Tag Archives: rosemary

Saturday 13th April 2024 – I’VE NOT BEEN …

… feeling too much better today.

Hardly at all, in fact. It’s probably a very good example of the old “same stuff, different day” with just a few of the times being changed around to suit different circumstances.

What’s surprising about this – or maybe it isn’t, I dunno – is that I raced around last night doing things as quickly as possible and actually ended up in bed at 22:40 and anyone would have thought that that extra 20 minutes asleep would have made a difference, but apparently not.

Nevertheless there I was in bed and ready for sleep quite quickly. There was still the occasional stabbing pain in my right foot going right the way up my right leg – in fact, there still is even now, but I suppose that I shall just have to learn to live with it.

There were a few times during the night when I awoke but it wasn’t until the alarm went off (correctly at 07:00) that I managed to drag my reluctant self out of bed and take the blood pressure. 16.8/9.4, compared with a figure of 14.2/9.8 last night.

So what had upset me and raised my blood pressure during the night then? We’ll have to find out.

Having checked the blood pressure I dragged myself off to take the usual morning pile of medication and then set out the dining room as the nurse likes it to be.

While she was here I told her that she has to give a decent amount of notice about stuff that she needs. This is only a small pharmacy here and some of the stuff is quite specialised so it needs to be ordered if we run out. There’s usually a rupture de stock for the more complicated items.

After she left I came back in here and that’s the last thing that I remember until about 11:00. Crashed out completely, like a light, I was.

In the kitchen I slowly began to assemble the stuff for my coffee ad cheese on toast but a crowd of Auvergnats interrupted me. They had come to the market for some local stuff to take back and had at the same time come to say “goodbye”. Their week is over – already! Doesn’t time fly? and tomorrow they’ll be heading home.

It really was nice to see them all and I hope that they come back again at some point. I can’t have enough visitors..

After they left there was football on the internet. Hwlffordd, pushing for the Europa League playoffs, against Colwyn Bay, fighting to avoid relegation.

But when your luck is down, it’s really down. And you can’t be 2-0 down after just 9 minutes and hope to fight until the end.

But seriously, Colwyn Bay have been down and out for a few months now. I thought that being managed by veteran Welsh International defender Steve Evans and having made a few marquee signings, they would have had enough to stay up. But their marquee signings disappeared a long time ago and the rest of the team has been playing like they disappeared a long time ago too.

The final score WAS 3-1 TO HWLFFORDD which means that only a mathematical miracle can save Colwyn Bay now. They must win their final match and hope that both Pontypridd and Aberystwyth are defeated.

After that I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I had two dreams quite quickly, one after the other, about a group of people who were quite well-placed something like Rosemary and her friends, but were going down a place where one could gamble, the kind of place where I was. You needed invitations to go in there and of course you needed a machine to work. There, you could gamble as much as you liked. There were certain limits on normal play but they could be negotiated away with the consent of all the parties playing. It was very much like a typical place about which you’d hear in the Auvergne. But in the third part the person who suggested that it was the Auvergne was correct and the machine had guested itself into there which meant that everyone could spend more time travelling to it and spend much more time sorting themselves out while they were there to have a play on it and to try to defeat the … fell asleep here …

Wherever this might be, I’ve no idea. The only place that comes to my mind is the Casino in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic where I was a few years ago, but Rosemary and her friends have certainly never been there. However it’s a shame that I fell asleep in the middle of it as I would have liked to have found out so much more about it.

Then, the girls had all gone off to play one of these casino games involving pirates and pirate ships and they’d left me behind. What they hadn’t realised was that one of the alarms was still set and that awoke me for a short while. They were talking about this pirate game and an old German guy overheard them. He went immediately to have his hair cut. While he was having it cut he talked to the people in the hairdresser’s about the game, where you had to go to etc. so that he could make up a party too. I was in bed and, as I said, the alarm went off all of a sudden but it was a different alarm to the usual. Nevertheless it awoke me and made me quite disappointed that I’d not had a good lie-in, but had to make myself ready for the day

And that sounds like an interesting moment too, and I don’t have a clue what was going on here.

Il y a le musicien Eric Bell qui jouait pendant un certain moment avec Thin Lizzy et qui a accompagné Rosemary et ses amis avec son expedition. Il a en réalité chanté son chanson controversée dans la Halle des Bouddhistes sans être interpellé. Pour lui c’est son travail “bien fait, bien fini” et qu’il va avancer sur les autres choses

So I’m dreaming in French again. And about Eric Bell. I remember going to see him in London one night just after he’d left Thin Lizzy and was playing in his own band. But his PA had broken down and there were no vocals to accompany his music and it was something of a washout.

That night I remember sleeping on Hampstead Heath in the back of BILL BADGER, my old Austin A60 van. But I’ve no idea why I was actually in London in the first place.

He’s not however the kind of person to accompany Rosemary on any expedition but since when did reality have anything to do with what goes on at night?

After this I fell asleep again and awoke just in time for tea – another one of my delicious breaded quorn fillets with baked potato and salad.

So now I’m off to bed, with an extra hour to sleep (I hope) before the alarm goes off seeing as it’s a Sunday. But I really can’t do with all of this disruption to my routine. Staying in bed until 11:00 on a Sunday was much more like my line.

It beats me though why it(‘s of any interest My psychiatrist once asked me "what do you dream of in bed?"
I replied "I dreamed that I was in bed with Kate Bush"
"What happened?" he asked.
"Nothing" I replied. "She was dreaming that she was in bed with Roger Moore so I had to get out."

Thursday 11th April 2024 – I’VE NO IDEA …

… what happened to this morning.

There I was, sitting down at my desk typing out a few notes and the next thing that I knew was that I was flat out asleep the ‘phone was ringing and it was midday already.

A whole morning had passed and I’d been totally out of it. It was just as if someone had flicked a switch at some point earlier in the morning and I’d just switched off completely with no warning.

You’ve no idea whatever just how strange it feels to be in a circumstance like that. All that I can say is that it’s a good job that I can no longer drive.

This morning I knew that things were going to be difficult. I’d been awake since about 06:00 and was actually up early before the alarm went off. It was actually quite a struggle to leave the bed, no matter how it sounds, because I didn’t feel in the least like it.

It had been a late night too. This idea about trying my best to finish everything early isn’t really working and despite the best intentions, and the road to Hell is paved with those, I’m not doing aby good with the plan.

It was probably about 23:30 when I slipped under the covers and so awakening at 06:00 is simply not enough sleep. Heaven alone knows how I managed 30-odd years ago when if I thought I was having half that time in bed I was doing well.

So first thing was to check the blood pressure this morning. It was showing 16.9/11.2, which compares quite miserably with last night’s figure of 14.9/9.3. Something had gone on during the night to upset me, by the looks of things, but we’ll have to wait to find out what.

Instead of worrying about that I went to take my medication, the typical European Medicine Mountain of stuff, and then to rearrange the living room ready for her and also to have a good wash

While she was here she gave me a list of stuff that she needed and then wandered off, and I began to sort myself out. However it was at some point round about here that I disappeared off the face of the earth.

awakening was the thing, because I was totally out of it and it took me a good couple of hours (seriously) to come back onto this planet. It was certainly well after 14:00 when I restarted work.

First thing was to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night – and from the morning too because there were some of them. But during the night I was back in Outer Space again assembling a rock programme. What I was actually doing was cutting an audio track from an obscure German rock group called Dreadnought, copying out the segments. There were dozens of them, all extremely long so it was a complicated business to do it. I was chatting to one or two people while I was doing it. They were apparently quite impressed and spent some time watching. I found that one of the women there, she knew exactly how to do it. She had a Welsh programme there and she was going through telling me how she did it, in Welsh, which I understood, saying “it wasn’t done in this way – it wasn’t done in this way and it wasn’t done in this way and it wasn’t done in this way but it was done in a way like this”, said in Welsh all the time and I could follow the conversation, I could follow exactly what she’d done. She made it sound really, really interesting. I thought to myself “maybe I ought to investigate things from that point of view and see how they fit with what I’m doing”

Funnily enough, just recently I have been editing a concert sound track by a German space-rock group called Dreadnought, another one of my contacts from one of the various Hawkfests, and it’s really quite interesting. But I wish that I knew in real life which method this woman was using. I’m completely self-taught in respect of my use of a sound-editing programme and can conjure up some surprisingly good results. But there are tons of facilities that I have never used, and some expert advice would really not go amiss

Later on I was back in a dream in Welsh. Our Welsh class had to translate an ancient song. There were two ways to do it, one was a translation after the fashion of Morgannwg … "presumably the poet Lewys Morgannwg" – ed … and the other after the fashion on Cadwaladwr … "presumably Cadwaladr ap Rhys Trefnant" – ed …. The problem was that both translations are rather inflammatory and as a result its use has fallen out of favour but nevertheless that was our task. One girl was already receiving some grief because her translation had come to the notice of the authorities and we were wondering all the way through the rest of this dream how long it will be before our version of the translation comes to the attention of the authorities, and what action they’ll take against us

And that’s the problem with much of Welsh literature of that period. It’s a tale of lament about the oppression of the native people by the wicked English and like many other things, it’s not very appetising to the English palette today.

While many countries have tried hard to come to terms with their past, in England there has never been any kind of attempt at reconciliation. There are a great many scars that have never ever healed.

While I was asleep during the morning there was also a complicated discussion going on about the use of personal pronouns, something else that seems to be quite a touchy subject these days.

As we said the other day, there are a lot of people with nothing better to do so they trawl the internet and places like that trying to find ways in which they might be offended. If you’re born with a certain gender and you don’t like it, then that’s your problem, not everyone else’s

Whoever it was on the phone who awoke me, I have no idea I was in no fit state to answer.

Instead I lowly (as in the next couple of hours) came back round into the Land of the Living and then made a start on the notes for the next radio programme.

Not that I went far because firstly the cleaner descended upon me with some supplies for the nurse, and then the Auvergnats came round to fill me in on their exciting day. Tomorrow they are off down the road to Mont St Michel so I’m being allowed a day of freedom myself. I’ll see them on Saturday for the last time.

But it was nice to chat about all of our old stamping grounds down in the Combrailles and to discuss all of our former partners in crime, most of whom have moved on to pastures new.

And that’s a shame because I really loved my life in the Auvergne. It was just how I imagined rural France to be and I’m glad that I managed to grab hold of one of the last vestiges of it before it disappeared completely

There was definitely something to be said for life down there, but it’s no life for anyone who is not 100% fit.

After they left there wasn’t much time left until teatime – some pasta and veg in a vegan cheese sauce with a couple of the falafel balls that I made the other day. Totally delicious.

So when I’ve finished everything again, my throbbing leg and I are going to bed and if the pain subsides I might even sleep. But it would be nice to have a regular sleep.

And by that I mean one with lots of dreams. Lee Jackson sang "YOU WOULD GIVE A SMALL FORTUNE
TO BE BACK IN YOUR DREAMS"

and he’s not at all wrong, not on my account anyway

It does remind me of the time that Nerina and I chatted about our dreams
Nerina said "I dreamed last night that I’d gone shopping in Asda"
"Really?" I asked. "I dreamed that I was making love to three beautiful, naked women in the park under a glorious warm sun"
"Was I there?" she asked
"Actually no" I replied. "You’d gone shopping in Asda"

Wednesday 10th April 2024 – TODAY HASN’T BEEN …

… any easier today than it was yesterday. I fact it was probably a darn sight worse.*

And that’s a shame because I was actually in bed earlier than I usually am and earlier than I would like to be For a change it didn’t take long to finish off what I need to do, and I was wracking my brains thinking of things that I might have forgotten to do.

But one thing about it was that I was doped up to the eyebrows with painkillers.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I usually eschew painkillers but I really was in so much agony that I just couldn’t carry on any longer.

It’s not my style, I agree. I think that painkillers do more harm than good, but in bed, I’m not likely to find myself in any mischief, especially as TOTGA, Castor and Zero have stopped coming to visit me during the night.

So doped up to the eyebrows … "you’ve said that once" – ed … I went to bed. And that probably explains why I went to sleep, didn’t awaken until 06:15 and left nothing on the dictaphone except a rambling account of how grateful I was.

It really was for once a good night’s sleep because I felt absolutely nothing at all. When the alarm went off I staggered out of bed, dressed myself and checked my blood pressure – 16.3/10.5, which compares with last night’s figure of 17.4/10.2. I’m not surprised that the pressure has gone down after last night’s chemically-induced sleep.

Next thing was to take the medication, the usual piles of it too. My friendly neighbourhood cleaner will be along at some point to verify the medication that I have.

Having arranged the room, the nurse came along to give me my rabies shot, or whatever it is. And then to bandage me up with the putties so that I look like something out of Ancient Egypt

On Sunday I shall have to make another one as nice as that. It will be really nice if that one is so good.

Don’t let anyone tell you that strong black coffee keeps you awake by the way because back in here I really was gone with the fairies. I had the guitar out for a short while to have a play but didn’t go far with it.

It was 13:35 when I finally awoke and then I had lunch and a good wash with change of clothes to make myself look pretty.

To my surprise I’d been away with the fairies during the morning. I was involved in some kind of crazy science fiction dream involving some mad scientists and a chemical. But there were two of me and one of them was dishonest and ready to fall in with the plans of the scientist and the other one of me was more honest and was intent on thwarting his plans

And that4s a story with a little history behind it that deserves to be told one of these days but will have to wait until the expiry of certain periods of Statute of Limitations in the UK.

There was also something else about the Welsh Premier League and attendances. I was actually out on my way to a ground to watch a game and was driving through Whitchurch although it was no Whitchurch that I ever knew and a discussion on attendances began. Someone had seen a paper with a figure given of 4,000 and whoever it was couldn’t believe it but I replied that until their current problems Aberystwyth could easily have that kind of figure as their support.

Not that that’s ever likely to happen either. The record crowd in the Welsh Premier League is 3250 at Porthmadog who came to see them play Bangor City, but where are those clubs now?

Mind you, at a second-tier match at Old Road in Llansawel there were 1201 spectators who packed into the ground to watch them beat Rhydaman, lift the Championship and prepare for their first season in the top flight for almost 30 years.

Wouldn’t it be nice though if 4,000 could pack into Park Avenue to watch Aberystwyth? However, with a League with no money, no real publicity, no real budget and operating under a mainstream media blackout thanks to the rugby clubs who pull all the media strings in Wales, It’s no surprise.

While my cleaner was here I carried on with yet more radio notes and then after she left my favourite Auvergnats turned up again for more cake and chat. This is becoming a habit. I don’t like sharing my cake, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall.

Tea tonight was another delicious leftover curry with naan bread, rive and vegetables. I’m really spoiling myself these days

So having done all of that, I’m off to bed. The pains have come back to some extent but I’ll try without painkillers tonight and hope that I’ll be OK

But talking about mummies and my puttees reminds me of the tomb that archaeologists discovered next to the Dead Sea in the Middle East.
"I wonder what it was for" asked one of the archaeologists
"That’s easy" replied another. "Being next to the Dead Sea, it’s probably a deceased Pharaoh’s weekend retreat"
"What do you mean by that?#34; asked the first
"It’s easy" said the second one. "This is where they’d all come to unwind after a busy week in the pyramid"

Tuesday 9th April 2024 – I’M NOT HAVING …

… a very good day today.

It seems that all of the fates have conspired against me. In particular, the stabbing pain in the sole of my right foot. I thought that it had disappeared after it was conspicuous by its absence during the night and during this morning.

But now it’s back, and in spades too. It’s like an electric shock all the way up my right leg that starts in the sole of the foot, and it occurs every 15 minutes or so. The pain at times is unbearable.

As well as that, there’s a continual tingling coming from the sole of the foot now as if there’s a low-voltage electric shock going on. I hate to think what might happen if it increases in intensity.

It had all died down towards the end of last night and for once in my life I was actually in bed at a realistic hour last night too so that I was able to take full advantage.

Not that I did though because not long after going to bed I pulled a muscle in one of my legs and it took an age to untangle myself

Somehow in all of the confusion the plaster over this weeping oedema on my right foot became detached and that was causing me all kinds of agony too. That really was painful.

And so I limped through to about 07:00 when the alarm went off this morning. And when the alarm went off I was editing two tracks of a girl who had been singing two songs belonging to Yes. I was doing them, preparing them for broadcast but I can’t remember their names now but I certainly did while I was doing it.

That’s just typical, isn’t it? Those names are on the tip of my tongue and I’ve been trying all day to recall them, but with no success.

First job of course was to take the blood pressure – 16.3/9.5, which doesn’t compare very well with last night’s 15.4/9.8. I wonder what went on to wind me up during the night. I suppose that we’ll find out very soon.

Next job however was to to and take my medication. Shovel all of that lot down and see how I get on.

Then to organise the room how the nurse likes it, ready for her visit. It’s Isabelle starting from today for the next seven days. She was impressed that the room was nicely laid out and that we had all the supplies we needed, but she was not so impressed with this weeping oedema.

It’s blistered over and so she “popped” the blister, and you can imagine just how that felt, and that was before she put some disinfectant on it

Once she’d gone I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was going to bed last night and I still had to think about who I was going to be dreaming about when I stretched and pulled a muscle in my left calf. It took ages for me to calm it down and put it back to how it ought to be, and by that time I was wide-awake and had completely forgotten all of how this dream had started off. It was to do with me going to bed anyway and making plans to dream but that’s everything that I can remember.

And that certainly was painful too. And what with every other pain in my body right now it was really something that I didn’t need.

Later on I was doing my Welsh homework and came to a frightful tangle and mess about it because the “copy and paste” seemed to be pasting the answers in in all kinds of strange positions. One of the things that I had to say was that the station of Y Pobl and another station were the two least-used stations of the railway network but I just couldn’t get the words out of my head. I was surprised that I remembered the word for “least” – leiaf but I just couldn’t seem to get the rest to come out in the correct order and was being really confused by it all.

And then I was making my breakfast at work. I had my little toaster there toasting my bread and my little gas stove that I was using to heat a kettle of water for my coffee. When I turned my back to fetch my margarine from the fridge someone else took my kettle off and put his saucepan on top to boil his water. Of course I was absolutely furious but this guy thought that it was quite a normal thing to do, to just use anyone else’s gas to make himself a coffee rather than buy a little stove of his own. He was extremely indignant when I told him off. And I was still being all confused with my Welsh homework too even then.

But it’s interesting about this recurring dream. Slipping back into the same dream after I’ve already dictated some notes is not something that happens very often. And it’s really a shame that I can’t choose the dreams into which I want to slip back.

And that reminds me – TOTGA, Castor and Zero haven’t been around for a while. I could do with them making a dramatic reappearance.

After the dictaphone notes I began to prepare for the Welsh lesson and was so enthralled by what I was doing that I lost track of time.

And it’s a shame that my enthusiasm didn’t carry over into the lesson. The lesson ended up being rather like the curate’s egg – “good and bad in parts”.

After the lesson I had the lunchtime fruit, collected the shopping that my cleaner had found for me in LeClerc, and then … errr … crashed out. And that’s no surprise as I had been fighting off wave after wave of sleep during my lesson.

The hospital awoke me with a phone call, but I don’t know what they wanted to say as I missed the call, and then the Auvergnats arrived. They’d been spying out the lie of the land and had been for lunch, followed by a walk and a coffee before coming here.

We put the world to rights for ages, and then they wandered off and I … errr … crashed out again.

Tea was a delicious taco roll again, with enough stuffing left over to make a start on a decent vegan curry tomorrow, but now I’m going to go to bed early if I can, and if these pains will let me.

They are hurting so much, and I have no idea why but I really am fed up of all of this. Maybe lying horizontally will stop the stabbing pain, but then I have all of the others including the likelihood of a pulled muscle, with which to contend

It’s like the man who went to the hospital for a consultation
"What’s the matter with you then?" asked the doctor
"I have this severe pain in my right leg" replied the man
After having given him a thorough examination the doctor replied "I’m going to amputate your left foot, your left arm and remove your left kidney"
"Will that stop my right leg hurting then?" asked the patient
"Not at all" replied the doctor "but you’ll be in that much pain from the other things that you just won’t notice it any more"

Monday 8th April 2024 – MY APARTMENT HAS …

… passed muster by a group of Auvergnats who descended upon the place this afternoon on their way along the coast.

Rosemary, Ingrid and their friend Clotilde have come to spend the week here on the coast to blow away the cobwebs in the corner of their minds. They found a nice house to rent and are intending to make the most of it, despite what the weather can throw at them.

This also means that my 200-watt Genz-Benz bass amp combo has finally made it home after all these years too. These are expensive pieces of kit and I found one languishing in a pawn shop in Ottawa for peanuts in 2019 when I was visiting my cousin Sandra.

It’s been a long tortuous journey for it to come to Europe. Some empty space in a shipping container meant that it could make it as far as Rosemary’s house in 2022 but it didn’t arrive there until after it left there

And aren’t I glad to see it?

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a decent bass amp and speaker close to hand. Probably since I blew the cone out of my 18″ reflex cabinet in the late 1970s, and since then I’ve been making do with whatever I could find.

Just recently – well, for the last 12 years – I’ve been using a Carlsbro 45 watt combo which probably would have continued to do the job for all the playing bass that I do in public these days but this was a deal that was far too good to turn down.

It’s not as if I actually needed it in Canada either because I had a Fender combo amp in the back of Strider through which I could plug the Jaguar bass guitar.

And those are other things that I need to arrange sometime to bring over here now that Strider has gone the Way of the West.

The Jaguar certainly, when I see the prices of those, for that was something else that I picked up for une bouchée de pain as they say around here and also in Montreal, where I found it in another pawn shop. I always seemed to have good luck in Canadian pawn shops.

However much luck it was, it was certainly more than I had last night in trying to go to bed.

By the time that I’d finished doing everything that I had to, it was much later than I intended and I thought “here we go again”. I’d had a miserable day, there was this stabbing pain in the sole of my foot and I was hours late going to bed. I really could do without all of this.

But eventually I fell into bed and that was all that I remember for all of a couple of hours, before I awoke quite dramatically again at some ridiculous hour of the night.

There was the impression that I stayed awake after that but when the alarm went off I was checking a postal delivery, looking at the form where it said “van driver – her signature” and then “client signature ” and one or two other things on it, otherwise making sure that the form complied with all of the relevant legislation before actually putting my signature on it. But I don’t know what parcel I’d received because I thought that I’d received everything. This must have been something completely different and unexpected that had come in the post like this.

It certainly wasn’t the amp – that didn’t arrive until much later.

First thing that I did when the alarm went off was to fall out of bed to look for the blood pressure machine, and then take the measurement. 14.4/11.5 it was this morning, compared to 15.4/7.7, the latter figure of which looks suspiciously incorrect.

After the medication I had to arrange the dining area so that it’s as the nurse likes it, and then make sure that everything is present. It’s his last day today for a week so let’s hope that he’s calmed down by the time that he comes back.

And let’s hope that my right foot has too, because there’s a weeping oedema on the foot that has reared its ugly head overnight.

Anyway, he cleaned it off and applied a plaster before he wound on my puttees. And he doesn’t like this pair. He thinks that the elastic has gone and I should throw them out but I should think so! They are only about four weeks old!

After he’d gone I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was watching a football match last night. There were two teams, one playing in all red and the other in all blue. They were amalgamations of a couple of smaller 5-a-side teams and playing in some kind of tournament but there was this one game that I was watching but that was really by accident because it was on in the background at a house that I was visiting a girl for some reason connected to the Air Force but my eye fell upon the game that was being broadcast on the TV. I became less and les concerned about the Air Force and more and more concerned about the game and what was happening on the screen.

And it wouldn’t be the first time that this has happened either. I’m easily distracted by interesting things that are much more interesting than what I’m actually supposed to be doing.

Next task was to do a final round of tidying up in the apartment before having a really good wash and brush up to make myself look pretty.

While I was waiting for them to appear, I had a little snooze (no surprise there) and carried on with the radio notes. I actually managed to finish off the programme that I started so many moons ago.

My visitors turned up with my amp and I made a pot of tea. Clotilde had bought one of her vegan cakes so we all had a little party as we recalled old times and life down there on the margins of civilisation.

It’s strange but, primitive though the life was up there in the mountains, it was a very pleasant place to be with lots of exciting things happening. It’s a place that I miss more and more with each day that passes but there’s no point having regrets. I can’t turn the clock back to more healthy times.

So after my visitors had met my cleaner, who brought around the next load of medication, they all left me to my own devices.

Once more I crashed out yet again and I was off on my travels. I had the start of a dream about an elderly but thin guy rather like Putin in an all-white football kit, but I had no idea what was going on there

And then later on I was planning on digging some trenches with a backhoe but there was some debate as to whether the ground was solid enough. I thought that it worked out at at least 55lb per sq inch but some others disagreed and thought that it was less solid.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … what goes on in my head while I’m asleep is much more exciting than whatever happens in real life.

Tea tonight was a delicious stuffed pepper with plenty of stuffing left over to see me through the next few days too, and now I’m off to bed.

Tomorrow I have a Welsh lesson, but I must also write out a shopping list for my cleaner if she goes to visit the LeClerc.

It reminds me of the time that I went shopping with Hannah, my niece’s middle daughter, when we were loading up with supplies to go to a tractor pull in New Hampshire (what an exciting life I used to lead).
"How much water do you think we ought to buy?" asked Hannah
"How much beer do we have?" I asked
"Three crates full" she replied
"So why do we need water then?" I asked. I have never felt more like a redneck in my life

Thursday 29th March 2024 – SO THAT’S THE …

… end of yet another Welsh course. And that’s a shame because I quite enjoyed this one and felt that I was actually learning something instead of just going through the motions.

It seems to me that it’s a pretty good idea to go on these short holiday courses that relate to courses that I’ve studied in the past because it’s first of all a way of catching up with everything and then it’s also a way of reinforcing the basics

As well as that, it keeps my wheels oiled over the long breaks.

So I now have to look for courses for over the next few holidays too. Some of those will keep me running too.

But at least after this course I can say unfedarddegarhugain which is how a Welshman of two hundred years ago would have said “31st”. You don’t ‘arf learn a lot on these courses.

What I’m currently learning though is how totally disorganised I am about going to bed. Once again, despite a desperate rush to be early, it was still 23:40 by the time that I crawled into bed and that’s still not good enough.

Especially if the night is somewhat disturbed as it was, with me hearing phantom alarms going off at strange times. But more of this anon

When the real alarm went off I was deep in the arms of Morpheus again and I wasn’t sure at first whether or not it was a phantom alarm but realising that it was for real, I fell out of bed and groped for the tensiometer.

15.9/9.9 this morning on the blood pressure, which contrasts with 15.4/10.2 from last night. so what wound me up in bed then?

After taking all of my medication I arranged everything ready for the nurse to call so that she doesn’t waste too much time. She rang my doorbell when she came to visit my neighbour so when she turned up here I was already sitting in the chair waiting.

She didn’t stay long for sorting out my legs but she did point out a few supplies that we will be needing in early course so I added them to the list that my cleaner will be taking to the chemist’s. And the cleaner taught me a new phrase that I shall remember and reuse with vigour and vim.

After the nurse had left I had a little listen to the dictaphone notes to fins out what was going on during the night. We were back with that crowd again at the Wistaston Memorial Hall. One of the people there was the girl with whom I was friendly and whose father was landlord of the Whore’s Bed at Walgherton. Someone mentioned something about knowing her pretty well and I came out with a remark “not as well as me, I hope” which made everyone laugh. The guy didn’t say anything else which cheered me up a little but I can’t remember anything else about this particular dream at all. It was as soon as I said that that I awoke and the rest of the dream evaporated

It’s a shame that that dream evaporated because that was a really good weekend, that. I know that I have mentioned it before, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall but for the benefit of new readers, of which there are more than just a few just recently, a rock group from Crewe with whom I was quite friendly was invited to play at one of the Festivals in the summer of 1973

They had no money so they arranged a concert at Wistaston Memorial Hall in order to raise the petrol money. Piles of us went and my friend and I made the acquaintance of two young girls, mine being the one mentioned above.

At the end of the concert the group still didn’t have enough money so they took with them anyone whom they could cram into their ageing, creaking Austin J4 van along with all their gear and who would make a contribution to the expenses. My friend and I went down on his motor bike.

We all had all kinds of adventures both on the road and at the festival that weekend, and I had a few adventures afterwards with the aforementioned young lady, but a long-distance romance wasn’t possible back then.

But it was thanks to her that the rock group “Strife” makes regular appearances in these pages and in my radio shows, because her brother knew their drummer. Consequently I met him a few times too and we are still in contact today.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed a group of us was discussing these murder mysteries. We came to the conclusion that Agatha Christie had disappeared to go into a nursing home to recover from a breakdown or something like that. We worked out by using one of our girls whom we arranged to disappear that we could follow the plot through fairly well but there was no reason to doubt in the end the official story because of course all that we were doing was some kind of speculation based on the facts rather than the facts themselves. It ended up with one of our girls going missing for several days and we working out where she was, and also with me going missing right at the end of it. But mine was because the alarm went off. The alarm was set for 01:30 and somehow it rang. Of course that was in the dream – it wasn’t the real alarm but nevertheless the false alarm thing actually awoke me while I was asleep having this dream. That’s a mystery to me too about this false alarm

It totally beats me why something so obscure as Agathe Christie’s disappearance in 1926 should rear its ugly head in one of my dreams. It was something that made headline news back at the time but it’s largely forgotten now and I’m totally surprised that it would be something that would spring to my mind during a nocturnal ramble.

But that’s what I mean though about the phantom alarm. I was convinced that it was a real one and I actually awoke and reached for the ‘phone to switch it off.

So what’s an alarm doing going off like that in the middle of a dream – an alarm that has nothing to do with either the dream or anything in real life?

Having finished the notes I prepared for the Welsh class. It didn’t take long because I’d already done most of it, having much more interest in this for some reason.

It actually passed off quite will too and I was really pleased. I quite liked the tutor and his little quirky habits, and I’ll sign up for other courses with Coleg Caerfyrddin whenever I get the chance. I’m determined to crack this one way or another.

My grandmother, if she were alive today, would really be impressed that I could speak Welsh. It’s a shame that she never taught my father, but Welsh-speaking was seen in a totally different light in the 1920s and 30s than it is today.

The cleaner stuck her head in with some of my medication too, and the stuff for the nurse. The rest of the stuff will come in early course.

The rest of the day has been spent dealing firstly with my LeClerc order, that needs to be sent off first thing in the morning if I want my buttered hot cross buns.

And I really do too. I opened the airtight tin in which they are stored and was absolutely overwhelmed by the smell. They really do smell like proper hot cross buns and look like hot cross buns too. All I need now is for them to taste like hot cross buns, and for that I need the butter.

The second task has been to deal with a problem that has arisen in the UK.

Despite having left the UK well over 30 years ago I still have “certain interests” there. I’ve felt for some time that I’ve been sitting on a kind-of time bomb, waiting for it to go off and sure enough, about three weeks ago it exploded.

Since then, I’ve had to gather my wits, gird up my loins, bite the bullet and any other metaphors that you care to name and think that at least, I’ve had all of this time to benefit by 30-odd years of peace, but now is the time to pay the price.

What annoys me is that if anything had been said beforehand, I wouldn’t have reaped the benefit that I had, but the issues would have been resolved much sooner. So, if anything, I’m annoyed at all the silence previously, not at the bomb actually going off

So now I need to get on and deal with it. Or, rather, have it dealt with, because I’m not going to the UK ever again.

The last time that I was in the UK for pleasure was in 2011. In 2013 I was there for half a day to pick up a lorry-load of slates to deliver to Central France and then in 2019 when Rosemary and I went to Aberdeen to pick up our ship to take up to the High Arctic of Canada. That’s quite enough.

Tea tonight was something from the European Burger Mountain, with pasta and veg. Simple and delicious thanks to the onion and garlic with the burger and to the spicy tomato sauce in which the pasta was soaked.

So early for once, I’m going to go to bed and dream of hot cross buns. But it will probably be something extremely obscure involving my family. Not a trace of anyone whom I would like to see, such as Zero, Castor and TOTGA

But talking of Agatha Christie though in a dream last night reminds me that Nerina once told me that she wished that she could have been Agatha Christie
"why is that, dear?" I asked
"Well, she married an archaeologist, Sir Max Mallowan"
"What’s that got to do with anything?"
"Well" she said "if I had married an archaeologist, the older I became, the more interested he’d be in me"

Sunday 24th March 2024 – WE’RE RUNNING LATE …

… yet again this evening. Once more, the late Mr Hall seems to be doing the business (or not, as the case may be).

The problem with a football match kick-off at an inconvenient time combining with a series of complicated manoeuvres … "PERSONOEUVRES" – ed … in the kitchen and things has conspired against me yet again.

For example, it’s currently 21:20 and I’ve still not eaten tonight’s pizza. It’s still cooking away in the oven.

Most of the cleaning-up in there has been done though so I’m not as tardy as all that but nevertheless things are still not going as they might or as I would like them yet again.

There is one bright spot – a very bright spot – on the horizon and I’ll tell you all about that in due course if you read on down the page.

And as for last night, I was late going to bed then too. Despite setting the alarm for 08:00 it was still well after midnight when I finally let it all hang out and went to bed. Not even 8 hours sleep, and on a Sunday morning too!

At least it was a really deep sleep and I remember very little about anything that went on. However, once more I awoke just before the alarm went off. So twice in succession now I’ve awoken just before 08:00 without any artificial aids. There’s obviously something going on somewhere.

But when the alarm went off I fell out of bed and sat down to recover and to compose myself. Not like Beethoven, who spent 57 years composing and then the next 197 years decomposing.

Once I was ready I checked the blood pressure to see how it was doing. 15.7/10.4, compared to 160/10.1 from the previous evening. It’ll be interesting to see what the reading will be on a real, accurate machine though because this one seems to produce results that bear no resemblance whatever to what figures they obtain at the hospital.

Anyway, so now that I’ve eaten my delicious pizza we can continue.

Once the nurse had been and gone, without complaining too much today, I made myself a coffee and had some cornflakes. There have to be some benefits if I’m going to be up and about so early.

And I gave Rosemary a terrible shock too. She’s apparently tried to contact me which I was baking and watching football yesterday so I sent her a message “any time this morning”. She was shocked because usually it’s “anyone who tries to disturb me before midday on a Sunday will be exterminated”.

While I was waiting for her to call back I took the stuff out of the freezer that I had put in yesterday, took it off the metal trays that I use so that everything freezes individually, and then stacked it all in the freezer, the burgers between layers of baking paper so that they don’t stick together.

Rosemary and I had another one of our marathon chats that go on for ever, putting the World to rights as usual, not that we can do very much about it. We’re both glad, though, that we don’t have to go through the chaos that is the UK and that we live over here.

And it looks as if this bunch of Auvergnats that has been threatening to come up to Normandy at some point really is happening. Not only have they booked a house up the road at Breville for their stay, every one of them has paid her share of the rental.

There’s some talk that they might even come and take me out for a day while they are here, which will be nice. It’ll be good to stretch my legs outside for once.

After we’d finished speaking I transcribed the dictaphone notes from last night. This was part of my flying patrol thing where one aeroplane has to stay out for a very long time so it has to take all of its equipment with it but it was seen by one lot of people flying over on its way out to pick up its stuff and they were looking out for it flying back again but without any success. The aeroplane in question has collected a lot of the smaller stuff that it needed and was going to stay out for a long time

Or so I said into the dictaphone. But my plan would have worked, with a few first-generation four-engined bombers like Stirlings and Halifaxes stripped of absolutely everything except the bare essentials and with a galley and bed in them, and based in Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland they could have had enough range to patrol the North Atlantic to provide defence against submarines operating in areas where more conventional aerial forces couldn’t reach.

It would have made an exciting novel anyway.

Later on I was out in the countryside following the trail of a film. Someone had written in asking what was the significance of the name of a pub “The Flying Anvil” and a few other things about a particular road during which a vehicle was filmed advancing in a film so I went down on my motorbike to have a look. I could filld The Flying Anvil easily enough but I was looking around for everything else that they’d asked about when I came to a “stop” sign in the road. There were all these people on motorbikes congregated around it blocking the road. I asked if I could advance. They said “yes” but sat with this meeting and I had to pass right through the crowd effectively but they didn’t move at all. I just had to sit there. One girl pulled up on a motorbike later and someone asked her if she’d dropped it. She replied “yes” – it had slipped from underneath her. They were just having this big discussion amongst them selves all across the road not caring whatever about anyone else who might have wanted to go through there and continue on their way.

Finally I was on my way around the town and went past a petrol station. The girls were filling up the petrol tanks of the two mopeds that we had but they had the windscreen washer bucket things underneath the frames of the mopeds. I asked them what was going on. I said that it looked awful, that. The girls said that the petrol station is sick and tired of us making a big mess when we come here. I asked what was the problem. They replied that the fuel tanks are leaking so much. Every time we fill up half of the stuff leaks all over the petrol station. I was furious because no-one ever told me anything about this. I asked why it was leaking. They replied “basically it’s George. He went to a camping exhibition with the two mopeds the other day and drove all the way with the choke fully open. That’s how he drives them. Every time he takes one of them somewhere he has the choke fully open so the petrol all leaks out everywhere. Now it does it all the time”. I was furious that no-one had ever mentioned it to me because obviously I can’t repair something or fix something if no-one ever tells me anything and no-one ever lets me know whether there’ a problem with anything.

And that’s the story of what I was doing 30-odd years ago. It seemed that common sense was in very short supply back in those days and by the looks of things, nothing much has changed. Everyone talks about “Artificial Intelligence” as being the thing of the moment. But in my opinion what we need is less Artificial Intelligence and more Natural Intelligence.

And if we had enough of the latter, we wouldn’t need any of the former.

So abandoning another good rant for the moment, I went and began to prepare the Hot Cross buns. Easter just isn’t Easter without Hot Cross Buns toasted and with piles of butter sinking in.

Having checked the other day, I found that I did have almost everything that I needed and what I didn’t have I couldn’t get anyway, so it was a simple matter of collecting everything together.

Liz had given me some advice about making the liquid wetter than the recipe suggests so instead of 150 ml of milk I used 160, and 30 mg of butter instead of 25.

Learning from my past mistakes, I took my time and prepared everything carefully. And then slowly and gently, but for a considerable time, kneaded the dough together just as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles.

While it was proofing I went off to watch the first half of the football, Airdrie United v TNS in the final of this Scottish FA Challenge competition.

Connah’s Quay Nomads had lost to Ross County in the 2019 Final by 2-1 after going a goal up, so when TNS scored early in the game to go in front, I was reminded of Terry Venables and his quote "if history repeats itself, I should think we can expect the same thing again".

And I wasn’t disappointed because Airdrie scored after 25 minutes to sent the players in at half-time equal at 1-1

What I did was to go into the kitchen to give the dough a second kneading, add in the dried fruit and some fleur d’orange flavouring.

The second half of the game was a foregone conclusion. TNS failed to penetrate the Airdrie defence for the remainder of the game and after about an hour, conceded a very soft penalty. And that was that.

But once again, I really don’t understand TNS’s tactics. 2-1 down and with the game slipping away, and they are passing the ball around on the edge of the opponents’ penalty area retaining possession but making no attempt to put the ball into the penalty area.

You don’t win games if you don’t score goals, and you don’t score goals if you don’t make any attempts. The more shots you have, the more likely you are to score.

This “it’s all about retaining possession” which seems to be the modern way of thinking is all pretty pointless really. It doesn’t produce any results. If you look closely, this “playing the ball out of defence” from a goal kick or a keeper’s clearance has led to more mistakes and more goals conceded by the team’s defence than it’s led to goals being scored by the team’s attackers.

Once the game was over I went into the kitchen, split the dough into 6 equal parts, kneaded each part again and put it on the baking tray. And then, using the little icing bag that I’d bought ages ago, made the crosses on my buns, not very artistically it has to be said.

While they were proofing I kneaded the pizza dough that I’d taken out of the freezer earlier and which had been defrosting. Then I rolled it out and put it on the tray, leaving it all to fester.

Back in the kitchen later when the pizza base had risen, I switched on the oven and shoved in the buns, and then assembled my pizza.

And when my buns had cooked, I couldn’t believe it. They had risen like a lift and looked exactly like shop-bought buns ought to look. This was the first time that I have ever had such stupendous, satisfactory results when I’ve been bread-making and I’m almost as impressed as I was with my galvanised steel dustbin.

If I can make buns like this some other time I’ll be more than happy

The pizza was delicious too although it could have done with another 5 minutes in the oven.

So my Welsh Easter course starts tomorrow. That should keep me out of mischief for four days or so. I’ll have to prepare for it of course, so that will be the task after the nurse has gone. It’s not like the time that they told me at the hospital that I was going to have a blood test the following morning so I sat up all night studying.

At least, with the course being run by the college in Caerfyrddin there’s not likely to be anyone on the course who knows me, like last time. The World is far too small for my liking. A teacher at my old school on my current course and a student from Nantwich on a previous holiday course.

It’s becoming rather like 2000 again when Marianne and I went to Rome for Holy Week and she was invited to see the Pope. I was determined not to miss out so when he appeared on the balcony to bless the crowds I shinned up the ivy to meet him and say hello.
All of the newspapers all over the World had it in their headlines next day "MYSTERY MAN ON HOLY BALCONY IN VATICAN"
And in small print underneath "Who was the man up there with Eric Hall?"

Saturday 23rd March 2023 – A FEW MONTHS AGO …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This afternoon I went a food-making.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 18th March 2024 – I’M SUPPOSED TO …

… be going to Paris tomorrow for a visit to the opthalmologists’s at the hospital.

When I was at the hospital just now I mentioned that this blurred vision that I’m having right now is interrupting just about everything that I do.

It’s not just blurred vision either but for objects close too, I’m actually seeing double. Double just about everything, except my bank account, that is. You try watching a football match on the internet when you see it like that.

At least that explains why there are so many tpying errors and faults in the speling. I’m not able to poof-read what I type because I can’t see it.

However, there is absolutely no chance whatever of me being anywhere near Paris tomorrow. For a start, I need a bon de transport for the trip, which they never sent, and then the trip needs to be approved by the Social Services.

And then I need to book a car to take me, always assuming that there’s one available at short notice and always assuming that the trip is approved.

Approval won’t be for a couple of weeks, so that immediately rules out any possibility whatever of going tomorrow.

How I found out was by reading my text messages this afternoon. No-one called me or spoke to me. The message just appeared and I didn’t notice it until it was far too late to ring up to cancel it

It goes without saying that I’m impressed, as I always am, with the speed of reaction of the French Health Service, but I can see that I’m going to have to train the hospital much better than this. At Castle Anthrax, for example, we finally managed, after much trying, to synchronise the appointments so that they all took place while I was there at Haematology. I need to do the same here.

In theory, seeing as I’m going on a day visit and carrying no luggage, I could attempt the train and have help to see me to and from a taxi in Paris but firstly, I need at least 24 hours notice to apply for the service. Secondly, with these puttees on my feet I can’t wear my shoes and thirdly, I have a Welsh class tomorrow.

In other words, it’s a total non-starter.

There will probably be a rude message for me later on tomorrow, rather like the time that I was late for work.
"You should have been here at 09:00" shouted the boss
"Why?" I asked. "What happened?"
After a few weeks he called me into his office.
"You are coming into the office later and later" he said
"I do actually make up for it" I said
"How’s that?" he asked
"Well look how early I leave for home!"

But problems with my vision will probably explain why I’m having trouble finding my bed.

Last night was another 02:30 switching off of the computer. I was actually really tired but far too tired to stir my stumps and rise up from my chair. It’s been a few times that that’s happened and I really don’t know what to do about it.

What I probably need to do is to force myself and make an effort, but that’s easier said than done. I have said before that I have so many things to do but keep on forgetting to do them. Actually, the problem is that I have so many things to do but can’t find the effort or the motivation.

It’s not just my dreams that are going through my death-throes, it’s me, I reckon, and I’m taking my dreams with me as I go.

When the alarm went off you can’t imagine (well, actually I suppose that you can) the struggle that I had to leave the bed. I managed to beat the second alarm but it was just like the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo and "the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life".

First things first, and I did manage to remember the blood pressure – 14.8/8.2 this morning, down from 15.8/10.0 when I’d checked it before going to bed.

After the medication I went into the bathroom and had a really good wash and scrub up in the hope that it might awaken me but it didn’t seem to work. I was in no fit state to do anything.

When the nurse came to see me, I got my own back. Taking off my puttees last night I lost one of the clips, so when she came in this morning I said "You’re going to have a go at me again today"
"I didn’t have a go at you yesterday" she said
"Yes you did" I insisted. "But anyway, taking of my puttees last night I lost one of the clips"
And she was quite nice about it.

But I certainly saw a side of her yesterday that I had never suspected.

But she’s off now for a rest and it will be her sidekick for a week starting tomorrow. He’s the one who can’t ever find a vein in my arm for his blood sample so on Wednesday we’ll probably have a “discussion” about that too.

After she left I came back in here but really I was in no fit state to do any work. In fact I missed my morning coffee and lunchtime fruit because I couldn’t find the enthusiasm to leave my chair.

It was late afternoon when I finally moved and went for some hot chocolate – the first food or hot drink that I’d had all day.

My cleaner came in the stuff that had finally arrived at the pharmacy, and we had a chat. I gave her a shopping list of things that I need from LeClerc tomorrow that they won’t deliver, and she photographed a couple of bottles and jars as an aide-memoire

An energy drink later on did something for me, and I transcribed the dictaphone notes, such as there were from such a sad night. The tenant of one of my apartments wanted my friend to meet two new sub-locataires but she didn’t have the slightest bit of interest whatever in seeing them and felt that the management of the property in their respect should fall on the guy who’s leasing it rather than whoever was the principal leaseholder . She didn’t have the slightest wish whatever to become involved in his sub-letting.

Although I dictated that it was my apartment, it actually belongs to the friend who was included in the dream. She owns a couple of apartments and is actually, even as we speak, having issues with one of her tenants and the management company involved that are on the verge of escalating.

But the whole letting industry in the UK is all descending into total chaos anyway. A property that was completely rewired five years previously failed its electrical certificate at next renewal.
"Why was that? What was wrong with it after five years?"
"Well, nothing actually, but standards have now changed and what was good enough five years ago is no longer adequate"
"So you’d better have someone fix it for me"
"We would have already done it, but we can’t find any tradesmen to do it."
Conversations like that actually do take place.

There was time to finish off the radio programme that I started yesterday (apart from dictating and editing the notes that I wrote for the final track) before going for my stuffed pepper. Quite delicious again. The couscous instead of the quinoa or bulghour works really well.

Plenty of stuffing left for my taco roll tomorrow and there will probably be some for the basis of a leftover curry too on Wednesday.

But that’s Wednesday. Right now I’m going to make a huge effort and go to bed. Walter Reisch said "tired minds don’t plan well. Sleep first, plan later" and he’s not wrong. The way that I feel, I couldn’t even plan a whatsit in a wherever right now.

It’s more a case of Maccbeth and "to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day" and as everyone knows, after my experiences in the High Arctic, I’LL GIVE ALL MY TOMORROWS FOR A SINGLE YESTERDAY

Saturday 16th March 2024 – AFTER I’D FINISHED …

… doing what I have to do in the evening I didn’t hang about and was in bed quite shortly thereafter. I don’t seem to be able to last the pace like I used to, especially if I didn’t have any sleep the previous evening.

But of course I have to admit that my bed is extremely comfortable. Seeing as I spend about a third of my life in it it went through some pretty rigorous tests, as in me lying down on every combination of bed and mattress that was on display in the IKEA in Caen.

The sofa too is extremely comfortable. That underwent the same series of tests and has been put to good use on several occasions when I have company, but that’s another story.

So last night I climbed into bed and that was that until the alarm went off at 07:00.

At that point I fell out of bed and went off in search of medication – the usual morning round of things designed to keep me going until we have the night-time’s helpings. 10 different types, and each one presumably treating the side-effects of the one that was prescribed immediately before.

In fact, as I take all of this medicine I’m singing to myself THERE’S A HOLE IN MY BUCKET because that’s exactly how I feel.

Having dealt with the medication I made the bread rolls for today and tomorrow and left them there to fester while I went and took down the puttees and rolled them up ready for the nurse. They are still wet but that can’t be helped.

When she came round she burst the blisters on my feet, put all the cream on everywhere and wrapped the puttees around my feet and legs. She’s told me that there’s no need to wash them tonight as they don’t seem to be soiling any, which is good news.

After she had left I checked the bread rolls. And for once in my life they had actually risen as I hoped that they might. I’m not sure what I did correctly today – I can’t recall doing anything any more different than I usually do and which up to now has proved to be singularly ineffective.

But anyway I had a lovely cheese on toast for breakfast which was really nice.

Back in here I checked the dictaphone and to my surprise there was actually some stuff on there. “Surprise” because for the first two dreams I remember nothing at all, which quite possibly explains why they seem to be a pile of gibberish. Anyway, There was something about being in a rock group in North Wales called Achmarchnad – “Supermarket”. We all spoke to each other in Welsh and I introduced the songs in Welsh too. We climbed up onto the stage and there was applause but when I began to announce what we were about to play plenty of people dashed off as though they were heading for the bathroom. I made some kind of comment about everyone going to the bathroom. They also turned off all of the microphones so I had to wait for someone to restart everything again before I could actually carry on. But I was dreaming in Welsh as I had to wait for these people to go as we all sit around here, phrases like that to the other members of the group.

Yes, there I was, dreaming in Welsh and presenting the music of a rock band. I’d give all that I own, and more besides, to be able to do that in real life. But as I have mentioned before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … dreaming in a foreign language is nothing new. Besides Welsh (which isn’t a foreign language of course) we’ve had dreams in French, Flemish and Spanish in the past.

It’s actually quite ironic really. Here I am, learning a language that I probably won’t ever speak, in practical terms, and yet during the night I’m speaking it quite fluently and can’t even remember a word of what I’ve said and could certainly never repeat what I said when I’m awake.

There was a story once about this – about some guy who had had a knock on the head and came back to consciousness speaking a language fluently that he had never learned or even heard before. I wonder if it’s some kind of similar phenomenon.

It’s a shame though that I’m no longer going to Leuven though. I enjoyed revitalising the Flemish that I learned when I lived in Brussels and was glad that I was able to put it to some use after all these years. I just speak it now sometimes with Ingrid.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed – when we had fully loaded our ambulance we were ready to leave and go back to current times but the ambulance hit a stone causing injury to Orly and someone in the back and we haul up and treat our injuries etc before we could head back and try to cross the border. Rooms were booked for us in a hotel a a place on the Welsh side of the river just before you cross the river into the English part …fell asleep here

The above two dreams I have absolutely no recollection whatever of them. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … although I’m asleep when I’m dictating my notes, when I’m transcribing them I usually have some kind of very vague recollection of them.

But not those two. They mean absolutely nothing to me

Finally, I was doing something about the radio last night, recording all my programmes. I needed a tenth track. After much messing about I actually chose the track but when it came to using it to join up the rest of the music I couldn’t find it. I was searching everywhere but it just wasn’t there. The last time that I remember, it was still attached to a set of stereo headphones with the wires dangling everywhere but I couldn’t find it at all. When I awoke I was actually searching the bed for it.

But can you imagine it – searching for a digitalised audio file in the bed last night. Sometimes I really do shake my head.

This afternoon I’ve been a busy boy. Firstly, Rosemary rang me and we had a chat. Just a short one today – only one hour and three minutes. We’re losing our touch, that’s for sure. Whatever happened to the ones that used to go on for several weeks?

Then I’ve been working on my photos from Canada 2022, writing the notes for another big pile of stuff. I hadn’t yet fallen ill so I was still getting about and doing things, like ordering the sunroof for the only Ford Flex ever imported into Europe, and having fun with STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

The dramatic collapse in health is yet to come, and it will be interesting to see how the events of that period unfolded and led to a two-months stay in hospital and totally wrecked my health.

The stuff for a couple more days was completed and I could have done so much more except for a major crashing-out – another one of these total black-outs that last for several hours where it’s as if I just switch off without any warning.

Finally there was the football – Pontypridd United v Barry Town. Both teams are languishing near the foot of the table – Pontypridd due more to administrative errors than standard of play – but they will basically safe from relegation as heaps more woe and misery pile on Colwyn Bay and Aberystwyth below them in the table.

The league position of the teams was reflected in the play – scrappy and at times rather agricultural – but playing football in a tropical monsoon as they had this afternoon down in Pontypridd can’t have been easy.

The game seemed to go in spells. Firstly, Pontypridd would have a good five minutes and then Barry, and then Pontypridd again and so on. The result, a 1-1 draw, was probably about right.

If you want to see the rather one-sided highlights of the match, they ARE HERE

You don’t need me to tell you what I had for tea tonight.

That’s right – breaded quorn fillet with baked potato and salad. Those fillets really are nice and I’m glad that, at the moment at least, they are available in LeClerc’s on-line shop

“At the moment” because even over the short time that I’ve been using the service, I’ve noticed a few things that I would buy that have been withdrawn from the range and that is more than just a pity. It’s a tragedy

So now I’m off to bed, ready for my … gulp … 08:00 start so that i’m ready for when the nurse comes. Can you imagine that too – me having an alarm call at 08:00 on a Sunday? But I need to show willing

It reminds me of the time when a girl who I knew once said to me "will you awaken me at 08:00?"
To which I replied "What should I do? Knock on your door or give you a nudge?"
There were times when I wasn’t very popular.

But as yet an alarm call might be unnecessary. Where the nurse burst my blisters, every now and again (more “again” than “now”, as it happens) there’s a stabbing pain that goes right through me and if it doesn’t subside I can’t see me sleeping tonight.

However, I’m away to finish off what I need to do before going to bed. The last task for today will be to cover myself in boot polish and eat several packets of yeast. That way I’ll rise and shine in the morning

Wednesday 6th March 2024 – GUESS WHERE …

… I’ll be this time tomorrow night.

That’s right. I had the blood sample taken this morning, it’s been analysed, the reports are in and so I have a taxi coming to pick me up at 11:00. “And bring your things”. So there!

It’s no surprise that I’m not a happy bunny. Not at all. I can’t keep on doing this. I have things to do, places to go, people to see and all that lark. There’s no room in my timetable for trips to Paris, whether by taxi, train, bus, bicycle or gaslight

So tonight I’ll have to go to bed early, in contrast to last night where it was quite a late night. But at least, once in bed I didn’t move around much

When the alarm went off next morning I crawled out of bed and checked the blood pressure. 14.5/8.5 this morning so clearly I had a quiet night. Before retiring last night it was 15.0/8.1 so there’s not a great deal of difference

After the medication I came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. Well, at this stage of this World Cup match tickets were £97:00 per ticket. There were huge complaints from people first of all about why it was only rich people who were attending the matches, not the average supporter, and secondly, why protesting hasn’t been allowed against the football matches. In the meantime some agreement has been made that everyone who bought a ticket for the opening match will have to give their next ticket away to another customer but whether that’s a good idea or not remains to be seen. The coaches brought the two teams down. There was plenty of late team news – one team had managed with just two injuries and would play a couple of replacements and the other team had wholesale replacements because of various problems, even signing someone on the last minute but who should be able to take part in the match. They looked as if they would have difficulties to coalesce for a while. It was up to the other side to take the play to them and try their best to go ahead while they would be outgunned but not coalescing together to get them to play like a team

I should have added that the only thing that I really had to worry about was to make sure that no-one pinched my van because we’d transformed it into a mobile home and office for me during the period of the World Cup. I’d to totally lost if someone stole that.

It looks as if I have an obsession right now with being a football coach. Not of course in the same vein as in the good old days of Malcolm Allison who, upon being told that he had been appointed team coach of Kuwait, he’d be having his teeth out and seats fitted next morning.

But my football coaching experience runs, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, to the Pionsat FC’s 3rd XI who played in the lowest league of Puy-de-Dome football all those years ago and were always at or near the bottom. It’s nothing to write home about.

My favourite position in those days was either left back in the dressing toom or right back behind the touchline

Being an all-inclusive football club we had a couple of gay footballers there. They would always be happy to change ends at half-time

While we’re on the subject of the Auvergne … "well, one of us is" – ed …Rosemary rang me up for a chat. Just a short one today – 1 hour and 22 minutes during which, as usual, we put the World to rights.

If only politicians would listen to Rosemary and me the World wouldn’t be in a mess like this. We would solve all of the problems immediately without all of this nonsense

And then the cleaner sailed in. "The hospital’s been trying to contact you" she said, so I had to phone them back.

It was quite complicated too. I had to check that there was a taxi available, find out what time, book the vehicle, ring the hospital back and they would then send me a bon de transport which I’d print off and give to the driver when he or she came to pick me up.

It’s a good job that the doctor at the hospital demanded 10 authorisations otherwise I’d be struggling with this kind of thing. It’s quite a complicated system but as I’m classed as a maladie grave it’s covered in principle by the Social Security.

Quite frankly, having a few taxi-ambulances that are conventionné by the Social Security is a little goldmine

This afternoon the cleaner came round to clean so I stayed in my room, chose my music for another radio show, paired it off, joined the tracks together and wrote out half of the notes.

One thing that I’ve learned following the debacle last weekend is that once it’s completed, I’ll read through it to make sure that it makes sense and that I don’t have to re-write it or anything.

Tea tonight was a leftover curry with rice, veg and a naan bread and I do have to say that everything – the naan bread included – was cooked to perfection and it was the best leftover curry meal that I have ever made

And it’s just as well because I shudder to think of what I’ll be eating for the next few days.

Tomorrow morning first thing I’ll be baking some bread. If I’m going to hospital for a few days I’ll need some supplies to sustain me so cheese and hummus salad sandwiches are on the agenda. I might look into making flapjacks too or something like that as a pleasant dessert.

If anyone else has any suggestions, then provided that they are physically possible they’ll be welcome

The food in these places really is bad, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall. And, as you’ve probably noticed, I love my food. It’s the only luxury that I have left these days. And in the hospital it’s not even possible to go to a café or order a pizza.

Add to that the fact that my neighbour, who usually smuggles supplies in to me, won’t be in Paris while I’m there – I checked of course.

So all in all it’s going to be a depressing stay there, something that will become even worse I suppose when I discover what they intend to do with me.

And if it’s something nasty, these days I can’t run fast to escape at all – not like the time after one of my car accidents when I was going hell for leather down the corridor until the doctor saved the day by shouting to the nurse who was pursuing me "I said remove his SPECTACLES".

Friday 23rd February 2024 – MY DAY OF …

… baking was quite a success.

And it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that

Yes, everything that I did today seemed to work and I’ve ended up with some pretty nice stuff. I’m quite pleased.

Ad for a change I actually had a good night too. In bed nice and early and I didn’t have much that kept me awake . And once I’d gone to sleep, I stayed asleep until the alarm went off.

Billy Cotton made me leave the bed and the first thing that I did was to take my blood pressure. 15.1/8.6. That’s low compared to how it has been. You can tell that I didn’t have a visit from Castor, Zero or TOTGA last night.

Before I went to bed it was 17.5/10.4 so the sleep did me some good by the looks of things.

After the morning medication the first thing that I did was to make the dough for the bread. And kneading it gently, as if I was massaging Zero’s clavicles, I was careful not to overwork it by resorting to violence.

When I was quite satisfied that it was ready, I rolled it out into a long sausage, cut it into three equal sections and then flattened it all down.

A handy small baking tray with a piece of baking paper was called into service upon which they could repose and hopefully rise.

Next step was to make the vegan cream filling. Whizz ip some milk until it’s quite frothy, add sugar, a little butter, vanilla extract, cornflour, and whizz it all up while slowly heating it in a saucepan.

That was complicated. I had the hand-whisk whisking it all over the kitchen until I managed to rig up a saucepan lid as a shield.

Meanwhile, melt some chocolate in the microwave and when it’s melted, whisk it well into the mixture

When It’s all whisked and nice and thick, leave it to cool. And there’s my chocolate cream filling.

Then the chocolate cake. A mixture of flour, sugar, oil, water and cocoa powder with a few extras. All mixed up into a kind-of batter-like goo, poured into a cake tray and then baked for 40 minutes.

By now the vegan cream was cold so it went in the fridge and I put the bread in the oven to bake.

They had risen quite nicely and were baked to perfection too so I had some lovely cheese on toast.

Rosemary rang me in the middle of everything so I phoned her back. Just a short chat today – a mere 58 minutes during which we put the World to rights but I also ended up going for a virtual drive around Montlucon.

Once everything was finished and the chaos was over I had a listen to find out where I’d been during the night. I’d started work but there was still a girl at school who I happened to like. For the last few mornings I’d been taking her into school. One particular morning we were running really late. It meant that I was going to be late for work if I dropped her off at school but nevertheless I was going to drop her off. We were preparing everything and panicking a little – I wasn’t dressed even. One of my friends came along and asked me what was happening. The girl briefly explained. He immediately said “I can run you into school to save Eric some bother”. I said that it’s no bother because I was quite interested in spending as much time as possible with her but he absolutely insisted and insisted until in the end she went off with him. I was furious. I sent him a text message “after all you promised me last time …” (because we’d had a similar situation a while ago where he’d done exactly the same thing and spiked my guns with a certain young lady. So I was set to go to work but there was a whole crowd of schoolkids around. I was in my Ford Cortina estate. I had to make the kids move so I could leave the car park but for some unknown reason they didn’t want to go. At that moment the car turned into a kind of cross between a bus and a taxi. All the kids were pleased because that was what they were waiting for. They said that they’d been waiting for a bus but the school had produced something else so there were some issues. I had to watch them safely aboard. I wasn’t sure which school they attended or where they went so in order to prevent a stampede I said “Primary School children first”. A few came on. Then I had to think of another way of dividing up these schoolkids so that I wouldn’t have all of them on board at once. But I was absolutely furious with my friend for spiking my guns with that other girl. It’s exactly what has happened before with him and it’s exactly what has happened in loads of dreams before this. Any time I’m anywhere close to getting the girl someone comes along to spoil it

Looking back at what I dictated, I was surprised that I’d been able to express myself like that during a dream. They must have been things that I felt quite deeply.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it’s usually my family who appear during the night and forestall all of my plans, sticking the baton dans la rue of whatever project I’m undertaking. They are always appearing at the crucial moment just as I’m about to Get The Girl and blow my chances out of the water.

But in the past, there have been a couple of friends who had the habit of doing that. One of them pretended to be looking after my best interests, as if I was senile or something, but in actual fact he had another agenda completely.

The second one, the one in the dream, he couldn’t stand to see anyone Get The Girl, whether he had already got a girl or not. He was of the opinion that only he should ever Get The Girl, no matter how many other girls he already had and that’s not an exaggeration either.

Anyway, this is all water under the bridge. There’s no point really in raking up stuff like this. Ambrose Bierce said "A year is a period of 365 disappointments" and we should all simply be resigned to it

It’s as I said though, there are some things that drag you down. Instead of trying to rise up, people simply want you to be down at their level. And in the end you either sink in with them or cast them all aside.

In Matthew 10:14 the Bible tells you "if anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet"

So abandoning another good rant for the moment, the cleaner was here again so I finished off the radio notes and hacked a few sound-tracks about to extract and convert a few tracks that I need for the next programme.

While I was at it, I hacked around a few sound-tracks of Louis de Funès films to collect a few more sound-bytes. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that although he’s been dead for several years, he and I have some interesting chats on my radio programmes.

Of course, having served on the Students’ Executive Committee and on other committees dealing with the various University bodies, I’m quite used to communicating with the deceased.

But Louis de Funès is my favourite French actor. Who will ever forget the MUSKATNOOS, HERR MULLER? or the NUDISTS sketches?

His sound-bytes really fit in well with my programmes and I keep on looking out for more in order to enlarge our conversations.

When the cleaner had gone I went into the kitchen, took the cake and cut it into 3 equal sizes. The took the cream from the fridge, whisked it again and used it as a filler in order to layer the slices. It was then wrapped in baking paper, clingfilm and put in the fridge.

And from what I tasted from the crumbs that were scattered around, it will be a world-beating cake. Nice and rich and chocolaty. I hope that it will last a while too. I’m fed up of things going off so quickly

Tea was chips from the air fryer with some of those vegan nuggets. There was a salad too which was delicious, and it would have been even more so had I remembered the mushrooms. I really don’t know what’s happening to me right now.

The vegan mayonnaise that I made though is holding up really well and was delicious.

So no alarm in the morning, a nice lie-in with a cooked breakfast and chocolate cake for my afternoon snack. It doesn’t get much better than this. A nice lazy day is planned with a football match in the late afternoon and a cooked tea with vegan wellington and roast potatoes.

That should give me something to celebrate, right enough. And i deserve it. I never thought that I’d ever arrive here. But as Mae West said, "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

However, it’s too late to do anything about that now. I’ve managed to live to a ripe old age, and there’s no doubt that as I’ve grown older, I’ve certainly grown riper.

Anyone nearby will tell you that.

Monday 19th February 2024 – I HAD A …

… visitor last night. One of my favourite young ladies came to see me, and I even ended up waltzing with her.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Castor – since she turned her back on me and walked so dramatically to her ‘plane on that deserted, windswept airstrip in the High Arctic in September 2019.

Those three days were probably the most dramatic of my life but the World isn’t yet ready to hear the story. However, they were three days that changed my life for ever.

Samuel Gurney Cresswell, the British naval officer and painter who ha accompanied McClure on his trip into the Arctic via the Western passage, witnessed the frightening and dramatic brushes with death that the expedition had in the Ice and seen McClure change almost overnight from an ebullient, gung-ho cavalier to a frightened, timid mouse, wrote that "A voyage to the High Arctic ought to make anyone a wiser and better man"

My previous expedition ought therefore to have taught me a lesson, but the following year, as Kenneth Williams once said, "I was so far in that only my head was showing".

But be that as it may, for once I was in bed early last night, and isn’t that a change?

When the alarm went off, it took me quite by surprise and it was a real struggle to leave the bed this morning. Nevertheless, the blood pressure this morning was a mere 13.7/7.4 – and last night it was 45.4/10.4. It looks as if that blood pressure medication is slowly working on me.

It’s taken its time, that’s all I can say.

We had a little medication issue this morning. The chemist had to order a box of medication because she had none in stock. It didn’t arrive until this morning by which time I’d run out. My cleaner didn’t bring it round until this afternoon by which time it was too late to take it.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone note from the night. The cleaner came and awoke me this morning at 04:15. I don’t know why and I don’t know what happened but I was awake. I’d been with a rock group earlier. I’d been in and out but I’d been called back to play because the leader had died. We’d had a play and everything went well. We did this big concert which everyone seemed to enjoy. Afterwards when things had quietened down and people had left we all had a meeting to discuss events. They asked me what was my greatest feeling during this particular concert. I replied that it was a very personal moment. They all insisted and insisted, so after a while I was obliged to tell them

And then later on Castor was here! I was going round to drive a taxi for someone. It was quite a big family and they’d left me a pile of instructions. There was a taxi job to do from Stoke on Trent into Crewe followed by one from Manchester Airport. I had to fill the car up afterwards because he had an early morning job. I did the Stoke on Trent one and then went to Manchester Airport via Tarporley to go to see the girl whom I know there. From there, I went to Manchester Airport, fuelled up the car, picked up the passenger and came back to Crewe then carried on taxi-driving until it was time to go home. I cashed up and left the petrol receipt on the table as I usually did. Next day I went round to see how everything went and began to chat to one of his daughters, who was Castor. We had a really good chat until eventually she wandered off. I carried on doing what I was doing then on my way home out of the house I went into one of the bedrooms, which was actually outside and you went into it by a set of stairs and she was there with her younger sister teaching her to write. They were having something of an argument about how the “e” and the “s”, to make sure that there was no confusion. I watched for a while and then had a little chat to Castor. I said “maybe I’ll see you tomorrow”. She said “you aren’t coming this evening? as if to drive the taxi. I asked “why? Will you be here?”. She replied “no, I’m going to a party. I have to go to buy a dress at 17:00”. I asked about the party. It turned out that it was a grown-ups’ affair, not a kids’ affair and everyone would be there in formal dress, suits and ties, that kind of thing. We chatted about this for a while. In the end she looked me in the eye and asked “would you like to come with me?”. Of course I said “yes” so we we were there at this party and people began to dance. It was a waltz so I picked her up from her chair but she said that she couldn’t dance so I was there on the dance floor teaching her how to waltz with my arm around her etc.

The “girl in Tarporley” by the way was the one who wanted me to abandon Tuppence, my old black cat. But no-one comes between me and my cat.

She was a very anti-social cat who used to go to hide if anyone came to the house, but she set out to drive away that girl who was in danger of taking her place as mistress of the house.

With Nerina though, Tuppence didn’t have the opportunity. Nerina loves cats as much as I do and when she saw Tuppence the first time that she came to my house, it was “ohhh, a cat!” and Tuppence was in her arms before the poor cat had time to think about it

There is however quite a funny story involving a “first time” between Tuppence, Nerina and me, but it’s another one for which the World will have to wait for another time.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I stepped back into that dream (so don’t let me tell you that I never step back into dreams that feature my three young ladies) and was dancing with Castor again, doing a waltz with her.

So after all this time, Castor puts in another appearance in my nocturnal voyages. Welcome back.

And dancing with her was the best that I could do. Still, it’s better than nothing at all. George Bernard Shaw allegedly said that dancing was "a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire" so I shall just have to be content with the perpendicular expression and leave the rest, if there ever is any more, for another time.

The saddest part though is how we parted. As I said, I couldn’t understand it until two years or so ago when I had to say goodbye to someone at an airport. And had I known how difficult it would be to leave someone, I’d have departed like that too (except that it wasn’t me departing, but never mind)

Some goodbyes have to be said like that. My suitcase wasn’t big enough to bring both her and STRAWBERRY MOOSE back to Europe.

Having dealt with the dictaphone (and there was more, but you don’t want to read it if you are finishing your meal or something) I made a start on the work for the day.

Not that I managed to go very far because Rosemary rang me with a problem with which she needed help. It concerned one of these on-line meeting programs, and what do I know about those? I did what I could anyway.

Ther’s talk that she and a few people from the Auvergne might come to see me soon. That will be nice. Not that I can do very much right now, but nevertheless I might be able to manage something, even if it’s just to sit in a car or a café and chat.

Having finished my chat with Rosemary someone else then wanted a chat and what with one thing and another (and once you start, you’d be surprised how many other things there are) it was quite late when I finally restarted work and I eventually managed to finish the radio programme that I started yesterday.

And then I was hunting down some more music that I need and eventually found it. Then I had to extract it, reformat it and re-mix it so that it’s suitable for broadcast. There are still a few more songs that I need for the next programme but I’ll deal with that tomorrow after my Welsh class tomorrow morning.

Going round and round on the playlist for the last couple of days has been Bruce Springsteen.

Just like Neil Young, his battles with depression have led to some really diverse music. There’s the very dark, moody, brooding NEBRASKA written when he’s in the pit, contrasting with the exuberance of some of the songs of BORN IN THE USA written when he was on the crest of a wave.

But all through his music is the spectre of the Failed American Dream. I was told once by someone with whom I used to work that "the USA is a great place to succeed, but a terrible place in which to fail". All over the USA there are the evident signs of failure and depression and much of Springsteen’s music is about those.

His song THE RIVER is probably one of the saddest songs of all as it follows the downhill spiral of Bruce Springsteen’s brother – teenage pregnancy, unemployment and despair. It sums up much of the hidden USA that’s never shown in the media.

"Down to the river, but I know that the river is dry". All his hopes and dreams are washed away.

But the track that I’ve been listening to is RACING IN THE STREET off DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN.

That’s a really sad track about two ageing men desperately trying to cling on to their long-gone youth while the wife of the singer, who was with him in his youth, now sits at home alone in despair.

It’s something that I’ve actually lived. Substitute “From the fire roads to the interstate” to “From the fire roads to the Trans-Canada Highway” and I’ve been there, done that, with various people.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … you could move the whole of southern New Brunswick into Tennessee and neither the Tennesseens or the New Brunswickers would ever notice the difference. Living there for months on end was in danger of turning me into a redneck.

But never mind that for a moment. Aren’t the lyrics "She stares off alone into the night with the eyes of one who hates for just being born" some of the saddest lyrics you have ever heard?

Tea tonight was a stuffed pepper. And really delicious too with the stuffing made of couscous. That was a good invention, that was and I’m glad that it worked so well.

So now I’m off to bed, to sleep and have pleasant dreams. And hopefully Castor will come back to me again, although it’s unlikely.

While we’re on the subject of Springsteen … "well, one of us is" – ed … in “The River” you probably heard him sing "is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?" I can answer that question.

And that is that it’s something worse. My dreams don’t ever come true and I’m never likely ever to dance a waltz with Castor. I won’t ever see her again in real life.

But not to worry. Gene Kelly said "you dance love, you dance joy and you dance dreams" and I shall just have to dance the dreams, that’s all. Remember that Neitzsche said "those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music", and I’ve always been able to hear the music

That’s what’s kept me going.

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

… miserable night with very little sleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 8th February 2024 – WE’RE BACK TO …

… where we were a few months ago with the freezer, and how it’s now jam-packed to the brim with food.

Actually, that’s quite good news because it means that I don’t have to worry too much about from where my next meal is coming.

Having said that though, there are half a loaf, a bread finger and four bread baps in there that are taking up some of the place and if I were to eat those there would me more room in there, but I’m not ready to do that yet. As long as I can continue to make bread, I’ll make it and if there’s any left over, I’ll freeze it for another time with all of the rest that’s in there.

That will give me something about which I can think the next time that I’m lying in bed tossing and turning 1.e.not a night like last night where, despite having a late night I was out like a light and remember nothing at all until I awoke.

First job was to check the blood pressure + 17.4/10.5, a bit of a change from 18.2/11.6 this morning. There were also some note to tape to the dictaphone because when the alarm went off I was on another planet somewhere

After the medication I came back here to start work – or, at least, to try to, but once more it was really difficult to get going this morning

Once I’d come back round into the Land of the Living I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. This time, I had managed to go for a wander. There was a Led Zeppelin song going through my head last night. I was singing it and needed to know whether there was a background music being played with it or not. If the song had background music being played to it, it would be liable to tax. I’d have to pay money but how would I know whether there was any background music being played to it or not at this time of night when I’m asleep?

And I wasn’t surprised that I dictated that last night because I’ve given up being surprised by what goes on during the night

Later on there were two of my assembled pizzas. I had two of them done and they were in the fridge. They’d been in the fridge for several days. What I needed to do was to take them out and put the tomato sauce on. I was in the kitchen but it wasn’t mine. A small girl came along to help but I don’t know why she did that either.

So if I’m dreaming about my pizzas during the night that’s a sign of something, I’m sure. But putting the tomato sauce on top? No thank you very much

When the alarm went off I was dictating the notes for a radio programme. They included a young girl bassist. I was writing all kinds of notes about her and what she’d been doing. She was quite young. I’d made my way down from the start and I think that she was one of the ones who was almost near the end of the programme

All of that reminded me OF MATT MINGLEWOOD’S BASSIST whom I met when I was photographer for the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival in Fredericton. As I believe I said at the time, she could come round and have a strum on my instrument any time she likes.

On the subject of radio programmes, that was today’s task but first I had to deal with a phone call. And it was exactly as I suspected it might be. "Mr Hall, we’ve had the blood test results. You have to stop taking medication X and take medication Y instead. I’ll send you a prescription."

So the prescription duly arrived, and then I had to change all of the print cartridges in the printer which is now printing and missing lines to I had to clean all of the print heads. So you ever have the feeling that it’s just not your day?

While I was printing off the prescription I printed off some paperwork about Strider. He’s now no longer officially mine and I hope that he has found a good home with his new owners.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … it’s a shame about Strider. We travelled tens of thousands of miles together from the semi-tropical climate of Georgia up to the frozen peri-Arctic wastes of Northern Labrador, as far as it’s possible to go by road northwards.

He’s just the right height for me to slide in and out and using the cruise control, I can drive him with just my left foot. But I’m over here and he’s over there and that’s that.

And Liz has been very helpful too. She sent me a little parcel that arrived today with a knee support in it and also a vegan cookbook, the same one that she used when she was starting out.

It’s all an early birthday present for me and she says that she hopes that I find the cookbook helpful. Secretly though, I think that she’s fed up of me asking her all these silly questions, but I know that you love me really.

Who was next to interrupt me? Ahhh yes – I had to send off my Leclerc order as I’m running low. And so are they with this farmers’ dispute. Quite a few items of the dairy line are not available and there are no substitutes

But that’s not a real problem if I run out of desserts. Strangely enough, as it happens, I have been fancying a rice pudding for ages so when I bake my bread for the weekend tomorrow morning, I might put a rice pudding in with enough to keep me going for several days.

So halfway through writing up my notes for the radio programme the Leclerc delivery came and so I had to sort out everything and put it away, as well as de-coring and de-pithing a couple of peppers to go into the freezer. I have to build my stocks back up.

Earlier on, I’d sent a message to my cleaner about the new prescription and she popped down to pick it up and tell me the latest gossip about the building.

Back at work and I’d almost finished the radio notes when Rosemary rang for a chat. Just a short chat this evening, only 52 minutes. Barely enough time for an exchange of pleasantries

By now it was tea-time and I fancied steamed veg with falafel and cheese sauce. But I found some veggie balls made out of kidney beans that needed eating and they went down with cheese sauce just as well as falafel.

While I’ve been typing up my notes, I’ve been listening to Al Stewart again and SWISS COTTAGE MANOEUVRES came round on the playlist.

Right near the end of the song are the words "and I couldn’t say what I had won or I’d lost, or even just what I had seen. But when I’m alone I just think of her once in a while". Does it remind you of anything?

It certainly reminds me of something. I’m still shaking my head over that three days in the High Arctic. It was the strangest period of the really strange life that I have led, and there’s still no explanation that I can work out about what was going on.

Let’s face it – I’m well aware of my own limits and this was way beyond anything that would have been contained within them. I certainly couldn’t explain whether I’d won or lost, and I certainly couldn’t explain what I had just seen.

But many of Al Stewart’s songs are like that. These are of some kind of vague pining for a lost adolescence that might have been, if only we had been older and wiser, and doesn’t that apply to most of us?

It’s often been said about “how I wish that I’d had all of my adolescence back, but with all the experience (and the money) that I have today. Wouldn’t things be different?”.

Mine certainly would have been, but I don’t think that it would have been better. It wasn’t until I left Crewe and came over here that I really began to encounter real life in a much wider cultural setting. But as Paul Pena wrote and Steve Miller sang in BIG OLD JET AIRLINER"you know you gotta go through hell before you get to heaven"

And while this certainly isn’t heaven, living in Crewe was certainly hell