Tag Archives: rachel

Saturday 10th February 2024 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… miserable night with very little sleep.

How many is this now just recently? I’m feeling like death right now.

Just for a change I was in bed at a respectable time and went to sleep quite quickly – but not for long.

It wasn’t the burning sensation but instead an agonising pain in both my ankles. It was a real killer. Every time I moved and the bedding touched the sore points on the ankles the pain drove me through the roof

Strangely enough, when the alarm went off and my ankles were still wracked with pain, I was afraid of standing up. But somehow standing up seemed to ease the pain and that surprised me. I wandered off into the kitchen to take my medication with a sigh of relief.

Back in here I had plenty of things to do before I could look at the dictaphone. And to my surprise there was actually something on it from the night. The night can’t have been as bad as I thought. “The Mole”, a Welsh poem, was written by someone with the aim of aiding people with Educational difficulties by learning French but it didn’t have a great deal of support. In some places the Government disliked it and many other organisations disliked it too because they said that it showed disabled people in the wrong batch by segregating them into groups run by them or not but that’s a complete red herring because the whole point is that everyone joins in and gains something from it.

Well, that’s what I said. And you don’t expect me to make any sense out of it, do you?

Rosemary rang up with a quick question. And it was a quick question too – only 52 minutes today. One of our shorter ‘phone calls. She was going out for afternoon tea with a couple who had just come back from Australia so I told her that they might have brought her back a kangaroo seeing that Australia is overrun with kangaroos right now.

During our conversation I told her about the earliest European explorers to go into the interior, and they took a native guide from the coast with them
They saw a strange animal bouncing around and so they asked their native guide what it was.
He replied "kangaroo" so they captured one, put it in a crate, labelled it “kangaroo” and sent it back to Europe where anthropologists officially called it “kangaroo”, by which name it’s been known ever since throughout the world.
So the explorers went back into the interior with their native guide and they saw a strange tree. "What’s that tree called?" they asked the native guide
He replied "kangaroo"
"Don’t be silly" answered the chief explorer. "You told us that the bouncing animal was called a kangaroo. How can the tree be a kangaroo? What’s it called?"
"Kangaroo" he insisted.
The explorers dragged the native guide back to the coast and to his chief. They told him the story of the tree and demanded an explanation.
The chief burst out laughing. "In our language" he said "”kangaroo” means “I don’t know”."

The rest of the day has been spent with some sound tracks, converting them to a format that I can use and then chopping them up into the bits that I want.

But it wasn’t easy. Being exhausted as I am I crashed out two or three times in the middle of something exciting, and I reckon that there will be a few more times before I can go to bed.

And during one of these spells, I was off on my travels. That will give you an idea of how deep the sleep was. I was with a group of people, several of whom I knew and a few who were quite young. Thee was something organised at the local church and one of the women and I Had been up quite late making food for the event. On our way there one of the small children said “I used to go to Sunday School, didn’t I?”. So we arrived there and that child was shocked to see how people were going in. She piped up “when you go into church you’re supposed to go in quietly and kneel down” in the shocked kind of voice and tone that only a young child can do. Everyone looked at her so I said “we’re all going to have a lecture now about going into church” in a light-hearted was but everyone still looked daggers at us. After the lecture or whatever it was, it was the buffet. And I’ve never seen food disappear so quickly. When I arrived there was very little left. I said in a loud voice to the woman with whom I’d come “what time late at night were we up to making this food?” in attempt to try to shock and embarrass everyone but she replied in a horrified tone “you don’t talk about things like that”. Some woman looked sympathetically at me so I replied “don’t worry. I can always go outside and wait until the event is over. It doesn’t bother me”.

As if you’d really get me into a church. Fair enough, I went into plenty with Marianne but that was out of friendship and respect. I’ve also been in plenty as a tourist too.

However in the UK, the first time that I went into church, someone stuck me in a pool of water. The second time, someone attached me to a strange woman. The next time that I go into a church will be over my dead body.

As for Nerina being strange though, that’s certainly not the truth. If we hadn’t both been under such stress and if I hadn’t been in such a dark place, things might well have been different. As I once said to my niece in Canada, it wasn’t until I met a couple of other girls on a more personal level that I realised how lucky I might have been when I had Nerina.

On another subject that cropped up in that dream, I remember being in a meeting in Toronto in Canada and they announced at the end that there was a buffet.

Seeing a few of my friends on the podium I stopped to chat to them so I was late joining the queue for the food. And when those of us near the end of the queue arrived at the front, the buffet had been totally stripped of food. Yet some people early in the queue had their plates piled high with sandwiches.

What I did was to shrug my shoulders and walk down to the nearest “Subway” and have a sandwich there.

Something else that interrupted me was the football on the internet. In fact I was asleep when the match between Penybont and Y Barri kicked off so I missed the first 25 minutes of it but luckily it was streamed via a recording site so I could go back to the start.

Penybont are having a strange season. For all of their experience and organisation, they are having a wretched season and are in danger of being sucked into the relegation battle.

On the other hand, Y Barri might be low down in the table but as a newly-promoted side and with such a gulf between the Premier League and the feeder leagues, they are coping better than some have expected.

THE MATCH seemed to reflect the situation. Penybont were much more organised but Y Barri played with more flair and improvisation.

The result at the final whistle was probably about fair, I suppose.

Penybont’s Chris Venables was sent off yet again for another stupid off-the-ball incident, and I really don’t understand it. He’s one of the better and more articulate players in the league and could easily be a regular in the “C” International side, yet the problem would be to keep him on the pitch for the whole 90 minutes.

There’s far too much of this niggly off-the-ball stuff in the league and I do wish that some of the players would grow up.

Tea tonight was one of the breaded quorn fillets that I like, now that I’ve had a Leclerc delivery, along with vegan salad and delicious baked potato started in the microwave and finished in the air fryer. And it was so nice that I went and baked myself another potato afterwards.

Now, I have a few notes to dictate before I go to bed, but I’m not sure how I’m going to do it. It’s Carnaval weekend, there are hordes of motor caravans parked on the public carpark outside and crowds are going back and forth singing and making a noise.

For the weekend half of the town join in the celebrations with gusto along with the other 150,000 people who attend here as visitors. As for the other half of the town though, they all make themselves scarce and head for the hills.

For people who don’t want to be here but can’t get away, the constant noise and sound of the entertainment can be quite overwhelming.

In fact, as my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche once remarked, even "little children who could neither walk nor talk were running about in the streets cursing their Maker"

Sunday 5th November 2023 – MY CHOCOLATE AND COCONUT …

… biscuits with a hint of orange flavouring are absolutely excellent and I’ll make some more like that another time too.

And I’m glad that something went right today because not much else did.

For a start, I had another miserable night and it wasn’t until 11:30 this morning when I finally left the bed. I did mention last night that I needed a really good sleep.

Actually, I was in bed rather later than intended last night. After I’d dictated my radio notes I was on the point of going to bed when Alison came on line for a chat. And while I was chatting to Alison, my niece in Canada appeared too.

It’s really quite strange, this telepathy thing. I’d just been typing in my notes about making biscuits when up popped my niece – “here’s a lovely biscuit recipe that I found”.

And if I’d have had any peanut butter and maple syrup I’d have made them today instead.

It’s not the first time by a long way that there has been such telepathy. Nerina and I certainly had it and I’ve experienced it with other people too.

So after I awoke this morning, I had a listen to the dictaphone. And there was a huge pile of stuff on there, including a recurring dream that appeared a few times during the night. There was a party going on at someone’s house and a game of cards had been organised – a game of bridge. I’ve no interest in a game of bridge so while they crafted a scorecard to keep a late arrival happy I pretended to be dummy and that suited me fine. They wrote up the scores bearing in mind the fact that I hadn’t played, to which I had no objection. While they were playing I was wandering around. People were chatting about their medication. I noticed that one of the people here had a huge pile of medication but it was just a big lump of stuff so I sat down and began to sort it out into different types. I ended up in the end with a range going right across the table of all different types of medication. I tried my best to have it arranged in “morning, noon and night” too. I can’t remember now any more about this but it was another one of these dreams that went on for ages.

And then there was a big group of us. We’d been out somewhere and were on our way home. I was in BILL BADGER my old A60 van. We pulled up at a motel to stop there for the night. We ended up sleeping in a variety of rooms, 2 each to a room. I had someone whom I didn’t really know who seemed to be a reasonable guy, an older guy, rural type. The discussion came round to talking about ghosts and spirits. Just then I went into the bathroom but the sudden noise in the bathroom which was connected to the next room made the occupants in that room jump wo we had quite an exchange of conversation about spirits and ghosts etc. When I came back into my bedroom there had been some kind of issue about keys. I didn’t actually have my keys with me. I was convinced that I’d left them in the ignition but when I’d looked earlier they weren’t there. I remembered that I’d changed my trousers so the keys were in the pockets of the dirty ones. Now I wanted one of my mint sweets that were in the van. I found my keys, and with more teasing about ghosts being out there waiting etc I set out. When I reached the van what there was was a huge baker’s oven, the type with probably about 6 shelves. For some reason I opened one of the shelves. It was packed full of all kinds of strange food, a type that I hadn’t seen before, wrapped in portions. I was scratching my head wondering “what’s all this food about? What is it? Who is it for?”. I’d seen nothing like this in the past.

But that did remind me of an interesting court case where a woman was put on trial for having obtaining money by false pretences. She had been holding “seances” to attract visiting souls and charging fees for attendance, whereas the “visiting souls” were actually her friends pretending.
One of the witnesses gave his occupation as “Customs and Excise Officer”
“Testing spirits?” asked prosecuting counsel
“Yes” replied the witness “but not the type of spirits that we are discussing at the moment”.

There was something going on in a house about preparing for an operation. What first caught my eye was a row of cats all spread out across the top of the back of a settee watching a TV programme. The discussion came round to this operation. I volunteered to be one of the first to be treated, on the grounds that the quicker you start, the quicker you finish. That’s not like me at all. Usually I wait until the last minute before volunteering for something like that, especially something rather groovy and here I fell asleep)

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I am actually asleep when I’m dictating my notes, but in cases like this, when I refer to “falling asleep” what I mean is that everything suddenly goes quiet and then I can hear myself snoring.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed another group of us had gone out for a meal, a sort-of pizza evening. All 8 of us were sitting round a table. They began to bring out the slices of pizza. Depending on what pizza you ordered, you ended up with 1, 2 or 3 slices before anyone else was served. Some people were well on their way with their meal but others hadn’t even begun. The conversation came round to houses. I was talking about my house but I hadn’t realised that everyone else was from the UK. They began to ask me questions about my house. I explained as best as I could but it was just making the situation more confused. In the end someone turned round and said “I thought that you lived in France”. I replied “I do” which puzzled everyone even more. In the meantime my meal still hadn’t arrived. There was some kind of greasy-type things, crackers that were being passed around. I grabbed a box of those, sat down and began to eat them because by this time I was starving and I wasn’t sure when I’d receive my pizza. The conversation carried on and I began to talk about my little apartment in Granville.

One thing that I had forgotten about the previous dream was that we were staying the previous night in someone’s house before this meal. It was a Sunday morning and I’d left the bed to go to the bathroom. Just then my bedroom door opened. It was the woman of the place where I was staying, wondering if I was OK. I asked her what the problem was. She replied “it’s 16:00 and you’ve been asleep for 14 hours”. I explained about Sundays, how they are Days of Rest etc but I don’t think that she took it seriously. She was extremely concerned that I hadn’t shown any sign of life until just now. I think that she was rather offended that I’d chosen to spend all my time in bed asleep instead of coming down to mix with everyone else in the house at some reasonable point.

I was back in the dream about the pizzas later on. everyone else had gone to visit one of these 19th Century workingmen’s villages of the type built by philanthropists to house the employees in their factories. This was a village out in the countryside. After the factory had closed down years ago the village had fallen into ruin. Gradually people had been slowly restoring it. A group of us went. I remember having my breakfast with a family with 2 children, talking to them. Then I went off for a wander around the village on my own. It really was quite interesting because the original buildings were marked with the fact and buildings subsequently built mere marked as being later editions. It was clear that although a lot of it was in very poor condition some of it had been rebuilt quite nicely. There was an enormous amount of potential in this place. I began to wonder whether there might be some kind of small cottage for me to buy. By now I was actually running, pushing some kind of trolley in an effort to keep fit. I overtook the people with whom I’d had breakfast but I carried on running around the village like this looking at the shops – there was a good array of shops, even a fish and chip shop – and looking at the stone buildings. I was absolutely enthralled by the whole place and the possibilities that existed here.

At one point while I was wandering around that village I came across a car accident. 2 cars had collided. One of them looked quite bad but I’m sure that it wasn’t as badly damages as it looked so I began to measure things up to see whether it was safe to be on the road. The father of the 2 children began to ask me “why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that?” but the wife kept interrupting him saying “leave him alone to deal with it. It looked as if he knows more of what he’s doing than you do” which offended her husband quite a lot.

Of the vehicle that had come off worst in the accident I’d had part of the floor up, measuring the chassis for deflection. The guy asked in an exasperated tone why I was actually doing that. His wife told him again to keep quiet and let me continue with my work as I clearly seemed to know what I was doing

That took me right up to and beyond lunchtime so my porridge and cheese on toast was rather late today.

This afternoon I made a start on one of the radio programmes and then wandered off to make my biscuits. However, just after I’d sorted out the ingredients Ingrid telephoned me.

It was Ingrid’s birthday yesterday so I’d telephoned her but she was busy so she called me back today. And we had a Rosemaryesque chat that went on for 68 minutes, mainly about our illnesses.

The chats that Ingrid and I have are actually really quite interesting. We usually start off in French until someone can’t remember a word and then we switch to another language and we end up usually rotating through English, French, Dutch (Ingrid) and Flemish (me), quite often one person speaking in one language and the other replying in a different one.

Dutch and Flemish are very similar languages by the way, and if you know one you’ll understand the other, in the same way that a Londoner will understand Scots English and vice versa

Actually Ingrid was one of my two choices to come with me to this wedding in Michigan next weekend – the other being Rosemary after our success in the Arctic in 2019. But of the only two people who might be free, they are both too unfit to travel.

And that’s a shame because even though I’m not supposed to say it, it’s my favourite relative who is marrying and I would move heaven and earth to be there with her. But I can’t go on my own – my week in Belgium in September proved that.

So back at the biscuits. And a standard mix of 10/8/4 of flour and oats/butter and coconut oil/sugar with a generous helping of ground almonds, desiccated coconut, orange essence and vanilla essence and there we were.

While all of this was going on I’d had a dollop of pizza dough defrosting and when it was ready I made myself a pizza. Delicious as usual but I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I run out of my vegan cheese.

In between everything I finished off one of the radio programmes and so the first task tomorrow will be to finish off the second one, and then start the next after that.

The nurse should be coming tomorrow too in order to discuss my Covid injection with me. So I’d better hurry up and go to bed. I’ll have to have a good wash before he comes too. But at the moment, the shower is out of bounds.

And I’ve only just realised something – and that is that I must have just come in here out of the kitchen without using my crutches. Fancy that!

Thursday 5th October 2023 – I’M HAVING TO …

… go back to the hospital at Paris in a couple of weeks. They rang me up today to tell me.

The original proposal was to give me a series of intravenous antibiotic perfusions that I could take at home over the period of a week. However they’ve had a close look at my medical results from my last visit and decided that my medical state is far too fragile for the perfusion to take place without medical supervision.

Therefore they are calling me in and moving on directly to the next stage of the proceedings, whatever that might be.

It’s nice to see that they aren’t going to let the grass grow under their feet and that they are pressing on regardless. One thing that I’m sure of is that I can’t carry on like this much longer.

The big question is though “how am I going to make it to the hospital?” because I don’t want to have to go through that journey again. As I’ve said before, I can feel things slipping away day by day.

Something that I didn’t actually go through today was the stress of an early start. I was flat out when the alarm went off, miles away in the Land of Nod.

Nevertheless I struggled to my feet and went to take my medication and to check my mails and messages.

Once I’d dragged myself round into the Land of the Living I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was a new boy on a way to a class on board an old double-decker bus. I was the only passenger. The bus stopped to pick up a teacher. Apparently something had gone wrong somewhere and he was looking for the culprit. For some reason he fastened on me although it was nothing at all to do with me. I told him what I knew about anything, which wasn’t much, and he grudgingly accepted. In the end he said “drop me off at (such and such) bus stop”. I had no idea where this bus stop was, being new, so I just rang the bell for the next stop. Sure enough the bus stopped. He alighted first and I was about to alight second. The driver had obviously seem the person alighting in his mirror and he put his foot down at that point to move off. I was half on, half off the bus so the back of the bus hit me on the top of the pelvis and spun me off onto the ground on my face. It didn’t half hurt.

Later on I was round at someone’s house having a coffee, chatting to him and his wife. He asked me to tell them a limerick. As usual, I couldn’t think of one on demand like that. It took me ages. In the end I went to the bathroom and came back with a really weak effort. They guy then began to tell me a joke about another man who had come to his house. This joke went on and on and on. When he finally reached the punchline I thought that it wasn’t funny at all. he looked at me and said “you’re a case apart, you are”. This joke that went on for ages just fell completely flat.

And then we’d been camping somewhere. I’d had to leave Nerina and return home for something or other. I drove back all the way. I ended up going a strange way that I didn’t recognise. I suddenly found myself back on the road that I knew and couldn’t work out how I’d reached that particular point. I drove home and ended up talking to a few members of my family. I then emptied my vehicle and prepared to go back to pick her up to bring her home. It was about a 7-hour trip each way so I was effectively going to be driving 21 hours out of 24. Back at home I’d been into the house, which was our old one in Vine Tree Avenue. Someone had been in to feed the cats because the key was still in the lock in the bathroom door. On the way out I had to close the barrier. A little baby girl who was there told me how to close it. I’d seen some shoes that were really caked in mud and it turned out that they were my aunt Doreen’s. My father began to chat to this little girl about her. When we were about to set off the discussion came round to my yellow Cortina estate, about how it needs to go for its MoT etc. I wasn’t very optimistic be he said that he’d take it anyway. I wasn’t looking forward to having the fail certificate for that to tell me everything that needed doing. He was telling me about his own car, another Cortina where he’d had to change a couple of bushes in order for that to pass its MoT. In the meantime I was about to set off to go back to where we’d been camping to pick up Nerina and bring her home ready to go to work next morning. Looking at my watch I was going to be cutting it fine to have her back here in time to go to work.

Once I’d finished the notes from last night I cracked on with another batch of arrears and if I keep on going like this, I’ll have them finished by the end of the weekend. And then I can set out to update all of my notes. It’s high time that I did my best to catch up on various arrears of work that are hanging around.

Over the past few weeks or so there has been quite a large amount of correspondence piling up. I went through all of that this morning and filed away a pile of stuff. A few other letters needed scanning so that I can have copies, and there are one or two forms to fill in that I’ll have to complete quite soon.

And while we’re on the subject, I’ve heard that my disability cards have now been printed and are on their way. They should be here by the middle of next week. Not that the driving permit will do me much good because of course I’m no longer going to drive – unless something rather dramatic crops up out of this hospital treatment.

There have been a couple of very long messages to write too. One of which concerns Strider, my Ford Ranger in Canada. I’ve decided, for obvious reasons, that he’ll have to go the Way of the West.

It’s a shame really because the seat is exactly the right height for me to slide into and it’s an automatic too I could in principle drive him as I am. There would be no issue shipping him to Europe but with an old-technology V6 4.0 litre engine he drinks petrol like it’s going out of fashion, which it is, but that’s not what I mean.

Had I been healthy, it wouldn’t have been a problem because I have a variety of diesel engines down on the farm that would slide right in. But if I were well enough to change an engine, I would be well enough to carry on driving Caliburn.

Next task was to write a letter to my doctor. There are several issues that have cropped up just recently that I feel he ought to know. That includes the question of travel to Paris, and also involves some of the stuff that I scanned today.

We’ve not finished yet. Yesterday I said that I needed to prepare an emergency bag in case I’m whisked off to hospital at a moment’s notice. That took a while but it’s all ready now.

The rest of the day was spent finishing off writing the notes for the second radio programme and then ripping through the third one. They are well over half-way written now.

Tea tonight was interesting and I enjoyed it very much. It was pasta and lots of vegetables, and when it was cooked, fried in vegan butter with vegan cheese and vegan tomato pesto. I’ve had some really nice meals just recently and this was certainly one to match the best of them.

So having written my notes I’m off to bed. I’m going to have a go at going into town tomorrow morning. I’m not too optimistic that it will turn out well but I’ll have to give it a go and see where it takes me.

There’s some food that I need and it will have to be at the local supermarket by the port as I have to drop off the letter at the doctor’s. I can quiz the bus driver to see what the bus stop is like at St Nicholas, if it’s any better for me to climb in and out of the bus.

But before everything I’ll just go through the supermarket’s on-line catalogue to carry on making my list of my favourite products. If I can do that, it’ll make my on-line shopping easier.

Tuesday 12th September 2023 – I HAVE HAD …

… the kind of day today that you can only ever have in Belgium.

In the middle of my Welsh lesson, during which I was speaking Welsh, I had a ‘phone call which I had to answer, and ended up having a conversation in French.

Back to the Welsh lesson, speaking Welsh again, and someone came to the door, so I ended up having a conversation in Flemish.

And then back to speaking Welsh.

It reminded me of the time years ago when I was living here and there were 14 of us sitting round a table talking in French, and French was the mother-tongue of none of us.

Something else that was good and interesting was that I had another excellent night’s sleep again and I wish that I could have a few more of those. I’ve really no idea why that might be because sofas are not actually renowned for their comfort and my bed was the best that I could afford.

Anyway I was up once more before the alarm went off and had a very slow awakening before I was ready to Fight The Good Fight.

Alison was going to work late this morning so she dropped me off at the supermarket in the village where I stocked up on the basics that I need to keep me going until Friday morning.

The walk back here with a heavy rucksack was not easy because it’s much further than you might think and the road is quite uneven. So I was glad to be back and have my cheese and tomato on toast, especially now that I have some tomato to go on it.

There was something on the dictaphone from the night. I was in Canada talking to my niece. Actually, I wasn’t in Canada but somewhere else and she was there. We were chatting and she was talking about the tyres. She had a little Subaru vehicle that she used as a private runabout. She had a certain type of tyre on it which she found to be great in winter when she was in and out. My car over there had Arctic Grip tyres on it but her husband’s vehicle had racing tyres which surprisingly gave him the best grip of all in the snow and ice. They’d already had snow and ice there. There was plenty of snow but it had all levelled out. They also had a guy with a cattle truck, one that my father had found for him. He used to work for people in the area including my niece in transporting the cattle around from one day to the next to different places in the area.

It’s not easy having my Welsh lesson using the mobile phone but the computer isn’t powerful enough to run videos. We have a couple of new students in our class this year so hopefully we’ll keep on going.

The good news is that there’s no exam at the end of the year so I might go to take the exam that I should have taken last summer. Having spent all that time away and then in hospital, I didn’t feel that I’d done enough prepare me for it.

The discussion in Flemish was with the guy who mows Alison’s lawn, but the phone call in French was with the hospital where I went 10 days ago, and that was much more exciting.

"Mr Hall, we’ve arranged a bed for you. We’d like you to set aside a week to come to stay with us, starting 25th September"

So six weeks from seeing the Specialist to seeing the Hospital Consultant, and then three and a half weeks from seeing the Consultant to being called into the hospital. It’s not quite the four days that I had to wait when I first came to Leuven in 2016, but it’s still treatment that you would never have on the NHS.

After the lesson was over I had a slice of toast and a coffee and then crashed out. I’d been fighting off sleep since I came back from my walk but in the end I succumbed.

While I’d been asleep we’d had a rainstorm so the Angel Of The Lord Came Down And Gave Another Rinse to the clothes that I’d had drying outside. They aren’t ever going to dry at this rate.

For the rest of the afternoon I’ve been doing more radio stuff and then I went for tea – burger on a bun with pasta and veg in a tomato and cheese sauce.

When Alison came back we had a chat and then she went off to bed. Now that I’ve written my notes I’m going to bed too and if I sleep as well as I have done this last couple of days I’ll be more than happy.

Friday 28th July 2023 – I WAS RIGHT …

… about what was going to happen this afternoon.

Flat out on my chair, not once but twice, and for quite a while too.

But really that was no surprise the way that things are right now.

As it happens, I’d had a good night’s sleep for a change too. In bed early and I can’t remember very much of anything at all until the alarm went off.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I went and had a shower to clean myself up and make myself look pretty ready for my bus to the town

It was early when I went out too. I decided that the sooner I start the sooner I finish and so I was on the bus at 09:10. I just went to the little Carrefour and then came straight back. I didn’t really want to hand around and I didn’t want to buy very much anyway.

Back here I made myself some coffee and cheese on toast and then came back in here where I crashed out – for the first time.

And in between then and crashing out later on, I was out in Canada back in 2017.

Out on the Trans-Labrador Highway I went to visit my favourite spot on Otter Brook, a tributary of the Eagle River, and then dealt with the knotty problem of the Labrador Border Dispute

The border between Labrador and Québec wasn’t officially delineated until 1927 and while Québec is quite happy to incorporate into its territory a couple of areas of land that it never claimed, it refuses to acknowledge the territory that was awarded to Labrador that Labrador didn’t claim.

Of course, the reason why Labrador never claimed that territory was because it didn’t need to – the border in that area having been decided by a Letter Patent of 1876 – but we mustn’t let facts get in the way of a good Qhébecois rant, of course.

As well as that, I’ve been exploring a couple or peri-Arctic meadows.

When William Munn proposed in 1914 that the Norse voyagers’ settlement was in Newfoundland he was ridiculed by many people. In the Norse sagas they talk about meadows and grassland and taking cattle with them to feed on the grass.

“As if that is ever going to be likely in the region of Newfoundland and Labrador” was the cry.

However the critics failed to take into account a few things – such as

  • There’s plenty of contemporary evidence of cattle in Labrador – the census of 1911 actually counts them
  • When Munn suggested that “maybe the climate in those days was different” he was roundly criticised. “There is no evidence whatever that the climate was different 900 years ago” said various people. That aged well, didn’t it?
  • Any comparison between any two places is merely relative. An agriculturalist from the Temperate Zone might not think much of the peri-Arctic meadows out here in Labrador, but the Norse voyagers came from Greenland and I’ve seen meadows in Greenland, and these meadows here in Labrador are relatively luxurious by comparison

So as well as falling asleep yet again, I had a bash at the dictaphone notes from the night. I was trying to do some tidying up at home (as if that is ever likely to happen). I’d set out to clean the kitchen floor. I’d brushed it and had it ready for the mop. The woman who helped my mother seemed to criticise it so I asked her if it wasn’t good enough. She said it wasn’t so I asked her to point out to me a few things where it was wrong. She pointed to some glue or something on the floor. It turned out that the kids had put sticky labels on the soles of their shoes for some reason. These sticky labels had in time worn off their shoes and stuck to the lino. I had to go through and scrape it all off before I could wash the floor. While I was washing it with the mop I went and rubbed the damp mop over my bedding too thinking that this would clean it and make it really nice. Everyone looked at me strangely but I carried on doing it. On one occasion I didn’t even squeeze the mop after I’d dipped it in the bucket of water before giving the bedclothes a good scrub with the mop. My mother said that my bed would be terribly wet tonight. I told her that it would soon dry. She replied “yes but it will have a strange odour for a while”.

There was another long, rambling dream about being with my niece and her husband, them dealing in cars at night, going up and down into the cellar for things – that was quite complicated and difficult. We were finishing off the erection of a wind turbine at the side of the barn. I was given the job to do that. They had a huge pneumatic drill that had been drilling holes everywhere. It was my job to tighten up the bolts with a big electric impact driver thing. I drove in a couple that I wasn’t very happy with but the final bolt was just spinning round. I eventually managed to fit the proper head on it and drove it straight into the wood. I told my niece’s husband that I wasn’t very happy at all with this mounting. When I stepped back to have a look I could see that it was a really complicated system and there were strains and stresses everywhere there shouldn’t be. The wind turbine itself was actually in the shadow of the house mounted on the wall. I didn’t think that it would be a particularly successful installation. In any case I was thinking that it would come down in the first strong wind. There was lots more to it in this dream. It went on for hours but I can’t remember very much of it now.

At one point we were in Middlewich driving a bus. I’d dropped off a couple of people to go to fetch some chips from somewhere. I went back and parked at the side of a house, just sitting there in a car. 2 people turned up, one waving a pair of drumsticks asking where the others were. I told them that they were in the chip shop. he made some kind of sarcastic comment. There were tons to this dream but I can only remember a fraction of it.

For tea tonight I was planning on having my chips but the potatoes weren’t so good and I hadn’t bought any this morning. So with my salad and quorn nuggets I had a handful of pasta and tomato sauce with some vegan cheese. And that was quite nice as well for a change.

So tonight I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow morning so I suppose that that’s going to be another afternoon crashed out on the chair in the bedroom. I hope that there are some interesting things in the shops to make up for the discomfort.

Wednesday 7th June 2023 – BRAIN OF BRITAIN …

… strikes again!

When I was going through the freezer yesterday I took some stuff out while I looked for something in there. This morning I found that I hadn’t put the pizza dough back and it had defrosted.

There are some things that you shouldn’t refreeze one they have defrosted so I checked with Liz, and apparently dough is one of them. So I had to bake the empty shell part-way through and then try to make some room in the freezer so that it would fit.

Whether it works or not I really don’t know, but we’ll find out on Sunday, I reckon.

And while we’re on the subject of working … “well, one of us is” – ed … I was working today. And in fact, just for a change, I had a good day too.

It started off quite well because once more I was up and about before the alarm went off.

And after the medication and checking the mails and messages, I made a start.

Much of the day has been spent on the Canada 2017 project. Today I’ve been in Heart’s Content in Newfoundland, the site of coming ashore of the first Transatlantic communications cable in 1858

Although that one only worked for a few weeks, several others were laid that came ashore there subsequently, the first in 1866 laid by the steamer Great Eastern, one of Brunel’s leviathans that although a resounding success from a sailing point of view, was an economic disaster as a passenger vessel.

Somewhere else I visited was the town of Dildo, a very popular holiday resort for single ladies from a certain Greek island but contrary to rumours, not twinned with Fücking in Austria nor Orgy in the Auvergne nor Condom in South West France.

It might have a close relationship with Grandes Piles in Québec though

A third place that I visited in Newfoundland today was a site called Come-by-Chance, the place of the first recorded meeting between the European settlers and the Beothuk natives. Something that the natives didn’t live to regret because by 1829 the whole tribe had been exterminated.

The cleaner came round this afternoon and gave me the news about my neighbour. Apparently there are some little signs of improvement and that’s good news She actually went for a little walk with my cleaner for a brief moment yesterday, the first time that she’s been out of doors since her fall.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I might not be doing so well but there are people far worse off than me.

And I had to redo a radio programme today. The one that I was due to send off this week was suffering from this muffled bass issue that seems to have sprung up. Luckily I found the master files and so it didn’t take me as long as I might had I had to do it all from scratch again.

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night. I was checking the times of the buses because I had to go to hospital. There was a bus from here that arrived there in time but coming back was going to be something of a lottery. I was chatting to some people whom I knew about that. They asked me why I didn’t think about taking the bus at the hospital and carry on the route instead of coming back so that I’d go all the way round. I explained the the bus’s terminus was in Baschurch, absolutely miles away. If I had to go out all the way there where I could catch a bus back I’d be out there for ever. It won’t be a case of a simple one-day bus trip.

I was walking around a town somewhere. I bumped into a couple whom I know and a few other people. We all went for a coffee and chatted about these car boots that you fit to steering wheels to prevent people stealing them. There had been a new one on the market just recently and someone had written a report about how easy they were to take off. I suddenly realised that a while ago I’d had to take one off a car so that we could move it. It was quite easy too. They were on sale in this newspaper for £10:00 each. We had a lengthy discussion about these car boots. In the end I asked this couple what they were doing around town. They said that they’d come to buy a camera because I had theirs. “Oh dear” I said. “I can’t remember having it. I should have looked”. Just then a caravan came down the street, a big huge thing being towed by a car. It had outriggers on it to stop it overturning. It went round the corner and a little girl with us said “oh look it has a flagpole”. I said that if it were to go on a campsite it would have to pay extra for the pole. The girl was so surprised but the couple said “yes, you have to pay extra for that”.

As well as speaking to Liz and the cleaner today, I’ve also been speaking to my niece and I’ve had another marathon chat with Rosemary. Her Ukrainian refugee family had been with her a year at the end of May and so were obliged to move on. Somewhere more relevant has been found for them and they left on Tuesday

My niece was telling me that her husband has had to have surgery and will be away from work for quite a while. He’ll find that extremely difficult because I’ve known him for 30 years and I’ve never ever seen him idle

Tea was another leftover curry with half a helping from the freezer, accompanied by one of a batch of naan bread that I made this afternoon. And I’ll tell you something for nothing, and that is that I’m not going to be troubled by vampires thanks to how I made it. It’s pretty wild.

Tomorrow I’m going to carry on with my Canada 2017 stuff. I have a visit planned to the site of the deadliest aircraft disaster in Canada.

But right now, later than intended, I’m off to bed. I’ve done enough for today and I’m exhausted. And I’ll have to work on my fitness because there’s shopping to do at the weekend and I have to be on some kind of form for that.

Wednesday 29th March 2023 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a much more quiet day today. Only the cleaner disturbed my peace this afternoon. Apart from that, and a chat with my niece on the internet, that was all the excitement today.

There wasn’t very much excitement during the night either. I was in bed early and I had a fairly decent night’s sleep again. I’m wondering if my sleeping issues might have had something to do with the blackcurrant, lemon and honey drink that I used to drink before going to bed. I’ve not had one for the last few nights and that seems to correspond with when I’ve had a better sleep.

There was still plenty of time to go off for a wander around during the night. I might not have remembered much of what went on, but there was plenty of stuff that I dictated. I’d become a serial killer. I was living in the poor area of a city somewhere. All these down-and-outs who lived in the same area as me, I’d been bumping them off one by one. There in my living room I had about 20 bodies. I had to start to dispose of them soon and I had no idea how I was going to do it. I began to realise that it wasn’t the best decision that I’d made, to kill these people. If I wasn’t happy before I started I’m certainly not happy now. Some woman who knew my secret was going on about how she wanted to live a quiet life in peace, to see out her days etc. The way she was talking, her targets weren’t set very high as to her quality of life. I began to realise that that was the kind of thing that would be ideal but would never ever happen to me. It was a really sad dream, this. I felt awful.

And then a couple of us had been to London for some kind of event. On the way back we were driving up the A5 instead of the M1 and M6. At a certain point there was a guy hitch-hiking. We recognised him as someone whom we knew who had been to this concert thing or whatever it was. We stopped and picked him up. We were all chatting. I was drifting in and out of sleep for some reason, being a passenger. I remember coming up to a certain town with loads of roadworks. I recognised it immediately as Bedford. We became stuck in these roadworks, first of all because someone coming through the roadworks against the lights kept us waiting to leave, and then they changed halfway through and rather than push on to the end our driver just stopped in the middle. I thought to myself that this is going to start to cause some real problems if he doesn’t move. He can’t stay here.

There was also something about some powerful man sending messages in the name of his wife to his son but I can’t remember much about this but he was boasting about it. I thought that it was an extremely strange thing to do.

When the alarm went off I struggled to my feet and went off for my medication and then to check my mails and messages. And for most of the day I’ve been writing out the text for most of the music that I’ve been preparing over the last couple of weeks and that’s really about it.

One other thing that I have done – well, three things actually – is that I’ve found three more soundtracks for old analogue albums that are in my possession.

One of them is taking ages to convert because it’s on an extremely rare digital audio format. The converter has been running for several hours already and there is still a good few hours to go. Ordinarily I’d try to find another version in a more common format but it’s a rare spacerock album by an unknown German group whom I first heard at a Hawkfest years ago and I’ve never ever heard anywhere else.

The cleaner did another nice job and gave me her accounts. I’ll have to do those on Friday, the last day of the month. She has a form to fill in because I have to nominate a “next of kin” for the hospital and Liz is no longer here. I’ll give her my niece’s details too in case they are required. She knows what my future wishes and plans might be.

My leftover curry this evening was the best that I have ever made. I’m really getting the hang of stuff like this now, and so I should after all this time.

Tomorrow night, I have the rest of those Chinese whatsits so I think that I’ll make them with fried rice this time and see how they go. A little olive oil and some vegan butter along with some lemon grass might make something really nice.

But that’s for tomorrow. Right now, I’m off to bed. I want a nice long sleep if I can ready for a good day’s work tomorrow if I can. A nice little voyage or two into the surreal would be nice too as long as it’s not all about mass murder. But then beggars can’t be choosers.

Saturday 4th February 2023 – AND I WAS DOING …

… so well too.

But once again, this afternoon, I crashed out for half an hour or so and that effectively disrupted me completely. I really did think that I’d gone beyond that.

It was probably something to do with the night that I had had, which was later than usual and coupled with difficulties about going to sleep once I was finally in bed.

And I was off on quite a few voyages during the night too. There was something about a woman who was on Death Row back in the 19th Century for having strangled a teacher. It turned out that it wasn’t her but someone else. He’d arranged the crime so that it looked as if she’d done it. He was being blackmailed by this teacher for something or other and wanted to put an end to it all so he put an end to the teacher. Then he came in to gloat over the woman before she went off to be hanged. There was also something about a sale on eBay of a place infested with rats etc. It turned out to be a Ford garage that had closed down years ago. It was full of old Ford bits and pieces, spare parts etc. While we were all watching the video of this particular place I wrote a note to someone who was there, saying “this is how my place is going to look in 20 years time”.

Following that, I’d been in Canada and the USA. It was a Sunday and I was flying back on the Tuesday so I had to drive to Montreal, hand back my hire car and find a place to stay for the night and then fly back to Europe. When I came back I went to the radio offices and there had been a few changes. They had agreed to let a girl whom I used to know interview a few people. I had one or two projects in mind that she could do so I said that I’d go to see her. Someone else said that they would come along and bring the equipment. I set off up the stairs to her office under the eaves. When I arrived there was one of her daughters and someone else. I said “have you seen your mother?”. They replied “no, she’s gone in the air ambulance”. I asked “what’s happened?”. They replied “someone has been injured over at the nail bar”. I said “but the nail bar is only just there across the car park”. “Oh yes, they have had to go to the person’s home”. Just at that moment the other person came into the office so I said “yes well some people will do absolutely anything for a ride in a helicopter”. It looked as if we weren’t going to make any progress at all on that particular day with that particular plan.

In fact, what happened during that little voyage was exactly as she would have behaved in real life in similar circumstances.

At some point during the night I awoke because of a stabbing pain in my right knee. But then back in this dream with that woman again again after I’d sorted out the pain in my right knee there was something about bringing more animals around to be shared out amongst the different offices. I wondered what animal we’d put in her room – whether we’d put something like a gorilla. It would be quite a handful for her to handle if of course she didn’t get the better of it first

Later on I was back in this dream yet again, at the radio we’d gone out to try to interview a few people about various things. The weather was really poor so in the end we didn’t go out because there wouldn’t be anyone there. I was chatting to a girl who worked at the radio. She said that the bad weather didn’t seem to stop me going outside and started to call me a few uncomplimentary names working her way through the alphabet for a name with each initial. I stopped her when she reached round about “D” or “E” because I couldn’t see the point in her continuing. She had made her point. There was much more to it than this but I can’t remember now.

And finally I was round at my niece’s last night although it was in the UK. We’d gone to discuss a few things. It was in the evening after we’d had a meal and I was feeling rather tired. I had a girl with me. I don’t know who she was but she might have been Percy Penguin, who doesn’t appear in these pages half as often as she deserves. We were all sitting there basically doing our own thing listening to the radio and the adverts. When an advert for a certain delivery company came on the radio I explained to the girl with me that that was where my niece’s’s daughter worked (which she actually does). This girl was confused about which daughter because there’s a choice of three. It went on like this for a while. In the end she suddenly announced that she was tired. We hadn’t actually done anything which was rather disappointing but I could understand how she was feeling because I was far too tired to do anything. I’d just sat there and done nothing. I think that my niece was rather fed up too and had wandered off to do her own thing somewhere else in the room so it was no surprise that this girl was totally bored.

When the alarm went off at 07:30 I was up and out of bed reasonably promptly despite how I was feeling, and how I’m looking forward to a really good lie-in tomorrow. That’s because I’ve had a really busy day today and accomplished quite a lot.

For a start, most of the morning has been spent finishing off the notes for the two radio programmes that I’ll be preparing, and I even went as far as to dictate them and upload them onto the computer for editing. That’s what I call working hard.

Next step was to find what I needed for this money transfer. And that’s not easy too because the paperwork that they want doesn’t exist. This afternoon I spoke to people at both the banks concerned and they agreed to send me some information that they think might do. And I hope that it does too because it’s important.

And then there were the notes of my nocturnal voyages to deal with. Plenty of those, as you have seen already.

It was round about here that I crashed out, which was rather unfortunate. I was quite a long way away with the fairies and even when I finally awoke it took me a good while to gather up my wits, something that is quite surprising considering how few wits I still possess these days.

Once more, another lovely, delicious tea. We had one of those breaded quorn fillets that I like with a baked potato and some salad. I’ve really got the hang of all of this now and my meals are looking much nicer.

So now, not only am I up-to-date, I’m actually ahead of myself at the moment. I really can treat myself to a day off tomorrow and how I’m looking forward to that. But something will come along to disrupt me, I’m sure of that. It usually does.

And next week I’m hoping that Caliburn will be back and I can get on with organising myself properly as I would like to, even doing a lap or two around the shops if I’m lucky. Things are looking up.

Tuesday 24th January 2023 – I’VE BEEN, GORN …

… and dunnet now. And there’s no backing out from this.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m having some severe mobility issues right now and that I can’t go on like this much longer.

Regular readers of this rubbish will also recall, going back to the days when I moved from Belgium, that I sold my old apartment and had some money left over after everything was paid off.

When I moved here in 2017 I rented this apartment with the reasoning that I could look around the area and find somewhere nice to buy, but I love this apartment, this building and this little corner perched up here on the rock in the middle of these old Army barracks on the clifftop that I didn’t want to move anywhere else.

However, back at the end of November an apartment on the ground floor went up for sale and I made an offer on it. After much horse-trading we agreed on a price and this morning I went to the solicitor’s and signed the formal binding offer, having paid the deposit at the bank on Friday.

The story hasn’t quite ended yet. Everyone knows that Byzantine nature of French Civil Service and so I’m not expecting the formal exchange of contracts to be any time soon

Secondly, there is a problem in that the property is tenanted right now. But here I have a slight advantage over any other purchaser in that I’m a tenant here too and can negotiate with my own landlord for the tenant to take over this apartment in exchange if necessary.

And so when the alarm went off at 07:00 this morning I fell out of bed fairly quickly. Having had a good shower last night (and I can climb into the bath a little easier now as well) I didn’t need to hang about very much. On the way out of the building I put the wheeled shopping trolley in the back of Caliburn and then walked over to catch the bus.

The bus dropped me off at the terminus at the other end of the line and then I had a long walk down the hill to the LeClerc Hypermarket (why they can’t run the bus to what is the obvious terminus of this line instead of a roundabout 400 metres away completely beats me).

That walk took me long enough with my crutches and I was glad to reach the car hire offices at the back of the building.

After having gone through all of the paperwork I left the Hypermarket in a little Fiat 500. After having driven Caliburn and all other kinds of big vehicles, it was like being in charge of a roller skate but what did I care? Having made brief enquiries about the cost of a taxi to where I wanted to go, hiring a tiny car was a much better option.

First stop was Noz where I had a look round and ended up with some vegan chocolate and a bag of crisps. Next stop was the Biocoop where I bought some vegan sausages. But even though they have moved into larger premises, there is still no vegan cheese.

It was time now to head out into the sticks and the small town of La Haye-Pesnel. There’s a railway line here, the railway between Granville and Rennes, but the station closed a long time ago which was a shame.

Our appointment was for 10.30 but it was more like 11.00 when we were called in. And there was so much to read (and correct because some it it was incorrect) that it was about 13:00 when we left. And now I’m legally committed to purchase the apartment downstairs. No more steps to climb and, when I’ve installed a walk-in shower, no more bath to climb into.

And a much better kitchen too, which will be even better still when I’ve finished.

On the way home I stopped off at LeClerc and went berserk, spending just about €100:00. There was that much stuff that I needed that I didn’t have in stock, as well as the fact that there was a lot of stuff on special offer. I was in there for 90 minutes and the car was overloaded when I left.

Back here I put most of the stuff in the trolley and the bags in the back of Caliburn (I didn’t have to carry them far but it was a struggle all the same) and staggered up the stairs with the frozen food to put in the freezer.

And then back downstairs into the car and back to the Hypermarket to drop it off. I had travelled 48 kilometres, put in 3 litres of fuel to fill up the car, and paid would you believe €15:00 for the car hire. So €20:00 or so for 48 kilometres and a delivery of a huge load of shopping. You wouldn’t have had that with a taxi.

Mind you, how I’m going to get all of this stuff upstairs is another question entirely.

It was another cold walk back up the hill to the bus stop and I was exhausted – going uphill on crutches is not easy, I’ll tell you that. And then the bus to bring me home was late and I only just managed to beat the physiotherapist into the apartment.

He gave my muscles some manipulation … “PERSONipulation” – ed … and after he left I came in here and promptly crashed right out. It was a struggle to haul myself out of my chair to make some food. And now that I had a pepper, I stuffed it.

Liz and Rachel were both on line later so I had a really long chat with each of them and then I can sit down and write out my notes from the day.

And my journeys from the night too. I was busy working on and freezing a pile of carrots when the phone rang. It was the people whom I was going to see this morning ringing up to cancel the meeting as they had a cold. Of course, after all the arrangements that I’d undertaken to prepare I wasn’t in the least bit happy with the idea. I insisted that the meeting go ahead. It was such a shock that it awoke me.

Later on I was standing in the dining room with half a baguette in my hand. I wanted to speak to one of the big football managers who was in there. I had to wait a few minutes. Eventually he became free. I asked him pointing to this half-baguette “do you know whose this is?”. He mentioned a name, almost as if I should know immediately who that person was but it didn’t click with me. I thought “thanks” and wandered back to my seat. He said “he’s here, you know” and brought me back, pointing to the desk where this guy was sitting. I asked “do you mind if I eat your baguette because I’ve forgotten to bring mine”. He replied “go ahead and we can revise a page of our French together because this is our last week and our last lesson is on Friday”.

Well, now it looks very much like I’m going to be a householder again and I can’t say that I’m sorry about it. Caliburn will have to keep on running a little longer because there’s now going to be an enormous hole in my finances but that can’t be helped.

However a decent kitchen, a walk-in shower and no steps to climb will change my life dramatically and is worth far more to me than any value anyone else can place on it. I just hope that I can last out until I can finally take possession of the premises.

Sunday 4th December 2022 – I WAS RIGHT …

… yesterday when I said that Sunday would be pretty much the same as Saturday. But then, it was no surprise, was it.

One of the minor differences though was that when the doctor came to see me, I was in bed. I hadn’t had my morning wash yet.

She didn’t have anything new to tell me and I didn’t have anything new to tell her. However I did have a lot to say for myself (as you might expect) which was cut short by her saying “Mr Hall, we’re just going round in circles”.

As indeed we are but until she (or anyone else for that matter) answers the questions that I raise, what did she expect?

Anyway she cleared off mid-discussion and I’m sure that you never expected anything else.

They are still intent on expelling me, even though my blood count, that rose from 6.6 to 8.8 after the blood transfusion the other day, had fallen to 8.5 by Friday.

For the benefit of new readers, the accepted blood count for a healthy individual is between 13.0 and 15.0. The lower the blood count, the faster my heart must beat to convey the necessary oxygen to the various parts of the body. The critical limit is 8.0 by the way.

And as is pretty evident, my heart can’t keep on beating at this rate for ever. Vous avez le coeur du champion – “you have a champion’s heart” said a doctor at the beginning of all this back in 2015 and it’s only that which has kept me going. If it begins to fail, then I will have real problems.

And so now you know why I’m so concerned when my heart and my breathing start to show signs of breaking down, and why I’m on the warpath when they seem to be ignoring my concerns.

There were a few concerns about the events of the night.

The computer and Old-Time radio was still running at 23:15 so I switched it off and tried to go to sleep. I was still awake at 02:00, having spent some of the time surfing the internet on the mobile phone because I couldn’t go off to sleep. It’s really hard to sleep, light sleeper or not, when nurses and patrolling doctors have meetings right outside your open door.

Something else was that I allowed my imagination to run off on its own for a while and that will be important later.

I was having a really bad night. I was awoken at about 05:15 by a nurse who asked something like “where did I get something or other?”. I really can’t remember anything about it but I remembered what it was that she wanted to know but I’d forgotten now but I can remember when she said it what it was.

I was also at one time thinking or talking to a girl whom I knew from school and asking her next time why doesn’t she wear a skirt instead of jeans or trousers?. But where that came in I don’t know. I’d actually been thinking a lot about her before I’d gone to sleep while I was tossing and turning, as I mentioned earlier, so that was possibly something to do with it too

There was also something more than this too but if you’re eating your tea right now you don’t want to know about it.

After all of that I didn’t go back to sleep. When the alarm went off I made it to the bathroom, weighed myself on my return (I’m still below my upper target weight) and settled down with my laptop.

“You’re starting early” said the doctor who came in at that point. And I don’t think that she was prepared for the torrent that that comment unleashed.

Breakfast was late again and from then on the day just drifted. Much of it was spent either being asleep or shaken awake, which is no surprise after the catastrophe of last night.

Later in the afternoon Rosemary rang me for a nice chat and I had a lovely internet chat with Liz, although I think that I took her by surprise.

What must have been an even bigger surprise was my niece Rachel. She’s appalled, really appalled, by what’s happening and she asked me whether she should come over from Canada to look after me. And that’s the nicest thing that anyone has said to me for quite a while.

Of course I declined. I can’t drag someone a quarter of the way around the world. I’m pretty sure that as long as I manage to make it home I can manage to look after myself with a bit of help from the neighbours.

But right now I’m going to look after myself in bed. There’s a meeting about me tomorrow, to which I’m not invited of course, when they will discuss my future. I bet that they’ll vote to expel me on Tuesday morning.

And seeing as I have an appointment at the Haematology Department on Tuesday afternoon, will I have to come back for the appointment or will they simply cancel it?

We are living in interesting times.

Wednesday 23rd November 2022 – FREE AT LAST!

This evening while I was trying to eat my evening meal someone from the cardiac unit turned up and said that she could take out the drain in my heart.

Not exactly the easiest thing to do while I has trying to eat my hummus rolls but nevertheless she did her best.

You’ve no idea how much it hurt but as they said in Macbeth, “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly” and sure enough even with it done quickly, it hurt like hell.

So right now I’m free. There are some antibiotic perfusions too but they are on a portable patient stand, not tied to the foot of the bed like the sac of the drain in my heart.

Anyway, I’m sure that you are wondering how I celebrated my new-found freedom. The answer is that I went for a good ride on the porcelain horse.

You’ve no idea how much of a relief it was to go as well. This chair thing that I managed to negotiate has a considerable amount of drawbacks that only become apparent when you are half asleep and in some other parallel universe at 05:00.

That kind of thing is a recipe for disaster, as events were to prove. For the rest of the day I quietly abstained. I didn’t want another repeat.

It’s quite true to say that i was deep in the arms of Morpheus last night. I was tucked up in bed early, round about 21:00 and went straight off to sleep. When I awoke at 03:00 I still had on the headphones and was listening to the radio. I just about managed to summon up the energy to take off the headphones.

And then there was the 05:00 disaster but we won’t talk about that.

All of my meals were absolute disasters today. Breakfast was interrupted by the Professor in charge of the Training School telling me that the students would be on the ward this morning.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’m one of the first to offer myself to a bunch of students in order to be poked and prodded about. Consequently I agreed to be examined and at 10:05 a pair of students appeared at the door.

Third-year students they were, and for the next hour or so they poked me and prodded me, sometimes with the Professor looking in, and eventually the went away quite satisfied with their morning’s examination.

We had quite a laugh though at one point.
Student A “I need to look for your spleen”
Our Hero “I hope that you have good eyes. Last time I saw it, it was in a jar in a hospital in Central France”

While lunch was being served, the assistant dietician appeared. She’d seen my recent blood test results and made the point that there’s still far too much potassium in my blood. She wants me to give up all fruit and salad.

That’s only a temporary measure, she told me. The chief dietician will come to see me at some other point in the near future. Presumably with some even more draconian measures.

This afternoon the physiotherapist stuck his head into the room with an assistant. They ended up by giving me some exercises to do but it’s not easy when I can only move half a dozen paces from the bed if that.

There was the person from Cardiology to disrupt my evening meal at teatime but apart from that there’s not been a whiff of a doctor coming to see me. It seems that since my somewhat … errr … frank discussion with the Priest yesterday (which he has doubtless reported back to the authorities and which was part of my plan) the senior medical staff has gone to ground and are in shelter waiting for the whirlwind to pass by overhead.

Consequently I reckon that I need to be a bit more frank with the Priest next time I see him.

All through the day I’ve been having some lovely chats with Liz, Rachel and Rosemary. It’s nice to know that I have such wonderful family and friends.

As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … I don’t have many friends but those I do have are the best in the world.

Wednesday 2nd November 2022 – THERE’S A NOTICE …

… on the end of my bed that says Valrisico.

Just in case your Flemish is deficient, that means “risk of falling” and so it’s nice to know that they are at last taking notice of the other ailments that I have.

In fact, this afternoon I was taken down to the ground floor where they performed a scan on my right knee.

Mind you, I wasn’t impressed with them down there. The technician called the Professor for a closer look so the very helpful Yours Truly asked the Professor if he would like to hear the history of my right knee because, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, my right knee DOES have quite a history.

His response was “I would but I don’t have the time” and he strode off with an air of arrogance that I didn’t quite understand or appreciate.

And I was only trying to help him with his diagnosis.

They took so long that I was pressed with an urgent need which is embarrassing. My trolley-pusher had to make a detour so that we can pick up a bottle.

And it was just as well.

While we’re on this subject I have been making regular trips to ride the porcelain horse. And of the 5kg that I put on with all of these perfusions, I’ve lost half of that already.

Last night round about 22:00 I fell asleep of my own free will. Not too much use unfortunately because through the night they kept on coming into my room to measure my temperature, take my blood pressure and a few other things.

At about 01:30 I gave up trying to go back to sleep and lay there suffering. Once everything finally quietened down, I took my sleeping pill and that was that until about 05:00.

When I awoke I had a really dry throat to I ate one of the oranges in the stock of fruit that I’m creating and it was the most delicious thing that I’ve eaten.

During the night I was in North America, in my niece’s house, sitting in the living room. I was the only one in the house because I was ill. Suddenly I heard footsteps outside, the door opened, someone came in and went upstairs. There was a lot of moving around up there, then they came back downstairs again. My niece who had appeared from nowhere said something to whoever it was and whoever snapped back in a most disrespectful way to her.

Today I had a good wash and shave and then a doctor came to see me about my leg. While he was at it he mentioned these viruses and infections and I gather that I’m likely to be here for a while yet.

He didn’t say much about my knee but he obviously saw enough to arrange for a scan for me. But we’ll have to see what unfolds.

The food was good again and the staff are quite friendly as I have said before.

But right now even if it’s only 21:00 I’m off to settle down in bed. There’s a sleeping pill here but I’ll try to go to sleep naturally. It’s a shame to waste the sleeping pill in the midnight stampede.

Sunday 23rd October 2022 – DAY FOUR …

… of my enforced hibernation and I’ve actually made it out of the house.

And even as we speak, I am hurtling through the night and the Canadian Maritime Forest somewhere in between Miramichi and Bathurst. Well, not exactly “hurtling” because the speed of this train is, shall we say, “disappointing”.

Last night I went to bed early with the idea of having a decent 10-hour sleep but in actual fact I didn’t sleep at all. Not for a minute. I saw every minute of that ten hours and probably much more besides.

When the alarm went off I arose from the bed, did some paperwork and then packed everything ready to go. We had a hot drink and then headed to the bus stop in Florenceville. We arrived early for the bus too – regular readers of this rubbish will recall that on one occasion it came early and left me behind.

The drive down to Moncton in the frost was quite uneventful.

coach atlantic prevost 1921 maritime bus fredericton new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022There was also quite a lot of fog everywhere this morning as you can tell in this photo taken at the company’s offices in Fredericton.

We stopped there to pick up passengers and the wait meant that we could nip to the bathroom at the petrol station next door.

As it happens, I’m a big fan of these Prevost coaches. They are nice and big and comfortable. Although this one is registered in Nova Scotia you’ll notice that the licence plate says “apportioned”. What that apparently means is that the road tax is shared between Nova Scotia and the other Provinces in which the vehicle operates.

You’ll see that it carries passenger authorisation plates for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Our bus was not actually all that late, which makes a change. But now there’s a four-hour wait for the train, always assuming that it’s on time of course, which is unlikely.

When they opened the check-in, I deposited my suitcase and staggered over to the chemist’s for some medication, and then across the road to Sobey’s for some supplies for the journey. I suppose that I’m going to start eating and I want to have some food when I’m ready.

general electric GE ES44AC 2754 canadian national EMD SD60F 5551 moncton railway station moncton new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022Waiting here in the waiting room at Moncton station a train suddenly appeared, so I photographed it thinking that it was mine.

However it turned out to be a passing freight train, double-headed with a Canadian National locomotive that I couldn’t identify at the front. If it’s 9551, it’s a GP40-2LW built in 1975.

The second locomotive is 2754 and is in the livery of Citibank’s “Citicorps Railmark Incorporated”, a company that leases railway equipment to various railways, but she was apparently actually purchased by Canadian National earlier this year.

She’s a model ES44AC built by my former employers, General Electric, and a similar locomotive carrying that number was built for the Union Pacific Railroad.

viarail train moncton railway station moncton new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022My train pulled up a short time later, double-headed by two locomotives that I was not able to identify. She was only 20 minutes late, which is something of a record,

As you can see, the train went past the station and then reversed in to the platform which seemed to me like a strange way to do things but it obviously works for them.

Once it was in at the platform we had to walk almost the whole length of the train to the carriage that was apparently allocated to us

For a change, I’m in the modern part of the train. It might be much better fitted out but it’s not as comfortable which is rather bizarre.

So off we went with me coughing all the way, and I’ve eaten a banana and a lump of baguette, the first food that I’ve had for 72 hours. So now I’m going to settle down and try to sleep. Surely I can’t go 48 hours without any sleep at all?

Saturday 22nd October 2022 – DAY THREE …

… of my enforced isolation saw me have very little sleep as this ‘flu raged away, and even Cujo the Killer Cat could do little to comfort me.

Before going to work Rachel made me a mug of hot lemon and honey and then I went and had a shower and a clothes-washing session.

There were three trips outside today too – the first to hang up the washing, the second to rescue some possessions from Strider and the third to rescue the washing later.

The first trip out was the most exiting. As I went outside Gilligan, the young long-haired cat came scampering down the bank to show me the mouse that he had caught. Very proud of himself, he was. And after I’d congratulated him he took it off to play with it.

When Rachel came back she plied me with medication and we had a long chat about our plans for tomorrow before I went off to bed, ready for my 27-hour marathon.

Well, I’m not actually ready for it. This has been one trip too many.

Wednesday 19th October 2022 – I’VE BEEN DISPLAYING …

… my culinary prowess today. And considering that I have been doing it in the house of someone who is a fully-qualified chef with years of commercial experience and who actually ate what I prepared, then that’s something of a feather in my cap and no mistake.

This morning Rachel sent me a message from work to the effect of “why don’t we have a curry for tea?” and I took that as a hint.

There was plenty of time to make one too because there wasn’t a great deal on the dictaphone and I’ll attend to that in due course.

So once I’d raised myself from the dead, had my medication and checked my mails and messages I set to work.

Yesterday I’d been thinking that I ought to stir my stumps and head out earlier, but when I saw the rain cascading down in sheets, I was glad that there was something to do.

It’s difficult cooking in someone else’s house because you don’t know where everything is, and Rachel doesn’t have the types of spices that I use but I managed to make something quite respectable in the end.

Not too spicy though because Darren’s palette isn’t the same as ours. It reminds me of another time and place when we used to have these communal meals. I’d take a lentil and pepper “curry”. All of the French people would be gasping for breath and fanning their mouths while the British people would be going “what’s this insipid nonsense?”.

When it was ready I heaved the cats out, much to their disappointment, and then headed for the mill.

First task there was to find enough cardboard to wrap an amplifier. Three years ago in Ottawa I’d bought one of the best bass amps ever made but I hadn’t sent it to Europe, planning to do it the next year. But Covid had put paid to that idea. So hopefully, this year it’s going back with the sunroof that I have ordered for that Ford.

Eventually we headed for home where everyone enjoyed my curry. And then I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I had to catch a train so I ran. We were on a railway station. It said that there was an additional train running and would be in the station in a couple of minutes. I had to run down the platform, run across the bridge, run down the other side and jump aboard. Whoever I was with, I remember saying that I couldn’t have done that a year ago. The train was one of these multiple units, the type that plied between Stoke on Trent and Manchester in the 70s. It was pretty crowded but I found a place to sit by the door so that I could say goodbye to whoever I was with and the train pulled off. Somewhere along the line there was a girl who had some kind of connection with me, whether she was an adopted daughter or cousin or something I dunno but she was big for her age. We’d left her somewhere; When we returned on this train she’d dyed her hair. We made a few comments about her hair, that kind of thing. She was wearing these jeans with holes in the legs. I was talking to some Indian guy. He was wondering why I seemed to have had preferential treatment about seats and so on on this aeroplane. I showed him a voucher that I had which showed that I was a member of some kind of flight plan with this airline. He rummaged through his papers and found that he had one as well. I asked him why he never said anything. He replied that it was all too late by now to do anything.

And now I’m off to bed. Early as it may be, I’m busy tomorrow. The feed truck missed a customer today so they need several sacks of grain delivering to somewhere around Fredericton. it’ll be a good run-out again.

However there’s been a heavy cold going round the mill and the tyre depot and it’s my turn to come down with it. I hope that it’s just a 24-hour thing and I can shake it off tonight. But having no immune system, it’s not so easy.

We’ll see how things develop.