Tag Archives: odile

Sunday 19th May 2024 – WHAT AN EMBARRASSMENT

this evening I’ve been out and about – and how I wish that I hadn’t. It did not go well.

Actually it all began to go wrong the previous evening. Despite the promise of an extra hour in bed until 08:00, it was actually long after midnight before I finally hit the hay, what with one thing and another. And once you start, you’ll be surprised at how many other things there are.

It was another turbulent night when I don’t think that I may have had much sleep, and I was certainly in no mood to deal with the alarm that rang.

Anyway I staggered off into the bathroom having switched off the alarm, done what I’d needed to do and washed the floor (which was much more complicated than it ought to have been) I was interrupted mid-deshabillé by the early arrival of the nurse. So he had to wait for me to finish.

Once I was ready he did the necessary and departed, leaving me to prepare breakfast.

There was a ‘phone call shortly afterwards. It’s a neighbour’s birthday, the neighbour who was so helpful in putting me on the trail of the apartment downstairs. It’s a “special” birthday and she was having a big party in one of the public rooms here.

She wanted me to be there, which was nice, and se she’d asked another couple of neighbours to help me. They rang me up to confirm the arrangements.

At some point in between one or two of the constant waves of sleep that were overwhelming me I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was a teacher at school last night talking to a couple of guys. As a result I was late to go to my class one morning. On another morning a similar situation occurred but on a third moment I was just late. I ran into a young teacher who was trying to make an impression who was also late coming into school. I told him to simply say that he had been to see these two other guys who had kept him longer than they should but he couldn’t understand it. He kept on being confused about how he should say and what he should say. When I mentioned a sum of money which was why I was late – I had to go to pay a bill somewhere he asked “yes, do I have to pay these guys a sum of money?” and he started to really confuse himself. In the end I wished that I hadn’t said anything and that he’s just gone in and treated his absence as though without any problem whatever. This was going to end up far too complicated for him to understand which is a total surprise. It was all pretty straightforward to me what he needed to do. The other two guys involved – they were quite happy to play ball with any suggestion whatsoever

That makes a change, doesn’t it? People playing ball and willing to fall in with my ideas.

And then I vaguely heard the alarm go off at 08:00 and then vaguely heard the doorbell – when he came I was still flat-out asleep in the bedroom. He had to come and hunt me down and do all the things that … fell asleep here …

Of course, that was the phantom alarm sounding and it wasn’t the nurse to come in to awaken me either. There are some strange things going on in this building.

When the alarm went off I was busy teaching someone some French. We were at a strange kind of house party last night with lots of excitement going on. Down in the garage outside was a builder mixing cement who had developed a way of doing it automatically. He showed me round and showed me how it worked. It looked quite an interesting way of doing things – you could certainly mix a lot of cement quite quickly in this way. He was the one asking me the French for all kinds of different phrases as we were going along

There are so many things like this in my dreams that if I could remember them correctly and patent them, I’d make a fortune

While I was asleep at lunchtime there was something about two girls being here. It might even have been Percy Penguin and someone else. I’d made a big plate of salad and given them a side plate each so that they could help themselves to some, but one of the girls complained that the side plates just weren’t big enough and they wanted dinner plates.

At the rate that I’m breaking crockery here, they should think themselves lucky that they were offered side plates. It was probably all that I had.

So continuing on with my struggle after a rather late lunch I chose all of the remaining music for the next radio programme and paired it off. For some reason that took a lot longer than it ought to have done.

And so did putting on my shoes. I had to take off my puttees of course but the subsequent battle with my shoes took almost 45 minutes and was the most depressing moment of my life – so far

When my two neighbours called and helped me downstairs, you’ve no idea how depressed I was. It was clear that my health has deteriorated badly since the last time that I went out because it was such a struggle. I was beginning to think that it was the wrong decision to come out because I’ll never get back up the stairs again.

As I hadn’t been out for ages they took me on a guided tour of the town to see the sights, which was very nice of them. It’s ages since I’ve had a good look around.

At the party I fell in with a very nice group of guys and gals and eventually a chair with arms was produced so that I could sit down outside, enjoy the sun, talk music and eat a big plate of crudités

Eventually we had to go inside for a main meal, and this is where the fun began – I couldn’t get out of the chair, no matter how many people tried to help me.

Four guys had to carry the chair – and me, like some Roman emperor, I suppose – inside the hall and drop me at a table. Surprisingly there was nothing arranged for me to eat. someone eventually produced a plate of green beans followed by a plate of cherries.

We were there until about midnight and then we had the same trouble. It was impossible for me to leave the chair.

In the end they carried my and the chair to the car and bundled me inside, and that was not without mishap. I fell over a couple of times trying to go from the chair to the car.

At the other end, outside here, they helped me from the car, put me in the chair as I still couldn’t stand up, and they carried the chair and me up the stairs and tipped me out on the bed.

What an ignominious, humiliating way to spend an evening. I should really never have gone out but it’s as well to find out my shortcomings while there were plenty of people to help. Heaven alone knows what it will be like when I have to go to Paris.

But at least my experience wasn’t as humiliating as for someone else there. A rather large lady, who took up a lot of space, appeared at the party and wanted to sit down
"Three chairs for this lady, please?" asked our host
"Hip! Hip! Hooray!" roared the crowd.

Sunday 12th May 2024 – I’LL BE GLAD …

… when today ends and I can crawl off into the warmth and comfort of my nice little bed.

It’s been a horrible day so far. Just now I couldn’t even find the strength to rise up from my comfy chair to go to take my pizza from the oven. Just how bad is that?

And to think that I was so looking forward to it too. Being for once early in bed I was looking forward to a nice long uninterrupted sleep last night.

But that didn’t happen either. We had two false or phantom alarms during the night and as I said the other day, I’ve no idea what’s happening there.

The second time, after having almost persuaded myself that it was time to leave the bed, was at 06:20. And then I couldn’t go back to sleep. I lay there vegetating until 08:00.

When I did finally stir my stumps as the alarm rang out, I headed for the bathroom where I had a really good wash and a change of clothes. The previous set of clothing walked into the wash basket on its own

The nurse came round later than usual. She sorted out my dressing and puttees but she couldn’t hang around and was soon gone. I had some corn flakes and coffee and then came back in here.

It’s not as if I did much either. I was flat out on my chair for a couple of hours completely involuntarily, and the hallucinations that I had were just like that time in hospital a few months ago.

Once I came back into the Land of the Living I watched Stranraer grub out a 2-2 draw against East Kilbride in the promotion – relegation play-off. It’s a good job that the second leg is in Stranraer because I think that they’ll need rather more than home advantage.

After lunch I transcribed the dictaphone notes, of which there were more than just a few. I was at a football match but a match where every player had to lie on a bed and perform some kind of ritual movement and then would be joining the team but the team was not so good in the goals and there were certain rhythms and routines that the players had to follow based on different lines in a series of books. every now and again someone would reposition these things so you’d change direction and go off again. I was busy trying to kill someone off the game. This was an extremely complicated manoeuvre too because I had to follow certain rules and they were complicated too in doing different things. In the meantime of course the person was trying to kill me. Then we were going to have a small game and I was going to take part in the main game so I was being briefed ready to take my position at the next interchange of players. It was all about playing up and down these steps as they changed function . It looked extremely complicated and on many times I had to confirm it with my notes that I’d taken a while ago which were still with the person with whom I was originally paired. Eventually they told me to stop that and just follow these instructions which completely confused me because I can’t remember all kinds of things like that that they wanted me to do. Then there were all kinds of different rules, regulations and other things. Then there was this guy trying to kill me from this subsidiary game. It was just so complicated.

And isn’t “I can’t remember all kinds of things” the story of my life? I can remember the lyrics of all kinds of obscure rock songs of the 196s but ask me why I’ve just come into the kitchen.

Then I was back in that game again. One of the guys who had started off the game was very seriously hurt, I suppose, and lost all the power in his spear or javelin or something so we were going to have to find someone else who would take over the position and maybe play from there. There was lots more to it too but I’ve forgotten all of that now.

Didn’t I say so? And it’s not my spear or javelin in which I’ve lost power these days

Then yet again I was back in this dream fighting a war. I went to sit down but missed my aim and fell onto the floor but I wasn’t on the floor so I thought that maybe I’d managed to sit up and extricate myself without a great deal of difficulty. Then I suddenly realised that I was actually lying on the bed. That’s not complicated at all to stand up from so I might be able to be lucky and get back into the game quite quickly.

Another phantom alarm tonight at 03:05

The voting formula has changed. It’s where people who were franchised members of a particular party all still voted and their vote was taken into account somehow but now they’ve decided that this can rise up to a million as more and more people stay at home with OCVID rampant. In 2017 the chief of the college came in with a car equipped with its winter tyres. There were already three cars there having their summer tyres fitted but as usual he fought his way to the front of the queue and tried to break in there to be dealt with earlier. The woman at that position was not having any of it despite how much of a period of voting she’s going to learn to lose because of the confrontation

And if you are wondering why my dreams don’t make sense, they are dreams. They don’t have to. In fact you’ll be lucky if anything that I write does.

Did I mention another false alarm at about 06:20 this morning?… "yes you did" – ed

In between all of this I’d taken some pizza dough from the freezer and it had been defrosting. I rolled it out ready to assemble but I was interrupted. One of my neighbours came to see me for a chat which was nice of her

And so, running late yet again, I assembled my pizza and baked it. It was delicious as usual.

So now, at long last, I’m ready for bed, if I can get out of my chair.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, despite how it might seem. The good news is that the new Crewe Bus Station has opened – something that I should have reported a couple of days ago except that my “moles on various committees” have not been getting about as aften as they should and they’ll receive a kick in the nether regions in due course.

The even better news is that the new bus station has public toilets. That means that in due course all the residents of The Land That Time Forgot will have the same opportunity that I did of passing Biology ‘O’ level thanks to the helpful drawings that will doubtless appear on the walls before long.

They had guided tours of the public conveniences on the open day. It cost 2/6d for a visit – or 2/7d if you wanted to see all of it.

But going back to this story about not remembering anything. Two things happen to you when you reach my age. One is that you forget absolutely everything.
"And what’s the second thing?" – ed
I don’t know. I can’t remember.

Thursday 18th April 2024 – APPARENTLY I MIGHT …

… be able to go home tomorrow, so they say.

But simply to pack my bags ready to go to my next hospital.

Apparently I’m being passed from hospital to hospital quicker than in a game of “pass the parcel” in a bar in West Belfast

Mind you, I can’t say that I’m sorry, for I might be able to have a little peace.

Not that I’m complaining about the service. Not at all. In fact, quite the reverse. There’s far too much of it. So much so that it’s overwhelming the other services that follow on.

This morning I was awoken at, would you believe, 05:00 because they wanted to check my blood sugar. At 05:00!!
So "help! Your blood sugar is too low. Drink this orange juice! Eat this jam!"
"Eat this jam? Eat it neat? What do I eat it with?"
A couple of minutes later "Here’s a ‘madeleine’ to eat with your jam"
"You’re quick enough to spot that I’m at risk of diabetes. And at 05:00 too! But not quick enough to spot that on the same page just 2 lines down it says that I’m a vegan."
Eventually we agree on some biscottes

And then at breakfast "Where’s the jam for my bread?"
"It says here on your notes that you’re diabetic. You aren’t allowed it"

While I’m actually eating (with my jam that I have now negotiated) –
Person n°1 comes with my medication
Person n°2 comes to change the plaster on my foot
Person n°3 comes to inject me in the hip
Person n°4 comes to remind me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom
Person n°5 comes to take my blood pressure and temperature

Eventually everyone clears off for a couple of hours and leaves me at peace with just the usual interruptions

And then round about 11:00 the doctor comes to see me. And while she’s soothing my fevered brow (and believe me, she can soothe my fevered brow any time she likes) –
Person n°1 comes to make the bed
Person n°2 comes to give me a clean nightshirt
Person n°3 comes to talk to the doctor
Person n°4 comes to tell me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom
Person n°5 comes to take my blood pressure and temperature

"Blood pressure’s rather high today" said the doctor, looking at the figures
"Surely not" I said. "Perish the thought!"

Eventually everyone drift away and leaves me in relative peace

But then I do need the bathroom and so I set off. And it’s odds-on, and you would have bet your money on it, that as soon as I’m in the bathroom the blasted phone rings

So I make it back to the phone just in time (which surely must be a ‘first’) and while I’m listening to radio business with the phone at one ear there’s the nurse in the other ear reminding me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom.

And so it’s gone on (and on, and on) all day. But at least I saw two friendly faces today. A couple of my neighbours, my devoted cleaner and the President of the Residents’ Committee, came to say “hello” and to bring me my emergency backpack, including the travelling laptop, and so I’m saved. The solidarity in my building is impressive.

After they leave, Doctor n°2 comes to see me. She’s from the Nephrology Department. Apparently she’s spoken to Paris and they’ve decided that as Nephrology is where my current problems lie and as there is no-one special at Paris handling my case from that point of view they can do it here so she’ll be taking over.

What I reckon is that she just wants to get her teeth into my kidneys – preferably wrapped up with mushrooms in a puff pastry.

Then Doctor n°1 came to tell me what Doctor n°2 had said so I told her that I was sorry.

She asked why so I told her that it was because I wouldn’t see her again – and she blushed!

And so it’ s gone on. It’s now 21:00 and I’m still being injected and I really ought to be running a sweep about how many more times tonight a nurse going to come round to tell me to tell her when I’ve been to the bathroom.

But as I said, I’m not in the least complaining. Had I been in the UK I’d have had to wait 18 months for an appointment to go to the bathroom. I’d have been pushing up the daisies a long time before this

As for my part, I’m like Mona Lott on ITMA and "it’s being so cheerful as keeps me going"

There’s some stuff on the dictaphone that needs transcribing too. I was doing something with a group of people, one of whom was a young girl whom I quite happened to like. It involved changing my clothes and I had to carry them across the room to the sink. I just about dropped them but managed to catch them just at the point where I awoke. It was, I think, the shock of dropping the clothes that made me awaken. I thought that I had a really good reflex action of catching them while I was half-asleep and there weren’t any real clothes there anyway.

It’s not bad, is it? Being able to catch non-existent clothing with a lightning reflex action when I’m asleep. Not for nothing did I keep wicket for one of the local cricket teams when I was younger.

And then I had to think of some good adverts for a bus company so we took it in turns to sing a rhyme of doggerel. One girl who was very much like Whats’ername who used to appear quite a lot on “Just A Minute” … "Sheila Hancock" – ed … sang a rhyme basically to say that she knew nothing at all. The boss who drifted onto the scene in the middle of a snowstorm in an old double-decker bus came along and told me as I was watching “that’s the way, Eric. Baffle them with nonsense”. Of course he couldn’t see where he was going because of the snow and ended up driving over the pavement and falling over the pavement head-first with his bus and ended up on the grass sticking upright. He was delighted because there was a part that had been damaged previously and they’d fitted a replacement panel. You could see a perfect reproduction of the panel in the snow even down to the makers’ name and date. He thought that if we could cast on that we could make some brilliant replacement panels ourselves of the one that he’d damaged ages ago and just had replaced. I thought that it was a strange idea but most good ideas like this always start off being strange.

It seems that I have several hidden talents, so well-hidden that I can’t find them anywhere during the day. Planning battles and military campaigns, catching non-existent clothing and running advertising campaigns during my sleep.

This isn’t the first advertising campaign that I’ve run in my sleep either. It’s a shame that no-one is actually paying me for the services that I’m providing during the night. I could afford to retire on the proceeds if this kind of thing carries on.

While I was asleep in the afternoon a new girl had started work in the office. There wasn’t really very much that we could do except to send out the new instructions for the new year. As nothing had been printed yet etc it was a case of having to do everything manually so I was running around looking for a 500-roll of stickers. She told me that they were in someone’s second drawer down. The girl herself was saying that “well no-one has recalculated anything so we’re going to have to do all that by hand too” which I thought was amazing considering that she’d only just started. We were trying very quickly to collect everything together so that at least we could have something that needed to be done and could set things under way so that at least she would feel that she was doing something on her start at the office.

That’s not everything that there was but you don’t really want to know the rest.

So this is all that I’m going to do for now. There are tons of arrears still to do but I need to be in the mood for it

But talking of blushing just now … "well, one of us is" – ed … this morning the little student nurse came to help me change my nightshirt and as she lifted the old one over my head she said, jokingly "ohh la la! Striptease!"
So I whispered in her ear "to tell a little secret, you aren’t the first female to undress me" – and she blushed too!

All of the foregoing is probably why I’m leaving tomorrow. I think that I’m actually being expelled, not discharged.

Saturday 17th February 2024 – I DON’T THINK …

… that i’ll be sleeping too much tonight, given the amount of sleeping that I have done today.

There have been at least two occasions when I’ve been stark out of it today. I really don’t know what’s the matter with me these days.

It’s not as if I was in bed all that late last night. Later than some, it’s true but not so late as to work about it. And then I had a relatively peaceful night.

The alarm went off at 06:40 and I thought “that can’t be right”. I must have dreamed the alarm yet again. Not that I could go back to sleep even though I was in the middle of an interesting dream. Instead I just lay there half-awake, half asleep until 07:00.

And how I didn’t want to leave the bed at that moment but nevertheless I forced myself out of bed and took the blood pressure. Last night was 17.8/10.3 but this morning’s was 16.0/9.6. I suppose that that’s a slight improvement over how it has been. It’ll be interesting to see what it’ll be like in a few weeks.

Next stop was the medication. And I had to sort out some of the stuff that the cleaner had brought for me. There’s tons of it and I feel so sorry for the cleaner who has to haul it all back for me.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There were three of us, two guys and a girl called Deakin or Deacon. We’d somehow gone behind enemy lines and infiltrated into this person’s body. We’d eventually been caught but had managed to make our escape and pass down the bloodstream of thi person and eventually find our way out through the eyes. But then we had to go back in to look for this Deakin girl because we couldn’t find her anywhere. We eventually came across her and managed to bring her back to the area behind the eyes but had to wait for the correct moment to try to come through onto the other side but there was some kind of machine gun battle going on on the outside of this human being so we had to wait for the best moment there too

There was something about two girls who had been appointed to become Prime Minister and lead the country. This had happened after the present Prime Minister had resigned. These girls tried to do a couple of things but it didn’t work so in the end they resigned. It meant a whole overhaul of Government and Civil Service and almost everything had to be undergone before these girls would take power again. This brought a whole raft of changes everywhere that many people found difficult to understand

Later on, whoever was Prime Minister of the UK had been making a big mess of things for a while and had resigned. Someone else had taken over and things were not going too well at all. The Far Right organisations were slowly rebuilding. All of a sudden this guy abandoned power. There was a huge power vacuum as people tried to jostle to fill it. Government was being done by decree because there was no-one in the Palace of Westminster. The Far Right made a sudden surge so people started to move out of certain areas where the Far Right was likely to take control. This led to a mass exodus of population around the UK as people were going to different rural places. The future was looking really totally bleak. The only mainly civil, normal people had lost control and there were very few of them left standing for election at the end of all of this. It looked as if the UK was heading for total disaster

Choosing a couple of girls at random to run the country sounds like a much better way of doing it than the way they have gone about things in the UK and the USA over the last 8 years or so when you look at some of the people who have been chosen over that period by their peers. You have the feeling that what has happened in those countries over that period, and one day they are going to wake up and say “April Fools” and return to normality.

Back in PREVIOUS YEARS when Dennis says to King Arthur STRANGE WOMEN LYING IN PONDS, DISTRIBUTING SWORDS IS NO BASIS FOR A SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT, I wonder what he would have said after he had seen the election to power of Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Thick Lizzy?

The Far Right has certainly risen to the top these days in the UK, the USA and Russia and these countries are all the same. I’m hoping that we don’t end up with a Far-Right Government here.

If you ask me, I blame the left wing myself. As soon as a Government is elected they begin to attack it. It never proposes any other solution though but simply sows the seeds of discontentment. And then along comes the Far Right with a “solution” and job done

The Far Left doesn’t realise just how much it’s been infiltrated and being manipulated by the Far Right, but it’s been the case for over 100 years and they still can’t see it.

When the “alarm went off” there was also something about a female footballer who was putting up some outstanding performances, so much so that one or two people were wondering whether “she” was actually a “he”. The President of one Football Association called for an investigation and threatened that next time he encountered her, he would strip her to verify his beliefs. She then published a notice warning people that in any attempt to remove her clothing by anyone else, she would not be responsible for the violence that followed. The other girls too made similar declarations and they began to prepare for a confrontation. This started a similar movement among some members of the crowd too.

Not that I’m a big fan of women’s football, I’ve seen a few women players who would be quite at home in the Premier League. I hadn’t seen a women’s game for years and then I STUMBLED BY ACCIDENT ON A GIRL’S GAME at that High School in Burlington when I was in Vermont and was totally taken aback by how standards had improved.

And they’ve improved considerably since.

There were several radio notes that needed completing and so for the rest of the morning I completed tham. So that’s another one all ready to be dictated tonight. There’s quite a pile of them building up now, dictated but not edited and completed, but that will give me something to do, I suppose, during my week in hospital at the end of April.

And it’s a good job that I completed them this morning because I crashed out completely and definitively round about lunchtime. I’d done a few tidying up bits and pieces, put a few things away, had a really good wash and change of clothes, and that, dear reader, was that. I came in here, sat down and wad gone completely.

The football had already started when I awoke but it was on a recorded stream so it was just a case of going back to the start of the recording.

Y Bala of the Premier League against Mynydd Y Fflint in the North-West Ardal League, or 3rd Division North-West (even though Mynydd y Fflint is actually Halkin, on Deeside in North-East Wales.

The result of a match like this is pretty much a foregone conclusion, although Mynydd y Fflint have four players with Premier League experience, centre-back Aaron Simpson and three players who I would pick for any side in the Premier League today – keeper John Danby, winger Rob Hughes and striker Mike Hayes.

Rob Hughes is the mercurial type with that little touch of magic that can turn a game in an instant and he showed some beautiful touches today. But his problem always has been his self-control and managers have a hard time keeping him on the pitch for 90 minutes.

And so it proved today. I don’t know what he said to the referee after 60 minutes but it was worth a red card.

Not that it really mattered though. They were already 2-0 down and ended up conceding another later in the game. However, they did have their moments. They hit the woodwork once or twice and had another shot cleared off the line.

When the game was over I prepared a quick buffet of home-made hummus, some crackers, olives and pickles as my neighbour was coming round to see me.

As well as finding out how we were doing, she had a few suggestions that might help me and she told me something that she had learned about my apartment downstairs.

Once she left I came back in here and would you believe it, I crashed out again

However, I awoke in time for tea – baked potatoes with salad and breaded quorn fillets. I do love those and I hope that I can keep on getting them.

So now I’m going to loiter around until later at night when hopefully everyone has gone to bed and I can dictate my radio notes. And then add them to the pile that need editing. Frederick the Great once said "we are made for action, and activity is the sovereign remedy for all physical ills"

However he said that 200 or so years before I was born. I prefer the counsel of Matt Dillon’s girlfriend in “Gunsmoke” – "Sunday is the one day of the week a man can get up at noon and sit around with his boots off without anybody hollering at him about it"

That’s much more in my line of country.

Monday 29th January 2024 – WHAT A SHAME!

Yes, despite fighting off waves of sleep I managed to keep on going until about 17:30 when this anti-potassium stuff bit in and I was out like the proverbial light.

And I’ll tell you how deep the sleep was – that I had two people send me messages on my internet messenger service while I was asleep and despite the raucous racket that the alert makes, I didn’t hear a thing. I was absolutely and completely out of it, all the way to 19:28

But this stuff really is dangerous. I had no warning of going to sleep and not even any recollection of feeling ready to go to sleep, if that makes sense. It really was as if someone had switched off a light. Imagine if I’d been driving a car.

It was something of a surprise that I kept on going for as long as I did because I’d had yet another turbulent night

It was after midnight and I’d been letting it all hang out before I’d gone to bed. And then it was a night with quite a lot going on while I was asleep, as I found out when I went to transcribe the dictaphone notes later.

But when the alarm went off I fell out of bed and then took my blood pressure. 18.9/10.9 will give them something to think about at the hospital. My blood pressure figures are ridiculous though. Last night it was as high as 19.5/9.7.

But anyway I went to shovel down the medication , check the mails and messages and then back in here to check the dictaphone notes. And as I said, there was a lot to check. There was a dream about watching some kind of race with kids climbing up and down the steep side of a hill. We were all watching from the hedge or side of the fence as the kids were running up it. The person with me entered into a conversation with someone else who was watching there. I heard my name mentioned although they weren’t talking to me. I could see that she was explaining my situation to this person. Then a young girl came up. There was something about her pony tail so I had to take out the clip and put it back into her hair at a higher position. That seemed to bring out some comment from someone as well. For some unknown reason trains were mentioned. There were these single-coach multiple unit things, one of those, and attached to it was half of a two-coach unit so it was two coaches but you couldn’t walk between the two. There was something about that that was involved in the discussion too but it didn’t seem to make any sense or fit in anywhere.

Not that my dreams make any sense to start with of course.

There were then these two large creature-type things that were humanoid but basically just mouth and body. They were humanoid, coloured human and so on with human skin for what there was. They were in the corner talking about philosophy and the meaning of life etc when they suddenly realised that they were there with no legs and two very feeble hands. How are they going to move? Here they are, having spent the last so long running down the human race, how they were the masters and how they could control everything and they suddenly realised that they couldn’t move without the aid of the human beings to push them around. That was a rather humiliating experience for them

Did I dictate this dream about being ill and not being able to walk? … "no, you didn’t" – ed … I needed something doing so I telephoned the ambulance company to ask them if they could do it and bring it round here. So they did but a while later in a conversation with someone else we were talking about how I was feeling at that particular moment. The question of other people turned up. I said something strange, which was “can you imagine the feeling that I had when the driver turned up and it wasn’t the one whom I wanted?”. The person with me replied “yes” but he remembered a certain game of Blind Man’s Bluff where the same thing had happened – where someone had ended up touching him so he took off his blindfold to look at the person and was so disappointed that it was not a certain person who had touched him but someone else completely.

There are more than just a few points in that little dream with which I can relate too.

Then I was round at someone’s house. They had 2 children, one aged about 2 and the other aged about 4. It must have been the kid’s bedtime. To my surprise the parents made up their bed on the sofa in the living room which I thought strange. My host asked me “do you want to put them to bed Eric?” so I called the youngest one over and picked her up. Then all of this “gooey gooey” language that you use with small babies and children. I put her into the bed there, made sure that she was comfortable in between the sheets and that the blanket was good. Then I did the same for the other, carried her across the room from where she’d been standing and lay her on the sofa, lined her up and tucked her in. Now that we had these 2 kids on the sofa and we were supposed to be socialising, but it’s impossible to socialise without making a noise but this was what my host’s idea was. I was totally bewildered by this

We were talking about my contact lenses and I was supposed to wear them but I was just putting it off and putting it off. In the end one of my friends cajoled and encouraged me. In the end I went to see about them. I finally had a pair, had them fitted. They were on a 3-month trial. They were a kind of corrective contact lenses that are supposed to improve your eyesight. What they would do was to work on your eyes, massage the muscles etc. You had 3 months and at the end if there was no improvement you simply handed them back. Once I had them installed my friend said “there, you see? It was quite easy and you were making such a fuss of it” etc. Almost immediately someone came in and said that so-and-so was leaving. That was the guy who had been to collect my contact lenses and signed for them. When he came into our room I asked him when he was leaving. He looked terribly defensively and asked why. I said “so that you could apologise on my behalf to the firm that supplied the contact lenses. If you picked them up, you’re the one who has to return them. But not to worry” I said. “We’ll sort it out somehow”.

But as for contact lenses, I used to wear contact lenses until one heady day in 1997 bringing my boss back from a meeting in Luxembourg. Roaring back up the E411 on a warm autumn early-evening with my window open, a lorry on the opposite carriageway threw up a small stone that hit me squarely in the eye.

Without thinking I rubbed my eye, like you do … "like YOU do" – ed … and a piece of grit not only shredded my contact lens but scratched my cornea too

After I’d dropped my boss off I went round to our office’s Emergency Service. They confirmed the damage to my eye and sent me to an eye specialist in Antwerp.
“We can repair this with laser surgery” he replied. “But for an extra 6,000BF (£120) we can repair the sight in your eye too so that you’ll have good vision”
“What will it say on the receipt?” I asked
“Simply ‘laser surgery to repair eye defect'” he answered. He wasn’t stupid
“Well, as long as it does say that and only that, go ahead”.

And as it was classed as an industrial injury, it was reimbursed 100%

There was a follow-up to that too.

As I now had one perfect eye and one poor eye, I was having a lot of rouble with perception and depth of vision, which for a Ministerial chauffeur was a serious issue.

So after a lengthy discussion with our Medical service it was back to Antwerp to have the other eye done – reimbursed 100%

Laser surgery is the best thing since sliced bread and I’m really glad that I had it done. Of course, as I’m starting to reach a ripe old age, growing riper as I grow older, my near sight is going but there’s not a thing at all wrong with my distance vision.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, when I was at work the local nursing home needed some cover. Seeing that I was due some time off I decided that I’d take it and go to work there. That was what I did. On my way home I didn’t feel like cooking. I thought that I’d order a meal. The only meal that seemed to be there was a potato and egg soup followed by something else. The soup of course wasn’t vegan but what did I care at that moment? I ordered it anyway. When I returned home it arrived. I decided to eat it and took it out of the container, looked at it and suddenly for some reason all my appetite completely disappeared.

When I’d checked my messages earlier there had been a couple on there that needed answering.

One of them concerned a project of work that needs doing in the building. It’s pretty straightforward really – contact Batiments de France to see if we can do it, and if so, then contact the relevant associations that deal with autonomy of the elderly and infirm to see if a subsidy might be obtained.

Batiments de France is the French equivalent of whoever looks after Ancient Monuments.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … this building is a listed building with Batiments de France – an ancient Monument and the fact that I’m living here is quite appropriate seeing as I’m an ancient monument myself.

In principle at least, you can’t even knock a nail in the wall without permission from Batiments de France, and certainly not in a public part of the building where anyone might see it.

Now the procedure that I outlined doesn’t sound complicated but you’ll be surprised (or maybe you won’t) at the Byzantine nature of French administration. This is not a job of 5 minutes.

While I was at it, I had to sort out some accommodation. Our little travel club has decided that its next meeting will be here in Granville in early June so three people from Central Europe are going to descend on me and they’ll need somewhere to stay.

Anyway, that’s all organised now. They won’t be sleeping under a hedge.

Having done all that (and you’ll be surprised how long it takes) I turned my attention to my own things.

Firstly, I made an executive decision – and for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than a few just now, an executive decision is a decision that, if it turns out to be wrong, the person making it is executed.

"Better counsel comes overnight " said the German playwright and philosopher Gotthold Lessing.

So having given the matter some thought, what I’ve decided is that that mess that I loosely termed a “radio programme” that I prepared yesterday has now gone the Way of the West and I’ll do it all again. In a way it was a good decision too because the notes that I wrote under the influence of this wicked stuff were garbage and so I rewrote many of them this morning.

So having rewritten the notes and waiting for quiet moment (whenever that might be) to dictate them, I started on my Hawkfest.

My opening segue of three tracks is now all assembled and my final track is ready. I’ve tracked down several pieces of work from artists who have been at one of the Hawkfests and I’m up to 36 minutes. I need another 17 minutes and a guy in Congleton who was onstage at one of them will send me some stuff and then the difficult bit of tracking down whatever he hasn’t sent me begins.

Some stuff that I’ve received from an Australian band who were onstage at the second Hawkfest is pretty awful as far as quality goes though, but the music and its context makes it worth including.

At about 17:00 I broke off to go and have a really, really good wash. And I did too – a nice, deep scrub that made me feel so much better. But it was while I was sitting on the sofa changing my socks that I hit the wall.

When I awoke, it was teatime so I made a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg.

No bulghour so I based my stuffing around some couscous that seems to have been here from before the Dawn of Time. And that’s not an exaggeration either because I haven’t been in the shop that sold it since I went to live in Leuven.

However it did actually work and I was quite impressed. Just as well because there’s plenty left for a taco roll tomorrow and then to add to a leftover curry on Wednesday.

So right now, having been shaken about by Rosemary during an Internet text exchange, I’m off to bed.

There’s a Welsh lesson tomorrow but on this anti-potassium stuff I’ve never felt less like going. But we awaken tomorrow and plod on wearily towards the end.

"Dawn is ever the hope of men" said Aragorn, and it will have to be mine right now.

All that I can do is remember the words of Gildor when he said "Courage is found in unlikely places. Be of good hope" but I’m not sure what unlikely places there are here in my little apartment, because I won’t be going anywhere else for a while.

So what I’ll do now is to take my blood pressure. One of the unlikely places where I would like to be would be in the laboratory to see their faces when they receive the results.

The last time that I was in a laboratory was at one of the University’s laboratories in Milton Keynes. There we had a pleasant summer school for two weeks in 1998 where the highlight of our achievement was to discover a cure for which there was no known disease

Monday 22nd January 2024 – THIS PERISHING RUBBISH …

… that I’m taking to control the potassium in my kidneys is going way beyond what is reasonable.

After having the helping at 07:30 or so with the morning medication by 09:05 I was out like a light and the next thing that I remember was that it was about 11:00. It was really as if someone had simply flicked a switch.

And when I awoke I was in a state of utter confusion that has continued to some extent or another throughout the day

Surprisingly, I found that I had even been on my travels while I was crashed out on the chair. I was in Nantwich and noticed that there was a big hotel right opposite the railway station, right by the bus station (which it isn’t) so I had this idea of going round France and the UK, finding similar hotels located in similar good positions and marketing holidays aimed at the pedestrian tourist with luggage. When Hawkwind awoke me with ANGELS OF DEATH I was busy setting up a stand at a railway junction in the Gironde somewhere in order to greet my passengers who were changing trains there.

That’s exactly how deep a sleep it was.

But returning to last night, I didn’t need much rocking when I went to bed loaded up with this anti-potassium stuff, that’s for sure. I was soon away with the fairies.

And quite literally too. I must have travelled miles during the night. I dreamed that I’d had one of those drinks again (and that’s bad news, isn’t it?). I remember so vividly mixing it and drinking it and thinking that this time of course it didn’t taste so bad so what was I worried about? Thinking that it was the nicest one yet. When I turned over I awoke from the pain in my leg. I looked at my watch and it was 00:25 and I was still in bed so it was something that I obviously must have dreamt but it was so real.

Later on I was in my blue MkI Cortina. I was out with a girl again last night. I had to take her home so we drove home. As we went through Haslington there was a sign that said “Winsford Station” and it was 8.5 miles away. I thought that that was a strange thing to see. I brought her home and parked outside the door to her apartment. I asked her for a kiss but she thought that it was rather too much of a public place. But we had a bit of a kiss etc parked outside her door then she went in. I wish that I knew who she was. She was very familiar to me but I just can’t think whether I knew her or not. Just round the corner from there was a golf club. I wanted to use the bathroom so I thought that I’d go there. I went in and did what I needed to do. I thought that these toilets are much higher than the usual ones and I felt much more comfortable sitting on these than I did on the one back at home at the traditional height. It was easy for me to dress afterwards. As I turned to wash my hands I noticed that someone had left a golf cart and golf clubs right by the sink. I washed as well as I could. I picked up my crutches but there were some other crutches there too. I picked those up and walked outside. There was a cleaning team there because it was time to go home and close the building. I explained to one of them, a young guy, that there was a set of golf clubs still in the toilet. He thanked me and said goodbye. he told me not to forget all my crutches. I realised that I had the ones that weren’t mine so I told him about those too and handed them to one of the people.

But I wish that I knew who that girl was. She seemed so familiar to me that I’m sure that I recognised her but I just couldn’t put a name to her. And isn’t that a shame?

And then it was common knowledge that I was leaving the hospital so a day or two before I was due to go a whole crocodile of people passed by my bed in a kind-of conga dance to say goodbye to me. I was drugged up to the eyebrows so I was rather unaware, rather unsure. One of the very last people to go was something small dressed in pierrot’s clothes and a STRAWBERRY MOOSE hat on it. With it being small it can’t possibly have been someone who worked there. Then I remembered that one of the staff had a very young daughter and brought her into the hospital every now and again. She’d been to see me a few times so I reached out, touched her arm and began to stroke it in time to the music. A horrible thought came over me “I wish that I knew who this was and I hope that it was that young girl otherwise this is going to be a terribly embarrassing situation in which to be”. I forgot to mention that right at the very beginning I was asleep. It was someone blowing a hunting horn of some description that had in fact awoken me, just blowing 2 blasts on this horn so I was awake and that was how, because of this horn

Next off I was with Nerina in a house somewhere. I can’t remember very much about this dream. I’d prepared a programme for the radio and had sent it off. Very near the end what I’d put in there was wiped out and Thierry’s voice came over, introduced a song but it only played so many seconds of it before it cut to the News. I heard him say “oh blast!” but I wasn’t sure whether it was for real or on the radio. After the news his voice carried on and went well over the hour so I had no idea what was happening. In the meantime I was planning on buying a house. I’d seen one out in Brittany that I’d liked , a farm cottage type of place on the edge of a village with outbuildings at the back for the cars. I’d bought it but trying to obtain possession was proving to be really complicated. I knew that it would happen and I knew that it would come but trying to actually physically obtain it was proving to be extremely difficult

After that, someone came along and awoke me and said that it was time so I began to get up but I thought that it was rather early. My pianist, who was sleeping in the same room got up and told everyone that she would help me. That seemed to satisfy them all. After some debate and discussion they all left. In the meantime I went back to sleep again. Then I awoke and wondered why the alarm hadn’t gone off for a second time. I looked at my watch and it was 05:46, a long time before the alarm goes off so that part must have been a dream too.

And who was this pianist? Surely not the 12-inch pianist that my rather deaf fairy Godmother brought me once.

When the alarm went off I was busy being interviewed by a Colonel from a Home Guard regiment in Normandy. They were creating this to defend the land against the invading Germans and wanted volunteers so I went along. He laughed and said that I wouldn’t be any good. I explained that I couldn’t march and couldn’t run but I could fire a gun. I could be the battalion reserve. In case of invasion they could just put me somewhere with a machine gun and I could act as their hold-up man while they went off and found some better positions somewhere.

There was even more that this but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your lunch right now.

So I staggered on my crutches into the kitchen to pump myself up with more medication, and then back in here to check the mails and messages. and I do appreciate all of the mails and messages that I receive.

Having transcribed the dictaphone notes I promptly crashed out as I said just now.

It was a very bleary-eyed and comparatively incoherent me who had to speak to the nurse from the hospital ringing up to find out how I was. I told her about the problems with the anti-potassium medication and about water retention, the ack of ability to walk etc.

She replied that she’d speak to the doctor about it but as yet no-one has come back to me. They are probably waiting for the result of this week’s blood test.

And so am I if it means that I can stop taking the blasted stuff.

There was an exciting phone call over midday too. I was speaking to my neighbour on the phone when suddenly she had to go because there was someone at her door.

No sooner had she come back and restarted the chat when I had to go because there was someone at my door. It was my long-suffering cleaner who had brought me my next lot of injections. And there are more to come too, which will be here on Wednesday. I hope that there will be some room in the fridge.

We finally managed to finish our ‘phone call and then I had to chase up this bon de transport to go to Paris tomorrow. And the doctor had actually already sent it – to the taxi company.

And he’s put the address incorrectly. It’s not actually the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière where I’m going but the Hospital St Antoine. I hope that the taxi driver knows the way and it won’t cause any complications, because the doctor has filled out bon de transport is for the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière.

The ambulance company that brought me home on Friday rang me too. There’s some confusion in their office about my health cover

Apart from that I’ve been weaving my way through the next radio programme. I listened to the one for this week and sent it off and then made a start on another.

And how difficult is it when you have all these interruptions and your head is going round and round after this drink? It took me an age to choose the music and pair it off, and I’ve only written half of the notes. I really ought to be doing better than this.

But not right now though. I’ve had tea – a stuffed pepper that somehow didn’t seem to be as nice as usual and I don’t know why, and now I’m off to bed ready for my … gulp … 06:30 alarm clock.

Before I go though, I’ll leave you with THE HIGHLIGHTS of the game from the weekend. When that ball hit the bar after 55 seconds, I could hear it from here, never mind on the computer.

In case you’re wondering, which I’m sure you are, the team in purple are under-21 stars of a team that’s pushing for promotion in the English Championship. The team in white and green are basically Saturday afternoon players from Wales.

But look at their third and fifth goals. Aren’t they peaches?

Sunday 21st January 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… another one of those days where I have emulated my namesake and done three fifths of five eights of … errr … nothing.

And that’s hardly a surprise. In between my leg and this blasted stuff to cure this excess of potassium, I’ve not been in any fit state for anything at all.

While we’re on the subject of this anti-potassium stuff … "well, one of us is" – ed … after taking the stuff last night I stayed up to see how long it would be before it overwhelmed me if I tried to fight it.

It’s as well to know these things, I suppose.

So I stayed up, and up, and up, and fought, and fought, and fought, but by 03:30 I was well and truly done and I crawled off to bed as best as I could.

It was round about 10:50 that I finally awoke, and that’s no sleep at all for a Sunday.

And I had a head like lead too. I don’t know what’s in that stuff and I really don’t think that I want to. But it really is the pits, as John McEnroe would say.

So having made it out of bed and dressed, I staggered off into the kitchen for the next batch of medication, and then back in here it took a good while for me to come back into the Land of the Living.

Once I’d gathered my wits, which, seeing as I have so few these days, takes much longer than it ought, I sat down to listen to the dictaphone to find out if I’d been anywhere during the night. I was living in Wistaston last night with a group of people last night and had to go into Crewe. I set off on foot and I went down to the end of our road which was a dead end, and found that the obstruction had been cleared away and we could walk through. I carried on walking and ended up in Crewe on Brookhouse Drive. I thought “this is going to be convenient if they leave this footpath open like this without the obstructions that they’d had before. I went to do my shopping and then came back and announced to everyone “do you know what they’ve done? They’ve moved the obstructions from down the road now so that we could walk through”. Someone made some kind of remark and my mother showed me an article in the newspaper about how they’d now created a road between Wistaston and Shavington. “I suppose that that’s it” she said. Reading the article I thought that it looked like it. That’s bad news because they would be building apartments or something like that alongside and there’s a little more greenery gone so I was disappointed. I mentioned it to a couple of people but they weren’t sympathetic at all. One of them was certain that apartments would be built and thought that it was a good thing. In the meantime there was some more school to attend that morning. It was Saturday morning and I had my music lessons. My mother wrote out a shopping list. I asked “do you want directions to this new street?”. “No” she replied. You’ve been there once, you’ll know it now”. She put 2 extra streets on this list and handed it to me. It was just like the usual shopping list with these 2 extra streets on it. I set out and halfway down I came to some kind of yard like a school yard. There were people playing so I went in. Somehow I ended up on my knees so I walked on them instead. When I was inside I met a guitar teacher. He had a girl whom I knew with him. She was about 10. I said “hello” to her because I knew her. I had a look around the yard and then I left. I said to her “not going to music school today, are we?”. She asked “why not?”. I explained that it would be 10:00 soon and it’s a long way to go. She said “it’s only 5 minutes and it’ll take me less time because I’m not on my knees” which I thought was rather insulting but never mind. I smiled and laughed with her. I set off on my knees on my travels down this new footpath thing. There were many people on it. I thought that it was looking like the M6 on a Friday afternoon these days.

Yes, I know. My family yet again.

Mind you, I had better luck next time. I was with my Dutch friend. She’d come to visit me in the Auvergne. We were talking about all of our friends because she was now living in a commune. She mentioned someone who had transformed a cellar there into a small apartment. It sounded really interesting so she asked me if I’d like to go. We went along and had to climb down these steps. It was really nice, what he’d done. It was very small but everything was well laid out to make the most of the space. I was quite impressed. He didn’t have very much in there so I said to him “it’s rather Mies van der Rohe, isn’t it?”. he didn’t understand the significance so I said “you know – less is more”. He said “yes, certainly”. He had a friend down there who was caulking the joint between the skirting board and the wall, doing a good job of it. It really looked quite nice. My Dutch friend and I ended up back in the main house again. I said that I’d come to see her in a couple of days. A couple of days later I set out from my house. I was nearly hit by a car reversing out of a driveway. He pulled away but I overtook him and carried on. He was behind me for a while but then disappeared. I turned up at my friend’s with an old denim jacket that I wore occasionally. I’d mentioned earlier to her about embroidering it. She’d agreed to do it so I had it with me. My friend and I ended up in bed together but it wasn’t a sexual thing, just lying there talking. She said “I can’t pay you, except maybe for an afternoon or something like that”. I said “you don’t owe me anything. There’s no need to pay me anything at all. Let’s just stay here and be comfortable

With a little voyage like that, what would you do when you had read all of the notes. I gave her a ring and said "I dreamed about you last night."
"Did you?" she asked.
"No" I replied. "You wouldn’t let me"

And Mies van der Rohe – there’s a name to conjure with. He was a director of the Bauhaus, the modernist school of architecture in Germany and after the excesses of the Victorian period of architecture, pioneered the idea of minimalism in design and construction with his famous slogan of "less is more"

The ghastly buildings of the immediate post-war period prior to the arrival of the even more horrific Brutalist movement of the 60s and 70s can be laid fairly and squarely at the feet of Mies van der Rohe and his fellow crew of Bauhaus barbarians

Having finished the dictaphone notes I went off for my porridge, cheese on toast and strong, hot, black coffee. I’m back eating again after the last few days that I mentioned when my appetite went for a while.

However, having said that, I’m not sure how long I’ll continue eating because I’m in total agony every time that I try to stand up and try to move, with this perishing leg. I really have done it a major mischief but a scanner and a handful of X-rays can’t lie, I suppose.

And it’s no good if I can’t stand up because I can’t make any food to eat.

And then there’s the question of this anti-potassium stuff. This is killing me. Every time I sit down I either fall asleep or if I close my eyes I begin to hallucinate again. If I could walk I’d be forging prescriptions for this stuff and hawking it around the back streets of Granville.

It goes without saying that I’ve crashed out more than once this afternoon, and quite definitively too.

Whenever it’s been possible, I’ve been chatting to people here and there. Ingrid rang me for a chat, then Liz and a couple of my neighbours have been texting me too. I seem to be in demand these days, which is nice.

In fact I was speaking to Ingrid for so long that I forgot about my pizza in the oven. It’s not like me to forget my food, is it?

As I said yesterday, it’s the wrong flour so the pizza wasn’t the dazzling success that it might be, but it was still nice, edible and filling.

So that’s it for the day. I’m off to take my blood pressure, take that nasty horrible stuff with the rest of the medication and then go to bed. I’ve had enough for today and I’m not sorry.

Tomorrow I restart work after my Christmas break, hospitalisation, recuperation etc. But I don’t feel much like it. Not with this flaming leg and this blasted anti-potassium stuff. If I could stop those I’d probably feel a little better but if I don’t, then when I come back from Paris on Tuesday I’ll start writing out my … errr …. instructions. It’s about time.

What I hope for is that someone will give a good and loving home to STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve travelled halfway round the World and well into the Polar regions with, quite often, only him as company. My faithful companion and I have travelled miles together and so he deserves a nice comfortable retirement somewhere where someone will look after him properly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And how apposite is that?

Monday 8th January 2024 – NOW THAT I …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did I tell you that she was an actress?

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes I wonder if she continued afterwards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch this space.

Saturday 6th January 2024 – I AM ABSOLUTELY…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 30th December 2023 – IT DOESN’T TAKE …

… much for me to descend into the pit of darkness and despair, and here I am again after hauling myself out yesterday.

That’s right – someone has sent me a soundtrack of the final Lindisfarne concert at Newcastle upon Tyne City Hall in 2003. “Here – play with this” – all 2 hours and 21 minutes of it.

So in a short while I’ll have a message – “can you do a 57-minute concert for me, with a 3-minute commentary in German?”. My German isn’t what it ought to be unfortunately but I’ll do my best. After all, I do owe someone a few favours, especially as rather a large amount of concert soundtracks have appeared in this way.

However, I have another idea for my purposes. Many of Lindisfarne’s songs were written by “Jimmy” Alan Hull, alas no longer with us, and many others were written by Rod Clements. Now if I were to go through the soundtrack and pick out the songs from each of the two, I might be able to make up a couple of concerts, one for each musician, and play it on their birthday or something.

But Lindisfarne …

If ever there were two groups that shaped my teenage years between 1970 and 1972, it would be Jethro Tull and Lindisfarne. Jethro Tull’s BENEFIT, STAND UP,AQUALUNG, THICK AS A BRICK and A PASSION PLAY have been on my playlist since they first came out, and witll always be there.

But then again, so will Lindisfarne’s NICELY OUT OF TUNE? FOG ON THE TYNE and DINGLY DELL

These were the groups that were played non-stop by my friends and me during that period but Lindisfarne were special. There was quite a big Lindisfarne fan club at my school and one of them follows this blog from the Shetland Islands (hello, Robert).

At Christmas 1971 I actually saw Lindisfarne. They played at a private members’ club in Crewe and I remember it very well, and for several reasons too.

Firstly, this was the occasion when Ray Jackson did his harmonica solo in the middle of WE CAN SWING TOGETHER, which usually lasted about 10-12 minutes.

However at “Up The Junction” in Crewe that night it went on, and on, and on, and was probably about 25 minutes long.

The story was that the rest of the band nipped out and went across the road to “The Barrel” for a quick pint. While they were out there, it was 23:00 and being a private members’ club, no-one was allowed in after that time, so the door was locked. The rest of the group was thus locked outside and they were banging on the door for 10 minutes trying to catch the attention of someone to let them back in.

The second reason was that I was 17 and my girlfriend at the time was … errr … not quite 14. Ordinarily, being under the age of 18 we wouldn’t be allowed in but my elder sister and her husband were both members and had cards of admission, and they weren’t photo-ids in those days of course.

Anyway, to cut a long story short … "thank God" – ed … my girlfriend hadn’t ever drunk alcohol before, as I found out far too late to do any good. And it’s no use, you can’t take it out once it’s gone in.

Taking a girl of … errr … not quite 14 home steaming drunk a long way after her curfew time did not go down at all well with her parents as you can imagine and so as far as that relationship went, that was regrettably that.

Funnily enough, whenever I went out with a girl during that kind of period, something always went wrong and incited the ire of a set of parents. I never seemed to have any luck in that respect.

But as you can see, Lindisfarne has a special place in my heart and brings back quite a lot of memories from the period 1970-72 when I was finding my feet as a young proto-adult. It certainly did today.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, when the alarm went off this morning I was reminiscing about my stag night before my wedding. And I’ve no idea why because it wasn’t anything earth-shattering.

In fact, all that happened was that a group of friends (yes, I did have friends in those days) and I went on a tour of the decent pubs in Crewe (I used to drink in those days) and finished up in an Indian restaurant on Nantwich Road for a curry after kicking-out time at the pubs.

There were a few pubs in Crewe that were what I call decent – an old-world type of atmosphere and served proper beer.

iI’s 31 years since I left the UK so of course I can’t remember many of them now but we had the Horseshoe up in Coppenhall and the Crown in Earle Street that served Robinsons’s beer, the Lion and Swan in West Street that served Boddington’s and the Express in Mill Street that served real Tetley’s.

However the Express was a pub where you had to be careful. It was a pub frequented by a certain type of person and a friend of mine had an uncomfortable 5 minutes in there when he went to pick up a passenger when he was driving a taxi for me.

It reminded me of the time that I was in Berlin with a coach on my way to Moscow. I decided to go for a walk that evening and one of the passengers decided to accompany me – a young Canadian guy.

At one moment we went into a bar for a beer and after a couple of minutes the guy with me asked “what do you notice about the customers here?”

“Well” I replied, “there are plenty of couples in here but I don’t see any women at all”.

And so in the best traditions of the News of the Screws, we “made our excuses and left”.

The Crown was another pub that I only visited on rare occasions even though it was one of the best pubs in the town.

That was because there were some customers in there who used my taxis. They were always in there every evening and there was something not quite right about what was going on with them, their friend and their children. And they were the clingy type.

There were a couple of other pubs in Crewe too that were worth a visit but I can’t remember them now. It was all such a long time ago.

So after taking the blood pressure I went for all of my medication – 15 tablets of it and then back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. One of my dreams about dreaming, a really long, involved one with about 8 or 9 different phases in it, part of which involved a school. I’d come to the attention of the local newspaper and in collaboration with the local radio station they wanted to broadcast it with me reading it, explaining it as I went along and could copy it into the newspaper. But of course, how do you explain dreams? How do you interpret them as you go along? Regardless of what Freud and these other people said, there’s absolutely no connection at all between the dreams and anything in particular so it was totally impossible, but they were insisting so I went to read it but I couldn’t remember what had happened, I couldn’t remember what went on and I couldn’t remember what I was going through at that particular time when I dreamt it. They were still harping on about this flaming dream and I was totally lost and submerged in all kinds of problems associated with trying to repeat it and interpret it.

And I’m impressed that I can come out with all of that during a dream when I’m asleep.

Later on I read somewhere in some kind of paper that there was going to be a dance at the school on Friday evening next week starting at 16:00 to celebrate the death of the headmaster Mr. Morris. I knew nothing about this and no-one had said anything so I didn’t know what was happening. Usually someone would mention something about a school dance to me because of obtaining all the PA equipment, disco deck etc but nothing had been said. So on the way back to class after lunch I was with my classmate who now lives in Munich. He had his satchel draped over his shoulder but not actually fastened but extremely casual and pale grey trousers instead of dark grey ones. I went and found one of the teachers whom I know organised a lot of events for the school and asked her when she was going to let me know about the dance on Friday week. She gave a very non-committal answer and someone else shouted at my friend to go and organise himself and dress properly, put his satchel on etc. Anyway, not knowing what to do I left and thought that the simplest thing to do of course is to force their hand. I went into my form room and quite a lot of my form-mates were there and I just announced “by the way, there will be a school dance a week on Friday” and gave them all the details as far as I could. I asked them if they could spread the word around their classes this afternoon. I thought that that is going to be the easiest way to deal with this situation – to take charge of it straight away anyway rather than leaving it until the last minute.

That latter dream was another one of those comfortable, warm dreams that I have occasionally that sound so real. No girl involved in it this time though, which is always a shame.

For the rest of the morning I’ve been doing something that I haven’t done since before I went to Canada at the end of September last year, and that is that I’ve been playing the 5-string fretless bass.

It’s complicated to play because it’s quite heavy, so I can’t play it standing up, and with it being a standard scale bass rather than a short-scale bass like my Gibson EB3 or the Fender in Canada, everything gets in the way, my arms and fingers aren’t long enough and of course my finger fall into different places because of the extra length and width, and there are no frets to guide me.

The 5th string is actually lower than the low E. It’s a low B but I had plans to take off the B string, move the others down one and add a low E guitar string to the top and tune it as I would the lower 5 strings on a 6-string guitar.

Back 20 or so years ago I played (briefly) with a female acoustic folk guitarist and so if there was a solo to play, I had to play it on the bass. And quite often, I would run out of frets so a bass with an additional upper string would have been perfect for that.

So on the bass I’ve been working through my running list and also trying to work my way through the bass lines for THE BARRICADES OF HEAVEN – including the organ riff – and Jethro Tull’s CROSS EYED MARY.

But imagine trying to play “Cross-Eyed Mary” in today’s PC sanitised world. That’s a song that, along with songs like Ted Nugent’s JAILBAIT, Grand Funk Railroad’s SHE GOTTA MOVE ME and Led Zeppelin’s SICK AGAIN, has been consigned to the dustbin of history and we aren’t allowed to mention them any more.

It all reminds me of the book-burning of the 1930s or the smashing up of alcohol in the USA in the 1920s by the Temperance movement.

Seeing as we were talking about Lindisfarne just now … "well, one of us was" – ed … there are plenty of their numbers on my playlist too and I enjoy playing them and singing along. We did a few with the aforementioned young lady acoustic guitar.

Of course, we have to have NO TIME TO LOSE

"Had more than my share of people giving advice
on the way that my life it should be
But look at the country man it’s looking so nice
it’s feeling so good to be free
No time, no time to lose"

Yes, that’s a verse that really strikes a chord with me. “Been there, done that” you might say.

So this afternoon I’ve been playing around with a Lindisfarne concert trying to make some kind of sense of it – a running order or set list would be a good idea for a start – and then I’ve been out gallivanting.

Yes, me socialising! One of my neighbours, the President of the Residents’ Committee, invited me for a chat and to my own surprise I was there for almost 2.5 hours chatting. That’s not like me at all, is it?

Back here I had chips (some were sweet potato too) vegan salad and one of those breadcrumbed soya fillets that I like. And it was delicious as usual.

Now that I’ve finished everything, I’ll dictate the radio notes ready for tomorrow when I’ll edit them and assemble the programme

But there’s a lot to do tomorrow. I’ve run out of pizza dough so I’ll have to make some more. There’s some bread to make too and also that bread-and-butter pudding so I’m going to be busy.

There won’t be much time to play the bass so I might have a go at that tonight. Walls of solid granite 1.2 metres thick have their advantages when it comes to soundproofing.

So I’d better clear off if I want to play the bass "I have no one to call my friend
The road I travel has no end
And so I turn my face up to the sun
And walk on down the road to kingdom come"

Yes, I’m certainly heading that way – sooner rather than later if I don’t cheer myself up.

Thursday 28th December 2023 – IN WHAT CAN ONLY …

… be described as a new, rather regrettable record, I was actually up and about, taking my medicine and preparing to start work at 03:20 this morning.

Feeling absolutely wretched and totally washed out, I was in bed early – at about 22:30. And I must have fallen into a deep sleep almost immediately because there was something on the dictaphone with a timestamp of not much later.

But then there were all kinds of strange things happening during the night and I ended up awakening at about 02:15. Try as I might, I simply couldn’t go back to sleep after that and in the end gave it up as a bad job.

Firstly, there was a strange entry on the dictaphone that I have absolutely no recollection of dictating. “All that seemed to be missing from last night’s adventures was a visit from TOTGA but we’ll just have to make do without that” was what I recorded.

And that was early on too. The one that I’d had almost as soon as I’d gone to bed went “we started off with a very long complicated and involved dream that I can’t remember now. It all seems to have disappeared from my mind but at one point there was a young girl in Nantwich waiting for a load of other girls for the local dance hall to open so that they could all go in. This would be in the early 60s when beehive hair and all of that was in fashion. Some older man came and began to talk to her, to chat her up. Another girl in the queue accosted the man and told him what she thought of him, and generally made him feel uncomfortable until he left. That girl was actually a very young Marilyn Munroe who had come to Nantwich for some kind or other of show promotion but was standing in the queue at the dance hall just like any other young girl of that particular age and behaviour at that particular time. There was nothing special about her at all” which has absolutely nothing whatever with what came after it.

However, I do have a vague kind of ethereal feeling that at some point during the night not only Zero but also Castor came to see me. And if that’s the case I’m surprised that I didn’t dictate it. Maybe it’s my subconscious blocking them out for reasons that I can only speculate, or else it’s simply that I don’t want to share my experiences with anyone else. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, with coming from a large family where nothing was ever my own, I don’t “do” sharing if it’s something nice like one of Liz’s vegan cakes, and I can’t think of anything very much nicer than having Zero and Castor around.

Zero as we know drifts in and out of my nocturnal rambles, doing her own thing and going her own way, what around here they call son bonhomme de chemin but as for Castor, I haven’t seen her in the flesh since that morning in early September 2019 when she turned her back on me and walked to her ‘plane to Ottawa on that windswept airstrip at the Coppermine River, just a short walk from where in 1771 Samuel Hearne had stood helpless and horrified as his Dene guides fell on and butchered an Inuit hunting party.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it puzzled and bewildered me for quite a while as to why she left me as she did. And it wasn’t until I had to say “goodbye” to someone in similar circumstances a year or two ago that I realised that sometimes, goodbyes have to be done like that.

Castor has been back during the night a few times since then, but not for quite a while. If indeed it really was she (and Zero) last night and I missed it, I’ll be helpless and horrified too.

However, it was what happened next that was the killer.

There was another dance taking place at Wistaston. There was a group of kids and I was going but I was going to buy a big motorbike and hopefully turn up on it to arrive there. Then I had a think about first of all, it wouldn’t be registered, then it won’t be taxed. And where would I leave it because there would be no burglar alarm or anti-theft device fitted on it. Much as I wanted to have it and take it there it would cause quite a few problems. I was listening to a couple of bikers talking. One was actually knitting while he was talking. he was talking about his travels out in the USA as a road racer around a lot of circuits in California. They were talking about his bike, how it would still pass an MoT in the UK after that. Their conversation was extremely interesting. They wanted to know about the amount of Marshall Aid that would be applicable to importing over something that they’ve had in the USA but I wasn’t able to give any help. This question of this big motorbike was something eating away at me – how was I going to bring it to this dance with all of the problems that I had to face? Many of them were insurmountable because they required a lot of input from a lot of other people in a short space of time.

“Another dance” indeed because there had been a dance at the Wistaston Memorial Hall on the Saturday night of August Bank Holiday weekend in 1973 and every moment of it is etched onto my brain as if it was yesterday.

At that time I was sharing an apartment with a guy who played synthesiser in a rock band and his group had been invited to play at the Windsor Free Festival on the Sunday.

Everyone was stony broke in those days and they couldn’t afford the fuel so they arranged the dance where they would play, as a way of raising some petrol money.

My friend from the Wirral had been to school with one of the musicians so I invited him along and he turned up on his motorbike, a 350cc Triumph.

It was at that dance that he met a girl called Jane, and I met Jane’s friend Sheila, someone who has appeared in these pages on a few occasions. There was nothing particularly serious about any of this, except that my friend fell rather badly, but I imagine for the two girls is was more of a case as Al Steward described in SWISS COTTAGE MANOEUVRES as "I could see myself nailed to a dormitory tale as a holiday night’s escapade".

However, Sheila and I went on for more than a night (not much more) and I’m glad that it did because apart from the fact that she was a nice girl, her father kept a pub, the Whore’s Bed in Walgherton and that was where I met Paul Elson, drummer of “Strife” and a big friend of her brother.

And not so long ago, Paul sent me a recording of a “Strife” concert that he’d found in all his old papers and I featured it on one of my rock shows.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … Wistaston Memorial Hall, at the end of the concert we loaded up all of their gear into the back of the old J4 van that they had and they they discovered that they were still short of money. And so for £1:00 per head they would take anyone who wanted to go to the Festival. You’ve no idea how many people piled into that van with all of the gear already in it.

My friend and I decided that we’d go down on the motorbike so we set off and went a different way to Windsor.

But those in the van had a nightmare. Going down the M1 a tyre burst and with all of the weight that was in the van they were all over the road until the driver could bring it to a halt. It was a miracle that it didn’t overturn.

Horrible thoughts of 12th May 1969 must have flashed through everyone’s mind – the night that Fairport Convention’s van overturned at almost the same spot killing drummer Martin Lambie and guitarist Richard Thompson’s girlfriend Jeannie “the tailor” Franklyn, to whom the Jack Bruce album SONGS FOR A TAILOR was dedicated.

We stayed down there all weekend, without any sleep whatsoever, and then came home on the Monday night. My friend fell asleep riding back so he asked me to ride the rest of the way home but when we hit a bump in the road he fell off the seat so in the end we had a couple of hours curled up leaning over a table in a Little Chef near Oxford.

That’s not my best memory of the Windsor Free Festival either.

When I was living at home a schoolfriend and I decided one summer that we’d go to one. Not wishing to let on to my parents where I was going I said that we were going camping, which was perfectly true.

All went well until I returned home to a pair of furious parents. The Festival had been on the news on the television and there on the 21:00 News on BBC that Sunday was Yours Truly staggering past the TV camera with a Watneys Party Seven can tucked under his arm, and all of the family, friends and neighbours had seen it.

Ahhh well. We all have memories of what and what might have been. Some more than most

"Childhood comes for me at night
Voices of my friends
Your face bathing me in light
A hope that never ends
Pages turning
Pages torn and pages burning
Faded pages, open in the sun
Better bring your own redemption when you come
TO THE BARRICADES OF HEAVEN WHERE I COME FROM
"

But anyway, after all that, I just couldn’t go back to sleep again.

So here I am, up and about, trying nicely and calmly to fit the blood pressure tester to my arm. And after several unsuccessful tries, Our Hero notes on the box that is says poignée. So put it around your wrist, you berk.

Going for a ride on the porcelain horse to calm down again, I come back and take my blood pressure.

"The aim is to have a blood pressure of below 14.0/9.0" and so with mine being 17.0/8.0, I can see that we are starting as we mean to go on.

And as for what it was at lunchtime, I forgot to take it. Start as we mean to go on indeed.

Then there were 15 pills to take and that was … errr … complicated. I earned my coffee and cornflakes after that.

So today I tidied up the kitchen area so it looks as if someone lives here, and in my spare time I made a start on the next radio programme – chosen the music, paired it off and written some of the notes. There have been a few visits and phone calls too.

But one unwelcome visitor was the taxi to take me to the Centre de Re-education. he came 20 minutes early today and I was as nature intended in the bathroom having a good scrub up

But they put me through my paces and I came back here for more spoonsful of cake and some hot chocolate.

Tea tonight was nothing complicated. Pasta and veg in a cheese sauce. Quick, simple and delicious.

With having an early start, I’ve had several moments where I’ve been away with the fairies but as usual, I’m now not tired enough to go to bed.

So which childhood voices of my friends will I hear tonight? And whose face will bathe me in light? If it really had been Zero and Castor last night, wouldn’t it be nice if they were to come back?

But it doesn’t happen like that, does it? I’ll take my blood pressure and go to bed, and probably meet some of my family heading my way. I’ve no idea why they keep on putting in an appearance like this but I wish that they’d clear off and leave room for people whom I really want to see.

Monday 25th December 2023 – A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 19th December 2023 – THE GOOD NEWS…

… is that if there is a change in condition of my heart, it’s an improvement. The cardiologist put me through my paces this morning and her opinion is that whilst the evacuation of the heart isn’t 60-65% as it’s supposed to be, it’s not the 48% that the previous cardiologist recorded.

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few, let me explain.

A normal blood count should be between 13 and 15. My carcinogenic protein is attacking my red blood cells so my blood count is less than it ought to be.

If, for example, I have a blood count of, say, 9, it means that my heart has to beat 50% faster to move enough oxygen around my body.

If the evacuation is, say, 48% instead of 60%, it means that it has to beat 25% faster still to take the oxygen loss into account, and that means that it’s beating at 185%-190% – almost twice as fast.

The heart can do this for so long of course, but not for ever. And this is why they are keeping a close eye on mine.

But the bad news is that they gave me the tests where they pulse electricity through my nervous system to see how the nerves and muscles respond. It’s the fourth time that I’ve had this test and each time they have noted a deterioration.

And that’s how it was today. I’m losing more strength in my legs.

But returning to last night I mentioned yesterday that my blood level had dropped below the critical limit, which is 8. Then there’s not enough oxygen to make the body function. And, I suspect, that’s why I’ve been feeling so miserable these last few days and why my co-ordination is going.

And so at 23:44 they cam around with two pochettes of blood to give me a transfusion.

It took four hours for the transfusion to be completed, with someone coming around every half an hour to check my pulse and blood pressure. And being the light sleeper that I am, it awoke me every time.

And what was the worst about this was that at one point Zero came to check on me too but just as I started to talk to her one of the nurses awoke me to take my blood pressure, and I couldn’t go back into the dream afterwards to carry on our conversation.
"Candles burn
dull red lights
illuminate the breasts of four young girls
dancing, prancing, provoking …
Dreams are always ending far too soon
Life’s to short to be sad
wishing things you’ll never have
You’re better off
not dreaming of
the things to come
Dreams are always ending far too soon"

It seems that CARAVAN HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE ME and know the feeling only too well.

But as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … that after having lived a life full of excitement, the only excitement that I seem to have these days is what goes on during the night.

I’ve been told on many occasions that I ought to take sleeping pills to have a good night’s sleep and I’d cope with things much better during the day

And miss out on what goes on during the night and the possibility of a visit from TOTGA, Zero and Castor, and anyone else who comes along to keep me company? You must be joking!

And strangely enough, the walls of my room are actually grey and pink.

By about 07:15 I’d given up the idea of a good sleep and once I’d gathered my wits, such as they are, I set out for the bathroom and a good wash.

However no sooner had I started than a nurse came round to take a blood sample. It was quite a while before I made it into the bathroom and the chance of a shower was gone.

Having said that, the van to pick me up to take me to Cardiology was rather late but the driver stuck me in a wheelchair and pushed me outside to his vehicle.

Once more, for the benefit of new readers, this hospital isn’t built “up” like most modern hospitals, it’s built “out” on 33 hectares with a whole series of buildings built since the earliest hospital building on the site, in 1648. Consequently there’s a fleet of electric vans with drop floors and ramps in the back for wheelchair-bound passengers and a bus service for those who can walk, to take people from one building to the next.

First stop was Cardiology, second was Neurology and finally, after much waiting about, I came back here in time for lunch.

For each of the trips I had the same driver and vehicle. He’s a rock music fan and one-time musician so we had a good chat. He imagines people like us in an Old People’s Home in out 70s and 80s still rocking the crowds of old women, and 70-year old groupies throwing their panties onto the stage.

Back in 1973 a group of us was hired as roadies for “The Sweet” when they played at the Liverpool Empire and the things that we saw, well, perhaps they are best left unrecorded.

This afternoon I had an endless stream of visits from different medical personnel doing all kinds of different things. But my neighbour, the President of the Residents’ Committee, is in Paris again and she came round for a chat which was very nice.

She stayed for about an hour and we chatted about nothing in particular and then she had to nip off.

However her visit coincided with afternoon coffee so they didn’t bring me a cup. But I managed to blag a cup of coffee later on from one of the nurses.

They don’t like my blood pressure. They think that it’s far too high and there’s no real reason for it as far as I can tell.

However it wasn’t as high as the time at Castle Anthrax when the young student nurse with the low-cut overall and no t-shirt underneath climbed all over me to couple me up to the machine.
"I don’t know why your blood pressure is so high this morning."
"I do" I thought to myself. "And if you climb over me like that again it’ll go even higher."

There was plenty of work that I have to do but I didn’t accomplish all that much. Last night’s lack of sleep took its toll on me and I was falling asleep for 10 minutes here and there all day.

However I did manage to transcribe the dreams from last night. I’d been to a Saturday lunchtime class for my University course. Coming out I went a couple of doors away to where Zero was living. The house was empty but I had a key so I went in. There was a book there. It was part II of “500 photos of the Bangor area of North Wales Published Consecutively” or something like that. I sat down and began to read it. After I’d been reading it for a couple of minutes the front door opened and I could hear Zero’s voice along with my elder sister and her husband. That was quite a surprise. It was Zero’s birthday today and there was a party later on to which I’d been invited. Zero opened the door into the room where I was sitting. I said “hello gorgeous” to her and at that moment I awoke.

It seems that the medical staff of the hospital has joined forces with my subconscious in preventing Zero from succumbing to a virtual fate worse than virtual death.

And of course, I couldn’t step back into that dream, could I?

There was also a golfing competition taking place. The club decided that it would have an annual tournament so many of its members took part. I went along a a sort-of adjudicator, not that I knew any rules about golf. There were all kinds of things happening. On one occasion one player lost a stroke, or, rather, he had a ball moved so he had to play an impossible shot and then play on because of some infringement. People wondered if that was legal. Then someone hit a ball which was then lost from view so he took a penalty and another shot, and he found that ball but it was right by the one that was lost so he wanted to play the first ball again and withdraw the penalty but I didn’t know what to do. It was another one of these long meaderings that seemed to go on for ever and ever. As I said, I know nothing about golf and I don’t know why I was there. I don’t know any of the rules and couldn’t give any decisions on anything.

We were next building an armoured lorry for a trip into the Middle East. We came down to the question of the doors. We found a door that would fit, an armoured door, but it had seized up. We tried to dismantle it but one of the things was that the cover on one of the inspection hatches where the lock was, a bolt had seized solid and there was nothing that we had that would free this bolt. The girl who was going to drive the lorry also pointed out that it didn’t seem safe because the window winder had broken . I took it apart and found that there was a bearing and retaining clip missing so while the window winder would go round, if it went over a bump or something it might drop off and the window would fall down again to the bottom. That wasn’t in accordance with the idea that we’d had about this armoured lorry. She was insisting that we found another door where the window worked. My father was more interested in trying to remove this inspection panel off so that he could check the lock. The girl and I were joking about 1 or 2 things, talking about unnecessary heat that would ignite any kind of conversation. One of the guys had some WD40, sprayed the bolt with it and fetched a cutting torch with the idea that he’d use the cutting torch to set the oil alight that would heat up the bolt to free it from the hosing where it was stuck so that he could unscrew it. It was funny him doing that just as the girl and I were talking about heat so of course we had to smile. All the time my father was trying to remove the lock. He had someone else there who was freeing off another inspection panel to show the girl how the lock worked, trying to convince her that this was the most secure door that could be found but the young girl was extremely frustrated because she was still insisting on doing something about the window. If that dropped down in the middle of the mountains or something people would be able to enter or fire a gun into the cab. She was much more concerned about that but no-one seemed to be taking any notice of that. They were all trying to prove to her that this door was secure when it was quite obvious to the girl and me that it wasn’t, because of the window.

Having told them this morning (again) that I’m vegan, tonight’s tea was veal and carrot soup followed by salmon lasagne with spinach in cream

Luckily the nurse who came later saw what was going on and made me a bowl of cheap vegetable soup with bread, and my neighbour had brought me some bananas and clementines.

But it’s not that I’m unprepared. Following what went on at Riom over the food when I was there for my “second opinion” in 2016, I have brought a few supplies with me “just in case”.

In a few minutes I’ll be off to bed, and hope that Zero comes back to check up on me, or maybe TOTGA or Castor might come along.

But Castor seems to have disappeared now. It’s been ages since she’s come to visit me. Our three nights on the upper deck of THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR looking at the midnight sun and the northern lights and singing to each other are long gone now.

Life’s too short to be sad, wishing things you’ll never have, but when you are sad wishing for things that you actually might have had and which slipped through your fingers on a deserted, windswept airstrip in the High Arctic as a ‘plane prepared to take-off for Ottawa, life is never too short for that

Before I went to bed, a Dutch group called Alquin came round in the playlist and we had their song THE DANCE from their second album THE MOUNTAIN QUEEN.

As we were talking … "well, one of us was" – ed … about ships that pass in the night and that kind of thing, somehow some of the lyrics of “The Dance” seemed relevant to our parting.
"Where will you be tonight?
Where will you be tomorrow?
Fly in your silver kite
And leave me here in sorrow
Hey dude can you see what you’ve done to me
Oh I’m feeling so bad
Yes I’m feeling so blue"

Monday 11th December 2023 – IT LOOKS AS IF …

… showers might be back on the agenda at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The ergotherapist came around with a selection of useful gadgets and appliances for helping me and we managed to figure out something that I could adapt to help me into the bath and to stand up for a shower.

It’ll be a while until it arrives of course, because there are all kinds of hoops to jump through, and it’s a question first of awaiting her report and recommendations. That won’t be any time soon, I bet.

And then there’s also the question of whether I’ll be still here when it arrives. The way I felt today, that isn’t necessarily going to be the case.

It doesn’t seem to make any difference whether or not I go to bed early. Or whether I’m still fast asleep when the alarm goes off. Both of those situations took place through the night but the end result was still the same as usual – me flat out on my chair later on in the afternoon.

At least there was sparking water for my medication, flavoured with a dash of grape juice. And then back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was at home last night. I can’t remember what I was doing but all my brothers and sisters were slowly coming home from school. We were having the usual kinds of arguments. There was a dog there too, an old dog, probably one of the collies that we used to have as kids. She was there being quite quiet. When people came to the door they’d knock and wait until someone opened it which was very difficult for me being on crutches. Every time it happened I’d go and open the door and let in another sibling until one occasion when there was a knock on the door, I went to open it and it was my mother. She was there with 2 great big dogs. They came into the kitchen and began to jump up and down at me. I don’t like dogs at the best of times but when I’m on crutches and not very steady I don’t like them jumping up at me at all. This was something that I just couldn’t accept. I became rather angry. There was some mention at some point of one of the daughters of my niece who was there. She turned up in a Volkswagen saloon. Another one of my cousins on my father’s side asked “do you have one of these now?” in some kind of derogatory tone. She replied “yes. It’s a lovely car, especially when it has some power in it”. Apparently it also doubled as an autonomous standard lamp of table lamp that could be used to throw some light on whatever it was that you were working.

And then we were in the middle of Covid, the height of it and we were going to school in California somewhere. There were no school buses running so we had to walk. It was a long walk away. We set out to walk on this long grass verge, a couple of us, and slowly began to climb this embankment which led to a road that passed over the motorway When we reached the top and looked down, it was one of these 16-lane motorways. Of all the traffic going in one direction there wasn’t a single vehicle at all. Going in the other direction were all the cars in the world, all parked nose to tail and looked as if they hadn’t moved for weeks. We couldn’t understand the folly of these people who even in the middle of a pandemic had felt it necessary to go out in their car and just sit in a traffic queue as if things were back to normal. We carried on walking and came to the school. There weren’t very many people around but there were plenty of police officers there interrogating everyone about why they’d come. To us it seemed quite obvious that we’d come in order to attend our lessons

Later on I’d gone to night school. My partner, whoever she might have been, had gone too for her lesson. In our Welsh class there were only 3 of us there and no tutor so we just chatted amongst ourselves quite vaguely for a while, talking about the history of the group, how we were learning and how I was miles off the pace. I did my best to recount a long rambling conversation about how I once went from Brussels to Austria for a pizza and came back again the same night in the Opel. Afterwards when we came out I met my partner again. I asked her if she’d done anything exciting. She replied that she’d found a body. I asked her to repeat it. It turned out that they’d had to go into a dark recess of one of the storerooms in the school to look for some ink for something. While they were rummaging around in the back corner they came across the mummified remains of a new-born baby. It was probably there 40 years. You could see from the deformed skeleton that it had had a fall. There was very little hair on it which implied that it was new-born. She was wondering about it. To me it seemed quite obvious that some girl at the school had had a child without telling anyone and concealed the birth. It wouldn’t be the first time that that had happened. Later on, for some reason when the police came round to our house to take a statement they took me with them to go back to a clothes shop near the school which they said had something to do with the crime. I went with the policeman. He had a Volvo 740 estate, one of the flat square ones. He lifted up the bonnet to look for something . I had a look underneath it and saw how simple the layout was and how much room there was. I began to regret that I hadn’t had a couple of those on the taxis.

Finally I was with a boy from my class at school last night. He wasn’t anyone special and so i’ve no idea whey he would suddenly put in an appearance. Several weeks earlier I’d been to church with Marianne, a new modern church in the south part of the city centre of Brussels. It was a place that she’s wanted to visit before she died so I’d taken her there. Later, I decided for some reason to go again. That was when I met him. We walked down a road past a big brick-built church dating from probably the late Victorian period. There were a lot of roadworks outside. I explained to him that there was a statue of Jesus inside who was preaching to the congregation over a lake. The lake was actually a river of which the exit had been blocked. It looked to me as if they were freeing the exits so that the water could flow through the church and out the other side because of so many stories of Jesus preaching by running water. he wondered if that was the church to which we should be going but I explained that it wasn’t. We carried on walking. By now I had a young girl with me instead. She was asking questions about the church so I explained things to her. We eventually arrived just as the service was about to begin. I had STRAWBERRY MOOSE with me whom I was holding. The girl as soon as she saw from the top of the bank of seats the service starting she dashed to grab a seat with a spare one next to it so that I could sit down. There were some people whom we knew who were there who had 2 small girls. Of course the 2 girls were chatting to Strawberry Moose. Most of the women and girls were in bathing costumes It was something to do with blessing the swimming or something like that. I didn’t quite understand it at the time so many of the girls and women were in swimming costumes.

When Marianne was dying I did my best to take her to places that she wanted to visit but it wasn’t easy because her illness advanced so quickly. I sat by her side for 5 months and watched her die, and it was the most horrible thing that I could ever imagine. She was quite religious and her response to anything was “my Saviour will call me when he’s ready”. I’m not going to put anyone at all through that kind of torture, and the medical staff where I’m being treated know what to and when to do it.

It reminds me of a story about Sidney Smith, a Home Office pathologist who was giving a talk on this subject.
"If ever I begin to lose my faculties, my coherence and my dignity" he said "I’ve told my wife that she must “have an accident” while cleaning the shotgun"
"Blimey!" shouted a voice from the back of the hall. "She’s leaving it rather late, isn’t she?"

After my morning coffee and fruit bun I began the process of tidying up. There’s not much that I can do and it takes me forever to do it but I have to show willing.

It’s not as if I mind people seeing for themselves that I’m struggling to manage, especially someone whose job it it, but even I have my pride and my limits. However, as was said in Proverbs Chapter 16 Verse 18, "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall"

When the ergotherapist came round we ran through my routine about cooking, eating, working and all of that kind of thing and she didn’t have too many suggestions in that respect. It was the bathroom that drew most of her attention and we spent a lot of time in there working out a few things.

She did ask me if I wanted a raised seat in the WC and that is probably the most humiliating incident yet with this illness.

One thing that she wanted to do was to watch me make a pot of coffee, but I suspect that that didn’t have very much to do ergotherapy. She declined my biscuits though.

After she left I came in here I had a phone all to make to one of my neighbours, and then I crashed out definitively for quite some time. So much so that when I finally did awaken I felt absolutely dreadful. But once I’d finally come back round into the Land of the Living, I paired off the music for the next radio programme.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper with pasta and veg, just as nice as usual, and there’s plenty of stuffing left over for the next couple of days

Tomorrow I have the doctor coming around, the Welsh lesson (the last of the year) and then the Centre de Re-education in the afternoon. And right now, I have never ever felt less like it. I hope that I have a good sleep tonight.

It’s one of those things for which I have sore misgivings, and even worse, I have no ointment to rub on them.