Tag Archives: neighbour

Friday 15th December 2023 – YOU HAVE PROBABLY …

… already guessed what has happened today.

At roughly about 11:40 when I was comfortably settled deep down in the Arms of Morpheus, the telephone rang.

"This is the hospital here in Paris. We’re doing our planning for next week. Can you come on Monday instead of Tuesday? You’ll still be staying for several days."
Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we started off with Tuesday, and then it was already changed from Tuesday to Monday a few days ago, and then changed back again to Tuesday at a later date.
"I shall have to see what the taxi company has to say about it. I’ve messed them around enough with all of these cancellations and it is rather short notice"

And so I phoned the taxi company to chat to them about the situation. We had an “interesting and illuminating” discussion which eventually led to them agreeing to take me on Monday instead. The appointment isn’t until 13:15 which means leaving at 09:00 instead of 04:30 and hitting the rush-hour head on, so that might have helped to persuade them. And the lie-in will be useful for me too.

Having had the agreement from the taxi company I phoned back to the hospital and confirmed the situation. So that is that.

When the cleaner came round, we had a discussion about the situation, as we do.

With my usual air of optimism I added "well, it’s 16:00. Still plenty of time for a further change of plan"
"Not at this time of the afternoon. Everyone will be ready to go home" she replied.

And I must admit that I really did admire her confidence. Five minutes later the telephone rang.

This time it was the taxi company. "Would you possibly consider doubling up and sharing a taxi with someone else going to Paris on Monday, leaving at 07:00?"

So much for my lie-in then. But considering how they’ve been messed about by all of these changes to the programme, I have to show some bonne volonté I suppose. My cleaner hopes that it will be a belle blonde travelling with me, but my money is on a retired Bulgarian female weightlifter

They probably won’t say anything to the Social Security about the car-sharing and charge for two trips, but in that position I’d probably do the same too.

But anyway, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here, I had a good play around on the guitar before going to bed, something that led me down another road to somewhere deep in the past.
"She moved her hips
And swayed in my direction
I thought we could make it yet
And beat the isolation
But in that gentle dark
We tore ourselves apart
Through fire and rain
Through wilderness and pain
Through the losses, through the gains
On love’s roller coaster train
I call your name"

So hauling myself out of the pit wherein lives the Black Dog, I hauled myself off to bed where I had another turbulent night. And although there was quite a lot going on, I didn’t have any special visitors.

When the alarm went off this morning I already had the bedroom light on and was just about to swing my feet out of bed, so effectively I fell short of an early start by a matter of a handful of seconds. Still, a miss is as good as a mile.

After the meds I came back in here to print off a justificatif de domicile – a certificate issued by the Electricity Board as proof of your occupation of your premises, and then transcribed the mountain of dictaphone notes. It seemed to have been “quantity” last night, not “quality”.

I started off busily organising my bread, dividing it into portion-sized helpings for the future when I awoke this morning. The ambulance had already come for me and there was something going on there too about organising a wholesale supply of food and daily helpings for different people but I wasn’t actually involved in what was going on down there. They’d just come to pick me up and at that moment I awoke.

And then I was doing my English homework at home. I had a list of words and had to find their equivalent in the second column of this list and then insert them in the correct place in the test that I was reading. It was about an American guy from the Mid-West who was finishing work and coming home. Some of the language in this text was extremely dubious so I wouldn’t read it out loud because we had a young girl staying with us. Then my father came home from work. He asked what I was doing so I explained. The girl explained a little too. My father then began to say things like “do they have an equivalent in there for ‘stripper’?” – words like that. As a matter of fact they did but I didn’t want to read them out because of the young girl. My father didn’t seem to care at all. We began to make tea. On the table, there were all kinds of stuff on this table that you wouldn’t believe. There I was with these hot dishes and there was nowhere to put them. I went to move some things out to the side but someone grabbed hold of it and began to use it. Someone else asked me if I wanted a slice of apple pie. That had been put on the floor because it was the only place to put it. This was in my opinion a completely unacceptable way that everything was just scattered about everywhere

Continuing on that dream later on, there was some of my mother’s cooking there and that was something of a mess. No matter how much I actually like hummus I decided that when my mother presented a bowl for the evening meal, I’d rather give it a miss.

My mother’s cooking was legendary, but for all the wrong reasons. When I used to go round to a friend’s house in Nantwich after school his German mother always served me up with piles of food. When I was in Munich with him last year, we talked about it and I asked him why.
"Don’t you remember?" he asked. "I stayed for tea once at your house. Only once."

To be honest, it wasn’t until I met Nerina that I began to eat well

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed it was a Monday morning and I was slowly preparing to go to work. Suddenly I looked at the time. It was 08:20. I had to rush around and find everything really as quickly as possible. I hadn’t even had a wash and probably smelt to high heaven but had to do the best that I possibly could. All the time there were the usual interruptions, people in my way, not being able to find anything. There was a discussion going on about why Manchester United hadn’t done as well as everyone had expected over the last couple of seasons so I had my three ha’pence-worth as I was going around. But I was really fighting a hopeless task and was nothing at all like ready when I realised that the bus had gone and that I’d be late for work. In a fit of exasperation etc I stormed into the kitchen, dropped my things onto the floor and said “this is it! I’ve missed the bus again! I’m not going to miss this bus again whatever happens”.

Believe it or not, I actually laughed in the middle of the dream when I dictated that. I’ve heard those promises before.

A short while later I had exactly the same dream again about preparing for work or for school. Exactly the same thought about never being late went through my head again with exactly the same response from my subconscious during the dream. I ended up storming off out of the room, bad-tempered. I spent some time doing some Welsh revision while I was waiting for the alarm to ring

While I was in Munich I’d gone to see something or other on the outskirts. When I was driving back I came to a roundabout where there was some evidence of bomb damage still – burnt-out buildings etc. I stopped and took the camera but I couldn’t find a good spec to photograph it, where I could fit everything in without the sun interrupting me. At one stage I was trying to cross the road when 3 BMC 1100s appeared one after the other and performed some kind of pirouette around me as I tried to reach the other side of the road

Finally I came across some people who had a Bristol Lodekka double-decker bus, a green one, in their barn in the centre of France. The destination blind on it read ROUTE 929 – LEEDS to OPORTO. They told me some of the story of the bus but not everything. We’d recently come to settle down there. Before leaving someone had given me a box of things with fish in it. I made a little pool for these fish but instead it turned out that they were some giant cormorant birds. They looked quite ridiculous sitting on my little pond. They, at least, one of them, could actually talk and I had some very interesting conversations with the cormorant about laying eggs and hatching, etc. But it was the bus in the neighbour’s barn that intrigued me. I’d love to know what it was doing and how it had ended up there when it should have been somewhere in Oporto

When the bus (the local one, not the 929 from Leeds to Porto) came, I clambered aboard, declining a lift from a neighbour because I have to push myself onwards on the bus whenever I can, and we set off for St Nicolas and on the way, the driver forgot to stop at the Ecole d’Hotellerie to let off the High School baking class

At St Nicolas the first stop was at the Post Office where, armed with my justificatif de domicile, I jumped through various complicated hoops in order to open a bank account.

So shortly I’ll have a bank card and actually be able to draw some cash at some point. As I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … there’s not another cash point in the town accessible to me because I can’t climb back onto the bus afterwards.

It took so long that I didn’t have time for my coffee at the Carrefour but at least I have tomatoes and mushrooms and a few other things. I met the guy with whom I’d had a long chat the other day.
"A British guy who likes our bread and our coffee " he said. "That’s a rare sight"
"If I’d only wanted tea at four o’clock" I replied "I’d have stayed over there".

At the bus stop I had a long chat with a local guy also waiting for the bus, and then with a woman on the bus on her way to the doctor’s.

People are starting to notice me. I’m not sure that that’s a good sign.

Back here I had another chat with a neighbour and then climbed up the stairs to my apartment where I made my coffee and cheese on toast

Despite phone calls, the attentions of the cleaner and the occasional drift away into nothingness I finihsed off the radio notes that I’d started yesterday, and they are now ready for dictation, which I’ll do tomorrow night as usual.

Rosemary rang up too and we had another one of our lengthy chats that seem to go on for ever when we talk about almost nothing.

However, I have made an executive decision, and for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than a few just recently, an executive decision is a decision that you make which, if it goes wrong, the person making it is executed.

And that is that I’ve decided what to have for Christmas dinner.

For a while now I’ve been thinking about making a vegan pie because I haven’t made one for ages. But this one is going to be different – I’ve ordered some puff pastry rolls.

Making pastry like that from scratch is difficult. You have to roll it out thin, coat is with oil, fold it over, roll it again, coat with oil, fold again ad infinitum. I can imagine exactly how mine would turn out.

However the LeClerc poverty-spec pastry rolls are vegan so that’s what I’ll use.

  • Put a cup of lentils in the slow cooker, cover with water and slowly bring to the boil.
  • When they begin to boil, drain them out and rinse them thoroughly, then put them back on the lowest heat with more water, plenty of herbs and spices and leave them overnight on the lowest heat
  • Next morning, cut up your tofu into small squares and fry with onion, garlic, mushrooms, whatever else you like and plenty of herbs and spices.
  • When they are nice and golden brown, tip in your lentils and stir it round, and then add a few spoons of oats to absorb the liquid and make a glutinous mass
  • Empty it into your pie case, add the top, brush with soya milk and bake until golden brown

As usual, any other suggestions and ideas are welcomed.

Tea tonight was salad, chips and some of those nugget things, something that went down really well.

So having finished my notes, I’ll carry on with the guitar for a while. I’ll have another go at trying to sing MOONAGE DAYDREAM while playing the bass.

At least I’m not the only one how finds it difficult. Grahame wrote that he doesn’t find it easy either. Maybe we ought to hold a “Ziggy Stardust” masterclass at some point.

But if anyone else wants to write and say “hello” or exchange ideas, there’s a link on the bottom right of the page. But if you use Gmail, I can’t reply to you.

In Google’s quest to take over the internet the company wants webmasters to embed its code into all minor domains and until I know why and what it does, I’m not putting it in mine. Consequently Google is blocking me from writing to anyone with a Gmail address.

Tomorrow I have no plans, but as usual, something will probably pop up to distract me. And then on Sunday, I’m baking bread and biscuits and a few other things besides, I reckon.

That means that I’d better remember to order some more vegan butter. I’m going through it at an alarming rate.

Saturday 9th December 2023 – MY CHRISTMAS CAKE …

… now has its marzipan cover.

Unfortunately it doesn’t look very pretty, but it’s for eating, not for exhibiting at the Royal Academy. And in any case, it’ll be a different proposition tomorrow evening when it has the icing on it.

Sean’s advice to fill up the obvious depressions with lumps of marzipan before marzipanning over the top seems to work because it actually does look quite level now, although I’m the first to admit that I have a lot to learn when it comes to marzipanning.

However, as it’s only the second cake that I’ve marzipanned, I’m quite pleased with how it’s turned out.

The acid test will be tomorrow when I try to ice it. That should be something that will sort out the men from the boys.

But pleased as I might be with my marzipanning, that seems to be the only thing that did go according to some kind of plan today.

Once again I was wide awake at 05:00 and couldn’t go back to sleep. By 05:50 I was up and about having my medication.

For a change, I knew what it was that awoke me this morning. We’ve had high winds for most of the week but yesterday everything calmed down and it was nice to go out in the sun to the shops.

This morning though, the storm broke again and we were being lashed by the wind. It was the rain smashing against the bedroom window that awoke me

After the medication I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. Somewhere in late 1940s London someone had stolen a rare stamp from a bank vault and had managed to evade the police who were pursuing him. He eventually made his way back to where the guy who had commissioned him to steal it was situated. He was there with another guy. The robber explained how come he’d managed to do all of this. They guy who commissioned him said “now we have to go back and enter the vault in daylight”. The robber couldn’t understand why on earth anyone would want to do that but the guy said that it was important to lay some kind of trail for the police. After a great deal of convincing they set off. By now I was attached to this party. We were walking through the streets. Coming towards us was a group of people going to a club. They guy who’d organised the robbery recognised them. At one time he’d been the owner of a club and had barred these people. He was expecting some kind of trouble in the street but they walked straight by. They went to the place to which they were going but couldn’t go in so came back. This was when some kind of confrontation arose between the organiser of the theft and this group of people. Someone suggested calling the police so at that moment one or two of the other people and I discreetly detached ourselves from the group and slipped away. We went around a corner and were somewhere in South-West London where there were 2 or 3 Underground stations very close to each other. A couple of other people with us, one of whom was Katherine Ayers, disappeared and left me on my own. I was suddenly aware of the fact that I had to return to the North of England somehow. I’d need to take the Tube and change at one of the stations to catch another Tube that would bring me to either Euston or another station that would take me North. This ended up with the kind of confusion that we’ve had in several dreams in the past when I’ve been wandering around London Tube stations either trying to find people or to find the correct train – back once more in that situation.

Later on I’d been out for a drive in Strider. We’d been going through the Appalachian Mountains on the border between New Brunswick and Québec. I thought that I’d better fuel up at a petrol station as they were very few and far between around here. I came to one where the next one was advertised as being 60 kilometres away so I fuelled up here and wished that I hadn’t when I saw the prices because I’d been doing very well up until them. Suddenly I awoke with the most enormous start and the whole of the rest of the dream disappeared

After that I must have gone back to sleep because I was at work. It was coming up to Christmas and I was planning to leave to go into retirement but things just kept popping up and I couldn’t ever get round to handing in my notice. I could see that come Christmas I’d just walk away without telling anyone and never go back. Everyone else was preparing for Christmas. One guy was asking me for the recipe for Simnel cake saying that the cake that I’d made for my birthday was really good etc. Eventually I managed to tear myself away to go home. I should have had things to do that evening but I decided that I wasn’t going to. I thought that I’d ring up Nicole to see if she fancied going ice skating or swimming etc but for some reason I couldn’t get through. I ended up back at home. There was talk about moving. The place was an absolutely despairing tip with all kinds of things lying around. I decided that I’d make a start and went through my workshop. All the little scraps of wood that I’d been saving for projects, I bundled them up and wondered if someone would like them for firewood or kindling etc. My mother then turned up and said that Cécile fancied fish for tea. How would we cook it? I told her to cook it in a bechamel sauce with a dash of lemon juice. The idea of Cécile having fish is crazy. She is as much a strict vegan as I am.

The idea of me tidying up and throwing things away shows you just how much of a dream this must have been. And Cécile eating fish too is something that would only ever happen in a nocturnal ramble.

This morning I spend several hours de-duplicating files that are in one of the back-up drives that is in the desktop array. Another 24GB of files had bitten the dust by the time that I’d finished.

For an hour or so I had a play around on the guitar and ran through a few numbers on my playlist just to keep in practice.

This afternoon I attacked the Christmas cake. There was some marzipan left over from last time but it was rather brittle so I used it to fill in the depressions once I’d kneaded it, and then used the fresh stuff that I’d bought the other day to do the job properly.

It looks rather strange, with the marzipan being in tricolour but as I said, once it’s iced it won’t make any difference and it will still taste just as nice.

And then the rest of the afternoon has been spent working on the notes for the photos from Canada 2022. I’m currently riding around the mouth of the Baie des Chaleurs and down the Straits of Northumberland on my way to Bathurst and Miramichi.

There’s still a very long way to go though. I can’t believe how slowly this train is travelling. For a developed country, what is left of Canada’s passenger rail network is an embarrassment.

Tea tonight was a baked potato with salad and one of those strange veggie burgers, made with real veg. They are really quite nice and I’ll be disappointed when they’ve all gone Noz was very kind to me with its bargain offers of strange vegan food and it’s a shame that I can’t go there any more.

The advantage is that it will encourage me to do more in the experimentation line.

On the list of things at which I want to have a go is bread-crumbing and battering. Battering is a question of flour and milk so there’s no reason why I can’t try that with plant-based milk but I shall have to have think about bread-crumbing.

Google might be our friend here and so I typed in “Breadcrumbing” – and had page after page after page of websites talking about stringing someone along in a pseudo-relationship and nothing at all about cookery. I’m clearly light years behind the times.

Tomorrow I have fruit buns to make, pizza dough to make and a Christmas cake to ice. There are radio notes that need dictating before I go to bed so there will be a programme to do too. It’ll be a busy day so I’m glad I had a rest today.

My new scales came today and I had to go downstairs to the post box in the entry to pick it up this evening. One of my neighbours was in the hall and we had a chat. I bet he was wondering what was going on.

Going downstairs was interesting because my slipper fell off so I resolved that issue by throwing it all the way up to my front door and went barefoot. And the climb back up froze my feet but it was surprisingly much easier than it has been just recently.

There’s no reason for that really. I don’t think that it’s the exercise. Maybe it’s because having sat around all day, I wasn’t tired. Or maybe my legs were lighter with no shoes on.

But whatever it is, I’ve given up trying to fathom it out. I’ve already crashed out half a dozen times today, sometimes quite definitively, so I’m going to have a hot drink and then dictate the radio notes before going to bed. I wonder what time I’ll awaken tomorrow.

Sunday 19th November 2023 – IF I EVER FIND …

… out who it was who rang my doorbell this morning at 09:30, “harsh words” will be said. I was just on the point of tidying the kitchen and putting things away when someone rang the front door bell and awoke me. Who does a thing like that at 09:30 on a Sunday morning? I just stuck my head under the bedclothes and presumably they went away. However I couldn’t go to sleep again after that. It really annoyed me

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m happy (well, I’m not, actually, but that’s by the way) to raise myself from the dead at any time you like but Sunday is a Day Of Rest when there’s never an alarm and I’m quite content to lie in bed for as long as it takes until I’m ready to show a leg. And anyone who gets in my way and interrupts me will know all about it.

But that’s not the worst of it.

As it happens I did manage to go back to sleep at some point but at 10:15 the doorbell went again.

This time I staggered across the apartment as Nature intended ready to give someone a piece of my mind but there was no-one on the other end of the parlophone.

There was no point in going back to bed after that so I had my medication and, exceptionally, I made myself a mug of strong instant coffee

It took a while, as it usually does these days, to come round into the Land of the Living and then I sat down to transcribe the dictaphone notes. I’d been producing a play. Admittedly it wasn’t very good but it was part of street entertainment. The idea was that there would be 4 different versions of this play taking place simultaneously and the actors would begin to walk from the far end of each street until they arrived simultaneously in the centre of the Square in the town centre. Of course, doing something on that kind of scale in a small town there won’t be any kind of experienced actors so if you did find any experienced actors you’d ration them out between the different performances to make sure that one of the streets didn’t have more quality than the others. It was all quite hit-and-miss, the kind of thing that was destined to fail but you would give it a go. The actors set off and slowly advanced into the town centre down their respective streets to meet up in the middle. There was one woman who was really outraged because she considered that her street had a couple of second-rate actors playing important roles whereas the neighbouring street had a couple of professional, experienced actors playing the same roles. She was incensed. What annoyed me more than anything was that from where she was standing to watch it she could actually see two performances, the one with the average actors and that with the better actors in the leading role so she really had no grounds to complain. Nevertheless she was extremely angry and vituperative about it.

That reminds me of something that happened 10 years ago when I was in Munich. I was at some kind of party with some theatrical types and busy chatting to a young Italian girl who was with a travelling theatre company. She was telling me that she was going to produce her first ever play – either Hamlet or “The Scottish Play”, I can’t remember now.
She asked me "how would you produce the play?"
"Do you know the play well?"
"Yes I do" she responded.
"Have you read it?" I asked
"Yes I have" she answered
"When you read it, do you visualise in your mind and your imagination what is going on, or do you simply look at the words?"
"I can imagine and visualise it" she answered.
"Well, that’s how you produce it – so that it turns out exactly how you imagine it to be. It’s all your own work – no-one else’s so do it how YOU see it and not how anyone else wants you to see it, otherwise there’s no point in you being the producer"

And half an hour later "how would you produce the play?"

Later on during the night I was talking to the lorry driver with whom I was talking in a dream a couple of nights ago. He was telling me that every Sunday he had to go to the fuel depot at Y Fflint to load up his lorry ready for the week’s work. But because it was a Bank Holiday just about everywhere was filling up so there was an enormous queue. He wasn’t attended to until late at night which meant that he had no drivers’ hours left to go home. He slept at the side of the road in his cab then spent the next week delivering, running later and later because with the effects of Covid it took much more time to unload and prepare anything. Instead of being home for Friday he ended up coming off the road and going straight to the tanker depot to refuel for the next week’s work without even seeing his home and having to sleep in his cab for the night again. He went at the height of Covid for several weeks without even seeing his own home and family.

Finally I was staying with some people in Arizona, in a big house on the edge of town. There was just the boy of the house and me there – the family was away. No-one had said anything about food and by now I was starving. I’d brought some bread rolls with me in the car so I said that I’d make a sandwich. Did he want anything? He replied no so I went off and fetched whatever I had, which wasn’t very much. later on in the afternoon as it began to go dark I went for a walk. I could tell by plaques on various places around the town that it had been created in 1918 as a watering point along the railway. Someone had built a church but it was all ripped out and modernised in 1933. There were several stories. One of the strangest things was that at the side of the Town Hall was what might have been a memorial of a 1950s convertible that had been involved in a really heavy front-end smash. There were 3 children standing by the car so I wondered if they had been killed in the accident and the memorial was to them. The most interesting thing was when I went down a side street I ended up in some kind of gallery that was all ornate carved wood like something out of a Gothic cathedral. There were people milling around and one or two people were talking to me. I was standing by a waste paper bin blocking it. Some woman asked me to move so we had a little chat. I pointed out to her a ghastly luminous human head floating down the gallery. As I went round the corner I came across a cat show with about 20 or 30 cats in baskets. I went over to stroke them and some woman made a remark to someone else about “that’s the guy who’s staying with such-and-such a family at the moment”

After lunch I made the pizza for the next batch of pizza and I do have to say that the dough came out the best that I have made for some considerable time.

While it was busy proofing I began the bread and butter pudding.

The recipe included eggs so I had a go with Liz’s patent baking-soda-and-vinegar replacement. And the result was something like Lance Percival experienced in CARRY ON CRUISING

Nevertheless it went into the oven well enough and baked quite nicely. I decided in the end to bake it in a low, wide dish in the conventional oven so that it will cook more evenly

As yet I haven’t tasted it but if it’s anything as nice as the uncooked mixture tasted before I baked it, it’ll be phenomenal.

And having ordered some dry figs in the week from LeClerc, I found three unopened packets in my baking box. I really must make a proper and thorough inventory of exactly what I have in here.

In between everything I edited the radio notes that I’d dictated last night and I completed the programme. I’ll be ready to start the next one tomorrow.

There was a visitor too. One of my neighbours came round to talk to me about cars with hand controls.

The pizza was absolutely delicious again, and now that I’ve written my notes I’m off to bed once I’ve had a drink of honey, blackcurrant and lemon

So who will put in an appearance tonight? At some point during the night I had a vague recollection that Nerina was there or thereabouts. I’ve no objection to her coming to visit me during the night because, after all, I did invite her to share my life for better or for worse.

However I do wish that everyone else in my family would clear off and leave me alone. I put as much distance between them and me in the real world as I possibly can and so I take a great deal of objection to them pursuing me around in the ether during the night.

Tuesday 20th June 2023 – I’VE HAD A …

… horrible afternoon today. and I really mean that too, in case you think that I’m exaggerating. I’ve spent almost all of it fast asleep on my chair, well out of just about everything.

It’s not as f I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep last night. I was in bed at some kind of realistic time and I can’t remember being awake for all that long.

And when the alarm went off I was on board the THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR. It was the last day of our trip around the High Arctic so we came back on board handing in all of our possessions etc ready to go to our cabins to pack for the next morning before we leave. I was talking to a few people and a girl probably in her late 20s with curly hair began to talk to me. She asked me what my plans were. I said that we were going to fly to Houston from here. I was going to hire a car and drive around for a few days. She didn’t ask but began to plan my voyage with me “we’ll have to do this, we’ll have to do that but you’ll have to drive of course” etc. She was a nice enough girl, pleasant, but I couldn’t get over the fact that she was wanting to come along and hang around with me for a few days. I went back to my room thinking “I hope that I recognise her when we’re having our evening meal tonight”. Back in my cabin, it was an absolute tip. I remember leaving in a hurry but I didn’t remember it being in such a mess as this. I began to tidy up but there was so much stuff, all kinds of it and a huge pile of lace curtains that i’d somehow brought with me. I thought “there’s no way I can take this home” so I began to wrap it up and put it in a sack ready to take to the rubbish. It was at that point that the alarm went off.

After I’d had my medication I did some preparation for my Welsh class but at about 09:50 I headed out for the nerve specialist, having a little chat with a neighbour on my way out.

The news was, as I suspected, not so good. All of the obvious checks were made and came up with nothing. The only thing to think of is that the cancer is spreading into my nervous system.

There’s a hospital in Paris that specialises in nervous disorders and goes deeply into the matter. Would I like to go there? Well, do bears have picnics in the woods?

As well as that, there’s also what they call a Centre de Réeducation here in Granville. That’s a place where people who have had a severe accident or illness go in order to redevelop their life skills ready to go back to their normal life. He thinks that I might benefit from going there and would I like a referral?

One thing that he did tell me is that I mustn’t hold out too much hope. If the cancer is in the nervous system nothing is going to improve but it’s important that I keep my autonomy as long as possible and the treatment that I’ll be receiving will be towards that end.

On leaving, I went to Lidl to do some shopping and then I came back here. Grabbing something to eat and a coffee, I went to my Welsh lesson. But it wasn’t a success. My mind and my heart weren’t in it and I was really glad when it was over.

While I ate my lunchtime fruit afterwards I was chatting to Liz on the internet and then I completely, absolutely and definitively crashed out. and it was the deepest and most desperate that I’ve had.

When I finally awoke I had my hot chocolate and then transcribed the dictaphone notes. Some you have seen, but there were other. I was back at school last night. I couldn’t find any course work for any of my lessons. I’d left my satchel in our form room while I’d gone off somewhere. When I came back there was a class in there so I couldn’t go in. One thing led to another. The following morning I still didn’t have my class work so I decided that I’d go in to the class to enquire. No-one understand what I was talking about for a minute until it suddenly twigged that it was in fact my form classroom too but no-one had seen my satchel. The teacher couldn’t help and neither could any of the pupils in there. In the end I had to leave it and go to find my current class completely without papers. I walked in a few minutes late. The teacher scowled at me and asked where I’d been. I gave some kind of vague excuse and sat down. She had to give me a photocopied sheet for the current lesson that we were supposed to be doing. There was something strange, that the class that I’d interrupted to find my possessions, all the kids were in school uniform except for 2 who were in completely different school uniform of green pink and white that had nothing whatever to do with our school colours that were navy blue and white.

And then I was with a girl from school last night. We had a kind-of fast food stall in the town centre late at night. It was an upmarket thing. We had a stainless steel plate that we heated on electric elements and would fry peppers and stuff like that on it. It was a very complicated way to go about doing things but if you used the correct cooking oil it turned out to be really nice. It was the end of the night about 02:00. Everyone was going home and we were packing up. Lots of people would come over to chat and have something to eat. We ended up having an interesting chat with a couple of guys and girls. They gave my girl a beer to try, a special beer. She politely offered me one but I said no. She offered me some cake so I said no. We had a very interesting chat about nothing at all for a couple of minutes as we were cleaning everything up and putting it away.

Before I had tea I had to clean dice and blanch a kilo of carrots. I’d bought some at Lidl because I was running low. And it was a real fight to fit them in the freezer.

Then I made tea. A taco roll with rice and veg followed by the cinnamon roll and ice crea.

So having had an awful day, I’m going to bed. I’ve had enough of this and I’m going to start afresh tomorrow. There’s something going on right now in my body and I wish that I knew what it was.

Saturday 10th June 2023 – I WAS IN …

… the middle of the local elections in Crewe. It had just been announced that Labour had lost control when the alarm went off so I’ll never find out who it is that’s the new council now.

Yes, another night that was as it is supposed to be, with me sleeping right the way through until the alarm went off

Not that you would have noticed of course, because it took me an age to go off to sleep last night. It looks as if I can’t win, doesn’t it?

But anyway I staggered out of bed when the alarm went off and began to organise myself ready for the morning. I had the medication but for some reason or other I forgot to check my mails and messages.

That’s something that I always do when I’m … errr … walking the parapet in the morning. I probably forgot to do that too, I reckon.

After doing a little work on the computer I went out ready for the shops.

At the door I bumped into first one neighbour and then almost immediately another one, and so I was late getting away.

LeClerc was my only destination today. I didn’t fancy trying my luck at Noz, or anywhere else for that matter. Even so, it was a very ungainly stagger across the car park to find a shopping trolley.

There wasn’t anything on special offer but nevertheless it was an expensive shop. I’m running out of flour, stuff like that and a few other things that would rack up the bill

We had quite a laugh at the checkout though. On eof the other cashiers came up to mine for something and called her “mum”.
“Mum?” I asked
“Yes” she replied.
“That’s strange” I replied. “Usually it’s sons who follow in the footsteps of their fathers”.

Back here I dragged the shopping upstairs and made breakfast while I put away everything.

This afternoon I’ve been bashing on with Canada 2017.

So far I’ve made it to Sainte-Barbe and crossed over to Blanc Sablon in Québec on the last time that I shall ever sail on the ancient MV Apollo.

Right now Strider, STRAWBERRY MOOSE are high-tailing it for the border ready to cross over into Labrador and by the time you read this, we’ll probably be there.

But we’re going to be stuck there for a while. On that particular day there were no fewer than 105 photos and I have to write notes for each of them. That will take some doing.

And that’s only a part of what went on that year in Labrador. We went out on a couple of boats into uncharted waters to visit abandoned settlements, visited several abandoned cemeteries, searched for several graves of the early Labrador explorers and drove around a resettled Inuit community.

Yes, I’ve made good progress so far but it’s all going to grind down to a very slow crawl as a fight my way through all of this.

But we’ve had another bad attack of nostalgia yet again and I really must stop doing this.

Several years ago, while I was sitting in a café in Brussels, a girl walked in who was the absolute spitting image, as alike as two peas in a pod, as a girl who sometimes comes along with me on a few of my little nocturnal rambles. I was so surprised that I dropped my coffee cup on the floor.

But here on board the Apollo there was another one. This one was on her way to “Labby”, so she told me, by which she presumably meant Labrador City. But the resemblance was totally uncanny.

That was part of what I was doing today and right at that moment round on the playlist came Warren Zevon and his RED-HAIRED GIRL IN THE RED SILK DRESS

While we’re on the subject of nocturnal rambles … “well, one of us is” – ed … there was some stuff on the dictaphone from last night, local elections notwithstanding. I was in Newfoundland last night with a boy and girl. I was supposed to be together with this girl but somehow I’d gone off somewhere and those two had paired up without telling me. When I came back she began to talk to me without realising who I was and told me a few things that I didn’t really want to hear. She was surprised and shocked when she saw that it was me. I was surprised and shocked to hear the things that she was saying about me

Later on I realised that I’d made a mistake and I wanted Ron and Harry back. They had images or statues of them on sale at 10/6 each. I bought one each. I thought that that was a very cheap price to pay for the friendship that they’ve been bringing me

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I have, that I’ve been dreaming an awful lot about pre-decimal currency just recently. That is what I call weird.

And then I was walking around Brussels and met one of my ex-girlfriends. I’d seen her before but was trying to keep out of her way because our relationship didn’t end very well but there she was. She seemed quite pleased to see me. She asked about Roxanne although of course she wasn’t Roxanne’s mother. We had a friendly chat which considering the way our relationship ended was something of a surprise to me.

And that reminded me of something interesting that happened in Brussels years ago. I’d gone off for a meeting and Nerina had gone for a walk. My meeting finished early so I went for a walk afterwards and we collided with each other in a street nowhere near where we were supposed to be, quite by accident. I was and still am convinced that Nerina was the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter with a black cat and magic wand somewhere.

However she wasn’t impressed when we went to buy a new broom to sweep the path. “Don’t bother to wrap it” I told the assistant. “She’ll fly it home”

Poor Nerina. Looking back on things, I actually feel sorry that she had to put up with me.

Am I getting all nostalgic again?

Tea tonight was chips and salad and some of those vegan nugget things. Nice they are too. That was a good buy from Noz a few weeks ago.

So now I’m going to push on up the Labrador coast and see how far I can get before I fall asleep. It’s all making me so nostalgic though. Labrador was a place about which I’d read in all these adventure stories when I was a kid and I always wanted to go there.

It took me until 2010 when I took Liz’s daughter Kathryn to University in Canada before I made it to Labrador for the first time, as soon as they opened the trail over the Eagle Plateau, and since then I just can’t keep away.

What I should have done os to have gone to live there, and a long time ago too but when I enquired, I was over the age limit. Services out there are practically non-existent and the last thing that they want is older, inactive people moving in there who would end up being a drain on the resources.

The flight to the cities is even more profound in those places as kids leave to go to University and never come back, and the collapse on the cod fisheries has put everyone else out of work and so there’s no prospects for anyone’s future.

Richard Hakluyt, the 16th Century geographer wrote in his “Principal Navigations” of a voyage to Newfoundland where “the cod were in largeness and quantitie … that they stayed our shipss”

Whatever went wrong?

Friday 2nd June 2023 – MY LUNCH TODAY …

… was just as good as last Friday’s.

And for the same reason too. I’d been for a walk down into the supermarket in town and they had more of the fresh broccoli on special offer.

So once again I chose the head with the thickest stalk and made a broccoli stalk soup.

Not that it did me much good though because we had something of s struggle throughout the day

Once again, I wasn’t up before the alarm went off. Its raucous rattle awoke me at 07:00 while I was deep in the arms of Morpheus and it was a struggle to leave my stinking pit.

But leave it I did, and before the second alarm too.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I carried on with Canada 2017.

At the moment I’m on Day Three – happily wandering around my favourite building in Montreal, the abandoned Gare Viger GARE VIGER of the Canadian Pacific Railway which I think is the most beautiful building in the city.

It was a lovely day out and I certainly put the miles on Montreal’s public transport system and then a wander around the docks on my way to my hotel for an evening meal and bed.

But by the looks of things, during my time in Montréal I didn’t go to my favourite Indian café out at the Cote Vertu. I really must be slipping.

So with Day Three not yet finished – out of a total of 60 that I spent in North America that year, you can see that this is going to be a very loooooooooooong project.

But there is one thing, and that is that I’m beginning to understand why I wasn’t in a rush to finish things off once I became ill. And that’s because right now I’m having huge pangs of nostalgia and I can’t wait to be on a plane again for Montreal

However, although I know that being in Montreal on crutches is totally impractical, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

There was a break in the proceedings for my trip into town this morning. And walking down the hill I fell in with one of my neighbours and we had a good chinwag for quite some considerable time.

However, a little further on my right leg gave way again. Luckily I was leaning on a crutch at the time otherwise I would have ended up in an undignified heap, and I’ve ended up in more than a few of those in the old days with some of the cars that I owned.

At the Carrefour I bought the broccoli, some mushrooms, some more peppers for freezing (making sure that they weren’t too big for the air fryer) some peaches that were on special offer and another crusty bit of bread. I’ve I’m going to have broccoli stalk soup, I’m going to have it in unashamed luxury.

The walk back up the hill onto my rock from town finished me off as it usually does, but I blanched the broccoli and set it to drain while I made the soup.

Half an onion cut into small pieces and fried on a very hot heat with cumin and coriander, and then garlic, diced broccoli and a couple of diced small potatoes and left to simmer in the water in which I had blanched the broccoli.

After 20 minutes I went and whizzed it up, realising as I type these notes that I had forgotten to add a stock cube. Nevertheless, it was extremely nice with my crusty bread.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night too. I’d been out somewhere in Caliburn. There was a bad tyre on him. I had some wheels in the back of the van so I bought a new tyre and had it fitted on the wheel. I drove to where I was going and then took out my tools to change the wheel. Everyone looked at my enormous power bar. You could see that they were impressed and about to say something about it but I changed the tyre anyway. Then I noticed that Caliburn’s Controle technique was about to expire. I phoned the garage but they said that there was nothing at all that they could do for 6 weeks. I thought “well, I’ll have to take that, won’t I? And trust to luck for a few weeks driving around without one. Then he said that he could fit it in on Saturday morning. However I wasn’t going to be here on Saturday morning. I’d still be in Leuven. I wasn’t sure at all what I could do. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity having made a fuss, otherwise I’d have to wait 6 weeks and it wouldn’t show me in any good light having made such a fuss and then turning down the appointment

Later on I was at a football match and we were in the dying seconds of the game. The ball went out for a throw-in. The team wanted to restart it really quickly. A few players including their goalkeeper ran to take it. Someone else from the other team took the throw-in and threw it really quickly while the goalkeeper was out of position so one of the other players tried to stop him advancing. He threw a punch. There was a huge melee after that. The referee had to pull everyone apart and had to find a megaphone to announce to the crowd what had happened, what he’d seen and what he would do.

Finally, a plane had gone down in the sea. While they reached the plane and were able to rescue it they couldn’t find any of the people who had been in it when it had hit the water. I don’t know where it went after that

So no Harry Potter, no family, no cats and no Castor, TOTGA or Zero.

What there was though was that I crashed out for some of the afternoon. It seems that walking down into town and back again is too much for me in my state of health.

But is it going to stop me? It reminds me of that sticker that I saw on the back of an old Renault a few years ago – “Nothing is going to stop me! Not even my brakes!”

Tea was the last of those small breaded quornburgers that had been in the freezer since the Dawn of Time. They went down well with another vegan salad and the remaining small potatoes cubed and fried in the air fryer.

Tomorrow I’ll be shopping and there’s quite a list of things that are running low again. I had to use my cherry tomatoes on the salad this evening and the cucumber had gone the Way of the West.

And then there’s some radio work to be done of course. I have to push on with that of course.

No football though. There’s a match here but I haven’t been at all this season to watch any game, never mind one in the French Fourth Division at the Stade Louis Dior. I’m having to content myself with internet highlights. I watched Partick Thistle v Ross County just now.

Nnot because I really wanted to but, as the old saying goes, “it’s the only game in town right now”.

Wednesday 31st May 2023 – I’M ABSOLUTELY EXHAUSTED.

And that’s no surprise considering the distance that I’ve travelled today.

This morning after the medication and checking the mails and messages I left my motel in Québec and headed to the library of the Department of Nordic Studies at Laval University to look for a thesis.

Then I went to the site of the battle of Sainte-Foy and then hit the road for Montreal where I spent a couple of days.

Leaving Montreal I went to Kingston in Ontario to see my cousin Sandra, and then crossed the border into the USA.

Strider, STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I then drove all the way down to see my friend Rhys in South Carolina.

After spending a few days there, I headed on south so that Strider could tell his friends that he’s been to Georgia and then we went to Myrtle Beach for a few days to rest.

Myrtle Beach brings back some very strange memories because, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we’ve BEEN HERE BEFORE on our way back from Rhys’s wedding.

When Alison and I worked at that strange American company, we had a colleague who waxed lyrical about Myrtle Beach and said how wonderful it was, not knowing that I actually knew the place.

So I produced all of my photos from 2005 and she never said another word. In my opinion, the centre of the town is like Rhyl but with sun, as the photos went to show.

After a nice rest in a cheap seaside hotel, I came back all the way up the Outer Banks and I forget how many ferries I took as I kept to the outside. Forget Interstate 95 – the Outer Banks is the way to go north.

Especially with all of the ferries. people have been saying that I’ve been all at sea for years.

We finally hit the mainland at Bridgeport in Connecticut having had that gorgeous sunset going over Long Island Sound, and then STRIDER, STRAWBERRY MOOSE AND I IMITATED JACKSON BROWNE and went “Rollin’ down 295 outta Portland, Maine” (although in my case, I was rollin’ up it).

That song, by the way, was actually recorded on Jackson Browne’s tour bus as it really was rolling down Interstate 295 and you can hear the engine in the background.

However, back to today and we ended up back in New Brunswick, parked up Strider, celebrated Thanksgiving (I think that everyone was giving thanks that I was leaving), caught the bus back to Montreal and the plane back to Belgium and the hospital.

So you can see that I’ve been a very busy boy today and I’ve finished sorting the photos. I’ve even made a start on rewriting the notes.

But my visit to Laval University was interesting.

An author by the name of James Enterline wrote a book arguing that the Norse didn’t actually sail down the Labrador coast on their epic voyage of discovery in 1000AD but instead, went to the west of Cape Chidley and ended up in Ungava Bay.

He quoted at great length from the report of Thomas Lee who had excavated at Pomiok Island in the bay and had found what he (Lee) claimed to be a Norse longhouse.

Lee’s research was funded by the University of Laval on behalf of their Department of Nordic Studies. Unfortunately though, Laval is one of the few Canadian Universities that doesn’t have its theses on-line these days.

So off I went to find Lee’s report and eventually it turned up in a dusty corner where it had sat untouched since the mid-1960s

To my surprise, it contained a note to the effect that Lee had seen Enterline’s arguments and he went to great length in this appendix to dismiss them out-of-hand.

The sad thing about this is that Lee’s style of writing was polemic and contentious to the point of being confrontational, certainly not academic. And presumably as a result, his request for funds to continue his excavations the following year was denied.

And no further excavations has been carried out.

This is the big problem with a lot of incestuous academia. Everyone starts off with all of the best intentions and attacks their work with gusto. They do quite a lot of good research, obtain their Master’s and then go to work in a Bank and that’s your lot. It’s all forgotten.

Meanwhile, in other news, my cleaner came round again this afternoon to try to bring order out of chaos. She told me some bad news about my neighbour who had a very bad fall a couple of weeks ago. It looks as if she’s done herself a permanent mischief. There are people much worse off than me, that’s for sure.

Tea was a half-portion of curry from the freezer with the fridge leftovers, some rice and veg and a naan bread. And I’m eating really well these days, that’s for sure. That was lovely.

And there are some lentils simmering in the slow cooker too ready for my lasagne tomorrow. I’m looking forward to that so it had better be good.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night too. I was round at some woman’s house and she had a lot of animals living in there, like a zoo. On one particular occasion a tiger took quite a fancy to me but in the wrong kind of sense. I had no intention of being a tiger’s main course meal so in the end I had to chase it away. She locked it outside the room where we were sitting talking. She went out with it and I barricaded the door. There was then a knocking on the door. It was her so I had to unlock it and let her in. another animal tried to come in too so I had to somehow chase it out, close the door again and wedge a sofa up against the door. She asked “if you’re doing all of that how are we going to manage if you have to go to the bathroom?”. I replied ” I couldn’t care less about going to the bathroom. I just want to keep away from these animals”.

Later on I was with someone whom I knew from my time in Stoke on Trent, and not any of the “usual suspect” eithers. We went into a pub in Hanley somewhere. We’d come out of work and there was some kind of discussion about how we never went for a drink any more, basically because there was some kind of atmosphere going on between a group of us and we’d decided that we’d go our separate ways. Talking to him, he said that he’s thinking restarting going to the pub early in the morning before coming into work. I thought that that’s not a particularly good idea. We ended up at the pub and that person whom I mentioned concerning the bad feeling was there playing darts. I couldn’t buy a pint for just the 2 of us, I had to buy one for the 3rd guy. I went to the bar to order while my friend and this lad stayed behind talking. The first thing that I noticed was that the Mild tap had been taken off the bar. I asked about that. The barman told me that they didn’t have any at that moment. I thought that I’d better order two brown ales or something and see what the 3rd guy wants.

Later on, L found myself driving towards Fredericton last night. While I was there I went into the Bulk Barn but I awoke before I remembered what it was that I was going to do there. Bulk Barn shops by the way are very exciting. Anyone who remembers “Weigh and Save” in the UK in the 70s and 80s will know the type of shop but in Canada it’s a huge chain and about 100 times better than Weigh and Save ever was. Of course Canada has a mush more rural population still carrying on the traditions of the 1950s (which I like) so a place like that does really well.

Finally I was doing another taxi job last night. I had to take someone to the hospital but via a medical centre type of place. I arrived and a couple of people helped the guy out. They said that I could leave him there and drive on. I tried to have someone sign the book for the account but no-one would. They all wandered off. In the end I just had to turn round and drive back into traffic.

Tomorrow, I’ll push on with my website stuff. I’ll see how far I get and whether I can actually complete this project without falling by the wayside. Then I have plenty more after that to crack on and finish. I’ve not even finished editing the photos from the High Arctic in 2019 yet and it’s almost 4 years since we set out on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR in Aberdeen and alighted, after many misadventures, on the Canada-Alaska border.

High time that I extricated my digit instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

Thursday 27th April 2023 – WE ARE HAVING …

… a disaster.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that Alison and I have a favourite restaurant in Leuven where we usually end up in the middle of our walk around the town. She passed by there earlier this evening for a portion of the beautiful sweet potatoes, only to find that it’s closed down definitively.

We started to go there because another vegan restaurant that we used, “The Loving Hut”, closed down a few years ago. We’ll now have to look for somewhere else, always assuming that there IS somewhere else to go.

We shall have to make further enquiries.

Further enquiries too about my sleeping issues because it was yet another depressing night when I took an absolute age to go off to sleep.

And once more, I awoke in the middle of the night and spend a miserable couple of hours trying to go back to sleep. However at one point I must have dozed off because I sat bolt upright wide-awake (well, sort-of) at 06:59, a minute before the alarm went off, so I fell out of bed just for the sake of saying that I beat the alarm once again.

When I was checking my mails and messages I found out what had awoken me. It was the nurse sending me a message to say that he’d miscalculated and it’s tomorrow when he needs to come to take my blood sample.

Once I’d organised myself this morning and awoken properly I bashed out another radio programme from the stuff that I had lying around. I’m getting nicely ahead of myself now, but it will all go pear-shaped of course because someone whose virtues I’ll be extolling will drop dead just before the programme will be broadcast.

And that reminds me. Some of the more legendary figures of the rock world are reaching the kind of age when fate will overtake them. I suppose that when I have time I really ought to prepare a couple of programmes that relate to people like Bob Dylan and keep them on the back-burner “just in case”.

It was while I was on my way to la Haye-Pesnel in Caliburn yesterday that I thought of a really good idea for a programme in this respect. What provoked the was when Spirit came onto Caliburn’s playlist and played “All Along The Watchtower”.

This afternoon I had a ‘phone call. Would I like a lift to town?

It was raining outside quite heavily and although I did have things to do, I didn’t fancy walking down there in this so I grabbed a lift. A couple of my neighbours were going off to the shops.

They threw me out in the town centre and I went to the letting agency. That’s a good place to start, I reckon, with my quest to gain vacant possession of my new apartment. However, there was only a receptionist there. The agent was out on a mission.

She took my details and said that the agent will call me back. And, as you might imagine, I’m still waiting. I’m also still waiting for the return phone call from my visit to the property management company yesterday. I have a rather uneasy feeling that I’m going to end up with a bunch of je m’en foutists.

That’s a beautiful French expression. Je m’en fous is rather a vulgar French way of saying “I couldn’t care less” (I’m sure that you can think of an English equivalent, but this is a family website) and so a je m’en foutist is an employee who is only interested in collecting his salary and doing as little as possible to actually earn it.

It was 15:05 when I went in, and by 15:10 I was back out again. The rain had quietened down considerably so I decided to walk back. It didn’t take me long and I didn’t have to stop for breath too often. But one thing that I noticed was that trying to squeeze into the back of the neighbour’s car, my right leg wasn’t comfortable whatsoever – not one little bit.

Back here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was in the middle of having a dream but I awoke (that was the time in the middle of the night). The dream evaporated completely and everything went except for a vision that I had about coffee in Malta or Cyprus that cost £3:00 per ounce. That’s all that I can remember about it.

Again this next one is another one of which I can only remember bits. I was at a talent contest last night. There was a couple of girls singing in Inuit. One was an older girl and the other was a younger girl. What happened now I forget, but later on someone else at this concert contacted me. They had a house to let in Greenland. They were quite fed up of the type of tenant they were having. They tended to be the younger, trendy type of person and they wanted someone more traditional. It turned out that they were writing the adverts in the newspaper in Inuktitut, the more modern style of Inuit language for people looking for lets. I suggested that she write the adverts in Sisu, the more traditional type of language, and that way it would be the more traditional type of person who would understand the advert and would make more of an effort to reply to rent it. She thought that that was a good idea. She turned over in bed and squashed me. She said “I’m hitting you, am I? It’s most uncomfortable lying here in bed with all these people” but this was the way of life up there and we just had to accept it. I walked out to Caliburn. He was up on a jack for some reason. I noticed that one of his rear tyres had a bald patch. That was strange. It had only done 8000 kms, these tyres. Most of the tyres were in really good condition but just this one bald patch. It started to worry me for it meant that there was something wrong somewhere with Caliburn’s suspension or brakes. I needed to try to sort it out but there was this expensive tyre that had just gone to waste.

After that I made some hot chocolate and had a few of my delicious chocolate biscuits – and then I rather regrettably fell asleep for a while.

As for tea tonight, I couldn’t think of what to have. In the end I settled for steamed vegetables with falafel in a vegan cheese sauce.

That was really delicious yet again, but I have to say that this other type of vegan cheese is nothing like as tasty as the vegan Cheshire Cheese. Even though the Cheshire Cheese is much more expensive, I think that I’ll be sticking with that in future.

Tomorrow the nurse is coming to take my blood sample, and then I don’t have anything planned for several days, except the football over the weekend of course. I’ll have to start to plan for my trip to Leuven though because that’s important. It seems that all kinds of things are unravelling right now.

And who knows? I might even have someone return one of my phone calls about the visits that I’ve made. If that happens, there won’t be any notes tomorrow night. I’ll have passed out from the shock.

Friday 7th April 2023 – A CALAMITY!

Yes, we have had a calamity here today.

Last night after tea I took out some of the hot cross buns from the freezer and left them to thaw out.

This morning when I looked at them, they were all dry and crumbly and there were traces of a green mould. And so they, and all of the others in the freezer have gone into the bin. What a waste and I was so looking forward to eating them too.

That’s really beyond disappointing because the freezer has been jam-packed with stuff, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, to such an extent that I’ve been turning away some really good offers. Had they not been in there, I could have done so much more.

Still, no use crying over spilt milk.

And no need to ask what I was going to do now. The internet is our friend in these circumstances and within about 5 minutes I’d found a recipe for vegan hot cross buns. And, apart from some dried mixed peel, I had all of the ingredients, even some orange concentrate

They even had a dinky little cross on top. I don’t have an icing piping bag but a plastic bag with the corner cut off made an acceptable substitute

They weren’t a particular success because I couldn’t make the dough rise, and while it was proofing it cracked (probably too dry). But toasted with some nice hot butter they tasted just like hot cross buns should, and it’s the taste that matters after all.

But when one has a calamity, the pendulum usually swings the other way at some point, but never as quickly for me as it did this afternoon. And in less than three weeks time I shall be back on the property-owning ladder because I’m signing for my new place on the 26th of April at 09:30 in the forenoon.

So with three months required to give the tenant notice to leave and then some time to install a shower and a decent kitchen, I might even be in there before the end of the summer. And I can’t say that I’ll be sorry.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I rented this apartment when I first came here 6 years ago so that I would have a base to look round and find somewhere in the neighbourhood that I liked. But I love this building, its situation and my neighbours so much that I had no desire to leave, so I stayed on as a tenant until something came available to buy at a price that I could afford

Another thing that regular readers of this rubbish will recall is that I was bemoaning the fact that I wouldn’t be able to have a lie-in this morning because even though it’s a Bank Holiday, I had the physiotherapist coming round.

But I needn’t have wasted my time complaining because when the alarm went off this morning at 07:30, I was already up and about.

In fact, I’d been awake since not long after 06:00 and I could have left the bed at any moment after that because trying to go back to sleep was a waste of time. But eventually I lifted myself up and out and set about today’s tasks.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages, I went to have a shower and get myself all nicely cleaned up

The physiotherapist had me running through my paces with the stuff that i’d bought last weekend. He thinks that I have bought stuff that is too powerful for me and that’s rather depressing news. Not because he thinks that I’ve wasted my money because he thinks that I can no longer mutt the custard, as Doctor Spooner would have said.

As kenneth Williams once famously said when the starring roles that he used to receive begn to run out “what you’re offering doesn’t stretch me. I’m used to enormous parts”. And that’s the same with me. I should be pushing myself onwards and upwards, not slowly sinking downwards. Neil Young once said “it’s better to burn out than to fade away” and that’s my philosophy too.

Back here after he had gone, that was when I noticed the catastrophe that was the hot cross buns. And so the rest of the morning was spent making half a dozen of those to keep me going over Easter.

In between while the dough was doing its stuff I was changing the bedding so that I’ll have a nice, clean comfortable bed to sleep in tonight, the first time for a while, and also having a very long chat that went on throughout the day on and off with Liz.

This afternoon I finished off the French Revolution stuff and I’m now well advanced on my space exploration theme, although bearing in mind the different time zones it’s likely that I’ll have to settle for the 20th July as being the date recognised as that of the first landing on the moon which won’t come round on a Friday for several years.

There have also been chats with Alison on the internet and Rosemary on the phone and also with a neighbour who invited me round for a coffee on Monday. I have been in demand today.

In between all of this I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. This first bit was another dream where I’d forgotten most of it. There was some kind of celebration to take place for D-Day that involved travelling on an aeroplane. We were going to fly over all these places that figured prominently in the early days of the battle on the anniversary of these events. I boarded the aeroplane but unbeknown to me one of my rabbits had boarded too. I didn’t find out until we were in the air. I had to scavenge round for something to keep them in. When we landed and were at people’s houses I had to find someone who had a cage that I could borrow so that I could put a rabbit in that so it would be much safer to carry. But there was much, much more to it than this but I just can’t remember it.

And then I was in an office. Someone wanted to make his room less affected by direct sunlight. he asked my advice whether he should paint one of his windows over in black. I suggested that he did it white in a nice stripy arrangement. He wondered what I meant by that. I explained that you take a wide brush and just go across from left to right and right to left but only one way. Do all the brushstrokes the same way. He went off so I had a quick look in later on. It looked quite nice what he’d done. Then I had to go to see the boss. I couldn’t think of a good excuse to go to see him. I went in and thought for a minute. I said “I’m thinking of applying for a holiday”. He asked why so I told him that I had a Cortina that I wanted to take out the engine and gearbox to put a different engine and gearbox in. That would involve a little work. It was aon old MkIII Cortina estate that needed much more work than that but that was what I said to him. We had a little chat about it and I left without agreeing anything conclusive. Then I found myself trying to work out someone’s income tax. Some guy’s wife was a teacher somewhere in the Three Bridges Council area. And when I was dictating these notes I realised that i’d been working it out wrongly in my sleep. I was taking away his wife’s income from his instead of adding it on. I can’t understand why I did that.

Tea tonight was a salad and some of those veggie balls from out of the freezer. I was intending to have chips with it but my bag of potatoes is mostly full of potatoes that are too small so I chopped them into small squares to make little baby roast potatoes.

To prepare them, I mixed them with some oil and herbs in a pyrex bowl and then tipped them into that little metal colander that I’d bought the other week. The holes in the colander let the hot air percolate through much better and cooked them to perfection.

It was a really nice tea and I’ll do the same with the potatoes tomorrow with my breaded quorn fillets

So in a moment I’ll be off to bed. It’s early but I’m going shopping tomorrow. In principle I feel as if I ought to be going without my crutches but that’s being rather optimistic. I’ll take one with me, I reckon, to see how I do.

One thing that I want to buy is a soya yoghurt. I found a recipe for making naam bread while I was wandering around and I wonder what that would be like done in the air fryer to eat with my leftover curry.

Another thing that I can but is some more frozen food now that there’s some space in the freezer. What a calamity that was about those hot cross buns, but every cloud has a silver lining, I suppose.

Wednesday 5th April 2023 – AFTER ALL OF THE …

… misery and depression that’s been about for the last couple of days, today was a much better day as far as I was concerned and I actually managed to do some work today.

Not that you would have thought so after last night because it was another miserable night where I couldn’t go off to sleep and when I did I awoke at 03:20 and then couldn’t go back to sleep again for what seemed like for ever

Mind you, when the alarm went off at 07:30 I actually was asleep and it was a battle to raise myself from the dead before the second alarm went off.

Once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages, I actually made a start on doing some work and that’s not like me these days, is it?

But by the time that lunchtime came round I’d written all of the notes for one of the radio programmes that I was intending to do today. Not exactly going flat-out, I have to say, but slowly keeping on going regardless.

First task though was to make up a playlist of albums from which I’ll be selecting the next batch of music. I used to do this every week but I haven’t actually updated anything since before I went to Canada. I’ve been letting myself go somewhat.

Another thing was to telephone the doctor for an appointment as I’m running low on some medication. I can go to see him on Wednesday morning next week at 10:00. I also need a pot to give a urine sample for the laboratory to analyse and the nurse will be taking it away with the blood test that he will come to do on Thursday morning next week.

So he’ll be taking the p*** then.

Lunch came round rather quicker than I was expecting, but I called a halt to my progress in order to have a shower and to do some tidying up. What with the cleaner coming, I have to make both myself and the apartment look presentable.

While she was here doing her stuff, I was making a start on the text for the next radio programme and talking to a neighbour on the internet. She was supposed to be coming home tomorrow but she finds herself stranded in Paris due to industrial action.

Several people have asked me why it is that the French are so upset about having their retirement age raised from 62 to 64 when for the UK the retirement age was raised from 65 to 67. Why do the French have it easier than the Brits?

The answer is that when the French are upset they go out to do something positive about it. The Brits just roll over and take it and, if they feel particularly incensed, they get up a petition, just like we did at Primary School.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I used to work for a pan-National Organisation that was inundated with petitions. The net result of all of these petitions was that our annual bill for toilet paper was zero.

And apparently I’m also in someone’s bad books. As soon as the apartment downstairs went up for sale, I was given the wink and the deal was all done and dusted within a matter of a couple of weeks. And I kept silent about it until I’d signed the commitment to purchase.

Now the news is spreading around the building that I’ve bought it, and someone else is bitterly upset because no-one told him or her that there was an apartment for sale and they were just as desperate as me to buy an apartment here.

So we have a very unhappy bunny somewhere in the building. And I have to say that I’m not sorry.

After the cleaner left I made some delicious hot chocolate and then had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. At some point during the night I was defrosting the freezer. I can’t remember who I was with now but it was a very long rambling dream again. One of the things that we were doing was dealing with the frozen food. We were having a lot of trouble fitting it all into the drawers. The girl said that we ought to defrost the freezer. I was certain that it didn’t need it because it wasn’t iced. But when I looked again it was so iced that all of the frozen ice blocks in there were all being pushed out. We ended up taking out everything and starting to repack it. But instead of there being ice blocks they were now like flexible containers like these heat bags. trying to squeeze them into the confined space because the shelves were so small was as if this freezer bag was taking up more than half the place inside with the equivalent of a vacuum flask meaning that there was very little room if any left for the frozen food. I was sitting there scratching my head about how this could possibly be. It certainly wasn’t like that when we’d started and the freezer wasn’t like that before. I was as if it had undergone a metamorphosis

Did I dictate the dream about going off to Canada with a few of my friends? … “no you didn’t” – ed … We wandered around New England for a couple of weeks without having much time to do very much. When we came back two other of my friends had gone away. They’d also gone to the USA. We set about changing the house round. We stripped out the kitchen and had a new window somewhere and had the old window from there in one of the current window frames, put some furniture in one of the bedrooms. When they came back I showed them around. They were very impressed with what we’d done. I went to bed but I didn’t really go to sleep. Whoever was there with me got up and went. I ended up getting up and going for a walk around. On the way back was a really steep hill that you actually had to climb. There was another woman climbing this hill. She couldn’t quite see how to get over the top. I explained that it was a case of having to climb up the fence, over it and then down again on the other side. She wasn’t willing to do that so she went. I managed to climb up that last bit and over the fence and on to the other side.

And I wish that I could remember who these girls are who keep on featuring in my dreams and then disappearing before I can put names to them. That’s really disappointing.

Rosemary rang me up later on and we had another marathon chat. We were talking about cruises and in particular one that is setting sail in November for three years, 300 ports and 137 countries. Three years at sea would suit me fine – after all, I’ve been all at sea for most of my life – but I draw the line at finding $158,000.

Nevertheless it would be interesting to find out more about it.

Tea tonight was another delicious leftover curry, and now there’s a little room in the fridge.

There will be some room in the freezer tomorrow too because I’m going to take out a couple of the drawers, empty them and then clean and repair them. That’ll give me an opportunity to see what’s in them and work out a plan about reducing the contents of the freezer.

There’s far too much old stuff in there that I don’t know that I have. I need to sort it out and use it before something drastic happens to it.

But that’s for tomorrow. Right now, even though it’s early, I’m off to bed. I reckon that I’ve earned it. I certainly deserve it.

Saturday 11th March 2023 – THIS AFTERNOON I …

… had a go at manipulating the shopping trolley that I bought a few months ago on my return from hospital.

When I was at the shops this morning I bought quite a bit of stuff and although I managed to bring some stuff (the important, cool and frozen stuff) up with me, the rest was left behind for another time.

But feeling the need for a little exercise I went downstairs with the shopping trolley, loaded it up and brought it all back upstairs. It wasn’t as easy as it ought to have been, particularly the final couple of steps up to my front door, but probably a little easier than making two or three trips up and down stairs. It’s something that I’ll have to develop for the next time.

The next time that I go to bed, I’ll be spending much more time in there because it’s Sunday. I would have been happy to have spent much more time in bed this morning because when the alarm went off at 07:30 I was stark out.

Not exactly stark out because I was off on my travels. I was busy coming round to the conclusion that I had to sell off my taxi business and empty my storage lockers of car bits etc and make a start on making an inventory. There was so much stuff that it would take for ever. The idea was that I’d go up to the storage unit every day, bring home some stuff that I’d put on an on-line auction somewhere and move the stuff on like that. I was just getting into it when the alarm went off and awoke me.

After the medication and organising myself I bunged a load of washing into the machine and then headed out for the shops.

And at Noz I had a little bit of luck. The physiotherapist had told me that I need to invent some weights, like plastic bags with sand in, to use as an exercise barbell on my foot to practise raising my legs when I’m sitting down. And there at Noz was a shelf full of proper 2kg weights at €3:50 each. A bit of string and I’m a la maison et sec as they say around here.

There were a couple of extra things in LeClerc that I bought over and above the usual stuff. Sean had suggested (thank you, Sean) that a pyrex bowl would work nicely in my air fryer so I had a rummage around in the kitchenware department and managed to find one that would fit.

It’s a good job that I went over there too because I managed to pick up something else important. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a year or so ago I managed to find a real and proper cake tin for baking. While I was there today they had some half-size ones that would be ideal for making smaller cakes.

Cake tins are, for some reason that I haven’t understood, extremely rare in France. They don’t seem to use them as often as they might do anywhere else, so grabbing one while the grabbing was good was a good plan.

So what with the silicon mould that I bought the other week I’m slowly getting myself organised ready for when I once finally have a decent kitchen and oven to go with it.

Back here I put away the food that i’d brought up, hung up the washing and then made myself some toast and coffee and had a nice relaxing breakfast. And then, rather regrettably, I crashed out. And for an hour too. It really was quite awkward.

First thing this afternoon (after I’d eaten a plate of fruit) was to listen to the dictaphone because there was some stuff on it from the night. There was a group of us studying some subject or other, 8 in total, and we were going to take an exam. We all met up at our tutor’s apartment in the morning to make sure that we had anything. She gave us a quick test and although I was feeling pretty depressed about this particular exam I found to my surprise that in this quick oral test I seemed to do ok at it. We set out and came eventually to the building where we should be, up several flights of steps. 6 of the people disappeared. Whether they went in a lift or something I don’t know but I went with someone else up the stairs. The other guy with me ran out of steam halfway through and had to stop. He told me to go on to say that I was there. I entered the teacher’s apartment and said “hello! We’re the Jackson 5, or Jackson 8 in reality!”. Everyone else turned up at this point. We started to take our place at the table. I could see in the distance some kind of dog. I made a nice friendly gesture to it so it came over to sit by me. I began to talk to it and it began to do little tricks with its paws like if I asked it to do something it would hold up a paw.

And then there was a programme on the radio (which of course there wasn’t). After it finished (which of course it didn’t) I ended up dreaming about it in my dream. It concerned a drug-smuggling ring of quite ordinary people led by some woman who was no-one in particular, an old poor type of working class woman from the East End of London who was in fact a tie salesman and who kept a Public Convenience clean. There was a false panel in this Convenience where drugs were deposited. People would come along and remove drugs for their own use if they knew the secret. There were these 2 people hot on the trail of this. This radio programme went on for hours just like a Paul Temple series until right at the end when all the pieces fell into place and this secret panel with the drugs was found.

All exciting stuff again.

The rest of the day has been spent working on the radio stuff. I was making ready to dictate the stuff that I’d already written but then I had a different idea. I ought to be shuffling the pack and changing things around so that they don’t sound all the same.

Every now and again I do something special depending on whatever falls on a Friday and so far we’ve had a Brexit programme, an Armistice Day programme and a Jeff Beck tribute programme to name but three, and there’s another special day coming up on a Friday quite soon. That’s another cue to do something special so I had to sort out a pile of music.

That meant tracking down the soundtrack archives for a certain album that can’t be any more obscure than it is. One that not only did Jimi Hendrix play on but one that he produced as well, and there aren’t many of those.

It took some tracking down as well but I finally managed to find a decent copy. And then I had to cut it and edit it.

When I went down to Caliburn for the rest of the shopping, as I mentioned earlier, I bumped into one of my neighbours and we had a good chat. It seems that I’m flavour of the month around here right now.

For tea tonight I put Sean’s idea to work and tried the pyrex bowl with some diced potatoes, a sprinkling of olive oil and some mint and rosemary in the air fryer. It worked to perfection and I’m really impressed with that idea so thanks again. They went down really well with a salad and one of those breadcrumbed quorn slices that I like very much.

So right now I’m still waiting for the music to finish off what it’s doing and then I’m going to bed. I’m going to have a lie-in tomorrow as usual but I want to break the back of this special radio programme so that I don’t have it all to do on Monday.

In fact on Monday I should be in Leuven at the hospital for these heart issues but there’s not much point in going and being passed around from pillar to post again. I wrote to them at the end of December, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, to complain about the situation and to ask them to get themselves together but they never replied to me. I’m not going all that way to undergo the same tests that I had a year ago and finish up with the same results.

Friday 17th February 2023 – CALIBURN AND I …

… went to LIDL this afternoon to do our shopping for the forthcoming week.

And I only had to show Caliburn the ignition key and he fired up. having a new started fitted was obviously a good move.

Having said that, I wish that I was as lively as Caliburn was this morning. I had another bad, restless night tossing and turning with a real struggle once more to haul myself out of the bed before the second alarm went off. I’d have been quite happy to stay in bed for the rest of the day.

Neverthless, despite the bad night, there was plenty of time somewhere or other to go off on a few perambulations. I started off at a girls’ boarding school, something that would have been a wonderful opportunity 50 years ago, and there was something going on in Shavington in respect of the girls who attended. A little later on I was doing something at the school and had to make a report on the girls. One particular girl hadn’t made a very good start. She wasn’t really serious, rather light-headed, wouldn’t concentrate, rather silly. In the end I had to talk to her about it. I read out the report that I’d made on her. I asked her if she was happy about me sending off this report with the consequences that would lead from it. It was possible that the school wouldn’t keep her on. She would have to go back to a State school or was she going to show me how hard she worked and knuckle down to earn a better report based on the trust that I was going to place in her to do it? Interestingly, when I was reading out these reports to the girls concerned it was done in public, not in private. That was strange.

Later on I was back at school again. There was something happening this time about the headmaster. It involved climbing up the stairs all the way to the top. There were 32 floors up which you had to climb by stairs and then probably another 100 or so stairs that led to a pinnacle. I’d climbed up there once but didn’t really want to ever have to do it again. Something happened that led to these girls starting to climb up the stairs. This led to a race. Some of the older boys were racing up the stairs trying to go past me. I was trying to do everything that I could to prevent them going past and at the same time catching up with these girls. We reached the top on the 32nd floor where there was a huge marble block which everyone thought was the headmaster’s tomb, I suppose. Someone said that they’d moved this from the gym, but no, the one in the gym was smaller etc. Then it came to climbing up these 100 stairs right to the very top of the pinnacle-thing. I didn’t feel at all like doing it for one reason or another, almost as if I was scared of heights but I was here and there was only that much to do. Surely I wasn’t going to let this thing fall to the ground for the sake of just 100 steps whether I was having this fear of heights or not.

But then I’m not sure what this next one was all about but it was something to do with animals. I used to give all the animals free meals for some reason or other that I don’t know now.

Everything then descended into complete and utter chaos. I had to go round to this family, a strange family. All kinds of stuff was going on there. Basically the kids were out of control and up to all kinds of mischief creating all kinds of problems for visitors including me. When their parents came home they were absolutely furious and gave a whole list of tasks that the kids to do in order to tidy up the mess that they had made while their parents were out. A lot of that included my stuff that they had somehow managed to mess up. The thing that disappointed me most though was that I’d said a few things that hadn’t happened, simply to underline the issues and they were ordered immediately to deal with those things. How they were going to do that I really didn’t know. They’d had my car in a real dirty state. It turned out that the parents had only ordered them to clean the driver’s window and the front windscreen. I made a silly remark that “that’s a shame because I was hoping to have my car valeted here today” which didn’t go down well. It was the wrong thing to say in the wrong circumstances.

Finally, we’d been to a hotel in Canada somewhere. My cousin from Ottawa was there, a third person and I, but I can’t remember who. My cousin had been asking all kinds of strange questions that I didn’t quite understand. Then we had to go home as my cousin had something urgent to do. We set off to walk and it was raining. The subject of diplomas came up. I told her that if ever I had my life to live over again I’d be a plumber or an electrician etc because of all the difficulties that people were having, having things done like that. You’ll always find work if you’re a plumber or an electrician. You’ll never really want for anything.

After I’d had the medication and checked my mails and messages the first thing that I did was to send off the third instalment of my payment for the apartment downstairs. This stupid system of having miserable daily limits is an awful lot of effort but that’s what comes with having to bank with a bank that has in my opinion on several occasions sunk into the deepest depths of incompetency.

But at least it’s a way of transferring the money and I have the receipts to prove it. I have to grin and bear it. There are other ways to transfer the money as I have found out,, but the delay in creating accounts, sending off documentation and all of that would mean that I would run an awful risk of being too late with the payments and I don’t want that to happen under any circumstances. I’m determined to complete this purchase as quickly as possible.

For the rest of the day i’ve been chatting on the internet to a neighbour and writing out the notes for the next series of radio programmes. Not that i’ve put a great deal of effort into that, drifting in and out from other things of not very much importance. There aren’t too many notes to finish now so I’ll do them tomorrow and then dictate them. Try to get ahead of where I’m supposed to be.

At LIDL this afternoon I had a very interesting chat about genetics with some woman on the car park. It’s quite rare to find someone interesting these days, especially on the car park at LIDL.

In the shop itself I bought what I need for the next week and then headed for home. I bumped into my cleaner on the car park here and she helped me carry my stuff upstairs. It saves me a couple of journeys anyway.

But in the town, it’s already heaving with people. The funfair is up and running and there are caravanettes just about everywhere. Almost all of the temporary camping pitches are taken already. I suppose that after several years of absence, people are determined to make up for lost time at Carnaval.

Rumour on the grapevine is that they are expecting 100,000 people here for the next few days and in a town of 13,000 people that’s an awful lot.

Tea tonight was veggie balls and chips with a delicious salad. My air fryer is working wonders with the chips and veggie balls and I’m glad that I bought it. But I really ought to try to do more with it. Baking the bread the other day seemed to do some good and I’ll have another go at that.

Tomorrow there’s football on the internet. A bottom-of-the-table clash between Pontypridd United and Aberystwyth Town. It’s a real 6-pointer with the winners clawing themselves out of the relegation places.

Airbus UK Broughton are already down, I suppose, hopelessly adrift at the foot of the table and on target for the lowest points total ever recorded in the Welsh Premier League but there’s all to play for in the other relegation place as three or four clubs fight to avoid the drop. I reckon that Y Fflint and Caernarfon have too much in the tank to be sucked in but the others will have to slug it out.

So in between that I’ll deal with the radio notes and a few other bits and pieces so that I really can have a day off on Sunday and not do very much. There isn’t even any baking that needs doing. Perhaps I might go out for a walk but I don’t want to be swept away by the hordes of Carnavalers while I’m trying to balance on my crutches.

That won’t be very pleasant.

Thursday 16th February 2023 – THE PHYSIOTHERAPIST …

… came round much earlier than planned, and much earlier than I expected. In fact, when he entered the apartment I was actually crashed out on the chair in here and it took me a good few minutes to gather my wits.

What might have been the cause of that was that I’d had another bad night – and to such an extent that when the alarm went off, for the first time for several weeks I had a great deal of difficulty in hauling myself out of bed. Although I did manage to haul myself out of bed before the second alarm went off, it was rather touch-and-go.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages, I had a good chat with Liz. It’s been a good few days since we’ve had a decent chat and a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.

Plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night, which might explain how I was feeling in the morning. I started off last night back in Crewe driving taxis. I had to work out some song lyrics for the people who had bought our house in Davenport Avenue and were running a taxi business from there. I did it and I must have gone round there 4 or 5 times until I finally found a woman who was in. She had a baby in a pushchair and was pushing it down the drive on the way out. I gave her the lyrics. As I was leaving she said that she didn’t fancy being in our shoes because she’d seen the insurance renewals for our 2 vehicles which worked out at about £2000 each. I asked her how much insurance she paid on her taxi but she didn’t seem very willing to tell me the answer. I began to suspect that maybe she didn’t have insurance and it was all window-dressing on their behalf.

And then I was at one of the cross-Channel ferry ports. I’d just arrived by train to take a boat across the Channel but I was so mesmerised by how beautiful the railway station and surroundings were that I had a walk around. And then I had to run like hell to reach the ferry terminal in time to catch my ‘plane – or do I mean “boat”? – or else I’d miss it and the next one wasn’t going to be for several hours yet

Later on I was back in this dream about ferries, Someone suddenly awoke and found someone standing by their bed staring at them. It took a few minutes to persuade them to go back to their own bed and go to sleep. But as a result this person overslept and was late for his ferry so he had to prepare everything and run for his ferry terminal in quite a rush in the hope that he’d still be on time to catch the ferry that he intended to catch.

Finally I was with Zero’s father again last night. We were wandering around a field and ended up climbing on top of a brick bunker that was there. Before that I was round at his house folding up some bedding to put in a drawer. Someone came in and asked if he was there. I said that they had better check with his good lady, meaning his wife of course. He went into the kitchen and sure enough he was there. They had a chat and the 3 of us went out into this field. He and I were standing on this bunker when he suddenly got off. First of all a 2-stroke Citroen Ami pulled up inside this field. It was on bogies rather than on wheels, like some Bo-Bo bogies. This field was actually part of an old railway marshalling sidings at the bottom of Ash Bank in Hanley, all abandoned and overgrown. That drove around for a while and then drove off. Another car came in, like an old Opel Ascona. It was somehow very high off the ground and making an awful noise like one of these boy racer things. When I came to get off the top of the bunker I found that the bunker had risen by several feet and I couldn’t jump off. I had to scramble around. In the end I found a wall that I could scramble down onto the ground. The climb back up to the field was steep. I couldn’t really climb up there without falling. Of course this made the other guy laugh to which I basically replied something like “it serves you all right for not waiting for me”.

But here we are again and no Zero to be found anywhere. How disappointing is that?

Much of the day has been spent in a desultory fashion doing the pairing of the music for the second of the radio programmes and then making a start on writing out the notes for them. I’ve not gone very far with that but then again I wasn’t really in so much of a rush.

There was a major interruption when one of my neighbours rang my bell because she had locked herself out of the building. We ended up having a lengthy chat in the corridor because I haven’t seen her for ages and I wanted to find out who it was who installed her shower because if I can’t find a casual tradesman to do install a shower in my new place I shall have to engage a company to do the work.

There were other things too that I have done but apart from transferring over the second instalment of the money that I need to transfer over (and this is going to be a lengthy and complicated business that will take a couple of weeks).

The physiotherapist put me though my paces and showed me a couple more exercises that I need to follow. I don’t know how I’m going to find the time to do them all at the rate that he wants me to do them.

It was a good job that I’d had a shower earlier than usual otherwise I would have been rather embarrassed (even more than I was by being asleep) by his early arrival. However, while we’re on the subject of showers … “well, one of us is” – ed … getting into the bath for my shower is certainly much easier these days than it was a couple of months ago when I returned from the hospital and couldn’t hardly walk anywhere at all. I really don’t know how I made it home from Leuven. That was horrible.

Tea, on the other hand, was quite nice. A simple vegan burger with pasta and veg cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. It doesn’t do any harm to have something uncomplicated every now and again, especially as I have a fridge full of vegan burgers. At one time LIDL had a run of cheap vegan burgers and I stocked up because like most LIDL special ranges, they go out of fashion and out of stock quite quickly.

Tomorrow I’m going to take Caliburn to LIDL and do some shopping. With Carnaval getting underway at the weekend, the town is going to be jam-packed with people and moving around will be impossible for a week or so, so I want to make sure that I have everything that I need so that I don’t need to go out anywhere.

Fighting my way on my crutches through the crowds is not going to be very pleasant

Friday 10th February 2023 – WHAT A WONDERFUL …

… tea that was tonight. Burger on a bap with salad and a pile of chips cooked to perfection in the air fryer. I’m really pleased with my air fryer, that’s for sure, and I ought to explore a few more of its capabilities if it’s going to cook stuff as well as it did my chips and, when I added it to the pot, my burger.

And the salad was delicious too. That’s an excellent plan and makes my meals much more exciting.

But I wasn’t very pleased though with last night. I went to bed at a reasonable time but didn’t go off to sleep for ages. I’ve no idea how long I spent tossing and turning because I was afraid to tempt fate by looking. But it seemed like an age.

There was plenty of time though nevertheless to go off on my travels. And I clocked up some distance too. A former friend of mine had bought a Hillman Hunter and wanted it delivering to his house so I said that I would go to do it. I went into Stoke on Trent to find this car and started to push it towards his house. It was comparatively easy to do that, much easier than I thought it would be, especially up the hill. I had to push it on the kerb, the pavement, not on the road which was fine in some places but in others the grass was extremely long. There was that much dirt on the pavement that at some times I had to dig out the pavement and the side of the road so I could keep on pushing the car up the hill. This went on for ages and ages. It was dark and going into the small hours of the following morning. There were one or two people around, someone in an old MkI Cortina with no headlights driving down the hill practising his rallying. Eventually I got to where he was living, in a motel. Pushing the car down the corridor became quite easy. There was a girl there whom at first I thought was Zero but it wasn’t – she was a couple of years older than her. I said “hello” to her anyway. Just as I reached his front door which was of course where I might have expected to find Zero, I suddenly awoke bolt-upright.

And then we were living next door to him. We had an electric car. The gap between our houses was fitted up with a charging cable. It was a split charging cable with different wires coming out of it so if you had a car there to charge up you had to connect up these 8 wires separately. We were out there and a young schoolgirl went past, I don’t know why. Back inside we could hear him and his wife arguing about something or other. I thought “here I am, wide awake in various places and this is another occasion where I’m close to getting to see Zero again but I haven’t actually seen her”. It’s strange that I thought that in my dream because there have been a few times (including a little earlier this evening) where I’ve been on the point of meeting her in a dream and I’ve awoken suddenly. My subconscious is clearly trying to tell me something, and I wish that I knew what it was.

Did I dictate the story about the car rally that we organised? … “No you didn’t” – ed. Once everyone from the office had taken off, we headed off back home to pick up a few things. We encountered a couple of cars on the way back just as we were pulling into our drive. They were looking for something or other in the vicinity. We had a chat with them and gave them a little clue about one of the clues which was going to be difficult if they didn’t stop and think clearly. The guy who always seemed to run the office seemed to be the bossy type even went to the police station to try to persuade them to let him speak to a prisoner in there who had been involved in a car accident earlier that day. He was of the opinion that the clue involving this ironing board was something to do with him and his accident.

Finally, we’d gone skiing to this mountain. When we reached the top, instead of skiing down there was like an escalator covered in snow that took you back down to the bottom of the hill again. Although I was not able physically to ski, I was still bewildered by everyone else going down the hill on this escalator and not actually skiing down. There was someone in a wheelchair whom I thought was brave to reach the top of the mountain anyway and come back down again but I still couldn’t understand why there would be this escalator when all you had to do was to ski down to the bottom. And it’s interesting to see that my mobility issues are now featuring in my nocturnal rambles.

Much of the day has been spent in some kind of desultory fashion writing the notes for my next couple of radio shows. I’ve not been in much of a rush to do it and there have been plenty of distractions along the way. Consequently there are still some to write out before I can dictate them.

But I’ve been having a little think about my radio programmes and how I can change them to make them better (or, at any rate, different) and I have a cunning plan about that on which I’m working in my spare time, whenever that might be.

This afternoon I went into town on the bus. I had some medication to collect from the pharmacy and then there was a little bit of shopping to pick up.

Not all of the medication was there so they had to order it for me and I have to go to pick it up tomorrow. That should be interesting with a bus strike so I’ve been thinking that I might actually try to walk down there on my crutches and hope that one of the few buses running tomorrow might bring me back.

It should be an interesting trip, especially if there are no buses back, and one thing is for sure, and that is that I won’t be trying it with just one crutch. I’ll persevere with two for now and see how I feel after a few more weeks.

What made me think about it was that I actually managed to stride out something like rapidly (or what passes for “rapidly” these days) and I covered a lot of ground at a reasonable turn of speed. I need to keep on pushing myself forward.

When I came back I bumped into yet another neighbour and we had yet another chat. I seem to be quite popular for the moment and I don’t know why.

After my delicious tea I came back in here and promptly fell asleep for half an hour. All of this walking is wearing me out and I imagine that if I do go into town tomorrow on foot, I’ll live to regret that as well.

And so I’d better go and try to have a decent sleep. I certainly need it. And who knows? I might even finally get to meet Zero.

Thursday 9th February 2023 – CALIBURN IS BACK AGAIN …

… and with a Controle Technique certificate too, which has cheered me up. And seeing as he now seems to start properly whenever I want him to start, it looks as if I’m back on the road again.

Mind you, climbing into the cab is a real issue If I’m at street level when I need to climb in, it’s extremely difficult. I need to find a kerb against which I can park so that I can climb in easier and at LeClerc the kerbs are quite high and it’s a struggle to climb up that high.

One thing that I do have to remember is to exit with my left leg first. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when I tried to exit Caliburn the other day “right leg first”, the leg collapsed underneath me and decanted me onto the floor.

But there’s a strange phenomenon going on with my legs right now. For the last couple of weeks I noticed that when I awaken in the morning parts of my legs and feet are quite numb. I wonder if it’s because I’ve been lying on a trapped nerve.

And so it was this morning. And apart from that it was another night of going to bed early, falling asleep early and then waking up and tossing and turning for a while. I was actually awake before the alarm went off at 07:30 and had I exerted myself I could have left the bed. But that was too much to hope for.

But when I did leave the bed,, I had my medication and then checked my mails and messages before wandering off for a shower. And climbing into the bath for my shower was the easiest that it’s been since I came back. This physiotherapy seems to be working.

Although the Controle Technique was arranged for 11:45 I went out quite a bit earlier than that. With not going far these days I was worried about how Caliburn would get on with the pollution test so I took him for a good run – several laps around the dual-carriageway by-pass to get him nice and hot

Anyway, he sailed through with no issues.

Armed with a valid certificate I went to fuel up and then for a good shop at LeClerc. There wasn’t a great deal that I needed but nevertheless I still ran up quite a bill. I’d bought plenty of frozen veg and some more carrots so after I’d brought up most things from Caliburn and had some food and coffee I peeled, blanched and froze 1.5 kilos of carrots. That will keep me going for a while now.

After all of that I fell asleep and was awoken by the physiotherapist who came round earlier than usual. He had me walking around the apartment with just one crutch and wants me to practice that for the next few days until our session on Tuesday next week. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

It’s been a day of interaction too. Apart from having lengthy chats with customers at the garage, I met a neighbour as I arrived home and she kept me chatting at the door for a while. And then another neighbour had a good talk with me as well. If that wasn’t enough, the people with whom I’ve been trying to arrange this money transfer rang up to tell me that they now have everything that they need. And that’s good news.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night and that needed transcribing. I was with 2 girls last night. They had some kind of cupboard and were hanging up something in front of it like a system of chains etc to make it look attractive. It was obviously a project that was doomed because they couldn’t make anything hang horizontally. The wire that they were using wasn’t strong enough. Instead of pulling on the metal tubes that were supporting it, the tubes were pulling the wire and going all out of shape. Nothing was in the vertical. They were having to do all kinds of tricks to try to make these wires go vertically but the more tricks they did on it the worse it became. I had a feeling that this was going to be a project that was doomed to fail from the start. Sooner or later they would realise it but I gave them a hand just the same.

There was also something of which I had a vague recollection was taking place in a Prisoner of War camp where there was some kind of committee that was set up to investigate infractions against the prisoners who broke the camp rules or to investigate possible escape attempts etc. This committee wasn’t very successful. There was a feeling going round that the Germans had infiltrated a couple of people into the camp to serve on the committee and sabotage the work of the prisoners while they were there but I can’t remember very much at all about this.

And then there was me, a young girl and a rather large woman trying to lift an enormous suitcase into the back of an estate car. The young girl was at the front trying to do the lifting and we were at the back trying to push. It was very difficult to make it fit so I suggested that seeing as it was the other lady’s possessions she shoudl go to the front because she would be much better able to lift it. She could decide how in, what articles could be squashed and what couldn’t. For some reason the girl was reluctant to relinquish her position at the front of this line even though she was having an extreme amount of difficulty actually doing anything there.

Tea tonight was a vegan burger with pasta and veg in tomato sauce. Nothing particularly exciting but I am allowed to have a boring meal here and there every now and again.

Having fallen asleep already this evening I finished off typing out my notes for the day and now I’m off to bed. I have to go into town tomorrow on the bus and pick up some medication and my fresh mushrooms and peppers. I didn’t want to buy them today because the later I leave it, the longer they will keep.

But despite what the physiotherapist says, I’m not going down there with just one crutch. I’ll keep on using both when I’m out and about until I’m confident about it all. It’s not going to be something that will happen overnight.