Tag Archives: TNS

Saturday 30th March 2024 – MY BROCCOLI STALK …

… soup was absolutely delicious at lunchtime.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 9th March 2024 – GUESS WHO …

… forgot to switch his alarm back on last night?

It goes without saying that Bane of Britain was up to his usual tricks.

But what was so surprising was that I awoke at 07:35. None of this stuff that we experienced last weekend. And I was wide awake too – to such an extent that I was actually up quite quickly. And that’s even more surprising.

First thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. 16.7/9.4. and don’t ask me what it was last night because I forgot to take it.

But next time that I go to the hospital I’ll be taking my blood pressure machine with me. The figures at the hospital are nothing like the ones that I’ve been recording here. They are much more normal. So I wonder if there’s a fault in my machine or I’m not using it correctly.

If we can compare readings when I go back, that might help. And so will a little practical instruction. It’s not actually very likely that things will be worse here than at the hospital – that is, in respect of anything that’s likely to adversely affect my blood pressure

But fancy forgetting to record it last night. It was actually quite a relaxing late evening watching the football highlights from the games that took place. Nothing really exciting, except that TNS continued their monotonous, relentless march by stuffing second placed Connah’s Quay 5-1 – at the Quay’s home ground.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’d be really proud of TNS’s achievements in the domestic game in Wales if only they would transfer some of that form to the European games that they play. But regularly and consistently (or should I say “monotonously and relentlessly”?) they are knocked out in the first round.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they could make it to the group stages of a European competition some time soon, and give us all something about which we can cheer? I mentioned the other day that depressing, dismal game in Sweden where we had to sit through 90 minutes of tactical ineptitude by a manager who is out of his depth at this level of competition.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

In the kitchen I collected the medication together and shovelled it in, piles of it. And it’s going to be even worse on Monday after my cleaner has been to the chemist’s with the new prescription. As if I don’t already have enough stuff in here.

But I’m glad that it’s the cleaner who goes to the chemist’s these days. I’m too embarrassed after the last incident that we had.

That time, I’d been to buy a pack of condoms. "What would you like?" she asked. "Ordinary? Or the new washable ones?"
"I’ll try the new washable ones" I said.
A week later, I went back to the chemists
"Can I have another pack of condoms, please?"
"What happened about the washable ones you had last week?" she asked
"Well, I’ve had this rather offensive letter from the laundry"

Having taken my medicine I went to make the bread for the weekend. And I forgot that it wasn’t Friday and that I wasn’t here, so I made three bread rolls as usual. So anyone who says that I don’t even have a clue what day it is is actually quite correct.

John Bongiovi TELLS THE DAY BY THE BOTTLES THAT (HE) DRINKS but I tell the days by the medication that I take, I reckon.

The bread still isn’t rising as well as it ought to, even though I’ve now moved on to a new type of flour. However, it wasn’t the abject failure of a couple of weeks ago and I suppose that we can be thankful for that

I tried baking it for slightly less time too, and that seemed to make a difference. But of course my oven is very much hit and miss so I can’t say with any certainty that it will be like that next week.

But anyway, it made a really nice toasted cheese sandwich, which was the name of the game anyway.

And that reminds me – me waxing lyrical about air fryers combined with a special offer on sale at LeClerc means that Rosemary has now joined the little air fryer community. As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’d be lost without my air fryer.

Next stop was to transcribe the dictaphone notes, not that there were all that many. There was a cute little girl at school who for some unknown reason seemed to attach herself to me, not that I minded particularly because I never did much at school except roam around. She caught me one day coming out of the school canteen. I asked her how she was. She wouldn’t say at first but in the end said that she’d failed her exam which I thought was something of a shame so I gave her a few encouraging words. Then she told me that she’d failed another one too so I didn’t think that things were going too well for her so I tried to boost her morale a little but I could see that she was rather sad. Then she asked, out of the blue, “do you want to be a GE?” which is the first level of work as a British diplomat in the Foreign Service. I asked why and it turned out that there was a meeting for schoolkids to hear a talk given by someone in the Foreign Service about careers with them. I thought to myself “I have to do something after I finish my exams, haven’t I?” so I said “yes, OK, I’ll come with you. I’ll be your invitee”. She said “you’re my second”. I asked “who’s the first?”, fearing the worst. And sure enough she mentioned the name of a student with whom I didn’t get on at all, who I thought was completely and utterly pretentious etc. She said “I’ve invited him”. I sighed and said “ohh well, OK” and said that I’d go with her to make her feel better. At least if she had two people coming with her it would do her some good in her exams which aren’t going too well anyway.

There seem to have been a few cute young girls attaching themselves to me during the course of the last few nights. I’ve no idea what’s going on here. I wish it had really been like that when I was at school.

And I wish that I knew who they were, so that I could see if it’s the same girl coming back, or a different girl each time. I’m intrigued to see how this serial ends, as I’m sure that you are. Doubtless though, one of my family will come along and shove le baton dans la rue at a crucial moment.

Like my brother, for example, who was “teacher’s pet” at school
"Why? Did teacher like him?" – ed
No – she kept him in a cage at the back of class.

But really – could you imagine me in the Diplomatic Service? It wouldn’t have been a shoe that I’d banged on the table as Nikita Khrushchev is alleged to have done, it would have been the heads of a few of the delegates.

It’s all very well these leaders pronouncing wars and all of that, but they aren’t the ones who have to fight them. It’s always the young and the poor. As the Communist Party once said about the First World War, “a bayonet is a weapon with a worker at each end”.

In my opinion, if someone wants to start a war, there should be vote. And all those who vote in favour should be given a rifle and tin hat and sent to the Front to fight it while everyone else stays at home.

Next on the agenda was the football. Y Bala v Caernarfon.

Two teams challenging for fourth place but it didn’t look much like it. The gale-force wind had something to say about the standard of play, I suppose, but in all honesty it will be one those games that will be forgotten quite quickly.

There was a good crowd there, as there always is when Caernarfon play, but I think that they were probably expecting more for their money than a tame, lacklustre 1-1 draw.

The rest of the day, apart from 10 minutes when I was away with the fairies, was spent chopping up sound tracks. Only about 30 or 40 hours remain before I can start to attack the stuff that the Shrewsbury Folk Festival sent me at the start of the year.

And I shudder to think of how much there is to do there. I’ve told you before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … that i’m far too busy to die

Tea was baked potato with salad and one of the breaded quorn fillets that I like. And my home-made mayonnaise from the other week is still keeping on going. The garlic in there hasn’t dissolved the bottle, despite how muc I put in it. I really should put somewhat less in there than I do.

So having finished my notes, I’ll wait for it to go quite than do my dictating. Two programmes that need re-dictating and a third that I prepared last week. It’ll all be a right mess when I finish

Tomorrow there’s an alarm call – 11:00, which might be late for some but it’s early for me on a Sunday. I always stay up quite late because it’s only when the streets are perfectly quiet that I can dictate the notes properly

And then there’s pizza dough to make, and anything else that I can think of. I’ve not made any biscuits for ages, have I? Chocolate biscuits are always good but it’s been years since I’ve made any oat and honey ones. I might think about that.

Right now though I’m going to relax for a little while and find something interesting to read, like that friend of mine who read all of these horrifying reports on the effects of smoking.
"They frightened me so much that I gave up" he said
"Gave up smoking?" I asked
"No" he replied. "Reading"

Saturday 3nd March 2023 – I’M FED UP …

… of falling asleep during the day and not having anything done.

Fighting off wave after wave of sleep while trying to watch the football, I ended up crashing out for several hours later on and I’ve even crashed out while typing these notes.

It beats me what’s responsible for it. One of these medicines, that’s for sure, but which one? But all I can say is that I’m glad that I don’t drive any more, because this would be driving me up the wall.

It was another late night last night, simply because of the highlights of the football for the evening being posted. Connah’s Quay’s defeat at Bala means that TNS would be handed the championship yet again if they win against Cardiff Metro this afternoon.

So on that sombre note I wandered off to bed, later than usual, and settled down for a good night’s sleep.

When the alarm went off and awoke me, I was dreaming about people wearing different clothes, being in different epochs that they chose. I could just imagine the scene when awakening, asking for a pair of 1950s undies, something like that. Think of how confusing it would be for people. But there are many people who don’t want to live in the modern world today

And I for one, entangled in the technological jungle, think fondly of my past life in Crewe where we didn’t have these new-fangled inventions like the wheel to bother us and where the most exciting thing that happened was when that tree fell down in 1847 and people still talk about it now.

They have these blue plaques on some houses that say something like “between 1903 and 1926 this house was inhabited by no-one of any importance”.

First thing this morning was to check the blood pressure. 15.4/8.5 this morning, compared to 13.0/8.3 last night. So something during the night must have wound me up. I shall have to go back and see.

It’s nice though to see it generally falling. They were quite worried about that at one time. Mind you, I wish that I knew how to control it without medication.

On that note I staggered into the kitchen for another helping of medication

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night, apart from discussing historical underclothes of course. This is where my Wing for the Air Force has been split up and the daughter of one of the pilots, a young girl probably 7 or 8, has been kidnapped somewhere between Iceland and Greenland. It was the patrol’s light-hearted way of doing things that had enabled this to happen Now, their next job was to try to find this little girl even though they had these transatlantic patrols to maintain all the time every so many hours they were out flying over the ocean

This sounds as if it might relate to part of the novel that I’ll never ever write now, where I had my anti-submarine patrols bases in Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland, the Caribbean, Brazil and the Azores fighting the Battle of the Atlantic in 1943.

Later on I stepped back into that dream again afterwards … "which dream?" – ed … but there was another part of this dream that was based in an office where I worked. I’d applied for some annual leave but it was over a busy period. The annual leave was about my health issues. On one particular afternoon I was being confirmed into some kind of religion or other ready for my eventual death but when the boss called me in he talked to me about the possibility of promotion, how I needed to show that I was a firm, loyal and committed member of his team in order to be promoted. Feeling that it was rather late now for me to change my ways I basically mentioned to him what was happening and asked him what I could do about it to ensure that I’d be promoted, which event should I abandoned, which postpone, which cancel, what should I do with something else so that my cancelling it with some kind of higher position in the league or in a higher division would be a much better option for everyone than me going off and being treated for my health issues.

Then I had a dream about being in the Air Force with people in the front line, forming this special squadron that must be provisioned properly when requested. Bomber Command tried to hoist onto it a raid that was out of their jurisdiction – involving bombing somewhere south of Crewe and flattening it. The senior officers objected. In the end senior officers were put into the plane but had to board it in senior order or near enough. In the lower ranks what they did was to quite simply transfer everyone to shore-going establishments where there were no provisions to attack anything.
Then the dream changed later on. I was back in it when it was 3 officers who were on their way to the camp which was in the middle of Shropshire, lost in a backstreet somewhere. They asked me about it and I told them where it was, but decided to follow them just in case they weren’t who they said they were and were up to no good. It was a good job that I did because I noticed a couple of things that brought my attention to them.

Why would anyone want to bomb anywhere south of Crewe and flatten it? In my opinion, Crewe would be an ideal target for all of that. During the “Baedecker Raids” a stick of bombs fell on Crewe and caused £14,000,000 of improvements and we could do with a few more of that type of thing.

The town centre right now looks like Dresden after an Allied air raid and I shudder to think of what they’ll erect in place of the bus station and the shops that were there. As the current King Charles said a while back, "You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe. When it knocked down our buildings, it didn’t replace them with anything more offensive than rubble"

What beats me about the current plans for the town centre are firstly, why are they building the multi-storey car park first when there is nothing for anyone parking there to see or do in the town centre? And secondly, why are they building shops there when they couldn’t find tenants for the shops that were there just now?

But as long as they build a new bus station complete with public convenience. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I passed my Biology “O” level with flying colours thanks to the helpful drawings on the walls of the gentleman’s rest room and I want others to have the same chance as I had.

Having dealt with all of that I had a few things to do and then I went for my lovely cheese on toast. It would be nicer if the bread would rise more, but I really must work harder than I do with it. But “gently” is the word, don’t fight it. Pretend that I’m massaging Zero’s clavicles.

What I’ve been doing today, when I’ve not been asleep, is going through that mass of stuff that I sorted out last night and splitting it up into tracks. I’ve not done much, because I’ve been asleep for quite a while today, to my bitter regret.

There’s a few done, but I really could have done with doing a few more.

Football on the internet, as I said today. TNS v Cardiff Metro. A win for TNS would see them win the championship with about 8 games to spare, which out of a 32-game season is some impressive going.

And as expected, they swept the Met aside in a canter and strolled to an easy 4-0 victory. And it should have been many more than that.

There’s no stopping TNS on the domestic front these days, but how I wish that they would transfer this form into Europe and win a few games there

Many people say that the dominance of TNS is killing the game, but the fact is that it’s the fans who are the winners because in the race to try to keep up with TNS, the quality of teams, matches and facilities has come on in leaps and bounds, so everyone is a winner.

But while we’re on the subject of football and winners, THIS ONE is the kind of game that I like. Where one club is pushing and pushing forward with wave after wave of attack and fail to produce anything, whereas the other team goes racing away downfield in a breakaway and score a goal from their only attack.

Tea tonight was another one of these breaded quorn filets that I like, with salad and baked potatoes. And the potatoes were so nice that I baked another one.

Rice pudding for afters too, and I can’t complain at all.

Tomorrow I have some hummus to make, and also some fruit buns as I’m running out of those. That should keep me busy for an hour or so while I’m making my pizza, I suppose. There is some pizza dough left – I checked.

But the hummus will be nice, one batch with chilis and the other with olives and I’ve forgotten the sun-dried tomatoes again. I’m not sure what I have that will go with olives in a hummus.

Garlic, obviously. That goes without saying. never any danger whatever of vampires coming around here with the amount of garlic that I use.

When I was at Castle Dracula in Romania that time in the early 1990s I actually met a vampire there. We had a race together and it was neck and neck all the way.

But seriously, when we were kids the neighbour’s boy told us that he’d been reading a book where someone killed a vampire with a stake.

"That’s nothing!" we retorted. "Our mother could do that with her egg and chips"

They are actually running a remake of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA so I shall take myself away and carry on reading it while I wait for everything to quieten down so that i can dictate my radio notes.

It’s one of these books that has already been reworked to correspond with the New World Order and stars a trans-sexual cross-dressing vampire. Known, as you might expect, as Count Dragula.

I’ll get my coat.

Saturday 3rd February 2024 – YOU MIGHT THINK …

… that the fact that I crashed out, and quite definitively too . round about 12:00 for a good couple of hours is indicative of the fact that the anti-potassium stuff isn’t the cause of this overwhelming desire to sleep at some point during the day0

However, I remain (for the moment) unconvinced.

The fact is that with the anti-potassium stuff I’m out like a light with no warning whatsoever and don’t even realise that I’ve been asleep. Today though, I awoke tired and spent most of the morning fighting off wave after wave of sleep.

It’s quite surprising really because it wasn’t as if I was late to bed or anything like that, and the night was nothing like as turbulent as some have been just recently.

For a start, none of my favourite ladies put in an appearance and from that point of view it was a very lonely night.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed as usual and took my blood pressure. last night’s was an exciting 17.2/12.3. This morning’s was an interesting 18.1/10.7. and that’s after a relaxing night’s sleep. I wonder what it would be if one of the three girls had come and spent some time with me during the night.

Anyway, I wandered off into the kitchen for my medication and do on and then came back in here.

Things weren’t so simple to start off because I was so tired that I could hardly see. But anyway, after a good while, I began to transcribe the dictaphone notes. There was something about some kind of guy who had killed someone. The person had been put inside a coffin but he raided the coffin, took the corpse out and pounded it again. When he died, he was buried but a lot of people found out where he was buried, where his grave was, so they had this competition of throwing rocks at his grave until they unearthed his coffin, then they continued to throw rocks. He had some kind of coffin with special attachments etc and you could see that they had all been exposed and destroyed. It looked as if the top had come off the coffin but they were still pounding it with rocks. Then other people began to enjoy it. There were all kinds of mysteries happening about other coffins. We came to believe that one of the guys who worked for us was involved in this. The coffins that we’d set aside for us had been badly damaged somehow and no-one knew why. I suggested to my friend that perhaps we really ought to buy some more coffins. My friend immediately thought “that’s rather tempting fate, isn’t it with this guy working for us, making our drinks and food etc? Anything is likely to happen to us”.

As you can see, I have some exciting dreams during the night

But somewhere along the line we were dealing with things when past us in the window went a couple of coaches, old Plaxton Supreme Vs or something belonging to a company in the area. I suddenly remembered that what they did was to hire out their coaches to owner-drivers. They had a lovely V-registration (the old “V”) Volvo Plaxton Elite that was available for hire. I thought that next tie I took a private party onto the Continent I ought to think about maybe going to see them and talk to them about hiring the Volvo instead of hiring from Shearings or from the local company that I used in Crewe.

Later on I was with Hawkwind playing bass and we developed a really new number that we worked on. We were practising it and bashing it out. The producer came in. He heard that we were doing this song but said that there was one line that we had to change, one about being in Keele in April. The song might give the idea to people that everything was OK whereas in fact what we want was in the right character for people to know that it’s not OK … fell asleep here … Anyway so we had to change this lyric but when we did we found that it didn’t scan. I had to stop and think, to try to work on the previous line and the line that we’d just invented so as to make them scan. And then they needed to rhyme too and that was going to be quite a task. One of the players in the group who tried to play this line suddenly leant over and fell against the wall. We all then suspected that something else had been put in this coffee, not just chocolate powder, so we had to prepare a sample ready to go to a laboratory so that it could tell us exactly what it is that’s in there

But not that I would ever have ended up playing bass with Hawkwind of course, much as I would have liked to have done, but there’s a story here too. There are several Hawkwind tracks that I play where when I sing them I change one or two words here and there to change a meaning completely.

Sometimes they scan, and sometimes they don’t. I wonder if you could spot which word I would change in MOONGLUM for example.

And then I was with my friend from the Wirral. His life had completely changed. He’d had a divorce and was running some kind of photography place in the USA. He was over here so we met and we chatted about his new life etc. It turned out that it was his birthday so I said that I’d sent him a present. I had little 25-watt solar kits of a panel, a charge controller and one or two other little appliances. I thought that it would be nice to send it to him as a gift. I packed it up – it was much heavier than I expected – and I had to chisel his address out of him once or twice, his new address, but eventually I was given it. I wrote it down on the brown paper of this parcel but it didn’t stand out very well so I had to hunt for a marker pen to write it. Then it was a little indistinct. Anyway I picked it up and went off. We met somewhere on another car park. He felt the parcel and he thought that it was heavy too. I replied “never mind – it’s a little present for you that will come in the post”. Then I had to find a Post Office that was open. That wasn’t easy. I tried 3 or 4 and eventually found one that would accept it and send it off for me

By the time that I’d written all of that it was break time so I went for my coffee and toasted cheese sandwich, with my rock-hard bread. But nevertheless it still tasted quite nice regardless.

While we’re talking about bread … "well, one of us is" – ed … when I came back here afterwards I found that Sean had written to me about it. he thinks that I’m kneading my dough too hard and I ought to ease up and be as gentle as I was cutting that tile last night.

Looking at things, I do have a tendency to fight with my dough, I suppose. Maybe I shall have to pretend that I’m massaging the clavicles of one of my favourite young ladies.

But on the subject of bread, I remember very well my little voyage to Canada in 2012. I’d been writing a book ABOUT LANOUILLER AND BÉCANCOUR’S CHEMIN DU ROY and although the road was started in the 17th Century, you wouldn’t believe (but it’s true) that it’s still not finished.

Consequently I was determined to drive all the way down to the end to see what happens there.

It actually fizzles out into nothing but nearby is a port where there’s an icebreaker-supply ship that goes out through the ice to supply the outlying islands.

And so I turned up at the port and managed to blag my way on board the ship.

It dropped me off at one of the islands with a promise to come back in a couple of days to pick me up again (and apparently, my family and friends had a whip-round to pay the captain to leave me there) and I found a billet there with an old woman.

She made all of the bread for the island and I had an interesting lesson with her. And she used to have a real fight with her dough.

And one day she asked me to go down to the cellar to bring up a small sack of flour
"I can only see 56lb sacks down here" I shouted
"yes, that’s the small one"

When you are only approvisioned for 8 months of the year I suppose that you have to keep a good stock on hand. That’s what we had to do in the Auvergne – stock up with food. We could have half a metre of snow overnight and not be able to go anywhere for several weeks.

But anyway, I asked her what she did for fuel because there wasn’t a single tree on the island and I know all about Québec Hydro electricity prices.
"Everyone waits until the water freezes over then they go over on their skidoos to the mainland to cut down the trees and drag them back"
"Well, if you don’t mind my saying so, you don’t look the type to go over the ice on a skidoo"
"I don’t" she replied. "But everyone else does. How do you think that they pay for the bread?"

That’s what I really call “kneading the dough”.

Yes, I learnt a lot, an awful lot on my voyages to the edge of the World. But as Samuel Gurney Cresswell said after a voyage with M’Clure, "A voyage to the High Arctic ought to make anyone a wiser and better man"

But having said that, look what happened on those last few days in 2019 on my final trip up there.

But I digress … "again" – ed

Back here I began to write up the rest of the notes for my radio programme as best as I could with all of this sleep going on, but I ended up curled up on my chair asleep, despite the coffee. I must be immune to caffeine.

While I was asleep I was on one of the smaller Channel Islands walking down a footpath, behind a group of people who had a couple of young children. They were walking slowly but I couldn’t go past them. When the footpath came to the sea there were two Martello-type lighthouses really close together, one at the end of the island and the other that I imagined was a French one on some small rock in French waters. We walked on with the sea to our right and round a corner we saw that the crescent moon had a planet shining from within the horns of the crescent. I reached for my phone to take a photo but no matter how I tried I couldn’t switch on the camera. I tried for ages to switch it on but to no avail

That’s how deep the sleep was. I was miles away, quite literally too. But how many times have I had this dream about my camera not working? It was night after night after night some time not so long ago

This afternoon I didn’t do very much – just watched the highlights of a couple of football matches from last night and made a start on a little project that I’d been promising to do for a while.

Then I knocked off for an early tea. Burger on a bap with vegan salad and chips. Delicious as usual. My air fryer is really working well and I’m pleased that I decided to buy one.

Tea was early because there was football on the Internet – FALKIRK v TNS In the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Although it’s a Scottish competition clubs from England, Wales and Northern Ireland are invited to compete and TNS have fought their way all the way to the semi-finals

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’m no fan of TNS, and for several reasons too, but when they are flying the flag for the Land of my Grandmother (and mine) on foreign soil, they’ll receive all the support that I can give them

But what if they were playing a team from Canada? Having a grandmother from each country would make life rather complicated.

Anyway, I’m not going to tell you the score of the game. I’ve posted a link to the match and if you want to see how it ended, you’ll just have to watch it.

So now that I’ve finished my notes, I have to start work.

There are three lots of radio programmes that need to be dictated and that’ll take a while. But as Hamfast Gamgee said, "It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish" so I’d better get a move on.

After all, as Mona Lott said in “It’s That Man Again”, "It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going"

However I always remember a character in the old 1950s radio programme “Dragnet” say "It’s no crime to get lost" and so I will.

Goodnight.

Monday 22nd January 2024 – THIS PERISHING RUBBISH …

… that I’m taking to control the potassium in my kidneys is going way beyond what is reasonable.

After having the helping at 07:30 or so with the morning medication by 09:05 I was out like a light and the next thing that I remember was that it was about 11:00. It was really as if someone had simply flicked a switch.

And when I awoke I was in a state of utter confusion that has continued to some extent or another throughout the day

Surprisingly, I found that I had even been on my travels while I was crashed out on the chair. I was in Nantwich and noticed that there was a big hotel right opposite the railway station, right by the bus station (which it isn’t) so I had this idea of going round France and the UK, finding similar hotels located in similar good positions and marketing holidays aimed at the pedestrian tourist with luggage. When Hawkwind awoke me with ANGELS OF DEATH I was busy setting up a stand at a railway junction in the Gironde somewhere in order to greet my passengers who were changing trains there.

That’s exactly how deep a sleep it was.

But returning to last night, I didn’t need much rocking when I went to bed loaded up with this anti-potassium stuff, that’s for sure. I was soon away with the fairies.

And quite literally too. I must have travelled miles during the night. I dreamed that I’d had one of those drinks again (and that’s bad news, isn’t it?). I remember so vividly mixing it and drinking it and thinking that this time of course it didn’t taste so bad so what was I worried about? Thinking that it was the nicest one yet. When I turned over I awoke from the pain in my leg. I looked at my watch and it was 00:25 and I was still in bed so it was something that I obviously must have dreamt but it was so real.

Later on I was in my blue MkI Cortina. I was out with a girl again last night. I had to take her home so we drove home. As we went through Haslington there was a sign that said “Winsford Station” and it was 8.5 miles away. I thought that that was a strange thing to see. I brought her home and parked outside the door to her apartment. I asked her for a kiss but she thought that it was rather too much of a public place. But we had a bit of a kiss etc parked outside her door then she went in. I wish that I knew who she was. She was very familiar to me but I just can’t think whether I knew her or not. Just round the corner from there was a golf club. I wanted to use the bathroom so I thought that I’d go there. I went in and did what I needed to do. I thought that these toilets are much higher than the usual ones and I felt much more comfortable sitting on these than I did on the one back at home at the traditional height. It was easy for me to dress afterwards. As I turned to wash my hands I noticed that someone had left a golf cart and golf clubs right by the sink. I washed as well as I could. I picked up my crutches but there were some other crutches there too. I picked those up and walked outside. There was a cleaning team there because it was time to go home and close the building. I explained to one of them, a young guy, that there was a set of golf clubs still in the toilet. He thanked me and said goodbye. he told me not to forget all my crutches. I realised that I had the ones that weren’t mine so I told him about those too and handed them to one of the people.

But I wish that I knew who that girl was. She seemed so familiar to me that I’m sure that I recognised her but I just couldn’t put a name to her. And isn’t that a shame?

And then it was common knowledge that I was leaving the hospital so a day or two before I was due to go a whole crocodile of people passed by my bed in a kind-of conga dance to say goodbye to me. I was drugged up to the eyebrows so I was rather unaware, rather unsure. One of the very last people to go was something small dressed in pierrot’s clothes and a STRAWBERRY MOOSE hat on it. With it being small it can’t possibly have been someone who worked there. Then I remembered that one of the staff had a very young daughter and brought her into the hospital every now and again. She’d been to see me a few times so I reached out, touched her arm and began to stroke it in time to the music. A horrible thought came over me “I wish that I knew who this was and I hope that it was that young girl otherwise this is going to be a terribly embarrassing situation in which to be”. I forgot to mention that right at the very beginning I was asleep. It was someone blowing a hunting horn of some description that had in fact awoken me, just blowing 2 blasts on this horn so I was awake and that was how, because of this horn

Next off I was with Nerina in a house somewhere. I can’t remember very much about this dream. I’d prepared a programme for the radio and had sent it off. Very near the end what I’d put in there was wiped out and Thierry’s voice came over, introduced a song but it only played so many seconds of it before it cut to the News. I heard him say “oh blast!” but I wasn’t sure whether it was for real or on the radio. After the news his voice carried on and went well over the hour so I had no idea what was happening. In the meantime I was planning on buying a house. I’d seen one out in Brittany that I’d liked , a farm cottage type of place on the edge of a village with outbuildings at the back for the cars. I’d bought it but trying to obtain possession was proving to be really complicated. I knew that it would happen and I knew that it would come but trying to actually physically obtain it was proving to be extremely difficult

After that, someone came along and awoke me and said that it was time so I began to get up but I thought that it was rather early. My pianist, who was sleeping in the same room got up and told everyone that she would help me. That seemed to satisfy them all. After some debate and discussion they all left. In the meantime I went back to sleep again. Then I awoke and wondered why the alarm hadn’t gone off for a second time. I looked at my watch and it was 05:46, a long time before the alarm goes off so that part must have been a dream too.

And who was this pianist? Surely not the 12-inch pianist that my rather deaf fairy Godmother brought me once.

When the alarm went off I was busy being interviewed by a Colonel from a Home Guard regiment in Normandy. They were creating this to defend the land against the invading Germans and wanted volunteers so I went along. He laughed and said that I wouldn’t be any good. I explained that I couldn’t march and couldn’t run but I could fire a gun. I could be the battalion reserve. In case of invasion they could just put me somewhere with a machine gun and I could act as their hold-up man while they went off and found some better positions somewhere.

There was even more that this but you really don’t want to know about it, especially if you are eating your lunch right now.

So I staggered on my crutches into the kitchen to pump myself up with more medication, and then back in here to check the mails and messages. and I do appreciate all of the mails and messages that I receive.

Having transcribed the dictaphone notes I promptly crashed out as I said just now.

It was a very bleary-eyed and comparatively incoherent me who had to speak to the nurse from the hospital ringing up to find out how I was. I told her about the problems with the anti-potassium medication and about water retention, the ack of ability to walk etc.

She replied that she’d speak to the doctor about it but as yet no-one has come back to me. They are probably waiting for the result of this week’s blood test.

And so am I if it means that I can stop taking the blasted stuff.

There was an exciting phone call over midday too. I was speaking to my neighbour on the phone when suddenly she had to go because there was someone at her door.

No sooner had she come back and restarted the chat when I had to go because there was someone at my door. It was my long-suffering cleaner who had brought me my next lot of injections. And there are more to come too, which will be here on Wednesday. I hope that there will be some room in the fridge.

We finally managed to finish our ‘phone call and then I had to chase up this bon de transport to go to Paris tomorrow. And the doctor had actually already sent it – to the taxi company.

And he’s put the address incorrectly. It’s not actually the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière where I’m going but the Hospital St Antoine. I hope that the taxi driver knows the way and it won’t cause any complications, because the doctor has filled out bon de transport is for the Hospital Pitié-Salpetrière.

The ambulance company that brought me home on Friday rang me too. There’s some confusion in their office about my health cover

Apart from that I’ve been weaving my way through the next radio programme. I listened to the one for this week and sent it off and then made a start on another.

And how difficult is it when you have all these interruptions and your head is going round and round after this drink? It took me an age to choose the music and pair it off, and I’ve only written half of the notes. I really ought to be doing better than this.

But not right now though. I’ve had tea – a stuffed pepper that somehow didn’t seem to be as nice as usual and I don’t know why, and now I’m off to bed ready for my … gulp … 06:30 alarm clock.

Before I go though, I’ll leave you with THE HIGHLIGHTS of the game from the weekend. When that ball hit the bar after 55 seconds, I could hear it from here, never mind on the computer.

In case you’re wondering, which I’m sure you are, the team in purple are under-21 stars of a team that’s pushing for promotion in the English Championship. The team in white and green are basically Saturday afternoon players from Wales.

But look at their third and fifth goals. Aren’t they peaches?

Saturday 20th January 2024 – THIS BLASTED DRINK …

… that they have prescribed me to alleviate the excess potassium in my kidneys really is driving me mad.

Last night I had a drink of it before going to bed and was stark out of everything, including my head, for several hours once I’d gone to bed. Fair enough, it was after midnight when I finally retired but until about 03:20 when I awoke, in exactly the same position as when I went to sleep, I remember nothing whatever.

And then after the helping this morning I was slumped over my desk fast asleep until 11:20, and then it took a good while before I felt in any condition to stand up and make my cheese on toast.

There should have been a helping at midday too but I eschewed that. I just couldn’t imagine the idea of being stark out for several hours during the afternoon.

And so as you can imagine, I haven’t done very much today . And surprisingly, I didn’t do much during the night either. I was working on the radio at one point night and was trying to prepare a programme. We had a visitor, a little girl rather like Shirley Temple, come along so naturally I let her do a little here and there and I played a song for her etc. A few people gathered around the doorway to watch. After we’d done about 3 or 4 songs I said that we were going to continue the programme and I’d play a song for one of the girls standing at the door so I wanted everyone to be quiet. That brought something of a dispute and discussion from some of them. I thought “this isn’t going to be very good radio at all”. Eventually when I had everyone quiet I was just about to play the song when the girl … shall we say … made a noise. Of course the whole studio dissolved into a huge fit of laughter. I thought “God, this is no way to run a radio station with all of this kind of thing going on”.

Later on, my friends from the Wirral and I were out in the red Cortina estate going somewhere when I needed to stop for fuel. There was a little wayside pump at the side of the road so we stopped there. There was no cashier, no owner’s sign and no price displayed. By the time I went to fuel up it had transformed into a proper fuel station with shop, cashier, café etc. My friend told me that he’d paid so I began to fuel up. The car was quite empty so it needed a lot of fuel. I asked him how much he paid but he didn’t answer. Instead, a figure of £91:37 flashed up on the screen. I didn’t realise the significance of this so as he hadn’t answered I asked him again. Again he didn’t reply but once more the figure of £91:37 flashed up on the screen. After another couple of times of asking I suddenly realised that the figure of £91:37 was what he’d paid. The actual total was less than that. He and his wife said “I didn’t realise that you were so poor”. I asked what he meant and he said “the car stereo – you’re using something different and DAMNATION ALLEY is playing. I actually had a micro-card reader with memory card plugged into the aux socket of the car stereo. I reminded him that he needed his change but he seemed to walk away so I had to remind him to collect his change. However we ended up going into a little shop on the site. We had to queue to go in so my friend’s wife reminded me to look for some marmalade. When we finally reached the head of the queue my friend asked for a tin of something that was displayed on the wall behind the cashier. It was written in Chinese characters and was a kind-of duck-egg blue. He studied the tin for a while and said “I think the type that I have is a darker green colour” so the guy pointed to another one on the side wall. It looked the same to me and my friend’s wife whispered to him “never mind. We’ll go to (a shop name). We get more points there anyway”.

And when I awoke, “Damnation Alley” was indeed playing on the computer. How about that for foresight?

And the red Cortina estate again? It’s probably tired of sitting in the warehouse and needs a run out. It’s not been run since 2000 when I drove it from Brussels to Montaigut towing a scrap MkV Cortina on an A-frame.

That was an adventure and no mistake. No rear brakes on it either so I came at night down the autoroute in the darkness and was only stopped once by the Police

But it’ll make someone a lovely, and valuable vehicle. It needs the head refurbishing, especially the valve guides replacing as it burns a cloud of oil when it starts up, which is no surprise due to its intergalactic mileage. But then the head will need refurbishing anyway to comply with “unleaded” standards.

There are no rear brakes, as I said. There’s a strange vibration from the back axle that vibrates the rear brake pipe and fractures it at one of the cylinders so it leaks fluid. The easiest answer is to blank off the brake line and drive carefully.

The wheels need refurbishing too. They are alloy wheels but they are letting out air.

Apart from that, it’s all original, never been welded and it’s a beautiful car that’ll look really nice on someone’s drive or on a Summer Sunday drive.

But I digress … "again" – ed

So that was the story of my night. When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and took my blood pressure – still slowly rising and I don’t have a clue why – not that I am too bothered because I can’t do anything about it anyway so why worry?

Then we had the usual pantomime of me trying to dress and then I staggered off to find my medication, including this blasted drink stuff.

Back here, as I said, I crashed out for several hours and then I wasn’t in much of a state to do anything.

When I finally started work, whenever that was, I carried on with de-duplicating my computer . I disposed of quite a few files that were duplicates or earlier versions of ones already there and one of the directories (yes, I grew up with DOS 5.0) is looking a little tidier now.

While I was searching for something I came across a live football match – Pontypridd United v Cardiff Metropolitan. And I’d watched 55 minutes of it before I realised that it was from last year and I’d seen it before.

There was football later on – TNS v Abertawe under-21s in the final of a cup competition run by the Football Association of Wales.

Not that I’m a big fan of TNS by any means at all – quite the reverse, and for a variety of reasons too that would take far too long to explain. But when they are up against one of the five teams that turned their backs on the Welsh pyramid when it was created in 1992, I’ll be their biggest fan.

Of course, it’s quite true that TNS, based in Oswestry, are in effect an English club But there’s a huge Welsh heritage in Oswestry , which was part of Wales until comparatively modern times and a survey taken in 1972 indicated that a return to Wales would be popular. And the situation has intensified since.

However the big clubs have turned their backs on their country and continued to play their football in the English leagues purely for financial reasons

It’s a long and complicated story but to cut things short … "hooray" – ed … Abertawe’s under-21s made it to the final where they met TNs and I am delighted to say that TNS stuffed them 5-1 in a historic result.

Down the centre of the field it was all pretty much even but TNS’s wingers tore Abertawe’s full-backs to shreds, which you’ll see in due course when the presenting company posts the highlight video.

In the meantime, HERE’S AN INTERESTING MATCH in the second tier between Caerfyrddyn and Rhydaman. I don’t think that I have ever seen so many “sitters” missed in one game in the whole of my life.

Tea tonight was delicious baked potatoes done to perfection in the air fryer, and a vegan salad and vegan burger.

And I’ve reached a crisis because I’m running low, very low indeed on the burgers that I like, the vegetable mash type that are covered in a kind-of battery breadcrumbs. I shall have to smile sweetly at Liz and pick her brains on a way of making them. We had an interesting chat this evening and I should have asked her then.

Or anyone else’s brains if anyone else has any ideas too. Someone always comes up with something.

So that’s it for today. I’ve done enough. And no baking tomorrow means that I can take it easy. But what a life, locked in my apartment and daren’t go out in case I can’t climb the stairs on the way back.

But I’ve been thinking about this nerve issue. I’ve said before that after I’ve had a fall I always seem to feel worse.

And so I’m wondering if it’s not the fall that causing the sudden dramatic deterioration each time, but the dramatic deterioration that’s causing the fall.

Remember when I was at Noz a few months ago when I had that sudden, stabbing pain in my left (the good) leg that caused me to fall down? Maybe it’s that that’s happening in the right leg but because the senses there are dead, I can’t feel it.

If you can imagine an electric discharge or shock in your system for example that scorches down your leg and burns out a nerve, something like that.

So I’ll talk to the specialist when I see him on 14th February. Meantime I’m off to Paris again on Tuesday to have a Holter machine fitted – a machine that monitors your heartbeat on a permanent basis.

Rosemary thinks that that’s the first step before having a pacemaker fitted. I suppose that they’ll have to try to do something to keep me alive, even if it’s just to watch THIS RARE BING6NEEL SYNDROME advance through my body.

"It’s just like you, that is, not to have a simple illness like everyone else" she complained.

Saturday 28th October 2023 – FOR THE FIRST …

… time since I don’t know when, there wasn’t anything on the dictaphone from the night and that’s not something that happens every day. I must have had one of the deepest sleeps that I’ve ever had.

Mind you, I didn’t go to bed until after 04:00. I was quite wound up and stressed out after my travels yesterday.

What I used to do in the old days when I drove taxis was that when I would finally return home I’d go out for a good run to tire myself out

That wasn’t anything that I could do after I married because I never had the time to unwind but when I moved to Brussels and was chauffering, I would go out running again. And I must admit that I was sleeping better after I started running yet again after I moved here.

Of course, all of that is well in the past now.

As I expected, the phone never stopped pinging during the early morning but I tried my best to ignore it. Nevertheless I abandoned all hope and staggered to my feet at 11:40.

Today, I’ve been quite busy. For a start, I’ve had to back up the main computer with all of the amended files that accumulated on the portable computer while I was away at Ice Station Zebra. And there were several hundred of those. It took ages.

There were several discussions on the phone and the internet too. Rosemary rang me and we had another one of our marathon chats. Liz and one or two other people sent me messages but the most surprising, and one of the most welcome, was a chat that I had with someone with whom I usually only have interaction during the night when I’m asleep.

We had football too – TNS v Y Bala. And as you might expect, it was more a case of “when” rather than “what”. The fact that Y Bala held out for 35 minutes before conceding was something surprising.

TNS scored a second too but Y Bala held out until the final whistle. And that was a much better effort than the last time that we saw TNS play Y Bala, when the latter team folded up so dramatically in the final few minutes last summer.

Sure enough, TNS are on their usual relentless stride to the championship with no real opposition from anyone.

Many people think that it must be pretty boring with TNS winning everything every year since the money came into the club, and whether or not that might be the case, the fact is that the race to catch up has improved the quality of the matches and the quality of the players dramatically.

In recent years we’ve had 4 full Welsh internationals, several under-21 internationals, a Zimbabwe international and internationals from Malta, New Zealand and one of the Caribbean nations plus many more besides. There was nothing whatever like that 10 years ago.

Tea tonight, later than usual, was chips (potato and sweet potato) with salad and one of those breaded quorn fillets that I like so much.

So bedtime now, and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll go on a wander about again during the night. I missed my night-time voyage.

Tomorrow I have pizza dough to make and then maybe I’ll have to start work again. I’ll have to do that some time.

Friday 18th August 2023 – WHAT SURPRISES ME …

… is that I managed to keep on going for as long as I did today after all of my exertions.

As I predicted (well, it really wasn’t much of a prediction) I lay awake for hours after going to bed last night and just couldn’t settle down. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … there’s no point going to bed early if I’m not able to go to sleep.

But sleep I must have done at some point during the night because when the alarm went off I was flat out miles away, deep in the Arms of Morpheus.

Leaving the bed before the second alarm was something of a struggle but I managed it all the same, and then had something of slow drag around into consciousness.

Despite everything else I managed to fall into the shower and have a good scrub up, and then I hit the town.

The bus was already at the bus stop so I staggered aboard, and then staggered out at the bus stop by the port.

First stop was at the doctor’s to pick up my prescription. I’m running out of medication so I need to stock up.

next stop was at the Carrefour around the corner where I bought a few supplies to keep me going, like peppers, mushrooms, potatoes and the like.

The reason why I buy my peppers here is that they sell two for €0:99 – teacup sized ones that are ideal for making stuffed peppers. The ones that you buy elsewhere are often quite enormous and overwhelm whatever it is that I’m cooking.

Final port of call was at the chemist for my Aranesp and to have the prescription dispensed.

By the time that I’d bought everything that I needed, my backpack was quite heavy and it was a struggle to come back up the hill. It took me an absolute age and I was exhausted. I had to make dozens of pauses

Back here I cleaned out one of the peppers and put it in the freezer and then armed with my coffee and cheese and toast I came in here, rather later then intended, for my Welsh lesson.

During the pause at lunchtime, I wrote up the dictaphone notes. I was waiting at Goodall’s Corner in Shavington for a bus to go to Nantwich for a hospital appointment. It seemed as if I’d been there for hours but no bus came. I’d seen buses coming in the other direction from Nantwich but none going that way. Eventually someone told me that there wzs a change on the route. He offered to take me to his house in Stock Lane because the buses were going past there at the moment. He took me down there. I went into his house. There were a few people in there, all denying that I was ill. In the end I had to show them my scars where the needles had been in my arms, the site of my old catheter etc before they eventually agreed that I was undergoing some medical treatment. Then we heard the bus so I went outside. The bus pulled up and I boarded. There was a driver and a couple of other passengers. The whole lower deck of this bus was covered in dolls etc. The driver, while he was driving, was playing a game of some kind like cards or something with another one of the passengers. I thought that this was the most weird bus trip that i’d ever had.

What was interesting about this dream was that I was waiting for the bus on the “wrong” side of the road, as I would do if I were in Europe. And all the traffic was driving on the right too.

And then, half an hour later we had a suddenly this dream came alive. The person who was being me began to take off after the girl in this particular scene. That caused a lot of embarrassment. First of all, what was happening was that we’d been paired off. There was a doll that was me, a doll that was a girl, there were several of these pairs and we’d been paired off each at someone’s house but at first nothing had ever happened until we suddenly began to come to life” and I have absolutely no recollection of this or no idea at all what it concerns.

Then we had a dream that was quite similar to that again with 2 dolls, a male and a female. It wasn’t until they’d been together for a while that people noticed that these dolls were starting to turn themselves into a couple

Next I was at a supermarket. There were these toy things, dolls or whatever, tied up at a kind of hitching rail outside the store. All of a sudden a few people came along and began to push themselves into the queue in the wrong place. I thought to myself that there’s going to be some kind of severe confrontation with this lot any minute now.

I was then with Mike Harris, the chairman from TNS. We were talking about the European Cup Final between his team and a team that I was representing from Wales. He said that he wanted to approach UEFA to see whether they’d agree to host the game in Budapest. I said that in principle I’d agree but I’d like to play the game in Leichtenstein. Apart from the fact that there’s a lovely stadium there, it’s the crossroads of Europe etc. He asked me how we’d go about it. I told him that I knew Mike Lee, the Press Officer who went on to lead the UK’s bid for the Olympics in London. I imagined that he’d have a replacement and we’d start of by contacting him.

What’s strange about this is that I BO – or did – know Mike Lee, and he was Press Officer for UEFA and he did leave to work as leader of the team what worked on bringing the Olympic Games to London. And the football stadium at Vaduz in Leichtenstein is quite nice, AS REGULAR READERS OF THIS RUBBISH WILL RECALL.

But no Zero last night, and no California either. I must be slipping.

The Welsh lesson went quite well for a change, even though I had to fight off several waves of sleep. But once it was over and I was armed with my hot chocolate I wasn’t so lucky and ended off drifting away for half an hour or so.

That actually makes a change. usually, going into tow and back exhausts me completely and I’m flat out on my chair a long time before this.

There was time to spend an hour or two writing radio programme notes and then I went for tea – chips with salad and some of those quorn nuggets that are really nice.

But now I’m ready for bed, I reckon, not that I’m particularly tired after having crashed out just now. But it’ll catch up with me sooner or later. Shopping tomorrow, and with some room in the freezer, I hope that there’s some good stuff in Noz now that I have room for it

And having been to the shops I’ll probably be flat out in the afternoon. As long as I don’t miss the football tomorrow evening.

Tuesday 1st August 2023 – I’VE HAD AN …

… early tea tonight.

There’s football on the radio (not, unfortunately, on the internet) tonight, the return leg of Swift Hesperange of Luxembourg v TNS and I don’t want to miss it.

But I’m surprised that I was awake enough to listen to it because, once again, I’ve been asleep for much of the day unfortunately. It was another one of those nights about which I promised not to speak.

When the alarm went off I was flat out yet again and struggle to get to my feet before the second alarm went off.

After the medication it took me a while to wake up, and another late coffee again today. And once I was back in the Land of the Living, whenever that might have been, I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was a whole night spent wandering around in the most bizarre kinds of places with all kinds of strange people. It went on for ever and ever and ever. I was in Canada at one point and all kinds of exciting places. The moment that I picked up the dictaphone everything completely evaporated. I remember nothing whatsoever except the fact of the huge variety of different things that I’d been doing but not exactly what I’d been doing.

And then we were at a football match. The opposition was taking a corner. A TNS defender yelled at everyone to leave the ball as it flew over. A Holywell player complained to all his team-mates about it. Everyone seemed to complain to everyone else about not intercepting this ball that flashed across the defence.

Later on at one point last night 3 or 4 of us were walking on the beach round by Parkgate, Neston, that area looking across to what was going on in Wales but we couldn’t see anything happening over there. Ironically, when I lived in Chester in the early 1970s I walked along the beach at Parkgate and Little Neston on several occasions

Someone posted a photo of a rare S-series Foden lorry with a showman’s body on the back of it, saying that he was going to part it out if anyone needed any spares. Someone took an injunction out in the Court against him doing that on the grounds that it was an extremely rare and historic vehicle and shouldn’t be broken up.

Finallt I’d been to school in Nantwich and met up with my mother and brother (I can’t keep them out of my dreams, can I?). We decided that we’d cycle home. We reached Shavington and went out on the old road towards the Hough. They’d been resurfacing it and there was a lot of loose gravel and stone etc. Cars were sliding everywhere. I made my way through to the other end to near Cobb’s Lane. When I turned round the other two weren’t behind me. I waited there but they didn’t show up. There was a huge car accident, cars and lorries etc sliding on the loose gravel, ending up on the wrong side of the road and shooting through the roundabout there. It was complete mayhem for a while. I was sitting there waiting thinking that if they have a problem they’ll phone me. The bus to Crewe turned up so I went to sit on the bus out of the rain – by now it was raining heavily. Still no-one showed up. Suddenly the bus started and set off. It went in a strange way that I’d travelled before in another dream at some point in the past, past a huge skyscraper-type building at the back of North Staffordshire that was some form of Bible college, past a historic church and a couple of castles. Everyone on this bus was asking the driver about these castles. He said that they’ll see 10 before the bus reaches the end of its run but they’s only counted 4 at this point. I was looking at my watch thinking that considering that I left at 17:00 for what would be a 15-minute run it will be 19:30 before I return home. I’m not going to want to take this trip more than once in my life. There’s still no phone call message from anyone to find out where they were for the last stretch of road that they hadn’t come to join me.

That road, incidentally, reminded me of the road alongside the Sioule from Menat towards St Gervais where Chateau Rocher is, and the road that runs at the back of Audley down towards Keele past where Heighley Castle used to be.

For the rest of the day, when I’ve been awake, I’ve been back in Canada with my trip around Labrador. Right now I’ve started to stumble across the Valard and Nalcor site operations.

All of that is extremely controversial. Having built the huge power station at Churchill Falls in the 50s and 60s and finding that they had no customers for the electricity, they sold the electricity to Québec Hydro for peanuts.

When Labrador developed in the 1980s the region had no other source of electricity to they had to buy their own electricity back from Québec at an extortionate price.

Since then, there has been a variety of projects to generate electricity, of which Muskrat Falls is the most controversial. Tribal areas have been devastated, hunting grounds destroyed, settlements flooded and electricity generated “somehow” ending up at St John’s, the Province’s capital in Newfoundland.

Add to all that the fact that cost and timescales have been dreadfully overrun, and even the conservative Canadian Broadcasting Corporation refers to “years of scandals related to Muskrat Falls”.

Financial and Project management in Newfoundland and Labrador is a history of calamity and disaster. It seems to me that no-one in the Government has the first clue about what they are trying to accomplish and end up lurching from one catastrophe to another.

Tea was a taco roll with rice and veg (and very nice it was too) and now that the football has had its disappointing end I’m going to bed.

Ready to fight another day, I don’t think. I may not be doing so well during the day but you’re certainly having your money’s worth during the night.

Tuesday 25th July 2023 – TODAY WAS SOMETHING …

… of a better day today, which is just as well because it couldn’t have been any worse than yesterday.

Not that I was expecting it to be because even though I was in bed at something like a reasonable time, once more it took me an age to go off to sleep.

Not as much on the dictaphone as last night either, and when the alarm went off I was flat out asleep. So at least that’s something.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages it took me another age to actually wind myself up to start work. I seem to have a very great difficulty getting going these days.

First thing to do was to check the dictaphone to see where I’d been during the night. It was wartime. A group of soldiers had been sent to a barracks. They had been given their equipment, including hooks for hanging up their clothes. The sergeant was going through this, interrogating the privates who were already there about certain of the things. He pointed to one of these clothes hooks and asked about it. They came out with some kind of nebulous opinion about what they thought it might be. He dropped it and it was spring-loaded so it sprang right across the road and embedded itself in the front bumper of an old car that was going past in the street.

Later on I came across an obscure reference to some kind of line-of-sight between somewhere in Sinai across to the coast in the Spanish Sahara and then back from French West Africa to the east coast of Africa. It looked quite interesting so I went to the library and borrowed probably a dozen books. I sat there for the whole day reading them. It turned out to be the report of 4 people who’d gone on a cycle trip between these places, what they’d seen and what they’d done. But they didn’t mention the cycles very often. I was busy plotting their route trying to work out the things that they’d seen and cross-reference it with other books. Then the librarian came up to me and asked me for several books back because the library was closing. I was on the point of asking him if I could keep the others somewhere so they aren’t filed away so they’ll be here tomorrow morning for me.

There was also a woman and girl. We were in Ramsgate and had to go somewhere down in the south of Kent so we set out to drive. The woman driving was confused about the way out of Ramsgate so I gave directions. We ended up talking to another couple of women so somehow we began to walk out of the town. We walked for quite a long way. I was saying about where my mother used to live and talking about the evacuation in 1940 etc, saying that I’d show everyone where my mother used to live. I suddenly realised that we didn’t have the car. I asked the woman “where have you left the car?”. She replied “back in Ramsgate”. We carried on walking and came to the main road, Thanet Way. We decided that we’d better go back to fetch the car. There was some talk about some tea in the oven etc. I volunteered to run back with the keys and fetch the car but the girl wanted to go on the bus. I hadn’t a clue what the buses were like, where they ran to and their times etc. It was beginning to go dark now. The first thing was that a tram appeared. They were thinking about boarding the tram but I remembered that there were no tram lines anywhere near where we were with the car so I didn’t think that going on the tram was a good idea. We had a big argument or discussion about going back to pick up the car. This is the kind of thing that would drag on for hours, we won’t resolve anything and we’ll still end up without a car. It could all be resolved in half an hour If I were to run back to fetch it.

Actually, there’s a lot of truth in this story, believe it or not. I’ve been asked several times why I seem to be so concerned with the plight of refugees, and the answer to this is that my mother and her sister were refugees.

They had a very peripatetic childhood and when World War II broke out they were living in Birchington on Sea, not too far from Ramsgate, at the end of the runway at Manston Airfield, an RAF station on the Isle of Thanet.

At the fall of France in June 1940 the Luftwaffe began to drop bombs on all of the airfields in South-East England and Manston was particularly devastated. After one major attack early in the Battle of Britain, all of the children in the area were rounded up, taken to the railway station with just one suitcase, then stuck on a train and sent to live with complete strangers.

For girls who were not yet teenagers it was completely and utterly traumatic and I think in all honesty that it scarred my mother for life. She told us many stories about her life in Somerset and so I have a great deal of sympathy for these people who are fleeing a war zone.

Every time I see some of the hatred and vitriol that’s poured out about refugees, I just reflect that thank God those people weren’t around when my mother and her sister were desperately looking for shelter in 1940

When the alarm went off I was in bed with a girlfriend of mine. The question of motor bikes came up. I was going to buy a new motor bike but for some unknown reason my girlfriend hadn’t ordered a new helmet. That, for some reason, sent me into a fierce temper. I couldn’t understand why I was in such a bad mood about the fact that no helmet had been ordered. Even though I was tired I forced myself out of bed to go to order one myself. I threw a few things across the bedroom. I couldn’t understand why I was in such a bad mood. Had it happened 30 or 40 years ago I could have understood but I’m a different person these days than I used to be.

So having got that out of the way I turned my attention to the radio programme. I listened to the one that will be broadcast this weekend and then sent it off. Once it had gone off, I made a start on preparing another one. The music has been chosen, paired off and I’ve dictated quite a few notes for it.

For much of the rest of the day when I’ve not been asleep on my chair, I’ve been working on my Canada 2017 trip, but not actually doing much in the way of notes but doing some research.

There’s an island off the coast of Cartwright that is known by the locals as “Prisoner’s Island”. The local story was that there was a murder in a fishing gang and as there was no Law Enforcement in Labrador, the alleged perpetrator was cast away on the island and taken back to England at the end of the fishing season.

It occurred to me that if he had been taken back to England, it’s likely that he would have been put ashore at the Port of London and if so, had there been a criminal case, it would have been heard at the Central Criminal Court, otherwise known as “The Old Bailey”.

Consequently I’ve been browsing my way through the records of the Central Criminal Court – and guess what?

On 14th January 1818 “His Majesty’s Special Commission was then put in and read, authorizing the Court to proceed to the Trial of Samuel Harvey Brown who was indicted for feloniously killing and slaying Thomas Pearse , on the 13th of July, at Dumpling Island, in North America, without England “

It just goes to show that many of these very old rumours have a great deal of foundation in fact.

Tea tonight was a taco roll with rice which was delicious as usual, but I had to eat it quickly because there was football on the internet. Having been eliminated from the Champions League last week, TNS were competing in the Europa League against Swift Hesperange of Luxembourg.

TNS went behind quite quickly and were under the cosh for much of the game, with the Luxembourgers missing a penalty and having several excellent chances. However they rode their luck and played much better than they did against the Swedes of Hacken and pulled a goal back late in the game.

And so it’s all to play for next week.

But that’s next week. Right now, later than usual, I’m off to bed. I won’t have much time for sleep unfortunately but I’ll try to make the best of what I’ve got. The cleaner will be around in the afternoon so I’ll need to do some tidying up before she arrives.

Tuesday 18th July 2023 – TONIGHT’S FOOTBALL …

… was a little better than last week’s.

TNS were at home to BK Hacken from Sweden with a two-goal deficit that they needed to overcome.

However, the first half of the game was played just like the match last week with TNS defending on the edge of their own penalty area and letting the Swedes bring the ball to them and the half-time score of 1-0 to Hacken was probably fair enough.

Nevertheless, Craig Harrison must have put something in his team’s half-time cuppa and I wish I knew what it was because I wouldn’t mind some of it myself.

TNS came out for the second half and actually took the game to the Swedes and we had a couple of really long periods where the Swedes were under the cosh.

There was even some panic in the Swedish defence and TNS had a couple of really good chances that they could well have converted.

However, like most Welsh clubs, they ran out of steam and fitness and Hacken scored a second, rather flattering goal in injury time.

If only TNS had played like that for the rest of the two games, and if only they would work on their fitness. Just have a look at any team playing against another team several levels higher. They can usually give a good account for themselves but it’s always the start of each half and the final 15 minutes where it all goes to pieces.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that a few years ago I interviewed US Granville’s manager for the radio just before their match against Olympique Marseille. I asked him about the phenomenon but he didn’t think much of my thoughts.

And Granville were still 0-0 with 15 minutes to go and conceded 3 goals right at the end of the game to prove my point.

And to prove another point, I still managed to fall asleep at my desk this morning despite having done nothing at all during the day that involved any effort.

And for a change I had a decent night’s sleep, once I’d actually finally managed to drop off.

During the night I didn’t go far either. I was in the office and there was something like a party on but they were all visiting dignitaries, important people being invited. I’d mentioned it to a couple of my friends who said that they’d turn up. By 18:30 when this event was in full swing I was in there waiting for them but they didn’t arrive. I began to become dispirited about this. I went over to the window to look out to see what was going on. There was one of these great big American motorhomes parked up in the street at the side. Someone saw me looking out of the window and made some kind of remark. I said “I was miles away” at the time. They said “we thought that you were admiring that machine”. I said “my brother-in-law from Canada, he was here a few days ago. I showed it to him and told him that that’s what he wants to get for me next time I’m over in Canada”.

I was working for a local coach company driving school buses, that kind of thing. One set of school buses was continuing to run through the Summer for children who were at some kind of camp. I had to take a coach out early one morning to go to the camp. There was no-one on the road when I set out so I was driving much quicker than I would ordinarily have done. There was a car behind me so I just kept on driving at quite a quick speed in this old Ford. I almost came a cropper at a T-junction but luckily one of the roads that fed into it was closed so nothing was coming out of it. But I was really enjoying myself driving this coach quite quickly so early in the morning with nothing about on the roads at all. I was really disappointed when the alarm went off just as I was driving through a deserted village. I must have been flat out at the wheel.

It’s been almost 30 years since I last drove a coach and I must be missing it. My little drive around in an old Ford R114 was quite a happy, cheerful trip out and I was really sorry when the alarm awoke me.

After the mails and medication it took a while for me to sort myself out, especially as I fell asleep at one point, but the ‘phone awoke me.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the nerve specialist in the town seems to have taken me under his wing right now.

In the town in an old hotel is a “Re-education Centre” where people go after they have had a long period of incapacity. Here they re-learn life skills such as walking, talking, all that kind of stuff in order to be let back to live independently in normal life.

They rang me this morning. “Doctor Gervais has sent us a note about you. We need some personal information from you in order to open a file for you”.

So it looks as if they are going to become involved too, and that will be quite useful if they take me in as an outpatient.

And then my neighbour contacted me. Her friends from Québec are over. Would I like to come round to meet them this evening?

The rest of the day has been spent finishing off the scanning of all of these medical receipts and then I started to make the claims out. So far, I’ve just finished my 6th page and I’m not even half-way through. I hope that my insurance will actually pay me back. I could even afford to buy myself a new microwave instead of the death-trap that I have right now.

There was no tea tonight. I’d been up to see my neighbour’s visitors and say “hello” and then I came back down here to watch the football.

Now all of that is done, I’m off to bed. Later than I would have liked but never mind. It can’t be helped. Tomorrow I’ll finish off the receipts and then do some work on the radio. I really need to organise myself so much better than I am right now.

Wednesday 12th July 2023 – I’VE JUST SEEN …

… one of the worst games of football that I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’ve seen some bad ones too.

It’s the Preliminary Round of the European Cup this evening and TNS have been playing away in Gothenberg against the Swedish Champions BK Hacken.

TNS lost 3-1 and really and honestly it could – and should – have been 13-1 and TNS would have had no cause to complain because they really were awful.

But it wasn’t the score or the difference in technical ability that upset me so much. What had me going was the fact that TNS sat back – not in their own half and let the opposition come onto them – but in their own penalty area. They simply camped on their own 18-yard line and tried to soak up the pressure.

If you’re going to play like that, you have someone always in the centre circle. It ties down a couple of defenders and you know where you can clear the ball. Whoever is up front can hold onto the ball while the wingers break free and you can start an attack.

But no. Everyone was in the TNS penalty area.

If TNS don’t have a dramatic change of plan for the home leg next week it’s going to be all over for them yet again. I don’t know what it is but they just can’t do it on the European stage. They seem to make a business of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

One thing that I could do today was to be up before the alarm went off. A good 5 minutes too this morning.

After the medication and checking my mails and messages I went for a shower so that at least i’d be nice and clean. And then I revised my Welsh.

The lesson seemed to go much better today and I actually understood what was going on. That makes a nice change too. But when we finished we were way behind where we are supposed to be and I don’t know how they are going to fit in the missing work.

The cleaner was here this afternoon and she was still here when the lesson finished so we had a quick chat before she left.

There was plenty of stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’m surprised that I had time to wake up early. With the consumption of alcohol falling off some bar owner had decided to go in for live music. He realised that this would cost him more than he might make but he was going to give it something of a go and hope that he could entice in a lot of patrons. His regulars had quite mixed feelings about the idea but he’d see how it would work out. There was more to it than this but I can’t remember now.

There was an important sports match taking place so everywhere was sold out. All the people were making all kinds of strange arrangements to see the game, drones being tethered to balloons, free-flying balloons, loads of people on these hydraulic platforms like skyjacks etc that were being raised up. Everything was having a problem. One guy’s daughter had bought him a kind of small dirigible to which he could attach his drone so that it wouldn’t leave the ground. He reckoned that it was probably 3 feet below the level of the ground. They couldn’t make the drones point in the right direction. All these platforms were breaking up and extremely unsteady. People weren’t falling out but they were having to lower the platforms down because they were so unsafe. It really was an absolute nightmare for people to manage to see this game with all of the tricks that they were trying to ba able to see over the fence into the ground. It looked like some kind of jungle with lots of trees in it all peering up and peering over the fence into the ground.

We were then out doing something around the offshore islands in Labrador last night but I can’t remember what it was. We visited several and checked the heights etc then flew the information back to the central point with a drone but that’s all that I remember

There was a dispute about an inheritance with 2 young boys who were inheriting from their grandfather. It was suspected that one of them was illegitimate so wasn’t able to accept. This led to all kinds of disputes. In the end he was packed off to school anyway but his DNA was sent off to somewhere. Some time later it came back. There was no formal announcement of the results but he was sent the coveted black sweater of his clan. It was sent to his school and I had to pack it along with the belt to hold up his trousers. This obviously meant that he had actually been recognised as a blood descendant and was now no doubt a member of the family clan and could inherit everything.

Actually, there was a real case like this going on in the USA. Some rich guy had died and left his estate to be divided equally between his sons, of whom there were two. Subsequently it turned out following a DNA test that one of his sons isn’t actually his – his wife must have been up to no good at some time – so the real son was suing the other one for the return of his half of the money.

Finally there was a programme on TV last night about taxi drivers saying that about 1 in 4 licences issued were bogus licences to people who aren’t going to be engaged in taxi driving but need them for some other nefarious purpose. There was a lot of talk about that and also some talk about a new differential for a black cab that seemed to improve the gearing and manoeuvrability. They were discussing that. I had to take a sample in to a garage. The asked about the sample and what I was looking for. I said that it’s the quality of the facing joints as far as I’m concerned. A few other people had different ideas but to me as long as the facings were of perfect quality then that would be a very good start for the construction and assembly of these differentials

With the football, tea was quite late tonight. With not much in the way of leftovers I had a half-helping of curry out of the freezer to go with it, and a naan bread. That was all really delicious and I’ll have to do that again. But I’m not sure what I’ll do for tea tomorrow. Probably invent something.

But I’ll worry about that another time. Right now I’m off to bed ready for a revision session in the morning before my lesson. I’m hoping that I can keep up this improvement. But I reckon that it’s only temporary. Nothing whatever is sticking to my brain.

Friday 17th March 2023 – WHAT HAPPENED …

… during the night tells its own story about how things went .

That long sleep in the afternoon was clearly the wrong thing to do because when I went to bed last night it took hours (and I do mean hours) to go off to sleep.

And add to that the fact that when the alarm went off at 07:30 I was already up and about, that will tell you even more.

As well as that, during the brief moments when I must have gone to sleep, I travelled miles. And I DO mean miles. I started off washing the crockery in the sink. There were tons of it. Some of it had dried plaster on it but because it had been soaking for so long the plaster had gone soft. Like a fool I drained my carrots and peas into it without noticing so I had to fish those out one by one from all of the mess as well. Washing up all this was really pretty dismal. I didn’t enjoy it for a single minute with all the stuff that was in there and the sink was absolutely overflowing.

And then we’d gone somewhere to play a game of football. When we arrived there had been a little bit of snow. Someone had drawn out the lines of a pitch in the snow on the carpet. It was tiny. You couldn’t have more than four people standing on this carpet never mind playing the game. In the end we just wiped the line markings off, cleaned the carpet and went round looking for other bits of carpet that we could butt up to the first one to make some kind of circuit. It was still quite small but we found all that we could. There was a lot of argument about some carpet that we were using because some people used them as cushions to sit on. We said that that’s just too bad because they’ve come here to see the game and if we don’t have these bits of carpet to make the pitch larger there won’t be a game of football to watch etc.

There was some kind of advert for a jazz group to form in London. I’d turned up. We were going to set up to have a jam. I’d brought my drum kit along and was in the middle of setting it up when the drummer appeared. he started to assemble his. We chatted about drum kits etc. I explained that I’d bought mine to learn but I wasn’t any good. I started to get the guitar and amp ready. While I was doing a couple of things he picked up my bass and started to try to play it. We had a little chat about that as well for some unknown reason the lead between the bass guitar and amp was very short. Trying to untangle ourselves to walk around was something quite a nightmare.

Did I dictate that dream about travelling to the office on the train and then on the Underground going with an old friend of mine from my school days? “No, you didn’t” – ed …. so we arrived at out building but the building wasn’t going to be hours for much longer because we were moving 2 streets away to another building. I went back into this dream and went off to post some letters. I couldn’t find my British stamps so I bought some more. I wanted some stamps to go to Canada that cost me 24 cents. I opened a letter. It was a letter about a loan that someone had had to take out for some reason or other that required a loan. It was to do with a political campaign where someone had been wrongly accused of hiring a black car in an ice storm in Montreal. I had to write to this person so I wrote a letter. While I was ferreting around in my wallet for the stamps that I’d just bought I came across the original ones. Eventually I managed to find the 24 cents stamp. I went to put it on my letter but the guy next to me started talking. He asked about the letters that I was writing. I said “I’m writing to North America”. He replied “it’s only 16 cents to North America”. I said “I’m writing to Canada and it’s 24 cents” but he didn’t really believe me. I put the stamp on the envelope then went to fetch some airmail stamps out of my wallet to put on it. He was admiring the perforated security holes in these airmail stamps. he asked if I was going back to the USA on business shortly. I replied “no. I’d only just come from there and wasn’t planning on going back for a bit”.

Later on we were all on a coaching holiday. I said that I liked going away on these holidays because I’d meet new people and I’d have to write to them rather than send e-mails. I’d been writing a couple of letters to a couple of girls whom I’d met on a previous coach trip. I was addressing the envelopes. One envelope I made a right mess of, a spelling mistake in the address with big felt-pen letters etc. Eventually I finished them but we were going out soon so I had to go upstairs to change. For some reason I kept on putting it off and putting it off until in the end there was only about 20 minutes. I had to dash upstairs. I thought that I’d better put the camera on charge. I remembered that the battery for the camera hadn’t charged last time I’d tried it so I ended up having to put my credit card into the slot in the camera charger so that it might work. It did this time but I had my bank card that needed charging as well. I thought that with the credit card in the charger the bank card wouldn’t charge up now. It was one of those panicky dreams where nothing goes right, everything goes wrong and I end up running around in circles for no good reason.

And then did I dictate the next dream about going on another camping holiday? “No you didn’t dictate this one either” – ed … so this time I wasn’t going on it but Terry was. He wanted some bread so I said that i’d contact the organiser of this in the USA and have her have the bread ready and Terry would pay her when he arrived with these people. There was much more to it than that but I can’t remember it. That’s all that I can remember.

As you can see, I’m surprised that I managed to find any time at all to go to sleep with all of that going on.

After the medications and checking the mails and messages I had a long chat with Liz on the internet. She wanted to know how I got on at the hospital so we spent a lot of time talking about that and our new premises – because she has recently moved house too.

Most of the rest of the day has been spent sorting out 4GB of music. Over the last year or so this programme of digitalising my record collection has continued into the more obscure realms as I’ve tracked down more and more of the digital sound-files to the albums that I own.

Anyway, over the last year, I’ve prepared another 4GB of tracks that I’ve now recorded, split, edited and remixed so I could merge them into the runs of playlists and copy them onto a USB key that I can play on the hi-fi in the living room to pick out music ready to broadcast.

All of that took until teatime tonight. I had salad and chips with veggie balls and as usual it really was nice. I’ve definitely got the hang of this air fryer now, especially when it comes to frying potatoes. In fact one might say that once the potatoes get close to my air fryer, they’ve had their chips.

Afterwards there was football. Connah’s Quay Nomads v TNS. TNS just needed a point to win the title and they duly won it with a 0-0 draw, thanks to the heroics in the Nomads goal by ex-Glasgow Rangers keeper Andy Firth. It really was all one-way traffic towards the Nomads goal.

Strangely enough, all thhee ex-TNS players in the Nomads team who have been almost ever-present this season failed to make it onto the pitch. Cue some kind of conspiracy theory somewhere sometime.

Tomorrow I’m shopping. For bathrooms as well as the usual stuff. Time I pushed on and organised myself about this apartment. I want to have everythign in place for whenever the solicitor decides to contact me about the place.

Saturday 4th March 2023 – MY CURRIED LEEK …

… and potato soup today was delicious.

In a large saucepan I fried an onion in olive oil until it was almost black, and then tipped in some minced garlic, two chopped small leeks, four small diced potatoes, half a teaspoon of nutmeg, half a teaspoon of cumin and a good dollop of ground black pepper, and fried all of that.

Then I covered it with water, added a vegetable stock cube and left it to simmer for twenty minutes.

Finally, I added some soya cream and whizzed it all up into a purée.

Totally delicious and furthermore, there’s enough left over for tomorrow lunchtime too. I’ll have it with the other half of the crusty baguette that I bought this morning.

While we’re on the subject of this morning … “well, one of us is” – ed … this was another morning when I arose from the dead before the alarm went off. I forget how many consecutive days this is now.

Mind you, it was another miserable night when I had a lot of difficulty going to sleep. My sleeping issues are really causing me a few problems right now.

But anyway, after my medication I went off to the shops – LIDL in fact this morning – and did a rather complete shop. It worked out to be quite expensive too, and for no good reason. There wasn’t much that I bought that wasn’t on the “usual” list.

Back here I made myself a nice strong coffee and then made my soup. Delicious as I said previously.

That gave me time to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. There was quite a lot of stuff on there going back to when I was in Belgium just now and one of these days I’ll transcribe it. But last night there was something going on about some photos. It led to doing some green-screening overlaps with a girl of about 5 years old

Later on I was watching the football again tonight while I was asleep. The Man of the Match was awarded to a player who didn’t even play in the real game.

Finally, we’d demolished part of an old building and had gone to rebuild it. We suddenly realised that certain key elements were missing. We had to scavenge through the pile of rubbish to try to find these missing bricks and special tiles etc. We found 1 or 2 but a couple were eluding us and this pile was enormous. There was a small girl there jumping up and down insisting that something particular was exactly what we wanted. We couldn’t understand what it was she was meaning. We were actually looking for some roofing tiles that had on them pictures of girls who had been martyrs for some reason or other and been sanctified. This girl insisted so much that in the end someone picked up this tube and unrolled it. Sure enough it was a picture of a girl on a lead tile. It wasn’t the girl we wanted but it was from the right place and the right era so the one that we wanted had to be somewhere in the immediate vicinity unless we’d scattered them much further than we thought. We had to carry on searching. It was strange that she had tried to insist that where we were was what we wanted yet for some reason or other we hadn’t paid any attention at all and she turned out to be although not right, pretty close to it.

That wasn’t all that went on last night either, but whatever else there is, you really don’t want to hear it. Not if you’re eating a meal right now.

And we’re on the subject of football … “well, one of us is” – ed … there was more football on the internet after lunch. The other Welsh Cup semi-final between TNS and Penybont.

This was actually a better game than last nights, with much more skill and not quite as much thunder. TNS were always on top in this game but Penybont kept them at bay for most of the game. However two moments of madness leading to two defensive errors in the Penybont defence just before half-time and that was regrettably that.

It’s hard enough to get a result against TNS as it is, without handing them two goals on a plate.

Later on this afternoon I went back out to Caliburn to bring in some more shopping. I tried an experiment by going out with just one crutch instead of two.

It was easier to carry the shopping but I was quite unsteady on my feet and I can understand now why the physiotherapist insists on me using both crutches. However I had been moving around so much easier this morning after all of the exercise I’ve just had, so it was worthwhile having a try.

Tea tonight was a breaded quorn fillet with a delicious salad and some potatoes baked in the air fryer. And once again the air fryer came up with the goods. I’m now toying with the idea of trying to find some kind of container that I can put into is to that I can roast vegetables in there. I’m really getting the hang of this, I think.

As I said a few days ago, I’m determined to have a try at baking a cake in there too when I can find a cake mould that will fit in there. Exciting times ahead, I reckon.

But that’s for later. Tonight I’m off to bed and hoping for a good lie-in to recover from my exertions. There’s some pizza dough to make tomorrow as well as some fruit buns for the rest of the week. And so it’s not going to be a relaxing day tomorrow. I’ll be busy.

Still, high time I did some work.