. But as I said, it was all extremely embarrassing having people round from work with our place as untidy as it was.

Roxanne was in fact 9 years old when her mother and I separated so I’ve no idea what she was like as a preteen. But she was a normal, happy, healthy, well-adjusted kid when I knew her and there’s no reason to suppose that she was any different than any other kid of that age.

Did I tell you that she was an actress?

It all started one Sunday morning. Where we lived was right on the border between Jette and Laeken (I liked Jette very much) to the north of Brussels and on the house next door to our apartment building was a big sign dating from the 19th Century with the name of the town on it.

One Sunday morning up rolled a TV crew. They set up a sofa in the street underneath the sign and had actors and actresses sit on the sofa and shout “TV Brussel” – the name of the Flemish television company.

Of course, quite a crowd gathered and we looked down from our balcony.

One of the actors was a little girl, black as the ace of spades, and when they looked up they saw Roxanne, blonde as blonde could be with her long hair down past her waist, they called her down and they had the two kids sitting on the sofa, one in contrast to the other, shouting “TV Brussel” together, and she was shown on the cinema and television for months.

They obviously liked what they saw because they took our name and address and a short while afterwards she was asked to appear in a TV film as a schoolkid playing in a school playground. She passed the audition and the screen test and off she went.

Sometimes I wonder if she continued afterwards.

There had then been some sort of firework display in the vicinity. A friend of mine had been to see it and had come back horrified with stories of what had been going on. A little later on we’d been somewhere and come out, and bumped into a woman. She was talking about her 2 daughters who had been to the firework display. One of the daughters had come out with ” mummy why didn’t you disappear as quickly as (her sister)?”. The woman with me again told her story about what she’d seen. As we all turned to go afterwards there was a big sign pinned to the wall over an advertising hoarding “hey Eric, your websites in April had more visits than this discussion” which I thought was quite funny. A little further on we came across an internet box, one of the street internet boxes where all of the connections to the individual homes were wired. This one had been smashed open. All of the glass was smashed and it was difficult to see whether the cables were still intact. There was a policeman there examining it so we had a chat about that, the internet and things in general

Finally there was a dream where the Welsh rugby team were playing the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team. I was explaining the rules and regulations to someone but I was actually dreaming and speaking in Welsh at the time during the dream. We were interrupted by breakfast coming early but I noticed that on the tray there was no coffee. I asked the boy who was delivering them if he could go along and fetch me a very large coffee from somewhere. Of course, that part about the coffee and the breakfast coming early was certainly a dream. It never ever happened.

Last it may well be, but not “finally”. There was more stuff than this but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your tea right now.

It took an age to transcribe these notes as the doctor, the one who had given me the lumbar and thoracic punctures, came to see me.

Apparently the creatine and potassium in my kidneys are preventing them from functioning correctly and what could happen risks being fatal. So they intend to give me all kinds of teratments to try to reduce the levels.

They also have to stop giving me certain medication too, and for that I have to be under constant medical supervision as most of the suppressed medication is my cardiac medication.

All of this is much more serious than it sounds, apparently. They think that I might be at Death’s Door but I mustn’t worry. They’ll do their best to pull me through.

There was the continual procession of nurses and orderlies, and I managed to blag a coffee here and there, but after they coupled me up to a perfusion – apparently I need rehydrating – I didn’t see anyone for hours and it wasn’t until 18:30 that I had a cup this afternoon, much to my dismay.

Ingrid rang me for a chat this afternoon, one of our usual multilingual chats, and I’ve also chatted to Liz, a couple of neighbours and Isabelle the infimière ambulante

Tomorrow I need to chat to the Centre de Re-education and the taxi company to cancel everything that they have arranged for this week as I won’t be here.

Rosemary sent me a brief message to say “it’s snowing here”. I replied “so what? It’s snowing here too”. And it is. Quite heavily too but it’s not sticking – yet. Not that I care because here in The Land Of Yellow And Orange I have the heater going full-tilt and for once in my life I’m warm.

But that’s not all that counts. The food here is pretty dreadful, I’ve had to have another needle in my right hand now for a perfusion as the one in the left arm had to be changed.

This perfusion will last for 24 hours, so I’m told. It’s already had me flat out on my back for several hours. But just now I’ve had to have one of these sodium sulphide drinks so I’ll be out of my head for the next few hours.

Either I’ll be dead to the world in a few minutes and we’ll have a blank page, or else you’ll be in for the most exciting dreams of your life.

Watch this space.

Sunday 7th January 2024 – WHAT A WAY …

… to spend a Sunday – all doped up and nowhere to go.

Yes this morning they gave me some more sodium – sodium sulphide this time – but in liquid form. “Here – drink this!” and so I did, and it’s disgusting.

No hallucinations, so no Zero, Castor or TOTGA to keep me company, but it didn’t ‘arf knock me for six and I was flat out for a good part of the day.

It was rather unfair, because I was awake quite early – ridiculously early for a Sunday in fact. And there’s tons of stuff on the dictaphone too as you’ll find out in a minute.

One of the nurses came by. "If you need any help in the shower, don’t hesitate to ask". To which I took no notice.

But when the second nurse came past and repeated the same phrase, it was "Okay, okay, I get the message. I need a shower."

Mind you, it was nice under the shower. I really did enjoy it.

After breakfast I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I’d been living a kind of extremely nomadic life … "no surprise there" – ed …. It wasn’t that I was broke either. I had plenty of money. I was living in the attic of a folk club where I had to climb up a whole series of strange steps to haul myself up through into the top so all my post was being directed to my eldest sister. She forgot to deal with some of it for a while. It turned out that I’d had the option on a house for which I’d signed and for which the bank was arranging a mortgage but she didn’t give me some of the letters which meant that the option had expired so I wasn’t going to have that house after all. That was extremely distressing to me. At the same time I was driving around in BILL BADGER my old A60 van. It had no tax on it and I’d already been stopped twice by the police. It had no insurance on it either and they had noted that. I’d also driven through a speed camera at one time faster than I ought. I was living a temporary, nomadic life and none of this had been taken into account anywhere so one day I would be called to account, I’d have all these things on my driving licence. I’d have 9 points and with another 3 points I’d lose my licence. I could see that it wouldn’t be long before that happened, having these 9 points all together and then having to go carefully for all this time and in the meantime having the van MoT’d. I could see that all of my life at the moment was falling to bits. Nothing was going right and I had all kinds of problems. I was just extremely distressed by all of it.

And that’s not an unusual state of affairs in my dreams – and in real life too, is it? Nothing going right and the wheels dropping off everything all the time

I forgot to mention that at one point I had to climb into my attic at this folk club. There were plenty of people there. Sitting at the foot of the stairs was an old guy with 2 children. I thought that one of them was a girl so I said “excuse me, miss” but it turned out to be a young boy. That was extremely embarrassing too.

There was a young boy rather similar to Jimmy Clitheroe, very tight with his money and always trying to find some more. There was some kind of party that he had to attend, which involved spending £5:00 to go. He was keen to go but there was an argument downstairs at the door when someone who appeared to be drunk said that he was a representative of the Co-op or something. Jimmy Clitheroe pushed him out and closed the door, but the pane of glass broke. Everyone else was broke too. One old man who was there was complaining about how hard up he was. He’d gone through his accounts to show that he was broke, rang up the glazing company and gave them the measurements for the window. When asked about the payment foolishly gave his own bank card number. This boy Jimmy Clitheroe was quite pleased about this because he’s got away without paying anything but his mother had learnt what was going on. When it came to giving him his pocket money for the next week she handed it out and said “here’s you pocket money minus £1:00 for the old guy who had to ring up etc an here’s another £1:00 for the house for the inconvenience”. That meant all his pocket money and he didn’t have any money to go to visit his friends at this dance so he couldn’t go … fell asleep here … what I meant to say that everyone thought that he would be unhappy about it but instead he remembered the song about “one wheel on my wagon”. He went off singing that. That seemed to make him a lot happier about the situation.

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few right now, I don’t actually fall asleep. I am asleep when I dictate these notes – something that years of practice has enabled me to do. What happens is that slowly I drift off into total silence while I’m dictating and after a few seconds you’ll hear a slow, deep rhythmic breathing,

There was also a dream involving a herd of polar bears being given sledges on a kind of miniature railway to go downhill to the sea. Instead, on their way down they encountered a herd of wildebeest and the wildebeest encountered a couple of humans and you don’t really want to know what happened especially if you are eating your tea right now.

I was round at an estate agents later on trying to find a house. There was one described as “2 bedrooms with study” so I wanted to find out more about it. I noticed that it had a large garden, part of which was lawn etc and the other part was gravelled over as if someone had been parking several cars there. That immediately piqued my interest. There was also a discussion about commercial properties. There was a shopping mall that had been built a long time ago but no-one was quite sure when. Several of the units were empty so people were looking at them with a view to trying to find some kind of clue as to their origin. They seemed to think that it might go back as far as 1890 but that was doubtful. There was one big unit that was empty. It seemed to be the kind of unit that a certain ladies’ clothes shop was seeking so they contacted the shop. They came to see it but it wasn’t really suitable for them. In any case the description of “large sales floor with plenty of storage” didn’t seem to fit. I couldn’t find the storage anywhere. It certainly wasn’t in the basement underneath so I was wondering where it was and how it was controlled or made.

And then I was being interviewed by the police about something or other. They asked about my movements over the last few days. I explained that they were extremely difficult but nevertheless I pointed out two calls to the hospital between the first and the third of the month to which I’d been invited. That was what I’d been doing for a couple of days just recently. It was the First of March until the Third of March and this was about the Fifth of March. He saw that there were several difficulties recording them and asked me if I could transfer them over to my big computer. I told him that it would be put on the big computer in due course which seemed to satisfy him for the moment but to me he was more interested in my notes and records on the computer than he was on this murder in my opinion. He didn’t seem to ask me many questions about the murder at all.

Of course, in real life I was a great deal of use to the Cheshire Constabulary. Almost every day I was being asked to help them with their enquiries.

As I said just now, I’m asleep when I dictate these dreams. But usually when I’m typing them out later I have some kind of vague recollection of them in the back of my mind. Rarely though, I have no recollection whatever, and that one was one of those.

We then had an issue of dark olive green cabs for lorries that had been discovered somewhere in Greenland. These cabs were new and had never been fitted. I was trying to identify them. They looked very much like ERF cabs to me, or maybe Foden cabs but someone seemed to think that they were MAN cabs, and if I posted them as MAN cabs someone would immediately recognise them and claim them as theirs as not having been delivered. I was looking through the internet trying to find identical cabs that had been labelled but I wasn’t having much luck because for some reason the computer kept throwing me out of the page that I was trying to search so I couldn’t actually see properly what the results were of my search on line.

Finally there was an advert in one of these magazines about a girl looking for a companion. Out of boredom I replied. Much to my surprise I found that, mush as she was a bit of a flighty piece, she seemed to be quite nice and what’s more, she seemed to like me very much. We developed quite a good rapport quite quickly. It was while I was running the taxis so I could only see her on Saturday nights but somehow that seemed to fit in with her timetable too so she was there making plans etc on what we’d do on different Saturday nights. She planned a night where we’d go to have a drink or something and end up sitting on top of a kind of cliff somewhere like at Frodsham and watch the stars, which sounded very nice to me as we’d just been for a drink but for some reason we’d had to come home early. Back at home early she was making a drink. There was still a group of taxi drivers there waiting for work to come in, and there was a pile of little children being dressed in winter coats ready to leave. But while this girl was making a cup of tea I was standing right behind her as cose as I could be, holding her by the waist. We were laughing and joking. My elder sister came in and made some remark about us being home early but last week we’d ended up in some farmyard or other for several hours completely up to no good. I didn’t realise that I was being spied upon so closely. That was what I said, but it was all extremely humorous. My elder sister began to chat to this girl as if she was already one of the family. It ended up being quite a warm ambience of the type that we have in dreams every now and again, something that was quite pleasant and I didn’t want it to stop.

Terry came on line for a chat later, to remind me that it’s the anniversary of our visit to the Stade Louis Dior where we stood on the terraces and watched US Granville, who play in the equivalent of the Conference North with a team of taxi drivers, school teachers and shop assistants stuff the Girondins of Bordeaux in the French Cup.

And how Bordeaux were unhappy and completely lost their cool as well. It was embarrassing to watch a Premier League club behave like that.

We travelled many a mile together, Terry and me, and we worked on many roofs.

tt would always be the same story. Terry would ring me up a about 08:00 "are you free today?"
"You have to say the magic words, Terry" I’d reply
"Liz is baking."

And for someone who said how much he hated cats, I’ll never forget how gentle he was with those two feral kittens he found asleep in a tyre in his barn at Le Fournial.

Liz came on line later too and we had a chat for a while which was nice. I also had a chat with someone who appears quite often in these pages, but usually during a nocturnal ramble. That was lovely too but I wish that she’d appear in real life too. As for who she was, I’m sure that regular readers of this rubbish will recall a few names and have a good guess.

The doctor came by but didn’t have much to say for himself. He asked about the perfusion so I told him about the hallucinations, so I suspect that that’s reason for these drinks today.

Apart from that, I’ve had some reading to do. And talking about global warming, I’ve found a paper presented to the Woolhope Naturalists’ Club of Hereford as early as 1867 by a certain T. Curley, CE FGS, discusses the subject and that really is the earliest that I’ve ever seen where systematic global warming has been the subject of discussion.

Not only does he discuss it, he presents some interesting calculations too, some of which I know to be confirmed by other scientists and geographers.

But I’ve also been asleep for much of the time thanks to this witches’ brew of sodium sulphide. During one of my (many) dozes during the day I went off into a dream with a group of young people but I awoke quite dramatically and the whole thing evaporated from out of my mind. Absolutely all of it.

And now that I’ve had my depressing evening meal (I’m glad that I brought these extra food supplies) I’m going to have yet another one of these sodium drinks. So I imagine that it won’t be long before I start to fall asleep and disappear into the Arms of Morpheus. I suppose that I’d better find the bed quickly before I crash out on the ………. zzzzzzzz.

Saturday 6th January 2024 – I AM ABSOLUTELY…

… wasted. i4ve had a horrible day today, probably the worst that I have ever had.

You’ll remember the perfusions that I had and the hallucinations that went with it. Well, the story continues.

At 23:30 or thereabouts two guys brought a stretcher here and I clambered aboard, to be whisked off to another building here for an echograph on my lower stomach and kidneys.

When the echographist had finished, the ambulance brought me back here.

When I was tucked up in my nice little bed a nurse came round and coupled me up to another perfusion, and we started again with the hallucinations.

At first I tried to dictate them as they happened but I was totally overwhelmed. I managed so many and then that was that.

Unfortunately none of my favourite characters appeared to calm me down. Things were completely and utterly out of control. Every time I closed my eyes that was that – I was off again. It took hours for me to go to sleep.

It was quite early when I awoke too and I had to wait around ages for breakfast. I was starving.

But today, I’ve been totally out of it. This perfusion, which is a mixture of sodium chloride and calcium chloride, has finished me off.

The doctor came round to see me too. I have a critical level of creatine in the kidneys and a critical level of potassium in the bloodstream. The perfusion is intended to counteract the potassium.

When I told him about the side effects he didn’t really say very much, which surprised me.

And the side-effects are the hallucinations and the fact that I have been out of it all all day, as if someone has slipped me a Micky Finn. I’ve hardly been able to function at all and for much of the day I’ve been asleep. The rest of the day, I’ve not been able to concentrate at all on anything.

To transcribe the dictaphone notes it took ages – firstly because I was in no fit state to do it and secondly there were so many of them. And as usual, they are shown here exactly as I dictated them, with no apologies or explanations. There was a lot of noise during the night and a lot of dreams too. I dreamt once that they were making really loud noises removing some kind of perfusions out of the way of everyone whom I knew, including people like TOTGA, Castor etc but I couldn’t really see who they were. It turned out that they were nurses here tidying up. One of them awoke me to give me a perfusion in the arm.

Almost immediately going back to sleep I dreamt of being pushed around on a stretcher by a couple of young people, one of whom was playing the accordion with a lot of traditional folk melodies playing on it.

While I was awake having this perfusion I had a hallucination again. This time I was being pushed by someone in a wheelchair. They said that they were going to take me to somewhere where they would put me in a sitting position. Once they’d done that they’d take me to a place where I could sit which was much more exciting than where I was at the moment.

Also 2 women pushing me in a wheelchair to a Renault Espace but it looked nothing like a Renault Espace at all and was all glass so that everyone could see everything that was going on inside it. I was taken in this wheelchair by these 2 girls, put inside the Renault Espace which was driven to another part of the hospital where a couple of guys were waiting. Once our car arrived and unloaded me these 2 guys took over and began to push me. But I was actually awake and conscious and lying in my bed in the hospital when I was having this hallucination. It certainly wasn’t me being asleep and dreaming

Later on I was in an Indian Restaurant with a couple of people. We were chatting away. I went over to a drawer, pulled out a cheque book from there and wrote a cheque for £95:00 to the bank. One of the people watching asked me why. I said that I had debts to pay. He said something like “don’t we all”. He wondered how much it was o I showed him. It was £495:00. He said “you’ll pay that quickly paying it at that rate”. I said “it should only be £75:00 but I’m paying it in advance”. He actually shook my hand. Then a server came to see us but but was actually someone with the head of a cash machine so I fed the cheque into it. We began to talk about soup so me, the man and his young daughter sat down at a table where there were already several people sitting – it was a long bench-type table with benches either side. The guy said “you’d better go and ask the chef – he mentioned the chef by name but I’ve forgotten – because he’ll have soup that he’ll want to get rid of at the end of the night.

Then someone asked me to raise my pelvis so that they could close the ambulance doors – while I was still awake. These hallucinations are incredible.

I closed my eyes and I was immediately in a taxi queue, still in my wheelchair. There was all folk music going around. Even now as I’m dictating this I can hear folk music played on a violin. It really is strange because there’s nothing happening outside at all – it’s all in my head, whatever it is that’s going on. I’m wide awake and I’m just hallucinating like this every time I close my eyes.

They were waiting outside there questioning, joking, reduced to a question about pyjamas. I was ….. unintelligible … that was my job for the evening. Those projectiles on the bed ….. unintelligible … The room of mine was downgraded from mid-dangerous to less dangerous from a security point of view after a security patrol had been to inspect it. Someone could fire into the room but they wouldn’t be able to actually hit anyone so it was considered to be a very low risk at all.

There was a song rather similar to THE BARRICADES OF HEAVEN. I’d recorded it twice and wanted to dictate one. The thing was that one of them was in really perfect condition and sounded really well but there was only threequarters of it but the other one which was complete, the quality wasn’t as good so I was trying my hardest to figure out a way to make a complete one using the quality of the best one. But in the end I ended up deleting one of them, the one with the best quality because it was incomplete. Then I had second thoughts of re -recording it. I was sitting there scratching my head puzzling over what I was going to do

Despite being in the kind of condition in which I find myself, I’ve had some nice chats with my neighbour from Granville, with Liz and with Tina over the internet and that was really nice. The nursing staff here are nice to and bring me extra coffee, bread and fruit to make up for the food that I can’t eat.

They have bandaged up my leg where I have skin issues and done all they can to help me. One of them was very interested in my story about hallucinations too.

We have rock music fans amongst them too and I’ve had a couple of interesting chats. Apart from the perfusions I seem to have struck lucky with this hospital. Castle Anthrax was nice of course but things seem to be much more urgent here in The Land Of Yellow And Orange

Anyway, tonight there are no perfusions planned so I’m hoping to have a good, deep sleep and see what tomorrow might bring. And if it’s any more calcium chloride I’ll go spare.

But they are doing their best to treat me and if they think that something is necessary, who am I to complain? I’ll just have to take the side effects in my stride and suffer accordingly.

"SO PLACE YOUR TRUST IN SCIENCE
FOR IT HAS COME SO FAR
WHERE NECROMANCY LIVES FOR EVER
PRESERVED WITHIN A JAR"

Tuesday 26th December 2023 – I’VE HAD A …

… horrible day today, I really have.

All my energy has completely gone and I feel totally washed out. It’s like in LORD OF THE RINGS when Bilbo Baggins says that he feels "like butter that has been spread over too much bread."

These days I am actually quite tired all the time but I could feel it coming on last night when I said that I didn’t have the energy to go to bed. And I meant it too – the effort to haul myself out of my chair here was far too much.

But eventually I made the short transition to bed and once I fell asleep, which wasn’t straight away, I slept until 09:45

After the medication I came in here and listened to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was some kind of dream going on where I was in my Welsh class and we were being asked questions about botany like “is a geneste the flowering head of some kind of plant?” Of course, what do I know about plants? But there was a continual aroma of coffee during this dream and I actually awoke at one point in the middle of the night and began to look around for my coffee mug.

Then there was some kind of discussion about the position of ships, where they were moored in the harbour. The captain of the port was sending out all kinds of instructions to all kinds of captains. One on particular was proving to be rather complicated and couldn’t understand a few issues arising out of it. The recipient was certainly not telling him the situation. In the end he went down to look. It was like a new road on a housing estate with all these raised kerbs propped up in concrete until the tarmac came etc. He couldn’t find the particular ship. In the end he had to approach the captain of the ship again. The captain of the ship reminded him that the ship is in actual fact registered to him (the captain of the port) so everything that is being received is being received on his account. That was it’s not actually gone into the public domain to this particular guy but should all be in the captain of the port’s own personal mailbox

There was something else that we had a property to let in London, a room. I’d put an advert in a newspaper but every time someone rang I was always busy doing something else. As a result we were having an endless stream of messages on the answerphone but I really couldn’t stop what I was doing to go to answer them. There were some people dictating “War and Peace” practically down the answerphone about their own apartment needs etc. I wished that I had just 5 minutes where I could actually get on and arrange a couple of interviews and have the apartment shown to the World and find a taker for it but at this rate that’s never going to happen.

And that’s the story of my life, isn’t it? always trying to find that elusive 5 minutes to do things

Finally there was also something happening in a log cabin in the wilds of Texas. Some drifter had turned up and the guys who lived there let him lodge with them for a while. They worked out that he obviously had some kind of money etc so they set an ambush for him, to try to trap him in a corner of the cabin where they could attack him. He was well aware of what was going on and managed to escape the trap but couldn’t exit the cabin so installed himself in a corner with a pile of crockery and glass bottles etc as ammunition, trying to hold them off. An old black servant of these 4 guys took his side too. In the meantime there was a wooden shack in the vicinity being used as a bar. It was rather notorious for all kinds of different things. Right at that moment a group of 4 Texas Rangers on motorcycles turned up. They stormed into the bar and began to harass the patrons and insist on searching the premises.

Once I’d finished that I turned my attention to my festive breakfast, beans on toast, mushrooms, sausage, hash browns and mushroom pâté on toast, with really hot strong coffee. But that didn’t awaken me much.

There was time for a good wash and clean-up ready for my taxi, but it came quite late today and I missed half of my ergotherapy session.

It’s not as if I mind going to the Centre de Re-education but what I do mind is how they arrange it. If it were one course straight after another straight after another, that would be fine but today there was half an hour between ergotherapy and physiotherapy, and then45 minutes wait for the doctor.

And they aren’t keeping me on after the end of January which is a shame but the doctor wrote out a prescription for physiotherapy at home.

The taxi came on time and back here, my cleaner came round for her Christmas present and a few other goodies to distribute around the people in the building.

But once more I had to smile at Rosemary. She’s clearly not used to having a cat around the house.
"How’s your cake?"
"Myrtille approves"
"How do you mean?"
"I came downstairs the other morning and noticed a large cat-sized bite missing from the cake"

She still puts Myrtille outside at night, but it won’t be long before she is sleeping on the bed.

When Nerina and I had 4 cats, we weren’t ever given the choice. We had a cat flap so they could come and go as they liked, and even if we closed the bedroom door, Tuppence, my old black cat, knew how to open it and in no time at all there would be 6 of us on or in the bed.

Each of the cats had its own place on the bed and if you rolled over in the middle of the night you’d have a claw in your leg and "this is MY place".

Sleeping is when a cat feels most vulnerable so they tend to sleep in a big heap where there are many bodies to protect each other from predators. It’s quite flattering in a way to think that you have been accepted in that way as part of a heap of cats, as a protector and to be protected.

Tea was much better tonight. I remembered how to cook veg in my electric steamer and it worked to perfection. And the Christmas pudding was once again excellent.

Liz reckons that I could cut the Wellington into slices and freeze it (assuming that I have room in the freezer)

As for the crumbly cake, she thinks that I might have over-baked it. That’s entirely possible and a plausible suggestion. I’m cooking with a cheap table-top oven and everything is pretty much hit-and-miss with it.

The irony is that in Caliburn is a proper built-in oven and even the unit to take it, but there’s no chance whatever of that ever coming upstairs. I made it upstairs a little easier today but I wouldn’t it I had to bring anything with me

But that’s about the only thing that is easier. The rest of it is becoming just one weary, dreary trudge onwards to whatever destiny awaits me and there are times when I really ask myself why I’m bothering.

The nurse will be here tomorrow and the new treatment starts. And I shudder to think about that.

The hospital and I have different goals. Their aim is to keep me alive for as long as possible and the longer they do, the more successful they are.

But that’s at a dreadful cost to my quality of life.

There’s no way whatever that I’m going to cling on desperately to life by my fingertips going through all kinds of indignities and humiliations just for the sake of it.

When in the middle of a course of treatment I told them that I was stopping in order to go to the High Arctic for 4 months they were horrified. "You could die if you do that!" they exclaimed.

The truth is that I’m going to die anyway, and if I had the choice, I’d rather be out in a place like Etah, 700 miles from the North Pole where we reached in September 2018 and drop dead then and there rather than 5 years later having spent all those years surrounded by my own indignities.

But I can see that I’m becoming all maudlin and depressing again. I’d better clear off before you lot all start to slash your wrists or something.

Let’s hope that tomorrow is a better day and that I feel more like it. Right now I feel like nothing on earth. And probably look like it too

"Mais où sont les neiges d’antan?"

Monday 25th December 2023 – A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS …

… to all my readers. I hope that you had a lovely day and that Santa was kind to you.

This year I shall be changing the habits of a lifetime and I shan’t regale you about the public conveniences on Crewe Bus Station as I do every Christmas, for the simple reason that they are no longer there.

Like everything else in Crewe these days, they have gone the Way of the West and right now Crewe Town Centre is looking like Dresden in 1945 after an Allied air raid.

And that’s a shame about the public conveniences. I have many fond memories of them and in particular about how a careful study of the helpful diagrams on the walls helped me pass my ‘O’ Level Biology so convincingly.

But anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here. Despite going to bed late last night I was up and wandering about at 07:45 this morning – after just about 6 hours sleep.

It beats me what is going on right now – the days when I could have 10 and even 12 hours sleep weren’t all that long ago, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Mind you, I did notice that for one of these medicaments that I’ve been having since my stay in October, one of the side effects is “disturbed sleep patterns” but I don’t think that it’s the sleeping patterns that are necessarily disturbed.

Once I’d organised myself, I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. Nerina and I were staying somewhere at a hotel, a fairly comfortable hotel. She suddenly announced that she was going to go swimming or to the cinema with some friends from work or something like that at about 23:30. That didn’t bother me but the place needed to be cleaned and tidied as we were leaving. She said that she’d do it when she returned but I told her not to bother. There’s no reason why I couldn’t do it while she wasn’t there. She seemed to want to insist but quite seriously I couldn’t see the point. Once she set out on her way to go I managed to find a polishing cloth etc and began to wipe down the surfaces and the tops of the chests of drawers etc. I had one of these old tape recorder radio things, a Grundig thing. There was a tape of Steve Marriott singing but I can’t remember which group he was in. I put that on to listen to it but the quality was absolutely awful and I couldn’t understand why. It was usually so much better than this. Even Steve Marriott instead of singing was having a really good complain about the quality. I could hear him in between the crackles and whizzes having a really good moan about the state of everything. I just didn’t know why this cassette wasn’t playing properly at all.

It’s been a couple of weeks since Nerina came to join me on a nocturnal ramble, so welcome back Nerina. I know (because it’s been said before) that some people think it’s strange that I’d welcome back Nerina into a nocturnal ramble, but it’s far from being strange in my opinion. Apart from the fact that I actually invited her to share my life all those years ago so she has more right that most to be there, we were in a very bad place at a very bad time with all kinds of very dark storm clouds hovering on the horizon back then.

And given a choice between Nerina and almost anyone else of my family coming along to keep me company, I know exactly who I’d choose

I fell asleep dictating this and I can’t remember where I’d reached. There I was cleaning the room and Steve Marriott on the tape deck of this big Grundig tape recorder-radio thing. The quality was dreadful and I couldn’t understand why it was so bad. Neither could he because while the speaker was crackling and popping I could hear him complain. Anyway I made a start but some people suddenly appeared. There was a recording that needed to be done and could Nerina and I do it? I explained that she wasn’t here at the moment and wouldn’t be back for a while. That didn’t seem to please them at all. They decided to stay. I decided that while he was staying and Nerina would be on her way home from this cinema or whatever I’d go to have a shower. It was one of those where you have to juggle the controls so that it would be correct and then climb over and in to it as if it was the base of a bath.

By the way, for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few these days, when I say “fell asleep” and “woke up” when I’m dreaming, that’s not actually what’s happening.

At the time that I’m dictating, I am in fact fast asleep but I’ve been doing this for 25 years and it’s become an automatism these days. When I “fall asleep” what happens is that the dictating starts to slur, it all goes quiet and then after about a minute or so we have the deep breathing and, occasionally, snoring (and I’m sorry for doubting you, Percy Penguin).

But when I’m “awake” I’m actually asleep but I’m somewhat conscious and aware of my surroundings and when I transcribe the dictaphone notes later I do have a recollection of some of the events.

On the other hand, sometimes, I transcribe some notes that mean absolutely nothing. I have no recall whatsoever of some of the dreams that I have, like the following, which means absolutely nothing to me. I had 2 overtime Gods or whatever fighting over me trying to drag me this way or that way to go along and work under them for some overtime etc. It was quite an extraordinary dream and it all evaporated when I awoke and took hold of the dictaphone but they were pulling me one way and another one another way offering me all kinds of inducements to follow them and do the homework that they had planned. Instead, I kind-of awoke.

Finally I was back in the Vietnamese jungle or some such. We were running a guerilla unit. I was in the stores somehow. We were sending out patrols. I was trying my best to keep our camp quite tidy but no-one else could be really bothered. Stuff was being dumped in the jungle and I was in despair because of this. Someone would have to come along in years time and clean it all away, old metal skips and everything just abandoned. We were expecting to be pulled out at some time. As we were discussing this the phone rang in the office. Someone went to answer it. I remember saying to people that it looks as if we finally have our orders to go. There was no cheering or anything like that from within the hut so I didn’t think anything of it. Then someone came dashing in saying “for God’s sake try to stop such-and-such a patrol”. It seems that someone has sent them off with the wrong gelignite and it’s 10 times more powerful, they stuff they’ve taken, than what they should have. If they are planting booby-trap bombs with that they are likely to become casualties themselves. Of course there’s no way of stopping a patrol once it’s gone out. As it happened, we were lucky. The captain of the patrol had decided that he would sample some of the gelignite to make sure that it worked correctly. When he did, he was astonished by its performance. A simple lump demolished a considerable part of the suburb of one of the towns that he was supposed to be attacking so he too came to the realisation that he had the wrong gelignite so he and his troop beat a hasty retreat before anyone of the opposition realised what exactly was happening and what had gone on.

So today I have emulated my namesake the mathematician and done three fifths of five eighths of … errr … nothing. I spoke briefly to Liz, Alison and my ill neighbour on the internet, and a neighbour came here for five minutes, and that was that.

So, what about my Christmas food? I know that you are all dying to know how it went

  • The Hash Browns – not the absolute disaster that they have been in the past but they were still a long, long way from where I would like them to be
  • The Christmas Cake – too dry and crumbly, but that’s always the case with eggless cakes. I think that Liz must have a special ingredient that she keeps secret. But despite that, it looked like a Christmas Cake and tasted like a Christmas cake, even if I did have to eat it with a spoon
  • Icing and Marzipanning – not my strongpoint. I can’t do icing to save my life. But the cake was covered with it so what I did worked to a point. All in all, the cake passed muster.
  • The Vegan Wellington – this was superb and a big thanks to Liz for sending me the recipe. There’s plenty left and I’ll be eating it for ever, I think
  • The Stuffing – the chestnuts having been discarded as unfit for human consumption and having to improvise, it could have been a problem. It was dry and crumbly but it looked like stuffing, smelled like stuffing and tasted like stuffing. What more do you want?
  • The vegetables – I was using the electric streamer which is rather hit and miss. Following everything that I usually do, they ended up overcooked. That’s a rare event
  • The Christmas Pudding – Leave the best until last. This was a masterpiece, it really was. Exactly how a Christmas pudding should be. I’m really pleased with this.

There’s no peace for the wicked. The Centre de Re-education is open tomorrow and I have three sessions, spread right out through the afternoon. There’s plenty of paperwork that needs sorting out but I’m in no mood to do it.

An early night sounds as if it might be a good idea but I don’t have the energy to go to bed right now

But that’s Christmas over for another year. I’m wondering if I’ll see the next one. If my health continues to deteriorate like this, it’s unlikely. No-one with this illness has lived longer than 11 years and I was diagnosed in 2015. Time is running out.

But not me. I can’t even stagger out at the moment.