Tag Archives: Rhys Sage

Wednesday 28th February 2024 – TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY …

… Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. But it was also when I retired from full-time employment.

For the first time, that is.

At 50 years of age we were pulled out of the front line at work. They considered that we no longer had the speed, the fitness and the reflexes to cope with the conditions.

That, of course, is nonsense. There’s nothing wrong with my reflexes even today and, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I was still running every night up until two years ago

But anyway, there we were.

For the following 15 years life would be driving around Brussels in one of the fleet of Berlingos delivering parcels between the various buildings or, in my case seeing as I had a PSV licence, driving the shuttle bus.

But badger that for a game of cowboys. If you ask me which is more stressful – driving 4.5 tonnes of armoured Open Omega down a German autobahn at 260 kph at 04:00 or driving a shuttle bus around Brussels during the rush hour – I know which one I’d say.

With redeployment looming, my boss having retired and with “early retirement” being bandied about with all these hordes of Bulgarians and Romanians queueing up to join at half the salary we were receiving, I made sure that my pancreas flared up again.

A spell of sick leave, and then that was that

What followed was a lovely year of rest and then, after going to South Carolina for Rhys’s wedding, I picked up the threads.

A spell on a CDI working for General Electric’s training school to cover for maternity leave followed by 11 months at that bizarre American company where I met Alison, and then I set out for the Auvergne to seek my fortune, and the rest is history.

It wasn’t an early retirement last night though. In fact, what with one thing and another – and once you make a start you’ll be surprised how many other things there are – it was later than usual, and that’s saying something considering how late things have been just recently.

And when the alarm went off, I was totally wasted. I never felt less like leaving the bed but I had to make an effort.

First thing was to check the blood pressure – 13.8/8.7. That’s low. Below the target figure in fact. And much better than last night’s 17.2/10.5. I wonder what happened during the night to bring down my blood pressure.

After the medication I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to see what had gone on during the night. With the fall in blood pressure I didn’t expect that one of my favourite young ladies had been to visit me, but you never know. I was back in school at the start of last night with a group of people. We noticed that there was a girl standing not too far away from us looking at what was going on. I knew the girl – she lived in Shavington. I was just on the point of shouting to her to be friendly when I awoke.

Awoke – yet again, just as I’m about to speak to a girl. There’s something strange going on these days about this.

Then there was a football tournament taking place with all of the big clubs taking part. Almost everyone was having a go at refereeing matches. When it was my turn I drew Tottenham Hotspurs against someone else, I can’t remember. I took the ball and walked down to the pitch. On the touchline was an old friend of mine so I said “hello” to him and talked about another adventure. I tossed a coin and called to Spurs to ask what colour they wanted. They guessed correctly “yellow” so I set the board out because the pitch was something like a chessboard. They complained that the board had been set out incorrectly. It should have been set out the other way round. I didn’t think that it made very much difference so I told them to shut up and get on with it. In the end they went to complain to the FA. Someone from the FA came down. He agreed that the pitch had been incorrectly laid out and as kick-off hadn’t taken place we could reset the board the correct way round and start the match. This was a decision that completely disappointed me. I thought that the FA would have at least tried to uphold my authority as referee instead of behaving like this.

And did I dictate the story about the little girl who was born? … "no you didn’t" – ed … It was Alison Something. She had a very sad life and died as barely a teenager. The Doors wrote a song about her which became famous.

If they did, I can’t think of the song. Plenty of “Alison” songs, but none by the Doors as far as I can tell.

So anyway I stepped back into this football match. As I went in Tottenham Hotspurs were playing and they won the toss for kick-off so set the board out for them to start to play but they thought that I’d set it out incorrectly – that the point should be on the row that started on the second row. I measured it al and it would be the same distance so there’s no problem so … fell asleep here

When the alarm went off, I wondered why the dictaphone wasn’t in its usual place on the corner of the chest of drawers. It was down the bed still ticking over showing 2 hours and 15 minutes. That’ll teach me to fall asleep again with it in my hand.

One thing that I can tell you is that it’s not very interesting listening to myself sleeping. And I remember a couple of times when Percy Penguin elbowed me in the ribs and said “stop snoring!”.

“I never snore” I would reply. “You must be dreaming it”. And now having heard myself sleeping, I’m sorry for doubting you.

The nurse came round, gave me my injection and took a blood sample.

The results are back now. My haemoglobin is slowly rising, which is good news, but so is my carcinogenic protein, which is bad news. It should be between 59 and 106 units, and it’s gone up from 270.3 to 276.4 in a week. The active enzymes, which should be between 6.7 and 11.8 are actually 31.2

In other words, things are slowly deteriorating, which is what I expect so there’s no big issue there. However, it is the first time that I’ve seen the word “terminal” written on the results of my blood test.

With the cleaner coming round I tidied up somewhat as best as I could in order to give her the impression that I cared, and then wrote out some cheques to pay a few bills here and there. She’ll post the letters for me while she’s on her travels

And then regrettably I crashed out for a while, which is no surprise after my late night.

But it wasn’t the usual kind of “crashed-out” – it was more like a cataleptic fit of some description where I’m perfectly aware of my surroundings, such as the radio playing on the computer, but I’m totally unable to move or to react to anything

It’s not the first time that I’ve had one of these either, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

This afternoon I finished my radio notes ready for dictation and then after the cleaner had left I made the dough for my next lot of naan bread and left it to fester.

Back in here I had more things to do but crashed out yet again, properly and really deeply too. I remember absolutely nothing at all of anything. I was so deeply in that I almost missed my tea.

But my leftover curry and fresh naan bread were delicious yet again, especially after I remembered to put the garlic in the naan dough. It was all cooked to absolute perfection too.

But now I think that I’ll go and have an early night. Right now, Tom Petty is telling me "I await the day
Good fortune comes our way
And we’ll ride down the King’s Highway"

But I’m going to have a pretty long wait. Having driven down the King’s Highway, along the Carolina coast, once or twice, I can’t see me ever having the possibility of doing it again.

He also says a little later " don’t want to end up
In a room all alone"

But it looks as if that’s exactly how I’m going to end up, the way these blood test results are going.

But never mind. He goes on to sing "Sometimes I get discouraged
Sometimes I feel so down
Sometimes I get so worried
And I don’t know what about
But it works out in the long run
It always goes away
I’ve come now to accept it
As a reoccurring phase"

That’s certainly true too. if something else crops up now, it’ll have to wait for a couple of weeks until I can find the time to worry about it.

Thursday 1st February 2024 – I HAD A …

… visitor last night.

There I was, tucked well up under the bedclothes but in my head I could see my bedroom door

And then in came Zero

Whether or not I was dreaming, or whether or not I was hallucinating after taking another dose of that horrible sand-like medicine I really don’t know. It could have been either, I suppose

All that I could say is that it wasn’t for real. And isn’t that a shame?

It’s been a while since she put in an appearance. Apart from Castor who featured in a little voyage, the first for quite a while, a couple of weeks ago, my three favourite young ladies seemed to have fallen out of the picture.

Several others, such as The Vanilla Queen, have long ago dropped off the edge of whatever it is that goes on at night and I really would be disappointed if Castor, TOTGA and Zero were to go the same way, so it’s really nice to see Zero back in the fold again.

But while we’re on the subject of last night … "well, one of us is" – ed … instead of the nice early night that I promised myself, I ended up spending almost an hour cleaning the heads of a printer. How long should it take to print a medical prescription of one page of A4?

Having crashed out well and proper after tea, I was already running far later than I intended and that was the last thing that I needed.

And so in bed there I was and my mind was a-roving like it does. I was at work and one of my colleagues, a big aggressive guy, was complaining about one of our other colleagues who would never come when he was called. You had always to go to fetch him and he never seemed to be awake. This guy said “he’ll soon be awake in a minute. I’m going to sort him out”. He strode off down to the other end of the office. All of a sudden I heard my alarm go off and the strident tones of Billy Cotton, minus Band Show, shouting “WAYKEY WAY …… KAY!” followed by the opening bars of “Somebody Stole My Gal” just like he used to do on the radio when we were kids. I thought to myself “God! It’s not me he’s talking about, is it?”.

Yes, that’s my alarm call in the morning. I used to have David Bowie and WAKE UP LITTLE SLEEPY-HEAD but I’d sleep through that. No danger of anyone sleeping through Billy Cotton – not even my neighbours.

So having discovered that that was actually a dream, I fell out of bed and went for the blood pressure machine. A mere 17.8/12.7 this morning, compared to 17.6/10.1 last night. Obviously Billy Cotton gives me quite a jolt in the morning.

Mind you, having said that, I took last night’s blood pressure before I had the printer issues. I wonder what it would have been like afterwards.

In the kitchen, I had the medication – the last of this SODIUM POLYSTYRENE SULPHIDE and it really does say “polystyrene” on the label.

Last night I sent a mail to the hospital to say that if they wanted me to continue to use it they would have to send a repeat prescription, but they haven’t so it looks for the moment as if that’s it.

So it will be interesting to see if that’s the drug that’s causing me all these problems, or whether it’s one of the other new ones.

But on the other hand, thanks to my poor cleaner, there’s another new medication to start taking tomorrow, so that’s bound to stir up the deck a little.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night, because there was more than just Zero and a rude awakening. There was another long dream that seemed to go on for ever about me playing bass in a band. We were supporting Hawkwind. A little later on I’d had my illness and Hawkwind held a benefit concert for me. Things were slowly deteriorating and I’d been called back to the hospital again. They were to review all of my medication and change some of it. That didn’t bother me because it’s not the first time. When I went back in there was a football match on TV. I was back in at a certain time but they were running hours late so I had to amuse myself during this particular time. On the TV was a football match between Crewe Alexandra against someone. It was a match that I really wanted to see. Crewe played really well and in the end won 3-1. It was extremely important because it kept their place alive in the promotion. Then it was one of these films in black and white, cowboys from the 1930s and 40s with John Wayne, but first a film that actually went back further than that to the date of American independence about them being in forts and travelling from one fort to the next. I really can’t remember much more than this about this dream but it went on for ever.

We also has the European Union launching a space rocket. We were involved in the final preparations for its departure. There was no actual countdown as such which surprised us completely because everyone would like to know how long they have to do various jobs. We were working away and occasionally a voice would announce “20 minutes to blast-off” or something but there was no clock, no person giving the time and we had no idea what was happening. In the end we had everything ready and were waiting for the astronauts. Of course one of them had to use the bathroom, didn’t he? That was when the timing became critical. he really had to rush and even the person who said “10 seconds to blast-off” made some kind of remark. In the end he must have been back because ignition took place on time and the rocket left.

On the subject of rockets, the British had a space rocket at one time and it was called “The Civil Servant”. When asked why it was given the name, a Government spokesman replied "it costs the country a fortune, it won’t work and we can’t fire it"

Somewhere along the line there was a young girl who somehow managed to fall into a lake. There were two of us walking through the park talking and we dived in, rescued her and put her back on land. We just carried on walking and didn’t think anything of it. A week or so later Nerina was talking about a colleague of hers who worked at the Council who had been fired because he’d been messing up all the street names. For example, Edleston Road in Crewe he’d now changed to Market Street but Market Street was somewhere else in the town. It was all starting to become crazy. In the end he was fired. Nerina told me a story about how he was painting the yellow lines marking the edge of pavements in the wrong place. On one occasion he’d put them so wrong at a lake that a girl had fallen in and two men had rescued her. I told her that that was us, me and the other person. She was totally surprised about that. She had no idea that I’d dived into the water to save someone.

This reminds me of a time when Nerina saved me from drowning when I once fell into a lake. When her friends asked her how, she replied "Simple. I took my foot off his head".

There was much more to what went on during the night, by the way, but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your meal right now

After my nice strong black coffee and slice of bread pudding I attacked the Isle of Wight Festival 1968.

Much to my surprise, not only did I manage to track down tons of obscure material by many of the obscure bands that was there, I even found, embedded in a documentary, an elusive 40-second piece of music, the only known recording of the only known concert appearance by a group the basis of which went on to be “Queen”.

You’ve no idea how difficult that was to tease out of its setting, not being helped by being interrupted by my cleaner who brought me another lot of medication.

There was nothing whatever by the group that opened the Festival, an obscure isle of Wight band that didn’t last long and disappeared without trace long before portable home taping. However I found the name of the band’s guitarist and even found a short guitar piece that he played as an advert for a local pub on the island. So that’s in the mix too.

And then I found a major issue. Even though the Festival was officially advertised for the Saturday and Sunday, there were two bands that played on the Friday night to the assembled campers there so I can’t really say that the Festival started on the Saturday morning.

That means that what I’ve done so far will have to wait for another … gulp … five years.

So instead I began to prepare another programme for the missing date. I’ve chosen all of the music for it and even paired some of it off. I would have done even more except that, once more, I was out like a light with no warning whatsoever at about 17:00 and didn’t come round until 18:48 – and then I was in no fit state to do anything for a while.

Tea tonight was different. I have tons of tinned food around the place that I bought when I first moved in here as a kind of emergency reserve if I can’t manage to go out due to illness. It’s now becoming rather well out-of-date so tonight I made myself pasta with a tinned kind-of complement to a dish of couscous and meat.

Of course it wasn’t that simple. I friend some onion and garlic with herbs and spices and then added the couscous vegetables with some tomato sauce before I tipped it into the saucepan with the pasta.

There are chickpeas in the mix so there is some protein going in.

As I use up the tinned stuff I’ll be replacing it with more modern in-date food, but the stuff that I bought from Noz is irreplaceable of course so I don’t know what I’ll do about that.

So with no printer to worry about tonight (as yet – the night is young) and still over an hour to bedtime I’m going to have a bash on the guitar.

Over the last day or two I’ve been having fun with Tom Petty’s version of the Byrds’ version of Bob Dylan’s YOU AIN’T GOIN’ NOWHERE. I thought that the title was somehow appropriate given my state of health these days

“Strap yourself to a tree with roots” as the song goes, but I can’t even go outside to find a blasted oak, never mind a flaming beech.

But leaving that aside, the arrival of country musician Gram Parsons to the Byrds could have been a total disaster and could have completely ruined the band but instead they produced ONE OF THE FINEST ALBUMS OF 1968, which says a lot considering how many fine albums there were that year.

It brings back many happy memories for me singing IN SOUTH CAROLINA THERE ARE MANY TALL PINES as I was driving down through the tall pines of South Carolina in 2005 on my way to Rhys’s wedding.

"But now when I’m lonesome, I always pretend
That I’m getting the feel of hickory wind"

And wouldn’t it be nice to have the feel of hickory wind right now? But if I play my cards right I might not be lonely. Having had Zero through the door last night, whose turn is it tonight?

Knowing my luck, I can guess. It won’t be TOTGA or Castor. But as they used to say, you have to take things as you find them and make the best of it. "In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts" as Théoden said.

Sunday 28th January 2024 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what the hell is going on here.

Back in the old days, like 6 months ago, I could sit down with a clean computer screen and in 4 hours bash out a radio programme all the way from the very start – like choosing the music – to the very end, like having it up and running.

So having dictated the notes last night, all that I had to do today was to edit them, assemble the programme, choose the final track, write, dictate and edit the notes for that and add it in. So here am I, it’s quite late in the evening and I’m nowhere near finished.

It all went wrong last night. What I dictated was, as I expected, total rubbish and having tried unsuccessfully to edit some of it, I gave up and re-dictated it.

But it’s hopeless trying to dictate anything here during daylight hours at a weekend. I lost count of how many times a motorcycle went past the window causing me to stop and after it had gone past, going back and re-dictating from a point farther back

Having edited it and halfway through assembling the programme I noticed a couple of places where I hadn’t gone back far enough so I re-dictated the segments.

Then I couldn’t make the tones of the new part match up with the old parts despite trying for hours. So in the end I ended up having to re-dictate it yet again.

Where I’m at at the moment is in the editing stage.

But at least I know how long the gap is for the eleventh and final track so that’s all ready and the notes dictated and edited. LOVE AIN’T FOR KEEPING is one of the most beautiful love songs ever and you don’t need me to tell you when was the last time that I played it to an audience

And it was an audience of one too.

But anyway, I digress … "again" – ed … I’m fed up to the gills with this blasted stuff that’s making me sleep, making me see all kinds of strange things when I close my eyes and totally churning up my brain so I can’t concentrate on anything.

More by luck than judgement I’ve fought off waves of sleep today but everything is turning into a total mess. I try to keep the notes on my whiteboard tidy so that I can follow them backwards if necessary, but that’s a total shambles too.

It’s all a total morass at the moment, and in years to come, people are going to look at the notes from this last week or two, shake their heads and say to each other "I don’t know what he must have been smoking when he was writing all of that, but I wish that he’d passed it around to the rest of us"

It’s like the time that the Cambridge boat sank in the middle of the Boat Race and everyone going round, pointing at the crew and saying "they were totally out of their scull".

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, I had something or a better sleep last night. Maybe that accounts for why I managed to go through the day without actually crashing out.

It was about 01:00 when I finally went to bed, and I awoke (but that’s not to say that I left the bed) at about 10:00.

It was a leisurely start to the day, as befits a Sunday, but eventually I managed to make a start on the dictaphone notes. We started off with the story of a small girl who was elected for some kind of competition because she could run so fast. She was taken to somewhere like the Centre de Re-education for a medical examination. There, she was confronted by a bear and then by a polar bear. When people asked about that, the answer given was that where she’s going she might actually encounter these animals so she’ll have to know what they are, what they look like etc and whether she could out-run them. While she was having her medical they were preparing the meals. The meals were very scanty, that’s for sure, but specially prepared to give the most energy from a small amount of food. They came to me and asked if it was true that I was a vegan. I replied “yes” so shortly afterwards they gave me a chicken salad type of thing which of course didn’t go down very well at all. Then the giri was made ready for this competition

That reminded me of the time that I was up in RED CANYON IN UTAH IN 2002.
A tourist there asked one of the tourist guides "is it true that a bear won’t attack you if you carry a clove of garlic in your pocket?"
The guide replied "it all depends on how quickly you can carry it."

Later on while I’d been asleep I’d received a mail from a friend about a group of people who had bought a field and were going to use it as a kind of forum for telling jokes. The jokes were going to be kind-of middle of the road jokes so that they could develop a kind of middle of the road humour that would satisfy most people about the political correctness of the modern world and those who are upset about the outrageous nature of some crude jokes. He went on to show some kind of complicated maths calculation that went down to something like the 3rd or 4th line of a multiplication problem. Much as I’m pretty good at simple maths I couldn’t get my head around this of something like 2/3 of 5/8 of 7/8 of 3/7 or whatever it was. Also in the field was an old school bus up on jacks that was going to be their office. All in all I thought that it was going to be a strange situation for anyone to be in to come to this place and maybe give it their support

This would be one of those occasions where I’d have to call on the services of my namesake the mathematician who told me once that three fifths of five eights was … errr … nothing

But actually this is quite apposite, especially as my teatime viewing at the moment is SPACEBALLS. It reminded me of the famous Mel Brooks quote that "good taste is the enemy of comedy".

There was more stuff on the dictaphone too but good taste notwithstanding, you really don’t want to read it, especially if you’re eating a meal right now.

So after lunch I attacked the radio programme, and that’s where I am right now, stuck in the middle of all of that nonsense wishing that I could get out of it

There was the usual series of breaks to deal with the pizza of course, and quite enjoyable it was tonight too, even if it was the wrong flour that I used. But that’s the problem – on line, I can’t order the flour that I really like so anything will have to do as I go by trial and error.

But now everything is finished I’ll go back to deal with the radio programme. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, once said "The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well"

However I feel more like the Duke of Marlborough on his way to do battle in Flanders. "God knows I go with a heavy heart, for I have no hope of doing anything considerable"

Thursday 11th January 2024 – THERE SEEMS TO BE …

… some confusion about when I might be going home.

The doctor who came to see me this morning told me that if all goes well and my improvement continues, I might go home at the end of the weekend or on Monday.

The orderly who has just brought me my evening meal tells me that I might be going home as soon as tomorrow.

And if the evening meal that he brought me is anything to go by, tomorrow isn’t soon enough. On the other hand, if my medical condition isn’t up to it, then the longer that I stay here, the better, even if it means drinking more of the dreaded sodium sulphide.

They gave me another dose of it at midday, and I was out like a light again for several hours. I think in all honesty that they do that simply to sneak in here and turn down the heating while I’m away with the fairies. I wondered why it was going cold here.

So apart from being cold and being away with the fairies, I’ve been a busy bee today. Rhys and Helena have been sending me messages to which I’ve been replying.

Helena is one of my oldest friends and we go back well over 50 years to our school days in Nantwich. She, along with Robert, is part of my personal on-line medical staff, having been a nurse in Yorkshire for quite a while.

A couple of neighbours from Granville have spoken to me on the internet too and my neighbour who is currently in Paris spoke to me on the phone.

There have been the dictaphone notes to transcribe as well. With our amazingly busy schedule Nerina and I had hired help to do some of the more mundane tasks around the house. One of them was cutting all the lawns and there were specific days to do it. We were walking through Willaston one afternoon when it was a lawn-cutting day. Th guy who was cutting our lawn was there with our lawn mower and had just gone into a shop to buy a cup of coffee. So evidently I walked nonchalantly into the shop and said “hello” to him. His jaw dropped completely to the bottom. He’s obviously been doing someone else’s lawn and claiming payment for it as well as claiming payment for ours that he never did. He simply left, and left me with the lawnmower equipment which I had to pick up and bring back to the house

Later on, I was asleep in my hospital room when a machine started up, started to make its alarm noise. I waited a minute to see if it was the case then I rang the bell for the night porter like you do. It was actually for real. It really was bleeping and I really did ring the bell. The night nurse appeared. Of course my dream disappeared completely because what I was dreaming was actually the thruth about what was going on yet I’d done it all in my sleep.

I had a kind of field somewhere that needed cutting. I’d talked to a young Filipino boy whom I knew who worked as a coach driver for a local company taking schoolkids around. His boss had one, a tractor with a grasscutter so we agreed that he’d borrow his boss’s tractor and go to cut our grass one morning. I don’t know whether he’d discussed it with his boss or not but that wasn’t my particular concern. We drove him up there that morning but he was in quite an emotional state, going on about how he hated the job, how he hated the coaches, how he hated the boss, how he hated everything, how the boss had paid him £70:00 short on his wages once. It was a real emotional tirade from this young boy. I was sitting listening because if he really was going to throw in his job, that might make a vacancy for me. Talking about tatty coaches – I’ve driven tatty coaches in the past and it’s never bothered me. Tatty bosses, that’s never bothered me either too much so I was listening to all of this. We turned up at the buses place. The tractor with lawn mower attachments was still there. We all stepped out of the car and walked over to it

Having said that during the night, I was always very careful about whose coaches I drove. It was mainly for Shearings and its subsidiaries and one local coach company. And if I was operating “on my own account” the coaches only ever came from one company.

From several other companies I respectfully declined work, including the company who shared the yard from where our taxis operated.

Loads of medical staff have been by today. The doctor has stopped the perfusions because my legs are swelling and regrettably, after all my efforts, I’m gaining weight. So there will be probably something else that will keep me awake during the night now.

But it’s like I say – they give me some medication to cure something and it just creates a problem somewhere else in my body. I don’t think that I could have been assembled correctly in the factory.

The physiotherapist came round, took me for a walk, and then gave me plenty of exercises to do while I’m sitting down, many of which I was already doing.

So while I can certainly criticise the food, I can’t criticise the care that I’m receiving.

While all of this was going on, I’ve been listening to “Help Yourself”.

Effectively an artificial band created by Famepushers, the Entertainment Agency, as a support for singer-songwriter Malcolm Morley, they might be a London band but they have always been considered as honorary Welshmen following their participation in the “All Good Clean Fun” tour, their appearance at the Patti Pavilion with a whole host of Welsh bands at Christmas 1973 and the fact that on the drums was Dave Charles, who for many years was sound engineer at Rockfield Recording Studios in Monmouth.

Due to a failing memory I can’t remember where I met them but it was in the days when they had Ken Whaley and not Paul Burton on bass guitar, although it was Burton at the Patti Pavilion, I seem to remember.

Their claim to fame is the legendary track REAFFIRMATION on their album BEWARE THE SHADOW that just goes to prove that you don’t need to play a lead guitar solo of 10,000 notes in 10 seconds to produce something that is one of the best, if not the most bizarre, lead guitar solo in the history of rock music.

So right now that I’ve finished my notes I intend to go to bed, where I’m hoping to have the best, if not the most bizarre, dreams possible. Not that there’s too much chance of that with all of the noise that goes on around here, but we can always live in hope.

And tomorrow I’ll find out more about going home. But I can’t wait to be back there, if not for the food and decent internet.

Using a bluetooth tethering system is like going back 30 years to the days of dial-up and 14.4 kbs external modems. Click on a link and then go for a coffee and a walk around the village while it opens.

It really is doing my head in.

Wednesday 10th January 2024 – IT’S AMAZING …

… how much of a big difference a couple of little actions can make. And that’s something that I’m going to remember for the future, that’s for sure.

This morning, they brought me two bread rolls for breakfast. And a couple of hours later they brought me a mid-morning coffee. You really have no idea and can’t possibly imagine how much those little gestures have meant to me and how much they have improved my morale from yesterday’s miserable efforts.

Mind you, I did have a shower and clothes-washing session in between. Years of living on the road has taught me to take advantage of every shower that comes my way because sometimes they are hard to find. And when you do find a shower, take your clothes in with you and give them as good a wash as you possibly can.

That’s an old tip that I learnt from the Bible –
"while shepherds washed their socks one night
all seated round the tub
the Angel of the Lord came down
and gave them all a scrub."

Something else that cheered me up were the messages that I received yesterday

Sean wrote to me to say what a horrible night Monday must have been and to keep my chin up for things can only improve. And he was right this morning, as I have already said. That bread roll and coffee, and your message, cheered me up immeasurably.

Grahame’s message cheered me up too. In fact it made me laugh. I’d been talking about hallucinating and Hawkwind, and he wanted to tell me about the time that he did both together many years ago. I thought that that was an avenue down which it was unwise to go any further.

But it did remind me of the time that Nerina took me to see Hawkwind at Keele University one night. Nerina is quite a bit younger than me so when the band came onstage she rushed to the front like all the young’uns do.

After a while she came to look for me and found me standing at the back
"Why don’t you come to the front?" she asked. "The view is so much better there"
"That’s as may be" I replied " but hey! The smell is so much better at the back, man."

Rhys wrote to me a short while ago but his message is buried under … gulp … 450-odd others that have come in while I’ve been busy sorting out transport and all that kind of thing.

He thinks that I’ll outlive everyone else who has had this illness and set new records. Well, I didn’t feel like that yesterday but a good night’s sleep and my bread roll and coffee fired me with a new enthusiasm, and who knows? It won’t be for the want of trying, and it won’t be for the lack of support either, medical or moral. Not that “moral” is a word that is usually used when I’m about.

But to be serious … "for once" – ed … Rhys was one of my close friends from University and I was lucky enough to be honoured to be best man at his wedding in South Carolina in 2005

The marriage didn’t last as long as it ought and poor Gretchen is no longer with us which is a shame for Rhys and her family.

But I remember the wedding – and more importantly, the weekend afterwards while they were away – vividly. I met a young Mexican girl at the wedding and we spent a lovely weekend together down at Charleston and then back at Columbia for a Widespread Panic concert on the Sunday night.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I have a certain weakness for Southern Rock – groups where the lead guitar solos can sometimes go on for several weeks, groups like the Marshall Tucker Band, The Outlaws, Doc Holliday and Blackberry Smoke (who I photographed when I was official photographer for the Fredericton Jazz and Blues Festival in Canada).

But the leading group of all, surprisingly unknown in Europe, is Widespread Panic. I’d first encountered them when I was with Onion River Radio in Montpelier in Vermont years ago and I’d always wanted to catch them at a concert because like most Southern Rock groups, it’s simply not possible to reproduce on an album what they actually do onstage.

Anyway, there they were, topping the bill at the Three Rivers Festival that Sunday night in Columbia so Itzé and I blagged a couple of tickets (Press Passes always come in useful at times like this) and that was that.

Even now I still keep in touch with them and they’ve been kind enough to send me a few concerts to broadcast on my radio programmes

When I was on my marathon trek in 2017 saying goodbye to everyone whom I knew in North America, I managed to meet up with Rhys again and we had a weekend together. But the journey took so much out of me that afterwards I ended up at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina where I holed up for several days to recover my strength ready to go back to base.

Not the first time that I’d been to Myrtle Beach either. I’d been there in 2005 for a weekend too.

And that was strange. I thought (and still do) that Myrtle Beach is a bit of a dump – Rhyl with the sun, in fact.

But when I worked at that strange American company in Brussels where I met Alison, there was this woman going on about this brilliant place my the seaside where her husband had taken her for her honeymoon a couple of years back.

She espoused at great length about it and finally mentioned its name. Myrtle Beach. "Ohhh, Myrtle Beach" I said. "I was there last year. I thought that it was a bit of a dump. I’ll bring my photos in and show you"

Funnily enough, we never heard another word about Myrtle Beach. But the people there were strange. It was like being on another planet.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … hospital, I mentioned a “good night” a little earlier.

That was obtained by the simple expedient of putting the perfusion pump in the bathroom and closing the door. And for once, I had enough silence that I could have a good night’s sleep.

Well, not quite. There I was, asleep, listening to Hawkwind’s MOTORWAY CITY in my dreams when one of my sisters brought me a really strange kind of bun like a cupcake with chocolate over the top and one or two other decorations but it smelt of onions. I wondered what it was going to be. Just then I actually awoke because of something on the music to which I was listening. I awoke, to find that it was “Motorway City” actually playing so in the end I switched off everything and went back to sleep. But it was quite strange having this onion-flavoured bun given to me by one of my sisters.

By about 06:00 my reverie came to an end as someone came by to take a blood sample, and that was that.

It was an endless stream of medical staff doing all kinds of things in here today, but an ominous sign is the doctor saying that she’ll send a physiotherapist to see me. If I’m going home soon that would be totally unnecessary so it looks as if I’m in here for longue durée as they say around here.

Some of the morning’s activities have already been mentioned, particularly the messages that I’ve received. It’s nice to hear from my audience so if you’re a new subscriber, of which there are more than a few just recently, or a long-time lurker, send me a message to say “hello”. There’s a link to a form at the bottom right corner.

Just be mindful that if you have a gmail address, I can’t reply to you. I’ll either say something on here, or if it’s private, you’ll receive a reply from STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

The rest of the morning was spent trying to decipher where I’d been during the night. And I’d put some miles in too. A friend of mine lives in Canada just inside the border. Right by where she lives was a railway bridge, called “Cedar Bridge”. It was a prominent feature of the landscape so all the slaves and everyone escaping the USA would flood across the border and head for Cedar Bridge. That would be the symbol that they’d reached safety. It was an iron bridge over the railway built for pedestrians only. One night at some point but I can’t remember the date it was just swept away. Cedar Bridge was destroyed. It was a terrible loss as a symbol of freedom from persecution for a great many people.

And then I’d received an absolute mountain of paperwork from a hospital in Canada about my illness, a mountain of it. I had to go through it and scan it all which took for ever. Then I had to post some of it to somewhere and some of it to somewhere else so it became incredibly complicated. I was halfway through doing it when I received another e-mail with some more stuff and some stuff that cancelled some of the first stuff. I had to restart what I was doing but I’d forgotten where I was. I’d lost my place. Then I had to send some information to my brother. The only way that I could do that was to send it to my niece and ask her to contact him. That started to become even more complicated still. I was there with all these papers and all these e-mails with all of these forwarding and “copy to you” kind of stuff. It was incredible. I was just so confused with it all and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if anyone else was too. When it came to writing up my notes at night it just turned into a load of gibberish. I just couldn’t seem to make it make sense

That sounds about right. I’m submerged in paperwork from my hospital visits and can’t sort them out properly before I’m overwhelmed with yet more from another hospital stay which contradicts everything that I previously received.

Later on, I won a prize in a competition. It was a baby pig. How on earth was I going to cope with a baby pig? A group of us who had had to go our separate ways arranged to meet at the Cheshire Cat in Nantwich. I eventually found my way there with this pig screaming and squealing and wriggling in my hands so in the end I just let it go. I didn’t know what else to do. Then I saw a bus go past, a bus from my school. It had “Competitors” written on it. There were loads of schoolkids on it, many of the ones whom I was hoping to see in the Cheshire Cat. I thought “this is going to be a wash-out, isn’t it?”. I reached the door of the Cheshire Cat. There was a Bouncer o duty. I asked him how many people were in. He replied “about 2”. I said “I’d better go to buy a 3rd drink, hadn’t I?”. When I walked in I found one of my friends sitting at a table with 2 other guys. I asked my friend what he wanted to drink. He wanted a beer but these other 2 guys wanted rum and coke. I thought “2 beers and 2 rum and cokes is going to cost me a fortune too”. Instead of going to the bar the main way I decided that I’d take a short cut through the crack in the wall which I did and ended up in the middle of 2 girls having a dancing class. They were girls whom I knew so I thought “at least I’m going to have some pleasant company” because I’m going to end up chatting to these 2 girls, I hoped. But this was all turning into a complete, confused mess too. I thought to myself that with all this going on today and I’m not having any luck whatsoever. I was having all this work to do and I just don’t understand any of it.

“… turning into a complete, confused mess”. And that’s something with which I can relate at the present moment, right enough.

Back in that dream again later, I had to leave so off I went. It was a Friday and I couldn’t go back on the Saturday so I was back Sunday lunchtime thinking that I still had 2 drinks left in the tap that I’d bought on Friday. There were just 2 people in there so I left myself in the glorious arms of the folk singer Miss Colwill who has figured in these dreams in the past but I don’t know where she fitted into this dream tonight.

And who is Miss Colwill? The names “Ruth Colwill” and “Rebecca Colwill” came immediately to my mind but there’s no trace of either

But stepping back into a dream again. Why can’t I do that whenever I’m about to lay my grubby paws on Castor, TOTGA or Zero?

Everything came to a dead stop round about lunchtime when they brought me a glass of sodium sulphide. And for several hours afterwards I was away with the fairies.

In mid-afternoon a discreet mug of coffee smuggled into my room revived me somewhat And I carried on with my studies of Victorian methods of tree pruning. I’m not sure why because I won’t be pruning any trees ever again. But in these ancient, 150 year-old books that you can download for free fromARCHIVE;ORG there are tons of useful, long-forgotten facts.

Tea was rubbish as usual but somewhere along the line the needle in my hand had been dislodged so all the perfusion was running up my arm. In the end the nurse had to take it out and stick it in somewhere else.

In fact he asked me to tell him where I would like him to stick it and, do you know, I was sorely tempted …

More sodium sulphide has found its way into here so in a minute I’ll stick the perfusion machine in the bathroom, switch off the Hawkwind playlist that’s been playing for the last couple of days, and hope for another pleasant 5 or 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep like last night.

But whether or not I’ll get it is another thing. There’s too much going on here for that. So I’ll just hope for pleasant dreams

Look out Castor, TOTGA and Zero! Hee I come!

Saturday 25th November 2023 – I WAS HAPPY …

… that it was today that I went on the bus to the shops and not yesterday.

Yesterday was a cold, wet windy miserably day but today was one of the nicest days that we’ve had for ages and it was a real pleasure to be out.

It was the kind of day where, had things been different, I’d have made a flask of piping hot coffee and gone for a nice long walk northwards along the coast with the camera, but how things have changed in that respect.

Things changed a little in bed last night too because I seem to have had something of a rather more relaxed night. That’s a good thing from the point of view of sleep but a bad thing from the point of view of adventure. The only adventures I have these days are these rather vicarious ones at second hand as my ethereal spirit goes walkabout during the night.

At the hospital they keep on asking me if I want sleeping pills, and I keep on turning them down. My little nocturnal voyages are about all the fun that I have, given the way that things have turned out.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and struggled to my feet, and then having dressed, I toddled off into the dining area to take my medication.

Back here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night – and it didn’t take me long. I was with a bunch of pirates last night. We’d gone ashore in the High Arctic somewhere amidst all the snow and the ice. Some of the descriptions that the crew was giving off about the are in which they found themselves were extremely poetic, including things like “if it wasn’t for the cold you’d never realise the danger” etc. A couple of the crew wandered away during the night to explore and we didn’t know if we’d be lucky enough to see them next morning etc. As it became light next morning we were rounded up into some kinds of fishing parties. We’d tried to do some fishing the evening before and had caught some cod but this morning we were going to go out on a full-scale fishing operation to revictual the ship. That involved a couple of the rowing boats with a net spread between them and the two rowing boats rowing round in a circle towards each other to tighten the catch inside the net. We were busy organising this when I suddenly awoke

It’s a shame that it ended at that point because I would have loved to have seen how our fishing expedition unfolded. When Richard Hakluyt transcribed John Cabot’s notes in order to include them for publication in his “Principall Navigations” in 1589 he came across Cabot’s delightful description of the Labrador coast and "The cod were in largeness and quantitie … that they stayed our ships".

When my book about the Labrador coast finally hits the shelves, you’ll notice the difference. Constant over-fishing by industrial trawlers decimated the cod fishery so much that in 1992 the Canadian Government imposed a moratorium on cod-fishing. And so all the big industrial trawlers moved off elsewhere and the small subsistence fisherman along the coast was deprived of his livelihood and fell into desolation and despair.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall us working our way down the Nova Scotia coast on our voyages of 2003 and 2010 when we picked our way through the decay and dereliction of piles of abandoned fishing equipment.

strawberry moose, buccaneer, near moyock, north carolina, usa, eric hall, photo, 30th september 2017But while we’re on the subject of pirate ships … "well, one of us is" – ed … we’ve encountered pirate ships before.

In 2017 when we were on our way back from visiting Rhys in South Carolina STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I came across a pirate ship. His Nibs quickly recruited an ad-hoc crew and set sail for the Spanish Main in order to wreak havoc amongst the treasure ships heading back from New Spain to the Old World.

And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, his antics on the High Seas on his way home from looking after Kathryn at University in Ontario in 2011 led to questions being asked in the Canadian Parliament.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed there was a story about me being at some kind of formal party with about half a dozen other people, having an enormous amount of difficulty trying to keep still, having to keep moving my legs quite regularly. This led to some kind of commotion about food but I can’t now remember very much about this issue of food except that it was something that had caused it.

There was time for a quick wash and brush-up and then I headed for the bus. He was late arriving and with not being able to move around it was quite cold.

However there was a really beautiful blue sky. Jersey stood out really clearly on the horizon this morning and it looked as if I could reach out and touch the Brittany coast across the bay, it was so clear.

There was no ice or frost on the car windscreens which is no surprise as we are only 50 feet from the sea here and in the face of the prevailing westerly winds, but once we were out of the wind, all of the cars parked at the side of the road were iced up.

At St Nicolas no-one made the sign of the Cross today, but after I’d done my shopping I had a pleasant chat about historic buildings with the guy drinking coffee next to me as I waited for my bus home.

The only marzipan that they had was this tricolour stuff but I don’t suppose that it matters under icing. I have to use what I can.

They did have soya yogurt to make my naan bread but it’s only sold in packets of 8 so I’ll be making a lot of naan bread dough tomorrow.

Coming back up the stairs was another nightmare. There’s no doubt that I’m actually moving easier – that was quite evident today and I’m pleased about that – but I can’t lift my leg high enough to climb the steps and we had another gymnastics morning.

But I’ll have to have a word with Severine when I see her again and find out what she can do for me.

Having put the food away I made my cheese on toast and then came in here, where I promptly fell asleep.

A ‘phone call awoke me. The paperwork has come in from the engineer and the co-property committee has decided that they want a couple more quotes. Could I organise it?

When I lived in Expo, that was a co-property and there were enormous issues about an apartment owner who would launch himself into all kinds of unauthorised adventures and then bombard the committee with all kind sof paperwork, and I remember very well many of the issues that arose.

Consequently, I told them that if they give me an authorisation I’ll do it quite happily but I’m not doing it without any authorisation.

This afternoon I soaked all my fruit – and found that although I had all kinds of things in my baking box I didn’t have any glacé cherries, or bigarreaux confits as they call them around here. They had some advertised in LeClerc’s home delivery catalogue so I hope that they’ll still be in stock when I send off my order.

So we now have currants, sultanas, raisins, figs, cranberries, some of that dried gelified fruit, desiccated coconut, ground almonds, banana chips, dried orange chips and the odd partridge in a pear tree divided into two lots – a small one for the pudding and a big one for the cake – soaking in a mixture of vanilla, fleur d’orange, rum essence, brandy essence, all kinds of spices and probably a few other things too.

It’ll be in there for a week or 10 days, being stirred and fed with more liquid over that period ready for a baking session next weekend.

But the essences of rum and brandy are interesting. It’s not available in France – after all, if you have the real stuff, why use artificial? But there’s a chain of shops called “Bulk Barn” in all of the big cities in Canada – something like an old UK “Weigh and Save” on steroids.

Rural Canada is just like the 1950s which is why I really like it, and home baking and that kind of thing are major occupations. And when I was in the one in Fredericton last year I made a wonderful discovery and several bottles of essence found their way into my suitcase for future use.

And by God is it strong!

Back here afterwards I crashed out again, for ages this time, and since then I’ve been de-duplicating one of the backup drives.

Tea tonight was baked potato with salad and a veggie burger in breadcrumbs and that was as delicious as usual.

So now I’m off for a hot drink or two and then I’ll dictate the radio notes ready for tomorrow when I’ll prepare the programme. There’s naan dough to make as well as I’ve now run out.

Something else that I’ve run out of is chocolate biscuits. However when tidying up the shelves the other say I found a couple of packets of industrial ones about which I’d forgotten. I’ll finish these off and bake another batch of biscuits next weekend.

That should keep me out of mischief for a while.

Friday 10th November 2023 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… miserable afternoon when I’ve spend a good proportion of it fast asleep on my chair in here.

You’ve no idea just how much it takes out of me, staggering two or three hundred metres on crutches and then climbing up 25 stairs back to here, all of which with a very low blood count and a leaking valve in my heart. I was dead to the world for a good couple of hours.

For a change, I’d actually been to bed early. And that’s not something that happens every day. And although I didn’t go far during my travels, it was still quite a restless night.

When the alarm went off I staggered to my feet and went off in search of my medication. And then back here I made a start on my shopping list from LeClerc for next Wednesday and to see what I need from the shops this morning.

In the freezing cold I crawled downstairs and over to the bus and although the driver was on there sitting comfortably she didn’t let me on until departure time. I know that she’s well within her rights to do that, as she’s on an official break, but it was still freezing.

At St Nicolas I alighted and the first port of call was the Post Office. I’m having “issues” at the moment with my bank in Canada and the only way to wind them up is by mail. Phoning them is a waste of time as I proved the other day.

In the Carrefour next door I bought some of the worst mushrooms that I’ve seen for quite a while – I have to say that the fruit and veg at the Carrefour at St Nicolas is nothing like as good as the one at the Port – and a few other bits and pieces.

While I was packing my backpack I dropped something on the floor and as I remembered what happened the last time I bent down to pick something up when I had a backpack I had to ask someone to pick it up for me.

My coffee was quite nice while I waited for the bus, and then I wandered off outside to the bus stop.

While I’d been in the supermarket the weather had been reasonable but the moment I set foot outside the weather changed dramatically and I got the lot.

As soon as I climbed onto the bus the sun came out but as we pulled up at the bus stop outside we had another downpour.
"The rain falls down upon the just
and also on the unjust fellow
But mostly on the just because
the unjust steals the just’s umbrella"

The climb up the stairs was agony as you might expect, and then I made some soup to eat with the crusty bread that I’d just bought.

Back in here, when I wasn’t asleep, I transcribed the dictaphone notes. One of my favourite rock groups was playing in London so I went down on the train to see them. When I arrived in London I couldn’t remember the name of the venue or the place to go to pick up the tickets. I knew that a friend was in London so I thought that I’d phone him so that maybe we could meet somewhere. I began to walk towards the centre but I didn’t recognise anywhere. It was nothing at all like anything I ever knew about the way into the centre of the city from where the train would bring me in. We ended up talking on the phone. He asked me to say where I was but I couldn’t. He asked if I was at such-and-such a place. I didn’t know. Then I found myself standing alongside one of the sections of the old London Wall. I told him that I was here and to come to meet me . This whole affair was really one of total chaos again. Everything that could possibly go wrong seemed to be going wrong at that moment

And later on it was time to return from London. We were round at a girl’s house and she had lent us a Ford Transit diesel. It was quite a mess. The exhaust pipe on it stretched out about 6 feet at the back with a kink in it. My friend had changed the oil, the oil filter etc in it. When we started it there were clouds of blue smoke, it was burning that much oil. I remember a plane going overhead and we couldn’t see the plane because of the smoke. We put everything in the van and set off. My friend was driving like a maniac. It’s not very often that I’m concerned but I told him to slow down as he drove it flat out right past the turning where we were supposed to go. I told him to slow down and he replied “this is how you drive your office car, isn’t it?”. I really didn’t know what to say about that.

While I was at it I finished off the notes that I’d started yesterday for the next radio programme and I’ll dictate them before I go to bed. if I complete the programme tomorrow I can actually have a day off on Sunday – the first time for ages – but I do have some fruit buns to make.

The estate agent turned up this afternoon too. He came “to value the apartment”, apparently. I did ask if the owner was planning on selling it because I have a cunning plan, but apparently not. “It’s being valued for his personal reasons and he has no intention of selling it”.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, there are at least two prices for every property on sale in France. The first price is the price that it is advertised and which is aimed at British people and Parisians. The second price is the realistic price that the owner will sell it to a local person and it’s usually much less than the first price, especially if you can stump up the cash.

Following that, I carried on updating the notes from last Autumn. I’ve done all of those that relate to the hospital and I’m now sitting in the Place Gamelin in Montréal making the most of the last of the Canadian sunshine and the really beautiful autumn colours on the trees.

Montréal, and Canada in particular, is really beautiful in the autumn and I really miss my annual visits to pay homage to the land of my Grandmother. I’m hoping that one of these days my cousin Sandra will come over from Ottawa and bring some autumn with her.

It’s all well and good that I’m pressing on, especially as I’ll have much more time on my hands following the death yesterday of one of the largest social networks.

We always suspected that this “it’s free and it always will be” was a load of nonsense and so it has proved. Now, you have to automatically agree to have your personal information sold off to anyone and everyone, or else pay to opt out.

So if anyone wants to chat to me from now on, you’ll have to use the Social network that works with reference to the telephone system.

If you want my phone number you’ll have to write and ask me for it – unless you have a G-mail account in which case I won’t be able to reply.

That’s another issue, isn’t it? Google is blocking its mail-servers to all “minor domains” like mine, unless you include in your webserver a few lines of code that Google sends you.

And if anyone thinks that I’m going to include any form of Google coding on my webserver without them telling me exactly what it does, then they are mistaken.

It’s fair to say that with all of this turbulence going on right now with these major players in the tech world, it looks as if we are beginning to see the start of a technology crisis. They are obviously sensing a danger of losing their grip on things and maybe the revenue coming in isn’t what they would like it to be.

It makes me wonder if we’ll be seeing a renaissance of something like Myspace or whether we’ll be going back to the good old days of 30 years ago when people like us were cutting our teeth on Local Area Networks, Bulletin Boards and the anarchy and chaos that was Usenet.

Tea tonight was chips, vegan salad and some of those strange veggie balls based on kidney beans. And it was actually quite nice.

So now it’s nearly bedtime I’ll go and make myself a hot drink, dictate my radio notes and then go to bed.

We’ll see what tomorrow might bring.

Monday 30th October 2023 – OHHH! THE EMBARRASSMENT!

This morning I fell in my apartment, and I couldn’t pick myself up again. I had to rely on my cleaner to pick me up and put me on a seat.

What I was trying to do was to tidy up the bedroom but my foot slipped on the parquet floor and I ended up on my knee. And it was only a few weeks ago that I could stand up from a kneeling position if I had something to cling on to. But not any longer.

However at least I was able to pull myself up from bed this morning without any assistance – including any assistance of the alarm. I put that down to the change in time that took place on Sunday morning.

After the medication I came in here to type a letter. My cleaner was off into town so I wanted to send her with a letter to the doctor to find out where I have to go for this cardiac examination and to ask for a transport voucher to take me there.

And it was tidying up in here ready for the cleaner to come down for the letter that I had my issues.

After she’d gone I had plenty of phone calls to make. Caliburn is being picked up on Thursday, and I’ve sorted out some banking issues, including requesting documents that I need for this claim for assistance.

There was a load of stuff that I did, and there is probably more to do too.

There was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night but I couldn’t remember much of it. I was in the middle of an enormous, lengthy dream that involved taxi licences. There had been two taxi licences issued for each small town in some kind of area. As the licences were occasionally handed back someone came along to pick them up and develop them. But I can’t remember any more about it than this because I had quite a dramatic awakening in the middle of this lengthy dream.

Then later on there was something about hospitals, military hospitals being used by some Middle-Eastern guerillas who were fighting for their land from a corrupt Government. Just as this dream was setting off I awoke yet again.

At another point there were two of us, me and someone else, driving in one of these big American articulated lorries along an Interstate highway somewhere, checking our maps and making our arrangements. The guy who was driving turned to his radio to announce that we were going to come off here to head down to the border. Once we arrive, maybe we’d stop for food but if he felt like it he might come off and instead, cut across country south-west and head for a different State border that way. We pushed on, left the Interstate and carried on driving. We came to the rest area where we were going to stop. My niece’s daughter was there. She asked about the recording of a concert. I said that I’d managed to record it and had it on CD. She asked if she could have it. I said that I needed it – obviously I’d recorded it because I wanted it but I could copy it for her if she had a spare CD that I could copy it on to. She hadn’t but she said that she could give me a different concert by this group that was shorter but I said that that still wouldn’t solve the problem because I still wouldn’t have the original concert that I wanted.

Looking at that dream, or, should I say, reading it again, it reminds me of the many times that I’ve rolled up and down Interstate 95 stopping off for home fries, beans and toast at Dysart’s Truckstop near Bangor and that famous night when a bus-load of cheerleaders dressed for action dropped in while we were filling our faces.

There was also that legendary trip in 2017 when Strider STRAWBERRY MOOSE and I went to see Rhys, my friend from University, down in South Carolina and then we crossed over into Georgia just to say that we’d been and then came back up the Outer Banks and over Long island Sound, then back up I-95.

Jackson Browne sang about DRIVING DOWN THE 295 OUT OF PORTLAND, MAINE – the “295” being the ring road that takes I-95 around Portland and if you listen very carefully, you’ll hear the tour bus that he was on while he was playing his guitar.

One thing that I missed was that I never ever had the chance to drive an 18-wheel rig down one of the Interstates. The biggest vehicle that I ever drove down I-95 was a 7.5 tonne GMC flatbed taking a big V8 engine from Canada to Weare in New Hampshire for reconditioning.

Still, the way things are, I suppose that that will have to do.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … , bed there had been another dream in which a woman wearing a red jumper was being followed around by a tall, older guy, some kind of down-and-out. It was clear that he had mental health issues but wasn’t a particular danger but it was extremely uncomfortable for this girl. One day he followed her into her office. She decided that she would skip out and wait for the guy to be tackled but he wandered into the room where she worked. He asked if anyone had seem the woman in the red jumper. Someone said “she’s gone down to the canteen for her lunch” to which he replied ‘that’s a shame. I have no money for any lunch” which sent some kind of alarm signal that made the other people in the room begin to think that this was a situation that wasn’t quite correct.

The rest of the day has been spent writing notes for the next radio programme, having paired off the music earlier. I’ve almost finished all of the notes for that one now. There was also time to review and send off the programme that will be broadcast this coming weekend.

Tea was a stuffed pepper – slightly singed but nice enough nevertheless with vegetables and pasta.

So lots to do tomorrow, including a Welsh class, a few forms to fill in, a few phone calls to make and a Re-Education course to begin.

But looking at some of the notes that I’ve been dictating and typing recently, I seem to be spending far more time looking backwards rather than looking forwards. I suppose that it’s normal, what with things being the way they are and that I only have memories to look forward to.

It reminds me of AE Housman
"Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again."

Sunday 24th September 2023 – I WAS THINKING …

… and that’s always dangerous of course, about how much things have changed.

6 years ago to the day, I was in South Carolina visiting Rhys. I was at the end of a mega-voyage where I went to say goodbye to everyone whom I knew in North America and to cross off a few more things from my bucket list.

That voyage was because I felt that I was coming to the end of the road and didn’t want to forget anyone whom I knew.

However 6 years of living here in peace and quiet and comparative luxury gave me a new lease of life but tomorrow I shall be off to Paris for what will be a make-or-break hospital examination. During the next few days they’ll be examining me and it’ll either be good news or bad news. There’s nothing in between.

It’s a pity really that the decline in health over the last 18 months has happened at this time. I was having a lengthy chat on the internet today with one of the daughters of my niece currently in the USA. She’s getting married in November and, having followed her adventures quite closely, how I would love to be there to celebrate it with her.

However, as my trip to Leuven went to prove, I simply can’t make it. I even went to the lengths of costing how much it would cost to invite a friend to come with me for a week to hold my luggage and my hand. However there are few people whose company I would enjoy for that period of time and every one of them is either too ill to travel, otherwise occupied, or with other responsibilities.

My responsibility last night was to have a decent night’s sleep and for some reason, despite not going to bed until after 02:30, I was up and about by 09:45. That’s something that I don’t understand. It’s not like me at all on a Sunday.

For the morning I didn’t do very much – just a nice quiet relaxing morning, and then I had a listen to the dictaphone. I was back at home going through my record collection. There were some records there, some of this death-metal stuff. My brother decided that he didn’t particularly like it and this led to a huge argument between us. This argument turned violent. He started to attack me. At one point he was on my shoulders beating me so I took him to the top of the stairs and quite simply dropped my head forward. He fell off and went right down the stairs onto the floor of the hall below. I thought that this was really only a temporary solution. It’s just going to lead to yet more trouble and I really don’t know how I’m going to get myself out of this. It was another one of these occasions where I actually awoke with quite a start as if it was something that was extremely real.

And you really don’t want to know the rest of that, especially if you are eating your tea or something.

Later on, Alison had gone off to see some friends. I was at home having to get ready to go to Paris where someone was going to meet me to take me to the hospital. Rather than rush around I thought that I’d have a nice lie-in and then make myself ready to go. Then I realised that trains are only every three hours to Paris. If I didn’t catch the one that I intended I would be 3 hours late, no-one would be waiting for me, the hospital would have closed its admissions and I’d be left high and dry. I had to start to hurry. It took me a couple of minutes to realise that the best thing to do would be to just take what I could carry and leave everything here, hope that Alison won’t mind, come back for it when I’m out of hospital and then move on back home. I couldn’t see how I was going to do that either. I was just in a state of total confusion. I’d written to Alison previously about a couple of special offers on things. She’d been impressed by an offer on cheese and had taken a pile of tickets with her. She had written to tell me that the cheese was a great success and she wished that she had some more. Was there any way that I could obtain some before I left? Of course it was far too late to do it now. She was talking about another type of cheese she’d had but I didn’t understand the message. Of course all the time I was sitting there worrying about my train. Would it go? Will I miss it? What am I going to do? in a total state of confusion.

Feeling energetic at that moment, which is not like me at all, especially on a Sunday, I transcribed a couple of entries from my hospital stay last November. There’s still plenty that need to be done but if I do a couple each day, it won’t take long.

Having had a lengthy chat with my niece’s daughter in the USA, I finished off the afternoon by dealing with one of the sets of notes that I’d dictated for those radio programmes. It was a miserable attempt at dictating and took a great deal of editing. One of them is now almost completed and I’ll deal with the other in due course.

Earlier on I’d taken out a lump of dough from the freezer and I made another pizza for tea, just as delicious as usual.

So now I’m off to bed. I have to be up at 04;30 and that’s not going to be nice. But once I reach the hospital, if I ever do, I can crash out and sleep for several days until they throw me out. But at least I’ll know what’s going on and what, if anything, they can do about it.

Tuesday 29th August 2023 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… one of those dreams that really ought to be turned into a film. One that went on for ever and ever during the night.

It’s a pity that I can’t remember word-for-word exactly what went on during these voyages because if I could and I could write it all down I’d be sitting on a fortune in royalties.

But at least it explains why I had another miserable night where I struggled to wake up this morning. Beat the first alarm I did, but I would have liked not to.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I had to let the nurse into the building. He’s coming to check up on my neighbour again.

Most of the day has been spent sorting out the paperwork and filling in forms for the hospital. You’ve really no idea of the stuff that they need, and then I had to track it all down.

There was also the issue of trying to find out exactly where I ought to be going. I don’t think that I’ve ever encountered a hospital as large as this one. The building where I needed to be took some tracking down.

As it happens, it’s right across the road from where there’s a Metro station on a direct line from Paris Montparnasse. That means that if whoever it is who comes to meet me fails to do so, I can make my way there on my own in a reasonable fashion.

While I was sorting everything out, the hospital actually rang me. They asked if I could come any earlier for my appointment. I replied that allowing for trains and connections, I should be able to be there earlier, but who knows how the transport will pan out?

Something else that I did today was to go one step further than Dave Crosby. Probably because I had the flu for Christmas I wasn’t feeling up to par and it increased my paranoia, like looking in my mirror and seeing a police car.

And then I attacked the dictaphone nots. I was watching Morton play last night. They were absolutely awful and turned over quite easily by the team against whom they were playing. Everyone was in a state of shock. On the climb back up to the steps of the Supporters dressing room the supporters were saying all kinds of things about how they didn’t believe the result of what was happening. One guy just sat on a step right by the door totally speechless. It was difficult to pass him to go in so I left him and went for a walk around the grandstands. When I came back he was still there so I said some platitude like “come on guy, let’s go inside. We’re not doing any good sitting here” and took him inside the Supporters room where he sat down and began this really huge inquisition about what was going wrong with the team.

I had the dream that I mentioned just now – another one of these enormous dreams about a film last night. We were in the USA, me, my friend from South Carolina and another girl. He went off somehere and I arranged to meet him at LIDL, somewhere like that. The the girl and I, we were in Shrewsbury or Chester at the time discussing the commercialisation of the port at Chester. That was my task. She was a student who was interested in developments on the waterfront for artistic purposes. I explained the river and canal network in Cheshire and how we intended to bring it all together so commercial freight would end up in Chester and distributed by the rivers and canals to the towns, and how their produce would come to Chester and be exported on sea-going ships. This chat went on for ages. In the end I sent her off after my friend and arranged to meet at LIDL where I’d do my shopping. I turned up at LIDL but the place was tiny. I couldn’t move around in it. I was so fed up that I decided that I’d take the bus into town to do my shopping there. Off I went, but I suddenly realised that I’d arranged to meet everyone at LIDL, I didn’t have my shopping bag or my money and I was on a bus into the centre of town. There was a discussion in which i was interested about developments in workshops and safety systems for electrics. I explained that in my father’s workshop he had a system of push bars against all the machinery. If he tripped and fell, he’d fall against a push bar, that would hinge with the force of his body and cut off the power. Everyone was interested in the design of this so I was talking about it when my friend came along and we met by accident. We ended up talking about this system. I asked him where the girl was. He said that she hadn’t turned up and he hadn’t met her. From there, there was a meeting taking place to do with abortion. The guy running it was clearly in favour of abortion and there was a group there trying their best to manipulate the results and figures to reveal statistics in a different fashion who were anti-abortionists. It turned out that this girl was actually there, one of the anti-abortionists who was involved in working on these figures. This led to a confrontation right at the end. The guy who was promoting this meeting and the idea of abortion was her father. They had a confrontation in the middle of the hall. That’s how my film finished. It was another one of these long ones that went on for hours and was so realistic again.

Later on I was back in that dream. I’d been taken to a restaurant as some kind of gesture to compensate me for what had happened to me at that meeting. The guy was making crèpes and showed me how he made them. I had the idea to roll them out even thinner, which I did. We cooked them quickly and they curled up into a kind-of ball. He coated a couple with ice cream and chocolate and a couple more with fruit. We chatted about his crèpes. I was sitting there talking to my friend, I don’t know who it was. My friend was asking me if I’d seen a survey in the handbook that needed to be filled in. I said that I’d seen it at a glance so he told me to have another look because it was full of things about environmental concerns and how a school had been built to trap everyone in a certain valley so that their children would go to this elementary school. It was turning into some kind of environmental and ecological disaster. There was another school where in order to make life more healthy for children they’d bulldozed absolutely everything around it. They’d made a time-lapse photo of all of the demolition that went on around the school. It really was the most extraordinary thing because it looked as if you could see the whole demolition process taking place from space at an extraordinary rapid rate of knots. It looked frightening how they’d simply bulldozed whole neighbourhoods of houses to make an environmental haven for these children. I wasn’t surprised that everyone was so upset about all of this

And then later on I was back in this dream again, something to do with serving orange juice but I can’t remember it now. But nevertheless, it was all extremely exciting, everything that flowed from this dream.

Tea tonight was my taco roll with some of the leftover stuffing. Quite nice again too, it was. Quite delicious and even better after having marinaded overnight in the herbs and spices. There’s a little left which I’ll be adding to a curry on Thursday.

Then we had the football, Penybont v Cardiff Metropolitan. For the first half hour it was played at 100mph but gradually Penybont asserted themselves.

They played some really nice and stylish football at times and had some wretched luck, with the woodwork and the Met’s keeper Alex Lang making a couple of dramatic interventions.

The Met had a couple of moments too but nether side managed to score the important goal to break the deadlock.

But I felt really sorry for the Met’s centre-forward Tom Vincent. Having been booked earlier, he was booked again and thus sent off for kicking Billy Borge in the head. But it was extremely harsh because Borge dived in for a ball at thigh-height that Vincent was attempting to play. Borge shouldn’t have had his head in there at all. If anyone’s play was dangerous, I’d have said that it was his.

So now I’m off to bed, ready to fight the good fight around the SNCF and Paris tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to this trip at all but I’ll have to do the best that I can. It might not solve anything but it won’t solve anything at all if I don’t go.

Saturday 15th July 2023 – I REALLY AM …

… fed up of all this.

By the looks of things, I can’t go anywhere or do anything without suffering for it afterwards. I went to the shops this morning as usual, and then spent most of the afternoon flat out asleep in my chair.

In fact I probably would still be asleep even now had I not had an attack of cramp again in one of my legs. And that was rather a shame because I was having a really good and interesting dream and the moment I awoke it all immediately evaporated and I can’t remember a thing about it.

Plenty of dreams during the night though. By the sound of what was on the dictaphone I was quite busy. I’d been cooking and made a big lentil curry. Afterwards I’d put the mixing bowl in the sink and filled it full of water but there was more waste stuff in there than I anticipated. When I tipped it all out into the sink it blocked the sink. The water level in the sink began to overflow so I had to start to scoop out all the stuff with my hands. There was tons of it. Even then although eventually it began to drain away there was still plenty of it left. I tipped the bowl out to empty it and tipped it into the bin, water waste and all but there was still that much stuff still in the sink that it blocked the sink again. I didn’t notice when I put the bowl back in again. It ended up being on top of what was in the sink. It was all an absolute awful mess. I was even contemplating taking the sink out and fitting a different sink at one time because I was certain that the waste trap would be blocked solid and it was such a difficulty to try to move it.

There was also the story of the English cricket team that played a match in Northern Labrador against some team or other. The Inuit were there watching. After the game the English cricketers moved away. A girl who had been watching found a cap left behind by one of the cricketers. She remembered whose cap it was so she walked all the way to their next destination, found out where they were playing and walked there. In the middle of the innings when there was a pause she walked on the field and gave him back his cap by putting it on his head for him. That excited a great deal of comment from all kinds of different people

I also had a really long rambling dream about going on holiday with a friend of mine. We reached the hotel so I alighted – I was on my crutches. Everyone swarmed off into the building. I had to hobble on behind. They were all sidetracked by all kinds of things going on when they arrived. I lost sight of my friend for the moment so I thought that I’d go to find my room. It was room M something. I had a look and the corridor M was miles away on the ground floor. I set off on my crutches. Some woman said where she was going. She said that she was hoping that someone young and fit would come with me to carry my bag. I apologised and pushed on. I somehow ended up in Canada on the border with the USA chatting to a young girl who was living there working in tourism. It seemed that she came from the USA living in a one-roomed shack on her parents’ property and drove a bus. As it happened I’d just won a bus on eBay, a double-decker. That had been the subject of quite some discussion amongst a lot of people. “Who’d Bought it?” “What were they going to do?” etc. We began to talk and ended up talking about all kinds of things. She found out that I was famous so she was pleased and said that she would tell all her friends. We chatted about life in Canada, life in the USA, about my friend in the USA etc. This was a conversation that went on for hours, another one of these conversations that made me feel really good in a dream. It all ended when I had an attack of cramp in my left leg and awoke.

It seems that most of my really interesting dreams are going to be interrupted by attacks of cramp these days. But at least I managed to remember that one.

To my surprise, I was up before the alarm too. Not by much, but by enough to make it a success. And after the medication, mails and messages I went and had a shower to make myself smell nice.

One of the parking spaces in front of Noz was vacant so I called in there. They had some more of those Chinese things so I bought another bag of them. They aren’t all that exciting but they are different.

There were a few other things in there too, together with some vegan Pesto. They had some a while back so I tried it and it was quite nice. I hope that this batch is as good.

Leclerc didn’t have anything exciting and I was wandering around with the impression that I’d forgotten something important. But I couldn’t think of what it might be so whatever it was, I came home without it.

It only turned out to be a small shopping excursion so I profited by topping up the supplies a little. Plenty of flour and stuff like that now, which is just as well as I have no fruit buns left so I need to make a batch tomorrow.

Back in here with my coffee and cheese on toast, and what ended up being a very, very cold second mug of coffee. Like I said, all this is becoming very depressing and I’m totally fed up of it.

Tea was a breadcrumbed quorn fillet and chips with some very sad salad. I should have checked how it was before going to the shops because it was all well past its sell-by date.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when I put the new hard drive in I had issues with the Graphics Card and needed to hunt down some new drivers. At some point during the proceedings my operating system (well, the computer’s – my operating system hasn’t been upgraded for years) must have performed an upgrade because when I went to fire up one of my graphics programs, it wouldn’t run.

Consequently whatever I was planning on doing after tea had to wait while I messed around configuring the Graphics Card and its drivers yet again. I hope that this isn’t going to become a regular feature.

Now that I’ve finished my notes I’ll dictate the stuff for the next radio program. That’s something that I can edit tomorrow.

Not tonight though, Josephine. Today has been one of those days that are better forgotten and the sooner I forget this one the better. I can start again tomorrow by making my fruit buns and see where that takes me. A lie-in will probably do me good but as usual, something will happen to disturb me.

Right now another album that sends me into a fit of depression has come round on the playlist. Arguably one of the greates ever live concerts along with COLOSSEUM LIVE, LIVE DATES by Wishbone Ash, Santana’s “Sight and Sound” (which surprisingly was never made into an album) and ALCHEMY LIVE by Dire Straits has to be LIVE IN THE CITY OF LIGHT.

It always brings me out into a terrible fit of nostalgia and I don’t know why because it doesn’t play any significant part in my life, as many other albums do. Maybe that’s why, I dunno. But sitting here listening to tracks like SOMEONE SOMEWHERE IN SUMMERTIME

“Somewhere there is some place, that one million eyes can’t see
And somewhere there is someone, who can see what I can see”

There certainly is, but they can’t get her arms out of the straightjacket.

Thursday 20th October 2022 – JUST IN CASE …

… you’re wondering what is going on, I’ve caught the ‘flu. And this is the ‘flu to end all ‘flus. I’ve never felt as bad as this.

Normal service will be resumed when I’m feeling better.

For a while I was actually not too bad and even managed to run down to Fredericton in Strider to deliver some feed from the mill and to do a little shopping ready for going home, but things just went slowly worse throughout the day.

But in the meantime, I’ve been going off on quite a few voyages. I was moving into my house in Winsford. I was talking to someone on the internet. They were also planning on moving in to a new house so we were just basically chatting about that. My father and his second wife were around. Suddenly a vehicle identical to the one to which I was just talking pulled up in the drive of the house and all these people got out. They began to move suitcases etc about. I could see that they were to people to whom I’d just been talking. It looked as if they were going to be my neighbours just across the road. We began to chat a little then we moved out of their way to give them room to manoeuvre their suitcases.

And later we were going somewhere. I can’t remember who was with me now. We were in Caliburn. We came to a set of road works controlled by traffic lights. We were let through when they changed to green but had to wait a moment while a tarmacking machine went past. Then we had to set out to climb this steep hill to a road junction. They had really freshly tarred it so trying to find a grip on it was pretty much impossible. There was a great danger that we would slide everywhere. By now, instead of being in Caliburn I was on a bike. That made things a hundred times worse. There were people coming from all kinds of directions. I didn’t want to have to swerve around too much in case I’d fall over with there not being any grip on this road as yet with the hot tar.

My friend from near Ellesmere was going to come over so I had to make all kinds of arrangements with her. I had to speak to a pub landlord about making sure that she was welcomed etc so I had to fill in a questionnaire. I was in this pub with someone else while the pub landlord was reviewing the questionnaire. It was also the birthday of one of the daughters of my niece so I found an envelope and had to write a little message to her but I kept on confusing the names and was writing this message to my friend but of course it was to my niece’s daughter to whom I wanted to leave it. On the way out of the pub I had to pick up the questionnaire that I’d filled in. I saw that he’d given me 11 out of 11. He said in some rudimentary and basic French that my friend would be welcomed over there when she passed through so I picked up the paperwork and began to walk out.

At another moment I was with my friend from South Carolina. We’d been in a chemist’s shop and asked if he had a box. A chemist’s shop in a shopping precinct. he thought that he’d thrown out all of his boxes but in the end he found a box that he gave to us for which we were grateful. Then we were wandering around this shopping mall. Next morning we had to leave quite quickly. I was chatting to a Welsh tutor about some kind of problem that had arisen that had had him talking to his students for hours during the night. We were wondering how many other tutors had been disturbed by this and their families upset at ridiculous hours. My friend stopped to have a cup of tea. I didn’t think that we had time but he did anyway. He took the tea and someone asked me if they’d made it properly. I said “as long as the water is poured when it’s absolutely boiling that’s absolutely great”.

Thursday 25th August 2022 – I HAVE BEEN …

… out and about this afternoon, just for a change. And the days when my whole existence can be uplifted into headline news because I’ve actually been into the town centre shows you what’s going on in my life right now.

With a cheque to pay in, some magnesium tablets to buy and a load of ships in port, it seemed like a good plan.

Yesterday’s highlight, which I didn’t mention for fear of overwhelming you all with excitement, was going to the bins to take out the rubbish. It needed something really riveting to surpass that, didn’t it?

Only a few minutes late going to bed, and for a change I had a reasonable night. Mind you, once again it was a struggle to my feet this morning.

After the meds I attacked the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. A bill came through for £170 and I wanted to pay it so I took my credit card and rang up the people concerned ready to pay it over the phone. After being shunted around half a dozen departments I was told that there was another procedure to follow. They explained the procedure to me which I didn’t quite understand but I had a go and the payment failed. I rang them back to explain to them. They explained another procedure which again failed. I was there for about three days trying to speak to all kinds of different people. Eventually they said that they had taken the payment with the credit card over the phone. I asked for confirmation so they put me through to the accounts department to make sure. When I spoke to her and told her about this she replied “you have to pay it”. I retorted “I’ve just paid it”. She asked “have you?” in an air of totally disbelieving tone. I replied “yes” so she said that I’d have to speak to someone in Accounts. I said “I just have done. It was they who just passed me through to you”. I had a feeling that with this money we were just going to be going round and round in a circle and end up nowhere at all. This was taking place while I was in the hospital. I had people in the ward with me so it was really extremely uncomfortable as well.

Afterwards I was in bed but awoke to hear some laughing. The ‘phone went and I couldn’t hear one side of the conversation but the other one was something like “yes, we’re all up and preparing to leave but Eric is still in bed”. I stood up quickly, grabbed my clothes, all my money fell out of my jeans, put on my clothes, kept on having my feet stuck in the legs of my trousers, generally trying to organise myself quickly because they’ll be taking down this tent in a minute. It seemed to me that the quicker I tried to do things, the longer it was actually taking me. I thought that I’d never have enough time to do this and collect my things together before they wanted to pull down this tent.

There was an interruption though in mid-transcribe, and an embarrassing interruption at that.

Yesterday with not feeling so bright and being rather tired, I hadn’t tidied anything up and the place was looking like a total tip. And, of course, I’d completely forgotten about the nurse. She turned up to find me in total chaos and not as clean as I would otherwise have liked the place to have been.

She struggled to find a clean and clear place to put the paper while she wrote out her notes and while she’s a cheerful sort, she clearly wasn’t happy.

All in all, it was rather an shameful situation.

It’s not going to improve very much either because the next time that she’ll be coming to inject me is in 10 days time on a Sunday morning and you all know what I’m like early on a Sunday morning.

After she left I carried on transcribing the notes and almost as soon as I’d finished, Rosemary called me. I’m convinced that when she was here she must have concealed a camera somewhere because she seems to know the precise moment to phone me.

When Rosemary and I finished our chat I started on what was left of the dictaphone notes from my trip around Central Europe and in a mad fit of enthusiasm and energy (don’t ask me where that came from)I completed them all. So that’s another good job completed.

In fact, it took me longer than I was expecting the pause for my lunchtime fruit notwithstanding.

fish processing plant festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Because of the position of the tide, I wanted to go out for my walk earlier than usual this afternoon.

As usual when I’m heading into town my point of reference for checking the camera is the viewpoint on the corner of the Boulevard Vaufleury and the Boulevard des 2E et 202E de Ligne.

There wasn’t anyone down there at the Fish Processing Plant this afternoon. Gerlean who sometimes ties up there was in the inner harbour and I couldn’t see L’Omerta, the other boat that loiters around there usually.

Plenty of boxes on the quayside though so they must be expecting a load of traffic.

sailing boats rowing boat festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022In fact you can see Gerlean down there right now tied up to a pontoon.

What you can’t see though is Victor Hugo. Gone! And never called me “mother”!

Believe it or not, I can tell you exactly where she ought to be right now without even looking at the radar. She should be back at her berth. She left home at 09:30 for Jersey and left there at 18:30 to return home.

It reminds me of Frankie Howerd when during one of his TV programmes he turned to the audience and asked “how do I know? Well, I have read the script”

While I was over there I picked up a timetable from the ferry terminal so I now know her agenda. It’s all bad news as far as I can see because the season of sailings is so intermittent that there’s no possibility of my going over there for a convenient three-or four-day break as I was hoping.

Going down all of the steps to the Rue du Port was mush more difficult than I imagined. I’m definitely losing my mobility. I then crossed the road and went over along the side of the Fish Processing Plant towards the harbour gates.

la granvillaise marie fernand grain de sail le loup rouge festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022The boat that we haven’t seen before on the extreme right is called Le Loup Rouge. She was built in 1962 and has a very interesting history as she was designed by John Illingworth and Angus Primrose as a racing yacht.

She actually won the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s championship that year. Now though, she lives a more sedate life in Cherbourg just going to regattas and exhibitions.

Of course, over there we have on the extreme left La Granvillaise and next to her is Marie Fernand. We are, for the moment anyway, much more interested in the other boat, Grain de Sail

grain de sail festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travailport de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Her claim to fame is that she’s a commercial sailing boat that is powered (almost) exclusively by wind. There’s a small diesel engine on board but that’s just for manoeuvring, so we are told.

But while a uniquely wind-powered boat is nothing unusual, what is unusual about her is that she has a carrying capacity of 50 tonnes and twice a year goes over on a triangular voyage from Europe to New York with local French produce for the American market, and then down to the Caribbean and finally back to Europe.

Not that two voyages per year of 50 tonnes is going to contribute much to the environment, but it’s all to prove a point. And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, when I lived in the Auvergne I did much more than that and for a much longer period to prove a point.

le roc a la mauve 3 festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022My was timed to perfection as the harbour gates were closed so I could walk over the top to the other side.

As I did so, the first of the shell-fishing boats came in to unload at the fish processing plant. This one is Le Roc à la Mauve whom we saw for a lengthy period in the chantier naval.

Towing her little lighter behind her, she chugged into port with a respectable load of shellfish on board. The guy back there at the HIAB was repositioning the boxes, presumably for ease of unloading.

That’s not the kind of thing that you would do out in the open sea. There have been maritime disasters too numerous to mention where the load in a boat has suddenly shifted or been shifted and caused the boat to capsize with all hands. There was one like that in North Wales not so long ago.

grain de sail festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Once I was on the other side of the harbour I went down to Grain de Sail.

There was a member of the crew on board so I button-holed him. His ship is only a four-berth and as it needs four hands to sail it, it doesn’t take passengers on its transatlantic jaunts.
“What about if you only have three crew members and are in need of a fourth?”
“Do you have a “Marine Marchand” – a Merchant Navy certificate?”
“Regrettably not”
“Then I’m afraid that you wouldn’t be considered.”

And so that was that. At least I tried

Instead I admired the arrays of solar panels and the two wind turbines. They also have some hydro-generators too but I bet that they slow down the boat.

Next stop was the ferry terminal where I picked up a brochure for Victor Hugo. And my enquiries told me that Ukrainian refugees going for a day out to Jersey need a UK visa all the same.

kiddies pirate ship festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022With things to do in the town I headed that way along the side of the quay.

One thing that I like about France is that they are much more child-friendly than the UK and so I was expecting to see much more for the kids than you would see at a festival across the channel.

And I wasn’t wrong either. You can’t have a Festival of sailing ships without having a pirate ship, complete with pirates and buccaneers to chase the kids and press-gang them into service on board.

Even STRAWBERRY MOOSE has experienced life as an active buccaneer, as regular readers of this rubbish WILL RECALL

In fact, looking for that photo made me all nostalgic. That was an excellent road trip, one of the very best, when I started off in the far north of Labrador and three weeks later I was at Rhys’s in South Carolina.

Housman summed it up completely with his
” That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

kiddies pirate ship festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Meanwhile, retournons à nos moutons as they say around here.

The buccaneers have now rounded up a crowd of apprentice pirates and one of them is giving them all a lecture on what is expected of them when they serve aboard the Good Ship Glug Glug.

Actually she should have been called The Jolly Roger but the pirate captain’s wife fell off the quayside as she swung the bottle of champers

Anyway, everyone was having a whale of a time (seeing as we are discussing nautical terms) and I left them to it, crossing the ad-hoc bridge over the artificial beach.

film screen festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022Yesterday I thought that I saw a puss .. errr … a TV screen down on the harbour so I went for a closer look seeing as I was here.

It was in fact a screen showing a series of cartoons for children explaining in simple terms all about life at sea. It’s nice to see the kids having a fair whack at the festival.

From there I wandered into town to pay my quarterly pension cheque into my bank account. Now where can I go with €142:60? Spend! Spend! Spend! Hey?

At the chemist’s I bought the magnesium tablets. Extra-strong. According to my friend the pharmacist these will give me a donner un coup de fouet – liven me up.

She might actually have a point there. Thinking about it, I started going downhill when I finished the last lot, went without for a week or 10 days and then had that big box of German ones.

marité festival of working sailing ships fete des voiliers du travail port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022That was it. I could go home now.

The walk back up the hill wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting. I still had to stop a couple of times for breath, at one point where I could overlook the port and see what was happening.

Marité was there of course, one of the centres of attention. But you can see just how busy the Festival is. And it will be like that until Sunday now, I reckon. It’s a good way to finish the summer season I suppose, even if the roads and the car parks will be crowded.

So having gathered my wits, I pushed on further up the hill towards home.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo August 2022As usual, I wanted to see what was happening on the beach, although I don’t know why because I checked the camera on the way out.

The weather was much nicer today although maybe a little cooler. But the absence of people on the beach can probably be explained by the crowds of people down in the town and at the Festival.

Back here I had a surprise. There’s an undercurrent of dissent about the way the building is managed and two or three people are trying to stir up a revolution. They had pushed a letter into my letterbox

As I’m a tenant and not an owner, it doesn’t really concern me so I wrote a quick note on the back of the letter and put it in the letter box of the building’s President.

During this argument I’m taking no sides but I’m keeping in with the President. She’s the one who has my best chance of coming up the quickest with news of an apartment here to sell that I could buy.

The idea behind renting this place was because it would give me chance to look around and see what else was available. But there is no place on earth better than here so I’m staying here and renting rather than buying somewhere less good.

One day an apartment will come up here.

The walk was such that an iced chocolate drink went down well and then I began to update one or two of the blog entries with the dictaphone notes and images.

After a chat on the ‘phone with the President about my note

Tea tonight (at the usual, correct time) was pie with potatoes, veg and gravy. It’s one of my favourite meals and this one was just as nice as ever. As I have said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … my meals are simple but they aren’t half tasty.

It’s been a surprising day today – I’ve walked quite a way, not crashed out, done a lot of work. I wonder if I can keep this up. It’s not like me to have a day like this so I’m glad that I made the most of it.

Ready for the (af)fray tomorrow, I hope.

Friday 13th May 2022 – THIS WAS PROBABLY …

boats baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022… the worst day that I have had for quite a while.

And as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve had a few of those just recently.

So while you admire a few photos of everything that was going on out at sea this afternoon, when the alarm went off at 07:30 I couldn’t move an inch and it was just the same at 07:45 and again at 08:00. In fact it was, would you believe, 10:20 when I finally put my feet on the floor this morning

speedboat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022It wasn’t that that was the worrying part about it. What worried me more than anything was that I was feeling as if I had a hangover. I don’t know what there are in these pills but they are certainly kicking in with a vengeance

But seriously, if this is how I’m going to end up, I’m going to try to work out which one of these new medications it is that’s causing this and simply stop taking them.

As I’ve said before … “and on many occasions too” – ed … the only excitement that I seem to have these days is what goes on during the night. The last thing that I want to do is to cut all of that out of my life.

In fact I can understand why (although that’s not the same as saying that I agree with) the taking of hallucinatory drugs is so habit-forming. There is certainly something to be said for being taken out of yourself and going off on a series of voyages into the ether.

yacht ile de chausey baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022So while we’re on the subject of my nocturnal voyages … “well, one of us is” – ed … I’ve actually managed to pull myself together at some point during the day and dealt with the stuff on the dictaphone.

I was going to do a coach job which meant taking a coach to a race track by a big army camp in Yorkshire. I set off in Nerina’s Ford Escort to go to find the coach. When I reached the army camp I parked the Escort and got out but I must have knocked the gear lever by mistake for all of a sudden it revved up and roared off across the car park on its own with no-one at the wheel. It was late at night and there weren’t all that many vehicles on the car park but I had a feeling that this was going to be a recipe for disaster. I had to run after it but I didn’t have a hope of catching it. I could see it driving erratically around this car park. There was no way that I would catch it. Gradually the car park filled up, ordinary people, whole families of Gypsies hauling scrap and rags, soldiers etc. Of course I lost sight of the car and had to climb up onto a bank in the middle of the race course and that wore me out so I had to climb up a smaller one but I couldn’t see as far. Then they came in with the coach. I thought to myself that if I’d made such a mess of driving this Escort what am I going to be like driving this coach? This is going to be an absolute nightmare to me and how am I going to explain to Nerina what’s happened about her car? She’s not going to believe this story for a minute.

yachts speedboat baie de mont st michel Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022And then there was a big group of us on an aeroplane. I somehow ended up with a girl whom I’d sat newt to on numerous occasions. We were discussing an aeroplane incident in the Atlantic similar to the Titanic and we were looking for the location of the yellow parachute of the plane. We were poring over maps documentation etc but we couldn’t actually see it. As well as that we were having a big lengthy chat. This girl was married but was in bad company and they spent a lot of money gambling. I’d been trying to tell her to cut down on it. She told me that last weekend she’d refused to go out even though everyone else in her family had wanted to. They’d wanted to go out on a big gambling spree but she’d dug her heels in and ended uo not going out at all. I was immediately pleased with her. Our hunt went on with quite a few documents but we couldn’t relate anything in them to anything on the ground. In the end she asked me quite pointedly what I was going to do now. I interpreted this as being that she wanted me to go. I gave her a great big kiss but she fought me off saying that people were looking so I prepared to leave on my own

That actually took me until rather late in the afternoon to type all of that out. For the first part of the day I couldn’t actually bring myself to do anything. It was all far too reminiscent of 2003/2004/2005 when I was going through another phase like this and I remember how difficult it was to climb out of the pit back then.

It was only Rhys’s wedding that rekindled my spirit of adventure back then. I’ll have to persuade him to marry again.

A lot of the morning was spent trying to recover and then the rest of the day was spent tidying up in the kitchen. There were piles of stuff everywhere and all of the washing-up that I hadn’t done yesterday after my rather busy day.

people on beach rue du nord Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022There is of course the afternoon walk around the headland so I had to drag myself out of the apartment and off on my way.

First port of call was the wall at the end of the car park where I can look down on the beach to see what’s happening down there today.

It was a really nice day and there were plenty of people down there making the most of it. No-one brave enough though to take to the water which was a surprise. I’d have expected to have seen the crowds in there today with the nice weather that we are having but they semmed to have all chickened out.

f-pdyt Turquetil DYT-01 baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022While I was looking around out at sea at all of the maritime traffic, I was overflown by a light aeroplane on its way to the airfield.

It’s a new one on us. We’ve not seen her before. She’s F-PDYT, a Turquetil DYT-01 and that’s a machine about which I can tell you nothing at all.

Firstly, she hasn’t filed a flight plan and secondly, she wasn’t picked up on any radar anywhere so I can’t tell you anything about where she’s been and where she’s going.

And then I can’t even tell you anything about the manufacturer either because I can’t find any information about that either. It’s really not my day, is it?

As I walked down the path I came across a large group of people trying to take a selfie so I took their phones and duly obliged them. We had a little chat and then I carried on my way.

fishermen in speedboat baie de Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022Nown at the end of the path I walked across the car park and down to the end of the headland.

For a change there wasn’t anyone sitting down on the bench by the cabanon vauban, which was a surprise because there was enough going on out there this afternoon to keep everyone entertained for hours.

We’ve already seen plenty of marine traffic going by this afternoon, but this speedboat was stationary out in the bay. There were several fishermen on board but in all the time that I was watching, no-one actually pulled anything out of the water.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that in all the time that we’ve been here, we’ve never ever seen anyone catch anything with a rod and line.

l'ecume 2 valeque sagone d'angawelys chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022From there I wandered off down the path on the other side of the headland to see what was happening in the port.

There was quite a racket coming from the chantier naval this afternoon. It looked as if they had the air sander working full tilt on L’Ecume II grinding off the old paintwork.

In actual fact they are making quite rapid progress on her, which you can see when you compare her to how she was ON SUNDAY.

It’s not like them at all to be this rapid, is it?

St-Gilles Croix-de Vie chantier naval port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022Yesterday I mentioned that the dredger St-Gilles Croix-de Vie had finished its work in the harbour and had been towed across the harbour to the portable boat lift and had been lifted out of the water.

She’s now out there on a couple of blocks while they start to dismantle her ready to be taken away.

She doesn’t actually sail into port, as you might expect. She comes into port in a dismantled form on the back of a low loader and they assemble her on the hard-standing before they drop her into the water.

And then they dismantle her ready for her to be taken away again on the lorry that will come to pick her up in due course and take her off somewhere else.

fishing boats unloading fish processing plant port de Granville harbour Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo May 2022This afternoon there was quite a crowd over at the fish processing plant.

All of the boats are coming in to unload, swarming around L’Omerta that is still there after all this time. And there are a couple of large refrigerated lorries over there ready to whisk away the catch.

Back here I carried on tidying the kitchen and putting away the shopping from Thursday. The place looks a little more respectable now which makes a change. It had got into quite amess over the last few days.

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper now that I have some and it tasted quite delicious. But I’m using a different rice right now and it’s not as nice as the usual stuff.

So later tha usual, I’m off to bed. I have a weekend school for my Welsh course so I’m hoping for a better start to the day tomorrow that today’s start. That was appalling and I don’t want to do that again.

Tuesday 25th January 2022 – DAY EIGHT …

… of my self-imposed exile and I actually set foot outside the building this afternoon, for the first time in over a week.

My Covid test result has come back and, as I expected (well, as I knew, really) it was negative so tomorrow I’m going to restart my physiotherapy sessions.

My plan is to take Caliburn, and for several reasons too –

  1. with not having been out for exercise for over a week, I’m not sure how I’m going to manage the climb up the hill and back again.
  2. with everything floating around and my still not feeling 100%, I don’t want to pick up something while I’m out and about in town.
  3. with having been stuck inside for 10 days and not having done any shopping for a week before, supplies are running low so a trip to Lidl with Caliburn is in order.

And so I went outside to make sure that Caliburn will start, having been idle for almost three weeks and with the temperatures hovering around zero. And sure enough, he fired up fairly easily.

While we’re on the subject of zero … “well, one of us is” – ed … I spent much of the night in the company of Zero. And several other people too but it was she who figured the most in all of my lengthy travels.

For some of the time, she was with one of my sisters. They had moved into a house and shared a bedroom, with posters and everything like that all over the bedroom door and wall. I’d been working in the area so I popped in to see how they were doing.

Later on, I dropped straight back into the dream at some point near or nearabouts, with the three of us travelling on a train somewhere.

Later still, there was a reality TV programme about a young girl who I reckoned was Zero, who would choose her boyfriend. The choice had narrowed down to 2. 2 guys turned up, 1 of whom looked like the young dynamic type and the other looked like a slightly older, shy person. It goes without saying that she chose the 1st one. The guy who was 2nd was extremely bitter and disappointed about all of this but I explained to his that he had come a darn sight farther in this competition than almost anyone else and what wouldn’t I have given to change places with him and been up there on the stage at that particular moment when Zero was on the point of making a choice? The conversation drifted around to talk about general life and happiness etc and I can’t remember very much about where it went after this. It was certainly one of those things that if you set your goals too high you’ll fail and you’ll always be unhappy. Success is measured by the level of expectation and I have several examples of this that have occurred during my life. I gave him a few examples but I can’t remember what they mean now.

Still plenty to go at yet. There was 1 of these guys again with a baby or very small child who was about to board a tram. He pointed to one of the trams and said “it’s nice to see some Bristol artwork these days” and went off and boarded his tram.

And then we had 2 girls who had been friends for years. There was a huge pile of glass bottles stored in the garage of one of them. They loaded them into the boot of the 2nd one’s car to take to the recycling plant but half an hour later she was back with the bottles. Her friend asked why and she replied saying “(the name of the other girl’s partner) he’s round there with her at the moment and didn’t want to enter up them”. The other girl went somewhat ashen and said “yes, it was the same with Hugh. They don’t stay faithful for two long”. They began to put the bottles back into the space where the woman had been tidying up after they had gone. Just then her boyfriend or husband came back. He saw what was going on and probably got the message straight away. They started to have an argument which on the girl’s part was more sadness than anything else. By this time I was there and I don’t know why. The girl was talking to me saying “this is where all our money goes”. He was saying “don’t you show him that! Don’t you show him that!” but she showed it to me all the same and said “look where the red circles are”. It was all about guitars that he’d bought and music that he’d bought, everything like that with just 2 or 3 gigs where he’d made a bit of money. The conversation turned round to things like people growing up and taking responsibility, being adult, something that of course never ever happened to me, and it gradually petered out on that kind of discussion.

And finally I was visiting the university and a friend had come over from North America and was staying in the University for 10 days or something. I’d gone to see my niece and her husband, so had he actually come over from North America? I dunno. But I’d gone off to see him and he asked me to stay for a few days so I did, and shared his room. He also had another room-mate and 3 of us in there was rather cramped. We had a very bad night’s sleep the 1st night and the 2nd night his room-mate moved out to go to stay with friends. He and I shared the room but I had another bad night waking up every 5 minutes. In the end he awoke and said that he had things to do so I said that I’d catch him up. It turned out that he had to take a bus to the main university building and the refectory there. I told him “leave some kind of indication where you might be and I’ll catch you up”. He went and I gathered my wash things together and went to find a shower but couldn’t find one. I found some urinals but that was about it. I thought “I’m going to have to go back and take my shower in his room”. I remembered that there was somewhere where food could be obtained so I thought that I’d have a quick look. I couldn’t find it but I found a place where half a dozen old cars had been dumped. Someone was taking some spares off one of them. On the way back to his place there was some kind of dispute between some boys and a couple of girls and a couple of older students from the University had involved themselves in it and were arguing with these boys. I broke into a run, to my own amazement, and ran for miles all the way round the University campus and up these side streets thinking to myself that this is really good with me running like this but I’m never going to meet my friend now because I want to organise myself, go to the bathroom, have a shower, find something to eat and this will take me most of the morning. I wonder where he’ll be by the time that I’m ready to go on the bus and go to the main building to meet him. But I was so happy running that I didn’t really want to stop

There was even more too as it happens, but as you are probably eating a meal or something right now, I’ll spare you the gory details. But is it any wonder that I’m so exhausted these days with all of the mileage that I’m putting in during the night instead of sleeping?

When the alarm went off I arose quite quickly and went off to take my medication, and then to check my mails and messages. Having done that, I sat down and revised my Welsh from last week and prepared for today’s lesson.

There was a new pupil this week as well so some time was spent in introductions, and the lesson itself passed quite uneventfully, and quickly too.

There was some soup left – not much – but there were a couple of frozen potatoes in the freezer that needed eating so I tipped them in as well.

After lunch I started to transcribe the dictaphone notes and it’s no surprise that it took me almost all afternoon (apart from going out to play with Caliburn), although I might have had then done sooner had I not … errr … closed my eyes for quite a while. Much longer than I would have expected or would have hoped for.

But there was a pile of mail in my letter box, all of which were for my next series of appointments at the hospital. And instead of being at 13:30 they are for 11:10 which puts paid to my lie-in to recover from my journey.

With something of a start, I noticed the time. 20:05. Tea thus ended up being out of a tin because there was a football match kicking off at 20:45. Cardiff Metro v Barry.

Both teams at the wrong end of the table and it wasn’t difficult to see why because whatever skill there was only occurred in brief flashes. Cardiff Metro have only a small and diminishing pool of players from which to pick, but Barry seem to have gone backwards this season.

Surprisingly, the Met won 2-0. And surprisingly because at one stage they were really lucky to have nil and I reckoned that it would stay like that if they carried on playing until the next matches on Saturday evening. However one goal from a defensive error and a second from a breakaway down the field in the final minutes as Barry were pushing everyone up for an equaliser sums it all up really.

This isn’t Barry’s season, is it?

Right now I’m off to bed, and to see where I’ll end up during the night. If Zero is as tired out as I am after everything that went on during the night, she won’t be joining me, but TOTGA has had a couple of days off and Castor has been away for a week or so so who knows? I might end up with yet more pleasant companions.

But knowing my luck, I’ll get my family again.