Tag Archives: mandy_m

Thursday 25th April 2024 – I HAVE ACHES …

… and pains in places that I didn’t even know that I had places. I’m not as young as I used to be and this travelling is really taking its toll of me. I wish it didn’t.

After I’d finished my notes last night I didn’t have what it takes to go to bed. It took an age to find the energy and morale to raise myself from my chair and stagger off on this marathon trek of several inches that seems as if it’s several hundred miles.

As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it wouldn’t be so bad if I could find the energy to do something productive while I’m waiting but I can’t seem to do that either.

But eventually I fell into bed and that was that. It took an age to go off to sleep, being wound up as I was, but once I’d gone off I don’t recall moving again until just a few minutes before the alarm went off

It goes without saying that I took full advantage of every minute under the covers that I could because right now it’s freezing around here. You’d never believe that it’s the end of April with temperatures like we’re having. I know many people who have relit their heating and if this cold spell carries on much longer I shan’t be far behind.

So off I staggered into the dining area to sort out the medication and then to prepare everything for Isabelle the nurse so that she has everything that she needs and it’s set out how she likes.

So she came and organised me and told me that tomorrow I have a blood test to undergo. I’m not looking forward to that one bit. My arms look and feel as if I’ve been wrestling with a hedgehog as it is.

After she left, I came in here, sat down on my chair and that’s how I stayed for several hours. I couldn’t even be bothered to go to make breakfast – that’s the kind of state in which I was this morning.

The cleaner came round later and snapped me out of my reverie, bringing me all of the medication from my new prescription.

And there are piles of it too. It’s starting to become ridiculous, all of this and I really don’t know where it’s going to end. There are two more now added to the pile of nonsense after these latest visits and next time I go, there will doubtless be a couple of others to counter the side-effects that those two have caused.

Once she’d gone I managed to transcribe the dictaphone notes from yesterday at the hospital and add them into the notes, all of them and it really was “all” of them because it must have been a very mobile night that night with a lot going on.

In the middle of all of that I was out like a light for an hour or so. I really can’t keep on going these days and it’s driving me to distraction.

Rosemary rang up for a chat this afternoon, just a short one today. Only 1 hour and 10 minutes today – we’re losing our touch. She was telling me about her forthcoming trip to Italy which should make a nice trip out for her. She has all of the luck. It was Vietnam last year.

After we finished our chat I transcribed last night’s dictaphone notes. The Government was talking about some big, bold plans for railway modernisation to bring the railways right into the 21st Century. All of the particular regions were asked to submit their plans. We were working on a series of cross-country lines from east to west. Everywhere where we went where we saw the proposals from other areas, it was all about going north-south from London into the different regions. It seemed that the whole of the cross-country system would be squeezed out. Of course there was very little that we could do because we didn’t have the weight or influence. It was very frustrating to everyone concerned. All of the people were so concerned and frustrated that we couldn’t seem to make any headway at all with our plans. Naturally we were doing everything we could but we were being squeezed at every turn by everyone else. It was impossible to put forward any coherent plans because nothing that we were doing would conform to whatever it was that the Government really wanted. There was a grave danger that the whole of our east-west railway would be squeezed out. I had girls from the office coming to see me in tears about the prospects of failure that all of our lobbying and arguments were bringing but we we were doing everything we could. There was nothing more that we could do but we didn’t seem to be making any kind of progress. Everyone was just so frustrated.

Anyone who knows anything about the British railway network will know just how true that is too. Going cross-country in the UK by rail is really difficult and time-consuming. Government policies haven’t helped either. A cross-country railway line closed in the 1960s was approved for reopening as far back as 1992 and we’re still waiting. Brunel would have had it up and running in 6 months.

They run all kinds of feasibility studies and passenger surveys, file the results and then go back to re-run the exercise 5 years later by which time costs have doubled.

And after Zero a few nights ago and Castor the other night, TOTGA came round too during the night. I’d been in France with Nerina and we’d just come back. Early on Sunday morning she came round. She had an apple. I made a remark something like “that’ll be the last apple that I’ll see for several weeks” so she left it for me which I thought was really nice of her. Then I had a ‘phone call from where she was working. Could I go to see her? She was working in some kind of merchant banking office. I arrived and it was one of these self-service receptionist places where you had to root around to try to find your contact’s ‘phone n°. I couldn’t find hers at all. In the end she happened to turn up at the counter by pure chance. I asked her for her telephone n° in her office but she made some kind of cryptic remark so I asked her whether she wasn’t allowed to leave her ‘phone n° or not. She said no, she wasn’t. I said “that’s strange. Anyone can have mine any time of the day even at 04:00 and get me out of bed as long as they say the magic words”. She asked “what are those?”. I replied “do you want to earn some money, Eric?”. She asked “was that really the last apple that you’re likely to see for several weeks?” I explained that we weren’t exactly that broke but we’d just come back from the Continent and we didn’t have any in the house. Nevertheless some kind of additional income would come in handy and I was intrigued to hear what kind of proposition she was going to make to me from her work that would be of interest to me in a financial sense

So that was a very special treat for me last night to follow my vegan pesto.

Tonight, I finished off the vegan pesto with more pasta, veg and a vegan burger. I need to order some more of those as the European Burger Mountain in the fridge has shrunk dramatically just recently. But not right now as despite it being really early, I really am going to try to go to bed and sleep the Sleep of a Thousand Dreams and see who comes with me.

After all, I’ve had all three of my favourite females over the past week or so coming to see me. And wouldn’t it be nice if they came more often, or, at least, more regularly? Life is much more interesting when they are around. It’s the only interesting company that I seem to have these days.

My life at the moment is, after all, hardly interesting. It reminds me of a story I heard when one person asked another one sitting next to him at a dinner "do you ever think that life is really boring?"
To which the other one replied "Quite often. Especially when one is sitting next to you"

Saturday 30th March 2024 – MY BROCCOLI STALK …

… soup was absolutely delicious at lunchtime.

  1. chop up an onion and fry it in a heavy duty saucepan
  2. dice your broccoli stalk and a potato into very small pieces and add them to the fried onion, and fry them
  3. add your herbs – I used coriander, chervil, marjoram and chives – a stock cube and some garlic, and fry them with everything else
  4. when you’re satisfied that all is going well, add enough of the water that you saved yesterday from blanching the carrots and broccoli florets – make sure that the stuff above is covered and remains so throughout the entire process
  5. simmer away on a low heat for about 20 minutes
  6. add a tub of soya yoghurt and whizz it all up with your whizzer
  7. serve with fresh black pepper and fresh-baked bread

That’s what I call a really decent meal for a lunchtime.

When I blanch my broccoli for freezing I only blanch the florets. But one of these 99 cents special offers of broccoli is usually more stalk than florets so you have to be inventive, and broccoli stalk soup is the way forward

However I wish that I knew the way forward out of my current sleep issues because they reared their ugly head today, and in spades too.

Last night was a late night again. Once more I couldn’t seem to have my tasks completed in anything like a reasonable time. They do seem to drag me down these days and like anything else around here, it’s never-ending.

Finally, hours later than intended, I managed to find my way into bed.

Once in though, I slept right the way through until the alarm went off without the slightest interruption, which is quite strange these days. Usually, the slightest noise awakens me, so I wonder if it’s something to do with one of the pills that I take just before going to bed.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed again and went to check the blood pressure. 15.5/8.9 compared to last evening’s 15.9/10.1. So not a great deal of difference.

After the medication I tidied up in the kitchen and arranged everything for the nurse to come. She was her usual cheerful self today and it didn’t take her long to sort me out. I told her about the issues with the pharmacy and she thinks that I ought to see my GP about the blood tests.

My opinion is that they are called for by the hospital so it’s up to the hospital to decide whether I need them or not, and as for my injections, I’m in the hospital in 3 weeks time and if I don’t have them for 3 weeks, there’s plenty of time for the hospital to catch up

Back in here, there was nothing on the dictaphone yet again from the night, and even though that usually signifies a decent sleep it’s still disappointing because, as I have said before… "and on many occasions too" – ed … going on my travels is the only fun that I have these days.

Back in the old days before my health finally gave out, I’d always be travelling. And not just in vehicles either, but on foot. I’ve roamed miles over places like the Long Mynd in Shropshire, moors in Scotland, Arctic tundra in Greenland and Northern Canada and so on.

Who will ever forget my famous journey when I nipped out for a couple of hours in 2014 and ended up roaming for miles through the Pyrenees in Southern France, Spain and Andorra for several weeks?

But returning to last night, even though there was nothing on the dictaphone I do have a recollection of something else to do with Ford Cortinas scattered all over Crewe and that’s a regular, recurring dream.

Apart from making broccoli stalk soup, most of the day has been dealing with radio stuff, sorting out music for the next few programmes. Time to restart work after being away on a course for a week. and I’m still thinking and talking in Welsh when I talk to myself.

There was a lot of progress made with the radio stuff but I would have done more had I not crashed out.

And I crashed out good and proper for a couple of hours too, the deepest that I have ever been too and it was really uncomfortable too, really, really uncomfortable. I was so far out that I wouldn’t have come back for a week.

Nevertheless I came round and wandered off for my hot chocolate. And there was something on the dictaphone from when I’d crashed out, and that doesn’t happen too often either. I was on my way to see my sister and my brother. They had given me directions but the closer I came to where they were supposed to be, the less sense the directions made. I ended up on an island, a long narrow sandspit that was completely built up with a big apartment building. As I approached the front door there was a man there so I hurried and he held the door for me to enter. Inside I went into the lift and came out on the first floor. I asked on the radio which apartment they were in but their answer was garbled so I asked which floor and they said “top”. I went back into the lift and came out at the top and was now in the open air countryside, still heavily built up. I asked if they were on the water side or the inside but the reply was “down here” so I went down the road. There was still no trace of them so I asked which house they were in. They replied that there was nothing near them but a pub. There was nothing whatever like that where I was but searching around I came across a village name something like Rhydymwyn (but wasn’t) so I asked if that name meant anything to them. There was no reply to that – I’d gone out of range obviously and lost radio contact, so I must have been miles away, so I gave it up zs a bad job.

The likelihood of me ever wanting to meet my brother and sister would be so remote that they wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of giving me false directions to keep me away.

But the island, the long thin sandspit, reminds me very much of Long Beach Island in New Jersey. That was where I went to celebrate the Millennium. I flew from Brussels Airport, where I was interviewed by Flemish TV – in Flemish – to New York and hired a car, then just drifted around until I found somewhere nice.

And LONG BEACH ISLAND REALLY IS NICE TOO. I had a wonderful time out there.

TOTGA had just been abandoned by her husband and was left alone with a small baby. I invited her to join me on the trip
"Where would be staying?" she asked
"We’ll work that out when we arrive. Just drive and find somewhere nice"
"Actually, it’s not really convenient"

A few years later we were talking and she said "I’d have come with you if you’d had a place booked to stay, you know."

It was then that I realised what a lucky escape she’d had. In 2015 I slept out on the trail every night in Northern Labrador and Northern Québec, timber wolves howling in the distance and something or other scratching at Strider’s truck cap, wanting to come in and share the sleeping bag with me.

TOTGA would have had a heart attack a long time before that if she’d had to share a lifetime with me. Nerina was the adventurous type and would have been fine, but I’m sure that I tried her spirit a few times

But just in case you are wondering, these people who figure quite often in my dreams, like TOTGA, Castor and Zero and so on, they are actually real people whom I’ve encountered, or even had a close encounter, at some time or other and who have obviously left a very great impression on me.

There was football on the internet later – TNS v Cardiff Metropolitan in the other Welsh Cup semi-final.

To everyone’s surprise, the Met raced into a 2-0 lead but of course it couldn’t last. TNS changed out of first gear and off they roared.

TNS’s overwhelming dominance of the Welsh domestic game wouldn’t bother me all that much if they could take it further. But they are knocked out of European competition at the first hurdle and they really ought to be doing much better than

It would really be nice if they could make it to a European group stage for once and have a real stab at something worthwhile.

And it would be nice if other clubs could do well too, emulating Hwlffordd who actually made it through to a second round last season.

Tea tonight was baked potato with vegan salad and one of these breaded quorn fillets that I like. But aren’t plates heavy when they fall on your foot? I’m glad that there was just a quorn fillet on it at that moment and nothing else.

But now I’m off to bed. We lose an hour tonight of course with the change of calendar, and I have the nurse coming which is a pain. I need to be up early and have everything ready so I hope that the alarm works.

Not like back in the old days when I was always late for school
"And why are you always late?" asked the exasperated schoolmaster
"Please sir" I explained "there’s eight in our family but the alarm was only set for seven so I had to miss out."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But retournons à nos moutons as they say around here.

Last night, I couldn’t go to bed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 16th January 2024 – WE HAVE REACHED …

… the nadir today.

After my visit to the Centre de Re-education today I couldn’t climb back up the stairs to my apartment and I was stranded on the second step (and I still don’t know how I managed to climb those two). Totally stuck, with no opportunity of moving.

It wasn’t until one of my neighbours turned up 20 minutes later that I was able to make it as far as the lift. And have you ever, ever heard of the absurd situation of two disabled old men, taking it in turns to help each other up the stairs one by one?

Yes, I really plumbed the perigee of despair today and I’m thoroughly sick to death of all of this.

So as you can see, the depths of the dark pit into which I slid last night are nothing whatever to where I am right now.

And do you know what made it worse?

TOTGA came to see me last night. That would be the kind of thing to immediately perk me up and bring me back into the Land of the Living.

But no such luck. And what with Castor (because I’m sure that you are all aware by now that it was she who came to see me a few nights ago, at long last) coming to cheer me up just now to no effect, things are really bad.

All I need now is for Zero to come to see me and I’ll have had my three favourite young ladies. But that’s wishful thinking and even if she were to put in an appearance, it wouldn’t do any good. I’d still be just as miserable

Cue another load of unwelcome immediate relatives tonight then, and my life will be complete.

It was another lousy, pain-ridden night last night where I felt every single jolt or bump, and I do wish that STRAWBERRY MOOSE would behave himself. Whatever will it be like when there’s a cat on there too? That is, if I ever do move down to the apartment below and don’t peg out beforehand.

But there must have been some passages of sleep because you won’t believe how much stuff there is on the dictaphone. And it wasn’t all about sleeping either because the first thing that I said when I opened my eyes in bed in the middle of the night at one moment was “oes rhywun sy’n gadael y llyfr yn y bedd” – “there is someone leaving a book in the grave?” and I didn’t understand that for a minute but that was what I said.

There they were later … "later than what?" – ed …, Jerry, Mike and I can’t remember the name of the third person, a girl whom we knew and I’ve forgotten. They were all there singing. I heard the song about “you being in my bed” which I thought was wonderful

At some later point I awoke and found myself in TOTGA’s bed. A couple of her daughters, which is strange because she only has one, were milling around fetching cups of tea for different people etc but I was being conspicuously left out of it which shows how welcome I was at the moment. Then TOTGA came and got under the covers with me and curled up. I thought to myself “this can’t possibly be right”. Even in a dream I knew that it can’t possibly be right but “hey!”. We were discussing things about a book that I was reading, where people were actually screws and had different characteristics according to what screw they were. She said “you should have said that you were from such and such a place” which was somewhere in the book. “That would confuse everyone”. I replied “I’m quite happy saying that I’m from no-tea town seeing as I’ve been here for half an hour and no-one’s offered me a cup of tea yet”.

And discussing screws in bed? It reminds me of that Excise Inspector whom I mentioned a while back giving evidence in connection with the case of a fraudulent medium. When one member of counsel asked him his occupation he replied "Excise Inspector"
"Testing spirits?" asked counsel
"Yes" replied witness "but not the kind of spirits that we are discussing at the moment"

And I know that if I ever were lucky enough to be in bed with TOTGA talking about screws, it wouldn’t be the kind of screws that came up in the dream

Then there I was in the hospital with TOTGA’s family too. We were still taking this barium meal thing. We were lucky because we were moved away at one point and the whole families left behind were at the mercy of the people who’d captured them. I continued to take this stuff, then they began to deal with all the results. I was swollen up quite badly with all this liquid but they began to take the results. They found that my condition had improved so I didn’t need to take as much of the product. The others could slowly stop it. This was how it continued, me gradually taking less and less and the swelling slowly disappearing etc. But it was still all kinds of nightmare and torture etc and I was really hoping that I didn’t have to do this again, and really hoping that TOTGA’s family didn’t. I wondered how she was getting on but there was then some kind of emotional reunion where we both met up but we were still connected to these kinds of things but it looked as of we were on the winning side of how everything was supposed to be.

And I was back in this dream again. This time we’d had the same preliminaries but I was tied up somehow. They asked if I was still coupled to the perfusion. I said yes so they started up the machine to give me more product. I could feel myself ballooning up like a lamb and at no time at all I was at the 21st stage where there was an old man chatting to one or two people. This was me, where I was going to be for a while. A nurse came to check my pochette and my injection and compared the muscles … fell asleep here … it all seemed to be favouring the woman who was with me at the beginning but everything settling down etc. She seemed to be being taken care of but I seemed to be just shunted around. In the end while I was sitting there singing to myself someone came to take control of me, measured everything and slowly reduced the product bit by bit until in the end it was just a small nominal amount that was going in me. I could see my friends on the other circuits … fell asleep here

All I could remember of this particular one was the blue plastic spines of how we’d been arranged when they had initially taken our measurements. I was one of the one s who had been sorted out for higher doses and the others had not so it was quite obvious that I’d be taken away from these blue plastic spines and started again from another point. I ended up on the north side of the building. That was when they began the treatment. I could see myself slowly ballooning up and could feel the product rising inside of me. I’d be interested to know what the figure was but of course no-one at that stage was going to take it. I’d have to wait a good while before someone would come along to do anything about it. I spend a lot of time thinking about TOTGA and her children, how we’d ended up in this particular situation which wasn’t very nice at all, wondering when everything was going to happen. But I’ve had this dream, it’s been a continual dream, dozens of times tonight and I really don’t know why

I was dropped off in the middle of Ottawa one night by my cousin who lives there. It was in the middle of winter and I was just wearing a shirt and tie, jacket and trousers. I was carrying a big file of paperwork, one of these site-workers’ radios and something else. I wandered around for a while, found a building that was open and went in. I had a wander around and found that it was a Little Chef. I sat down and went through this paperwork and managed to find out something that might have been her address for the moment. She was staying with a friend who was a dentist whom I’d briefly met. I made a note. By this time it was pouring down with rain outside. Luckily I had my winter raincoat so I put it on. I had a small waterproof bag in which I could crumple all these papers so they wouldn’t be wet and I could keep it underneath my raincoat. The old site radio would just have to take its chance. I set off outside into the rain with absolutely no idea whatever of what I was going to do now

Yes, Ottawa in the middle of winter in just a shirt and tie, jacket and trousers and it begins to rain. If that’s ever likely. Ottawa is the second-coldest capital city in the world, beaten only by Ulan Bator in Mongolia and it was freezing cold when I was there in November 2010 on my way back to see Katherine in Windsor.

But that’s not all the stuff n the dictaphone, but you really don’t want to know about the rest, especially if you are eating a meal right now.

when the alarm went off it was a mad scramble to find the phone and I really didn’t feel like getting up, but there I was.

And after the medication and typing the dictaphone notes I tried to do so much but it seemed that the whole wide world and his wife wanted me on the phone. I couldn’t even have a wash in peace.

And as a result I was also late for my Welsh lesson and the lesson itself was a disaster too.

The car came for me on time and it really was a struggle to go to the Centre de Re-education today. The ergotherapist had me cooking food today to see how I managed (and I brought it home too) and then Severine massaged my poorly knee. But you can’t perform miracles with shoddy material

After we’d finished I had this nightmare to come home where I made myself some hot chocolate and then crashed out like a light over my desk.

Tea, the first time that I’ve eaten today, was a taco roll with the pasta and veg from the Centre de Re-education and it was delicious.

So what are the odds on visitors tonight? It’s odds-on that my family will be here, but Zero will be a rank outsider because she’s the only one of the three who’s missing. Castor will probably be even farther out, having made her annual visit the other day.

But we might have a surprise visitor too – I mean, how long is it since the Vanilla Queen came to see me?

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, she’s a girl who once quite literally dogged my footsteps all the way from Montreal across to Edmonton, then to Whitehorse in the North West Territories and then onwards into the High Arctic.

She was someone whom I admired greatly. She was a hairdresser (“hair stylist!”) from Montreal who had a passion for the High Arctic just like me and one day just happened to notice that the lease on a hair salon in Iqualuit on Baffin Island was available.

So "gone! And never called me ‘mother’!". How brave was that?

But that’s even less likely than Castor.

The stage is probably being reached where not only would it be Nerina but I’d be quite happy about it too. But there’s no point in brooding about things like this. As if I don’t have enough to brood about right now.

If I’d stayed in Crewe I’d almost inevitably have ended up in Shrewsbury Nick or something or else driving a bus or taxi somewhere. Of course, all work is honourable, no matter what it is, but how do you keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?

If I’d stayed in Crewe I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I’ll remember that quote next time I’m having to think about spurious quotes to attribute to Boyle Roche.

So "as I write this letter I have a pistol in one hand and a rapier in the other". Good night

Sunday 7th January 2024 – WHAT A WAY …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 13th December 2023 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what Severine did today that was different than usual but the climb back up the stairs this afternoon after my session at the Centre de Re-education was one of the easiest that I’ve had for a few weeks.

And that was a surprise too after what went on yesterday because last night when I went to bed I had the feeling that I’d probably need to be carried up the stairs.

A good sleep during the night probably helped. I’d had a really good session on the guitar before I went to bed, earlier than usual, and judging by the timestamp on the first of the sound files on the dictaphone, I was in a deep sleep quite quickly.

But I enjoyed the hour or so on the guitar. I was trying to work out THE BOYS OF SUMMER.

It’s a track that first came into my head years ago when I was walking up and down a deserted beach on Long Beach Island in New Jersey, where I went for the Millennium. I found an almost-deserted motel, stayed there for a week and had one of the best times of my life.

TOTGA had just been divorced and was left alone with a young son. On a whim, I asked her if they’d like to come with me.

"Where would we stay?" she asked.
"Oh, I dunno" I replied. "We’ll just drift around until we find somewhere nice".
"I’m not really sure that I could really spare the time" she answered.

A few years later we had a chat and she said "you know, if you had had some accommodation booked, I’d have come with you that time" and that was when I realised just what a lucky escape she’d had.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I don’t do pre-booking of accommodation and things like that. Drifting around is my way of life. Anyone whose Idea of a holiday is pre-booking somewhere and staying on a beach or something would have had a nervous breakdown after a week with me.

Regular readers of this rubbish will probably recall 2015 when I spent every single night (except for one) “sleeping out” in Labrador and Upper Québec with howling timber wolves keeping me awake, animals scratching at Strider’s truck cap trying to get into the sleeping bag with me, battling with snowdrifts in September and all of that.

No, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … TOTGA did well to slip through my evil clutches.

The irony is that she doesn’t remember those conversations now and even denies that they took place. But they are firmly imprinted in my mind

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … guitar, THE BOYS OF SUMMER took on a new significance many years later.
"I never will forget those nights, I wonder if it was a dream"
"A little voice inside my head said don’t look back, you can never look back."
"Those days are gone forever, I should just let ’em go"

Mind you, at that time, there were a great many little voices inside my head saying all kinds of things. And did I listen?

There’s no fool like an old fool, and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

When the alarm went off this morning I was already up and about. I’d been up for well over an hour, in fact, and I’d transcribed the dictaphone notes too. Mind you, there weren’t so many of those during the night. I must have had something of a decent sleep for once. There was a European Cup football match taking place between a club from the UK and a team from somewhere way out east, possibly one of the former Soviet republics. The match was played in the UK so of course there were very few away fans there at all. The away end was empty. Half-way through the second half 4 or 5 away fans went to stand in the away end with a drum and a flag etc to a huge cheer from everyone else in the crowd. It was a really warm cheer of encouragement too to see the people who had come from so far away.

And then I was going off on a taxi job last night. I was at home and everyone was hanging around as usual. There were bits of money all over the place. I thought “this is no way to run a particular business”. With the job to do at 13:45, at 13:30 I went out to the car. Someone from out of the house followed me out. He tapped me on the shoulder and caught me unawares. I swung round but I had a big plastic bag of books in my hand too at the time and swinging round caught me off-balance and I almost ended up flat on my back doing this. A voice from inside the house said something like “don’t forget – you can leave this job until some other time later on” but I thought that the quicker I do the job the quicker it’s done and the quicker it’s finished.

This morning I had a lot of work to do, including some hardware maintenance on the big desktop computer and that took much longer than it ought to.

My cleaner came round as well after her visit into town and brought me the medication that I’d been prescribed. Some of it wasn’t available and so it’ll be here tomorrow, I hope.

In the bathroom I had a really good scrub up and set off a load of washing in the washing machine so that it would be ready for when I came back from the Centre de Re-education.

The car came for me and dropped me off there. First I had a group relaxation session which didn’t do all that much. Would I like to use the weights or the exercise balls? So I replied “the weights” and she gave me a ball. Such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

Severine poked and prodded me about for half an hour and then I had to go to wait for my ride home. While I was waiting, I fell asleep with my 2 crutches on my lap, and after a couple of minutes I dropped one, which awoke everyone else.

Back here, I had my hot chocolate and biscuits (and I’ll have to make more biscuits on Sunday), hung up the washing and then finished off the radio notes

Tea tonight was a leftover curry with naan bread, cooked properly this time, and if I don’t fall asleep again I’ll dictate the radio notes before going to bed. I’m back at the Centre de Re-education tomorrow afternoon but if I’m lucky I’ll find time to prepare a programme.

And that reminds me – I’ve forgotten so send off the programme for this weekend. I really must do that first thing tomorrow or I’ll really be in the doghouse. Not that I’m not in it already, of course.

Tuesday 28th November 2023 – MY BREAD AND BUTTER …

… pudding went the Way of the West this morning.

It was looking rather suspicious yesterday and this morning when I opened the cake tin my suspicions were confirmed.

Either it wasn’t cooked through thoroughly enough or else my cake tin isn’t air-tight or, more likely, it’s a combination of them both.

It has to be said that I’m actually baking with a cheap table-top oven and I’ve long-known that it’s pretty much hit and miss. To cook anything in it I have to increase the temperature 20° and increase the cooking time by 50%

What’s sad about all of this is that in the back of Caliburn not only do I have a proper built-in oven that I picked up in Macon from Jean-Marc last summer after he and Jacqueline remodelled their kitchen, I also have the units to fit it that I picked up from IKEA in Munich. It’s handy having friends who live next door to the largest IKEA in Europe.

But be that as it may, in the van they are and in the van they’ll stay because there is no way on this earth that I can bring them up here in the state in which I find myself.

As for airtight containers, I have quite a few more and better ones of those too but they are up on the top shelf in the kitchen and I can’t reach them. What kind of state am I in that I have a set of steps here but I can’t climb up them?.

Anyway, that’s enough of my moaning. Life isn’t all about being dealt a good hand of cards, it’s all about how you play the cards that you’ve been dealt and instead of worrying about problems, I ought to be thinking about solutions.

All of that will give me something about which I can think while I’m in bed tonight, so I’m hoping that it will be a longer night than last night because what with one thing and another (and once you make a start you’ll be surprised at how many other things there are) I ended up going to bed late last night.

And having spent all that time talking about garlic keeping away vampires and my three favourite young ladies, I had a visitor last night. TOTGA came to see me.

When the alarm went off at 07:00 I staggered to my feet and wobbled off into the dining area for my medication. And back here afterwards I listened to the dictaphone notes. I’d been a guest in someone’s house and had been interested on one or two items in someone’s collection. Every time I went to have a closer look at them I was suspected of stealing them. The whole situation in this country house-type of place became very complicated. There was one of the guests, a girl with one leg. She was wearing a pair of trousers. She asked me if I’d change the trousers and put a pair of shorts on her. Of course that would be something that I would find extremely difficult to do so I tried to hedge. In the end she explained to me that I was the only person here so it had to be me who would do it. The girl and I had to think of a way in which it would be possible to do it. Every idea with which I came up seemed to have a pitfall in it that wouldn’t make it work. And that seems to be par for the course these days.

And then later on TOTGA turned up, as I mentioned earlier. I’d gone with someone to some kind of club meeting because a guy had some Land Rover wheels and some kind of jacket for sale. My friend was very interested in them so I agreed to go with him to have a look and to help him. We arrived there and he found the person whom he was wanting to see so he wandered off for a chat. While I was wandering around on my own I came across TOTGA and we began to talk. What had actually happened was that there was some kind of snake slithering along the ground. All of a sudden its tongue darted out and caught a most enormous beetle, swallowed it, and slithered off on its way. I pointed it out to TOTGA and asked her if it was a snake or a slow worm. She didn’t know and neither did it. I’d taken some photos of it but the colours looked rather weak and insipid so we ended up talking about colours, palettes etc for photography and images. She told me that she used a palette that was called something like “City of Oklahoma”. I began to do some research and found out a few things about it but couldn’t find out how to load it up. In the meantime my friend came over to me, handed me his glasses in the glasses case and told me to put them in my pocket. I put them in my pocket but just the something hit me really hard on the foot. I thought that the glasses had fallen through a hole and dropped on my foot that way but they were still in my coat. It can’t have been them. I couldn’t see anything at all around there that might have dropped onto my foot. My friend gave me one or two other things, said “come on, give me a hand” and began to collect up the wheels and this jacket. Obviously he’d had a successful negotiation and was now prepared to carry away his prizes.

And wouldn’t I have liked to have carried away my prize too? But as I have explained before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … TOTGA always had far more sense than to allow herself to be swept up in my evil clutches.

Fighting off (sometimes unsuccessfully) waves of sleep I prepared for my Welsh lesson and to my surprise it passed off quite well, which took me by surprise. We spent much of the morning discussing shipwrecks and ocean travel, and I spent time talking about trailing along in the wake of John Ross.

Something else that we had to do today was to produce something from our day-to-day life and talk about it.

Of course, it goes without saying that I produced STRAWBERRY MOOSE and we discussed the events surrounding his confrontation with the Minister of Education, an unexpected death and the issue that arose with a group of students in Scotland, all of which led to his expulsion from the University.

Mind you, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, had he had different friends and companions, the eventual outcome would have been much different.

This afternoon, despite falling asleep on several occasions (and I don’t know why because it’s not as if I’ve done much) I finished off the radio notes ready for dictating later tonight, and then carried on with the photos from Canada 2022.

That latter task is taking far longer than it ought but I’m hoping that tomorrow after I finish the radio programme I can finish those off too. And then I have the notes to write, which will probably take me another 3 months.

And if you think that that’s a long time, I still haven’t finished the post-production of the … gulp … 6,000 photos that I took in the High Arctic in 2019.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with rice and veg, and there’s still some stuffing left to make a left-over curry tomorrow

So tomorrow I have a radio programme to prepare, photos to finish off, forms to print out and a physiotherapy session down at the Centre de Re-education. And then I have to think about what I’m going to do about Friday and my trip to Paris.

One thing’s for sure, and that is that you won’t get much sense out of me on Saturday. But then again, why should Saturday be any different from any other day anyway?

Thursday 9th November 2023 – MAIS OÙ SONT …

… les neiges d’antan? wrote Francois Villon 550 years ago in his poem La Ballade Des Dames Du Temps Jadis.

And I wrote something similar last night in my tale of woe about “Ladies From Former Times” when I wrote about Castor, Zero and TOTGA and the absence thereof during my nocturnal ramblings. Where indeed are the snows of yesteryear?

So of course it goes without saying that last night Zero and TOTGA came to see me – at different times, I have to say. I don’t think that I could cope with them both together.

It was all extremely confusing because I had another bad night – one of many that I seem to be having these days. I think that it must be my guilty conscience catching up with me, or something like that.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. As I said, at some point TOTGA came by. We were talking about an expression that I’d used in a conversation – one of these superlative hyperbole expressions. At first she didn’t understand it so I explained that it came from the “Round The Horne” programme which was very good at doing that kind of thing. I went to give her an example and was about to talk about Geronimo and his Indian braves when I suddenly had the most appalling attack of cramp in my left lower leg and I awoke in absolute agony.

Can you imagine it? There I was, not only with the bird on my plate but just about to get my fork stuck in it and I had a bad attack of cramp. The first time that she’s shown up for quite a while too. Is there anything more disappointing than that?

Actually, all through the night I was having these bad attacks of cramp and it was probably all of this that was disturbing my sleep.

In fact, I was glad when the alarm went off and I could stagger to my feet.

It took rather longer than usual to come round into the Land of the Living, but once I was finally on the same planet as you lot, I transcribed the dictaphone notes.

TOTGA I mentioned just now. And later on I was in some kind of big city. One of these places with some impressive stone buildings like Bank headquarters etc. I was walking along a path that was on top of a cliff with all of these big buildings on my right. I came to a point where I couldn’t go any further. The wall of the building went right down to the edge of the cliff. I noticed that there was a gate in it. I can’t think why I hadn’t noticed this gate before. I walked through the gate and slowly went up the hill. There in the distance was a Fortis Bank cash machine. Luckily I had my new Fortis card with me. I picked up the card and tried to put it in the machine but it wouldn’t fit. I’d noticed that I’d actually left it stuck to the backing. I had to peel off the backing but it still wouldn’t fit. I noticed that there was still something else attached to it. It took me several goes to have the card completely separate from whatever it was that it was stuck to. I put it in the machine. At first I had a really difficult job to remember the code number. Eventually I recalled it and could access the account. I then had to think about drawing out some money – obviously, with not going anywhere near a bank these days, the more money I have on hand the better but there has to be a limit. I didn’t want to go too close to the limit in case the machine swallowed my card and then I really would be stuck. I had to think really hard about how much money I was going to ask for.

Actually this is a real preoccupation with me right now. I can’t actually go to the bank any more because I can’t climb back onto the bus at the bus stop. I have a little “fighting fund” of cash squirrelled away but it’s not going to last for ever.

It’s actually quite bizarre. When I was at University, as well as being Chair of Northern Europe I was also involved in Disability issues when I was on the Executive Committee and so I’m well-aware of the day-to-day problems that disability can present.

So I’ve never understood why, if the local council only has a certain budget to spend on improving the bus routes and facilities around the town, why one of the last bus stops to be raised up to a working height is the one just outside the Medical Centre where all of the ill and infirm people go.

That should have been one of the first to be raised up. But instead, the buses stop in the roadway far from the pavement and they don’t “kneel down” enough for wheelchairs and handicapped people to board very easily.

Anyway I digress.

A little earlier I also mentioned that Zero put in an appearance. But you really don’t want to know about the voyage that we had together, especially if you are eating your meal right now. It’s been a while since there has been anything really gruesome figuring in my nocturnal voyages, but when there is, there really is.

With a bit of luck she might put in an appearance tonight and we’ll have a happy ending.

Some nights, what goes on in my sleep is far more stressful than anything that happens during the day. It’s similar to the reason why I’m having serious thoughts about stopping my treatment at Leuven. It doesn’t matter how good the treatment might be and how efficient the care is in the journey to and from Vlaanderen is finishing me off.

Once I’d sorted that out I attacked the notes for the radio programme that I dictated last night. And I stuck at it and finished the programme. I’m actually now at 31st May 2024 with my totally-completed radio shows. I want to be as far ahead as I can possibly be because sooner or later the inevitable will catch up with me.

Afterwards I spent some time tidying the apartment. I’m having a visit tomorrow so the place needs to be clean and tidy. I know that cleanliness is next to Godliness but with me it’s next to impossible.

Neitzsche famously said “out of chaos comes order” but he said that a long time before I was ever thought of. Ezra Pound once said of Ford Madox Ford “Put Ford naked in an empty room and within an hour behold total chaos!”. That’s something that I understand very well

The bedroom is actually clean now and I’ve even vacuumed the floor. And you’ve no idea just how difficult a simple task like vacuuming is right now.

And then I had a good wash and brush up and the car came for me to take me to the Centre de Re-education. The ergotherapist had me opening and closing doors, laying tables, picking up pins and counters off the table, that sort of thing. She also says that next week she’ll come round here to give me practical advice about getting the most out of my apartment.

Severine the physiotherapist put me through my paces too and then, totally, exhausted, I headed back home in the car.

My cleaner was just coming into the building so she helped me up the stairs and into here, where I made myself my mug of hot chocolate.

The rest of the day, such as it was, has been spent pairing off the music for the next couple of radio programmes and beginning to write the notes for one of them.

Tea tonight was delicious. Steamed vegetables and a vegan sausage in a vegan cheese sauce. That was a meal that I enjoyed very much.

So now I’m going to bed, but not before I’ve sent someone a message. If I had to pick a favourite relative (and despite everything that I have said, I do actually have one) it’s the one who is getting married in Michigan tomorrow and I’m really disappointed that I can’t be there with her.

She actually works for one of the biggest transport firms in North America and was away on a mission for work when she was caught in the lockdown over across the border in 2020. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to fight the good fight at the shops if the wind has dropped because it was quite savage again today. And then I’ll finalise my tidying up ready to find out what is actually going on about this visit tomorrow.

The plot sickens.

Sunday 29th October 2023 – NOT ONCE, NOT TWICE …

… but three times I’ve gone to walk out of the kitchen without my crutches.

Not that I got very far of course, but the fact that I actually found myself doing it must mean that I’m feeling that there’s a sign of improvement, whether there’s a real improvement or not.

Last night in bed was a real improvement. Or, at least, it would have been but no fewer than three people pinged me at some point during the morning while I was asleep.

And it must have been early too because I was actually up and about this morning at 08:50. That’s taking into account the changing of the hour too They must have been busy out at Stonehenge last night moving all those stones around.

After the medication I checked the mails and messages, replied to a few of them and then checked the dictaphone to find out if I’d been anywhere during the night. A friend of mine had been having problems at home and had been sent home for a few weeks. I’d driven him. After I’d left him I was wandering around somewhere. I bumped into a woman and we began to chat. She mentioned that her son too was having problems. They considered that he was spending far too much time at his music than at his studies and that the past couple of weeks his group had played 7 gigs. Basically she said that the members of the group were pretty broke and needed the money. I replied “we could all do with that. I’d play 7 gigs in a fortnight if I were to have the chance”. She said something like “do you think you would?”. I replied “I’m no better than many and probably as bad as most”.

And then it was a Thursday. There was just one more day of work before the office closed for the summer. The boss had already been in to me to give me a couple of questions that needed asking. One was “was our employee on long-term sick leave likely to come tomorrow?” and “would a certain rock group be playing? Would anyone else be playing?. There were several others. I had that much on my plate that at the moment I hadn’t actually asked the question. 10 minutes before it was time to go home he came along and interrupted me again, asking me the same questions. I replied that at the moment I hadn’t found out. He asked me what I thought. I replied that what I thought was pretty much irrelevant. He said “the important thing to know is whether this girl is going to come in and whether this rock group is going to be playing”. I replied “you asked me that a little earlier but I haven’t actually done it yet. There’s still 10 minutes before we go home and if you continue asking me these kinds of questions and keep interrupting what I’m doing while I’m working we’ll never find the answer because I’ll be going home without the task being done.

Nerina came home from work later and said that she’d had a puncture in her car. It entered into my head but for some reason, like many other things, it was pushed to the back. Next morning when we were both going to work, for some reason we went in one of the Cortinas. We had an argument on the way. I was trying to read a letter and she was hovering over me with a jug of water. I snapped at her and she asked why. I said “it’s important, this letter, and you’re spilling water on it”. As usual it led to a dispute. We arrived at work and were sitting in the foyer going through all of the correspondence we’d had that morning. I suddenly realised that I should have been at my desk a long time before this. As we packed up our stuff ready to go to our respective offices she said “at least you have something that I would like to have and you’re lucky to have it” etc. I asked what it was and she replied “you have 4 good tyres on your car”. I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t changed the tyre over on her car. I asked “why didn’t you remind me?”. She made some remark like she was always having to remind me to do things. I explained that I had so much going on that it was very difficult. “You need to sit on top of me to make me do these things at the moment rather than just tell me and let it drift away”. But things never worked out how they were supposed to work out.

Actually, that’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. I had a bad car accident late one night while I was taxi-driving and the bracket that holds the seat belt to the central pillar of the car was driven into the back of my skull. Even now, I still have the depressed fracture and it plays havoc with my memory. It must have been wild back in 1987.

“I can’t remember who I was with now” I dictated, which somehow seemed quite apposite considering that we’ve just been talking about my fractured skull. But whoever it was, it might have been Laurence or it might have been Cécile but could equally have been anyone else. We were living in a typical chaotic, untidy apartment. Something had happened about our old family home. I had the keys to it. A tenant who was in there moved out so we went down to see it. First of all there was an issue that the Post Office was no longer delivering. An old man in the neighbourhood was trying to arrange for all post to be delivered to him so that he could set himself up as a postman. We went into the house and met the landlord. There were quite a few things in the house that I didn’t recognise eg. there was a parlophone door-entry type phone on the wall by the chimney. I said “that’s new, isn’t it?”. One of the women said “it’s nothing to do with the landlord. That was something private that the occupier put in. We had a lengthy discussion about the house with the landlord and a few of the neighbours who were inside. At the same time we’d actually bought a house or apartment and we were going to have to move. It was something like the 28th of May we’d have to hand in our notice within a couple of days before the end of the month or we’d be stuck in our rented apartment for another month. But up to that date my partner (whoever it was) and I had never spent even one moment discussing our plans about moving. I had a feeling that this was something else that was all going to end in total chaos.

Later on I ended up having a video chat with someone. We’d already had a lengthy text chat but then it evolved into a video chat. And this new camera that I bought a few weeks ago really is good. I’m very happy with that.

And a chat that I had yesterday with someone whose interactions with me usually take place in the hours of darkness when I’m asleep also picked up during the day too.

There was no more pizza dough left so I made another batch of that this afternoon. Two lots ended up in the freezer and a third ended up on a pizza tray. What with having to order my flour on-line now, I can’t obtain the flour that I like and have to make do with what I can get.

Nevertheless, the dough, even if it was rather more sticky than usual, did work out very well and made a really nice pizza.

For the last few weeks I’ve been reading a book THE OLD STRAIGHT TRACK by Alfred Watkins. He was the man who laid down the theory of ley lines in the 1920s which since then has been brought into disrepute by the antics of various Esoteric Movements.

Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating account of all kinds of ancient and medieval mounds, ruins and trackways along the border between England and Wales, even if you don’t accept the ley lines theory.

As well as that though, it’s now brought me into an even more interesting one, EARTHWORKS OF ENGLAND and while I’ve not yet read it, I’m quite looking forward to settling down with a nice mug of hot chocolate in a quiet corner with some home-made biscuits and the book.

So tomorrow I have to arrange for Caliburn to go for his Controle Technique and then start to organise myself ready for this series of Re-education courses starting on Tuesday for 20 days.

That sounds exciting, and it can’t make things any worse than they are now.

Saturday 28th October 2023 – FOR THE FIRST …

… time since I don’t know when, there wasn’t anything on the dictaphone from the night and that’s not something that happens every day. I must have had one of the deepest sleeps that I’ve ever had.

Mind you, I didn’t go to bed until after 04:00. I was quite wound up and stressed out after my travels yesterday.

What I used to do in the old days when I drove taxis was that when I would finally return home I’d go out for a good run to tire myself out

That wasn’t anything that I could do after I married because I never had the time to unwind but when I moved to Brussels and was chauffering, I would go out running again. And I must admit that I was sleeping better after I started running yet again after I moved here.

Of course, all of that is well in the past now.

As I expected, the phone never stopped pinging during the early morning but I tried my best to ignore it. Nevertheless I abandoned all hope and staggered to my feet at 11:40.

Today, I’ve been quite busy. For a start, I’ve had to back up the main computer with all of the amended files that accumulated on the portable computer while I was away at Ice Station Zebra. And there were several hundred of those. It took ages.

There were several discussions on the phone and the internet too. Rosemary rang me and we had another one of our marathon chats. Liz and one or two other people sent me messages but the most surprising, and one of the most welcome, was a chat that I had with someone with whom I usually only have interaction during the night when I’m asleep.

We had football too – TNS v Y Bala. And as you might expect, it was more a case of “when” rather than “what”. The fact that Y Bala held out for 35 minutes before conceding was something surprising.

TNS scored a second too but Y Bala held out until the final whistle. And that was a much better effort than the last time that we saw TNS play Y Bala, when the latter team folded up so dramatically in the final few minutes last summer.

Sure enough, TNS are on their usual relentless stride to the championship with no real opposition from anyone.

Many people think that it must be pretty boring with TNS winning everything every year since the money came into the club, and whether or not that might be the case, the fact is that the race to catch up has improved the quality of the matches and the quality of the players dramatically.

In recent years we’ve had 4 full Welsh internationals, several under-21 internationals, a Zimbabwe international and internationals from Malta, New Zealand and one of the Caribbean nations plus many more besides. There was nothing whatever like that 10 years ago.

Tea tonight, later than usual, was chips (potato and sweet potato) with salad and one of those breaded quorn fillets that I like so much.

So bedtime now, and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll go on a wander about again during the night. I missed my night-time voyage.

Tomorrow I have pizza dough to make and then maybe I’ll have to start work again. I’ll have to do that some time.

Thursday 10th August 2023 – I HAD ANOTHER …

… really mobile night last night. And a busy day too. Things seem to be warming up.

When the alarm went off this morning at 07:00 I was with a couple of people who were planning on going on a cycling tour. They were showing me their bikes and how the framework for the pannier fitted on. I could see that there was some recessed bolt holes in the frame and the pannier mounts slid down them and you just pushed a bolt through the frame and the bolt hole in the pannier outfit.

So not having beaten the first alarm I was still able to beat the second. And then after the medication and checking the mails and messages I listened to the rest of the night’s travels on the dictaphone. Nerina and I were going somewhere on a night out to Nantwich or Audlem, somewhere like that. We had to hurry to catch the bus. There was then some talk that we might stay over a couple of days so I had to find some clothes. I couldn’t find any so in the end I had to find an old suitcase of mine with some clothes in it. That was inside the cats’ house. I had to persuade the cats to leave their little house which took a long time. Then I had to take out my suitcase and look through it. I couldn’t find any trousers. I wasn’t sure if I could still fit in my jeans so I had to try on a pair. Then I couldn’t stand up. I needed help for that. In the end I tried them on when I was standing on the floor. I then looked at the time. It was something like 22:10 and the bus was going to leave any minute now. We were clearly going to miss the bus and then next one would make us ridiculously late so I began to think about going in the car and arriving quicker like that

And then I had another long dream that all immediately evaporated the moment I reached for the dictaphone. I can’t remember a thing at all about it. Not a thing. I’m soaked in sweat though so it must have been something interesting.

Later on I’d been somewhere to do something in connection with the group in which I played and we were on our way back. Coming from Congleton towards Crewe there was plenty of traffic. I had my foot down and was going quite quickly, passing the traffic wherever I could. There was a part where you came to a roundabout where the road split into two lanes. I went into the outside lane there and drove all the way down the outside of a line of vehicles, reached the roundabout, spun round the roundabout and came off at my exit, probably cutting in on someone else. The engine of the car cut out. I couldn’t restart it. I had to get out and push the car across the roundabout into a side road. There were vehicles in the way. I rolled into a vehicle. By now this roundabout had transformed itself. It wasn’t the roundabout in Hungerford Road where it was earlier on but now a roundabout back in Sandbach. It was where the guy who played drums lived. There was all sorts of things going on around this area, people using bad language etc. I thought “I wonder how my drummer’s family who were quite respectable people, were coping with what’s going on in the other houses and families around here”.

I was also at a huge factory place last night. 2 huge square glass buildings situated on the far side of a really wide river. The car parking was on one side of the river and you had to walk down a path and across a – not even a bridge but like a concrete path that went across the river and into the factory complex. We’d been there with a couple of people and walked back to the car park. I decided that I wanted to go back to look at some more of it. I said “I’ll be back shortly”, turned round and walked all the way back down the long path, across the concrete path across the river and back to the complex. It took me about 20 minutes to walk there and will take me another 20 minutes to walk back later plus however much time I’d want to spend walking around the factory complex. I’d left them sitting on a car park waiting for me. I’m not going to be very popular by the time I return. I thought to myself that I’d be lucky if they were still there waiting.

Finally my car needed some work doing on it so my father said that he’d help me if I took the car round to him. He lived in Norway north of Narvik so I said that I’d go round after work. While I was at work I was trying a cut-and-paste of a section of an image over an object in an image that I wanted to hide. For some reason I couldn’t make the piece that I’d cut out transfer over via a memory stick or an external hard drive or anything. There was a crowd of people round watching me including TOTGA. I carried on trying but it wouldn’t work. I said that I’d do it after work so a couple of people said that they’d stay behind to watch. Then I remembered that I had to go to see my father. At 16:00 I apologised to everyone who was disappointed that I was going, and set out. Narvik is a long way from Brussels and it was late in the evening. I was in Norway and seen the signs for Narvik. Somehow I’d missed my turning and ended up at a riverside on a gravel road looking at all these boats. I had to rurn round to retrace my steps to find where I’d gone wrong. Then I encountered a load of Volkswagens that had all been in accidents and were heading off somewhere. They had headlights taped into the wing with sellotape so that at least they’d have some light when it went dark. I remembered that my father’s wife had wanted me to sort out some money for her and do a couple of other things. By now it was really late at night. I was thinking that I have all this to do, fix my car, sort out my father’s wife, fix this image that needs doing and be back at work in Brussels in the morning. I’m just never going to fit all this in.

An hour or two were then spent working my way through my notes for my Welsh lesson. But as usual, with having a teflon brain, nothing is sticking.

The lesson itself passed quite quickly again but it was rather patchy. Some of the stuff I could do quite happily but some other stuff was rather … errr … challenging and I don’t know what I’m going to do about that. Nothing, I reckon. You can’t teach an old dog like me new tricks.

When the lesson was over I waded through the radio programme and finished off all of the notes for the second radio programme I’ve done this week. And who knows? I might even start a third tomorrow.

Another exciting task was to write an article for a Welsh newspaper. The new JD Cymru League season starts tomorrow so I’ve written a few hundred words about the teams competing and what I think of their chances

Whether or not it’s published is another thing entirely but it’s one of those things that has to be done by someone at some time.

Tea tonight was one of the vegan burgers out of the European Burger Mountain in the fridge with some pasta and veg in tomato sauce.

Tomorrow morning I have to nip into town early in the morning to do my shopping before the Welsh lesson. It’ll have me running around so I’ll need to have an early night and have some rest.

But if I go off on a few travels during the night in the same way that I have been just recently, I’ll need a rest to recover when I wake up.

Monday 31st July 2023 – I’M GOING TO STOP …

… discussing my miserable nights because you’re probably just as fed up reading about them as I am having them.

So when the alarm went off I was fast asleep in the bed and it was something of a struggle to crawl out of bed before the second alarm went off.

After the medication I went and had a shower to try to awaken me but that didn’t work very well. After the nurse had been to give me my weekly injection I came back in here.

It took an age for me to come round into the Land of the Living and it was a very late mid-morning coffee. And then I had a listen to the dictaphone.

There were tons of stuff on the dictaphone from the night there too. Someone’s name turned up on my social network, a boy whom I knew from a foreign country when I was at school. We got in touch and agreed to meet. I could recognise him from his photo. He was with some kind of little dog. When they came close to me they suddenly disappeared. I had a walk around this park and couldn’t see them. I walked across the park to the other end and that was when I caught a glimpse of them. I waved and they waved back. Eventually after many attempts we managed to meet up. It turned out this he had stopped to buy a sandwich on his way to meet me and his dog had seen someone with a sandwich and gone haring after it so he’d gone haring after the dog. he wanted to know why I hadn’t written to ask him where he was. I thought “it’s only been like 15 minutes” but something inside told me that it was in fact a couple of years that i’d been wandering around that park. That was a lapse of time that I couldn’t explain

There was something about Zero too last night. My friend from Congleton had had some good luck. She’d had her house up for sale for a considerable amount of time and it had suddenly sold for a much better price than she had anticipated too. She already had another property lined up that she could buy so she didn’t need the money and her doctor was asking her what she planned to do. She could come up with thousands of things. One was to buy a house at Prestatyn where they could go at weekends but would in fact be Zero’s house when she’s a little older. The other doctor thought that a good idea. He also mentioned about her becoming a private patient and having to pay for her medical treatment saying that private patients had so much better treatment than NHS ones etc. He also asked her when she was going to marry again. She made some kind of vague nebulous reply about that.

I can’t remember who I was with in the next one. It wasn’t TOTGA because her name came up in the conversation but it was a girl with whom I used to work who had a good job that involved projects. The thing was that you came up with your own project and this firm would back you and provide you with the resources to do it. She was telling me all about it and how good the other situation was. In fact it might have been someone I used to know quite well, saying how much of a change it was from her previous employment. She said that any kind of project was considered, whether fitting tyres on a car, rock groups practising etc. It’s the sort of thing that had I been able I would have been interested in doing. I had an appointment somewhere else but she was talking away so much about this that I didn’t really want to leave. I wanted to stay to listen to the rest of it even though I was running late. We said that the only way to do a job like this is to go at it 100% give it everything you have and take what opportunities are offered. While this might not suit some people’s mentality it certainly suits others and those are the kind of people who would benefit from some situation like this

Later on we had an old small FIAT saloon, the type that you could load things in through the back window. I was putting some electrical equipment in but knocked the amplifier on the back seat forward into the footwell. As I was locking up the car I told Nerina what I’d done and told her not to let me drive away in the morning like that. She asked why I didn’t do it now. I said that it’s too complicated being in the dark and I can’t see what I’m doing. I might start pulling wires out. She still thought that it would be a good idea to do it now. To be quite honest I was absolutely exhausted. I just really wanted to stop doing it and go to bed but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to explain it as a good reason to Nerina. I was busy finding all kinds of other reasons not to do the job right now.

And finally I was doing some research so I joined an institute. I was in their offices looking through some paperwork. I came across someone’s file. It was a huge front and back piece with hooks on it where you could hang it from a rail with the spine upwards. I took one of these out to have a look at it. It was really just full of notes etc and various items of correspondence, one of which was someone asking around if anyone had an Opel Omega or Corsa that they could take a ride in to see what they were like ready to purchase. Someone scrawled underneath “God, are they asking for a taxi here?”. I had a look through it and went to put it back but I caught my right ankle on a stone on the wall and that caused me to drop to my knees. I don’t know why that happened but I couldn’t stand back up again. And I can’t stand up if I end on my knees either. That’s what’s really stopping me from going very far – the fear of falling over.

So we had Zero, TOTGA, Nerina and a few other regulars out there with us last night. It was nice to see so many of our friends. Still no Castor though, which is a shame. In a couple of weeks time it will be four years since our Brief Encounter in Peel Sound and the Coronation Gulf.

So when I’ve not been asleep I’ve been dealing with the next radio programme. The music is sorted out, paired off and much of the text has been written.

From now on I’m going to try to do things in a slightly different way. Usually I leave the very last track until last but in the programme that I’m preparing, the very last track has already been chosen, and for a very good reason too.

Inserting a track and its relevant text into the middle of a programme is quite complicated and takes much more time but I’ve been giving that a great deal of thought in order to find a work-around.

Tea was a stuffed pepper as usual and it was of course quite nice too. Made with fresh carrots too. There was not enough room in the freezer to buy a bulk lot of carrots to freeze so I just bought a couple to see me through until next weekend.

I’ll need to make some space in the freezer for more veg so I reckon that on Thursday I’ll be having mixed veg in cheese sauce. Now that I can buy vegan cheese in good quantities I can have much more of that, and quite right too.

But that’s for Thursday. There are a few more days in between. I’ll wander off to bed and prepare myself for battle tomorrow. Here’s Hoping that it’s a better day.

Monday 24th July 2024 – SO MUCH FOR …

… my plans for today.

Usually there are about 2 or 3 entries on the dictaphone most nights. If I’ve had a particularly restless night there might be as many as 5.

But if you want to know about the kind of night that I had last night, there were actually as many as 10 entries. TEN!

And between 02:18 and 03:50 there were seven of them recorded. That was some night.

On a few occasions too I actually stepped back into dreams where I’d left off. That’s no real surprise I suppose, with a night as mobile as that.

It took me quite an age to go off to sleep too, and then later on I was actually up and about before the alarm went off.

And so, as you can gather, I haven’t been in any kind of condition today to do anything. The only surprise was that I managed to keep awake until 15:30. But once I’d gone, I’d really gone.

However, back to this morning. After the medication I went and had a shower ready for the nurse. She came round later to inject me and then I came back in here and didn’t do very muct at all. It was a real struggle to keep awake and in the end I gave up trying.

later on I had a listen to the dictaphone and that took most of the rest of the day. I went into our kitchen. There was a strange cat in there. All the other cats and kittens were confronting this silver tabby which was doing its best to hide under a piece of cardboard. When I came in it tried to sneak out underneath the cardboard and through a pack of kittens that were trying to fight it. It made its way to the front door but couldn’t work out how to find its way out of the cat flap again so it was cowering in a corner. I couldn’t take a good shot at it because other kittens were around it. In the end I managed to corner it on its own. It hid behind a stuffed giraffe as a gun fighter would do if you tried to draw a gun on him. It looked so interesting and so intelligent this cat so I called my brother to come and see. By the time he arrived the cat had come out from behind the giraffe. I had the door open and was trying to usher it out with my feet. My brother thought that I won’t have many marks for kindness and politeness by doing that. I replied that it’s soon going to go out anyway. After a couple of attempts I managed to put my foot underneath its stomach and heave it out through the open door then close the front door behind it so it couldn’t re-enter. The thought then occurred to me that I hope that the kittens that went outside can work their way through the cat flap to find their way back in otherwise we’ll have problems with that too

TOTGA appeared last night, so hello to TOTGA. She had an audition for a modelling agency so someone was coming round to see her. I spent some time choreographing some dances and had been putting her through them. On the final morning that we were working through them there was so much that still needed to be done that while she was rehearsing I was buzzing around. Someone who was there watching suggested that I was distracting her and getting in her way. My response was first of all that we needed this information and secondly, when she’s taking her exam there will be people getting in her way then. She needs to work out her routine based on the movements of other people anyway. After this discussion I went into the storeroom to try to find something from one of her earlier sessions. She came in, still dancing, saying that she needed to find the heat treatment for a twinge in her muscle. We discussed where that might be, which box it was in. She had to find it but she needed to be quick because the person would b ehere in a minute.

Back on the subject of ballet again. This time I had a couple of groups of young toddlers and small children who were being put through their routines. They were extremely interesting, especially one who could barely walk and had one of her front teeth missing. She did a really nice dance. I told her how now it was but I was thinking that it’s such a shame that she couldn’t have waiting another half-hour for that performance because the examiner would have been here and he would have loved to have seen that dance.

I went straight back to sleep and immediately saw the housekeeper or cleaner of the hall where we dance looking totally aghast. I asked her what was the matter. She replied that she had seen the first ever seal killed by another seal. It was that that had upset her.

After that I stepped back into the previous dream again with my ballet class of toddlers. There was a police inspector who was there. For some unknown reason he was in a bad mood. I asked him whether it was because of the lack of preparation on his behalf that was causing the problem or whether there was something else we needed to know

I bet that you didn’t know that I was an ace at the ballet! But actually I had two younger sisters who needed taking to dance class on a Saturday afternoon and when my elder sister started a Saturday job I drew the short straw and I spent many an hour watching what was going on.

That’s why I used to go to watch Port Vale play football in the late 1960s. Our local team played on a Saturday afternoon so I couldn’t go, but the Vale always played on a Friday night. It was actually a good night out, walking back from Burslem to the railway station at Longport late at night, grabbing a bag of chips on the way.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, there was more trouble later about a kid who wanted someone here to cut off some material for him, a length of dark green and a length of red so that he could wrap them around himself to pretend that he was a school mascot. That way he’d stop being annoyed by these other people at the gate of the school

I was going into Crewe town centre for an interview for a job in a shop. I was having to change my employment because of my illness and needed something less stressful with less travel. I was chatting to a girl when the bus came in. She boarded it. I suddenly realised just as it was about to pull away that it was my bus too so I leapt aboard and just about managed to scramble onto the platform before it took off. I saw the girl so I waved to her. We came into Crewe town centre and I alighted. I thought that I’d go to my brother’s shop for a form for a CV and fill it in to hand in at this other place. It was just after midday so I wondered if he’d be at lunch. I went there and began to climb the steps into his front door

Then I had the first part of that dream again about having to prepare for this meeting or exam whatever it was, finding all my things etc before going out for the bus

I was also giving a lecture on brewing last night. I’d ordered some beer but it hadn’t come so I contacted the brewery. They launched one by catapult. It flew through the air, 8 miles high, this barrel of beer through the sky all the way and dropped to earth in my living room where there was a crowd of people. They denied having received this beer at first but I think that they were teasing me. In the end they gave me a glassful. It had a huge head on it of course. I tasted it and said that it was the most beautiful beer that I’ve ever tasted. I let 1 or 2 other people have a drink. Some girl asked me about the secrets of brewing. I explained that the real secret is in the water. The underlying soils are all on different rocks. The rainfall that percolates through the rocks picks up different minerals depending on the area where it is and what the rocks are. The water that they take to make the beer depends on the area from where it comes, different minerals in the water react in different ways with the yeast and barley and grain etc. That’s why beers are different, because of the minerals in the water. Some ares have really good water for brewing but others don’t. There’s different beers made with different kinds of water. I was impressed that I could give a lecture on brewing and breweries while I was asleep.

Finally, Caliburn and I were on our way back from Virlet to Brussels going the way that we used to go through the mountains. When we left one town heading north it seemed that all the traffic was being diverted over a rough tarmac path through a field. The old road was overgrown with weeds. There were no signs or anything so I carried on down the old road. After about 50 yard all the weeds etc had gone and it was the normal road again. I was travelling down there at a good rate of knots in a rainstorm. It suddenly occurred to me that this isn’t the town that I know where I was entering. There was a steep hill down into the town centre to a T junction where I had to turn left. As I was three quarters of the way down the hill a lorry began to reverse out of a parking space into the road in front of me. I blew the horn and the horn stuck. Eventually the lorry got the message and drove back in so that I could go past. There was a milk float on the corner that was reversing up the hill on my side of the road. He received a horn blast too because I couldn’t go past him because of the road junction. Eventually I had to get out and push the milk float out of the way. He got the message too and drove off the right way this time so that I could reach the bottom of this hill to turn left. There were hordes of people milling around here, so much traffic, the rainstorm. I didn’t recognise anything of this. I didn’t know where I was at all.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper which was really nice but for some reason or other I seem to have lost my appetite again

Anyway, that’s enough for this horrible day. I’m glad that it’s over. I’m going to bed and I’ll start again tomorrow – if I wake up. I really do feel as if I could sleep for a week with no problem whatsoever.

Monday 3rd July 2023 – I HAD A VISITOR …

… during the night, someone who hasn’t been to visit me for some considerable time.

TOTGA put in an appearance last night for the first time in in absolute age. I can’t remember very much about this but I was going out and someone was coming round. I had to wait for them. There was someone else in the house who might have been one of my sisters making up a pile of accounts. Everything was all in a mess. She’d lost a cheque. A car pulled up. It was my brother. He had a big carpet on the back seat of his car. He came in and said yes, he’d brought some pet stuff that TOTGA had ordered but they’d bunged him for her back wages and he’s had to pay 4/6½d. He was most indignant about this. I wish I knew where TOTGA appeared in this dream but she was certainly there. I certainly saw her and was talking to her but I can’t recall the exact details.

And then later on we were waiting to close down the ovens in this fish-frying place. We had to set the controls to various positions before we could do that but we couldn’t remember what it was. TOTGA didn’t appear so in the end we had to try to decide ourselves what it was from memory. We came up with some kind of contribution to the idea. It meant switching off some of the switches but we had to use a coat hanger but we found that we could do that so we had to wait for TOTGA to arrive. In the meantime one of our party had been detained by the police for some reason. They’d gone and searched through his or her affairs but found nothing but there was this big woman in the luggage. They let her out and she went for a walk around the marshland there that wa sin between the sea and the land.

How nice is that to see a familiar, friendly face again? At least, I’m convinced that I did and it’s such a disappointment that I can’t remember any actual facts about our meeting.

All of that made me feel better than I did yesterday, although to be honest, it couldn’t have been any worse. And particularly because there was a huge pile of stuff on the dictaphone. I must have had a very restless night.

Apart from what I’ve already written about my meeting (or otherwise) with TOTGA, I can’t remember now whether we were going somewhere or going home or setting out on holiday but all my family was there. We had 2 Ford Zephyr Mk IIIs. My father, mother and some of their friends were going in one and we children were going in the other. My youngest sister was driving. We loaded up the car and there was no room for anyone once they were loaded but somehow most people managed to squeeze in. I wanted to wait to make sure that my father and his party had left safely but they took so long trying to get themselves ready that in the end I thought “this isn’t fair on my youngest sister” so I had to leave them. When I returned to the car with my sister in it she was sitting in the back seat behind the driver but was going to drive from that position. I had to sit on her knee while she was doing it. She said “there’ not going to be very much room in here. There’s a little leg adjustment but not very much”. I clambered in anyway. It was so far for my feet to the ground that I wasn’t sitting down anyway. She started the car. I thought that it was a miracle that she could reach the pedals and the gears from here and that she could drive with someone sitting on her lap blocking her view. All the time I didn’t think anything at all about the driver’s seat of the vehicle being empty with no-one in it and the rest of us crammed in like sardines. It was really uncomfortable.

When we were kids, by the way, we did have a Mark III Zephyr 6. We were a big family too so we needed a shoehorn to fit us all in.

But returning to last night I had an appointment at a solicitor’s office at 13:00 but it was cutting things fine because I had a plane at 14:30. I was there at about 12:50. There was a couple of other people waiting. I just waited and waited and waited but no-one ever came out. By now there were quite a few people there waiting. It was 13:50 and I had to go to the bathroom. I explained to one of the other guys “if the solicitor comes out looking for me I’ll be in the bathroom. He’ll have to wait a moment”. It took him a minute to understand what I was saying then I shot off thinking to myself “if I come out it’ll be getting on for 14:00 and I’m just going to have to go. Tough luck on the solicitor and his plans because I have other things to do”.

Later on I was driving down the autoroute and came to some roadworks. Part of the road was blocked off and there was a huge queue to merge into one lane. I thought that I’d stop here and make a sandwich. I took a loaf of bread. It was all dusty and dirty but I spread it with some kind of paste. A workman was walking past. I asked him what was going on but he totally ignored me. I hurled some vulgar abuse at him, got back into my car, cut down the inside of this queue through part of the roadworks to find a gap and join in. There was another car that was extremely upset by this. I told him to cut in behind me but he said no. I told him to grow up and stop being 5 years old. We drove through Monaco. Then I noticed that the MoT Certificate out of the window was missing. He said “didn’t you see it fly out of the window?”. I replied “no I didn’t”. He asked “aren’t you upset that you lost your MoT Certificate”? I replied “quite frankly I couldn’t care less”. That made me thing that the guy had thrown it out of the window in a fit of petulence. I couldn’t be bothered to deal with someone quite like him at the moment so I didn’t really pay much attention. I just carried on driving up the hill out of the city.

Finally I was driving through the Auvergne on the back road from Evaux les Bains. In front of me was another vehicle. We came to the steep zigzag drop all the way down to the moulin there. Somehow I managed to go in front of them when I took a very steep short-cut. I reached the bottom of the hill first and drove through into the town. Then I had to go back up the hill. By now I was pushing a chair but it wouldn’t go in a straight line up the hill. The other 2 people walked past me dragging their chairs and made it look so easy. I couldn’t understand why I was pushing mine and it was so difficult. There had been 2 other people in this line of us coming down the hill. I thought that if I carry on at this speed they’ll eventually catch up with me and then can help me back up the hill again. They didn’t come so I’d no idea what had actually happened to them. I was making a real load of difficulty for myself trying to go back up the hill with this wiring harness abd this chair.

Yes, last night, apart from seeing TOTGA, I spent an awful lot of time out on the road.

And even despite all of that I was still up and about before the alarm went off too, and after everything that happened yesterday, the difficulty that I had last night of going to sleep and all of the travels that I’d been on during the night, that was even more astonishing.

It has to be said though that I wasn’t in much of a mood to do much work today which was a shame. The nurse came and injected me, and we made arrangements to have my blood test on Thursday morning. I can’t eat or drink anything before he comes so I hope that he’ll come early.

One thing that I’ve been doing this morning is to hunt down a huge pile of documents that I need. There’s a School of Music in a neighbouring commune and it’s taken over some premises here in Granville.

There’s a proposal to have some kind of musicians’ workshop where interested people can congregate to discuss things, have some kind of technical education and even form some kind of unofficial orchestra with choirs and classical music.

And it didn’t escape my notice that in the small print there was a section for “electric guitar, bass guitar, piano and drums”. That is something into which I ought to be looking.

But the amount of paperwork that I needed to fill in was astonishing. For example, I had to read 13 pages of “behaviour in the school” and sign a form to say that I had done so. Lots of stuff like that.

All of that inspired me to have a good session on the guitar too in order to flex my muscles and make sure that I’ll be in some kind of shape if I am lucky enough to be invited for an interview. I won’t know until the end of August.

The rest of the time I’ve been in Canada walking around on the Furdustrandir about to inspect the cemetery of the abandoned settlement of North River. It’s another settlement that was devastated by the influenza epidemic of 1918 and a credible source suggests that half of the village died in November and December 1918.

And we had a disaster tonight cooking the tea. We had a stuffed pepper as usual but when I put my pyrex dish in the sink it cracked. That was pretty dismal because that was exactly the right size of bowl for the air fryer.

The stuffed pepper was nice though, cooked exactly right after 20 minutes at 160°C.

Tomorrow I’m going to do some Welsh revision, restart my radio work and go to count graves in the cemetery at North River.

But that’s after I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I hope. But if TOTGA comes to see me again, or if Zero or Castor put in an appearance, I shan’t complain at all.

Saturday 18th March 2023 – AFTER THE EFFORTS …

… of the last few days, everything finally caught up with me today.

Again, it wasn’t helped by having another miserable, depressing night when I had a real struggle to go to sleep and when I finally did, I had a real wander around in the ether all the way through the night.

Mind you, not that I’m complaining about that because first of all TOTGA and then Zero came to see me during the night and that’s something about which I can feel quite content. They (and Castor too, who has been disappointingly absent for some considerable time) can come to visit me any time they like.

Once again, I was out of bed and up and about before the alarm went off. I had my medication followed by a shower and then I headed for the shops.

First port of call was a bathroom shop called “Aubade”. They sell all kinds of bathroom equipment and fittings, like showers for example, and seem to be quite an upmarket kind of establishment. Although they don’t do installations themselves, they have a couple of teams of approved contractors and the assistant gave me their ‘phone numbers.

She also gave me a catalogue of their products, and that was rather a shame for the poor rain forest that had to be sacrificed. One more page in it and I would have had to have borrowed a fork-lift truck to bring it to Caliburn.

Noz had nothing at all of any interest and LeClerc didn’t come up with anything special. They had some grated vegan cheese on special offer so I bought a couple of packs. I have to encourage their vegan range of products.

When I returned I brought up a few of the things that I’d bought and the rest can wait for later. I had to think about some food though, and there was a stray leek hanging around in the vegetable rack that needed to be used.

First of all I fried a small onion in a saucepan with some olive oil until it was browned.

Then I added the chopped leek and a pile of garlic

Half a teaspoon of cumin, half a teaspoon of nutmeg, half a teaspoon of tarragon and a pile of fresh ground black pepper went in next.

Two small potatoes were washed and cubed and then added into the saucepan. It was all stirred around in the pan.

Then I covered the food with enough water and added a stock cube and a helping of soya cream, and let it simmer for 15 minutes while I put away the food that I’d bought.

Then I whizzed up what was in the saucepan, added a little more water until it had a nice consistency and then sat down to eat the most delicious soup that I’ve ever made, along with some nice crusty bread that I’d bought.

While I was at LeClerc I’d bought a bargain pack of 2kg of carrots. Next task was to wash, dice and blanch them. When they were ready I put them in the sink in sieves to drain so that I could put them in the freezer later.

Back in here I sat down in my chair and promptly fell asleep. So much so that in the end I struggled into bed where I stayed until I awoke – at 18:00. That was some crashing out.

And while I was away I went off on a little voyage too. I was doing a coach trip. We ended up in Germany. I dropped the passengers at the coach park and they all disappeared with their suitcases. I sorted out the coach etc. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have anywhere to stay. I thought that I’d better go along to look for a hotel. I’d seen a hotel on the way in that looked nice. It was a 5-minute walk away so I set out to walk. As I walked up the back of this car park there was the back of a big hotel-type place there but it looked dirty and scruffy, not very niceat all so I ignored it. As I waslked up to the main road I looked behind me. I could see that the hotel was called the Hotel Adler. It was a huge place. I seemed to remember that it was something that all the passengers had talked about so I wondered if it was actually the tour hotel and where I was supposed to be staying. I had better turn round and retrace my steps to the hotel to have a look.

Once I’d finally recovered I decided that I’d finally make a start on some work but as luck would have it, Rosemary called me for one of our chats. I’m convinced that she set up a camera in here when she came to visit because she always seems to call me at exactly the right moment.

After we’d finished I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was something last night about me having a cat. Also, there was a radio presenter who was presenting some stuff. He was quite well-known for certain reasons. But ass I was dictating it I awoke instead and at that moment it all disappeared.

This was another one of these dreams where I had to visit South London, where I seem to visit quite often. We were all at the Underground station picking up the tickets etc. When we had the tickets everyone left. Of course, I couldn’t run – I could only hobble. I shouted at someone to hold the lift for me but he didn’t hear. he went in and went on down. When I reached the lift I couldn’t remember to which floor I was supposed to be going. I always end up on the wrong level at this station and on the wrong train so always end up with an enormous walk at the end because the Underground in South London is pretty poor. I was there scratching my head trying to think which would be the best platform for me in order for me to go where I needed

And then I had TOTGA round last night. She was here at the same time that the physiotherapist was here. As well as giving me plans for the physiotherapy he was giving me plans for counselling. He was trying to have me agree to do 3 things differently and gave me a list. I had to choose 3. But I was trying to talk to TOTGA as well because she was having to leave at 15:30 because her plane back home was at 18:30. I was trying to have this 3-way conversation talking to these 2 different people about 2 different things and nothing seemed to be resolved. I could see that in the end TOTGA was going to go and the 2 of us had never resolved anything that needed to be resolved between us and I doubted that I’d ever have the chance to see her again, which is probably true. He was babbling on all the time about me making pizzas.

Next I was with a couple of people, man and wife. I’ve no idea who they were. We were in Stoke on Trent. They were a couple much older than me. I was round at their house preparing some food but they had no mushrooms. We were down at the Fenton area somewhere so they suggested going to the market in Stoke. The husband and I set off on foot. It was quite a trudge. We went through one set of market stalls, out into the street and reached the main road. He stuck his head in a shop and said that they had none. We wandered round a few market stalls outside that were closed up. They had things like meat out in the open air etc that can’t have been hygenic. By now the wife was with us. We came to a cheese stall where they had some cheese samples. They kept on trying to offer me cheese samples but I told them that I couldn’t take it. In the end we went back to the shop where we were first because we had seen someone coming down the street carrying giant-sized mushrooms. We could see through the window that we had some that were individually priced. We thought that we’d go in. By now the woman had selected some fish from one of the outside stalls. We were about to go in to pay. To go in you had to climb up this rickety wooded ladder and somehow slide in between the rungs into the shop. I thought “I’ll take the stuff and go in to pay because I’m staying with them”. Because of my disability I couldn’t bend my leg enough to enter through the ladder. After trying for a couple of minutes and holding up everyone I gave it up in the end and one of them went in with the stuff. Eventually I managed to enter. There were some people in bed like a geriatric ward or hospital, all this stuff on sale. The woman there was making some drinks, a kind of cocktail. She passed one to me and said “this is for my husband”. Then she passed another one to me and said “this is for the baby. Whatever you do, don’t get them confused”. I had to take them out to the door and pass them to the husband and try to remember whose was what and to make sure that he kept them the way that this woman wanted them keeping so there would be no confusion as to who had the alcoholic drink and who had the soft one.

There was another one about a bunch of people including me getting a round of drinks and something to do with a large box or packet full of butter but I can’t remember anything at all of this.

Finally I was round at Zero’s parents. I hadn’t seen her father for ages and we weren’t on particularly good terms but I had to go round there for something. I was having a chat to Zero etc when he came round. He was surprised to see me but anyway we had a vague little chat. I don’t think that he was very happy but suddenly it started to rain and we all had to go indoors. There was another little girl there and she was out on a bike. Zero ran down to the end of the garden to look to see if she could see her. She shouted that she was on her way back. They started to ask me about my house. He said that I had 2 properties. I replied that in fact I had 3. His wife asked if I’d signed for my house. I replied “not exactly but it’s all paid for etc”. She asked if I’d used the money in that Santander account. I replied “no. I managed to keep away from there and 1 or 2 other accounts. I had no idea how many other accounts I had in total”.

With all of that it’s hardly any surprise that I was totally wasted this afternoon.

Tea was a delicious breaded quorn fillet with baked potato and salad. What with my leek and potato soup at lunchtime I’ve had some really excellent meals today. I’m really doing well with this cooking at the moment.

Tomorrow I have to make some fruit bread again and also go into town for this Home Renovations Fair thing for a few tips about my new bathroom. So it’s going to be a busy day tomorrow.

It’ll be pouring down with rain probably and that would be enough to dampen my enthusiasm but if I do make it into town I might stop and have my first ice cream of the year. I’m not even sure if I had one last year.