Tag Archives: place d’armes

Monday 15th July 2024 – SO H-HOUR …

… is 13:00 tomorrow. At least, that’s what time I’m expected to be present and standing by my bed. The operation will presumably be rather later than that.

and that’s a shame. I was hoping for an early start, while the knife is still sharp, but it’s not to be. The taxi is coming for me at 12:15 and then it’ll be “panic stations” for the next God-knows how long.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have a horror of hospitals, tubes, pipes and the like. Since all of this began in 2015 I’ve been living my nightmare almost every single day and believe me, it’s not made me any more accustomed to it.

Something else to which I am not accustomed is “going to bed early”. It won’t be happening today but it did last night. Being in bed before my target time of 23:00 is a very rare event these days indeed.

And I slept the Sleep of the Dead too, all the way through until 06:15 when the glass lorry came to collect the glass from the recycling bin across the road.

And if you want to know a good definition of “noise”, stand outside here when he drops the contents of the bin into the back of his lorry.

He made such a racket that I was thinking of getting up to face the day but discretion is the better part of valour and I curled up under the quilt again to have my money’s worth

When the alarm went off I headed to the bathroom to sort myself out and then came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. We were having some kind of holiday, people who were handicapped or disabled in some way or other had gone to a holiday camp. There was a compere there trying to introduce everything. He was dressed in sandals and socks, and his sandals were far too big for him. He was generally crooning away there and I thought to myself “look at the state of him”. I happened to mention it to a couple of other people who wee in one of the rooms that they should have gone to look at him but they thought that there was nothing happening in the other rooms so I told them that they’d be surprised. There were about 20 people altogether milling around in the three or four different rooms. Things looked as if they might be starting to liven up, and not before time. While I was back there with my head stuck in the door looking at what was happening in that room someone noticed me and said that they had an invitation here for the Duchess of Claibourne. I told them to pass the invitation to me because I knew all about it. She’s being asked to prepare to appear on a TV programme, something like “Tomorrow’s World” or something like thzt and I know all about it. Even so it was still surprising that they’d asked these people to look after the Duchess of Claibourne when their own meeting was pretty poorly attended and there wasn’t a great deal of anything going on with the proceedings and last night it wasn’t until 23:00 that they could go to bed (… fell asleep here …) so in one of the rooms with some of the people in it there was a room with a drinking container with a handle on it for people who needed it. There was something going on in there but I fell asleep while I was trying to line it up to see what was happening so I missed the beginning of what was going on with all these uninspiring people being here and being in charge of the organisation.

As for who the Duchess of Claibourne is, she’s a character in a series of books written by someone called CS Harris and I can safely say without fear of contradiction that I’d absolutely no idea that there ever was such a person, real or fictitious, and I’ve never read a book by the aforementioned author. Where the name has come from in my dream I have no idea. But there was a lot of talk about 15 years ago about these holiday camps for disabled people, so it’s taken quite a while to come round to feature in a dream. Quite frankly, I can’t think of anything more ghastly. I’d rather stay at home, I reckon, the presence of the Duchess of Claibourne notwithstanding.

When the nurse came round she bandaged me up, had a little chat and then left. I have the impression that she’s trying to raise my morale right now which is nice of her. I could certainly do with it. It’s a shame she won’t be there in Avranches to hold my hand.

After breakfast I came back in here, and then had to track down the details about my next Welsh course. I have to sign up before the end of the month so I thought that I’d do it today.

With a little help from one of my friends I managed to find the correct course (at least, I hope that it’s the correct one) and while I was at at, I found a week’s course with another provider that starts when my next Summer School finishes and goes over what we (should have) learned this year.

One of my plans was to redo this year because I’d missed most of it with my various appointments and to do it with another provider to save embarrassment, but this seems to be the best of both words. Not to mention that it’s only going to cost £15:00 and I even have 50% discount from that.

In the future I’ll be looking out for a few more short courses like this. I’ve probably done half a dozen or so at least and it keeps me off the streets.

My cleaner put her sooty foot in the door too. She’d been into town this morning and they had the disinfectant stuff that the nurse needs so she dropped off a packet. I need to keep the nurse stocked up with supplies. But this place, there’s so much in the way of medication around here that I could open a pharmacy.

The hospital rang up at this point. They want me there standing by my bed at 13:00 and they gave me a whole list of “do’s” and “don’t”. But frankly I’m past caring. They want me to have a shower, but that’s out of the question of course.

They want me to not only bring my medication but to bring it in its boxes. For God’s sake, I’m going in a taxi, not a blasted lorry.

And then they want me to shave my arm ready. I don’t even know where they are going to make the incision.

My general, habitual lack of preparedness means that I’ll probably get it in the neck when I arrive, especially if the Beast from the Hôpital in the Baie is on duty but I don’t care.

This afternoon I was dealing with the fourth lot of radio notes that I’d dictated. They are all edited now, the final track has been chosen and I was on the point of writing the notes when Rosemary rang for a chat.

She’s back now from gallivanting around Italy and wanted to tell me how she got on so we had another one of our phone calls. Rather a short one today – only one hour and twelve minutes. We’re losing our touch.

After the call I stretched out for a minute and as a result was way late for making tea tonight; hence my lateness tonight.

We had stuffed pepper for tea again, with plenty of stuffing left over for the next few days. So for those of you who say that I want stuffing, I now have plenty, thank you. It’ll do for later in the week.

But not tonight, Josephine. I’m off to bed, ready for my appointment with destiny tomorrow. I mustn’t forget to pack my things, for I’m supposed to be staying the night. But as for that, we shall see.

One of the things that Rosemary and I discussed was adoption. We have some very strange conversations sometimes.
But it did remind me of the little boy who asked his dad "daddy, am I adopted?"
"Of course not, son" replied the father
"Really, daddy?" insisted the boy
"Absolutely" assured the father. "Why, out of a whole orphanage full of abandoned children, would anyone have chosen YOU?"

Sunday 14th JUly 2024 – I’M UP TO …

… my neck in paperwork again. Ahhh! The good old days!

And not only am I up to my neck, I’m miles behind where I ought to be thanks to a
recalcitrant printer than only works when it feels like it and a Credit Agricole website ditto.

As well as that, I’m supposed to be completing my on-line registration for the hospital on Tuesday but the hospital website doesn’t recognise my “Withdrawal Agreement” carte de séjour and when I’ve finally managed to make their mobile app work on my ‘phone, it tells me that I don’t have an appointment.

So in the end I’m not much further forward than I was before I started. It all has rather a familiar ring about it.

Last night had a pretty familiar ring about it too, with not going to bed until long after I ought to have done. Nevertheless, I didn’t mind too much because I’d been dictating and that’s another pile of stuff all saved ready for editing. It was nice and quiet for an hour or so outside so I could crack on.

One thing that I did though was to change the microphone, and that seems to have made a difference to the quality of the recording. Two identical mikes, yet the quality is so different. It’s quite surprising.

The one big advantage of going to bed at that kind of “late” is that I don’t need much rocking

And so there I was, dead to the World until all of about … errr … 06:15.

But I didn’t make “that” mistake again. I curled back up under the bedclothes and there I remained until 08:00 when the alarm went off and I fell out of bed

There’s not much time to hang about on a Sunday morning as the nurse will be here at 08:30 (or thereabouts) so a quick scrub up in the bathroom was all that I had time to do.

Isabelle brought the sunshine with her when she came. She soon had the plasters on my legs sorted out and my puttees on my legs. But these wounds are still weeping and I despair. When are they likely to stop?

We had time to talk about my general condition. She seems to have noticed an improvement, although it doesn’t seem like it.

She thinks that this fatigue might be due to the fact that my kidneys are struggling so much to work that they are exhausting my metabolism, or words to that effect.

Basically, despite what I might think, it’s a physical tiredness due to te effort that is going into my kidneys. And she’s a nurse, so I suppose that she knows more about these things than I do.

After she left I had breakfast of cornflakes, toast, coffee and grapefruit juice and sat and relaxed for a while, reading my book on the siting and location of early Medieval churches

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. We were doing something with a music studio at work. I was actually some kind of huissier or “messenger” on the top floor. I went down to the canteen to fetch a coffee. It was crowded in there and you couldn’t hear a word that someone was saying. I had to fight my way into the queue to pick up a coffee. Eventually after t’d battered him a couple of times I said to the guy behind me “I’m not hurting you, am I? I’m really sorry”. He mouthed something back at me but I didn’t have a clue what it was because I couldn’t hear him so I just smiled, thanked him and walked away but I thought “I wonder what it was that he said. Whether it was polite or whether it was difficult or whether he wanted me to sit down and talk”. I’d no idea. But I took my coffee and began to climb all the steps back to the office. One or two of my workmates kept on coming downstairs going for their coffee. They kept asking me “who is this coffee for?”. I replied that it was for me. They looked with some kind of astonishment as if “what would I be doing with a coffee at this time of morning?”. But I checked the time and it was only 09:05 so it would be correct. We were waiting for something important to happen in the office but I can’t remember now whether it was a group or a piece of music but we were all waiting there for this but it all seemed to be tremendously important and was going to change all of our lives and all of our routines

Nothing like that ever happens to me these days. Wouldn’t it be nice if something were to come along and change my life and my routine. It’s pretty monotonous right now. When I was working, it was quite lively, but then in a building of 2,000 people and each one waiting for something earth-shattering to happen, a simple event could trigger a chain reaction that would reverberate around the building in no time flat. It would be like a snowball of excitement, gathering its own momentum. And I was convinced that there were people who would spend the whole day walking around with a tray of coffee and not doing any work whatsoever

I was driving some kind of bus or motorhome in the Midwest USA. We were going through these small towns. There was one where we had to climb a hill in this town. This hill was tree-lined with all the old Nineteenth-Century saloons and so on to the side of it. I thought to myself “this is really mid-west America here. This is typical USA. We kept on climbing up this hill and I thought that we’d never have enough steam to make it but eventually whatever I was driving managed to climb to the top. I found that we were on some kind of dirt track instead of the main road. I followed the dirt track for a while and it came to a castle where there was a notice from someone asking for partners for table-tennis so it was quite obvious to me that I was in the wrong street somehow. I had to stop and try to think how I was going to return to the main road because continuing to drive down this track was clearly out of the question

On my travels around States like Wyoming and South Dakota I came across plenty of towns like this. I remember in 2018 being in a town that proudly advertised “Population – 9”, and every one of those 9 people came out onto their porch to watch me drive through the place.

Some of the day has been spent editing some of the radio notes that I dictated last night. There are now two full programs completed and third is just missing the final track. I would have finished it and even done the fourth program except that the fatigue caught up with me and I was out like a light for an hour or two this afternoon.

And then I’ve been trying to print off a sheaf of paperwork but when the printer doesn’t work the website does and vice versa. And then there’s trying to make sense of this mobile app that tells me that I have no appointment lined up

There was however time to make tonight’s pizza. And a good one it was too. I’ve no idea what happened but for the first time ever the oven cooked it correctly. That’s a first.

What’s also going to be a first, at least for a long time, is an early night. I seem to have finished earlier than usual and I don’t know why.

But all of this technology and its accompanying issues makes me hanker for the old days. I didn’t have this trouble in Crewe.

But then again, whilst in Crewe they may actually have tablets for their own personal use, they also have the hammers and chisels that they use to carve their hieroglyphics on them

Saturday 13th July 2024 – IT LOOKS AS …

…. if we’re back on these rally long, difficult afternoons when I’m fast asleep for several hours, totally unaware of what’s going on around me.

And not just for an hour or two but I DO mean several hours. I remember it being 14:30 at one point but the next thing that I knew, it was almost 18:00 and I seem to have wasted almost an entire afternoon.

And that’s a shame because I can waste enough time with all my own efforts without actually needing any help.

Last night I fell asleep quite quickly too once I made it into bed and I can’t remember very much about the night.

Mind you, there wasn’t all that much to remember because once more, it was quite late by the time that I hit the sack. It didn’t take long for STRAWBERRY MOOSE to have me tucked up and comfortable.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and went off to the bathroom, grabbing a set of clean clothes on the way and rounding up all the dirty clothes and so on in the apartment

After I was washed and cleaned, it was the turn of the clothes. They all went into the washing machine and I set that off on a cycle. A very clever washing machine, mine.

Back in here I had a listen to find out where I’d been during the night. And, more importantly, if any of my favourite young ladies had come with me. But n such luck. It seems that TOTGA, Castor and Zero have deserted me.

Instead, we started off last night giving someone some driving lessons. We were driving around end ended up with me being admitted to the hospital, not because of an accident but that was probably where the car was on its way to take me. I was admitted to hospital and put into a ward. This was when there was a native uprising. Out outpost was attacked about three or four different times and it degenerated into a conflict like the conflict in ZULU at Isandlwhana … "Rourke’s Drift actually, but never mind" – ed …, half a dozen gallant defenders defending the compound of about 30 people against a horde of marauding savages. What happened in my version was that we had half a dozen or so military people and probably twenty civilians. The civilians weren’t all that keen on defending themselves and thought that we ought to negotiate, which, seeing as the tribes had negotiated with no-one else was a strange decision. They were very reluctant to take any precautions whatsoever and we had to force through. In the end we had the buildings fortified but they were so scattered that they were not much use to anyone really

Yes, I can’t imagine dividing your scanty defences and forces to try to defend every building. It was a maxim of Frederick the Great that "If you try to hold everything, you hold nothing" and we would have been much better off to burn all of the buildings except one and fortify that. And trying to persuade civilians to fight is sometimes extremely difficult, as long as there are other people there to do the fighting for them. Could you imagine how these politicians would fare if they had to pick up a gun and go to the Front.

The team from Llansawel figured again later on. They had started to make one or two signings but there was no signing that really impressed me any, just general run-of-the-mill mainstream Premier players. There was nothing there that they signed that indicated to me that they were hoping for a long and successful life in the JD Cymru League that at the end of their first season would see them relegated back to the regional leagues and someone else would come and take their place which of course would be with the gulf between Tier 2 and Tier 1 it’s only unfortunately to be expected.

And that’s a story that we’ve seen time and time again, of teams being promoted to the Premier Division and relegated straight away. It’s not that they are particularly weak, but that other teams are strengthening. This can be measured by comparing the results of Welsh teams in European competition. When they began to compete in Europe 30 years ago the best Welsh teams were often on the wrong end of some embarrassing scorelines but we saw only this week that even Caernarfon, who finished fifth in the table, can give an experienced European team like Crusaders a little lesson in football.

Liz was on line this morning so we had a long chat that went on for an hour or so while the nurse was taking my blood sample. And for a change, the sample was easy to extract and I don’t know why other people have so many issues about it. It was done in two minutes.

Isabelle sorted out my legs and then left taking away the blood and the “other” sample, and I carried on chatting to Liz over breakfast until she had to go off and do other things.

There were other things that I needed to do to but at 11:00 I had a phone call from my friend Robert who lives in the Orkneys (or Shetlands, I can’t remember now). We have a little project on the go and we shall be working on this for a while, maybe with the help of one or two other people.

But more of this anon

After the ‘phone call I hung up my washing and that should be drying nicely now. For a change, everything is up-to-date in that respect, and that’s not something that happens every day

Lunch was a salad sandwich with the last of the home-made bread so I made a mental note to make another loaf. I’ll need bread for the next few days, but I’ll also be taking some sarnies with me to the hospital. I know that their idea of food and my idea of food are likely to be different and I don’t intend to starve.

It was while I was sitting down refreshing myself ready to make the bread that things all went pear-shaped. And it wasn’t until about 18:00 that I began to make the bread.

While I had the oven on for the baking I baked some potatoes and one of those breaded quorn fillets that I like so much. No point in only having half an oven filled with stuff. I may as well fill as much as I can.

To pass the time while I was waiting for things to happen I wrote out some notes for one of the radio programmes that’s on the go at the moment. Every little time spent on it helps in the long run.

Tea tonight was a salad with my things out of the oven and it was quite a success, although I must admit to looking forward to the day that I will be in the apartment downstairs with a proper oven and not a little table-top one like I have.

So now I have some dictating to do, and then I’m off to bed ready to fight the good fight tomorrow.

But thinking about my dream reminds me of a conversation that I overheard at a football match a while back.
One guy was telling his friend "I was playing cards with some Africans last night"
"Zulus?" asked his friend
"No, I won fifty quid"

Friday 12th July 2024 – ONLY HALF AN …

… hour after my cleaner had my kitchen looking as clean and tidy as a new pin, it’s ended up looking like an absolute tip yet again.

And that’s no surprise because I’ve had a huge delivery of supplies from LeClerc.

More than usual because it’s been three weeks since I last had a delivery, and add to that, they had the olive oil back in so to be on the safe side I ordered two litres rather than just one.

There was also yet another addition to the range of vegan products on offer at the home delivery site – a second type of vegan sausage. I had to order a packet because LeClerc’s vegan range is quite minimalist so they need to be encouraged. And the easiest way too encourage them is to buy the product.

It all comes in brown paper bags which I have to save up and hand back the following time otherwise they charge me for them, so they are strewn about the place at the moment. But that’s because I simply run out of steam after a while and can’t carry on. I’ll have to finish tidying up in the morning.

And hope that I have as good a sleep tonight as I did last night. It was horribly late when I finally made it to bed but I slept the Sleep of the Dead and didn’t feel a thing until the alarm went off. And I could do with a few more nights with a sleep as deep as that.

There was in fact a phantom alarm at some point (we seem to be back with those) but I remember recognising it as such and ignoring it. Not like the time a few weeks ago when I actually arose from the Dead for a phantom alarm.

But when the real alarm sounded I made it to my feet and wandered off for a wash and brush up etc.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night and (more importantly) who had come with me. It was the European Cup matches. All of the teams were busy, there had been lots of changes to styles and formats. The new competitions, new rules and everything that people had to learn. Teams were changing place and changing position . There were a lot of other things to do, rather like instead of just being a football match it became some kind of circus with all kinds of entertainment taking place before and afterwards, and different things at half-time with the aim to get as many people as possible into the ground as early as they could to avoid crushes and squashes , things like that, to make sure that everyone was safe, and something to do at the end of the game so that they didn’t all rush home and clog the streets, and here’s hoping that it works and makes a huge success and the teams can go on to do well in it.

Times are changing rapidly and quite often these football club committees of elderly dinosaurs aren’t changing quickly enough. I’ve been to football matches in Belgium where they’ve had cheerleaders and dancing girls entertaining the crowds before the kick-off and at half time, and seen kids’ football tournaments taking place at half-time. Anything to bring in the crowds and keep the fans amused. But it’s the simple thing at grassroots level that’s important. If I want to watch a football match and it’s raining and one ground has covered accommodation and one doesn’t, where will I go? And if it’s a cold winter night and one ground has a pie hut where you can get a hot coffee and the other one doesn’t, which one will have my custom? The days of fans standing on cinder banks in the open air in a torrential downpour dressed in just an overcoat are long gone. And good riddance. I don’t miss the “good old days” one minute.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … apartment Isabelle the nurse came round, her usual cheerful self. She gave me my injection, changed my plasters on my legs and bandaged up my puttees.

There’s a blood test tomorrow morning, so she reminded me, and I need to give “another sample” for which she gave me a small pot.

But heaven alone knows what this blood sample will be like. I haven’t looked at the last couple. Firstly, they make really depressing reading and secondly, what can I do anyway? If there’s an emergency they’ll let me know. If not, I’d rather not find out.

After she left, we had some Welsh homework to do. We had to write a publicity announcement to attract tourists to the place where we are living. It was easy for me, living in a tourist town. Imagine if I’d still been living in The Land That Time Forgot.

The Welsh lesson passed quite quickly today. We had a different tutor and I’m sure that I have had him before somewhere.

We had a little chat about last night’s football

"My friend’s son plays for Caernarfon" said the tutor
"What’s his name?"
"Morgan" replied the tutor
"Morgan who?"
"I don’t know" said the tutor "but he delivers our fruit and veg. We call him ‘Morgan Tatws’"
and that’s the most Welsh thing that I’ve heard for a long, long time.

And if you want to see “Morgan Tatws” in action HERE ARE THE HIGHLIGHTS of the Cofis’ famous first-leg win. Let’s hope that they can hold out in the second leg next week.

Towards the end of the lesson I slipped out of consciousness and hadn’t noticed that it had ended. I came to and found myself staring at an empty screen. I really have to do better than this.

The cleaner was here too. I’d heard her come in but she must have been very quiet. Actually, she’s cleaned the windows in the living room and you can actually see outside now which is nice.

After she left, the delivery guy from LeClerc turned up with the supplies. Tons of stuff all of which has to be put away.

And then there was 1kg of carrots to wash, peel, dice and blanch. I should have bought 2kg but there’s no room on the freezer.

There were peppers to prepare for freezing, other food for freezing and, as I said, in the end I simply ran aground. I can’t keep on going like I used to

Tea was the leftover curry that I should have had on Wednesday but have been putting off ever since. The naan bread that I was going to eat was looking rather suspect so that went into the bin which was a shame because I’d been looking forward to that.

Tomorrow I have the washing machine to organise and then I’ll finish off tje tidying up. But it’s nice to have full shelves again, and plenty of olive oil

In fact, I’ve plenty to do between now and going to the hospital on Tuesday. And I’m not looking forward to Tuesday one little bit as I’m sure that regular reader readers of this rubbish will recall
The last time I was admitted, the cry went down the ward "there’s a case of cancer just come in"
And someone was heard to comment "well, it’ll make a change from lucozade"

Thursday 11th July 2024 – I’M LATE AGAIN

and if it carries on like this they’ll be calling me “the late Epic Hall” long before I officially earn the title.

And for a change, I don’t mind being late at all for I have very good re son. It’s “Europa Cup” night tonight and while Connah’s Quay travelled to Slovenia and Y Bala to Estonia to follow on from the game that TNS played against some Albanians, Caernarfon made the long trip down the road as far as Nantporth Stadium on the outskirts of Bangor to take on those giants of European football … errrr … Crusaders from Belfast.

Late nights seem to be the norm these days and instead of moaning about them, I’ll just have to say nothing and celebrate the early nights instead, so there was nothing to celebrate last night.

In fact it was long after midnight when I hit the hay and I settled down for sleep for what was left of the night. And I awoke in the middle of it and took an age to go back to sleep again

Mind you, I was dead to the World when the alarm went off and it was a rather ungainly stagger into the bathroom to sort myself out.

There was blood on the floor too, but I’ve no idea where it came from. It could be anywhere.

Back in there I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. We were all going flat out in pursuit of this monster . We had a good idea of where it would be and where it would strike next so we put a cordon round with people just doing ordinary things, nothing suspicious, hoping that whatever it was would pass within this cordon to pick a victim and we could all close in behind it. I was in charge of course but there were lots of other people who were quite willing to take responsibility. My job was the big tree that was the focal point of this little community, which was where probably the most important person would expect to be and that was where you’d expect the final battle to be so they left that responsibility to watch that area to me. And now we just waited around for things to begin.

This looks as if it’s a continuation of the dream from the other night when we were chasing monsters around. And it’s quite rare to have two episodes of the same dream so close together like this. Usually they are months, if not years apart.

And later on I’d gone down to Virlet for a look around and for something. While I was in the house I heard a noise as if a couple of people were searching around in te lean-to. I picked up a blunt instrument and just as I was going to go outside to catch them in the act a guy came through the door into the house. He looked so shocked to see me so I just said “can I help you?”. He just stood there totally open-mouthed as if I was the last person he was expecting to see.

And it would be a shock too if it were to happen, but I’m not likely ever to go down to Virlet again. That’s a chapter of my life that is well and truly completed unfortunately. Someone else can take over down there when the time comes.

Finally I was making a salad. I didn’t really have all that much to go in it but I was listening to the local radio and there was a bring-and-buy sale taking place at the church at Audlem. Someone was selling picked courgettes. I thought that that sounded interesting for a change but I couldn’t really summon up the enthusiasm to go all the way to Audlem. They kept on talking about one or two other things that they had and it all sounded perfectly tempting to me but there were all these excuses popping up about why I shouldn’t go but I kept on finding out answers to these questions and still pointing out (… fell asleep here …)

For the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few recently, when I say that I “fell asleep” I am actually asleep when I’m dictating. I’ve been working as part of this project for almost 30 years. But when I say that I “fell asleep” what actually happens is that whatever I’m dictating tails off into a mumbled silence and then sometimes you’ll hear a little snore or two and I’m sorry for doubting you about that, Percy Penguin.

But courgettes in the Auvergne – they were the only things that seemed to thrive down there. You’d check your courgettes over, think “they look nice, I’ll pick them in the morning” but you’d have a downpour during the night and end up with half a dozen enormous marrows.

Everyone was sick to death of courgettes after a while. We used to pass around recipes (and courgettes) and I for one don’t ever want to see a courgette ever again.

It’s Isobelle the female nurse for the next week or so and she usually brings the sunshine and warmth with her (although I have seen another side of her once or twice that I didn’t realise existed). She nicely and cheerfully informed me that on Saturday she’s going to take a blood sample.

There’s another sample to be take too, so she’ll leave me a little pot on Friday. I have a feeling that she’ll be taking the p*ss too.

After she left I had breakfast and then a look through the notes for today’s lesson. Unfortunately I didn’t get as far as I would have liked and so my enthusiasm tailed off towards the afternoon.

The hospital rang me up about registering for my operation on Tuesday – right in the middle of a crucial point and so towards the end of the lesson my concentration (such as it was) was broken and I was all at sea.

Mind you, nothing new there. I’ve been all at sea for years, up a creek without a paddle for most of the time.

After the lesson finished I sorted out the music for the next radio programme and began to write a few notes. And then we had the football.

Y Bala didn’t do too well, going down 2-1 to Paide Linnameeskond but Connah’s Quay performed brilliantly, winning 1-0 in Slovenia and being set up nicely for the return match next week.

Then we had Caernarfom playing in front of a packed house at Nantporth. And the Cofi Army burst into song after just four minutes when Morgan Owen picked up a pass 20 yards out from the Crusaders goal and walloped it home

They had even more to sing about after 35 minutes when Danny Gosset found Darren Thomas whose delightful through ball was inch perfect for Zack Clarke to pounce on and slot home for the second.

The game though wasn’t a particular spectacle. It was rather agricultural at times bordering on the desperate at the end as the Crusaders threw everything, including the kitchen sink at the Cofi goal but Caernarfon held out to record a famous victory in their first ever match in European competition.

But these results are really good news for Wales because the more successful they are, the higher their coefficient will be which means that they could have more teams in club competition and maybe even enter the tournaments at later stages.

Not to mention of course the money that’s on offer for doing well in Europe. The prize money from UEFA is well-worth having for a small club. A team that’s defeated in Round One will receive €150,000 and if they make it through to the next round they’ll receive at least €350,000.

And then there’s sponsorship, TV revenue, all of that kind of thing.

After the final whistle I threw some pasta into a pan with some frozen veg and tomato sauce. That will keep the lupus from the porte as they used to say in Ancient Rome.

So on that note I’m off to bed ready to kick off nice and early tomorrow morning.

But talking of courgettes reminds me of the guy in the Auvergne who was determined to protect his courgettes at all costs so one night he slept with them. And instead of the fine weather for which he was hoping, it snowed instead.
They found him next morning and he was frozen to the marrow.

Wednesday 10th JUly 2024 – WHAT A PERFORMANCE!

Swimming around the apartment in a sea of blood last night, up first thing in the morning washing the floors. I’ll tell yuo something for nothing, and that is that I won’t be going on much longer like this. It’s simply not sustainable.

There I was last night, getting ready for bed, and it was late enough already, when in the bathroom I happened to catch my leg against some protruding object.

And that, dear reader, was that. The effects of the Kardegic and the Injection of the Last Resort mean that my blood is thinner than water, and it just erupted.

From the bathroom I had to go to the corner of the living room where all of the medical stuff is, clean the would with some sterile solution and gauze and then apply a plaster. And the time that it took to go from the one to the other, we were knee-deep in gore.

Well, maybe that’s something of an exaggeration, but nevertheless it was a horrible sight. I can’t even stand looking at blood at the best of times, never mind when it’s pumping out out my leg.

There was no point trying to clean up the apartment at that time of night. I’d just be moving wet blood around from one place to another, so I left it and went to bed, very very gingerly. I didn’t want the plaster coming off while I was in bed, with the mess that was likely to follow.

And so as you can imagine, I didn’t have much in the way of sleep last night. I was far too much on tenterhooks.

However I did at one point fall asleep, only to awaken at about 05:00 with an urgent need to go and walk the parapet.

But what was surprising about that was that when I awoke, I was singing Traffic’s JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE to myself for some reason or other.

It’s true that I’ve been playing a lot of “Traffic” just recently but even so THIS TRACK is much more appropriate right now.

Back in bed, I must have fallen asleep again because it was the alarm that awoke me when it rang at 07:00.

Falling out of bed, I switched off the alarm and headed for the bathroom, and once that was all organised and completed I fetched the mop and bucket.

And I’ll tell you another thing for nothing, and that is that it’s not easy trying to mop a floor when you can’t even stand up or walk about.

Nevertheless I did what I could as best as I could and then came in here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And apart from going for a walk on the parapet, I must have gone nowhere because the dictaphone drew a blank.

However, even though I didn’t dictate anything I have a very vague recollection of something about Llansawel playing their first game after promotion into the Cymru Premier League and being heavily, and embarrassingly, defeated.

The nurse came round to sort out my legs later and was most unimpressed with me using “his” plasters, even though they are supplied on prescription to me. He had the usual moan about it but cheered up when he saw the two boxes that my cleaner had brought back from town the other day.

He wanted to know how my shoulder was doing, so he ripped off the plaster that the cleaner had fitted to my shoulder to stop the bleeding the other night. "That’s healed quite well" he said

Five minutes after he left, the fountain from the shoulder started up again and we were back to where we were earlier this morning. So he’s another plaster short, my apartment is even cleaner and I’m totally fed up.

With all of this performance today I was late for my Welsh class and then I was totally and completely unprepared.

In fact, I’ve been totally and completely unprepared for the rest of the day. The cleaner thinks that I’m looking quite well, so I’ll have a pint of whatever she’s been drinking because I don’t feel it.

In fact, I haven’t even bothered to make any tea tonight. I’m just not in the mood at all.

There was football on the internet later, Gresford Athletic of the Second Division playing Llanrwst from the Third in a pre-season friendly. The match went pretty much as everyone expected, with Gresford running out 5-0 winners, but there were some excellent chances missed at either end.

But one thing is evident, and that it that the gulf between the Premier League and the Second level is enormous, and mybe LLansawel will be on the wrong end of a couple of embarrassing scorelines before the curtain comes down on next season

But right now I’m going to go to bed if I can without bleeding eveywhere. It’s quite important, because there is what is called the “bleeding time”. That’s the time that it takes for blood to clot once it starts to flow.
It’s important to know it when you’re operating on someone, for obvious reasons
Mine of course being so thin, it’s totally different from everyone else’s so while they were discussing my case and comparing notes the surgeon asked the nurse in attendance "what’s the bleeding time?"
"Quarter to ten, doctor" replied the nurse.

Tuesday 9th July 2024 – ANOTHER LATE NIGHT …

… but for once, I’m not bothered at all because it was for a good cause and in the end it was worth every minute of it.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I will support any team in the Welsh Pyramid, regardless of where they are from, if they are playing against TNS in any competition you might care to name.

But when it comes to European club competition however and TNS is flying the Welsh flag against an other team in Europe, then we are all ardent TNS supporters to a man (or woman), or we ought to be.

So tonight it was a mad scramble to make it to the computer in time to watch TNS take on FC Decic, champions of Montenegro, in a Champions League match, the first of a two-legged affair to see who wins the right to play Ferencvaros of Hungary in a couple of weeks time.

It’s all that I seem to be doing right now – sleeping and writing out my notes. There doesn’t seem to be much time for anything else at all.

It was another late night too last night by the time that I’d finished doing everything, and it was something of a desperate stagger these final few inches that takes me from my chair to my bed. You can’t imagine how much effort it takes me.

But anyway once STRAWBERRY MOOSE had tucked me up in bed there wasn’t all that much time for him to read me a story because I seem to have managed to fall asleep quite quickly.

Surprisingly, I was awake again at 06:00 – I’m sure that there’s something happening that’s awakening me then – and by 06:30 I was up and about having a wash, a good (or not-so-good) half-hour before the alarm went off.

Back in here a little later I had a listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night. The situation at work was getting out of hand. I owed a lot of money for no reason other than the fact that for some reason there had been an estimate made of my income and it was totally wrong so I’d tried to have the estimate revised. Instead, it was revised upwards and that was totally incorrect but I had no way of supporting my claim and no way of defending myself against them. Things were just getting more intense and the demands were becoming more and more intense. I was totally overwhelmed by everything and tried to make people stop and listen to what I had to say but no-one seemed to be interested and it seemed to be going from bad to worse. People were doing all kinds of crazy things such as coming out with food recipes for kids of foods that were horrible and disgusting, calling them the types of foods that I would be eating because of all of this. What was so concerning about this was not so much the fact that this was happening but the fact that I couldn’t find the way to get out of it and bring it back into some kind of normality and some kind of realistic situation. But instead it was simply going worse and worse. Absolutely everything was adding to it. Each year it was becoming worse and with each place that I was living and there was nothing that I could do to stop it or slow it down or divert people’s attention to somewhere else.

I can’t remember whether I’ve had a panic attack in a dream for a while. I was having them quite frequently at one time, and that was certainly one last night. But it’s really crazy. It’s bad enough being stressed out during the normal run of events during the day but the idea of sleep is to calm down and recharge your batteries, not to be wound up even more than you are during daylight hours

This is another one of these science fiction things about appliances and things that stopped working etc and then suddenly there was a huge devastation in the area. All kinds of things had been blamed for it. The Saint was brought in and he managed to catalogue a few events. Eventually of course there’s the big house on the hill where the scientists are working away. In the end what he found was that they had developed some kind of matter gun that when it’s switched on it sucks the power and electricity from the immediate area and paralyses everything, then a couple of seconds later that electricity is released in an enormous discharge that electrocutes everything, flattens buildings and trees etc within quite a radius. Of course its potential for war was immense because it would disable an army before destroying it. The Saint of course catches up with it and managed to destroy the machine or snake or monster or whatever it is that you want to call it that’s doing all of this sucking electricity and blowing it back out again.

As it happens, at teatime I’m watching an episode of The Saint where there is a group of mad scientists dealing with mutated creatures and giant insects. But nevertheless, I’m completely impressed that I can think of a powerful weapon like that in my sleep. It’s a shame that I can’t invent stuff like this when I’m awake. But I don’t have the self-discipline to be a scientist, as I have proved so often in the past

And finally I was selling some stuff on Ebay – it should have been three car tyres. Instead, it turned out to be the contents of my warehouse and garage after I’d swept up, including things like dead animal bodies, things like that in it all. I’ve no idea what happened – whether someone who turned up took away the wrong lot instead of the lot that he bought but they were inspecting it on a train when they came across this dead body. Of course, a huge panic, everything like that. In the end the person came back to complain as you might expect. I refunded him all of his money except for the value of three tyres which was £30:00. All I could think of was that I’d swept out my garage and warehouse ready to leave and put everything in one pile. The stuff to be taken away was in another pile next to it and whoever turned up took away the wrong one.

It was really most embarrassing. I bet that the people on the train had a shock too. And God knows what people are going to find when they sweep out my barn at Virlet and the warehouse at Montaigut. There will be more than a few ghosts unearthed and spirits uplifted, I should think

When the nurse came round he had a moan about the state of my fridge. I told him where the injection was kept but apparently when he opened the fridge door, something inside reached out and closed it again. I had to go to look for it.

But I wish that he’d stop complaining. It’s all that he ever seems to do. I know that there’s a lot wrong with what’s going on in here but all of the criticism is not helping matters

So I’ve had the first of the two Injections of the Last Resort, and I’ve organised him about his parking in Brussels for next weekend.

After he left I had breakfast, including toast with my nice fresh bread baked yesterday evening, and then checked over the radio programme for this weekend before sending it off for feeding into the stream for broadcast.

As an aside, next weekend it’s my Hawkfest, my Spacerock Festival to mark the anniversary of the first of the Hawkfests – an event not to be missed. You can hear it at THIS LINK every Friday and Saturday evening at 21:00 CET (20:00 UK, 15:00 Toronto time)

It was the Welsh Summer School next and once again I found myself drifting away again in the middle of it when I was supposed to be listening. I really must pull myself together.

But luckily I just about managed to cling on until the end of the lesson today. But when I finally let go, I let go and was gone away with the fairies for a couple of hours. I even managed to miss out on my afternoon hot chocolate

And as I sad earlier, it was a mad scramble to make myself tea and be back in time for kick-off.

In fact, I was two minutes late and much to my surprise, TNS were already 1-0 up

And for a team that seems to be able to wipe the floor with any domestic opposition but blow up spectacularly once they step out onto a bigger stage, not only did they manage to hold on to the lead they increased it and the final score, which they’ll take to Montenegro for the second leg, was 3-0.

Mind you, they rode their luck and judging by what I saw of the Monetenegrins, it won’t be so easy over there next week. Leaving aside the well-knows propensity for TNS to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, this match is not over by any means.

So on that note I’m going to go to bed and think of ways in which I can improve my self-discipline. I really must learn to discipline myself, especially since Miss Whiplash put up her prices.

Monday 8th July 2024 – IT’S GOING TO …

… be another horrible, miserable, depressing late night going to bed tonight.

But at least it’s not been a waste of time and something good has come of it because I whizzed through this evening and not only edited the remaining sound file from those that I dictated on Saturday night, I’ve assembled the programme.

All that remains to do is to choose the final track and write the notes for it, and that’s a job that I can do tomorrow morning.

It’s quite strange really, because the sound file was one of the longest that I’ve ever dictated yet when I’ve edited out all of the umms and ahhs and the bits that were rubbish, it edited down to be one of the shortest. There are some things that are quite difficult to explain.

It was a late night last night too. I wasn’t in bed much before midnight and that’s not much good at all. I awoke at about 05:15 too and valiantly resisted the temptation to raise myself from the dead at that time.

When it came round to about 06:00 I thought “give it another five minutes ….” and the next thing that I knew, the 07:00 alarm was going off. And that was a mystery too. What happened there?

After I’d had a good wash and complete change of clothes I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, if any of my favourite young ladies had come with me.

But no such luck last night. “Swansong” in the Sports pages refers to the goalkeeper who was selected for the national team – the women’s national team, with selection issues about form etc, loss of form, new brooms sweeping clean and all this kind of thing it was necessary to find another keeper to join the National squad as first choice and she was it. At 38 years of age it was only a temporary solution while other players sort themselves out. But it was the best available at the time. It might have been unpopular but sometimes popularity is the wrong thing to do. You don’t do things for popularity you do things for success. Sometimes, for success, you have to do things like this but we’ll see where she is in two seasons and see who’s taken her place amongst this crowd of people who are almost there but not quite at the moment.

And what do I know about women’s football? My first encounter with it was AT BURLINGTON IN VERMONT IN 2015 and I might have seen the odd match since then, but I’m hardly an expert. However, Jocelyne Montoya of one of these Mexican women’s teams can come and take a throw-in with one of my footballs any time she likes.

And then later we were all at work discussing the working arrangements for the next week or so. I’d been driving a snooker player around for a week. He was someone who had been very famous but had fallen on hard times and had been extremely wayward but had slowly been dragged back onto track again. I’d been driving him around but I’d not had any instructions for the coming week so we were all in the office waiting for things to happen and for someone to come along with a work schedule. A couple of my colleagues came in and asked me why I wasn’t at the top end of the town. I asked why so they replied “your snooker player is up there looking for someone or other”. They had a huge discussion about this snooker player. I mentioned that I’d driven him last week and tried to keep him on track for all his appointments, matches etc. One or two people said “yes it’s a shame that he didn’t think about engaging you earlier because you’d been sure to have made him at least conscious of these things” which I thought was probably one of the nicest compliments anyone in that place had ever paid me. So even though no work schedule was down I had to quickly discuss where this snooker player was and then decide to nip in the car to catch him to see what his plans were for the week and maybe fit in with his anyway and do the work that he wants doing, especially as he seems to be so keen to see me around according to my colleagues, which again I thought was a pretty nice comment from someone like that.

Yes, compliments were rather thin on the ground in that place. Everything was done on the basis of “dead man’s shoes” gallantly resisting all attempts to bring things kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Trying to reorganise things there to be more efficient, I was met with "and what do you know about it?"
So saying nothing, next time that I was out I stopped at a stationer’s and bought some picture frames. That night I framed all of my taxi operators’ licences and my Certificates of Professional Competence (issued, would you believe, by my Employer) to operate a Road Passenger Transport business in the UK and in Europe, and next morning, hung them on the wall over my desk.
No-one in that office spoke to me again after that and a few months later when my boss’s office was moved to a different building it was "wouldn’t it be a good idea if you went to be based in ‘Kortenberg’ with him instead of down here?"
"Suits me fine, thanks."

But what I don’t understand is why there is a snooker player in the middle of all of this.

When the nurse came round he sorted me out and bandaged me up and then asked for my advice. He’s off to Brussels to see a concert t the Stadion Roi Baudoin and wanted to know where to park. Where I lived was about 20 minutes from there and there’s plenty of parking. And if he plays his cards right, there’s a bus that runs between the hospital at Jette and the Metro Station at the Stadion Roi Baudouin that goes along the road where he’ll be parked. Where I lived in Jette was really good. 200 yards from an exit on the Brussels by-pass and surrounded by public transport going just about everywhere, bus, tram, train, you name it.

After he left I had breakfast and then began to prepare for my Welsh Summer School that starts today. We are 10 students and a tutor, a tutor whom I’ve had before on some summer school or other. He’s sent us a little booklet of his plans but I bet that we’ll be a long way from there by the time that we finish.

It’s actually a level below the one that I was studying in the year just finished but it doesn’t hurt to go over stuff that I’m supposed to have learned and to know. And I’m not the only one doing a “revision course”.

The way I see it, if you throw a lot of whatsit at a wherever, some of it might stick at some point.

No prizes by the way for guessing who fell asleep at one point and sat there staring into space when he should have been in a break-out room. D’ohhh!

After the end of the lessons today I cracked on with the radio programme. I wanted to at least finish the editing. I could have done more too but I ran out of bread and had to make another loaf. I took full advantage of the oven being on by baking tonight’s stuffed pepper and making a pasta-bake, although that wasn’t very successful

That took me back a while. A friend of mine and his wife in the USA were so hung over one New Year’s Morning that they stayed in bed all day and their two kids were starving. I was there giving instructions over the internet on a messenger program to Tina, the 11 year old, on how to make a pasta and tuna bake in the oven

Anyway, that’ll have to do for now. I’ve been another busy boy today, following on from being rushed off my feet yesterday. Can I go for the hat trick tomorrow or will I be spending most of the day flaked out and recovering? It remains to be seen.

But thinking of Tina trying to awaken her parents reminds me of the girl who once asked me "do you wake up grumpy in the morning?"
And I replied "actually, she’s usually awake before me"

Sunday 7th July 2024 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what happened today, but in a change of tack and a change of lifestyle, not only have I been working but I’ve actually been hard at it.

And when was the last time that I was able to say that about a Sunday, my traditional Day of Rest?

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, in the olden days Sunday was always a day where I’d lie in, sometimes until long after midday, and not lift a finger to do do any work at all.

But all of that went out of the window with having the nurse come round so there’s even an alarm call, although as a concession it’s set for 08:00 instead of 07:00 as for the other six days of the week.

Anyway, all of this work started last night because after I’d finished my notes I waded through a pile of radio notes. I dictated the notes for the final tracks for two of the programmes that were in the pipeline and then dictated the notes for the next two full programmes (minus the final track of course.

On that note I staggered off to bed but it didn’t do me all that much good because at 06:00 I was wide awake, and by .06:30 I was up and about. and on a Sunday too!

Having had a good wash, I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night and, more importantly, who had come with me, hoping that one of my favourite young ladies might have put in an appearance at last.

But it was not to be. Nerina was there though, but I don’t mind that. After all, I did invite her to share my life all those years ago. so she’s every right to be present. She was studying some kind of vocational course like Accountancy or something, studying it from her work during her employment. One night I’d gone round on my way home to see how she was doing. She was telling me about the class – she was in the kitchen making herself some food and I was in the living room so we were shouting between the rooms at each other. She was saying that there were not many in the class. I asked “how many? About ten?” she replied “no, twenty-seven”. I said “that’s a lot for this kind of class”. We carried on chatting for quite a while. I thought “she’s clearly in no hurry for me to go home” so I found a comfortable spot on the floor and curled up like a cat or dog would and made myself at home. We just carried on talking. I was ending up here making myself really nice and the discussion kept on going. I thought “at any moment she’s going to come in here with her food and that’ll be it – she’ll kick me out, I’ll go home OK but I intend to make the most of this while I can because it’s a really nice, comfortable situation, “comfortable” in its many senses instead of just the one particular customary one . There was definitely something that I felt was rather strange here with all of this.

And I’ve no idea what provoked this train of thought during the night. It’s pretty pointless arguing the “ifs” and “buts” of our relationship. The fact is that I was only ever safe outside the reach of the long arm of the Cheshire Constabulary and one or two other similar bodies and Nerina was still tied up with her mother, so one way or another a separation was called for sooner or later and, as Macbeth said, "If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly"

As for the next instalment, I’ve even less idea about this. I can’t even make head nor tail of it. But I was dictating while I was half-asleep and the microphone was in the living room and I was in the dining room. Exactly how that arrangement was going to be practical while I were at Cologne but I’d be beaten to death for it and today it’s the right thing to do. I didn’t care much for the new wave communications finding and the new talk about the Soviet bomber. I welcomed that least of all. It looks like a whole new system of wives and girlfriends are going to have to train in order that it doesn’t end in a total disaster between the three of us.

It makes no sense at all.

And finally, over the years I’d learned not to fight my brother back when he’s in one of his moods so eventually my toys became his and my belongings became his. My things gradually began to shape to fit his little ashtray type thing where he’d have human sacrifices of toys. Of course sometimes it didn’t work and he’d be in a complete rage and everyone’s life would be difficult so he’d carry on and carry on. In the end I began to carry a weapon to protect myself. That was when the idea of BABA O’RILEY came to me, to have someone who is so miserable and so unhappy that not even his home is a safe refuge any more so I set about trying to write this music

Not that we had many belongings over which to fight but we had some right royal squabbles like most siblings. The competition kept on going for much longer than it ought too but sometimes it’s harder to learn to stop than it is to learn to start I can understand where the weapon might have come in but I’m totally bewildered about the reference to Baba O’Riley, except that I was talking recently about Dave Arbus, the violinist of “East of Eden” who played the violin on the track

It must be Holy Week or some such event in the calendar right now because the nurse wanted to wash my feet today. So who was I to refuse to let him, even if he did make something of a dog’s breakfast of it all. I know that I’m not particularly organised and tidy, but there’s no need to add to my discomfort.

After breakfast I watched a football match – yesterday’s Stranraer v Portadown in another Seasick Derby. It was another lethargic pre-season friendly won by Stranraer 1-0 but once again no-one actually broke into any sweat. However I bet that the woodwork at either end will have had a headache this morning

There were several highlights videos doing the rounds too so I had something of a footfest. I’m glad that things are slowly starting up again.

Before lunch though I completed two radio programmes by editing the notes for the “additional tracks” for each and merging them in at the correct place. On one I was 15 seconds too long and the other was a mere handful of seconds and that’s the kind of stuff that I can edit out quite easily.

This afternoon I edited the notes for one of the two complete programmes that I dictated last night. That’s now all done and assembled, the final track has been chosen and the notes written ready for dictation one of these days. And sometime during the week I’ll do the other programme.

If I’d pushed myself I could have done it today but firstly i fell asleep on several occasions and secondly I had pizza dough to make as I’d run out. I made a big batch of that, and two lumps are freezing nicely and the third was tonight’s delicious pizza.

So tomorrow my Welsh Summer School starts so I need to be properly refreshed for that. Time for bed, I reckon.

But no recipe for the vegan pizza, Hans. It’s onion, mushroom, olives and cheese with tiny tomatoes cut in half and stuck all over the top.

But I ought to explain. Hans says that he’ll be going through my blog, pulling my recipes and writing the “Epic Hall Vegan Cookbook”. God help you all!
People have the totally wrong idea about vegans. One butcher in a supermarket told me that he was going to frighten me to death by making a sausage.
"That won’t scare me!" I shouted. "Do your wurst!"

Saturday 6th July 2024 – JUST WHEN I WAS …

… thinking that it was nice and quiet, and I could catch up on some of the outstanding dictation, some fool stood up on that stage that they erected on the steps of the Public Rooms and began to belt out some nonsense or other at full-volume.

He had quite a crowd gathered around him too so there were obviously plenty of people enjoying whatever it was that he was doing, but it didn’t ‘arf disrupt my plans for the early evening

And that’s a shame because, having had a good hour or two’s sleep just beforehand, I was fighting fit and raring to go. And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, that’s not something that happens every day.

It wasn’t as if I’d had a good sleep during the night either. Once more, I was late going to bed – much closer to midnight than 23:00 – and then we had a calamity.

Whatever happened, I had no idea but I have never ever in my life seen so much blood in one place. My whole tee-shirt was absolutely wringing wet with blood and there were huge lumps of the semi-congealed stuff hanging from the inside.

“Discretion is the better part of valour” I thought here. Firstly I couldn’t see where the blood was coming from and secondly, I didn’t really want to find out. So I took the obvious course.

Five minutes later she was down here cleaning me up.

There was a small puncture on my shoulder and for a tiny, tiny wound like that it was pumping blood like there was no tomorrow. What had happened to cause it I don’t know, and I didn’t want to either.

However, my cleaner tells me that at least one of the medicaments that I’m taking is an anti-coagulant and she’s seen this kind of thing before with others of her clientele who take it.

She succeeded in patching me up, at least for the night, and warned me to be careful, not to get up to much in the way of indoor athletics in bed tonight. Chance would be a fine thing.

So after she left I had another go at trying to go to bed. Horribly late yet again. No matter how much I try, I’m never going to have an early night.

It was quite a restless night again and I was wide awake at about 06:00 and planning on making another early stary but I must have gone back to sleep because the next thing that I remember was the alarm going off at 07:00.

When I stood up, a blood-sodden mass of bandages and plasters fell to the ground. At least it had protected the would and wearing a tee-shirt had protected the bed.

It was still bleeding so I had a good wash and waited for the nurse to come.

In the meantime I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. And interesting it was as well. My mother and my aunt’s four aunts were all present in the same room – Auntie Gertie, Auntie Dollie, Auntie Mabel and Auntie Dorothy. They’d been collected from where they lived out and about and had been all brought together to stay at a particular place but something had come up which meant that the person whose relative they were who had invited them had to go away so these for aunts were busy finding a way around on their own. In the end they found a row of chairs but there was only three of them. They found another chair that was not belonging to this group of three but was somehow obliquely fastened across the end of the row so they imagined that that was where they were going to be sitting. They tried to work out who was the one who was meant to be on their own. There was a volunteer for this seat who went to sit in in. They said “it’s very near the kitchen” but she replied “yes but I like my kitchen very much and I’m pretty good at making all of the Sunday roasts” she said. I thought to myself “there’s certainly the stuff here to make the roast because there’s tons of food. There are definitely two main meals with meat that have been thought about and bought for which are lying around waiting to be cooked. Anyone could bung them into the oven”. I thought that at least those four aunts would be able to manage that. But they looked like the cheery thought of people anyway, at least, the ones who were doing the talking so I thought that maybe the fact that they were going to be here and no-one was looking after them for a while at least was not going to be a particular problem and they’d manage quite well on their own

My mother and her sister (my aunt) did indeed have four aunts although I’m not sure exactly how they were or became aunts. They were four very close relatives who may have been sisters, Dollie, Gertle, Mabel and Alice in fact. Some were Beavises and some were Ashness-Wellses. The Beavises were very well-known Quakers whose eldest son Stuart was a very famous Conscientious Objector in World War I and was sentenced to Death, something that must have upset my mother’s grandfather who, well over age, had dyed his hair and joined the Canadian Infantry. “Aunt Alice” lived in Birchington in Kent right at the end of the runway for Manston Airfield and at the Fall of France and bombs beginning to drop on British airfields and Aunt Alice’s house and garden, all of the kids in the village including my mother and her sister, were rounded up at a moment’s notice and armed with just a suitcase, evacuated out of the War Zone to live in safe areas with strangers whom they didn’t know. My mother and her sister ended up in Frome in Somerset.

Years ago I went on an expedition. I had remembered the addresses to which my mother had written letters and I remembered visiting some of the properties in Kent (Mabel and Dollie had shared a house in Ham Street near Ashford) as a tiny child so I went on a big trip of discovery and remembrance around southern England. And would you believe – the house in Birchington at the end of Manston Airport’s runway was still there, complete with modern roof – and it was for sale! Get thee behind me, Satan!

Later on I was with a former friend last night on the Brine Baths Estate in Nantwich. An old yellow Ford Transit drove past. My friend made a gesture as if he knew the driver and the driver made a gesture back so I asked about him. Eventually my friend explained that the driver was just some old guy who lived on the estate and did landscape gardening. He was never in any proper order. His books were always a mess, his finances were always up the creek. Everything about him was late. He had the old Transit which wasn’t taxed, wasn’t insured, wasn’t MoT’d and hadn’t been for years but he just used it for pottering around the Estate and going from one of his clients to another with his tools. He went around quite happily without any problems at all, although I must admit that I could envisage quite a few problems that he could be having if he were me and things were running as usual according to plan in that respect.

It was a shame that this dream never developed because I do actually know of this kind of activity going on in certain places so this isn’t news by any means. And for one reason or another I was half-expecting Zero to put in an appearance at some point.

Finally, what apparently upset everyone so much about my shoulder was that no-one seemed to be doing anything and I was losing blood at a really rapid rate and people were just standing around there as if it wasn’t an emergency. For the cleaner this was a serious problem. It could well have been a shrapnel wound or something like that from high explosive that could have killed me. Then they would have had some real problems with the crew of the ‘plane trying to get it back home to base.

It wouldn’t upset all that many people if I were bleeding to death. I’d just be dismissed as a bleeding nuisance and left to my own devices. And it’s a fact that any good psychiatrist will tell you that there are occasions where people won’t mind how much they are suffering as long as the object of their hatred is suffering more.

When the nurse came he cleaned up the wound and patched me up again and then organised my puttees and the wounds on my legs. He’s going to give me a pedicure tomorrow, he says. That should be interesting.

After he left I had breakfast and then had a very slow start to the day while I slowly warmed up. Once I was ready, I blitzed through the remainder of the radio notes that I’d started earlier in the week, so they are all complete and in the chain for dictation.

Lunch was a salad sandwich which made a very nice change, and then I tidied up in the kitchen. Stuff like crockery had been piling up in there needlessly and there were far too many odds and sods that didn’t have a home, but do now.

Things look so much better in there now, there’s room to move about and there’s more room to put things, Heaven help me.

Back in here I was going tp start work again but I fell asleep and had another one of those psychedelic experiences thanks to this anti-potassium stuff.

When I recovered I was going to dictate some stuff as I said, but not while that berk was performing so I began to choose the music for the next radio programme instead.

Tea was salad, baked potato and breadcrumbed quorn fillet, and my neighbour turned up in the nick of time with some tomatoes for me which was just as well.

So now that I’ve finished and it’s relatively quiet outside I’ll do some dictation before going to bed.

But I was thiking about that dream and the row of chairs for the aunts and how they must have come to be there.
Just picture the scene – someone crying "Could we have three chairs for the aunts?"
And there would inevitably be someone at the back who would shout "Hip Hip Hooray!"

Friday 5th July 2024 – YOU HAVE TO …

… laugh.

It’s the start of the holiday season here tomorrow and for the next eight weeks we’ll be under siege by thousands of tourists coming to admire the crabs and the seabirds, blockading the town, wandering in the High Street obstructing the traffic etc.

And don’t let me start on the squadrons of motor homes that will be roaming the streets.

Of course, as a seaside town, we have to entertain them and they are erecting a sound stage on the steps of the Public Rooms at the back of our building outside the Foyer des Jeunes Travailleurs – the Hostel for Young People coming to work in the town.

My cleaner will tell you what this means. She’s a lovely woman and has a beautiful, rhythmic way of speaking with a lilt in her voice as she goes on about all the noise and “when I want to watch tv …” and “when I want to open my windows to air …” and “when I want to have a siesta …”

And on (and on, and on) she went until she finished off with a resounding j’espère que les goélands y vont chier dessus .. "I hope that the seagulls go and s**t all over them".

By that time I was bent double with laughter. That was probably the most fitting, most suitable comment that I could possibly imagine, and I’ll certainly save that for another occasion.

There’s nothing wrong with a good laugh, and a bit of vulgarity never hurt anyone.

Meanwhile, in other news, it was yet another late night crawling into bed and how fed up I am of that, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed

Nevertheless I was soon asleep which was at least something, I suppose. But not for long.

At about 06:15 I awoke yet again and just couldn’t go back to sleep. As a result, when the alarm went off at 07:00 I was in the bathroom having a wash.

While I was waiting for the nurse to show up I transcribed the dictaphone notes to find out where I’d been during the night. They were running a study down by the lives of the men in the trenches, between those who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths and those born poor. It turns out that the people who were born poor had much less expectation of everything but were not prepared to suffer as much because presumably they were used to things being worked out for them and were not so used to having to work out their own solutions to many problems.

What astonishes me is the depth of thought that I can plumb when I’m away on my travels. I wish that I could think as clearly and as profoundly as this during the day when I’m awake. I would have many fewer problems than I do, that’s for sure.111

One interesting thing that came out of another experiment that we were all doing was that the guy who was conducting it turned round and told me that between 1983 and 1987 “you didn’t do anything at all very much”. I thought “well that’s certainly not true. Why on earth would I ever make anyone think that? There’s obviously something wrong with this experiment if it’s come up with these kinds of figures and information”. But halfway through the debate one of the people said mais, le monsieur, il est fort anglais, oui? – “the guy is very English, isn’t he?”. I asked “does that make a difference?”. They replied “yes because a lot of information on the British national Government’s database was never copied over to Europol so the European Governments won’t know about what happened to you in the UK at that particular time. That was a revelation to me that Europol didn’t have access to the records to British people. That would explain everything because during that period I was extremely busy and didn’t really have the time for any trips over to the Continent and back again whereas in the periods both before and afterwards I was a frequent visitor.

Most people when they are asleep usually dream of green meadows and fluffy clouds and the like. I bet that I’m the only the only person who can have sweet (or not-so-sweet) dreams about the European Police Agency.
"But it wasn’t the bullet that laid him to rest, was
The low spark of high-heeled boys"

What a moment for that to come round on my playlist!

The nurse didn’t have much to say for himself. Except that he’s noticed that I’m putting on the weight again. That’s true, as I said a few days ago. But I really don’t know what to do about it. I have this surgery planned for the 16th – so then they will take me in charge to do the necessary but also give me a good going-over yet again.

With that date arranged there’s no point in rushing anything because whatever solution they reach will only be a temporary one anyway until the dialysis can begin. And then we’ll have to see where we’ll be.

Now regular readers of this rubbish will will recall that I always invite messages and requests. In fact, I receive many requests, most of them physically impossible it has to be said, but one of them was for the recipe for my vegan lasagne.

That’s difficult, because there’s not really a recipe, just an ad hoc collection of stuff hanging around in the kitchen all thrown together, but here goes, Hans –

  • Cook a cup full of red lentils in plenty of water until thoroughly soft, and then when cooked rinse thoroughly.
  • Fry a couple of large onions in olive oi
  • Chop up some garlic and add in when the onions are soft.
  • Add herbs and spices – I used sage, basil, tarragon, oregano
  • Add a big pile of chopped mushrooms
  • Chop up a block of tofu and add in.
  • After it’s all been frying nicely, add in the lentils that you cooked in step one.
  • Add in a jar of tomato sauce (I found a jar of tomato and mushroom sauce that had been loitering around in the kitchen for longer than it ought)
  • Stir it all in and leave it to simmer for a while.
  • When it’s ready, nicely cooked, take your pie dish and line it with lasagne sheets
  • put a covering of your filling on top
  • add more lasagne sheets
  • add more filling
  • add more sheets ….
  • And build up until your dish is full
  • Make a simple bechamel sauce with grated vegan cheese. Pour over the top of the lasagne.
  • Add a couple of slices of vegan cheese to the top
  • When your bread has about half an hour left to cook, slide yous lasagne into the oven alongside the bread.

There was football on the internet this morning – a game from a while ago between East Stirling and Cowdenbeath, two former Scottish League clubs now fallen on hard times and down in the non-league pyramid.

Played at the Falkirk stadium, the home of East Stirling since the tragic loss of their beloved Firs Park ground, it was the visitors who took away the laurels with a 3-2 victory.

But the Blue Brazil have keeper Craig Hepburn to thank for single-handedly defying a rampant East Stirling attack who should by rights have scored a hatful of goals

Apart from the football it was a rather slow start to the day but once I got going I chose another pile of music for a forthcoming radio programme, paired it off and segued the pairs, and while the cleaner was here, wrote half of the notes.

Yes, don’t ask me what happened. I must have been in a good mood to have done all that.

Unfortunately I couldn’t keep it going. I crashed out for an hour after my afternoon hot chocolate. And I actually managed to go off for a wander while I was asleep. There were five of us who used to hang around together, two boys, two girls and me. The boys and girls gradually paired off, leaving me on my own. That was a big disappointment to me because I was very keen on one of the girls and I genuinely thought that I would be able to pair up with her but no such luck. Her boyfriend had lent her a car and I’d even offered to buy her one but to no avail. Anyway we met in Flag Lane and my car was parked in Delamere Street. She had several items like a couple of saucepans and she also had a huge pile of grapes. She gave me a large bunch of grapes as she knew that I liked them and as I was making my way back to my car she blew her horn and called me back. I hoped that it was for some kind of friendly purpose but instead she gave me two saucepans in which to carry away the grapes. I was so disappointed.

What’s even more disappointing is that I know exactly who she is but I can’t think of her name and can’t think of how I know her either. I’m having some really serious brain-fade these days and I wish that I didn’t.

Tea tonight was as usual a lovely vegan salad with chips and the last of these vegan nugget things. I need to order some more of them, I suppose

I’ve run out of the salad dressing unfortunately so I mixed up some vegan mayonnaise with dijon mustard, lemon juice and olive oil. That made a very acceptable substitute.

So now I’m going to crawl into bed ready to renew the attack tomorrow morning. I’ll finish off these radio notes, dictate a few more during the night, edit them on Sunday and then be ready for my Welsh Summer School that begins on Monday for a week. It’s all “get up and go” here.

This time next week I’ll be flat on my back with my arms and legs in the air. They’ll ask me "what happened to your ‘get up and go’?"
And the answer is "It got up and went a long time ago"

Thursday 4th July 2024 – THE DIE IS …

… cast

And in a most unusual turn of speed that can only be described as “indecent haste”, I’ve had a communication this afternoon from the letting agent for the apartment downstairs –

"Dear Sir
Please find attached a copy of the formal notice that we have today sent to your tenant … in accordance with your instructions of … "

So in other words, proceedings have begun to recover occupancy of the apartment on or before the end of this current tenancy lease on 3rd June 2025.

As it happens, I feel quite awful about putting someone out on the street. I wouldn’t like it at all and I didn’t when it was done to me.

However I shouldn’t feel bad because the tenant had two opportunities to buy the apartment herself. It’s the law in France that if a let property is put up for sale, the tenant has first dibs and it’s been sold twice since she’s been there.

Secondly, I’ve offered to exchange my rights in this apartment (which I rent, of course). It’s configured differently but it’s basically the same apartment from a point of view of size and accommodation. However, she turned down my proposal, turned it down flat.

All we need to know now is what I have forgotten or overlooked.

If I were doing all of this myself there would almost inevitably be something or other that I have failed to consider, but having a letting agent means that there’s someone else to blame when it all goes pear-shaped

So with half the new kitchen packed on the landing outside the door here and the other half in the back of Caliburn, and a cat awaiting in a shelter or refuge somewhere close by, it’s “all systems go”. It looks as if I shall have to do some serious packing.

But one thing is for certain is that when I finally sit down in that apartment I’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief. I shan’t miss the 25 Steps one little bit.

When I went to bed last night I breathed a huge sigh of relief too. It was actually quite late when I finally fell into my stinking pit but after my exertions during the day I was good and ready for it

During the night I don’t recall moving a single muscle. When the alarm went off I was flat-out in exactly the same position in which I’d hit the hay earlier

And it was a very confused me who responded to the alarm this morning by trying to answer the ‘phone, something that would have brought a smile to BILLY COTTON‘s face if only he had seen it.

Eventually I managed to tear myself away from my nice warm bed and went for a wash and brush up etc before coming back in here to find out where I’d been during the night. There was something going on with my ill-health again. There had been demonstrations in Montlucon. I’d been sent a form to fill in for me to say whether or not I’d been at this demonstration for just the one day or the two days. If I’d been there for the two days I was entitled to go along there and help clean it up, and I’d receive a daily subsistence allowance for the two days. I thought to myself that this is the first time that someone had really made an effort to bring the sufferers of this disease together and actually make it worth their while to come out of the shadows and announce who they are to the World and then be paid for this clearing-up of these sites in Montlucon. I thought that this was a definite amount of progress for this illness and I was wondering where it was going to take us next with this idea of opening up everything.

Transcribing that little lot, I was thinking to myself that anyone reading this article would imagine that I was suffering from the Bubonic Plague or something equally contagious and nasty but of course as far as I am aware, what I have isn’t contagious so you’re all quite safe.

That is, apart from this ‘flu bug that I don’t seem to be able to shake off at the moment. And that’s not frightened the nurse away because he’s still coming round.

He didn’t have a great deal to say for himself this morning. He was clearly in an introspective mood. He changed the dressing on my right foot, organised my puttees and then left in a hurry.

What I’ve been doing today is to finish off the radio programme that I started yesterday. I have had to perform a lot of judicious (and not so judicious) editing, cutting and chopping about and in the end I’ve finished with 56:39 minutes of music and musicians” banter

That is leaving me just 3 minutes and 21 seconds, or 201 seconds in fact, for an introduction and at 300 characters of text per 17 seconds, I need about 3500 characters of text. So far, I’ve written 3672 so there’s a little room for manoeuvre.

But as usual when I write stuff for programmes like that, I’ll review it a few times before I go with a definitive version. The usual programmes where I have 11 songs and about three quarters of a minute to introduce each one, you can’t do all that much. But I like to think that the text for any concert that I broadcast says all that it needs to in the time available to it.

Seeing as we are talking about concerts … "well, one of us is" – ed … I came across the soundtrack for an interesting concert.

There was a group quite active on the British Rhythm and Blues scene in the early 1960s, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, and their claim to fame is that their guitarist at the time, Mick Green, is credited with having invented the concept of the “power trio” of guitar, bass and drums, by being able to play lead and rhythm guitar alternately and inspired whole generations of some of the most important musicians and groups in rock music. I’ve played bass in many a power trio and to me, that is rock music at its best

Johnny KIdd was killed in a car accident in the mid-1960s but is group reformed later and produced three or four LPs that I would love to find. Instead though, I came across a concert that was recorded in 2006 in a pub in Northern France with the Pirates, including Mick Green

The quality is rubbish unfortunately, but nevertheless …

Later on this afternoon I’ve been busy. Firstly, the cleaner stuck her head in. She brought my next batch of injections that had now arrived at the pharmacy. But poor girl – if it carries on like this, she’s going to need a lorry. I’m sure that I have more medication here than the chemist has in his stock.

And then, having used up the last of the bread this morning I need another loaf for starting tomorrow so I’ve been baking.

And what can I do with half an oven while there’s bread in the other half? The answer is to make a big vegan lasagne – tofu, mushroom and red lentils with tomato sauce all covered in a bechamel sauce.

That was a lovely surprise for tea too, lasagne with steamed veg. One slice to go and two slices for the freezer for another time. Like I say, the food in this place is simple but it’s really first-class.

So I’m going to bed and hopefully to have a good night’s sleep and to make all kinds of plans about the apartment downstairs.

But thinking about my dream earlier, it reminds me of a story that I heard from a schoolteacher friend of mine on the Wirral in a particularly rough primary school.
She set the children an exercise in their English language lesson – to write a sentence with the word “contagious” in it
After two minutes little Johnny put his hand up to say that he was finished, so my friend asked him to come out and read his sentence to the class
So little Johnny coughs to clear his throat and begins "Next door’s garden fence blew down in the gales and it will take the contagious to pick up all of the bits"

Wednesday 3rd July 2024 – "A GENERAL ANAESTHETIC …"

"… for just a few cuts in a couple of veins? Certainly not! You’ll have a local anaesthetic for a half-hour operation like this!" (… and like it!) and there was no arguing with the Beast of the Hôpital de la Baie

Here was a woman who means business – at least, I think that’s what she was meaning. If you think that my accent is bad you want to hear hers. She comes from a Spanish/Portuguese environment I reckon and I could hardly understand a word that she said at times.

A few other times I understood clearly enough. "They have you down for an overnight stay too. Why is that?"
"PLease miss" I felt like saying, "I live on my own". I replied "There’s no-one looking after me."
"Well, don’t you have a friend where you can go? Isn’t there a neighbour who will take you in?"

Well, as it happens, there is a neighbour who will take me in but I’ll be lucky to come out alive. Do you remember the case of Kirk Anderson, the Manacled Mormon who claimed that Joyce McKinney had chained him to her bed and then had her wicked way with him? We’ll be back reliving those events again.

At least, not all of them. And it won’t be a doctor that I’ll need to see. His job is to heal the sick. I’d need the assistance of a medium or a spiritualist to help me raise the dead.

But seriously just for a moment, I was lucky to leave the Beast of the Hôpital de la Baie’s lair alive and I’m having a horrible feeling about this business on the 16th. I’ve mentioned before … "and on several occasions too" – ed … the rather brusque business-like attitude and manner that seems to exist in the hospitals around here.

Never was it more in evidence than today.

Nothing else very much business-like about today unfortunately.

Last night was another late night which was a shame followed once again by being wide awake at 03:15, lying there with streaming nose and eyes and feeling absolutely lousy.

It was at about 06:00 when I gave up the fight and arose from my stinking pit. And when the alarm went off at 07:00 I was already washed, dried and sitting at my desk working.

The nurse was late today. Apparently my neighbour had had a bad fall and when the nurse arrived there she was sprawled al over the floor. He had to pick her up, dust her off and start her all over again.

He’s trying to encourage her to go into a Home for the elderly and infirm and it’s not a bad idea, except for the fact that robbing a person of their autonomy is often sentencing them to death. I know people mean well when they go to, say, take the tops off your yoghurt for you or cut up your meal for you, but it really is humiliating.

On that note, he did what he could to put my neighbour back on her feet and then came down here to see what damage he could do to me.

And as it happens, I didn’t need much from anyone else. I could create enough damage on my own. He sorted out my legs with my puttees and then pointed out the shortage of supplies. Not that it did much good because he was gone before I could take it all in.

After breakfast I had a listen to the dictaphone but there was nothing there from the night which was a surprise because there was a lot of stuff that I can’t remember now about the confusing aspects of going to hospital – is it better to take one form of recovery or take another form, what was wrong with each one? How would I return home? How things would be complicated and how things would be managed. That drifted on through some kind of wartime scenario but it was all to do with my ill-health. Unfortunately I can’t really remember all that much of it now which is a shame but I definitely recall being torn desperately in two directions with no clear path to guide me – and there’s a lot of truth in a feeling like that right at the moment. I’m currently being pulled in every direction save that in which I think that I ought to be going.

Today I’ve been working on a new project. One of the greatest live albums ever celebrates its birthday soon and although the album is actually quite short, the whole concert lasted for just over two hours, the event was recorded (well, obviously) in its entirety and I have found, tucked away in a few various recesses here and there, a copy of the recording!

It contains the songs that are well-known from the published work of course, but also plenty of others and loads of interesting and illuminating dialogue between the musicians that has never seen the light of day.

We shall be having a great deal of fun with this broadcast when it hits the air.

There’s also been a cookery master-class going on too. I’ve been teaching everyone in my little travel group to make naan bread, seeing as almost everyone seemed to be planning on making a curry.

My cleaner came and went early today as I had to be ready by 16:00 for the taxi to take me to see the Beast of the Hôpital de la Baie.

We were late arriving, due to problems on the road with all the traffic, however that meant that I didn’t have to wait long.

With the kind of glance that would curdle milk at 100 paces she enticed me into her lair and then the interrogation began. I felt like at any moment the bright light and thumbscrews would be out but eventually she threw me out, satisfied that another helpless victim has been ensnared.

The taxi brought me back here where my loyal cleaner helped me up the stairs, God bless her! Ho nice it was to see a friendly face.

And her help was welcomed too because I’d have never managed the 25 Steps on my own.

On that subject, I might not have to face them for much longer. Although there’s 11 months left on the lease of the tenant in my apartment downstairs, I’ve issued instructions to the letting agents to start proceedings to make sure that the lease isn’t automatically renewed, as most leases are.

Here in France, tenants have a great many rights and things have to be done “by the book” So it’s worth paying someone to do it correctly. But I bet that there’s yet another banana skin somewhere lurking around.

Up here i made tea – a leftover curry with naan bread and it really was delicious. I could eat that all over again. But not right now as I’m off to bed. Next Wednesday will come round soon enough

Talking about anaesthetics however reminds me of the time that Idi Amin went to the dentist’s. The dentist worked out what he needed, laid out all the tools and drills and went to his fridge from which he pulled a hypodermic needle
"What are you doing?" asked a panic-stricken Amin
"There’s no need to worry" said the dentist. "I’m going to give you a local anaesthetic."
So Amin left his chair, picked up the dentist and began to beat him to a pulp.
When he’d finished, he turned to the dentist’s assistant and said "NOT local! American! OK?"

Tuesday 2nd July 2024 – I CAN’T BELIEVE …

… (well, I can actually, because regular readers of this rubbish will recall that it’s always going like this with me) that as well as everything else through which I’m currently suffering and all of the aches and pains that go with it, I’ve now gone down with a severe bout of the ‘flu.

No wonder that I’ve not been feeling too well (relatively speaking) this last couple of days with all of this brewing away inside me, but it erupted last night. I’m now shivering, freezing, I’ve lost my voice, my nose and eyes are streaming and I have aches in places that I didn’t even know that I had places.

That’s a shame because last night even though it was quite late when I went to bed I was feeling something like normal and a lot more optimistic than I had been feeling for a while. So that didn’t last long, did it?

Round about 03:00 I awoke with my streaming nose and eyes. Even a liberal dose of Vick’s Vapour Rub didn’t seem to help all that much so I just lay there vegetating as best as I could, trying to doze off to sleep.

At about 06:00 I abandoned the struggle and took to my feet. I went into the bathroom for a wash and a change of clothes and by the time that the alarm went off at 07:00 I was at the computer working.

Much to my surprise, and yours too, I bet, there was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone. It must have been a very mobile night, that’s all I can say. We were discussing our school days, talking about the game of “tick and it” and how it differed between the way that it was played in France and the UK. It all came down in the end to whether one had had actually earned the confidence of your playmates or not. The discussion carried on for quite a while. There was one guy there who didn’t really have too much to say. One of the people asked him if he was married. He replied “oh I was taken once” and made tat beautiful Gallic gesture of throwing something over his shoulder like “well it’s all in the past – it’s all behind me”. I thought “yes, I can identify with all of that”. The conversation carried on but it was obvious that I could see that I was going to be the one who was “out” in this case. I didn’t seem to fit into the clique that everyone else had been creating.

And that doesn’t surprise me very much. I never learned how to socialise and wouldn’t know how to do it today. I’m much happier in my own company than in a room full of random strangers. Even in childhood, if there was an odd number of us and we had to be paired, I’d always be the one on his own. And it didn’t bother me in the slightest once I became used to the idea. But as for marriages not working, it’s rather too late in the day now to say that I should have worked harder in the right direction. But then again, had I stayed in The Land That Time Forgot, I’d probably still be driving a bus or a taxi, and I would have seen the inside of Shrewsbury Gaol and not as a tourist either. The storm clouds were definitely gathering and they chased me all the way down to Dover.

The computer came up with an error when I was downloading a file. It was a book that I was downloading from ARCHIVE.ORG. The message said that basically a certain extension was required to read it so I had to download that. I downloaded it and it seemed to take for ever. It was an enormous file so I wondered whether or not it was correct – whether I’d been the victim of some kind of phishing attack. I downloaded the program and tried to install it on my computer but while setting it up I came across another kind of discussion where this extension was being discussed so I stopped what I was doing, sat down and began to read the notes on this particular extension. This was where I awoke.

Yes, waking up in the middle of a phishing attack, and actually reading the notes too – that’s a new one for a computer program. Normally, most people just click on the “I Agree” box, mainly because they don’t understand the agreement and don’t have the motivation to read on down to the end. As for instructions, computer programs don’t actually work like that. You think of a function that it would be a good idea to have, you think “surely the program designer has already thought of this” and then you go by trial and error through the menu until you find the function or something that resembles it?

Later on we’d just been repairing and revictualling a Royal Navy battleship. Even though I wasn’t in the Navy I was quite used to giving commands to the crew now that the ship was prepared. I was ordering my assistants around making sure this was right, making sure that was right, going on about how things are going to be changing in the Navy soon. You wouldn’t be able to give orders like this – it would all have to be polite requests. We went on like this for some time, then in the end I said “we might as well have the men lined up” to my assistants so we dashed to the front of the ship and chalked the assembly points on the deck and shouted the ship’s company to assemble and come to attention

Civilians giving orders to matelots would be an interesting concept and I can’t see how that would work, except along the Dock Road in Liverpool during the hours of darkness in the good old days of the “Dockers’ Umbrella”, but that’s another story entirely. However many warships did set out to battle with their civilian repair and maintenance crews on board and a great many lost their lives.

And although I didn’t dictate this, I have a vague feeling of being out at Slochd Summit in charge of a breakdown crew in a heavy snowstorm clearing a track for the trains through the snowdrifts

In the middle of this the nurse turned up. I’d rung him to tell him that I didn’t think that he should come. After all, I don’t want to pass over to his other patients whatever it is that I’ve caught but he didn’t seem too bothered so why should I worry?

He sorted out my legs, gave me today’s Injection of the Last Resort and then cleared off. He had recommended a medication to deal with the ‘flu so I sent a message to my faithful cleaner and then had a slow, leisurely breakfast.

Today has been a very slow day, slower than usual and although I didn’t actually crash out at all, which is surprising, I may as well have done for all the good that I was doing at times. But at least I have achieved my target for today, which was to edit the last lot of notes that I’d dictated and prepare the relevant programme.

The final song has been selected, the text has been written, and all that I need is a nice quite moment to dictate everything. But when that is likely to be, I really have no idea.

The cleaner turned up in mid -afternoon. The pharmacist had warned her off the product that the nurse recommended and anted to know my exact symptoms so I duly obliged. Half an hour later she was back with something that the pharmacist thinks is more suitable.

And who am I to argue?

Tea was a delicious taco roll with rice and veg, and plenty of stuffing left over for a leftover curry tomorrow. That should be delicious.

And in a mad fit of enthusiasm, before going to bed I washed my puttees and rolled up the ones that I’d washed last week so that we can use them from tomorrow;

But going back to life along the Dock Road in the days of the “Dockers Umbrella” I knew a girl who married a sailor. And everyone told her that if he suggested "the other way" she was to flatly refuse.
So for the first few months of wedded bliss things were going fine but this thing about “the other way” was playing on her mind and on her curiosity. And it eventually got the better of her.
"Why don’t we … errrr … try it the other way?" she suggested meekly.
"What?" exclaimed the sailor in astonishment "and fill the house up with screaming kids?"

Monday 1st July 2024 – I’M LATE AGAIN!

At this rate people will be calling me “the late Epic Hall” long before I’ve properly earned the sobriquet by beginning to push up the daisies and manger les pissenlits par les racines as one does around here

Not that that will be all that long in occurring at this rate because we’ve had another awful day when much of it has been spent asleep on my chair.

That’s actually part of the reason why I’m so late tonight. I drifted off into yet another lapse of bewildered unconsciousness round about 19:00 and didn’t snap out of it until almost 20:00 so that made me half an hour late starting tea

And then dropping a full bowl of washing-up water on the floor and having to mop it up accounts for most of the rest.

As you can see, it’s not been a very good day.

It all went wrong a long time before this though;

For a change, I was actually in bed early-ish and wasn’t I looking forward to a really decent sleep, preferably in the company of my three favourite ladies?

And so at about 03:00 I awoke with a thirst that you could photograph and nothing that I did would make the sensation go away.

At about 05:00 I abandoned the fight and went to the kitchen for a long, cool drink of strawberry-flavoured water. No need to tell you what happened half an hour later.

Surprisingly, I did manage to go back to sleep after all of that, until the strident tones of BILLY COTTON shattered my sommeil.

It was a desperate struggle to make it to my feet before the second alarm went off but I staggered off into the bathroom and smartened myself up as best as I could. I even had a shave, although I’m not sure why.

With some time to spare before the nurse came round I made a start on the dictaphone notes. And there were quite a few of them too and I hadn’t finished by the time that he turned up.

It’s the boss again, and he was in a chatty mood too. His son had won that race over the weekend, so I’d been told, so I congratulated him. Anyway, he sorted out my legs and put on my puttees.

After he left I had a nice, leisurely breakfast, taking my time and drinking a raft of coffee. But as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I am living proof that coffee does NOT keep you awake.

Once breakfast was out of the way I had to ring up the taxi company. So far (and I stress the “so far” because it’s liable to change at any moment) I need five and maybe six trips to various hospital and medical appointments

It took a while to make sure that everything was arranged properly and I asked, jokingly, if I ought to buy them another car. The girl replied that they could manage at the moment, but maybe they should think about issuing loyalty cards.

Just wait until one or two of these Paris trips that are simmering on the back burner come to fruition.

It’s not just the nurse’s son for whom congratulations are in order. A little 13 year-old girl whom I know is dancing for the UK at the Dance World Cup in Portugal. She came 11th out of 59 in the individual competition and is part of the UK team that is leading the medals table

So well done Robyn! STRAWBERRY MOOSE sends his congratulations too.

So now I could finish off the dictaphone notes. I went to se the school doctor because I was clearly feeling unwell. The doctor told me to go and lie down for a while, somewhere calm. My group had taken possession of the Spanish galleon thing there I suppose so I’d go and lie down somewhere below the deck level there and it would be a novel way of having my rest but boats from outside were waiting for me afterwards and I couldn’t work out what was going on. It seemed that people were asking me if I were OK but all that I could mutter were yes, things were fine but it didn’t really go out. There were these two girls underneath a kind of bubble In between the ship and their ship with the rest of their crew on it, obviously having created an advance listening post. Suddenly one of them sprung up and came to me to ask me “is there anything the matter?” Is there anything they could do. I had to admit that if that girl standing there and me standing there like that carried on standing there much longer, there would be plenty that she could do, without the shadow of a doubt. I think that she senses that things were not as they seemed and she departed quite rapidly. Meanwhile they were trying to start an aeroplane, presumably to go after this boat. With nothing better to do I went along to help, to see what use I’d be, although I doubted if I’d be of very much use at all. But this aeroplane engine would simply not fire up. We couldn’t understand why that would be the case because everything you need for a possible flight was there. There wasn’t a reason why it suddenly wouldn’t start at all

And I’ll recognise those girls in the bubble again if ever I come across them. They aren’t anyone whom I know but their springing up was so dramatic that they are imprinted on my mind like a photograph

There were all kinds of people hovering around me last night trying to get their hands on my Estate, such as it is, and help themselves to stuff. It became so bad that in the end I employed a minder or bouncer or someone to keep an eye on me and keep an eye on everything to make sure that nothing went missing and everything was accounted for at the appropriate time. Of course it wasn’t very popular at all, this idea, but nevertheless I had to do something to protect my own interests in these cases

And having seen the amount of looting and pillaging of the dead and dying by the nearest and dearest, it’s probably not a bad idea. Marianne told me that when her father died, one of her brothers hadn’t gone to the interment. Instead, he’d gone round to the family shop and removed everything worth removing. Not that it did him much good. I became picked up in this when I met Marianne and early on in our relationship I took her to his house for a confrontation. He wasn’t in but it was a mean terraced house in the roughest part of Seraing, the industrial suburb of Liège, in the immediate shadow of the huge Cockerill steelworks.

When Marianne died in 2013 and I had to take her to her interment, I put all of her valuables such as they were into an envelope and posted them “registered post” back to me. Of course I wasn’t in, so the Post Office hung onto them for a few days while I was dashing about hither and thither. That way, they were safe until I went to collect the package.

There was a pre-season friendly football match taking place somewhere. One of the teams had already replaced its goalkeeper with a trialist and the match was proceeding quite normally. I was asleep and it was the alarm that awoke me but I had the feeling that there was some crisis about to develop in this dream at this particular time.

It’s a shame that I awoke here because this had all the air of being something exciting but, as usual, Billy Cotton came along to interrupt it.

There was some football on the internet too. Gala Fairydean from Galashiels in the Scottish Borders and who play in the Lowland League – effectively the Scottish 5th Division – were playing a game against a “team” of scratch, unattached players from Glasgow putting themselves in the shop window trying to attract some kind of contract with some kind of club.

To my surprise, to Gala Fairydean’s and doubtless to their own surprise, the scratch side ran out 3-1 winners, and I’d sign their n°10 and n°16 in a heartbeat.

The rest of the day, when I’ve not been asleep, has been spend on radio stuff. I’ve edited another lot of notes that I dictated on Saturday night and assembled most of a programme. I’ve chosen the final track and written the notes for dictation when I have a quiet moment that isn’t too late, whenever that might be.

That was my target for today so I was pleased that I’d done it, but I could have done so much more had I not been so tired.

Tea tonight was stuffed pepper which was delicious, and there’s plenty of stuffing left. That will doubtless please those people who tell me that I want stuffing

But that’s something on which to muse while I’m in bed, which is where I’ll be in a very short space of time

It’s a long time since the days when I could sit up for 24 hours and more. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the time I had to drive in Caliburn to the suburbs of Birmingham to pick up a trailer, then up to North Lancashire to pick up a digger and then drive the whole lot down to Central France.

34 hours I was on the road and the only break that I had was the 90 minutes on the ferry. I can’t do that now.

Not so long ago I sat up and watched the earth spin round on its axis for 24 hours, and then I called it a day.