Tag Archives: Lord of the Rings

Wednesday 15th May 2024 – AFTER YESTERDAY’S LITTLE …

… outburst, I’m still here. Alive and while I’m not quite kicking there’s been further improvement in my right hip. The pain’s not so bad and I’m raising my leg a little more. Getting dressed and undressed is not quite as complicated a struggle as it was.

But going back to my … errr … somewhat intemperate outburst last night, new readers of this rubbish, of which there are more than just a few these days, will be wondering why I don’t come along later and edit them out.

The fact is, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that my mental health is as important as my physical health and it needs monitoring just the same. These remarks are an important gauge of how my mental health is doing and I need to make a note of it so that I can look back later and compare notes, to see how I’m doing over the long-term.

But despite how bad things were looking last night, "When your back’s against the wall it’s time to turn round and fight" as John Major once famously said. "Better counsel comes overnight" Said Gotthold Lessing and so I eventually wandered off to bed, nothing like as early as I was hoping.

It was however yet again another turbulent night with a phantom alarm call which I managed to almost ignore, and stayed in bed until the real alarm went off at 07:00.

At the time that it went off I was in Thailand living with a Thai family. Apparently I’d been extremely ill and was living there for some kind of rest and recuperation although I’ve no idea about any more than that. And what kind of rest and recuperation I’d get with a Thai family in Thailand is anyone’s guess

And despite having had a drink with my medication before retiring, I had a thirst that you could photograph this morning. My pint of flavoured water with the morning’s medication didn’t last long, I’ll tell you

The nurse came round as usual just as I was watching yesterday’s game in one of the English play-offs and we sorted out the dressing on my right foot followed by my puttees.

He’s not impressed at all with the condition of my lower legs and frankly, neither am I. I don’t think that this problem is going to be resolved quickly if at all.

After he left I finished off watching my football match . When I had time, good health and good rail connections, like when I lived in Leuven, I’d go ground-hopping around various football matches all over that area of Europe, but these days I have to go virtual ground-hopping on the internet.

It’s not an ideal situation but as Frank Harris said in his controversial biography MY LIFE AND LOVES, "all human beings took what pleasure they could get whenever they could get it"

Once the match had finished and I’d had my coffee and (last) slice of flapjack I actually started work. And with a leisurely stroll through what I had to do, and a sleep of an hour between 11:00 and 12:00 I’d actually finished it by mid-afternoon.

This morning’s sleep was rather different than it has been for the last few weeks in that I actually felt myself falling asleep and so simply let myself go with it. I drifted off quietly and gently into never-land rather than the brutal and abrupt way that it has been just recently.

While the cleaner was here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. There was a phantom alarm at 03:45 again this morning. At that time I was doing something with a girls’ football team from Florida, maybe training them or something like that but as soon as I awoke everything that I was dreaming evaporated. I can hardly remember a thing about it now.

There was something else about me being involved in a girls’ football or rugby team again. I was negotiating with High Schools or maybe other colleges to fetch girls to the college to train them for either football or rugby. This seemed to go on for hours. I had a really good team at the end – I built a tank whereby the weight of clothes would dry yourself afterwards was quite complicated but much more rapid than the normal way so it might even become a household word by the time that our team stopped doing it when I was badly injured

But what is all this about me being involved in girls football and rugby teams? There is no conceivable way that I would ever be involved in a rugby team. A girls’ football team is slightly more likely, but only slightly. And why should it suddenly have become a recurring theme?

After my cleaner had left and I’d had my hot chocolate I had the usual call from the hospital asking how I was so I gave them both barrels. I don’t expect to hear anything back from them but we shall see.

What I did was to come in here and start the next radio programme. Well, “start” is a big word because much of the time was spent looking for music that I need that I don’t actually have

However I did end up having a Southern Rock-fest that ended with Neil Young playing ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’m a big fan of Southern Rock, with lead guitar solos that can last sometimes several weeks. There was the Three Rivers Festival in Columbia, South Carolina where I managed to blag a way in with my little female Mexican friend to see Widespread Panic in 2005 which was exceptional, and for several reasons too.

Tea tonight was a delicious leftover curry that I really enjoyed, especially the naan bread that went with it. It’s a really good way to clear out the left-over food in the fridge

But right now I’m off to bed and hope for an even better day tomorrow. "dawn is ever the hope of men" said Aragorn in LORD OF THE RINGS and as long as I can get out of bed I’ll be OK.

Not like the guy who turned p two hours late for work
"What’s the meaning of this?" asked his boss
"It’s that new travelling alarm clock that the wife bought" he replied
"What about it"
"I left it on the bedside table last night" replied the man "but it must have set off on its travels during the night. It’s nowhere to be found this morning"

Friday 29th March 2024 – THIS MORNING AT …

… 04:30 I was up and about making bread, would you believe?

And I’m still up and about now. In fact, this is probably one of the very few times that I’ve actually sat down today.

Not that I’m complaining about the early start though. I made the nicest bread that I have ever made. It actually looked and felt (not to mention smelt) like proper bread, and I do have to say that it was a triumph.

If I could make bread like that all the time I would be more than happy. Especially as, being short of money, I would knead the dough.

Earlier this morning, at 04:11 to be precise because I looked at my watch, I awoke. And I couldn’t go back to sleep no matter how much I tried so in the end I abandoned the idea and went into the kitchen.

It didn’t take too long to knead the dough but what I’d done differently was to use a little more water than usual, and warmer water at that. and then rather fighting it, I folded it over and over, just as gently as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles.

And not just once either but a couple of times to make sure that it was properly kneaded. And off we went. And up it went too. It rose faster than my blood pressure when I realised later in the day that I had forgotten to take it this morning. Last night’s was 18.1/10.4 by the way.

While it was rising I put it carefully aside. I don’t want any nurses poking and prodding it. But I tidied up the kitchen area a little because it’ll be busy in a couple of hours.

When the nurse arrived she put on my puttees, had a chat and then left, pleased that we’d ordered her supplies for her. And then, as LeClerc’s home delivery was now open, I sent off my order. “Delivery between 10:00 and 12:00”.

Next task was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from last night. There was some kind of art school taking place last night with human models being used in the sculpting and painting classes etc for people to practise drawing or working on human figures. When they began to introduce a second model to work as a pair with the first one there were quite a few people who objected and there were obvious reasons too. It caused a great deal of unrest and unease amongst everyone because many people believed that art was pure and could not be corrupted and other people who believed that corruption was everywhere in the world and this was just another part of it. There were two extremes of people who were busy arguing over what the models were supposed to be doing. Everyone else was really quite bewildered that someone could make such an issue about something that was so ordinary, familiar and so straightforward.

And that’s a common occurrence these days. I’m convinced that there are some people who have nothing better to do except trawl the internet or their immediate neighbourhood to find ways in which they might be offended

And when they do find something that offends them they spend all their time and effort actually aggressively trying to upset everyone else by forcing their viewpoints on the World and expecting the 98% majority to suppress their own interests in favour of those of the 2%

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I have every sympathy with minority groups but sometimes consider that some of them go way beyond the bounds of what is reasonable behaviour.

When you see people complaining about what they see as pseudo-eroticism, like girls wearing bikinis and the like, and saying how indecent it is, that tells me far more about what’s going on in their mind than it does about what’s going on in the mind of the pseudo-offender.

And then I went back to sleep and this argument was still continuing. No-one was making any progress at all about either performing the piece of art or about having their points of view agreed. I quite simply didn’t understand the whole issue because there’s no objection to the art being displayed in museums etc and that’s where you’d think that people would be most upset but I dunno. I just didn’t understand it.

Later on I was still in this dream but I was actually dreaming it in Welsh. At one point while I was watching something on the TV there was a big crowd. I took something out of my pockets, some paper and rubbish, and simply threw it on the floor which was greeted by a barrage of heckling from the various people standing nearby. I didn’t just do it once but did it twice as well, I seemed to think, and it may have even been three times but I was having this dream in Welsh at that point.

So there I was, back in the same dream three times all told. And had I stayed in bed there might have been even more. But it was interesting that I was dreaming in Welsh because I’ve been thinking – and talking to myself – mainly in Welsh today which has surprised me. I must really have enjoyed that course.

As for talking to myself, of course I do. I’m reminded of Gandalf in LORD OF THE RINGS when he said "For I was talking aloud to myself. A habit of the old: they choose the wisest person present to speak to".

When the LeClerc delivery arrived I put away the frozen food and then had breakfast. And my hot cross buns are superb. They were a definite success too – well worth waiting for.

After putting away most of the food I set about blanching dicing and blanching the carrots, followed by the broccoli, ready for freezing.

And the cleaner caught me in flagrante delicto. She came in to tell me that I can’t have my injections any more.

The situation is that according to the prescription they can only be given if the blood tests show a result of less that a certain figure for something. But seeing as the prescription for the blood tests has run out and the tests aren’t being done, they can’t check the figure.

That sounds quite logical to me, but it meant that I had to sent an e-mail to the hospital to ask for clarification

So tonnes of carrots and broccoli to freeze, and there’s a broccoli stalk to make a soup tomorrow for midday – dipping my fresh bread into it too. It should be delicious.

There was football this afternoon – Colwyn Bay v Aberystwyth Town. Both teams propping up the table and they played like it too. Having seem the beautiful, flowing football of TNS last weekend, ths game was a disappointment.

Mind you, played on a swamp in a monsoon, that was hardly a surprise. Colwyn Bay have a beautiful ground as far as the grandstands and terracing go, but the pitch is awful.

Aberystwyth took the lead early on with a scrappy goal that was really the only exciting moment of the first half. Things improved for Colwyn Bay after the break and they looked more lively but it was the introduction of a couple of substitutes by each team on 75 minutes that livened up the game.

From then on, each team was throwing the kitchen sink at each other with gaps opening up everywhere in the defence as each side went on the attack, only to be caught out by a quick breakaway

Just as the game was going into stoppage time Colwyn Bay scored a dramatic equaliser, but blow me if Aberystwyth didn’t roar up the other end and score immediately.

So Aberystwyth won and move up above Pontypridd United, but things look dark for Colwyn Bay. And they’ll be even darker as they’ll be without manager Steve Evans next game. I don’t know what he said to the ref after the final whistle but it was worth a yellow card.

And then he must have said it again because he received another yellow card. So that’s him out of the dugout and in the stands for the next game.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m fed up of these petulant football players having crises all over the place during a game, and when the managers begin to do it, that really is the end.

The cleaner came not long after kick-off to do her stuff, and she left so quietly that I didn’t hear her go. But I now have a clean kitchen again which is nice.

The rest of the afternoon was either spend working on my Canada 2022 stuff or else, regrettably, asleep in my chair. Not that I’m complaining about that either. I’m surprised that I’ve kept on going as long as I have.

Tea was a burger on a bap, one of those burgers that I made from the stuff that my friend in Munich sent me. With chips and salad too, and it wasn’t disagreeable. It was rather gritty but that’s the ingredients I reckon and you can’t like everything absolutely

But it worked, and that was what counts.

Fighting with the freezer to put away the carrots and broccoli I dropped the carrots all over the floor. But picking them up (I’m glad that the floor is clean) I found the clip for the other puttees that I’d lost. Having found yesterday the other one that I lost a long time ago, I now have all four for each set which is just as well.

But I’ve also been busy booking Welsh courses. I’ve booked a week at the start of July with Coleg Cambria (and I hope that my own tutor isn’t tutoring it because doing a course with her two levels down would be embarrassing for both of us) and a two-week Summer School with Coleg Morgannwg at the end of August. So more “gyda” instead of “efo” for when I go back on my main course in September

It beats me though why Coleg Cambria’s courses are so early in the Summer break. I would have thought that they would have run their Summer courses just before the restart to set people off running when they start their next course.

But that’s enough from me for tonight. I’m off to bed. But doing all of these courses reminds me of the famous poem about Crawshay Bailey and his "engine
which was always wanting mending"

"he went to Cardiff College
for to get a bit of knowledge"

With this course at Coleg Morgannwg I’ll have been to most Colleges in the whole of South Wales "for to get a bit of knowledge" and it’s still not working, just like Crawshay Bailey’s engine.

It just reminds me of the small boy at school who had to repeat Year 6 three times. When asked how he felt about it he replied "I’m not bothered"
"Why’s that?" asked his parents
"At least I’m cleverer than my teacher"
"Why’s that?"
"Well" he replied "she was in Year 6 when I started at this school, she’s been in it all the time that I’ve been here and she’ll still be it again next year after I’ve left!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 17th March 2024 – WHOSE SILLY IDEA …

… was this for me to make a start at 08:00 this morning?

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the alarm had actually gone off but somehow for some unknown reason it didn’t fire up and that was that.

Strangely enough, five minutes later, at 08:05 exactly, I sat bolt upright, wide-awake and that was something really quite extraordinary, especially as first of all it’s a Sunday and secondly, I didn’t go to bed until 00:20 this morning. I’ve really no idea why I should awaken like that just five minutes after the alarm should have gone off, but didn’t.

It’s actually quite surprising how long it takes to do everything that needs to be done before I go to bed. There’s the list of what I needed to do that I posted the other day, and even then I forgot about taking the blood pressure. Seriously, I’d forget my head if it wasn’t so firmly screwed on

And that’s why a baby never falls out of a pregnant woman – because it’s screwed in. But I digress … "again" – ed

Last night after I’d finished the notes I wandered around doing everything that I need to do before retiring, apart from washing these puttee-things. They aren’t soiling so there’s no need to wash them until we have the second pair.

And then, thinking that I’d set the alarm, I fell into bed.

As I mentioned earlier I fell out of bed at 08:05 and then checked the blood pressure. 16.0/9.9, compared to last night’s figure of 16.1/11.1. We shouldn’t go round taking these figures as gospel because there’s quite a discrepancy between what they show at the hospital and what is being shown at home. I have grave suspicions about my little machine.

Having taken my medicine I arranged a few things in order ready for the immediate arrival of the nurse.

When she turned up she tore into me because the stuff wasn’t here from the pharmacy. As I said, “what can I do about it? I’m firmly and completely in the hands of other people”. However, that’s no excuse apparently, and she carried on with her endless verbal assault.

She also had a good moan about me not taking painkillers. The whole of France is awash with Doliprane and I have no wish to join them. We’ve seen far too many cases in the past where people, pumped up to the gills with painkillers, fail to notice the damage that they are doing by continuing to use whatever member of the body is being numbed and the damage becomes permanent.

You suffer pain for a very good reason.

After she left I didn’t do too much. I had some food and then simply drifted around in cyberspace, that is – when I wasn’t asleep. I’ve fallen asleep a couple of times, once at the table in the dining room after two large mugs of black coffee. Something’s clearly not right there either.

But I did manage to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I had another dream … "when was the first?" – ed … where all the passengers were soaked inside a coach. This time I’d been to a local bar and seen on the counter top a couple of trips advertised to different places, one of which was a trip around the nuclear power station up the coast. so when the landlord had a moment free, for he was the type who was friends with everyone I asked him about it. He had a moan about him hoping that I wasn’t someone who had just come in to waste his time but he let me see the itinerary, the brochure etc and I thought “yes, I’ll sign up for this” and put my name down. He was at the point of asking me for a payment and a deposit but we ended up playing football. I was substituted quite early on pretty much the same as that dream at the start of the evening … "which dream?" – ed … where all the passengers were given a soaking by the coach driver who pulled the choke mechanism and that released a water tower into the air vents

That was another dream about which I recall absolutely nothing at all and I’ve no idea at all to what it refers.

But later on I was back singing in a rock group again … "presumably in English tonight" – ed … One of the things that I had to do was to speak to someone there about singing some of the songs in a mixed-up kind of fashion like singing a song by the Moody Blues, giving a false title and having people guess who it was and who wrote it. I had to communicate with someone about it, another group’s arranger. He was speaking to someone else so I had to interrupt him. A policeman there tried to take hold of me and usher me away. I had to be really insistent to the point of actually almost being arrested before the policeman would let me speak.

That’s something similar to a quiz that we had a few months ago on the radio. There, we were snipping out sound-bytes from popular songs and having people identify them. Being ushered away by a policeman is however quite a new experience. Usually, from what I’ve seen, it would be “out with the handcuffs” or, these days, more like “out with the truncheon”.

When you look back to the 1960s and early 70s and the Monty Python sketches of violent policemen going berserk with their truncheons and how we all laughed at the satire because it was such an unreal situation, and yet here we are today where policemen going berserk with truncheons is par for the course.

We’ve come a long way since those days, and all of it completely in the wrong direction. It’s like Théoden said in LORD OF THE RINGS"The world changes, and all that once was strong now proves unsure"

And as Erma Brombeck wrote, "When humour goes, there goes civilization", and humour has long-since departed from this wretched world.

I’s easy to understand the sentiments of Bhuwan Thapaliya who said "The older I get, the more I cherish the company of children and the flowers. The children have no prejudices. They are what they are. And so are the flowers". That’s a position with which I sympathise.

What work I’ve done today has been to make a start on editing some radio programme notes. Not much of them because, being so tired as I am, I’ve not really felt in the mood for work.

In fact, I almost forgot about making my pizza tonight. Luckily I remembered just in time, and it was another delicious one.

So here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow. A good sleep might put me right, and then I have plenty to do. It’s never-ending. Who said anything about retiring making life easy?

It’s the one thing about old age, and that is that you have so much to do but you keep on forgetting to do it. That’s where I am now. It’s like the character in The Navy Lark who said "All of which reminds me of a funny story I once heard and which now completely escapes me"

As for me though, I’m like the character in “Gunsmoke” of which it was said "A lot of things can happen to people who get too lonely" – but as long as it only happens to me when I’m asleep, that’s OK.

Rather like the police who raided that woman’s apartment and found a knife under her pillow
"What’s this for?" they asked
"That’s in case someone breaks into my room while I’m asleep" she said "and brings me a cake".

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

… go in here today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 12th March 2024 – I’VE ALMOST FALLEN …

… asleep not once, but twice, just sitting here on my chair and only a dramatic grasp at the edge of the chair on both occasions has stopped me from dropping off, in both senses of the word.

In one of them I’d actually gone as far as having a dream, fitting the clutch cable to a transverse engine car but some of the strands of cable snapping. It was amazing, because on both occasions I’d had no warning of going off to sleep.

It’s not as if they have put me back on that horrible potassium stuff either, so it must be one of the other pile of medicaments. But it really tells you about what a state I’m in when we have this issue about side-effects and there are so many of the medicaments that I can’t work out which one it is.

For two pins I’d dump the lot and let nature take its course
"Have you thought of an ending?”
“Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant."

as Frodo and Sam discussed in LORD OF THE RINGS. I know that mine will be anyway – I have been told so – but at least “while there’s life there’s hope”, as Cicero once told us. Dum spiro, spero.

That’s a far different position than a couple of weeks ago when I was all ready to throw in the towel but honestly, I don’t know where I am these days.

Last night though, I know that I was in bed. After relaxing for a short while I went and did everything that needed doing and crawled off to bed, much later than I wanted but that’s how things are going these days.

When the alarm went off I was watching a fork-lift truck load some stuff on a pallet onto something. There had been something going on about sugar, sugar in its nitro-cellulose form is extremely harmful. A company had sold some and another one had bought them, and there was an argument about who was responsible for ensuring that it complied with the regulations. That was what was going on at the time.

With that kind of dream, I’m surprised that the alarm going off didn’t frighten me to death. “Start the day with a ‘bang'” I say.

First thing that I did this morning was to check the blood pressure. 17.1/9.8 this morning, compared with 18.4/10.5 last night.

It’s always a good sign if it decreases at night, from some points of view. On the other hand, it’s quite often a good sign if it increases, but the kind of events that would cause that are few and far between. Usually, if it increases during the night, it’s always for the wrong reasons.

Next thing was to sort out the medication for the morning, followed by a trip to the bathroom to deal with my feet. There’s no doubt that this vaseline cream is making a real difference to my dry legs and feet. I hope that the improvement continues

And while we’re on that subject … "well, one of us is" – ed … the nurse rang up to see if I was at home. She’d heard that I’d gone to hospital last week.

To put her at her ease I told her that I was back, and we also had a chat about the new prescription. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow because all the stuff that she needs isn’t here yet.

Back in here I transcribed the rest of the dictaphone notes from the night. There was an important series of exams that my girlfriend was taking. She needed to have a year in tutelage under the relevant tutor in a relevant subject. Actually she’s not been as faithful as she ought to have been with this course that she’d been following but when I went to see the person who was supervising it I was told with shock that she wasn’t going to be eligible because the person who had been guiding her had left the University after six months. Someone else had taken over but my girlfriend hadn’t taken the necessary steps to introduce herself so she was basically voided. This was really awful news but the examiner suggested a way around He said “knowing you, I’m surprised that you haven’t contacted the departed tutor directly to explain the situation and have her give your girlfriend the certificate directly even though she’s no longer at the University. She’s married and gone to live in Scotland but you should be able to find her and contact her. If she’s satisfied that your girlfriend has followed the course and done the necessary work etc, there’s no reason at all why she can’t issue the certificate of presence or whatever its called to prove that she’s followed that course for a twelve-month period but you’ll have to be quick because all the paperwork needs to be in very shortly. It looks as if we had work to do, my girlfriend and me.

And a girlfriend? I wish that I knew who she was. She won’t have been anyone we’ve met so far on our travels, that’s for sure. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I wish that I could put names to these girls who have been appearing every now and again, and for several reasons too.

As for the “knowing you, I’ surprised that you haven’t …” – it seems that even in my dreams people are beginning to know me quite well and that’s rather disturbing. I prefer to passer inaperçu – pass by un-noticed and it worries me when people begin to recognise me.

Especially when they recognise something like “… I’m surprised that you haven’t …” – and it’s in a dream too. That’s what I call “worrying”.

Then there was something about an orange Cortina that had to be taxed. It would mean queueing at the local Tax Office for hours. We’d done all of the paperwork etc already. We’d bought some new parts for the vehicle. We’d been to Minibits for them. We noticed on the way round that on the corner of Flag Lane where it turns round were shops that had wire grilles put all over the windows. We noticed that they’d been working there for a day or two and we wondered what they were doing. They were actually moving the wire grilles down one position – it looked as if they’d installed the wire grilles on the wrong windows and were just moving them further along the street, these grilles. The first window was being missed out. It was rather puzzling. I went into work where someone asked me if I’d seen the Ryanair van. I said “I’ve just seen it in Flag Lane”. He asked “are you sure? It should have been here a while ago”. I replied “yes” so he said “I’ll contact Head Office to say that the van’s not been here but it’s been seen in Crewe at 15:15”. It worried me why he was being so precise about this. We went into Minibits to pick up some bits. I made a comment that he could open his windows now that the wicked European Union has moved its grilles away from his windows. The girl who was serving me growled a little and opened them but it didn’t make much difference in there. It was still dark. Then we had to go along to queue up to tax this orange Cortina. Just as we were standing in the queue with the papers ready to pounce on an open window the dream ended.

Now, Minibits in Crewe was a place to remember in the 1980s. It was run by an old guy called Ken and was a dirty old shop on a street corner in Crewe, full of all kinds of stock for minis, stuff that he had bought probably 30 years earlier and was all covered in dust.

As Fords became more popular in the early 1970s he began to accumulate Ford bits and pieces. They too sat and gathered dust for years.

We had a trade card for a car spares warehouse in Manchester but rarely used it because he was still selling stuff at 1970s prices. That didn’t matter as long as you blew off the dust.

And as mechanically a Ford Cortina MkIII, MkIV and MkV were all the same car, stuff from 1971 would still fit cars from the 1980s.

Body panels too. He had a contact in a metal fabricator’s in Oswestry and they produced pattern-part body panels for all kinds of cars. Just cut out the rot and weld one of the correct panels in place. I still have tons of those that either I never managed to use, bought for stock or bought for projects like the 2000E saloon in the warehouse in Montaigut.

What would they be worth now?

So many plans and projects that I had on the go or on the back burner, and look where we are now.

Never mind though. As Gandalf said, "no need to brood on what tomorrow may bring. For one thing, tomorrow will be certain to bring worse than today, for many days to come. And there is nothing more that I can do to help it. The board is set, and the pieces are moving"

Then I was back in that dream again … "which dream?" – ed … still trying to load that Land Rover but it wasn’t as easy as I had thought it was before because there was a big sack on the floor and with all the stuff in my hands I couldn’t bend down to pick it up and my arms wouldn’t reach low enough to the ground to pull it. I was stuck in this really awkward position with a huge pile of boxes in my hands and the thing that I needed on the floor. I couldn’t make any progress with regards to putting the stuff in the back of the Land Rover. I was stuck in that position just like that.

So have I missed yet another dream? Judging by the timestamps, with only 20 minutes between this one and the last one, it can’t have been much of one, if there was one that has been missed.

Having finished the notes, then armed with a mug of instant coffee, which is not like me at all, I prepared for my Welsh lesson.

To my surprise the Welsh lesson passed quite well and I was rather pleased with what I’d done, which makes a change.

It just goes to show you what you can do with a couple of hours of preparation. I shall have to do it more often, that’s for sure

And that reminds me. While we’re on the subject of Welsh lessons … "well, one of us is" – ed … tomorrow morning I need to look for a course to cover the Easter period. I have to keep the pressure on. I’m using the philosophy of “if you throw enough whatsit at a wherever, some of it might stick”.

First job this afternoon was to sort out the webhosting renewal – “bank card declined”.

That’s no surprise seeing as it’s a new card. I had to do a huge pile of virtual paperwork and then still it wouldn’t work. So that involved an exchange of mails. It’s a good job that renewal is 30 days away otherwise I would have run out of time at this rate.

But that reminds me. While we’re on the subject of webhosting … "well, one of us is" – ed … the webhosting for these sites of mine isn’t cheap at all.

You’ll see some “Amazon” links aside and occasionally, some links crop up in the text. I’m an Amazon affiliate so if you make your next Amazon purchase by using one of these links, it costs you no extra but I earn a small commission. That helps towards the cost of web-hosting.

After that I had an exciting job – helping someone with a video that he’s making of several Welsh football grounds. I have some strange tasks sometimes.

The rest of the afternoon was spent writing out radio programme notes.

Tea was a taco roll with stuffing (and inserted peanuts) veg and rice, just as delicious as always. And there’s enough left over for a good start at a leftover curry tomorrow, which is always nice, especially if soya yoghurt and naan bread are involved.

Anyway, that’s enough for today. I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I really have a struggle to keep going these days

But while we’re on the subject of football grounds … "well, one of us is" – ed … I’m reminded of the woman who went to her solicitor’s to ask him to obtain a divorce from her husband
"On what grounds?" asked the solicitor
"Manchester United’s, mainly" she replied "but he has taken her to several away matches"

Monday 4th March 2024 – JUST LIKE OLD …

… times last night.

Yes – while I was in bed last night I was tossing and turning around all through the night, there’s plenty of diverse stuff on the dictaphone and I’ve not crashed out once.

And so I’ve no idea what I’ve done wrong – or right, as the case may be – but it’s certainly working. So make the most of it – carpe diem.

It wasn’t as if last night was an early night either. It was just one of the normal “God help me – I’m running late again” type of nights that I seem to be having right now, but eventually I hauled myself off into bed and to sleep – after a fashion, that is.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed again and went to check the blood pressure. 15.3/8.5 this morning compared to 15.5/10.0 last night. So not much difference there.

So eventually I managed to crawl off and and go for my medication.

The fruit buns that I had cooked yesterday were sufficiently cooled to go into the freezer. There’s enough in total for three or four weeks. What with that and my home-mode bread, I’m glad that I ordered some flour at the last delivery.

Having tidied up and put away most of the things in the kitchen I came back in here to make a start on the dictaphone notes – and to finish them after breakfast. Erik Dromore, a Norwegian, whoever he is but I don’t know him, who had come to live in Wales. He was very interested in cars when he was young. He had a car when he was only 14 which made all of us jealous. He had a lot of fun trying to insure it etc and was always being involved in Police interactions etc. He developed it so that it would split apart so that if he was stopped the part with him in it could escape leaving the other part behind as a kind of dummy that would be investigated and found to be nothing whatever of any importance. But it made all of us jealous that he had his own vehicle and we didn’t and he was that age.

Later on I also had a message from someone at school; asking me if I’d seen a certain girl. She was at school yesterday and should have been there today but wasn’t. I told them to speak to her brother because he’d known much more about her movements than I would. After all, it wasn’t as if the girl and I were actually being a lot involved or dong anything at this particular moment.

And that was a shame because I would have loved there to have been. She was a girl on whom I had quite a crush when I was at school but like most girls whom I knew, she had far more sense than to become entangled with me.

She went to University in Manchester after school and to my surprise we actually bumped into each other while I was living there. We went out on a couple of dates, much to my delight, but it was clear that h whatever interest she had was going in a different direction than mine and it was pointless trying to pursue it

That was definitely some kind of story, not of “what might have been” but more of “what would never ever be in a month of Sundays”. There I was, a long-haired rocker playing bass and singing in a reasonably successful pub-rock band, driving either an old J4 van or a Ford Transit that wasn’t much newer. Picture me in a three-bed semi in suburbia with a wife, 1.8 cars and 2.4 kids.

And then … being involved … "did you miss the front off this?" – ed … in all of this liquid that we had to collect – I did mention that, didn’t I … "no you didn’t" – ed … where there was a liquid that had been made with porridge and garlic, stuff like that poured into a great big vat and we had to collect it together as a team despite being attacked by balls of this liquid being thrown by other people? We had to collect 5 big bowls of it. That was our prize but the other teams were progressively trying to stop us. This was another occasion where it seemed that every time we made one step forward we ended up taking two steps backwards. We were really struggling until I found a huge bowl of this product that had come into my bedroom during the night. I’d no idea how or why but it actually matched the consistency and colour so I took it in and they counted it.

Now come on. You don’t really expect a dream to make any sense, do you? But it certainly sounds exciting. Maybe someone will invent a TV reality programme about it.

But I liked the bit about making a liquid. It reminds me of 1998 at Nottingham where a group of us from the University at Summer School successfully invented a liquid that dissolved absolutely everything with which it came in contact.

And then at the University Summer School at Norwich in 1999 (where I went with Annette, the young girl from Barbados) where we unsuccessfully tried to invent a container in which to store it.

After that we were on a motorway somewhere. There was someone on a motor bike who had had a joust with someone who had been going on the same carriageway as facing them as they tried to prevent us from going anywhere. In the end, after several attempts we managed to get under way. As we were under way I’d been talking to the boy who had joined us for the first time. he was telling us that his father was involved in this and he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. Several of us told him that it was a wrong decision because your father would be there continually criticising you and measuring you against things that he did. In the end we talked him into going into our business. He was an extremely good catcher. At the end of the day he finished with cutlery in and none of any other runs of cutlery that the other team was throwing at us. He managed to identify our things correctly, keep them with us and throw away the other things despite how many other things they threw at us and how quickly they did it.

Then some girl was living in a houseboat. She was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a singer. She had accepted the nomination and was busy rehearsing things with her father ready to go up and receive the award. She lived in a houseboat, so it appeared, and had ween another community so had sailed up the canal to this other community to make her home. She saw a plot of land with landing stage that hadn’t been occupied by anyone. She asked the land agent about it who confirmed that it was free. She spoke to the estate agents about buying it and was quoted £5002 which was a really good price so she bought it and introduced herself to her new neighbours and said something like she hoped that everything would go according to their plans, to which they replied “they certainly would as long as she was to keep the music down and keep her pets from going in all the adults’ waste materials in the barn

Finally there was some guy loitering around the entrance to one of the caves in LORD OF THE RINGS. He was hoping to see a young elf-girl and sure enough, she appeared. He told her that he was planning on buying a new dress for the ball that was taking place shortly and would she like to come? She agreed. She felt with her fingers and was able to write on him his size so that the girl in the clothes shop would know what size to buy without having to measure him. He rushed off to the dress shop. To his dismay the dress shop was closed for holidays until 16th July and the dance was taking place on the 2nd. Never mind – he went to the elf shop to pick up his elf-weapon but again, the elf shop was also closed until 10th July for holidays so he was really frustrated about this – nothing he wanted was going to be available. One of the elves then sent him off in an unusual direction where he encountered a German clothing specialist who was unable to sort him out but came up with a few suggestions. He also encountered an armourer who likewise gave him a few suggestions. He shot off to the orc workshop and found that that was undergoing some kind of building repair work but nevertheless they agreed to give him something.

In the past I’ve had plenty of people make all kinds of suggestions to me when I’ve been stuck for something or other. But many of them have been physically impossible and the rest have been far from helpful.

However, wouldn’t it be nice if I could find a nice young elf-maiden to take to a dance with me right now? Not that it would do me much good of course, except for my self-esteem, and that’s quite important. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I may not be able to walk the walk but I can certainly talk the talk.

And that reminds me of when I was going to a dance at the Grand Hotel in Oostende a few years back. I squeezed into a crowded lift and said "ballroom, please"
Another passenger in there said "I’m sorry – I’ll move in further"

There was a pause in the middle of all of that for my fruit bun and coffee. And I do have to say that the fruit buns were the best that I have ever made, especially warmed for 30 seconds in the microwave. I think that I have the hang of those now, and the diced dates make a nice difference too.

But while we’re on the subject of baking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I need to think about my hot cross buns. Check my recipe to make sure that I have everything because my next order from LeClerc might be my last before the cut-off date for baking.

My buns from last year were something of a failure because the dough didn’t rise. But at least they tasted like hot cross buns and that’s important.

For the rest of the day I’ve been dealing with the radio programme that I should have finished yesterday.

There were plenty of interruptions, including time out to have a really good wash and to bandage my ankle where I have this problem

Luckily I have plenty of sanitary dressings which is good news. They should help keep the wounds clean

And my chili hummus? Absolutely wicked. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … no danger of any vampires ever coming around here with the amount of garlic that I use.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper and how I enjoy making these. With pasta and vegetables they are delicious.

There’s enough stuffing for a couple of days too. I want stuffing on Wednesday to put in a left-over curry to go with my naan bread. Now that I have divided the flour mix correctly into 6 portions of 90 grams instead of 9 portions of 60 grams, things on the naan front are going better

So having finished my notes, I’m off to bed where I’m hoping for another restless night with plenty of dreams about food.

And about Zero, Castor and TOTGA too. It’s been a little while since they have been around

But then like that character whose name I have forgotten in “An Item Of Cartography” – "Life is all one big huge joke. Nothing matters much except having a sense of humour"

Thursday 1st February 2024 – I HAD A …

… visitor last night.

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

And then in came Zero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 25th January 2024 – I’VE BEEN OVERWHELMED …

… by a fit of positivity today, and I’ve absolutely idea where it came from.

It’s probably something to do with the choice of music. When I make up a playlist of Hawkwind or Help Yourself, Marillion or Alquin it brings back far too many distant memories that I’ve long since consigned to the dustbin of history – or, at least, I thought that I had

And as Gimli said to Legolas in LORD OF THE RINGS, "Memory is not what the heart desires. That is only a mirror"

Instead, I’ve been making up a playlist of Tangerine Dream. By an amazing coincidence, Edgar Froese, John Kay of Steppenwolf and my friend Lorna’s mum were in the same refugee column that fled from Tilsit in East Prussia in the winter of 1944/45 before the advancing Red Army.

Lorna’s mum, who was 12 at the time, told some horrific tales of the flight that people would have found hard to believe before the news of the events in Ukraine broke

But I digress … "again" – ed

Tangerine Dream bring back memories of happier times – the hot summer of 1976 where we lived at an abandoned sand quarry near Congleton and the next couple of years when I was struggling to get myself and my life together again after several years in the Wilderness and ended up going from living in an old van to owning a brand new semi-detached house in the suburbs of Winsford in just 3 years.

Albums like TANGRAM, WHITE EAGLE, FORCE MAJEURE and EXIT with the two magnificent tracks PILOTS OF PURPLE TWILIGHT and CHORONZON that can only ever be played one after the other.

Then there is CYCLONE, the best of all the Tangerine Dream albums with two tracks that have never ever been off my playlist, BENT COLD SIDEWALK, and RISING RUNNER MISSED BY ENDLESS SENDER.

But maybe it isn’t. I found an old elastic knee reinforcement that I used a few years ago and I tried that last night. I’ve been wearing it ever since on my right leg and since then the pain seems to be manageable. Perhaps it’s that which is making me feel better

However, it’s still something of a misery in bed and I was moving around all night trying to find a comfortable position. Not that you would have thought so with the amount of stuff on the dictaphone. Even when I was asleep it must have been quite restless, and there were some strange, very strange comments on the dictaphone, such as “you can tell that I’ve been on this anti-potassium stuff. There’s a radio playing somewhere, there’s a speaking voice that I can hear presenting a radio programme from somewhere. There’s absolutely no radio anywhere near where I am and this time of night no-one would be playing a radio so loud that it would penetrate solid grès de Chaussee solid granite walls 1.20m thick. I’ve no idea what’s happening except that it’s really confusing me”.

And then I awoke (so I said in my sleep) in the middle of a dream. I was in a French class and was late back from a break. Everyone else was there so I had to fight my way through the crowds to a seat at the back. The teacher had given everyone an exercise that they had to write a letter as if they were in the final throes of preparing a music festival when someone had written offering his services as a singer. I had to hunt for the question first – it was on page 80 of our notes so eventually I managed to find it. When I went to begin to write I found that my notebook was completely full. I reached under my desk, went into my backpack, pulled out a scrap pad. The people around me were amazed that I had so much stuff and was so well organised that I even had a spare notepad. I just gave a smile and began to write down the question on the spare notepad so that I’d be ready to answer it and writing it down gives me a little chance to think a little

Talking of surprises, I think that the whole wide world would be surprised at the amount of stuff that that I have. I’m probably sitting on a fortune of stuff that I’ve never had time to deal with. And as for being well-organised, I think that even I would be surprised at that.

They’d … "who?" – ed … been playing in a rock band with Declan McManus of Leek’s sister and somewhere in the middle of the Sunday hall they’d been overcome by something or other. They thought that it was just grief but maybe there was some slight predicament that was needed but it grew worse as the day went on. His leg was positively killing him at night so they arranged for an ambulance to come and collect him and have a look at whatever it was but I don’t know the name of the film now but I remember thinking that it was an excellent film and deserved to be shown on mainstream television.

And apart from the fact that Declan McManus doesn’t play for Leek but for TNS in Wales, you don’t really expect a dream to make sense, do you?

After that we were suddenly in Crewe again. I was sitting rather than going for a walk and suddenly had an appalling fear or suspicion that someone was watching me and I couldn’t shake it out of my mind …fell asleep here

At a later moment a bunch of crooks had stolen a pile of antiques from a place in South-West London, rather similar to something like one of the Ealing comedies. I was involved merely as a spectator. The retreated to their headquarters with all of their loot. They tried to take taxis in order to disperse but all of the taxis were booked. In the meantime I was ringing a friend of mine in Chester to tell him that I’d left my job there as an underwriting clerk. If he was still looking for a job there was one vacant and he ought to apply. I was greeted to a pile of silence so I said “right, see you there” and hung up. I went back into the room where they were arguing. Eventually one of them grabbed his share of the loot from the table, said “right, I’m going by bus”. Someone else replied “the buses from here don’t go to Finchley Central”. He replied “I don’t care. I can take a bus to the Angel, take a bus to somewhere else and catch a bus there. It’s better than sitting around”. That propelled one or two others to start moving, particularly the fellow who had organised it to suddenly get to grips with what was going on and get a settlement to the airport so that they could fly out of the UK quickly

Did I dictate that I was with Marillion last night? … "No you didn’t" – ed … Things had been slack for them on the music scene and they’d become taxi drivers. Someone had gone up to Fish to tell him that they’d seen a dead body somewhere. He was at the taxi rank picking up a fare so as soon as he dropped off the fare he went with this other person to go to look to see if they could find this body. The rest of his group turned up too to help. Then the alarm went off so I don’t know what happened next

It was a struggle to make it to my feet which is no surprise these days and to give you an idea of what’s going on right now, getting dressed, going into the kitchen, taking my medicine and then coming back in here took me 50 minutes. What kind of state is that to be in?

First thing was to check the mails and messages and then to transcribe the dictaphone notes. And then afterwards, seeing as I was in a malicious mood I rang up the garage to find out why they hadn’t been for Caliburn.

After the usual excuses they’ll be here for him on the 8th of February to take him for his annual controle technique.

And that’s a shame because just when I was getting myself under control and feeling as if I might manage a trip around the block, I have this really bad fall that knocks the stuffing out of me and sets me back.

While I was now in something of an aggressive mood, I rang up the supermarket to complain about why one of the products that i’d ordered and they’d delivered yesterday was damaged. I sent them a photo by e-mail and they agreed.

The result is that I’ve had the purchase price credited back to my account and I can keep the product. They were really quite nice and helpful too which made a lovely change.

Next task was to go one better than David Crosby, presumably because I hadn’t had the flu for Christmas and was not feeling under par. It’s been a while and it was growing quite long – at least, for how I like it these days – but now it’s all short and bristly thanks to the sheep-shearer in the bathroom cupboard.

Strangely enough, sitting on the chair in the bathroom after I’d finished, I crashed out for 5 minutes. While I was away with the fairies there was something going on in my subconscious about two cats having a playfight and someone picking up one of them.

Of course, that made me wish that the tenant in my apartment downstairs would hurry up and find somewhere else to live so that I can move downstairs and have a moggy adopt me. Only 16 more months until the lease ends but I can do with her clearing off a long time before that. The way that I feel right now, I’ll be finished off a long time before the lease is.

Once I’d returned to the Land of the Living I loaded the washing machine and gave the clothes a whizz around while I went to eat some fruit. Only apples and clementines – I don’t like the pears that they have and they had run out of the Eco bananas at the delivery site.

There was even some time to play the guitar – the first time for several weeks. But how sad is it that I can no longer stand up to do it and sing? I’m really surprised that I kept my good humour.

Once I’d hung up the washing to dry I went to sit down. I reckon that I’d done enough today. I really don’t know what had come over me with all of this effort, as Monica Lewinsky one famously said.

After my hot chocolate and Christmas cake (there’s not much of that left now) I carried on with the radio programme and wrote a few notes for some of the tracks that will be figuring in the programme. Just a few to dictate now and it will be finished and I can go back to my usual routine and record it on Saturday night.

In the meantime I’ve been giving my “Hawkfest” and “Isle of Wight 1968” programmes some thought, about who will feature and so on.

The Hawkfest isn’t too difficult. Back in the good old days of the anarchy of what was loosely called “Usenet” down in the bowels of the internet quite a comprehensive list of the first Hawkfest performers was “published” and I tracked a few down, even someone who lived in Congleton who had been up on the stage performing, but the first Isle of Wight is not so easy. There was a big pile of extremely obscure groups who played there, including one that at one time had had on bass guitar Lewis Collins, later actor in The Professionals.

Even finding their names wasn’t easy, and tracking down any of their work will be much harder than that.

As for tea, I changed my mind about what to have.

During the course of the day my mind had gone from gravy to cheese sauce and I don’t know why, but nevertheless I steamed some vegetables in my microwave vegetable steamer and cooked some falafel in a nice thick cheese sauce which I poured (well, it was too thick to pour, but you get the meaning) over the top. And it was just as delicious as I expected.

So right now I’m going to go to bed. And hope that I awaken in the same positive mind tomorrow.

First task (and straight away too) is to bake my bread for the weekend. That’s important and it needs to be done early ready for my mid-morning cheese on toast.

My bread rolls were a success so I might do that again, but this time hope that the bread rises more than it did last time. I really don’t understand why my bread doesn’t rise like it ought to.

It reminds me of the time that I went to the doctors to ask for certain “help, advice and assistance” about my meeting with a certain young lady of my acquaintance in April a couple of years ago and who has figured in these pages on occasions too numerous to count, especially during the night.

He took one look at my “problem” and said "I’ll give you the number of a spiritualist whom I know"
"Why’s that?" I asked.
"I’m a doctor" he replied. "It’s my job to heal the sick. It’s his job to raise the dead."

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"

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.

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?"

Tuesday 12th December 2023 – THE DOCTOR CAME …

… round here at the end of the morning, with a student trailing along behind.

As he walked into the apartment he looked at me and said "it’s getting worse, isn’t it?"

Considering that when he saw me a year ago after my torrid three months away from home he told me quite frankly that he thought that I was dying and that I wouldn’t pull through, his comments today weren’t exactly encouraging. How much worse can it be?

It has left me with the feeling that the clock is winding down rapidly now and the first thought that came into my head when Frodo and Sam were staring despair in the face near the end of LORD OF THE RINGS
"Have you thought of an ending?"
"Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant."

He was insisting yet again that I ought to see a therapist (read “psychiatrist”) to help me come to terms with “events” but as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … anyone who sees a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.

And I really would feel terribly sorry for whoever it is who draws the short straw and has to probe the depths of my subconscious mind.

Actually, I don’t honestly think that he’s too far off the mark because I haven’t had a good day today.

It was another disturbed night and an early start in the morning because I ended up not being able to sleep all that much.

After the medication I had a few things to do and it ended up being another nostalgic trip down Memory Lane. And as PG Wodehouse once famously said, "memories are like mulligatawny soup in a cheap restaurant. It is best not to stir them"

Eventually I managed to sit down and transcribe the dictaphone notes. I was going through editing my blog last night. As well as that, I was comparing a few web pages to check on things. I came across 2 that were absolutely identical so I deleted one of them. It wasn’t until later that I realised that one of them was actually the copy on the hard drive and the other was the copy on the server. I needed to have the two copies of course but I couldn’t remember the name of the file. I then had to go all the way through, count the files and compare each of them one by one. This led to its own complications because the only way to identify the different web pages was by the images on them but I kept on losing count. A couple of people there were trying to help me but they weren’t particularly helpful. There was one occasion where I missed an image and just wanted to go back a short way but she reset the machine that she had so that it went right the way back to the start so we’d have to start all over again. I had a feeling that this is a job that is never ever going to be finished because no matter how many times I make a start on it I can’t keep my concentration going long enough to count all of the web pages and images correctly (and doesn’t this sound so familiar?) and I’d just keep on slipping up every time. I’d never find this missing file that I deleted in error.

I was then doing something different with the blog. I was trying to prepare a report of each and every football match that had taken place over the last 4 or 5 years. I had some notes and we had some old newspapers. By going through them we were able to make some kind of rough approximation of what had happened the previous season and were able to make some kind of report of each game that had taken place so that with the aid of a couple of very small children I went back and did a couple of years. That seemed to work fine. I set a little task and sent the children away to do the previous years but I was rather over-ambitious with that and the children weren’t able to do it. A couple of parents came to see me and in the end we all sat down, had a talk about it and went to work it out. One woman complained in a light-hearted way that I was speaking Geordie to them but another one replied “no, that’s Scots” and they were all being rather confused by my accent. I actually awoke before we finished it. But someone had asked me about how many years back I was going to do. I replied that that would be the last one because we couldn’t rely on having copies of the newspapers any further back than that. Without access to any records it was going to be practically impossible to complete.

Later on last night I was in Leuven, preparing to go to do my shopping. Then a flyer came round from LIDL. I thought to myself “I haven’t been to LIDL for months and this would give me a good opportunity to go”. I didn’t know where the LIDL was in Leuven. I’d have to have a look at the map to work out a route. 5 minutes later found me out in the street and I’d forgotten to look at the map. I was wandering off, daydreaming as usual down the road and almost ended up driving through a red traffic light. All kinds of traffic came to join me at the next traffic light. There was a while MkIV Cortina saloon full of people etc. Then I suddenly had a brainwave about where there might be a LIDL – miles out of my route but I may as well go while I’m out. I began to plan my itinerary about what I was doing, where I was going and what I was going to buy while I was sitting in the van at the traffic light.

Rapidly changing country, I was at the Centre Normandy, somewhere like that, standing at the reception when a giant rat scurried across the room. I picked up one of these pointed letter-openers and threw it at the rat and skewered it straight away. I felt really impressed with that, except of course that the idea of a rat running around somewhere like that is horrible.

Finally, we were in Virlet preparing to come back north. Someone had already heaved a brick through the windscreen of the Ford Escort so I wanted to make sure that everything was properly burglar-proof. One of the windows was rather badly-damaged and was easy for anyone to try to come in that way so I was trying to find some string to secure it but I found a piece of wood that was exactly the correct size to blank it off. I went looking for my drill, screws and bits. I found them lying around on the floor in all kinds of places where I’d left them the previous day when I’d been working and been too tired to put everything away. I began to collect everything together to prepare. I can’t remember who I was with now but Percy Penguin was also there.

There was some more stuff than this but you really don’t want to read it, especially if you’re eating your meal.

After a good wash I prepared for my Welsh lesson and it was a disaster. Nothing whatever would sink into my head today. And being disrupted by the visit of the doctor didn’t help at all.

The car came for me later to take me to the Centre de Re-education and I don’t know why, but I fell into the pit with the Black Dog. And fell quite deeply too.

Not that that usually bothers me because I’ve fallen in there many times before, and sometimes much deeper than this, but I’ve always consoled myself with the thought that when things are really bad, they can only improve. However, at the moment, it’s difficult to see quite how.

Severine pulled and tugged me about for half an hour and then I had the ergotherapist who discussed her report with me.

Back here later I made my hot chocolate and biscuits, and then promptly crashed out.

The hospital and I had a chat at some point. My visit on Monday is now cancelled and I have to come on Tuesday, as previously advised, instead. However it still involves a stay. But that’s next week. There is still plenty of time for further changes before then.

My cleaner came round too. The doctor had given me a prescription for more medication so I’d sent her a message to ask her if she could fetch the products. I warned her that she’d need a shopping trolley

Tea was a taco roll, and there’s enough stuffing left over for a leftover curry tomorrow.

There’s the Centre de Re-education again tomorrow and then I’ll finish off the radio notes. I waded through a pile of them earlier before tea and I’ve done about 70% already.

But right now I’m exhausted again so despite how early it is, I reckon that I’ll go to bed. Not that it’ll do me much good but I have to show willing.

Wednesday 14th September 2022 – PECCAVI WASN’T BACK …

peccavi le styx chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… in the water for very long, was she?

A couple of days ago we sw the portable boat lift hovering around her like a bird of prey, and yesterday she had gone.

But this afternoon as I wandered around the headland on my walk, I noticed that she’s back in the cradle of the portable boat lift, either looking for a berth or else having ha da quick touching up and waiting to be lowered back down again when the tide comes in later this afternoon..

We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what’s happened to her. But whatever is going on, it was rather a short stay in the water.

Just for a change my stay in bed last night wasn’t all that short. I was (for once) actually in bed at something like a reasonable time and it’s been a while since that’s happened.

Quite a few little voyages during the night too. I can’t remember who I was with now but I was at a fishing port somewhere. I had a daughter who lived here. My partner asked me about her so I made a couple of excuses and said that she’s just been sent to bed because she’s misbehaved. Just as I was saying that, round the corner she came along wiht the nurse or nanny who looked after her. I thought “that’s my story blown, isn’t it?”. I said to her “hello. What are you doing?”. She replied that she had indeed been sent to bed but for a different reason to the one that I just gave. I asked her if she wants to see me when I’m here, she obviously has to be on her best behaviour because if she keeps on being sent to bed she won’t be able to see me at all. The two of us, my friend and the child’s nurse or nanny, we had a little chat together about everything.

And later, Marianne and I were in the Metro or Underground on our way to a theatre to watch a play or a cinema. We were passing through different Underground stations talking about groups whom we’d seen performing at concert halls nearby. As we closed to our destination Marianne said suddenly that she didn’t have her handbag with her. She’d left it at one of our stops. She had to leap off the train and go back. I carried on and got off at our stop and took up a place where I could watch the train arrive. It wasn’t many minutes afterwards when she arrived, saying that she didn’t have her bag, didn’t have her purse etc. I looked a bit suspicious about everything. She came up with some small change to leave the Underground etc. We went over there and I bought the tickets to go in, all the drinks, sweets etc. We decided that we’d go somewhere else but I can’t remember now where that somewhere else was.

Finally I was unloading a load of Rowntrees products from Strider when I awoke. I thought that he was saying that that company would haul anything if the price was right. They had a couple of large containers with their food on board that was destined for Taylor’s to share out at Christmas. The rest of it was shop deliveries. Even though it was all mis-sorted all over the place it had to be delivered to individual shops. We were going on about our relationship with the shop, about how sometimes it was very good, sometimes it was very bad depending on the particular issues. Before that I’d been somewhere or other from town. We’d been wandering around and there had been this 6-cylinder Harley Davidson parked up at the side of this building. It had been there for a while. Everyone would come to look at it, Harley Davidson aficionados from all over the place. One day a Harley Davidson club turned up to see it and decided that they would take some of us for a ride so somehow they managed to disconnect the lock on it. Someone else bought a trailer of the type that this Harley Davidson would pull when it was working. I was unlucky enough that I had a lift on a traditional Harley. They went north out of Crewe through the lanes. It was a wild experience. He was playing an LP of A NEIGHBOUR OF MINE like THE TALE OF SIR ROBIN but it was the tale of the guy who was actually driving the motorbike and I can’t remember now his name.

For the benefit of any new reader, anyone who knows anything about LORD OF THE RINGS will know exactly what make and model of vehicle Strider is. He’s on my mind at the moment because he’s just been for his safety inspection in Canada and I’m told that he needs some welding. That’s bad news of course but he is 14 years old and is left outside during the Canadian winters, so it’s not a surprise.

It’s high time that I made up my mind about what to do with him.

Having dealt with all of that then most of the rest of the day has been spent with dealing with my Jersey photos. I’ve not done too many of those because most of the time has been spent researching.

And most of that time was trying to find out when a couple of buildings were erecting. It’s always puzzled me that there’s much more information available about older buildings than there is about newer ones

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There were several breaks during the day of course, the afternoon walk being one of them.

As usual I went over to the wall at the end of the car park to see what was going on down on the beach. And today, it was a case of playing “spot the human being”. I certainly couldn’t see one in this photo.

Not that that’s really surprising. The weather has turned yet again and the temperature has dropped. It’s quite cool there and pretty much overcast. Winter won’t be long in a-coming, I reckon.

zodiac baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Looking out to sea was pretty much a waste of time this afternoon as well.

There was quite a sea mist and you couldn’t see the Ile de Chausey this afternoon. I’d almost given up hope of seeing anything out at sea when this zodiac came into view from around the headland. So at least that was something.

There was a guy on board who had in his possession a couple of fishing rods. So there’s no surprise as to where he’ll be going.

However I’m more concerned as to where he’s come from because in the kind of range in which a zodiac travels safely, there’s no port with a ramp into the water right now. It’s only people like us who’ll travel 30 miles in open water on a zodiac trying to find our ship.

But be all that as it may, about 30 seconds after this zodiac came by, another one came around the headland. It looks as if there’s quite a lot going on as far as they are concerned.

lobster pot marker pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022A little further on, I came across another marker buoy with a flag.

Having seen quite a few of these, I’m even more convinced that they mark the position of lobster pots that have been dropped overboard in the hope of making a catch.

And just in case I hadn’t seen enough of them already, there were several all dotted along the coast here.

They were all flying the same colour of flag so that seems to be pretty conclusive that the same flag belongs to the same owner, and a different flag belongs to a different owner.

cabanon vauban man on bench pointe du roc Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022With not too many people out and about this afternoon I wasn’t expecting to see anyone down at the bench at the cabanon vauban.

Nevertheless there were two people down there this afternoon. One of them went and hid out of sight behind the cabin when they saw me coming, such has my fame spread these days. But the other person took no notice so he fitted in quite nicely to my photo.

One or two people down on the lower path too but they didn’t hang around waiting for the bench to clear so that they could take their turn at sitting down.

And neither did I hang around. I cleared off down the path on the other side of the headland towards the port.

pierre de jade chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And plenty of excitement today in the chantier naval.

We’ve seen Peccavi back in town, but it looked very much as if we had yet another trawler in there that wasn’t in there yesterday.

To be on the safe side I took a photo of it with the aim of examining it back at base but when I did so, it turned out to be Pierre de Jade who was in there yesterday.

They must really be cracking on with that because they have already painted out her name with some undercoating. And with all of the workmen swarming all over her in contrast to how the work is progressing on the other boats, it looks as if they have a pressing engagement for her.

shtandart marite chausiaise port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Meanwhile down at the far end of the inner harbour it looks as if we have a full house.

Not only is Marité there but it seems that Shtandart is back in town as well, tied up in her usual place. So what’s the story with her then? For how long is she staying?

Chausiaise is down there too in the loading bay underneath the crane. Now that things are quietening down at the end of the summer, maybe she’s thinking about going out with another load to the Channel Islands.

Meanwhile what I am thinking about is going home for a coffee. I’m really struggling, going round my circuit and I certainly can’t do it in 15 minutes as I used to. Fings ain’t looking so good.

For a while I carried on with my photos and later on ended up having a chat with my neighbour. This things isn’t happening this weekend, as I said, but we were talking about a few more opportunities. However, they are increasingly unlikely from my point of view.

Tea tonight was another delicious, magnificent curry and then Rosemary rang so we had another one of our marathon chats. Hence I’m running rather late tonight yet again. There’s no end to it.

Tomorrow I’ll be carrying on with my photos from Jersey. At least I’m ashore now having a coffee – about a quarter of the way through the images. It’s going to take another age to finish it, and then I can restart on all of the other hundreds of outstanding days when there was so much to do that is as yet undone.

It never ends, does it?

Thursday 23rd September 2021 – WHAT A BEAUTIFUL …

montmartin sur mer Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021… day it was today – at least, the afternoon of it.

The sky was as clear as a bell and you could see for miles, way out to sea and all along the coast too. With the sun now shining brightly, and down at a lower angle, it had lit up the town of Montmartin sur Mer as if it had been in a spotlight on a stage.

And when I blew up the photo, I could even make out some people on the beach, and that’s pretty good going for that kind of distance.

st helier jersey Eric Hall photo September 2021The view was just as good further out to sea as well.

It was another one of those days where not only was Jersey really clear on the horizon 58 kilometres away, we could even make out some of the buildings at St Helier.

The big tower over to the left is very intriguing. It really could be anything – the “Marine Peilstand 1 Tower” which was a German Army artillery ranging point or La Tour de Vinde, a Napoleonic-era Martello tower, or even the tower the name of which I have forgotten that overlooks St Brelade’s Bay.

yacht ile de chausey Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Further on around to the west, the Ile de Chausey was looking quite good too.

The colours weren’t as brilliant or as visible as we have seen them on the odd occasion here and there but the little white cottages at the foot of the lighthouse stand out quite clearly against the dark background of the hill on which the lighthouse is situated.

There wasn’t much going on out at sea though this afternoon. There was just a yacht drifting about rather aimlessly and what looks like a motor boat on the extreme right, but that was about everything.

trawler cap frehel brittany coast France Eric Hall photo September 2021Finally, finishing off our arc from north-east to due west, from my vantage point on top of the bunker at the back of the lighthouse the view was even better.

Right out there in the distance, 70 kilometres away, the lighthouse and fort at Cap Frehel were visible with the naked eye this afternoon, never mind with the camera’s zoom lens.

And we could even see the headland around at the end of the next bay, which I think is the Ile de Brehat at the mouth of the River Trieux

There’s a trawler out there as well, and we can even see that it has its nets out this afternoon. That’s what I call a really good day.

But I’m glad that some people had a really good day today because I had an absolutely awful one.

The night wasn’t as early as I was hoping and when the alarm went off at 06:00 I was right out of it, absolutely and completely. And having another feverish sweat as well.

There wasn’t even time to finish checking my mails and messages before I had gone west and I ended up, to my complete and utter dismay, back in bed and under the covers again. Twice in three days, after going for a couple of years without doing so. That’s a sign of how I’m feeling right now.

It was about 10:20 when I finally staggered out of bed and I’m not sure if I wasn’t feeling any worse either. It took me an age to pull myself together.

But once I did, I made an Executive Decision, and for the benefit of any new reader (of which there are more than just a few these days), an Executive Decision is one where if it’s the wrong decision, the person who made it is executed.

And the decision is that I’ve changed the time of the alarm from 06:00 to 07:30 to give myself an extra 90 minutes in bed, until this situation resolves itself one way or another. Just on Mondays will I be having an 06:00 alarm call as I have the radio stuff to do.

Once I’d had a coffee I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I had to go to meet my aunt off the ferry that was coming in at 06:00 so I had to get up early. There was half my family in my apartment and that was uncomfortable for a start. When I set off, I didn’t realise actually where I was going to have to go to meet everyone. I ended up at the shop and was in there when suddenly my mother walked in. There was some discussion with the shopkeeper about tickets to go to meet people, all this kind of thing, tickets to come back from the ferry terminal on the bus to where they were dropped off at his shop. He said “if my aunt comes, she’ll have a ticket and we can all arrange it them”. Then I had my mother and my brother trying to argue with me. I said “look, for the last 20-odd years I’ve lived on my own. I’m not used to all these people”. That led to a few ribald remarks from my brother and one or two other people. As we walked back to my apartment I found myself thinking “I wish there were some other apartments in this building vacant where I could stick them and get them out of my hair”. There was something as well that I’d told one of my sisters about a book about a Chinese disc jockey that summed up quite a lot the way that I’d been feeling. All the way back we had “my sister couldn’t be bothered to read that book” all that kind of thing and it was a most uncomfortable dream.

I was out with TOTGA last night, of all people. I’d been to go to a Conference on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday so I went to the hotel which was near Birmingham and booked myself in for the Tuesday night to start on Wednesday morning. There were another 2 people there booking and they were only booking for the Wednesday night and Thursday on the same course. He asked me why, and I recognised one of them. I knew that he lived fairly locally so I said that I imagined that he would come straight from home for the conference and then come back here for the next two nights. I can’t remember how it went on from there but there was some time to kill so I ended up going for a walk with TOTGA. We were hand-in-hand walking and chatting. She asked where I would like to go but I didn’t really have much of an idea. She said “how about the cinema?”. I’d never been to the new cinema in Crewe so I said “yes, fine”. We walked along Wistaston Road. There was a queue outside the cinema and it slowly started to move. The tickets were £27:00 to go in, so I thought that I’d pay for her but she was renewing her annual subscription so she said that she’d pay. I insisted on paying but the woman at the counter said “you know that hers is £999, don’t you?” I replied “right, in that case I’d better let you pay”. We arranged to meet one lunchtime as well. She asked me where we’d meet so I replied “why not the cinema?”. We agreed that we’d meet on the lunchtime at the cinema. Then there was the case of making a snack. She had bought me a pizza from here once so I thought “right, we’ll have a pizza”. Apparently you made your own. The cheese though was like a spread that you spread over the base of your pizza and put your topping on top which I thought was an extremely strange way of going about things but I started to do that.

I’d been working on repairing an old MkII Ford Consul. We’d had the engine all stripped down in situ and reassembled it. The owner, my father, was not very happy about everything. He saw petrol lying around in cans and he went and took them away. I had to clean all of these parts, and in the end someone went and fetched the petrol back so I cleaned all of the parts of the carburettor and reassembled it. There were still a few bits and pieces left to do including fuelling it up because there was very little petrol left in it but someone had brought a portable bed and gone to sleep right up against the car where the fuel filler was so I couldn’t reach it. In the end my father came back and asked how we were doing. I replied that it was almost done. He made a few remarks about a few bits that were missing, all this kind of thing. I said “it’s not trouble at all, they aren’t really necessary until we find out how the car runs”. We went to start it and it started first time and sounded nice. He got into it and took it for a little drive around the block. He said “yes, this is fine”, then drove off somewhere else. I remember saying “he’s not going to get very far with the few bits that are missing off it and there’s no petrol in it” And he should know about the petrol because ha was the one who stopped us filling it”.

But in the middle of all of my blasted family coming around to annoy me like they do, it must have cheered me up to have had an afternoon or evening out involving a Close Encounter with TOTGA. But in real life she had far too much sense to involve herself with me to that kind of extent.

What with one thing and another I missed out on having lunch, because, even though I didn’t feel like it, I had a task to perform

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a couple of weeks ago I bought a new printer to replace the one that was only printing in blue. I hadn’t installed it yet but this afternoon someone sent me an important communication that I needed to sign and send back, so I had to unpack it and install it.

Although it’s the same make and model as the old one, it’s an upgraded version so it took me a while to figure it out, and when I’d finished installing it, even though it would print, it wouldn’t scan.

Eventually I discovered that despite it being one of these multi-function printers from a major manufacturer, the scanner drivers aren’t included in the installation package, something that left me totally bewildered, so I had to go on-line and hunt them down.

And then I couldn’t make the machine work as I wanted. The control panel is quite complicated but seems to be lacking in functionality. I was surprised that it hadn’t installed a “scan” button on the computer desktop.

So after much binding in the marsh, I eventually discovered that the original “scan” icon for the old printer now points to the new one and once I’d realised that, it was all plain sailing.

All of this made me quite late for my afternoon walk, and when I finally made it outside, I bumped into a neighbour who kept me chatting for half an hour. Not that I had the time to spare, but I can’t spend all my life being totally unsociable with everyone.

While we were chatting, there were all kinds of stuff going on in the air. The powered red hang-glider went by overhead, followed by a couple of Nazguls, a light aeroplane and even the air-sea rescue helicopter, but you can’t interrupt your conversation to take a few pictures. It’s not very polite.

launching site for hang gliders Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021One we’d parted company and gone our separate ways, like the Knights in THE HOLY GRAIL? i tried to make amends.

The field from where the Bird-men of Alcatraz take off is right next door to the cemetery, which I always thought was a good idea because if they make a mistake on take-off or landing they won’t have far to go, so I took a random photo to see if I could see anyone.

But they must have come in and untangled themselves from their equipment quite quickly because by the time that I looked, the field was pretty much deserted. The bird-men had flown.

bouchots donville les bains people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Instead, I concentrated myself on what was going on down on the beach this afternoon.

Plenty of beach to be on today of course with the tide being out, but not too many people on it taking advantage of the warm, almost windless afternoon.

Meanwhile, further over at Donville les Bains, they are out there in force at the bouchot beds – the beds where the mussels grow on strings rather than in the sand. You can see the tractors and trailers out there as they harvest today’s catch

repairing medieval city walls place du marché aux chevaux Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021While I was here, I had a look to see how the repair work on the old medieval city wall at the Place du Marché aux Chevaux was going on

It’s been a while since we’ve had a close look, so I was hoping to see some substantial progress today. But all that I could see was that some white protective sheet had been erected to cover the scaffolding at the far end.

There are however a couple of guys on the scaffolding down at this end working on the wall so if I can get away early on my way to the physiotherapist tomorrow afternoon I’ll go for a closer look and see how they are doing.

jersey trawler Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021While all of this was going on, I was having a good look around out at sea.

As I mentioned earlier, Jersey was standing out quite clearly this afternoon. With some digital enhancing we can see plenty of boats out there this afternoon, like the fishing boat over to the right that might even be the same one that we’ve seen in the bay for the last couple of days.

And it’s not all that usual that we see the eastern end of the island so clearly, yet here it is today. I was trying to identify some of the buildings there by reference to an aerial photo, but without very much success.

boats leaving harbour st helier jersey Eric Hall photo September 2021A little further around to the west there’s a really good view of several boats leaving the harbour at St Helier.

The one on the extreme left of the image caught my eye. Blowing up the image as much as I could, I could see that it has some kind of winching gear on the stern, but it looks too big to be a trawler.

However, there was nothing arriving at or leaving the port round about that time that corresponded with a ship of this nature.

And then we have another couple of trawlers heading our way

trawler baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy Eric Hall photo September 2021With nothing else going on over here (as if all of this isn’t enough) I went to have a closer look at Cap Fréhel, which I could see with my naked eye today, and then across the lawn and the car pary around to the end of the headland.

In the past, I can’t recall having seen fishing boats working in the strait here between Granville and Cancale over in Brittany, but that all changed fairly recently when we noticed them starting to try to exploit this area. There’s a trawler out there this afternoon trying to see what it can pull up out of the sea bed.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I wonder if this constant search for new fishing grounds is due to the issues over fishing rights further out in the Baie de Granville.

hotels baie de mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021A little earlier I mentioned how nice the weather was today and how clear the sky was.

Down at the foot of the Baie de Mont St Michel, while we can’t actually see the Mont until someone removes the Pointe de Carolles and the Cabanon Vauban that sits thereupon, we can see the hotels on the mainland this afternoon.

If you look just slightly to the right of the foot of the Pointe de Carolles you’ll see a few white or light grey buildings. These are where anyone who comes to visit the Mont and stay overnight will usually stay because prices actually on the Mont itself are quite simply out of this world.

And there on the mainland they aren’t really all that much better, I suppose. It’s pretty much a captive audience over there.

l'omerta chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Meanwhile, it’s “all change” at the chantier naval this afternoon.

As I walked along the path on the top of the cliff towards the port, I could see that things were looking quite different down there this afternoon. And it looks as if there has been a massive clear-out today.

The only boat that is left today is L’Omerta. The other boats that were in there – Hera, Le Pescadore and Catherine-Philippe – have now gone back into the water.

The next question is “who is going to come into the chantier naval to take their place?”.

belle france chausiaise ferry terminal port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021It’s a lot more normal over at the ferry terminal this afternoon.

The new ferry Belle France and the little freighter Chausiaise are moored over there this afternoon. The two Joly France boats are probably out at sea somewhere. And they’ve closed up the jib of the crane as well, which is good news for the hydraulic seals.

Meanwhile, in other news, there’s some kind of jogging team out there on the quayside going for a run. They’ve turned off and are starting to run along the wall around the port de plaisance.

And I’m intrigues to find out what will happen when they reach the end, because there’s a large gap in the wall. Perhaps it’s the start of a triathlon and they are all going to leap into the sea and swim across.

Back in the past, I took part in a triathlon, but only the once. I was busy doing the water leg when I suddenly thought to myself “this is silly. I’m getting the bike all rusty here”.

marquees chicane rue du port Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Over the last few days we’ve seen interesting developments taking place in the Rue du Port.

We have the chicane of course, and the marquee that they erected yesterday. But now a couple more marquees have sprung up on the car park of the Fish Processing Plant. This is all starting to become interesting.

And we can see that Marité is back in town as well. She’s been absent for the last couple of days. Well, in fact, she hasn’t really. She’s been nipping out early on the morning tide for a lap around the Ile de Chausey or over to Cancale and not come back until the evening tide.

Hence my mid-afternoon walk has missed her.

aztec lady capo di fora spirit of conrad mini y port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2021Meanwhile, In other news, we have a couple of new visitors in the port.

The white yacht on the extreme right next to the blue Aztec Lady is called Capo di Fora. Despite her Italian-sounding name, she’s actually flying the Belgian flag, as, incidentally, her neighbour Spirit of Conrad, the yacht on which we went up and down the Brittany coast last summer.

The large grey yacht is called Mini Y, registered in the UK. She’s a “Baltic 85” yacht built in Finland in 2018 of fibre and composite construction and weighs in at just 50 tonnes.

She’s been cruising along the North European coast for the last few days and just recently has been roaming around St Malo and the waters between there and here

Back here in the apartment I had a few things to finish off and then I was just on the point of starting some work when Rosemary called me again.

Once we’d finished, it was long past my tea time so I grabbed an aubergine and kidney-bean whatsit out of the freezer and had that with some pasta. That tasted really nice, and it would have been even nicer had I not dropped the bottle of tabasco sauce in it.

***Note to self – put toilet roll in fridge tonight ***

And now I’m off to bed – going to make the most of my lie-in for the next few days to see if it makes me feel any better. Although I have a feeling that I’ll need more than this to liven me up.