Tag Archives: paula_alan

Saturday 30th March 2024 – MY BROCCOLI STALK …

… soup was absolutely delicious at lunchtime.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 23rd March 2023 – A FEW MONTHS AGO …

… I bought a cheap hamburger press, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. It was rather like an old flat iron made of plastic, with all kinds of sizes that fit inside each other like a Russian doll

It was rather cheap, both in price and quality, so I didn’t think that it would be all that much good. However I have to say that despite all that, I really am impressed with it. Almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin, and that will stir a few memories from times long-gone.

Actually my friend in Munich sent me ages ago a packet of dried stuff that he’d found in a vegan shop down there and posted it to me. So today I added water and mixed it, left it alone to do its thing and then out came the hamburger press

It actually made a nice, professional job of the rehydrated stuff and I now have four big, really solid burgers and as I said just now, I’m almost as impressed with them as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin.

“Whatever happened to that?” I asked myself. The last time that I saw it, it was being used as a brazier to burn a pile of weeds down the garden when I used to have my raised beds and vegetable plots. It’s probably now thoroughly and completely overwhelmed with weeds and been pulled into the soil.

It’s 10 years ago since I last planted any veg down on the farm. I had quite a lot of stuff there that year too. The following year I cracked on with the bedroom all the way through the spring and summer ad finished it – and actually moved in.

But we all know what happened in the autumn that year, don’t we?

It was almost 10 years that I lived full-time down on the farm and despite the primitive conditions I really enjoyed it. I keep on thinking – and hoping – that I’ll go back to live down there once more but I doubt that I’ll ever see it again.

For a start, I can no longer drive, and that’s always going to be a serious consideration. And then regular readers of this rubbish will recall the photos of when I was last there and it was overwhelmed by brambles. I no longer have the energy to fight my way to the front door.

Last time it took three of us – Rosemary, Ingrid and Yours Truly – a whole afternoon to reach the front door, and the time before that it was with Terry and he had brought his industrial-scale equipment to clear the path.

Still, as Dan Quayle once famously said, "It’s a question of whether we’re going to go forward into the future, or past to the back"

So I shall go past into the back and say that for a change I was in something of a hurry to go to bed last night. I didn’t hang about at all.

It was another good sleep as well and I was fighting fit (well, sort-of) when the alarm aronsed me from my slumbers.

First thing was, as usual, to check the blood pressure. 15.1/9.0 this morning, up from 14.5/9.3 last night. So something must have annoyed me last night. And if you want to know what it was, you’ll have to read on.

After the medication I came back in here, but not for long. The nurse, having been late yesterday, was early today. Today’s moan was that the plastic bag I’d put out for him wasn’t big enough and that I need to wash my puttees. I wonder what tomorrow’s will be

The bread for my cheese on toast was delicious. I had a really nice breakfast later this morning. And then I had a pleasant relax and watched a film.

Another film that has come out of copyright is HELLZAPOPPIN’ so I spent a very pleasant 85 minutes watching it, and it was nice to relax for a change.

It’s not a film to everyone’s taste because it’s partly a musical and "YOU’RE NOT GOING INTO THE SONG WHILE I’M HERE" but where its interest lies is that if ever you want to know where all of the humourists of the 1960s and early 70s like Monty Python and Marty Feldman obtained their ideas, it’s all here, everything and much more besides, and it was done in 1941.

As far as comedy and humour goes, it was light years ahead of its time and will still run the course today.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. We’d all gone out as a family together. We all had lifts with various different people so we were all spread out amongst the cars etc. A guy in a mobile home, the type that’s a shell that fits onto the back of your vehicle, took a fancy to one of my sisters. He persuaded her to travel with him. They disappeared but the rest of us kept going in a kind of convoy. We ended up stopping for the night somewhere at the side of a river. Just then this guy appeared with his camper. He wound down his window and said that he was terribly sorry but something had happened to our sister – some other people had come along, taken her, kidnapped her and carried her off. My mother said “I bet that she’s in the back of your camper”, just strode over there and wrenched open the door. My sister was in there on the bed lying down. She began to tell her tale of woe about everything that had happened to her, with my mother and brother becoming more and more angry as the story unfolded about this kidnap.

So there you are – that’s the reason that my blood pressure was up. I had the family round last night. I don’t ask them to come to visit me during the night but they always seem to, far too often for my liking. Why can’t I have Zero, TOTGA and Castor round as often as them?

But kidnapping my family members one by one sounds like a good idea. But you can all think of an idea for the ransom note – "pay us £5,000 or we’ll send them back".

That reminds me of the time when I fuelled up in Stoke on Trent only to find that I’d left my wallet behind at home. I had to leave my friend at the petrol station as hostage while I went to his house to fetch some money

When I told his wife what was the problem she told me not to bother going back, and to leave him there for good

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed we had a taxi job to do, to drive someone up to Newcastle upon Tyne for a meeting and then take them on to Edinburgh later. There was only one daytime driver and me about. The receptionist left a note for the daytime driver “be in the office 04:40 ready for a long trip”. I thought that long trips and office workers all on account etc don’t pay very much in tips if anything so I’d go to do that and let the driver carry on doing normal jobs. The only car we had was an old two-door Japanese thing from the late 1960s or early 1970s. It made something of a racket but I’d been out a few times in it and it seemed to do the job. A good long run like that would probably do it good. Of course Edinburgh – I had my niece in Edinburgh so I could go to see her. I tried to contact her but there was no luck. I thought “should I just turn up at the University there and speak to her?”. I thought that that’s probably not a good idea. But I was impressed that we had this job, going all that way but I was really disappointed that we didn’t have a better car available other than this old Japanese thing.

And that was an age-old problem too. We’d occasionally have some really high-quality work to do but never seemed to have a decent car available to do it, and when we did have a really decent car we’d never have the work. At times I despaired.

This afternoon I went a food-making.

Firstly, as I said, my friend in Munich had sent me some burger mix so I added the water, stirred it all in and then left it to fester for 20 minutes as according to the instructions

There was a box of do-it-yourself falafel powder on the shelves as I discovered when I did some tidying up a few weeks ago. So I added some water to that and left that to fester as per the instructions.

While that was doing its stuff the first lot was ready so with the hamburger press I made four really good and solid burger-types of things. They are busy freezing even as we speak.

As for the falafel, I divided that up into little balls and they are busy freezing too, along with a couple of balls that I made from the left-over stuff from the first mix.

But I’m pleased with this hamburger press as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … It’s really simple and cheap but it made some really solid burgers and it gives me much more confidence about making more burgers from ad-hoc ingredients.

Finally there was the home-made mayonnaise. And once again, that seemed to work in spades. I made it rather more liquidy than before so we’ll see how that works out. It ended up making quite a lot more than I can use in its shelf-life, so I’ve sealed to top on the jars quite tightly.

Yes, having learned my lesson, I’ve put the mayonnaise in a better container or two.

Then we had the football – Y Bala V Connah’s Quay Nomads in one if the Welsh Cup semi-finals, played at Llandudno’s picturesque ground. And it was actually being broadcast on foreign carriers too after the disappointments of the last few games.

The first 75 minutes of the match were nothing to write home about, but it’s really hard to play creative football in a tornado.

However both sides made a couple of substitutions with 15 minutes to go and that kickstarted the game dramatically. Those last 15 minutes wee much more like the football we’d expect to see and Aron Williams scored a late winner to push the Nomads into the finals.

But spare a thought for Josh Ukek of Y Bala, who will probably go down in the record books as being on the field for the shortest period of time ever.

He came on as a substitute for Bala late in the game but almost immediately Kieran Smith, a central defender, was sent off for two bookings. Now a central defender down, Colin Caton, the Bala manager, now wanted to send on a central defender off the bench to shore up the defence.

And Ukek, who had only just come onto the field, was the man who was withdrawn to make way.

Tea was as usual a salad, baked potato and breaded quorn fillet. I know that it all seems to be the same, but I happen to like it so I don’t care.

And now rather late this evening, I’m off to bed. There’s an alarm in the morning for the nurse is coming (so I’ve washed my puttees already) so I’ll feel like death for the rest of the day. Today, I actually fell asleep for five minutes during the football.

But before I go, that story about tightly closing the lid on the mayonnaise jar did remind me of the guy who rang up his doctor
"You know those pills that you gave me to give me strength?"
"Yes" said the doctor. "How are they going?"
"I don’t know" replied the man. "I can’t get the top off the bottle".

Monday 12th February 2024 – BYD BACH!

Yes, what a small world!

In my half-term revision class this week is a woman who lives just down the road from where I used to live in Crewe

Having had in one class a year or so a woman who knew all of my old hang-outs in Nantwich, having in my current class a person who is a teacher at my old school and now this, it’s as if the world is closing in on top of me.

We’re reaching the stage where I’m beginning to shudder about what happens next in this crazy world.

At least it won’t be any of my family contacting me. They are still struggling to come to terms with such modern inventions as the wheel. It’ll take several more millennia for them to adapt to the complexities of rolling down the Information Highway.

The complexities with which I was struggling last night, namely completing my Hawkfest programme, meant that at the end of the day (and I mean that quite literally) it was after midnight when I finally let it all hang out and went to bed.

And for a change, quite rare these days, I had a deep, rewarding, satisfying sleep. And it’s been a long time since I can say that. In fact I’m regretting that I didn’t go to bed an hour or two earlier so I could have had more of it.

So when the alarm went off I was surprised, disappointed and tired, but I hauled myself out of the bed and took my blood pressure. 21.1/17.0? You can’t be serious. That’s actually life-threatening.

After the morning medication I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. I was in charge of a group of people who had been withdrawn from front-line bomber attacks because of their opposition to Harris’s policy of killing German civilians. They had been sent into my care where I’d organised them into groups of five, then two groups of five to make ten. They played football with each other and now they are having to sort themselves out into playing musical instruments so there are not two of the same one in the same group. If there are two bassists one of them has to retrain for another instrument etc. They are all going to be different

There’s something of a story about this too. I had the idea to write a book, a novel about a group of similar airmen withdrawn from front-line bomber squadrons for this reason, and sent instead to fight the submarine menace in the Atlantic.

There was what they called the “Air Gap” in the Atlantic where no aeroplane could reach it, and the submarines could work unimpeded there to sink defenceless ships. It was filled later in the war by a series of lightweight aircraft carriers sailing with the convoys.

My plan in my novel would have been to have a fleet of bombers stripped of everything except the absolute essentials, fitted with extra fuel capacity and flying from bases in Northern Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Brazil and the Azores.

But that’s something that someone else will have to write.

Meanwhile back at the ran … errr … bed we had to go to a Land Rover place near Audlem to pick up some spare parts. It was rather an obscure place, difficult to find, so I went along with them and gave them the most minute instructions how to arrive there. It turned out that they all knew where it was anyway. The laugh was on me about this particular trip. A week or two later I had to go to a party. There was quite a bit of alcohol involved so I’d arranged for a lift down and a lift back. We agreed that my brother-in-law would run me. There was some girl who wanted to go too so I said that she could come with me if she came round to my house. Suddenly a bit later on I remembered that I hadn’t given her a time. There were things that I had to do on Saturday so I did all of those. It was almost 15:00 on Saturday afternoon when my brother-in-law turned up. I’d basically forgotten about this girl. I thought that she’d either be at this party already or she wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t see her again. I went into my brother-in-law’s car and he made a few offensive remarks about that trip to Audlem and I needn’t bother giving him directions to Audlem because he’s sure that he knows the way there and he’s quite happy to manage without me.

As if my eldest sister’s husband would ever help me do anything. He married her in 1968 and spent the next 25 years insulting me until I left the UK.

And then when we happened to find ourselves at a funeral together in 1999 he actually tried to provoke me into a fight. At a funeral! Some people have no shame whatsoever.

There really are times when I wonder whether these stories about fairies and changelings – whether there might actually be something in them.

Having dealt with the dictaphone I had a few things to do and then prepared for the first day of my two-day course. I made a full pot of coffee and warmed some bread-and-butter pudding in the microwave.

There was the last quarter of that in the ice-box in the fridge and I took it out last night to defrost.

In its place are the sausage rolls that I baked yesterday. The ice-box isn’t an ideal place for them but it will have to do until I can make some room in the freezer in the bathroom

In the Welsh course are 12 students and a tutor. And probably half of the first period of the course was spent telling us about the rules and regulations and the like, how we have to respect everyone and so on. Things that we were taught by our parents to do in the old days. It seems that the modern world has totally lost its head.

In the middle of it all the hospital rang, and they nearly had a heart attack when I told them of this morning’s blood pressure. Serve them right, I reckon.

When the lesson finished I made my hot chocolate and then began to pair off the music for the next radio programme. That’s now all done so I’ll start to write the notes during the breaks tomorrow.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper, with the stuffing based on couscous again and that’s an excellent idea. It really does make an excellent difference.

Plenty of stuffing left too, for a taco roll tomorrow and a leftover curry with naan bread on Wednesday. That stuffing patty thing on Thursday and that’s the meals organised until the weekend. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I eat simply here, but really well.

Arthur Conan Doyle said that "fatigue and too much food is the fuel of nightmares" and that probably explains why my family members appear so often in my dreams.

What I’ll have to do then is to cut down on my food and have more sleep.

But is that ever likely to happen? Beregond once noted that "at the table, small men may do the greater deeds" and I am shrinking fast.

Saturday 27th January 2024 – SITTING IN MY FRIDGE …

… right now, even as we speak, is a bottle full of carrot and broccoli water from when I blanched and froze those carrots and broccoli the other day.

That’s right. Brain of Britain here forgot about it and so didn’t use it for making his broccoli stalk soup today

Mind you, the soup was still really nice and I enjoyed every last drop of it. I thought that I’d made enough for two days but after the first couple of drops soaked up into a lump of bread roll made fresh yesterday, the idea of saving anything for another time went right out of the window.

There have been plenty of broccoli stalk soups that have passed through these pages so if you want to see the recipe, just click on the “broccoli and potato soup” tag at the foot of this entry and it will take you to several pages.

In these pages I talk a lot about my cooking, and for several reasons too.
Firstly, my mother was a hopeless cook so I spent a lot of time later living out of tins. It wasn’t until I met Nerina that I began to eat really well. With an Italian mother, what do you expect? I learnt a lot from Nerina, and from Liz and also from that Italian Restaurant in Wandsworth where I worked one winter
Secondly, I’m proud of what I cook. Although it’s pretty basic stuff, I eat really well considering.
Thirdly, with not going out or anything like that I have plenty of time on my hands and I need a good hobby. I’ve arranged my kitchen so that if I prop myself up in the corner between the sink and the hob, almost everything except the freezer in the bathroom is at arm’s length and I don’t have to move anywhere
Fourthly, if anyone can ever suggest any improvements in my recipes feel free to send me some tips. I’m always grateful to receive them.

But that Italian restaurant was a riot.

It all began with a friend of mine living in Newcastle upon Tyne complaining that he was unemployed and couldn’t find a job. I told him to go to London where there were plenty of jobs. But he found excuse after excuse to everything I said.

In the end I was so fed up that one winter when I had nothing to do I put an ad in one of these local newspapers in London asking for a room. And I had one in Wandsworth arranged within half an hour.

On the train (I was determined not to use the car) I came to London, the Underground to Wandsworth and then a bus to my digs. I was installed.

Before I’d even unpacked I walked down to the High Street past a parade of shops where there was an Employment Agency and an Italian Restaurant. And within 15 minutes I had a day job driving a bus for schoolkids for Merton Borough Council and an evening job delivering food

The Christmas period was chaos though. The schools had closed so I was full-time in the restaurant. There at 06:00 to prepare for opening (as a café) at 07:00. Close at 14:00 and then prepare for the evening.

When you finished, everyone slept underneath the nice warm pizza ovens for three hours or so before getting up at 18:00 ready to open at 19:00. When the restaurant closed, you’d prepare for the next morning.

No question of “that is your job, this is my job”. Everyone did everything – cooking, waiting at table, preparing, driving. My tomato sauce actually passed muster in a professional environment, thanks, Nerina.

It was absolutely insane, but I daren’t tell you how much money I took back to Brussels after three months, all in used fivers in a plain brown envelope.

However, let’s turn our attention to last night. In bed nice and comfortably for once, rather later than I was hoping, I was asleep quite quickly as you might expect after this anti-potassium stuff.

However, it was quite a turbulent night . On the dictaphone there was a ton of stuff, much of which has an important significance so it really must have been quite interesting too.

I started out with my rock group last night. There was something going on, whether it was a rehearsal or something I dunno. I was in the middle of playing one of our numbers when wherever we were was raided by the police. We managed to get the young girl violinist away before anyone said anything but the police wandered around, noticed that she wasn’t there and insisted that she be brought. We said that it was impossible so they threatened us for a blood test etc. They kept on insisting that she turn up. This was going to turn into a rather nasty situation. I was in some kind of school hall or something I dunno. When the guy with me said “have you ever seen the dawn rise in the morning?” he took me outside and we watched the sun slowly rise over the horizon.

And you’ll be surprised about how much truth there is in a short tale like that. One of these days I’ll tell you about it but the World isn’t ready yet to hear the story.

That thing about me and the World War that broke out. The Germans bombed all around Mill Lane and the British denounced them as terrorists yet all around Mill Lane (wherever Mill Lane might be) were all kinds of ammunition factories therefore it was all perfectly legitimate so the UK should not have denounced them at all, particularly when you consider some of the things that they were doing

You’ll be surprised at how much truth there was in this story too. One of my University theses for my degree (I actually wrote two) was ABOUT COVENTRY AND IEPER and reading the howls of indignation about the bombing of Coventry in 1940 despite the fact that it was clearly a legitimate military target, yet three years later when the UK had acquired the technology to do so, they were shamelessly targeting the civilian population of Germany with no restraint whatsoever.

By the way, if you want to read MY SECOND THESIS, all five pages (there was sixth one added to finish off the story) were redacted for the web.

Having had a great deal of trouble completing the practical work for some of my modules (or not even starting it at all) due to the chaos that ensued after September 11th 2001 I was miles behind with my course and I chose two modules with theses and no practical work so that I could write them in the car while sitting on places like deserted airfields in former East Germany day after day after day, all of that kind of lark, in the hope that that would pull my score back up.

However, as we all know, there’s a huge problem with “mature” (I use the term loosely) students.
Firstly, we were too old, too experienced and too worldly-wise to be herded around like 18 year-olds. Many of the tutors who came in from other Universities had no experience of dealing with people like us and their attitudes and attempts at discipline just didn’t wash
Secondly, life tended to get in the way of course work. “This assignment should have been handed in yesterday”. “Yes, but my baby was sick” or “my house burnt down” or “I had to go on a mission for my boss”. These were genuine excuses that many of the tutors didn’t understand. These weren’t “18 year old” problems to which the tutors were accustomed.
Thirdly, and this was my great problem, I wasn’t studying for a career path and desperate for a degree. I had my career all nicely planned out and I was heading where I wanted to go (that’s not to say that it didn’t change dramatically once I graduated, but that’s another story completely). I was studying for my personal interest and if there was a qualification after it, well, that’s nice but it wasn’t the name of the game. I’d find something that interested me and follow that trail for miles and miles, suddenly finding that I’d departed a long way from the core of the course and was totally off-target. But did I care? I was totally absorbed and having fun.

However, as an aside, I can still add “B.Sc.Hons” to my name if ever I feel like it.

In another dream I had to go to Manchester – I’m not sure whether it was work or for the hospital but I awoke rather late and wasn’t sure whether they knew about my trip etc. As I was dressing I turned on the radio and found that I could pick up the channel on which their cars broadcasted so while I was washing i listened to any sign that they might be coming to pick me up. I got as far as my T-shirt and undies off and was washing myself waiting to hear that the taxi company was coming to pick me up but I wasn’t really optimistic that they’d written it down or remembered.

At one point during the night I was turning around over and over trying to be comfortable when I felt that the bed was moving and suddenly stopped with an almighty jolt but it can’t move as its a fixed bed. It did it again later on too. I’ll tell you what – I’d get good money for this anti-potassium stuff on the back streets of Granville if only I could walk out there.

Someone called Ruth was running some kind of garage in the neighbourhood and had become friendly with me. Although I liked her coming around, I wasn’t really interested in a relationship. One day I was hurt and had to go to hospital. I knew that she would be coming round later in the day so I didn’t say anything to her. I had my cleaner help me when the car came to pick me up and take me off. I had a good chat to my cleaner about the situation and a chat with the taxi driver too. It seemed to be the best solution that one of the two of us (Ruth or me) move away. She was probably the most likely to move as the garage wasn’t doing very much. I had my treatment and asked “what time is it?”. It was about an hour to return home and it was 14:00 and she was coming to see me at 15:00 so I thought that we’d make it fine. He set out to drive me home. On the way back he asked me a riddle about the United Kingdom but I can’t remember it now. I could actually work it out, which was quite impressive. We talked again about this woman on the way back. When we arrived it was 15:00. We were just arriving when on the way back we went past her garage and there were just 2 cars on the front, an Austin Maxi at £1745 and another vehicle for about a similar price. I thought “she’s not going to make any money trying to sell those cars at that price. No-one is going to pay that much money for them”.

And considering what I wrote earlier, it’s totally ironic that someone called Ruth should appear in my dreams later on. But the owner of a garage? I really don’t think so.

I was going through another long rambling dream concerning Norman Smith, the recording engineer better known of course as the rock star Hurricane Smith who produced several albums and was going to produce an album for a woman who sang with Abba which was to be filmed on a dusty petrol station near where we lived so we went along to see. But once more I ended up being taken to hospital again where they checked me over and took my blood pressure. I was polite to them but I didn’t see why they needed to take my pressure. The nurse who was rather like Oddjob in GOLDFINGER came along and soon quietened me. This went on for a while with a lot of intervention. Eventually I was let go at about midday so I reckoned to the driver that we could make it back at 13:00 when all of this began. I can’t remember any more about the rest but I know that it was very interesting.

One thing that I did remember about that dream that comes back to me was talking to the taxi driver about death and dying- him saying that if I did decide to take my own life I would probably be disappointed because there weren’t all that many people in the concert hall to watch Hawkwind which I didn’t believe at all. I was polite enough not to say. However my brother-in-law who was a part-time goalkeeper went flying past somehow on some kind of mission for someone – not on an aeroplane etc bust just floating in the air flying along overtaking a car.

A group of us had gone off to climb Mount Everest or something like that. We’d set out early one morning. There were several other people making their way up the mountain. We all trudged in a weary line until it became early evening. There was a kind of café-restaurant there so we all swarmed in. After everyone else was seated there was only one place for me, by a young girl. I went and sat next to her and we slowly began to chat. It turned out that she was from Montréal although she spoke English. We talked a lot about Montréal and when she found out that I’d lived in Chester she talked about her visit to Chester. We were handed a menu. I had a look down it and there was only one vegan dish. She told me what she wanted so I ordered it and ordered my vegan one. She seemed to be quite pleased at that. We carried on chatting and ever so slowly my arm went around her. She slowly cuddled up against me which I thought was unusual. My brother came along, as he would, and talked about going to fetch something from the shops. Someone gave him their order and someone else ordered something else. The two of us ordered something (we were definitely “the two of us” by this time). He wandered off to the shops. Every now and again we saw some people come back. She would ask “is that him?”. I replied “no, he’ll be walking with a limp”. She asked “why is that?”. I replied “because he’ll be shocked having to spend all that money”. Eventually he came back and handed her a receipt for repairs to her car. I found out that she had an old Zephyr 6 which impressed me greatly. He said “you know that your repairs are going to cost you over £1000”. She didn’t say very much to that. We walked outside this restaurant and there were parking places at the back for cars. She asked if they were private places. I replied “yes they are”. She replied “if I leave my car here I won’t have to come back, will I?”. In an automatism I gave a despairing “Awww” – actually a real despairing Awww too. I could see the look on her face slowly change to one of happiness. I thought to myself “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”

Yes, “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”. Here we are, almost on the point of finally Getting The Girl and the dream grinds to a halt. And we can’t have a dream like this without at least one person from my family coming along to try to spike my guns, can we?

Incidentally, we – or rather my father when we were kids – had a Zephyr 6 mark III, a black one, 3816 TD. I remember it well.

And after I sold my MkI Cortina (which features regularly on these pages) I had a MkIV Zephyr 6 for a short while but it caught fire. We’d been to see Jethro Tull at that venue in Ardwick, South-West Manchester … "the Apollo" – ed … and I’d parked on a demolition site around the corner. Coming off after the concert, I grounded out on some rubble, not realising that it had scraped away part of the fuel line and there was a fuel leak that ignited.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errrr … bed I’d forgotten something about the girl. We ended up back in a rented apartment that I’d rented. There was only one bed so naturally I explained to her the situation. She seemed to be quite comfortable with it so that night we slept together, and slept together for a considerable number of nights. After that she came to Granville for a look around to see what the town has to offer. As her visa was about to expire she went back to Canada and I hoped that I’d see her again and that she wished to come back.

And so Our Hero finally Gets The Girl after all of these years of dreaming. And it takes the French Government’s Interior Ministry to intervene this time and put a stop to whatever is going on. Do you ever get the feeling that you are just not going to win?

Back in this dream … "which dream?" – ed … I met a car with 4 boys – I don’t know if they were the four that I mentioned before, if indeed I did mention them … "no, you didn’t" – ed … I had a Ryobi drill and was doing some things with it. In the end I took the mandrel off and fitted a huge mandrel like a bolt thread that you’d use for drawing nuts up long distances. For some unknown reason it wouldn’t go in and I didn’t want to force it. The guy next to me said that he’d done it on his old car and it will fit so I had to squeeze it very tightly to open the internal jaws on the drill and fit this attachment in. Then I couldn’t find the nut so he asked if anyone had a nut. One guy replied that he had one but it was on his A40. We ended up talking about old cars – I had the Cortinas, ha had the A40, someone else had an A50 and the conversation became quite interesting.

So after all of that – well, most of it anyway, the alarm went off and I arose from the Dead.

Once more I’ve no idea what they will make of the blood pressure figure this morning. Not wracked with pain so it was only 18.0/11.6. What did the letter from the hospital say? Ahh yes – “target figure maximum 14.0/9.5”.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I came in here to begin to transcribe the dictaphone notes. There were that many, as you have seen, that I was nowhere near finishing them when I went off to make my delicious broccoli stalk soup.

Back hereat my desk at 11:15 after all of that and despite two cups of strong black coffee I crashed out immediately. Really, this stuff that they are giving me is ridiculous.

while I was asleep, crashed out in the morning I was waiting for a tram in Haslington. Along came the mother of The Farmer’s Daughter, someone who has figured a few times in my dreams in the past. She said a few encouraging words which quite surprised me – I was half-expecting her to tell me to keep away from her daughter. She said a few other things too that quite surprised me. After she’d gone my mother came along. She said that she’d heard a few stories about the woman, including that she was terrorised by her husband who seemed to control her far too much. I said “you know, you aren’t the first to say that. You aren’t even the second”. “Why?” she asked “Who else has said that kind of thing?”. I replied “what do you think she’s just been saying to me then?”.

It was 12:48 when I awoke and do you know what? I hadn’t felt a thing. It was only the fact of meeting that woman in my dream that made me even realise that I’d been asleep. It was just as if someone had flicked a switch and I’d gone out like a light.

It took an age for me to get my head together after that and continue with the dictaphone notes, stopping and almost dozing off every 5 minutes. It took me almost until hot chocolate time to finish them.

After the hot chocolate I started work but Rosemary rang me later. Only 1 hour and 28 minutes this time. A short ‘phone call then. We spent tons of time chatting about nothing at all, as friends often do. She’s also talking about coming to visit me, which will be nice

Tea tonight was, seeing as I have run out of those lovely quorn fillets that I so like and Leclerc had none in stock, a burger on a bap with air-fried chips and a vegan salad. As I said, my food is quite simple but it isn’t half delicious.

So hallucinating badly every time that I close my eyes and trying hard not to fall asleep I’m going. I might crash out for an hour or so and then I have the radio notes to dictate.

God alone knows what’s on them. This stuff that I’m taking is making me talk – and type – total rubbish in this confused state in which I find myself right now

Not half as confused as the old woman in the Old People’s Home who once hurled a volley of abuse at the old Queen Mother.
"Don’t you know who I am?" asked the Queen Mother indignantly.
"No, dear" said the old woman. "But don’t worry. Ask the Matron. She’ll tell you."

Sunday 7th January 2024 – WHAT A WAY …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 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.

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"

Saturday 18th November 2023 – I’VE HAD ONE …

… of those days where I haven’t really accomplished all that much.

Not that I can complain too much though. I accomplished everything that I intended to do, and with plenty of time to spare as well. And that’s not something that happens every day.

For once I was awake a long time before the alarm went off and had I really pushed myself I could have been up and about as well. But let’s not go getting ahead of ourselves.

After the medication and checking the mails I had a very slow start to the day and it wasn’t until I’d had my mid-morning coffee and soup that I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was a wedding taking place amongst the family. We were all assembled staying somewhere in a house for the night. Tea was pretty rudimentary so we all had tea in our room, a kind-of bedroom with about 12 beds in it and rubbish and mess everywhere. It really was untidy – much more untidy than anything I could ever come up with. While I was serving out the tea a cat came in. I offered it some of the tea but it promptly threw up everywhere which put a lot of people off their meal. I cleaned it up then we sat down to eat as best as we could amongst the debris and mess. Then I collected up the dishes to take into the kitchen to wash. My brother in law was there. His part of the room was the worst of all. He was saying “just take this for me – just take that for me – go and pick this up – go and pick that up” so I exploded at him and told him “instead of standing there giving orders if he went and did the jobs himself he’d find that it would probably be done a lot quicker” and stormed out of the room into the kitchen where I bumped into my mother. She asked what was going on so I explained that I’d just upset her son in law to which she made a remark to him too. I put the dishes down on the table.

Actually, to give you some idea, that particular member of my family actually tried to provoke me into a fight with him – at a family funeral in 2000, would you believe?

50 years or so ago another member of my family was marrying. I was living in the ground floor apartment of this building at the time. I remember having to look out of the window at something that was going on outside but I really can’t remember what it was. I had things to do to prepare myself for this event. Someone whom I knew but had forgotten now made some kind of derogatory remark about my appearance. I reminded them that I could probably give them 50 years in age and the idea of what is smart is set by convention rather than by just one person’s idea

And that’s nothing new either.

Everyone in the house was asleep. I was doing the accounts for the taxis. Roxanne was awake and came to see what I was doing. We had a chat while we were doing that. When we finished I suggested that we go downstairs and so something. She ran over to her slippers but instead she took her heavy clog-type shoes that were by the door by where her parents were sleeping. I told her to put on her slippers but she said that she might be going out. I told her to pick them up and bring them with her but she said that she wasn’t allowed bare feet in the house. She began to put on her clogs but made a noise so I told her to be quiet or she’d awaken her parents. She said that I’d awaken her parents by making a noise to her and that’s what always happens. I didn’t really explain to her that what was actually awakening them was the noise of her putting on her clogs, not me telling her off about it. She put her clogs on and went dancing off down the corridor and luckily her parents didn’t actually awaken at that moment.

Yes, Roxanne was a lovely, happy child. When she was 9 years old she and I were sitting outside a café in Ixelles while Laurence had gone to the shops. Roxanne was sitting next to me drawing a picture and we were talking about what she was doing. One woman sitting at the next table said to her friend, in one of these stage whispers “you can see whose daughter she is” and I’ll never forget the big beaming smile on Roxanne’s face.

When she was 6 I taught her to ride a bike and to swim and by the time she was 9 she was riding my Honda scooter up and down the street and steering the car (sitting on my knee of course) down the country lanes around Virlet.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, while I was out walking last night something came along and hacked all my dwarf or gnome followers into bits. When I returned it was like a huge jigsaw puzzle and I had to spend hours slowly matching up the bits to remake the bodies. Eventually I began to make one or two correctly and even one or two of their house animals correctly. It was taking a very long time but I could see that I was going to be able to solve this and end up with all of my dwarves and gnomes reassembled.

My father asked me to drive over to the Shetland islands for a job that he had lined up for me. Full of mystery and suspense I set off. I eventually arrived. It turned out that one of his friends who lived on this particular island had had the opportunity to sponsor a lamp post outside his house and wanted to talk about it to someone. All this sounded extremely vague to me and the directions that my father gave me to the guy’s house weren’t of any help but he produced a couple of photos and that at least gave me some kind of idea where the house might be situated. I set off and eventually found it. It was a house in a dip with a great big street light right by it that was shining over the dip so it was really as if the house was completely floodlit. The old guy had the idea that he would sponsor it as a form of advertising. We had a lengthy discussion about the Shetland Islands, the Faroes, etc and even touched on the islands in the Arctic archipelago – strangely enough, ones of which I’d dreamt, not ones that actually exist. In the end her persuaded me to go to see his neighbour, an elderly Colonel. I went off to see him. He was completely bewildered. I explained that it’s certainly the aim of several counties in the UK to have their street furniture sponsored as a way of raising money and a way for people to advertise themselves or their possessions etc. He thought it rather strange which it probably was. he showed me around his house which was full of all kinds of different things, hardly anywhere spare of clutter on the floor or walls etc but it was all neatly arranged. After this guy left me alone for half an hour I began to sit and wonder that this was probably the strangest thing in which I’ve ever been involved. If this Colonel guy has to start moving around all his things for any particular reason we’ll be here for ever organising it. I just wondered what was going through this old man’s mind.

I went into a pub in Crewe for a drink – something that I haven’t done in years. I found to my surprise that I’d been barred. I had absolutely no idea why. It must be 40 years since I last had a beer. The next day I was at work. There was a kind-of complex confrontation going on about my timesheets. At one stage my manager took my phone and began to scroll through it. I asked him if he had a search warrant which made him immediately drop it so I immediately went onto the offensive and we had the most amazing row. I left and decided that I’d go to another pub to see if I could have a drink there. I asked for half a pint of mild but she served me half a pint of milk. We laughed about that and she gave me a drink. I began to drink it. As I was leaving I overheard a couple of conversations. One was a barman talking to one of the girls sitting at the bar. There was definitely something not correct about that conversation. He was trying to persuade her to do something and I could tell that she wasn’t all that keen at all. The other one was some people discussing councillors. A guy came in and began to talk about the building work taking place next door. Some guy had had several thousand pounds to do some digging there but as soon as he had received the money he dismissed the contractors and had the gipsies in to do it for cash. They were discussing the guy and how crooked he was. It was someone whom I actually knew so I stayed to listen to the conversation. As it happened, the guy was a Conservative Councillor so as I left I asked “what was that you were saying about councillors earlier?”. There was still a few minutes left before my bus so I thought that I’d walk through the shopping precinct off Victoria Street. I’d heard some depressing stories about it. They were right. all of the buildings were flaking, the paint was coming off, many were closed and areas of the precinct were in complete darkness as the street lights weren’t working. It looked like something from Chernobyl. I thought that I’d walk around for a while then go back to the bus station to catch my bus home.

Actually, that’s a slight exaggeration. The last time I had an alcoholic drink was in 1994. We’d been skiing up in the mountains on the border between Bulgaria and Greece and the fog came down. When we finally arrived at the gondola to take us back down to the valley it was all locked up and everyone had gone home.

We had to pick our way down the mountain on skis, completely off-piste and when we eventually reached the valley the only place open to relax was a bar and all that it had was beer.

That was the year that there was an oil embargo on Serbia and a friend (who figures occasionally in these pages although not as much as she did a good while ago and for the benefit of regular readers of this rubbish, didn’t feature in these pages anything as often as she deserved) and I were standing on a railway bridge over the main railway line from Thessaloniki watching oil train after oil train after oil train heading north.

Greece’s imports of oil tripled during that period.

Claire came on line too and we had a chat for a while. She’s been seriously ill for the last three or four weeks with something that has compounded her underlying health problems but she’s slowly feeling better and in a couple of weeks she might be up and about.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … we’re all pretty much of a similar age and we are all growing old and infirm together.

Something else that I did was to finish off all the notes for the radio programme that I’ve been preparing. I’ll dictate that tonight before I go to bed.

Much of the rest of the time has been spent trying to bring order into chaos and tidying up some of the directories. That’s an ongoing process what with having to merge 30 years-worth of hard drives together and it won’t be finished any time soon either.

There was time to have a good play on the guitars too. A couple of songs that bring back memories of those 3 missing nights in the High Arctic were of course THE FIRST SONG THAT WE SANG TOGETHER.

This was also ANOTHER ONE that we worked on together on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR

There were plenty of others too so I’m going to restart my playlist. I even managed to find time to work on the bass lines for WIND UP and, of course, not to mention the track WITH THE GREATEST OPENING 1:20 EVER

Anyway, that’s enough nostalgia for now. I can’t see me ever playing in public again if I can’t ever hold a guitar and I can’t stand up And sitting here with a guitar on my knee means that I can’t sing.

And even if I could sing sitting down with a guitar on my knee, I no longer have the breathing to do it.

What kind of state am I in?

Tea tonight was a breaded quorn fillet with salad and backed potato, delicious as usual. And now I’m going to dictate the radio notes and go to bed.

Tomorrow I have pizza dough to make and I intend to attack the bread and butter pudding to see what damage I can do to that so a good lie-in will do me good.

But we’ll have to see about that. It would be nice if some nice people came to visit me rather than the endless stream of relatives who keep turning up.

Even The Vanilla Queen coming along TO HAUNT ME IN MY DREAMS would be a great improvement. I wonder how things are these days on Baffin Island.

Monday 16th October 2023 – MEANWHILE, ON THE …

… telephone –
Our Hero "I have to travel to the hospital in Paris and the doctor has given me an authorisation for transport"
Health Assurance Official "you need to bring the form in here so that we can stamp it"
Our Hero "if I were able to bring the authorisation into your office, I wouldn’t be needing the authorisation"

You can’t make up stories like that.

And so it’s been another day when I’ve done almost nothing at all.

There was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night too and strangely, I don’t remember some of it. Although I’m asleep when I’m dictating the notes, when I’m transcribing them there’s some kind of lightbulb that goes on in my head about most of them.

But last night there were a few that meant nothing at all to me when I came to listen to them.

When the alarm went off this morning I staggered out of bed and went off to take my medication. And then I came back here.

It took a while for me to come round into some kind of working mode, but my relaxation had been interrupted by the doorbell. The nurse had come to see my neighbour but she didn’t open the front door for him so I was obliged to stagger to the door in here to press the switch.

When I finally felt more like it, I had a listen to the dictaphone. Nerina had gone to the hospital to have an operation to have an operation on a cancer or something. Everyone else had disappeared and I was at home on my own. I’d been in Canada, dealing with the fall-out of a ferry that had sunk in one of the big rivers there. There was a great deal of talk about conspiracy theories regarding it, how it was time-expired and couldn’t find insurance for it etc. Whoever it was who was also with us then came back and handed me an envelope. I’d asked them to bring me £1000 cash back from the bank so they brought it back for me. It was all wrapped up in a little packet and they thought “why has the bank gone to this length with this money?”. I asked about Nerina and explained that there was a phone call that she needed to make but I’d left the details back downstairs. Then this person began to talk to me about a British aircraft carrier, “Eagle” that had also sunk in mysterious circumstances. That person seemed to think too that there was a problem with insurance etc, how it was a faulty build etc, how sinking was probably the best answer for it as far as the Navy was concerned. This conversation went on at some length. I explained that there was talk of this ferry, that suddenly the insurance offer had increased from several hundred thousands to¨£3,000,000. The person said that the same thing had happened with “Eagle” but that was done under the counter in a pub or café. I began to ask about Nerina and her operation, how she was doing.

In fact Nerina did once go into hospital back all those years ago and I did go to see her – but not for long. I have a horror of operations, tubes, pipes and all that kind of thing and if I had stuck around I’d have found myself in the next bed.

What I’m going through when I go to hospital is my worst nightmare. They are all well aware that the staff isn’t allowed to discuss operations with me and when I went two years ago to have the carcinogenic bit cut out of my kidneys no-one said anything. They came, pushed me out of my room to downstairs and stuck a gas mask over my face and that was all I knew about the entire proceedings

It’s one of the reasons why I never wanted children – because I’d be expected to be in the delivery room and there would be no way on this earth that that would ever happen. Of course, it’s always possible to be excused attendance but it’s the kind of thing that would be thrown back at you in any kind of dispute. And quite frankly, there are enough reasons to moan at me and complain about me without actually going looking for them.

Later on there was a group of us doing some things around the Crewe area. One was my brother and the other was a girl whom I knew when I lived in Chester. We had to go to some shops for some medication from the chemist and something else. We climbed into my car and drove. At a certain moment going up the street a woman appeared on a bike on the wrong side of the road. I didn’t see her until the last moment. I swerved to miss her. I hit the tyre on the kerb and burst it. I went for a slow limp to somewhere where I could change it but then another tyre burst. I thought “this is no good”. There was some stuff that we needed in the car so I was trying to group it all together in a bag. It was extremely difficult. My brother was making his usual remarks so in the end I gave him the bag and said “here, you carry it”. We set off but they began to wander off in the wrong direction. I said “if we go to the chemist’s in Bedford Street we’re only a couple of hundred yards away from Nantwich Road. If that chemist doesn’t have everything there are 2 or 3 chemists there. The other thing we need can also be bought from a shop there too”. We set off to walk down Bedford Street. I was talking to this girl about the area where she lived in Chester. I told her that I thought that the pub “The Beehive” had now become something else but she didn’t know. I asked where she lived, if she still lived in Chester. She said no, that she lived in Scapa Flow. We ended up taking a short cut through a building. I said to my brother “how do you fancy a nice cheap flat in Edinburgh,” because it was very cheap and it wasn’t really all that bad for the money. We went through this flat and out of the front door into the street.

And then a few of us were talking about my sister’s van. She had a Morris 1000 van and was having a few transformations done to it. When it was finished it looked like a pest on wheels. She would go round the shops with it until one night we stole it and hid it. One night we were down at a pub and she was out in a car. She came past and tried to attract our attention. We thought that we’d better disperse. We scattered and a couple of us ended up in Queen’s Drive in Nantwich where we were being overtaken by a film – a ship thing had passed which was this Morris 1000 van covered in brambles and weeds etc. There was something too about asking my sister the old question of days, the 21st, 24th and a couple of other occasions in that month. She found out the dates wrote them down on a piece of paper and stick them against the bridge behind my headboard in the dark.

Finally I had to go to Whitchurch to see a member of my father’s family. A letter had been delivered to my house for one of them. It was now 04:00 and we were finishing off the taxi work so I set off to deliver it. When I arrived at where I thought they lived I couldn’t identify the house. I saw something that might have been it and began to prowl around. In one of the outbuildings I found the bodyshell of an ancient 1950s Standard Vanguard Vignale … "actually a Phase I" – ed. There was also a set of number-plates on the floor written in Latin alphabet and then in Arabic. I wondered what they’d been doing with the number-plates off a Turkish lorry at one time. As I walked out of the barn I bumped straight into the guy. I came up with some kind of feeble excuse and handed him a letter. He seemed to be extremely delighted. I suddenly realised that it was his taxi wages that I was giving him. We had quite a chat. He asked me if we’d been busy on the taxis. I replied “very busy. I’ve not had my tea yet” and dawn was breaking the following morning”. Then I set out for home. As I was trying to put the key into the ignition some car tried to squeeze through the gap where I was parked. I told her to be a little patient but she snapped at me. When I set off I was driving on the wrong side of the road for a while. When I ended up in Whitchurch I was now on a bike. There was a cyclist in front of me moaning and complaining that I wasn’t in the correct lane, I was too close to him, all that kind of nonsense. He and I had a few words then I carried on heading for home.

Later on, the doctor came round to see how I was doing.

He gave me the famous bon de transport to go to Paris, another one for when these sessions at the Centre de Réeducation begin. Then there’s a prescription for something to help me in and out of the bath (not a student nurse, unfortunately) and finally, a prescription for an ergo-therapist.

An ergotherapist is one of those people who come to study your lifestyle and habits, and suggests ways and items that might improve your quality of life.

If he examines my lifestyle and habits he’ll have a hell of a shock.

Next step was to arrange the purchase of this IMac. I’ve decided that I’m going to buy it because at the very least it’ll replace the laptop that I’m using in the dining room to watch DVDs when I’m having my tea.

There was another visitor too. My cleaner came to see me and brought me my post. She’d heard about my story with the transport authorisation and as she’s going to the veg market tomorrow morning at Yquelon she can drop my form off as she’s passing, and also pick up my bathroom thing.

We went through a pile of stuff too about these chairlifts and tomorrow I’ll be ordering brochures.

Tea was later than usual – stuffed pepper and pasta. Just as nice as usual. So now I’m going to bed.

But I’m sickening for something again. This evening I’ve developed a really raging thirst and that’s always a sign that something is going on in my body. A collapse in health usually follows and what’s sad is that there isn’t much health left to collapse.

But if the Health Assurance people do agree to pay for my trip in a taxi to the hospital, that will be an enormous weight of my mind. I’m not looking forward to the trip if I have to go by train.

Sunday 2nd April 2023 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about something coming along to disturb me.

However that’s nothing to shout out about. After all, it’s pretty much odds-on, isn’t it?

But who – just WHO would ring up someone on a Sunday morning at an ungodly hour like 11:05 – that early in the morning?

When I find out, there will be someone drinking soup through a straw, that’s for sure, because if you really ARE going to ring someone up at that time of the morning then at least have the decency to stay on line instead of hanging up after just two rings.

And don’t do it a second time 5 minutes later either because that’s really annoying.

What was worse was that when whoever it was phoned up the first time, I found myself in the middle of dictating a dream. There’s a beautiful ‘phone ring right in the middle of it and of course I forgot where I was and lost half of my voyage, which was disappointing.

Things were going so well too. I wasn’t really all that late going to bed last night and although it was another restless night, I was hoping that quantity would make up for the lack of quality. Ahh well…

So instead I arose from the bed, had my medication, checked my mails and messages and then transcribed the dictaphone notes. My older sister had a bank account with Lloyds Bank and I had an account there too. While we were having a discussion several months later she’d actually transferred all her accounts from one branch to the other so she was no longer at the same branch as me. But when she’d phoned to make an appointment for herself to go she’d made one for me as well. This would be extremely complicated because where she’d arranged it they didn’t have my papers. I drove into town anyway but the car park in town was a pay car park. There was a long queue of traffic snarled up in the centre so I thought that I’d nip out to do what I had to do. I was distracted as usual and it took me very much longer to do something. When I looked up I saw that all the cars had gone. Mine was stuck in the middle of the road blocking all the traffic. I had to run over there to move it, and that wasn’t as straightforward as it might seem.

Later on I was somewhere in a town watching some people. Someone was playing the piano then someone went up there with him and they played a double handed piece that I recognised. This went on for quite a few minutes. It wasn’t until they began to talk mentioning their names that I realised that it was the Grateful Dead. I began to talk to them. One of the girls who was hanging around said something like “would you like to talk to Maureen?”. I began to wonder whether in fact this was Mo Tucker, the drummer of Velvet Underground but in the dream I confused her with the drummer of the Grateful Dead. We began to chat and she offered to show me her drum kit. I said “yes! I’d love to see it!”. She and her friends took me down some steps into a theatre, all the way through the theatre we had to fight our way through the crowds. At the bottom end right by the stage on the other side was her drum kit. It was a 1978 and she did say the name of it. I asked her if I could play it but there was someone else playing it so I couldn’t have a go. That was ever so disappointing. I asked if I could take a photo of her and her drum kit. There was something quite strange happening as well. Someone was talking about their secretary having gone off with a guy. While we were going through the theatre we bumped into a couple of other people who were following us. One of them of the two introduced himself, one of the organisers, and said “I’ve just been making love to your boss’s secretary”. He said it 4 or 5 times as if he wanted a round of applause. I thought to myself “that’s a strange thing to wan tthe whole world to know and want to be a subject of conversation”.

There was something else later about a woman who was locked in the lavatory. They went down to talk to her but for some unknown reason she didn’t want to come out. There was something happening or going on that she wanted to be part of. I can’t remember very much of this dream but in the end they found someone to go down to help her free herself. She was very insistent that she didn’t want to go right at that moment – they all didn’t want to leave. I was wondering how they were going to persuade her to leave once they open the door if she doesn’t want to go. There’s lots more to it than this in this dream but I can’t remember it all now.

Something else about which I’ve forgotten a lot – I’ve gone for a massage session with a physiotherapist, a girl. She massaged my back and legs then gave me a folder with a whole list of treatments etc in it. We arranged another appointment. It was coming up to some kind of festival like Mother’s Day or similar. The way she was talking was as if she was expecting me to do something for her, invite her out or something. It wasn’t very clear and I didn’t want to force any issue. The conversation turned round to what she’d heard at the weekend. She said that she’d been to a party where she’d done some massage and was the only one who had made any money. We talked about the state of the economy. I set off for home. On the way back I stopped by a café to check my money etc. A group of kids were at the tables. As usual with little kids they were very inquisitive. They were asking what I was doing etc. I was intending to talk to them but for some unknown reason I set off again. One of them came running after me with a piece of litter that I’d dropped out of my purse while I was sorting through my money. She saw me and gestured to me. I wondered what she was doing so I didn’t do anything. She just threw it on the pavement. That brought her a telling-off from a passer-by. At that point I realised that I hadn’t brought the paperwork back with me. I thought to myself “this is going to be difficult now”. There was also something about going to a florist and obtaining a blank receipt but I can’t remember why I wanted to do that now.

Finally I was on a bus in Crewe. There was a couple of girls on there as well talking about houses that were being built, these replacement terraced houses. They were being built of course to replace existing terraced houses and keep some kind of affordability. One girl was thinking of buying one and the other girl was trying to tell her that they would just be full of riff-raff and not worth doing anything. They were then talking about stuccoing. They asked my opinion and I said “stuccoing is not something that can be done by anyone. They need to be a specialist”. They said that it would improve the looks. I said “yes but it’s not for a DiY person”. Nantwich Road was blocked off so the bus was having to dodge down a few of these side streets to head off towards Nantwich. I ended up on foot. I was walking northwards from N antwich in what would have been the direction of Church Minshull but God knows where it was going. I seemed to be walking quite well. Someone behind me was listening to Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”. I could hear it so I was singing along to it. Then we came to a door. This road was closed off after hours. We had to pass through the door. There were a set of steps up. I was struggling to climb them so a couple of people had to push me. They pushed me up the steps and I came onto a kind of plateau where there was a big lake and lots of kids playing around.

It’s hardly surprising that I had a disturbed night after all of that. And that isn’t everything either because there’s other stuff that was going on too but you don’t want to know about that if you are eating a meal.

For the rest of the day I haven’t done all that much. I decided that I’d have a day off and that was that.

The pizza was something of a calamity if the truth is known. Not that it wasn’t made well or that it wasn’t cooked properly, but I had issues with the base. I had to have a couple of goes to roll it out onto my pizza tray but it didn’t work for some reason. I ended up with rather a mis-shapen pizza. But at least it tasted nice.

So now after what should have been a really relaxing day I’m off to bed. I have quite a bit of stuff to do tomorrow and a 06:00 start to do it as well. That should keep me out of mischief, but it doesn’t seem to have worked much so far.

Thursday 12th January 2023 – I’VE GIVEN UP …

… making a note of the time when I finally heave myself out of my stinking pit because it’s becoming rather embarrassing that all of my energy in this resepct has evaporated. Instead, I’ll try to concentrate on more positive aspects of everything – if I can actually find any.

It wouldn’t have been during the night though. I did my usual awakening at some silly time and then being unable to go back to sleep for hours. I once read someone’s thesis on Medieval sleeping patterns where there was mention of “first sleeps” and “second sleeps” with people getting up and performing tasks in between. I might not be old enough to remember any medieval sleeping patterns – it just feels like it right now.

Plenty of time to go off on a voyage here and there too. Someone was moving house last night and my family from Wardle was going to look after some stuff for a couple of days. Maybe they had some use for it or something. It was a case of bringing some of the stuff out of this house and putting it onto a trailer that would be towed by a van of theirs. First of all they had to go off somewhere so this girl and I stayed behind. We had to start to take the stuff outside but she was taking ages to do the slightest thing. We were going nowhere because she didn’t seem to have any enthusiasm or energy for the task. Eventually they turned up back so we made a better start. The first thing was these 3 enormous plants. She picked up 2 and went outside. I picked up the third but the stem broke quite low down. I thought “I’ve ruined this”. Then it was the case that she was bringing all kinds of stuff out that these people weren’t going to look after. I couldn’t see the point or purpose in doing that. She started to move bit by bit. The place was dirty and dusty, hadn’t been dusted for years by the looks of things. There were spiders everywhere. I thought that this is really not going to be how I would expect a furniture removal of this sort to be taking place. I felt that we were going to be here while she got organised.

Later during the night we were living in one of these families with children from different parentage. My mother was looking after a couple of children for which she was receiving some money per week. One of these children was actually my elder sister. We didn’t get on and we’d had several fights. One of them was really serious so my mother told me that she would send me away. I thought that if this is an issue between the 2 children and my mother has to choose one of them, why is she choosing the one for which she receives money and want to send away her own child. I made quite a big fuss or argument about all of this. I told her flatly that I wasn’t leaving. If they wanted me out of the house they would have to drag me out. Shortly after that my mother announced that she was having to go away. Because my elder sister and I didn’t get on, I would have to stay temporarily with people while she was away and come back later. Again I refused to go because I saw this for what it was, a plan to simply get me out of the house and once I’d gone they would be no way that she would bring me back in it again so once again I refused flatly to go.

And then I was about to be arrested for something or other. I knew that it was inevitable so I decided that I’d go and surrender myself. I was with 2 girls who might have been Alison and Jackie. I was going through all my paperwork with them making sure that they had everything that I needed. I had all my notes there and pointed out that there were other notes as well, the most recent of which were in a carrier bag in Caliburn on A4 paper folded in half. I went down the various phone numbers with them to make sure that they had them all. Suddenly the question of Zero cropped up. I wondered whether I should give them Zero’s phone number. In the end I decided that while one number more or less won’t make any difference so I gave them her number. I told them that if ever they were to ring it up and her father answered, not to speak to her father but to phone back another time because they would only every have one shot at talking to her. I wrote the number down but the pencil was very blunt. The number was very indistinct so I had to repeat it a couple of times. It didn’t really look like how it ended up being written but it was the best that I could do at that moment because I had a feeling that I ought to go straight away and not wait around any longer otherwise things would just become worse.

At some point I was visiting Clause and Francoise. They had some Ukrainian refugees staying with them, including a girl who I thought was quite cute. We were there, a group of us, hanging around until the evening. I had to go. They asked if I would be back tomorrow but seeing as it was 8 hours home then 8 hours back that might have sounded unlikely but I said to myself “yes, why not?”. I arranged to be there for 09:30 which was totally ridiculous. I set off and drove home like the wind, basically turn round and drive straight back again. The idea that I’d spend the night in a cheap hotel in Montlucon never ever occurred to me until I was well on my way back. As I pulled round the corner towards their house it was 09:35. I thought that I’d done really well to arrive like this. As I came to a stop I looked at my watch and saw that it was 08:30. My watch was clearly playing up. I wondered what on earth the time really was and whether they were still going to be there or if they were fed up and gone without me because I was so late.

Finally, I was in Shrewsbury. I had to come home by catching a coach. I boarded this coach and set off. It drove through the back streets at a hell of a pace and out into the countryside. Then it was me on foot escorting 2 people. I was basically having to crawl on my hands and knees with them. I could see that I was becoming slower and slower. It was quite obvious to me that I can’t keep on doing this. I’m going to have to stop. I’ll be lucky if I make it home. I put on a spurt and we climbed up this steep climb. At the top was this most beautiful view of the sea and inland. Everything from this craggy rock. We talked about the view and everything. They asked why the French didn’t advertise this more. I explained “yes, it’s French. It’s ice to visit and French people have the right to see it but they don’t want it to be overwhelmed. There were a few people round as well running around here and there. These 2 people headed off down the hill but I stood there to look around for a moment. There were people who were just letting themselves go, running full-tilt down this slope. I waited for a moment and when it was clear I ran full tilt down the slope too all the way down to the bottom. Then I looked for the 2 people whom I was conducting but couldn’t see them at all. I wondered where they had gone because they were nowhere in my view at all.

But it was interesting that once more Zero was lurking around in the background but something came up to stop her actually making an appearance. It’s been quite a few times now that that has happened and it’s probably a fact of some significance that she has failed to cross the threshold.

It appears to me that what goes on during the night has far more significance than it might appear at face value although I don’t think much of Freud’s ideas. This exercise that we did 20-odd years ago into dreams seemed to indicate that a dream was an episode of maybe half a dozen long-running threads that ran through someone’s subconscious life but what this actually meant, we never found out. The leader of this project graduated with his Master’s Degree as a result of our efforts but we never saw his thesis.

Today was supposed to be a radio day and indeed it was, although we haven’t set any records today – far from it. I hadn’t as much as sat down and warmed up the computer when I had a message “could I do a tribute for Jeff Beck?”.

Of course I can, but I wanted to do something of a difference. Everyone else will be playing his more famous stuff but I know of at least one unofficial recording that took place in a club when he was in an amateur group long before the Yardbirds, another that he did for a more famous rock star long before he was ever famous and also some session work that he did for a group from Bolton that Jimmy Page sent him via his sister.

Consequently most of the day has been spent following all kinds of casual leads from here or there and I’ve ended up with about 15 tracks, including the tracks for which I’d been looking and also a recording of the only track on which he sang when he was with the Yardbirds.

There’s some rare stuff in there, especially the track on which Jimmy Page plays bass and when I’ve finished writing up the notes (I’ve done the notes for 11 of the 15 songs) it will be something special. I shall see if I can finish it tomorrow morning.

In the middle of all of this, I stopped for a shower, seeing as the physiotherapist is going to be coming round later. Getting into the bath was easier today than it has been of late, and also I can get myself back upright from a kneeling position if there’s something on which I can hang on to pull myself up.

Ask me how I know.

While I was in there I set the washing machine going. There was much more than one machine-load to do so I shall have to do a second load in early course. At least the bedding has been washed and once it’s dried it will be ready. I need to change my bedding much more often than I do.

The physiotherapist regulated my crutches for me and then had me walking around the apartment practising for 10 minutes or so. And once I got the hang of how to walk with them it was much better than trying to hobble around. I’ll try to go for a walk tomorrow if the weather is nice – down to the supermarket on the bus and find some mushrooms and peppers. I’m not sure what else I might need – maybe some frozen peas or something. I’ve plenty of carrots, and if I mix up the beans and sprouts, I can keep that lot going for another week or two.

Talking of sprouts, I had some with my slice of vegan pie tonight with potatoes and gravy. It really was delicious and I shall have to make some more of that.

So I’ll go back and dictate the notes for the radio programme as far as I have done them so far. And then see whereabouts I can reach. I have my final track already planned, as well as my final speech, so it’s the bit in the middle that is the issue.

That will take some thought, but not at 23:00 in the evening.

Thursday 15th December 2022 – TONIGHT’S TEA …

… was sausage, beans and chips. And how beautiful it was too. I really enjoyed it.

One of my neighbours was going for a walk down to the shops this afternoon and he saw my note on the door so he came by to ask if I needed anything. Of course, if someone is going down to town on foot they can’t bring back very much of anything so a bag of potatoes it was.

At least my desire for chips is satiated for now and there’s enough for tea on Saturday night.

And in other news, I’ve had to make a start in tidying up the apartment as I’m going to have a visitor on Monday at lunchtime. I’ve finally managed to contact the doctor and he’s going to make a house call on Monday.

It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out once he comes round. What he’s going to say and what he’s going to suggest. At least it’s a start, but then again as I used to say back in the 70s when I was attending auctions as a buyer, it’s not where we start that’s important, it’s where we finish.

And to tell the honest truth, I’m probably finished already.

While we’re on the subject of finishing … “well, one of us is” – ed … I finished early last night and was in bed quite promptly looking forward to a good sleep.

Not that it worked out that way because I still had to leave the bed to go for a stroll down the corridor, and then apart from that I went off on quite a few little voyages during the night. We were living in Shavington and it was all quite primitive. We only had a cold water tap in the downstairs sink so I was trying to work out how I could make some kind of hot water tank underneath the sink with a candle to heat the water. I had a rough idea in my head but but it wouldn’t be particularly good. I spoke to my brother and said that maybe we ought to give it a go. My mother and my sister had been out somewhere. They came back in. We’d been watching a cowboy film but they switched over to watch The Clitheroe Kid. Then the two of them were in bed and were fighting over a sandwich that my sister was trying to eat in bed so I said something like “fancy swapping the TV over on our programme and then not going to watch it”. She said that we could swap back. It was right at the end, a Western something similar to one of the EL DORADO trilogy of films where the fight was over and the young boy was leaving. A young girl who had obviosly been close to this boy was practically in tears about him going but he said that he had to leave. “We’ve had 3 or 4 years of good times but it’s time to move on”. She was totally distraught about the whole idea of him leaving and rather than it being a happy ending it was a really sad, dramatic one. Even in my sleep I could feel how powerful the ending was.

Later on I had some money so I was going to invest it by buying a property in PIonsat, some apartments but it had to be a good quality apartment (not that there’s anything quite like that in Pionsat). I didn’t want to buy any old rubbish. There were several decent buildings in the town so I had a wander around and ended up at the bank. That was almost fraught because there was a traffic hold-up and a lorry decided that it would reverse down the High Street, nearly knocking me over as I crossed the road. In the bank I had to queue. It looked as if someone had forgotten his carrots but he walked off without them so I asked the guy in front of me if they were his. He said “no”. It was then my turn and I started to chat to this girl. This guy slipped a piece of paper “I know all about you” it said. “Don’t do it”. I asked “what on earth is this about?”. He said that someone chatted up a bank cashier and ended up meeting her in an alleyway and finished by murdering her. I said “I don’t remember this”. He replied “no, it was in 1968 so just you be careful”. I couldn’t understand what this guy was talking about. He was clearly not in the same world as the rest of us.

And then it was this summer and I was deciding to go into work very early, having spoken to someone who worked the early shift once this year. It would start at about 05:45 that meant that I would be in there by then. Of course my mother threw a fit, saying that I was never at home to help out. I told her that I was at home 24 hours per day 7 days per week except when I was at work, and going to work was normal. We had quite a row about it. When I arrived at work, rather than find the place empty there was someone around sticking up posters about the Roman excavations taking place in the wood. I was expected to go to work on some kind of bricklaying supervision. I tok myself out and was watching these bricklayers work while I was supervising this little group that I had with me. I felt that I was talking to myself all the time about what these bricklayers were doing. I thought that these few people here must have thought me totally crazy. When I concentrated on the work I found that we had a dip in one of the courses, a quite bad dip. There was no way that it could be rectified and we were going to have to take it all out again. There was one woman from work whom I came across as I was on my way into work who was sitting in a chair at the side of the road. She said “hello” to me so I said “hello” to her and didn’t think anything of it. Then I saw in the paper that she’s actually been in prison and was on some kind of rehabilitation course so I don’t know what she was doing at that particular moment, just sitting by the side of the street saying hello to passers-by unless it was part of her rehabilitation.

As you might expect, we have the family back in the equation but none of my favourite characters. That’s something that I find quite depressing.

When the alarm went off, I was in no mood to leave the bed. In fact if I hadn’t had to go down the corridor one more time I’d probably still be in there now.

Having slowly come round, I made a start on the radio programme that I wasn going to do, but my heart wasn’t in it. It took me much longer than anyone could ever imagine to complete it, not helped by crashing out on a couple of occasions and then a break to call the doctor.

When my neighbour called, I was fast asleep yet again. That seems to have been the story of my day, but I’m glad that he awoke me because tonight’s tea really was delicious.

After tea I had a long chat with Liz on the internet where we put the world to rights for a good while.

So right now I’m off to bed early again, in the hope that one night at least I’ll have a really good night and a good sleep to go with it. And if one of my three favourite young ladies could come and keep me company, then so much the better.

Wednesday 21st September 2022 – I KNOW THAT …

… this is rather late being posted, but better late than never and if a thing is good it’s worth waiting for. And so is this

mont st michel by night Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022In fact I’ve been out and about today and didn’t return home until after midnight, when I would let it all hang out.

So while you admire a couple of photos of Mont St Michel in the darkness, I shall tell you all about my busy day.

As usual, the alarm went off at 07:30 and after the medication etc I set about tidying up because I was going to have some visitors today. I seem to be in demand just now

And it’s a good job that I’d started early because they came early too and I wasn’t ready. I had a few things that I hadn’t done so I had to to finish off while I was chatting.

That’s rather an uncomfortable situation to be in but at least having visitors around means that I have to keep the place looking something like tidy.

mont st michel by night Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There was such a lot of things to say so we had a coffee and spent quite a while chatting, but it was such a nice day yesterday that it was a shame to waste it.

When they had been here the other day i’d mentioned about the beautiful views along the coast so I reckoned that that would be quite a nice drive today, and so we hit the road, Jack, or Jacques seeing as we are where we are.

The obvious place to go to in this nice weather is the viewpoint up on the Pointe de Carolles where there is the Cabanon Vauban. We’ve been here several times before but my visitors haven’t so off we went. I couldn’t actually remember where the turning was so we almost drove past it

tombelaine mont st michel from pointe de carolles Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022It was something of a long slow path across the fields once we’d parked the car, but the view from the end was worth it.

It’s one of the best views of Mont St Michel from up here, with the island of Tombelaine over to the left.

The tide is well out as you can see, and in certain conditions it’s possible to walk from the coast at Genets over to Tombelaine and Mont St Michel and it’s quite a popular thing to do. But you need a guide who knows the way because it’s not an easy trip and there’s no marked path.

There was plenty of marine traffic down there in the bay too, including a trawler that was having a go with its nets out to see what it could pull up.

fire on brittany coast Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022But also over on the brittany side there was a fire in one of the small towns.

It’s not possible to say what it was at this distance – whether it was a bonfire or a house fire, but it looked as if it had been burning for a while.

We went for a walk along the clifftop but we couldn’t see very much else – I’m not up for clambering over the rocks these days – so in the end we headed for the car, once I remembered the correct trail. I seem to be forgetting everything.

And then we went back to the main road to carry on southwards.

tombelaine mont st michel viewed from champeaux Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There’s another viewpoint further along the road at Champeaux and I couldn’t remember where that was for a moment either.

The view from here is even better so when we eventually reached it we stopped here as well

Tombelaine was at one time the site of a monastic cell where in the 11th Century two monks from Mont St Michel came to live the life of hermit. The place was fortified in 1204 after the English had been expelled from Normandy and then by the English during the Hundred Years War.

There were various plans, such as to create a mini-Mont-St Michel here or, to turn it into a tourist destination but in the end it’s become a site for birdwatching (but not the kind of birds that I would be interested in watching) and is owned by the State and classed as a National Treasure.

st jean le thomas viewed from champeaux Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There’s also a good view from up here down onto the town of St Jean le Thomas.

The town was gifted by “William of the Long Sword” to the monks of Mont St Michel in 917AD but there was some conflict 200 years later between the monks and another “Lord of the Manor” about wood-cutting rights so it seems that the gift wasn’t as complete as it might otherwise have been.

There was a castle there at one time but Philippe-Augustus, King of France 1180-1223 ordered the castle to be surrendered to the monks and destroyed. At the turn of the 20th Century all of the remains of the castle had gone.

The narrow-gauge tacot railway line from Granville ran through here between 1908 and 1935. I’m not sure what there is that remains of the railway network in the town today. I suppose that one of these days I ought to go and have a look.

SAMU service d'aide medicale urgente helicopter airbus H145 T2 avranches Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022By now we were hungry so we headed into Avranches for a snack.

We parked up the car and headed into town on foot. And as we did so we were overflown by a helicopter.

It’s not the Air-Sea Rescue helicopter that we usually see but one that belongs to the SAMU – the Service D’aide Medicale Urgente or “Emergency Medical Services” so I suppose that it’s the local air ambulance.

She’s an Airbus H145 T2 and we’ve seen a few of those flying around here. It’s the later version of the Air-Sea Rescue’s Eurocopter EC 145.

Once again we had to struggle to find something to eat but finally a little café came up trumps with some sandwiches.

castle avranches Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022We could sit outside in the sun where there was a really good view of the castle at Avranches.

Shame as it is to say it, I’d forgotten all about this castle. Its origins date from the middle of the 10th Century and was one of the earlies recorded stone castles. However there is no trace of that construction remaining. What we see dates to the time of William the Conqueror.

It’s actually built by the Dukes of Normandy on a promontory overlooking the baie de Mont St Michel on a site that was known to have been occupied by the Celts and then by the Romans.

From its position it could obstruct the passage of Breton forces in the days before both Brittany and Normandy were part of the Kingdom of France.

The castle was surrendered to the French in 1203 and was fought over on many subsequent occasions, including in 1944 when considerable damage was caused to the fabric of the building.

Back to the car after a very long chat and we headed off for our final destination.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, parking at Mont St Michel costs an arm and a leg and we were only going to be here for a couple of hours.

However a friendly café owner, having served us a couple of coffees, informed us that as we were now customers of hers, we could leave the car on her car park. She told us how to unhitch the barrier later and we expressed our gratitude in monetary terms.

mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022There was a 15-minute walk to the shuttle terminus and a 15-minute wait for a bus to arrive, and then we were off.

My friends were quite impressed with the push-me-pull-you nature of the bus and, as they had never been here before, with the view that we had of the Mont as we approached it.

And as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … it’s all changed considerably since I first came here 40 or so years ago. The causeway was different and there was no official car park either. You drove down here and parked where you could.

In those days I’ve seen more than a few cars have to be winched out from the rapidly-approaching tide.

powered hang glider mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022And as we alighted from the bus, we had one of our old friends come to visit us.

When we’ve been wandering around the clifftops back at home we’ve seen the powered hang-gliders dozens of times coming back from the head of the bay and I’ve often speculated that they have been for a look at what’s going on down here.

Sure enough, one of them, the red one, flew past overhead as we walked the rest of the way towards the walls so we all said “hello” and continued on our respective ways.

porte de l'avancée mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022bathed in the glorious early evening sunset is the entry, the Porte de L’Avancée.

Although there is, officially at any rate, only one way in, changes in technology over the past have meant that the original entrance, buit shortly after the Fall of Normandy when the inhabitants were massacred by Breton soldiers, was insufficient to defend the mount from invasion.

And this although the Porte de L’Avancée is the first part of the entrance that you encounter, it was actually almost the last part of the fortifications to be built, as far as I can tell, and dates from 1530.

tour gabriel mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Over to the left is the Tour Gabriel or “Gabriel’s Tower”.

This was perhaps the last part of the fortifications to be built and dates from 1534. It was built on the orders of Gabriel du Puy who was in charge of the mount at the time. Because it’s round, it has a really good field of fire that can defend the entrance from attack by sea in this direction.

There was a windmill built on the tower in 1627 and the tower even served as a lighthouse.

The building in front of it is more modern although I’ve not been able to find out the date on which it was built. But it’s outside the walls so it presumably dates from a period when the military funnction of the mount ceased.

ramparts tour du roy tour de la liberté mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Over on the right are the ramparts, the Tour du Roy, the “King’s Tower”, and theTour de la Liberté, “Liberty Tower”.

The Tour du Roy and the little Tour de l’Arcade that you can just about make out to its right date from the improvements of 1417 at the height of the Hundred Years War, presumably after Henry V of England landed in Normandy on 1st August and laid siege to Caen, which he captured on the 17th.

The Tour de la Liberté used to be known until 1789 as the Tour Beatrix and although I found the plans for it, I’ve not been able to find the date of its construction. It was certainly here in 1434 as it was reported as damaged by cannon fire in a siege by the English, and was repaired in 1441 and reconstructed in 1479.

There were important building works to strengthen the fortifications between 1389 and 1410 and it’s likely that it dates from that period.

mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022As for the abbey itself, this is what everyone comes to see, although I’m not going to see it as I’d never get up the hill.

The village itself is known to have existed in 709 but before that, as a result of several alleged miracles, it was a site of pilgrimage and the Abbots of the cathedral at Avranches promoted the site in various written tracts. Some kind of church was erected in the village and was gradually expanded.

Some monks came here to seek sanctuary but their church was sacked by the Vikings in 847.

It was re-established later but in 965 the construction of the Abbey began. In 1022 Richard Duke of Normandy gave to the monks the Ile de Chausey who then used rock from the islands to expand the Abbey.

However by the mid-18th Century the place was starting to fall into ruins and the French Revolution finished it off.

It was declared a “national Monument” as early as 1862 and restoration began shortly afterwards.

maison de l'artichaut mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022This is the Maison De L’artichaut, so-called because its decorations on the spire are said to resemble artichokes.

It was actually created as part of the Hotellerie de la Licorne – the “Hostel of the Unicorn” which dates from the 15th Century.

It was declared a “Historic Monument” in 1918 and the upper part in 1936, however it’s not stated in the Formal Notice when it was actually built. One can only assume that it was built either at the same time or shortly after the Hotellerie de la Licorne.

On the right just here are the steps that lead up to the ramparts but I wasn’t going for a stroll up there.

porte du roy mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022This here is the Porte du Roy – the “King’s Gate”.

This is another addition from the work of 1417. With no ditch here at the time, the mount was easy to attack and difficult to defend so a ditch was dug and the gate was built, with a drawbridge to protect the entrance.

There was also a metal portcullis here to defend the entrance.

Nevertheless all of this was still insufficient so another entrance was built in 1440, part of which you can see through the arch, because of the advances in artillery that rendered the gate obsolete.

The final entrance that we saw earlier in was added in 1530 following further advances in artillery and offensive techniques..

You can see all of the steps up to the ramparts again on the left of the photo.

grande rue mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022This is the Grande Rue or “High Street”. I reckon that just about every building in here is a listed National Monument.

And it was here that I abandoned my friends for a while and let them carry on up the hill. It had defeated me so I wandered back outside to wait for them and to have a look around while they carried on trudging up the hill.

And while I was waiting outside I took many of the photos that you saw just now.

When they returned we had a very leisurely walk back to the bus stop, and then an even more leisurely wait for a bus to arrive. There are only two running right now so it was a very long wait.

sunset mont st michel Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022At least, the wait meant that we had a good opportunity to see the sun setting. That was quite beautiful.

Back at the shuttle terminal we walked back to the café, rescued the car and I took the photos of Mont St Michel in the darkness as the lights came on.

We had a good drive back to Granville and I invited them to a restaurant where I treated them to a meal to thank them for a wonderful day out. And as a result it was after midnight when I returned home.

No time to write up my notes so I’ll do that tomorrow. which I did, hence the amended page.

And I also transcribed the dictaphone notes too. There was a trawler whose registration number was something like KVKLNO something or other. We’d been to a football match watching Morton. people were saying about how poor the side was these days. I was thinking that it’s not a case of how poor the side was, it’s a case of the money becoming tight everywhere and they are suffering. A subject came up that involved trawlers. One of the group said that thanks to someone else but I can’t remember who, they were saved from certain events that might have happened invloving this trawler because that particular person made them aware of things but I can’t remember what that was.

There was something going on last night with my beige Cortina. I was at home and talking to my sister. She was cleaning the house really deeply but we didn’t have all that long to wait before we had to go out so I couldn’t understand why she had suddenly started on this plan. One of the topics of conversation was the local councillor when we lived in Shavington. He was my age and had been on a student exchange with me. On one particular coach trip coming back from somewhere there had been a few shenanigans as you would expect with a bunch of teenagers. He’d been a part of all of this yet here he was 30 years later being all “Holier Than Thou”. Of course everyone remembered him and we made our best to make sure that everyone knew exactly what had been happening back in those days.

Wonders will never cease.

Monday 19th September 2022 – WE ALMOST HAD …

yacht baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022… a new record for the completion of our radio programme this morning. So while you admire several photos of the marine activity out on the water today I’ll tell you all about it.

Actually, I’m not quite sure what happened today but at about 10:10 this morning I was about to start dictating the final speech for the last track, and once that it would be edited, it would be done.

For some reason though, probably an error of mathematics, I ended up with 10 seconds too much of speech. That was quite disappointing because I’d taken great care to make sure that the length of speech was correct. One like of text in my text editor is about 290 characters and that equates to about 17 seconds when it’s edited down so I have a reasonable idea of how long a piece of text takes to dictate.

So finding 10 seconds of speech to “lose” from what I’ve already dictated and merged into the programme so far isn’t as easy as it might be. Sometimes there’s a nice piece of speech that is ripe for editing out but there might be the introduction of the track of music to which it relates that overruns it.

yacht baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Anyway, while it finally saw the light of day at about 10:50, which is still quicker than quite a few that I’ve done just recently.

But almost as soon as I started to listen to it to make sure that it was OK, Rosemary rang me up. I’m convinced that she hid a camera in here when she came to visit a few years ago. Anyway, we had one of our lengthy chats again.

But the good news is that Miss Ukrainian has started school today at the High School in the nearest town to where Rosemary lives. I’m sure that that’s a good idea.

Even if she can’t speak French and follow the lessons, she’ll be mixing with kids of her own age. Where she’s living right now there’s no-one around at all of her age and a young teenager needs to socialise

speedboat baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022But meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … apartment, last night was something of a mess.

It was later than intended that I went to bed, and then I didn’t have much sleep because I must have travelled miles during the night. To start off there was a lady-friend of mine. I don’t know who she was but she started to date someone who was a cross between Boris Johnson and Bill Bailey and only had one leg. he was a famous politician and would sneak away from meetings etc to be with her. On one occasion the two of us had booked somewhere to stay but there was only one double-bed so we thought that we’d just have to make the best of it. Biy he turned up as well so it ended up with three of us in the bed. I went out to go to the bathroom ready to go to bed. He and this woman were in there so I said to them on parting “don’t forget later on in the night that your partner is the one on your right. When I prepared to go to bed his security team was there. They were looking for him so I didn’t say anything. I went back to another room after I’d had a wash in order to leave them to it for a while.

yacht school baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Back in the same dream later I was up and about. Those two were still in bed. Meantime the house was filling up with people. Eventually the woman got up and came in to join us. I asked her if she knew what “discussing Uganda” meant. She replied that she didn’t. I said that if I come out with the phrase, do me a favour of bursting out laughing and I’ll explain it to you later”. She wondered what I meant by that. Eventually he came out of the room. I explained that Zero (who must have put in an appearance somewhere but shame as it is to say it, I can’t remember her being there)’s mother had been to collect her, implying that we had a young child in the house at the time last night etc. After about 10 minutes of embarrassed chatting from their side I said that I’m going off to wash my hair so I’ll leave them alone and they can “discuss Uganda” or something like that. The other people in the house knew exactly what that meant and burst out laughing. I went into the bathroom, used the bathroom and went to wash my hands and found that someone had coupled the shower up to the tap and hadn’t undone it afterwards. As soon as I turned on the tap the water went everywhere and soaked the bathroom. I managed to stop it, opened the bathroom door and hurled a huge volley of abuse about the person who’d had a shower and left the shower attachment attached to the sink and not removed it at the end. Of course you can guess who that probably was but it was an impressive volley of abuse all the same. I started to look for something to clean up the mess.

Back in this dream for a third time. I said that Zero had gone home and the kids who had been on the trampoline were leaving. I gathered that those 2 had gone back to bed again so I made some remarks about “ships that pass in the night” etc while they were there and various other things to give the game away that I knew exactly what had happened although I said them in a manner that implied that I knew nothing.

Moving on from there, there was a big party in the office. The office was absolutely filthy. There was stuff all over the place. There was only one girl and I think that it might have been my elder sister who was attempting to tidy it up. I wasn’t going home as I had something arranged in the town so I stayed behind and helped her as best as I could. I did several huge bowls of washing up. Then it came to be 19:10 so I went to put back everything that I’d done so far. She asked how the room was so I told her that it was still a mess. I told her what I’d done. She said “OK, you’d better wander off now and do what you have to do. I’m going to be late in the morning” she said. “I’m not going to be in at my usual early morning time”. I said “never mind. I’ll try my best to be there myself something early and see what happens”. I was really disappointed that all our colleagues, none of them would stay behind and help and none of them were interested in coming along to open up the office tomorrow either.

When the alarm went off I was in the middle of a meeting with the owners of this building but they were only just setting up the bottles of water for people to drink and I never found out what went on. It was all about some abandoned farmhouse and buildings on the side of a main road that they were talking about demolishing even though it was nice, old Victorian stuff. It would have made a really nice conversion to flats and houses etc rather than being just swept away.

Anyway so when the alarm went off I did manage to leap to my feet quite quickly even though it was early, and after the medication I cracked on with the radio programme, as I mentioned earlier.

There were a couple of interruptions. Firstly for an early morning coffee and secondly to answer the door. The nurse had finally printed out my vaccination certificate from last June. Just one or two things that I need to do now.

Having listened to the radio programme and also the one that I’ll be sending off for this weekend, I went for my lunchtime fruit And then I had the notes on the dictaphone to deal with.

So I stepped back into a dream not just once but twice last night. And a mention of Zero too. What a shame I can’t remember her being about although I know that she must have been there.

hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022After all of that it was time for me to go out for my afternoon walk around the headland.

And once again, it seems that the Nazguls were waiting for me to step outside the door again. I hadn’t gone more than three feet outside the building when one of them came swooping over the roof of the High School and heading in my direction.

A solo outfit too, but not to worry. There were several others waiting around in the distance, some of which were two-seater Nazguls. So at least there’s still an opportunity to go for a flight around.

And I haven’t forgotten …

paddle board people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022So dodging the diving Nazguls I wandered over to the wall at the end of the car park to see what was happening down on the beach.

But first, my attention was focused on the events just offshore. yesterday we had a zodiac watching events unfold on the beach. Today, we have a paddle-boarded paddling past.

There were a few people down there as well for him to watch. Probably a dozen or so scattered about all over there.

No-one in the water as far as I could see, but then again the paddle-boarder hasn’t fallen in yet. There’s still plenty of time for that.

cormorants baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Lots of other stuff down there for me to watch as well.

As I made my way along the path amongst the people who were wandering around, I noticed that out there on a rock just offshore was a whole colony of birds.

Cormorants, I reckon, but what do I know? All that I do know is that they aren’t any kind of bird which I would be interested in watching. I should have paid much more attention, because when we were married I had several long lectures from Nerina about bird-watching.

What I could do I suppose is to go on and on about how I don’t particularly like those birds, but it would just be another cormo-rant.

F-GCUM - Robin DR400-180 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022and so on that note I suppose that I’d better carry on with my walk and see what’s hapening with the aeroplane that has just taken off from the airfield.

It’s one of the aeroplanes that we see quite regularly as we are walking along the cliffs around here. She’s F-GCUM, a Robin DR400-180 that belongs to the local aero club.

My photo is timed at 16:01 (adjusted) which corresponds with a flight that she undertook when she took off at 15:15 and flew northwards. That’s not a usual flightpath for an aeroplane out of the airfield. usually they go out to sea and then down the coast to the south.

F-GCUM - Robin DR400-180 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022However there was something bizarre about the flight that she was undertaking just now.

As I watched her, she did a U-turn and headed back towards the airfield, almost as if when she had taken off but the pilot had forgotten his sandwiches.

Her actual flight plan though was she went north, as I said just now, and then flew back south, back over the airfield and out to sea but after just a couple of miles she performed a rather dramatic U-turn and flew back towards the airfield.

Once back over the airfield she carried on inland, performed yet another U-turn and back to the airfield where she landed at 16:09.

My route along the top of the cliff and across the car park was pretty much without incident today. Just a few craft out at sea that you have already seen, and no change either in the inner harbour or in the chantier naval.

mercedes tourismo iveco mercedes tourismo coaches boulevard vaufleury Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo September 2022Now that the heaving masses have headed back home at the end of the holiday season, we have the next generation of visitors.

The town and the cliffs are crawling with the pensioners out of the caravanettes or day-tripping on the fleets of coaches that are now arriving.

The poor little Iveco that waits to take the Homework Club schoolchildren back home at 17:00 is sandwiched between two rather large Mercedes Tourismo coaches, and thanks to Duncan Payne on the “Bus and Coach” group for identifying the bodywork.

It’s a good job that he did too. The driver of the brown one with whom I had a lengthy chat didn’t know and the driver of the green one drove off when he saw me approaching.

Unfortunately I’m out of the loop these days. I was left behind on Van Hool Alizees and Plaxton Premieres. I can’t believe that it’s almost 28 years since I last drove a coach after all the miles that I did in the past.

Back here I had a coffee and then I had a few things to do which took me up to teatime.

My stuffed pepper tonight was a really good one. I have really grasped the principle of those now. Plenty of stuffing left over for a taco roll tomorrow and maybe even some more to add into Wednesday’s curry.

But right now that’s that. Tomorrow I have a Welsh lesson and I hope that there will be more than four of us. But to be on the safe side I shall have to have a good night’s sleep and do some more revision tomorrow.

That is, if I can remember.

Sunday 12th June 2022 – I CAN’T EVEN HAVE …

hang gliders place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022… have a Day of Rest on my Day of Rest, can I?

Sunday is a day when I’m supposed to be having a decent lie-in to catch up with whatever I’ve missed during the week and to tell the truth I would probably still be in bed right now except that I had a rather urgent need to go for a ride on the porcelain horse round about 09:20.

And that killed my lie-in stone-dead, regrettably.

So while you admire a few photos of the various forms of aerial activity that took place around the town this afternoon, I’ll tell you about my rather depressing day today.

hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022After I’d had my medication this morning I came back here and made a start on work.

What I had to do was to pair off the music for the next radio programme that I’ll be preparing on Monday. Not that I’ll be doing very much tomorrow, I reckon. If the last few days is anything to go by, I’ll be lucky if I’ll be able to haul myself out of bed at any kind of reasonable time tomorrow.

And then, regrettably, I fell asleep again and that was that. I was still stark out when Ingrid telephoned me and you’ve no idea how difficult it is to hold a conversation with anyone when all you want to do is to sleep.

As a result of the foregoing I had a rather late lunch again.

red powered hang glider place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022After lunch I had a kilo of carrots to peel and blanch ready to freeze and then I had a listen to what had happened during the night on the dictaphone.

I’d been out somewhere and my elder sister had come with me. She was dressed in a pair of thigh-high black leather boots, black trousers and a black jacket. We went to wherever it was and came back. She started to undress in the middle of the room which I thought was a strange thing to do. She told me “you’ve seen all this before” which of course I probably had but not from my sister. It wasn’t the kind of stuff that I was particularly wanting to see. She just peeled herself out of her clothes like peeling a banana. I thought that this was a strange thing to do.

yacht speedboat la grande ancre baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022And then we were talking about Jeeps and things. Someone was asked to describe a Jeep. They said that it was like a Land Rover where all the bodywork had been bent backwards and warped because they’ve just been driving through a housing estate somewhere that was being built and had hit a raised manhole. The Land Rover had stuck on it but of course the momentum had caused all the bodywork to twist and warp on it. It had made a real mess of everything.

There was also a teacher bringing a party of schoolchildren over on a catamaran. As he was bringing them in close to port he was going round reminding them not to ask anyone any stupid questions when they docked. I can’t remember how this developed.

yachts cabin cruiser baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022and finally there was a story about how a village in Russia had been hit by Bubonic Plague. People had heard all kinds of mysteries going on about this place. They had been issuing jigsaws to people to piece together to try to work out what was the answer. Someone finally completed one and left it in the street completed and cleared off quickly. The village was closed and no-one was allowed in or out and everyone was dying, even the medical staff. The leader of the medical staff there was dead and had the place at the top of the roll of honour of those who had died

There was time for half an hour on the acoustic guitar too before I was ready for going out for my afternoon walk. I don’t want to forget what I’ve spent all this time learning. And while I was at it, I worked out a simple chord structure to CITY OF LIGHTS by RUNRIG.

Strangely enough, I seem to recall a while ago someone saying that he wasn’t going to learn any more new songs but just go with what he’d got at that point. I wonder who that was.

But since that date 26 songs have somehow been added to it, all of which I play at some point or other and of which 15 are on the playlist

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022But anyway that was the cue for me to go off for my walk around the city walls this afternoon.

First stop is, as usual, a look down onto the beach to see what was happening there today. And with it being a really nice afternoon (I ended up in shirt sleeves at some point) there were quite a few people down there today.

Even a few taking to the water too. In fact this had me trying to think of when I was last swimming in the sea and apart from when I fell in when I was up in the High Arctic in 2018, it was when I was in Greece in 2013

Hans and I were actually talking about Greece a while ago and I happened to mention “the last time I was in Athens was with your sister!” That’s the kind of remark that kills a conversation stone-dead, especially when it’s the truth.

repairing medieval city walls rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022And while I’m here I thought that I’d have a good look at the repairs to the medieval city wall.

They have been doing some more dismantling. Quite a lot more has been demolished compared to the last time that we were here. It looks as if they are making a thorough job of it all, and quite right too.

Much as I would have liked to, I didn’t go down the steps to look at what was happening at the outside of the wall. And for obvious reasons too. Going down the steps is one thing. Coming back up is something else completely, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

lobster pot buoy baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022Instead I wandered off through the arch and along the path outside the walls towards the Plat Gousset.

Offshore in the bay, as well as all of the boats that we have already seen, there were a few more of these buoys with flags on top.

We’ve had this discussion on several occasions, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and I reckon that they indicate where the local fishermen have dropped their lobster pots so they know where to go to pick them up again.

And as I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I wonder how they manage to train a lobster to actually go on one.

kite surfer baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022It wasn’t just lobster pots, yachts, cabin cruisers and La Grande Ancre who were out there in the bay either.

The number of hang gliders in the air will give you some kind of indication of how windy it was this afternoon, and there was a kite surfer out there making the most of it too.

We saw a couple of them in the bay on the other side of the headland a couple of days ago but we haven’t see one on this side of the headland for a while. It’s a sure sign that “Sumer is a–cumen in. Lhude sing cucu”, hey?

tidal swimming pool diving platform plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022There were quite a few people wandering around on the path this afternoon so I had to fight my way through the masses down to the viewpoint overlooking the Plat Gousset.

And they still haven’t fitted the diving platform onto the concrete pillar down there. Summer is going to be here and gone before they get round to doing it at this rate

Plenty of people in the water here though, but then access from the promenade to the beach is much easier than scrambling down the steps in the Rue du Nord.

Despite the renovations to the tidal swimming pool, it’s still not holding water between high tides. I thought that was rather the point of it

people on beach plat gousset Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022You can see what I mean by the access to the beach from the promenade.

There are a couple of ramps and a set of steps that are by no means as challenging as those at the Rue du Nord. And that’s why there are crowds of people down there sitting in the sand.

They are out of the wind too thanks to the headland.

The red machine that we saw down there working with a pile of dislodged rocks is still there too. That’s going to be quite an interesting job of work. I wonder what the purpose of it all is. I suppose that I shall find out in due course.

baby seagulls with mother seagull rue des juifs Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022Having finished my inspection of the Plat Gousset I wandered off down the Square Maurice Marland to see how the seagulls were doing.

The two chicks that I have been observing were huddled up in some shade this afternoon and I couldn’t take a good photograph so in the end I had to settle with another bunch of chicks, with a very proud mummy standing guard over them

Plenty of sea-going activity in the bay this afternoon but there wasn’t anything exciting going on in the inner harbour this afternoon that we haven’t seen before so I left them to it and wandered off towards home and my strawberry smoothie.

artists fair rue notre dame Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022In the old town this afternoon it’s the Artists’ Fair.

There are plenty of artists in the old town with all kinds of galleries and today was when they were having a sale of unsold work. And frankly I could see why it was unsold because it was either far too overpriced or the quality wasn’t up to all that much.

This modern art, surrealism and impressionism with huge swirls of colours, seems to be all the rage but it’s not something that I like at all. I prefer art to be like a photograph, a faithful representation of a view, with skill and talent.

Something that actually looks like what it’s supposed to be, painted by someone who knows how to paint. But these days I’d be embarrassed to put most of what I see on my wall. I know what I want for my apartment, and I know how much I’m going to pay for it too.

Back here, I crashed out yet again for an hour or so and then I did a pile of Welsh revision, going through some of the stuff that I’d written over the last two weeks.

In between all of this, I had some bread to make. I used the last of the loaf on Friday so I made another pile of dough which I left on one side to proof for a while.

After lunch I’d taken out a lump of pizza dough from the freezer and that had been defrosting. By now that was ready so I kneaded it and rolled it out, putting it on the pizza tray so that that could proof too.

home made bread vegan pizza place d'armes Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo June 2022While the bread was baking I assembled my pizza and when the bread was baked I put it in the oven to bake as well.

The bread looks absolutely perfect and the pizza didn’t look too bad either. It tasted quite delicious too and I’ll tell you about the bread tomorrow after I’ve sampled it for lunch.

And talking about tomorrow I took out the next batch of fruit buns from the freezer ready to defrost, and put the carrots in there to freeze for the next couple of weeks.

When I finished tea I washed up a pile of stuff in the kitchen and came in here to write up my notes.

Now I’m off to bed. I have an early start in the morning to prepare a radio programme and I’m not looking forward at all to doing it. I’m really not feeling much like anything at all right now.