Tag Archives: vegan burger

Thursday 22nd February 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… a better day today and I feel as if I’ve actually accomplished something too.

And considering how my day was messed around, that is an achievement because once more dealing with people who ought to know better, I find myself thinking of the words of John McCone, the USA”s Director Of Central Intelligence talking to Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defence, and saying "We will find ourselves mired down in combat in the jungle in a military effort that we cannot win".

Going to bed was quite straightforward though and once again, I had a good sleep. Strapping my legs together with an elastic strap is a really good move on my part if I want to bring some life back to weary muscles.

When the alarm went off I was talking about the Titanic disaster, but a similar disaster closer to the shore where a ship like the Titanic had split in two and sunk. Several of the passengers were arguing whether the front or the back was the stern but the radio was broadcasting the names of the people who in small boats had somehow managed to rescue some of the people but several people had died in the attempt – like “Mr So-and-so rowed 12 people home, Miss So-and-so rowed 2 people home, Mrs So-and-so was drowned when her boat overturned with so many people in it”. That was going on

This is probably something to do with the Empress of Ireland disaster. Sailing against the flow of ships, she was in a collision with a freighter off Rimouski in the St Lawrence River in May 1914 and sank with the loss of over 1,000 people. Several local boats took to the water to rescue who they could

This morning’s blood pressure was interesting – 16.8/9.2, contrasting with last night’s figure of 16.1/10.1. It’s usually higher in the evening than the morning.

Having sorted out the medication later, I came back in here to transcribe the rest of the disctaphone notes. At one point during the night apparently I was with that group of people. We were making bread. There was some kind of competition – a bread-making league or something like that and we were competing in it. I was ready to give instructions to my particular side. One thing that I wanted to make sure was that the period of the flour was different than the period when I expected people to look at me so they weren’t looking at me while I was adding the flour and then breaking up the process. So we made the very first mixing so I put it on the side while the alarm went off. Then the other team went to make their bread using their technique and timing to see how they could manage to make it.

A bread-making league of competition might sound interesting but I don’t think that any bread that I might make would be good enough for any competition. And that’s really depressing – I ought to be doing much better than I do.

Ane then at school I had to mention that despite the “nil” returns that I’d sent in during the week I had been involved in some kind of gangland activity and I wanted to talk about it. I was whisked off to the headmaster’s office. What interested them was on which days did I perform the gangland activity? What kind of activities were they? How many people were involved? All these kind of sub-headings to bracket the offence rather than to talk about the gangland activities and try to resolve the issue. It really was a perfectly strange situation.

And as if I am ever likely to be involved in any kind of gangland activity, at school or otherwise. I was always one who kept himself to himself mainly and didn’t interact with many of my peers

But then after this I ended up being in an office. There was a lot of work and it had been building up all the time. For one reason or another I hadn’t been doing it. Then I thought that I’d better grasp the nettle and see. I collected everything in. A lot of it related to work in another office so I went down there to see them to explain that in a couple of weeks I’d be having a huge pile of work to deal with. We worked out where the work was going to be done. It was going to be done by one particular person so I went to explain to him. He was extremely cynical about the whole affair. He showed me dozens and dozens of pieces of work relating to enquiries that he’d sent out to work that I was doing and which hadn’t been replied. I told him not to worry and I’d help him with the replies anyway once I’d actually replied to his messages. I could see that this spectre of not having done any work for ages was suddenly now going to haunt me for some considerable time while I tried to put everything straight

This actually a recurring dream, isn’t it? Something similar occurs quite frequently during my dreams, although it hasn’t reared its ugly head for a while. Being overwhelmed with work that I haven’t done is, however, something to which I can relate these days as I don’t seem to be doing as much as I ought to do and it is building up.

Back in this dream again … "errr … which dream?" – ed … and here were two burnt-out tanks and also the remains of a Panther …indistinct … had come to the rescue. I’d been attacked by the same machine and it was being slowly destroyed. Then the second Panther turned up too late to save its colleague and ended up with a pounding and beating too

Have I dreamed something like this before in the recent past? If not, I don’t see how I’m stepping back into it. But then again, not very much surprises me about what goes on during the night in my bed. Not these days anyway.

so having dealt with all of that I settled down to think about maybe doing some work, and the telephone rang.

And I don’t know why it is that I can give unequivocal and concise instructions to two people, make sure that they are perfectly understood, and four months later to the day, nothing whatever has been done about it and we have to start all over again.

That’s the kind of thing that totally depresses me.

So after several phone calls I have to write a couple of letters and send a few e-mails, and that takes all of the morning until long after midday, compounded by the fact that I had to clean the print head nozzles in the printer again.

They say that if it’s not one thing, it’s another. But with me, it seems to be everything all at once.

So with letters written I had to send messages to my cleaner about posting them, and she’ll drop by in the morning to pick them up.

After the midday fruit I turned my attention to the radio programme that I’m preparing. And I managed to pair off the music, merge the songs together and write most of the notes for it. It won’t take long to finish tomorrow

And that’s some Famous Last Words, isn’t it?

For tea tonight I tried an experiment. I have a small circular metal dish that is for making small pies in the oven. I tried it in the air fryer and it fits.

consequently, with my pasta, veg and tomato sauce cooked in a saucepan, I fried a burger with onion and garlic in the air fryer in the little metal dish – and it cooked the food to perfection.

Too much perfection actually – I didn’t need to cook it for 10 minutes. 7 or 8 would have done just as well

But now I know that that works, I can experiment with more stuff. Roast potatoes, anyone?

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’m off to bed when I’ve checked my blood pressure and had my medication.

Tomorrow morning I have a shopping list to write out for my cleaner. And then I’m going to be busy.

There’s bread to make of course followed by a chocolate cake to make and then I’m also going to experiment with some cream filling. If the mayonnaise worked so well, there shouldn’t be any reason why I can’t make a sweet variety and use it as a filling in a layer cake. Or even flavour it with chocolate.

Yes, I’m feeling like being bold and adventurous tomorrow morning and I’m wondering now what else I can make while I’m there with my cooking stuff out.

None of the aforementioned might work but as Edward Appleton said, "I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill" and for a moment I seem to be full of enthusiasm (which is not like me these days) so I intend to ride the wave.

However Théoden said "night changes many thoughts" and I wonder how I’ll be feeling in the morning. But as Mona Lott used to say in ITMA, "it’s being so cheerful as keeps me going".

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.

Saturday 27th January 2024 – SITTING IN MY FRIDGE …

… right now, even as we speak, is a bottle full of carrot and broccoli water from when I blanched and froze those carrots and broccoli the other day.

That’s right. Brain of Britain here forgot about it and so didn’t use it for making his broccoli stalk soup today

Mind you, the soup was still really nice and I enjoyed every last drop of it. I thought that I’d made enough for two days but after the first couple of drops soaked up into a lump of bread roll made fresh yesterday, the idea of saving anything for another time went right out of the window.

There have been plenty of broccoli stalk soups that have passed through these pages so if you want to see the recipe, just click on the “broccoli and potato soup” tag at the foot of this entry and it will take you to several pages.

In these pages I talk a lot about my cooking, and for several reasons too.
Firstly, my mother was a hopeless cook so I spent a lot of time later living out of tins. It wasn’t until I met Nerina that I began to eat really well. With an Italian mother, what do you expect? I learnt a lot from Nerina, and from Liz and also from that Italian Restaurant in Wandsworth where I worked one winter
Secondly, I’m proud of what I cook. Although it’s pretty basic stuff, I eat really well considering.
Thirdly, with not going out or anything like that I have plenty of time on my hands and I need a good hobby. I’ve arranged my kitchen so that if I prop myself up in the corner between the sink and the hob, almost everything except the freezer in the bathroom is at arm’s length and I don’t have to move anywhere
Fourthly, if anyone can ever suggest any improvements in my recipes feel free to send me some tips. I’m always grateful to receive them.

But that Italian restaurant was a riot.

It all began with a friend of mine living in Newcastle upon Tyne complaining that he was unemployed and couldn’t find a job. I told him to go to London where there were plenty of jobs. But he found excuse after excuse to everything I said.

In the end I was so fed up that one winter when I had nothing to do I put an ad in one of these local newspapers in London asking for a room. And I had one in Wandsworth arranged within half an hour.

On the train (I was determined not to use the car) I came to London, the Underground to Wandsworth and then a bus to my digs. I was installed.

Before I’d even unpacked I walked down to the High Street past a parade of shops where there was an Employment Agency and an Italian Restaurant. And within 15 minutes I had a day job driving a bus for schoolkids for Merton Borough Council and an evening job delivering food

The Christmas period was chaos though. The schools had closed so I was full-time in the restaurant. There at 06:00 to prepare for opening (as a café) at 07:00. Close at 14:00 and then prepare for the evening.

When you finished, everyone slept underneath the nice warm pizza ovens for three hours or so before getting up at 18:00 ready to open at 19:00. When the restaurant closed, you’d prepare for the next morning.

No question of “that is your job, this is my job”. Everyone did everything – cooking, waiting at table, preparing, driving. My tomato sauce actually passed muster in a professional environment, thanks, Nerina.

It was absolutely insane, but I daren’t tell you how much money I took back to Brussels after three months, all in used fivers in a plain brown envelope.

However, let’s turn our attention to last night. In bed nice and comfortably for once, rather later than I was hoping, I was asleep quite quickly as you might expect after this anti-potassium stuff.

However, it was quite a turbulent night . On the dictaphone there was a ton of stuff, much of which has an important significance so it really must have been quite interesting too.

I started out with my rock group last night. There was something going on, whether it was a rehearsal or something I dunno. I was in the middle of playing one of our numbers when wherever we were was raided by the police. We managed to get the young girl violinist away before anyone said anything but the police wandered around, noticed that she wasn’t there and insisted that she be brought. We said that it was impossible so they threatened us for a blood test etc. They kept on insisting that she turn up. This was going to turn into a rather nasty situation. I was in some kind of school hall or something I dunno. When the guy with me said “have you ever seen the dawn rise in the morning?” he took me outside and we watched the sun slowly rise over the horizon.

And you’ll be surprised about how much truth there is in a short tale like that. One of these days I’ll tell you about it but the World isn’t ready yet to hear the story.

That thing about me and the World War that broke out. The Germans bombed all around Mill Lane and the British denounced them as terrorists yet all around Mill Lane (wherever Mill Lane might be) were all kinds of ammunition factories therefore it was all perfectly legitimate so the UK should not have denounced them at all, particularly when you consider some of the things that they were doing

You’ll be surprised at how much truth there was in this story too. One of my University theses for my degree (I actually wrote two) was ABOUT COVENTRY AND IEPER and reading the howls of indignation about the bombing of Coventry in 1940 despite the fact that it was clearly a legitimate military target, yet three years later when the UK had acquired the technology to do so, they were shamelessly targeting the civilian population of Germany with no restraint whatsoever.

By the way, if you want to read MY SECOND THESIS, all five pages (there was sixth one added to finish off the story) were redacted for the web.

Having had a great deal of trouble completing the practical work for some of my modules (or not even starting it at all) due to the chaos that ensued after September 11th 2001 I was miles behind with my course and I chose two modules with theses and no practical work so that I could write them in the car while sitting on places like deserted airfields in former East Germany day after day after day, all of that kind of lark, in the hope that that would pull my score back up.

However, as we all know, there’s a huge problem with “mature” (I use the term loosely) students.
Firstly, we were too old, too experienced and too worldly-wise to be herded around like 18 year-olds. Many of the tutors who came in from other Universities had no experience of dealing with people like us and their attitudes and attempts at discipline just didn’t wash
Secondly, life tended to get in the way of course work. “This assignment should have been handed in yesterday”. “Yes, but my baby was sick” or “my house burnt down” or “I had to go on a mission for my boss”. These were genuine excuses that many of the tutors didn’t understand. These weren’t “18 year old” problems to which the tutors were accustomed.
Thirdly, and this was my great problem, I wasn’t studying for a career path and desperate for a degree. I had my career all nicely planned out and I was heading where I wanted to go (that’s not to say that it didn’t change dramatically once I graduated, but that’s another story completely). I was studying for my personal interest and if there was a qualification after it, well, that’s nice but it wasn’t the name of the game. I’d find something that interested me and follow that trail for miles and miles, suddenly finding that I’d departed a long way from the core of the course and was totally off-target. But did I care? I was totally absorbed and having fun.

However, as an aside, I can still add “B.Sc.Hons” to my name if ever I feel like it.

In another dream I had to go to Manchester – I’m not sure whether it was work or for the hospital but I awoke rather late and wasn’t sure whether they knew about my trip etc. As I was dressing I turned on the radio and found that I could pick up the channel on which their cars broadcasted so while I was washing i listened to any sign that they might be coming to pick me up. I got as far as my T-shirt and undies off and was washing myself waiting to hear that the taxi company was coming to pick me up but I wasn’t really optimistic that they’d written it down or remembered.

At one point during the night I was turning around over and over trying to be comfortable when I felt that the bed was moving and suddenly stopped with an almighty jolt but it can’t move as its a fixed bed. It did it again later on too. I’ll tell you what – I’d get good money for this anti-potassium stuff on the back streets of Granville if only I could walk out there.

Someone called Ruth was running some kind of garage in the neighbourhood and had become friendly with me. Although I liked her coming around, I wasn’t really interested in a relationship. One day I was hurt and had to go to hospital. I knew that she would be coming round later in the day so I didn’t say anything to her. I had my cleaner help me when the car came to pick me up and take me off. I had a good chat to my cleaner about the situation and a chat with the taxi driver too. It seemed to be the best solution that one of the two of us (Ruth or me) move away. She was probably the most likely to move as the garage wasn’t doing very much. I had my treatment and asked “what time is it?”. It was about an hour to return home and it was 14:00 and she was coming to see me at 15:00 so I thought that we’d make it fine. He set out to drive me home. On the way back he asked me a riddle about the United Kingdom but I can’t remember it now. I could actually work it out, which was quite impressive. We talked again about this woman on the way back. When we arrived it was 15:00. We were just arriving when on the way back we went past her garage and there were just 2 cars on the front, an Austin Maxi at £1745 and another vehicle for about a similar price. I thought “she’s not going to make any money trying to sell those cars at that price. No-one is going to pay that much money for them”.

And considering what I wrote earlier, it’s totally ironic that someone called Ruth should appear in my dreams later on. But the owner of a garage? I really don’t think so.

I was going through another long rambling dream concerning Norman Smith, the recording engineer better known of course as the rock star Hurricane Smith who produced several albums and was going to produce an album for a woman who sang with Abba which was to be filmed on a dusty petrol station near where we lived so we went along to see. But once more I ended up being taken to hospital again where they checked me over and took my blood pressure. I was polite to them but I didn’t see why they needed to take my pressure. The nurse who was rather like Oddjob in GOLDFINGER came along and soon quietened me. This went on for a while with a lot of intervention. Eventually I was let go at about midday so I reckoned to the driver that we could make it back at 13:00 when all of this began. I can’t remember any more about the rest but I know that it was very interesting.

One thing that I did remember about that dream that comes back to me was talking to the taxi driver about death and dying- him saying that if I did decide to take my own life I would probably be disappointed because there weren’t all that many people in the concert hall to watch Hawkwind which I didn’t believe at all. I was polite enough not to say. However my brother-in-law who was a part-time goalkeeper went flying past somehow on some kind of mission for someone – not on an aeroplane etc bust just floating in the air flying along overtaking a car.

A group of us had gone off to climb Mount Everest or something like that. We’d set out early one morning. There were several other people making their way up the mountain. We all trudged in a weary line until it became early evening. There was a kind of café-restaurant there so we all swarmed in. After everyone else was seated there was only one place for me, by a young girl. I went and sat next to her and we slowly began to chat. It turned out that she was from Montréal although she spoke English. We talked a lot about Montréal and when she found out that I’d lived in Chester she talked about her visit to Chester. We were handed a menu. I had a look down it and there was only one vegan dish. She told me what she wanted so I ordered it and ordered my vegan one. She seemed to be quite pleased at that. We carried on chatting and ever so slowly my arm went around her. She slowly cuddled up against me which I thought was unusual. My brother came along, as he would, and talked about going to fetch something from the shops. Someone gave him their order and someone else ordered something else. The two of us ordered something (we were definitely “the two of us” by this time). He wandered off to the shops. Every now and again we saw some people come back. She would ask “is that him?”. I replied “no, he’ll be walking with a limp”. She asked “why is that?”. I replied “because he’ll be shocked having to spend all that money”. Eventually he came back and handed her a receipt for repairs to her car. I found out that she had an old Zephyr 6 which impressed me greatly. He said “you know that your repairs are going to cost you over £1000”. She didn’t say very much to that. We walked outside this restaurant and there were parking places at the back for cars. She asked if they were private places. I replied “yes they are”. She replied “if I leave my car here I won’t have to come back, will I?”. In an automatism I gave a despairing “Awww” – actually a real despairing Awww too. I could see the look on her face slowly change to one of happiness. I thought to myself “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”

Yes, “whatever is going on here now with this girl?”. Here we are, almost on the point of finally Getting The Girl and the dream grinds to a halt. And we can’t have a dream like this without at least one person from my family coming along to try to spike my guns, can we?

Incidentally, we – or rather my father when we were kids – had a Zephyr 6 mark III, a black one, 3816 TD. I remember it well.

And after I sold my MkI Cortina (which features regularly on these pages) I had a MkIV Zephyr 6 for a short while but it caught fire. We’d been to see Jethro Tull at that venue in Ardwick, South-West Manchester … "the Apollo" – ed … and I’d parked on a demolition site around the corner. Coming off after the concert, I grounded out on some rubble, not realising that it had scraped away part of the fuel line and there was a fuel leak that ignited.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errrr … bed I’d forgotten something about the girl. We ended up back in a rented apartment that I’d rented. There was only one bed so naturally I explained to her the situation. She seemed to be quite comfortable with it so that night we slept together, and slept together for a considerable number of nights. After that she came to Granville for a look around to see what the town has to offer. As her visa was about to expire she went back to Canada and I hoped that I’d see her again and that she wished to come back.

And so Our Hero finally Gets The Girl after all of these years of dreaming. And it takes the French Government’s Interior Ministry to intervene this time and put a stop to whatever is going on. Do you ever get the feeling that you are just not going to win?

Back in this dream … "which dream?" – ed … I met a car with 4 boys – I don’t know if they were the four that I mentioned before, if indeed I did mention them … "no, you didn’t" – ed … I had a Ryobi drill and was doing some things with it. In the end I took the mandrel off and fitted a huge mandrel like a bolt thread that you’d use for drawing nuts up long distances. For some unknown reason it wouldn’t go in and I didn’t want to force it. The guy next to me said that he’d done it on his old car and it will fit so I had to squeeze it very tightly to open the internal jaws on the drill and fit this attachment in. Then I couldn’t find the nut so he asked if anyone had a nut. One guy replied that he had one but it was on his A40. We ended up talking about old cars – I had the Cortinas, ha had the A40, someone else had an A50 and the conversation became quite interesting.

So after all of that – well, most of it anyway, the alarm went off and I arose from the Dead.

Once more I’ve no idea what they will make of the blood pressure figure this morning. Not wracked with pain so it was only 18.0/11.6. What did the letter from the hospital say? Ahh yes – “target figure maximum 14.0/9.5”.

After the medication and checking the mails and messages I came in here to begin to transcribe the dictaphone notes. There were that many, as you have seen, that I was nowhere near finishing them when I went off to make my delicious broccoli stalk soup.

Back hereat my desk at 11:15 after all of that and despite two cups of strong black coffee I crashed out immediately. Really, this stuff that they are giving me is ridiculous.

while I was asleep, crashed out in the morning I was waiting for a tram in Haslington. Along came the mother of The Farmer’s Daughter, someone who has figured a few times in my dreams in the past. She said a few encouraging words which quite surprised me – I was half-expecting her to tell me to keep away from her daughter. She said a few other things too that quite surprised me. After she’d gone my mother came along. She said that she’d heard a few stories about the woman, including that she was terrorised by her husband who seemed to control her far too much. I said “you know, you aren’t the first to say that. You aren’t even the second”. “Why?” she asked “Who else has said that kind of thing?”. I replied “what do you think she’s just been saying to me then?”.

It was 12:48 when I awoke and do you know what? I hadn’t felt a thing. It was only the fact of meeting that woman in my dream that made me even realise that I’d been asleep. It was just as if someone had flicked a switch and I’d gone out like a light.

It took an age for me to get my head together after that and continue with the dictaphone notes, stopping and almost dozing off every 5 minutes. It took me almost until hot chocolate time to finish them.

After the hot chocolate I started work but Rosemary rang me later. Only 1 hour and 28 minutes this time. A short ‘phone call then. We spent tons of time chatting about nothing at all, as friends often do. She’s also talking about coming to visit me, which will be nice

Tea tonight was, seeing as I have run out of those lovely quorn fillets that I so like and Leclerc had none in stock, a burger on a bap with air-fried chips and a vegan salad. As I said, my food is quite simple but it isn’t half delicious.

So hallucinating badly every time that I close my eyes and trying hard not to fall asleep I’m going. I might crash out for an hour or so and then I have the radio notes to dictate.

God alone knows what’s on them. This stuff that I’m taking is making me talk – and type – total rubbish in this confused state in which I find myself right now

Not half as confused as the old woman in the Old People’s Home who once hurled a volley of abuse at the old Queen Mother.
"Don’t you know who I am?" asked the Queen Mother indignantly.
"No, dear" said the old woman. "But don’t worry. Ask the Matron. She’ll tell you."

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.

Friday 12th January 2024 – IT WON’T BE …

… doing my head in tonight anyway, this bluetooth tethering. Believe it or not, I’m back home at last.

Carefully avoiding a Golden Earring cliché,
"Home on a kite we fly,
Home on a breeze we blow
Eyeing the folks below and
Watching everybody run,
Each one heading for a different place
Watching everybody hide,
Each behind a different face

Forever forever your lamp will burn
Forever home forever would that you’d learn
That you came with nothing
So with nothing you’ll return"

And that’s truer than you might think too – except that I came home in a taxi, flying along with the speed limiter set at 133 kph, stopping just for a coffee at the half-way point and slowing down just for the heavy traffic on the prif at Caen.

We weren’t even held up, not even for a minute, in Paris. It was straight through the traffic and onto the prif there too. First time that I’ve ever had a journey like that.

And in case you are wondering, I wasn’t discharged from the hospital, I was expelled. And I heard at least one nurse say "if he comes back, I’m leaving".

But to be serious … "for once" – ed … I’m glad that I left today because we had a change of crew this morning and those miserable bar stewards who seem to hate me so much were back on duty.

There had been a few rumours flying around starting yesterday evening that I’d be leaving today and this morning, almost everyone for sure, even the cleaning supervisor who came to check the room over, seemed absolutely convinced, except for one person who hadn’t been told. Of course.

Soon enough I found out when the doctor came to hand me my leaving papers.

"Someone had better ‘phone my taxi" I said. "It’s 4.5 hours to come here"
"Don’t worry about your taxi" she said. "He’s already been called. He’ll be here at 13:30."

Definitely expelled.

Just enough time for me to have a shower, transcribe the dictaphone notes and pack my things.

The shower was nice and lovely, but I didn’t wash my clothes. Then I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night.

I was at a schoolkids’ end-of-year concert last night. It was a concert with a difference because they had one of these horse-racing games and they were all gambling on the horses. Then there was a kind-of gold-mining competition with kids having to report on what they mined, and a whole variety of other things including my middle sister parading up and down dressed as someone so much older. As the event drew to a close I walked up the hill from where this event was taking place. It was in a kind-of mountainous forest that you’d find in the Alps, with loads of fir trees all around. Several clumps of fir trees that I’d recognised from previous years had been cut down. While I was waiting for my sister I noticed a couple of lorries on the road going past.

A little later I was attending a few classes at night school. I had to go to these classes but the subjects were extremely complicated and way over my head. In the end I ended up abandoning them. It was so real going to these night school classes that I really thought that at one stage in my life I’d actually done this and gone to these classes for a short while before abandoning the subjects.

And then I was at a party last night being given by a woman whom I knew from the Auvergne whose boyfriend had very recently left her. We were all having a really good time which surprised me because I didn’t usually socialise very much. Then it came to quite late. She began to talk about the sleeping arrangements – “so-and-so and someone else would sleep here”. There was a variety of single people so she asked “who wants to sleep with me?”. There was a long pause for several seconds that seemed like a lifetime so I said “yes, I will”. She replied “right, that’s settled. So-and-so and someone else would sleep in the other bedroom and the rest of you can sort yourselves out”. Someone asked for a receipt to show that they had slept separately. I couldn’t believe my luck that no-one else had actually said anything and we’d waited for a good couple of seconds. I thought “this isn’t like me, is it?”.

So what’s this all about? Me getting the girl! Imagine that!

After that I was in a really interesting dream about trying to take an oil filter off a car. There were 2 of us doing it and we were there for hours. The reason why we couldn’t take it off was that I was undoing the wrong bolt. But as this dream went on and on the flaming alarm on this blasted machine by the bedside began to go off and awoke everyone in the hospital

And that’s typical, isn’t it? There I was having a good night’s sleep and not even coupled up to the perfusion machine and its alarm goes off. The only surprise is that it didn’t go off just as I was about to get the girl. That’s what usually happens.

But not to worry. There’s usually half an hour between saying “yes” and going to bed. Still plenty of time there for me to pull defeat from the jaws of victory as usual.

Later on the whole family was having a competition to see how many interesting things one could find abandoned in the street and bring home. I was doing something near a school and someone mentioned a computer so I went to have a look. It was the old-type computer with keyboards for opening up this and opening up that etc. But it was 16GB and I couldn’t believe it. Someone said that there was something jammed inside so it had been thrown into a corner. A couple of people had taken bits off it so it had been abandoned. I went to have a look and sure enough I couldn’t work the keys to operate this particular drawer thing. But all the memory was complete on it and the processor was a powerful one so I thought “I’ll take this home”.

In the meantime there were some signings going on at the local football club. It signed two full-backs who turned out actually to play centre-half. The original two centre-halves a couple of days later left. The story was that they were both keen on some other player’s wife and he’d had words about it and they’d had to depart as the club signed two centre halves

Finally, the issue came about this gold Ford Granada MkI covered in dust that no-one could start. I was sure that I could so I went to have a look at it. It was on sale at £370 which I thought was a bargain for this vehicle. It was covered in dust as if it had been in a barn for a while. The story was that they couldn’t lift up the bonnet. That wasn’t anything that was going to defeat me. I went to have a good look at it with the correct kind of tools to lift up the bonnet when someone with an amazing booming voice shouted out something in the hospital right outside my door and I awoke

And when I awoke, it was 07:47 and I must have had the deepest sleep that I’d ever had. And the hospital was like the Mary Celeste – there wasn’t a soul about. No-one rushing about pushing trolleys and the like. That was what made me realise that it was the miserable team of je m’en foutistes.

Je m’en fous is a very impolite way of saying “I don’t care” and if a kid were to say that to its parents or teacher it would expect a clip around the ear. A je m’en foutiste is someone who couldn’t care less about his job and does the barest minimum to avoid being sacked. And there are lots of those about.

They grudgingly brought me two bread rolls for breakfast, the smallest that they could find, with just one portion of jam. And a box of apple juice with no straw.

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … It’s the little things that make a great difference.

The taxi turned up at 13:15, just after I’d had my lunch, such as it was, and once we’d organised the paperwork we hit the road for the easiest journey that I’ve ever had.

My cleaner was waiting for me at the door and she helped me upstairs where I crashed out into a chair. I couldn’t do very much except chat to a neighbour and to Liz on line.

Grahame has sent me another nice mail about Hawkwind and Help Yourself so I sent him a little present, including two of the best improvised live tracks ever.

There are several groups that make it up as they go along during live concerts, but that night at the Patti Pavilion Help Yourself, aided by Deke Leonard and Cochise’s BJ Cole who played pedal steel guitar, they churned out two of the finest ever improvised tracks EDDIE WARING and the old Elias “Bo Diddley” McDaniel standard MONA

Tea tonight was chips, ordinary and sweet potato, with a salad (thanks to my cleaner who bought me a lettuce and some mushrooms) and a veggie burger. And after the deprivations of last week it was absolutely delicious.

And tomorrow it’s soup. There are a couple of leeks that are looking rather sad so leek and potato soup looks as if it might be on the lunchtime menu. I’ll have to bake some bread for that and it’ll be delicious.

But I’m not sure when, because there’s no alarm tonight. I’m sure that it’s more tiring being a passenger than a driver on a long-distance car journey. Even a double espresso didn’t do anything about keeping me awake.

So an early night between my own sheets under my own quilt cover? How nice is that? And no alarm too

It sounds too good to be true, and it probably is. Watch someone ‘phone me up at 08:00 tomorrow morning.

22nd December 2023 – BYE BYE STRIDER!

strider centreville new brunswick Canada Eric Hall photo October 2022Amongst the fall-out from the developments over the last 15 months is the parting of ways from one of my faithful companions.

Strider will be off to a new home as soon as his log book arrives here and I sign it and send it back to New Brunswick’s Motor Vehicle Bureau.

He’s not going far at all, as it happens, but even half an inch is too far to be separated from someone who has served me well for 9 years and God alone only knows how many thousands of miles.

strider ford ranger centreville canadaHe first appeared on the scene in November 2014.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall the disputes and arguments that I’d had with car hire companies in North America who found it impossible to believe that “unlimited mileage” meant that mileage was unlimited and you could go as far as you like.

After 2010 when I’d taken CASEY, THE CHRYSLER PT CRUISER over the TRANS LABRADOR HIGHWAY one of the first vehicles to travel across 1800 miles of the worst roads in the World when the final 300 miles over the Eagle Plateau and through the Mealy Mountains were finally opened, I was on some kind of blacklist.

labrador city 813 kilometres canada september septembre 2017So when someone turns up with a lightweight 4×4 pick-up with off-road pack, how can you say “no”?

STRAWBERRY MOOSE And I found our soul-mate and we set off on our adventures that took us thousands and thousands of miles all down the Eastern side of the North American continent.

And apart from a gearchange linkage falling apart in Québec in 2019, he never gave a moment’s trouble. And even then we still limped home after a fashion.

We’ve been as far north as it’s possible to go by road or trail in Labrador and Northern Québec … "and on several occasions too" – ed … as far south as Georgia in the USA and as far west as several miles beyond Ottawa

But we aren’t going any further. I can’t travel over to Canada any more and it makes no sense having him sit around when someone else can use him.

The total irony of all of this is that his seat is exactly the right height for me with my disability, his brake pedal can easily be operated by the left foot and the cruise control will move him along without using the accelerator.

There’s no reason at all why, if he were over here or I were over there, I couldn’t continue to drive him.

He drinks petrol like it’s going out of fashion though … "well, it is" – ed … being an old-technology V6 4.0 litre, but down at the bottom of my field I have another scrap Transit with a 2.5 diesel engine that would drop straight in.

However, if I were fit enough to change an engine over these days, I wouldn’t need the vehicle in the first place.

"What do you want us to do with the stuff that’s still in it?"
"The only things of interest to me are the Fender bass and the Fender combo amp. Share the rest out amongst yourselves and bin the rest"
Tons of tools, camping equipment, vehicle maintenance stuff, expedition equipment, all gone just like that that. But what can you do?

Here’s hoping that Strider has a good home.

Luckily, I have a good home, and I’m glad to be back in it.

Last night I finally went to bed at 02:30 and with no alarm, I was still awake at 07:15 and up and about by 07:45. There’s not much point in having a lie-in these days.

As usual, it took an age to wind myself up ready for work and I began by unpacking my backpack and sorting out the washing.

And if anyone tried to listen to “The Mountain Queen” and Hein Mars and Paul Weststrate last night or early this morning, I posted the wrong link. I’ve corrected it now and it’s THIS LINK that you want.

Sorry about that.

Armed with a coffee I had a look at all of the papers that I’d brought back. I couldn’t make head or tail of some of them so my cleaner said that she’d come round later to help me look.

And so I went off to listen to the tons of stuff on the dictaphone. Firstly there was a continuation of a dream that I’d had a couple of nights ago. It concerned some kind of exhibition of ancient vehicles or something or other. I was going through my photographs trying to identify the people, the location, the vehicle that they had with them etc. I came across a photo where I recognised the person. He was a radio presenter. It just so happened that at that very moment he came out of the building towards the car park so I ran after him and caught up with him as he was standing by his car. I showed him the photo. he replied “that’s not me”. I replied “the car’s a Rover 90” – it was a red Rover 90. He suddenly said “ohh yes, 1954, that”. I asked “what? The car, the photograph or you?”. He replied “no, the car. The photograph was probably taken in 1974. It’s the car that’s 1954”.

Later on we were spread out on a desk in a laboratory obviously run by this doctor. A girl was going through, counting off so many. When she arrived at the number that she wanted, the person she was standing next to, she pointed out and that person was taken away. She said that she was preparing a table and discussion for, I think, her brother who was obviously the psychiatric doctor. As it happened, the people with me and I were saved. We attracted his attention when we went into the boudoir to be interrogated

And I’m doing it again – dictating into my hand. We were going to have a practice with our rock group so I went round to pick up our singer. She was a young girl, and wore one of these party/ballroom dresses type of the 18th Century when she came out. I had to practically lift her up to climb into the van because it was so high up. I climbed in afterwards. She asked “what’s new?”. I replied “we have a gig on Tuesday”. She asked where so I told her “Nantwich”. We set out from her house and drove, and ended up at the back of Alvaston Hall going over a bridge that had been built to keep the vehicles off what was a prehistoric settlement on the ground. We were heading for the recording studio where our group practised.

And this is really strange (or maybe it isn’t). Talking about Simon House yesterday, and the times that I’ve played the bass to some of those tracks, something came into my head yesterday about a girl at our school. She was 4 years or so younger than us, quite small, long dark brown hair, brown-rimmed glasses and a round face, but she sang and played the violin and piano, and to a really good standard too. I was actually imagining her weaving her web around me playing her violin as I played the bass lines to Damnation Alley or Steppenwolf.

Bizarrely, this isn’t the first time that she has come up in a discussion. In Munich 18 months ago my German friend, who was in my class at school, and I were discussing her and her violin for some reason, and neither of us could remember her name. And I still can’t.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was in the gold 2000E estate that’s in the barn in Virlet. I was driving to Stoke on Trent. I had to be there for 18:00 but was early. There’s a place that I know where you can park where there’s a good view of the city (if ever there’s a good view of Stoke on Trent from anywhere). I parked on there with about 3 or 4 other cars. It was just underneath a pub. By now the gold estate had transformed itself into a service bus. I was sitting in the seat behind the driver. The door opened and a couple of people came in. One was a young girl. She was obviously waiting for someone but she had her phone and was describing the passengers on board this bus to whoever was on the phone presumably for security reasons. She looked at me and said “there’s an old guy with a small face” so I stuck my head up and said “yes, and extremely handsome” which made her laugh. She moved on to another guy there. She said “he’s the guitarist from the pub”. Another couple of people came on and everyone began to chat. It became quite friendly. Someone asked me why I was there. I replied “I have to be here because I have to be at someone’s front door at 18:00 on the dot and not be early”. They thought that that was an extremely strange command which I suppose it was but if that’s what the person wants, that’s what the person is going to have “so I’m just sitting here killing time”. After a couple of minutes I had to make my excuses and leave. It was time for me to be heading off.

Having done that, I set about photocopying all of the paperwork that I’d received from the Hospital. There was a whole rain-forest of it too, and it all has to be distributed amongst the appropriate recipients.

Anyway, the cleaner came round and we sorted out everything that needed to be sorted out. And then she set off for the Chemist’s.

When she came back and gave me the stuff, I arranged it on my shelf. And now I’m well over into a second shelf of medication.

And do you want to know how much a month’s medication is costing? If you do, then I’ll tell you that it’s €7104:00 and I know because I’ve seen the bill. And my contribution to that is nothing whatever (I almost said “Zero” but that could have been misconstrued).

On top of that I’ve been issued with a tensiometer and a heart monitor.

My blood pressure needs to be measured 3 times a day, morning, noon and night, when I’m sitting calm and comfortable without stress. And when is that ever likely to happen?

The aim is for the blood pressure to be below 14.0/9.0. And when has that ever happened?

There’s to be an injection of this Aranesp substitute every Wednesday by the infirmier ambulant and it has to stop if my blood count rises to 12.0.

And how do we know if my blood count rises to 12.0? That’s because the nurse has to take a blood sample every week. He’ll enjoy that because he can never find my veins.

With the heart monitor, I have to send off the readings and the blood pressure figures every day to the hospital for further instructions – keep on doing what I’m doing jusqu’à nouvel ordre in fact.

There’s another couple of IRMs that needs to be arranged – one for the heart and another for something else that I forget now.

And then there’s the medication. When I walk around in future, you’ll hear me coming because I’ll be rattling. Honestly, I have never seen so much anywhere except in a chemist’s, and then not all the time.

At this rate, sorting out all of this paperwork and medication and keeping all these records, I’ll be far too busy to die.

In between all of this I prepared an order for food and sent it off to LeClerc. It was shockingly expensive today but I’ve bought presents for everyone who has helped me this year, to express my gratitude.

Nothing really exciting because LeClerc’s home shopping isn’t blessed with a great deal of choice. Just boxes of chocolates and also a bottle of champagne for my cleaner. Anyone who comes round tidying up after me thoroughly deserves it.

Tea was a salad with burger and chips, some of which were sweet potato chips – LeClerc’s home delivery won’t deliver less than 1kg of sweet potatoes and I only needed a few hundred grammes for the wellington. And it was all delicious too.

So tomorrow I’m going to start on the vegan wellington. I don’t have everything but I’ll do what I can with what I have. It should be delicious anyway, whatever goes in it. I have all kinds of vegetables to go with it – 7 varieties of different veg in fact.

Yes, there was more broccoli on offer so I bought another one. Once more it’s mostly stalk so I’ll be having broccoli stalk soup again tomorrow.

So there is broccoli and 2kg of carrots to blanch in the morning, and the vegan wellington in the afternoon – if I’m still here after taking my first tablet.

This is all beginning to look rather uncomfortable to me.

Friday 8th December 2023 – AFTER THIS MORNING’S …

… efforts I’m totally exhausted. I really don’t know how long I can keep this up .

At least last night when I went to bed I fell asleep quite quickly, judging by the timestamp on the first of the sound-files on the dictaphone.

It was another restless night though and once more I was up and about long before the alarm went off.

After the medication I came back in here and had things to do.

Firstly, there was a bill to pay. That involved writing out a cheque, finding a pre-paid envelope, etc – and that involved some tidying up of my stationery drawers.

Secondly, there was everything that I needed to print off for my demand for intervention from these Autonomy people. Having had the Social Services help me complete it the other week at the Centre de Re-education I now had everything that I needed.

Even down to the A4 manila envelopes. Fed up of trying to squeeze a whole rain-forest of papers into a standard-size envelope, I went berserk on the internet earlier in the week and ordered a packet of 50 envelopes into which I could fit every tree on the planet.

Thirdly, there was another letter that needed writing. This one was rather complicated because rather a lot depends on it, it has to be worded precisely and accurately, and in French too.

After a quick wash I headed out for the bus where I was swamped by a load of young teenagers heading from the High School across the square to the Ecole d’Hotellerie out at the Pointe de la Crête between Granville and St Pair sur Mer.

At St Nicolas I alighted from the bus and first port of call was the Post Office to send off all of my letters.

And there was some good news there too. They see no reason why I can’ open an account there, pay in some money from my Credit Agricole card, have a bank card and then draw cash out of their cash point outside whenever I need it.

Having been stranded for a day or two in Flagstaff in Arizona 20-odd years ago when my bank card was paused for “unusual expenditure” even though I’d told the bank where I was going and what I was doing, I’ve always had a couple of accounts and bank cards on the go “just in case”.

But with not being able to go any more to my bank in the town centre because of the lack of access to the bus back home, I need some way of laying my hands on some cash every now and again, even if it’s only to pay my cleaner for whatever she buys for me at the shops.

At Carrefour I had some luck. I was sure that I’d seen some gas cylinders tucked away somewhere on one of the shelves so I’d taken the empty one with me. Sure enough, they did have them on exchange, although they did cost les yeux de la tête as they say around here.

Imagine that – the highlight of my day is finding a gas cylinder in a shop.

As well as the usual stuff I bought another packet of icing sugar too. I’d had a quick look in my baking box and wasn’t sure if I had enough in stock.

But the cylinder was heavy and walking back for the bus after my coffee I was thoroughly exhausted even before I reached the bus stop.

The climb back up the stairs was another difficult problem that I found it had to solve but once in here and with everything put away I made my coffee and cheese on toast and came back in here.

Fighting off waves of sleep (quite unsuccessfully at times) I transcribed the notes from the dictaphone from last night. And “hello” to Nerina who put in an appearance last night. We I had been living together and for the first time for a considerable period I went through and carried out an inventory of the food that was on hand. I discovered to my surprise that we had almost next-to-nothing. When she came home from work I told her about the situation and that we’d have to be very careful about what we would do and what we would eat over the next few weeks but she went down to the kitchen and pulled out a box that was full of vegetables that I hadn’t seen before. I don’t know how I’d come to miss it. I was busy there examining the contents thinking about exciting things to make with it when she pushed two straws into a navet"turnip" – ed. I thought “why has she done this? What is this going to be used for now?”.

I was in Scotland last night as well. I came across a family who had a couple of girls aged probably just in double figures, I suppose. They’d moved into a big new house and invited me to see it. It really was lovely, a quite modern 1960s-type split-level house, all square with flat roofs. The younger girl told me that they’d been living with the Scots in Glasgow prior to this. She was telling me all about her house and that didn’t seem to be quite bad afterwards. The subject of preparing the older girl for boarding school came up. She had to go to pack her things. I asked her if she needed help because I wasn’t actually doing anything at this time. She said “yes” so I answered “first of all, is there anything that you DON’T want me to touch?”. She replied “yes, my sister’s notebook”. That sounded like a strange request to me, why that would be the most important thing not to touch. I went down a corridor and through a maze of rooms, including the younger girl’s bedroom into the older one’s. It was huge. There was a lot of stuff lying around. She picked up an object and asked me what I thought it was. I replied that it was a bed cover. She began to fold it up so I found some similar ones lying around and folded them up too. She had some kind of plant like bamboo or something. It had obviously seen much better days. She said that it was 3 years old but she kept it because it was very nice and made an interesting shape. We carried on tidying up her room and putting aside the things that she was taking to boarding school.

These two girls actually had a history. The family reminded me very much of a woman and two girls whom I met at that Folk Festival in Scotland where I used to be the camp site Night Security Guard for a couple of years. That was where Louise, with whom I’m still in contact, had her first encounter with STRAWBERRY MOOSE

I was in that freight yard again, on the lowest level when the girls came past on the highest levels on a railway locomotive pulling a couple of lime-green coaches piped with yellow. And then we had exactly the same conversation that we’d had in the previous version of it. And if you’re wondering why that seems to make no sense whatsoever, don’t worry. You aren’t alone because I don’t understand it either

There was something about several files relating to a Paul Temple mystery that I had on my laptop or whatever that I’d transferred onto my watch. One of them was something to do with him him being in a cloak like a superhero so I had ideas about renaming all of them. However that was when I awoke with a severe attack of cramp so I can’t remember now where it went after that

And then I was with a girl from school last night. I can’t remember who she was but she lived out Audlem way, Buerton somewhere on the way to Newcastle under Lyme. I was wearing old clothes because I’d been doing some work. I’d ended up in that village where I met her, and we were chatting. We’d encountered a couple of yokels who had an old recoil-starter type of electric generator that you could carry around in one hand and would power a radio. They’d rigged up some kind of 1930s-type of valve radio and were trying to start this generator to power it. After they’d been playing with it for about 10 minutes I went to look as they wandered off. I could smell straight away that the petrol was probably 20 years old. I drained out the petrol, cleaned the carburettor, put fresh petrol in and fired it up. It ran, and we had the radio playing so I took it over to them. We carried on chatting. We were pointing out a Tudor house in this village that had been left to ruin, how the roof had sagged etc. Then the girl came back. We went into her house to continue to chat, just the 2 of us. All of her family was there except her mother and father. I was just sitting there, quietly listening to them talking, feeling very uncomfortable being in working clothes. When her mother came back they began to talk about knitting. The girl had been spending a lot of tie knitting just recently and just had one line to finish off on a cardigan that she’d made. One of the others in the house said that they’d finish it off in exchange for her doing something else which seemed to be a good idea for her. But time was dragging on and I was wondering how I was going to be able to leave but of course I was quite interested in this girl too. After a couple of minutes she looked at me and said “should we go?”. I thought “yes, we’ll go if she wants” but then I was going to have to think about what would happen. Obviously I would want to spend the evening with her, doing something exciting, going for a meal, going to the pub, going for a walk, but not in the clothes that I was wearing. I was stuck in a quandary yet again – how was I going to organise going home, changing my clothes and generally tidying myself up etc while I had the girl with me. But a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush, she was there, she wanted to go so why would I argue with that?

Not that that would ever have stopped me in the past. No-one has had more experience than me for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

There was also a dream at one point about I’d been walking and had come to a set of stairs, up which I just walked normally without having to cling on. I was so surprised that I went to find another set of stairs and walked up there normally too without hanging on to the handrail. I thought “if only I’d realised yesterday that I could do that”. That was of course quite obviously a dream and I wish that that had happened when I encountered the stairs on the way back to the apartment here after my shopping trip.

After I’d transcribed all of that I attacked the radio programme and finished off the notes for that ready for typing tomorrow night.

With the time left I carried on with the Canada 2022 photos. We’ve climbed out of the St Lawrence valley, over the Appalachians via the Matapedia Pass and we’ve now just rattled into Campbelltown Railway Station on the banks of the Baie des Chaleurs.

Jackie and I had a chat on the internet too. She’s actually quite worried about me, as are many people, so it seems. But there’s really no need to worry. I know what my fate is and I’m quite resigned to it and comfortable with the idea. I’m not worrying about it and there’ no reason for anyone else to either

Right at the beginning I was told that this illness has a lifespan of between 5 and 11 years and how long I keep going depends on how long my heart can keep on going, which is why there’s now all this concern about my cardiac issues. It’s now over 8 years so I’m “well in” and one day it will catch up with me.

Tea tonight was a burger on a bap with chips and salad – really delicious too.

For the rest of the evening I won’t be doing too much. Everything seems to be wearing me out so I’ll sit with my feet up.

Tomorrow I’ll be marzipanning my cake. Liz reckons that I should leave the marzipan to set for a while so that it doesn’t bleed through the icing and I seem to remember that I had that problem last time I made a Christmas cake.

Something else that I’ll be doing is to track down some recipes for vegan stuffing. I can’t have Christmas dinner without sprouts, roast potatoes and stuffing now, can I? I shall have to throw something together.

With not being able to buy my Seitan slices these days (I used to buy them at the Asian wholesalers in Leuven) I’m not sure what I’m going to have for a main course. I’ll probably have to throw something together there too.

Thursday 7th December 2023 – I HAD ANOTHER …

… telephone call this afternoon.

"Mr Hall. Your appointment on 19th December is cancelled"
"And why is that?"
"We want you to come on Monday 18th December instead. And bring your jammies because you’ll be staying for a few days".

The appointment on the 19th was with the Cardiac Unit but this stay is with the Haematology Department. So things are definitely pushing along from that point of view. They did say “the beginning of the New Year” but events are unfolding quicker that I expected.

Getting out of bed wasn’t unfolding as quickly as it has done just now. It took me about 20 minutes to raise myself from the Dead this morning. But even so, I was still sitting at my desk working at 06:20, 40 minutes before the alarm went off

After I’d had my medication I came back here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I awoke with a really bad attack of cramp in the middle of a dream about events taking place in a village and so forgot most of this dream. It concerned certain goings-on in the village and in some localities. Some localities were only known by their informal name and there were many other names for some of these places so if someone had a secret about one of these places and it was known by its proper name no-one would ever find it. This was a question of these secrets that needed to be discovered. There was one thing that was very interesting. It was something concerning a girl’s bikini. I noticed in a house as I was passing through it doing something or other, that on top of a shelf in the sewing room was one of these mannequins that is used for adjusting clothes. There was a girl’s bikini on there. I was wondering whether this was in fact that particular girl’s bikini. Of course the easiest way to hide something is to hide it in plain sight and not draw anyone’s attention to it.

And then there was a plan to build new railway headquarters in Crewe. I was asked if I would like to supervise the overall control of the project. With nothing better to do I agreed and called for all the paperwork. I received a large box with almost nothing in it, no plans, no nothing. When I asked for it I was told that it was all arranged by photographs. That was the modern way of doing things these days. I thought that it was one of the most crazy things I’d ever heard. It’s quite simply not possible. And they hadn’t even sent the photographs in this box. A couple of days later someone from the Home Office came to see me and began to talk about the project. he asked how much they’d agreed to pay me. I said “they haven’t agreed anything”. He was surprised and said “you ought to be paid”. I answered “I thought that that was your job to pay me. These instructions came down from your department that I was to oversee it. I wasn’t told to contact the project managers for payment. The instructions came from the Home Office so I imagined they they would pick up the bill”. I told him about the complete and utter miserable state of affairs of this big box with almost nothing in it.

At another moment there had been a huge issue about some kind of property boundaries in the centre of a small town somewhere. I had a total feeling that it was all wrong. After a huge, lengthy investigation and battle I finally discovered that I was perfectly correct and that land that had been in dispute in the town centre was actually mine and I could move into it. It made me extremely happy because first of all I could park my car somewhere. I went for a walk after this with a girl friend of mine to celebrate. We came round a corner and in a yard was an axle that I recognised immediately as off a BMC half-ton van. I looked up and they had one attached to a crane that they were just going to winch off somewhere. I went to have a word with the guys to tell them that I’d been looking for one of these for years. Why hadn’t he told me anything about it? Of course, I had had BILL BADGER for a great length of time and travelled miles with him. The discussion then came round to a BMC FG pickup with a damaged cab and we talked about that. I explained that there was nothing wrong with it and the cab can be replaced on these anyway. We began to talk about Bill Badger again and those kinds of days back them.

I had that half-ton van for several years and went miles in it. But one of the rear leaf springs broke and being a very obsolete vehicle I couldn’t find another one. I had car springs on it for a while but the slightest load sagged the rear right down and after an uncomfortable moment with some of Cheshire Constabulary’s finest I decided that it was time to move it on.

When I awoke I was in bed but the cleaner had just come into the apartment bringing me a big mug of really hot coffee. I told her to put it on the kitchen worktop, wait a couple of minutes and I’ll be ready. I’ll come in and drink it. Then I awoke with cramp again.

Later on I had been at work all day. In my spare time I’d been doing something else. When I’d finished I’d gone to my University night classes and didn’t return home until 23:30. There was some bricklaying that needed doing so I began to sort out a few bricks prepare some stuff to mix some cement. My mother who was sitting around with her feet up and the other kids who were just sitting there playing around all said “you aren’t going to start work now, are you?”. I replied “this job has to be done. All you lot have been doing is sitting around here all day doing nothing”. My mother said something about the kids being delicate or something. I replied that they were all just bone-idle and that she was the woman who had made them. Whatever it is that her kids have turned out to be is a reflection on her more than anything else.

Actually, my University experience was nothing like that. It was usually a ‘phone call at 03:30 “My Hall, we have to go to Dusseldorf (or Bielefeld, or Berlin, or Den Haag or somewhere else like that)’
“Very good, Sir Brian. I’ll be round in half an hour”
And then into the boot went a flask of coffee, a pile of sandwiches and my course books. And while he was entertaining visiting dignitaries, putting the World to rights and dining on lavish slap-up dinners I was curled up on the back seat of the car on a draughty corner of a freezing military air base with a sandwich and a mug of coffee poring over a course book

When I was trying to do my degree it was one of the most crucial times in Western History in modern time and I had the misfortune to be associated with someone rather pivotal. We didn’t have a break for 18 months.

It meant that I wasn’t able to complete any of the practical work. Regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous versions will recall that I had taken a week’s holiday to go and do some water sampling of a river. I’d hardly put on my wellingtons before a group of people flew a few aeroplanes into a couple of buildings, all leave was cancelled and we were recalled to work.

That didn’t just put paid to the practical work for that part of the course, it put paid to the exam too.

A couple of people have suggested that I ought to write a book about that period of my life. But it’s one of those situations where if the first impression isn’t published posthumously, the second impression certainly would be

But meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed there was also something somewhere about me being in Canada with my niece’s husband (but it wasn’t him). I was making a pot of tea and when I was rinsing the teapot in the sink it fell apart in my hands.

Next stop was the radio programme. I’ve chosen all of the music, some of which was complicated, and then I paired it off and wrote notes for some of it

There was an interruption – yet another phone call. This time it was the ergotherapist. She’s going to come to visit me here on Monday afternoon, inspect my apartment and suggest ways in which my life could be improved.

After a good wash and scrub up the car came for me and we went down to the Centre de Re-education.

And how the mighty have fallen! If it was depressing yesterday being taught how to go to bed and how to get up, today was even worse. Can you really imagine that it’s necessary for someone at my kind of age to need lessons on how to put on my socks?

The ergotherapist had noticed something with one of the muscles in my left thigh and she had a word with Severine, who spent our session working on that muscle to try to free it off. Not that it worked very much.

There are three lifts in the Centre de Re-education and two of them were broken down. As a result it was chaos trying to leave the building. In the end I climbed up the stairs and by the time that I was halfway up, that was me done for the rest of the day

Back here I bumped into my cleaner as I entered the building and she helped me up the stairs into my apartment.

The doctor rang me too. He’s already sent off the demand for the taxi to Paris but I wasn’t going to tell him to cancel it – at least, not until I have something in writing from the hospital.

But I’d told him that I was running low on medication when I’d written to him so he’s going to come to see me on Tuesday to check me over before he issues a new prescription.

And then I came in here and crashed out.

Tea tonight was something from the European Vegan Burger Mountain, with pasta and veg, and now that I’ve finished my notes I’m knocking off. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … all of this remedial treatment is al l very well but if the journey is killing me off it’s all pointless.

So right now I’m off to bed. Shopping tomorrow if the weather is better, and that’ll wear me out as well.

This weekend I’d better tidy up the apartment ready for all these visits next week. I seem to be in demand right now. It’s not usually like this, is it?

Thursday 30th November 2023 – THE PERISHING CAR …

… never came to pick me up today to take me to the Centre de Re-education.

There I was, just like Martin Adey and "all revved up with no place to go", sitting on the chair in the dining area by the door wearing my coat and shoes and nothing happened.

After a while I rang them up. It seems that yesterday’s driver had forgotten to pass on to the dispatching the new schedule that I’d received because my trips for next week weren’t recorded either.

We had the issue about the trip to Paris tomorrow not being recorded and having to ring up to remind them earlier in the week. It seems that despite their ultra-modern fleet of Skoda saloons, the wheels are coming off their operation.

Mind you, it’s probably as well that I didn’t go out because the weather has finally turned. It’s freezing outside, threatening snow, and snow is promised for Paris tomorrow.

Mind you, snow round here is nothing like what we’re used to.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that when we lived back in the Auvergne temperatures of minus 18°C were not uncommon. We’d have a metre of snow overnight and be snowed in for a couple of weeks. Every year round about the end of October we’d go into the big city and stock up with supplies because you never knew when you’d be able to go out again.

And then into the forest with the chainsaw to cut your wood, store your water somewhere because your well would freeze over and then finally make sure that you had plenty of good books and films.

The winter of 2012/13 is the one that we’ll all remember. The first snow was 27th October and the last snow was 25th May. I went round to Cecile’s to help her hang a door and didn’t make it back home for 6 months. However, the snow didn’t have a great deal to do with that, I have to admit.

They were exciting times and I enjoyed every minute of it, and had I still had my health I’d be down there now. But I’m going all nostalgic again and I really have to stop doing this

But while we’re on the subject of nostalgia … "well, one of us is" – ed … I ended up going to bed quite late again last night. Once I’d picked up the guitar I carried on until quite late working my way through my old acoustic playlist.

That of course is the advantage of living in a building where the walls are 1.20m thick of solid granite – grès de chausey. I can make as much noise as I like and no-one can hear a thing. Much better than when I lived in Expo and the neighbours used to complain about the noise from my headphones.

But eventually I staggered off to bed and that was that.

When the alarm went off I wandered off into the dining area for my medication and then came back in here to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was sorting through my images and came across a folder. When I looked I found another folder with other photos in from the same situation. I was going to merge it in but found yet another one. I kept on finding all these folders. All the while that I was doing this I was hearing that “Jeeves and Wooster” music that was going on in my head. I wasn’t sure why. But this de-duplicating my backup drives is really getting to me at the moment isn’t it?

But the music is explained quite easily. While I was eating my tea I was watching a JEEVES AND WOOSTER episode starring Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie, and then back in here on the Old-Time Radio an episode with Richard Briers and Michael Hordern came round straight away.

Then there was one of these garden parties taking place. There were a lot of children there dressed in ball gowns etc. There was one particular small boy who was very keen on talking to a small girl but she didn’t want anything to do with boys so she kept on running away. It made everyone laugh which really upset him. As the evening drew on, up on the podium someone from the crowd began to recite a poem about a boy and a girl. At that moment a butterfly appeared. It hovered around the boy’s face for a while so he breathed out gently. His breath wafted it towards the girl. She looked at it and began to smile. You could feel the hush of anticipation from the crowd as they saw this. Suddenly the girl had an incredible fit of coughing and swallowed the butterfly. Once again, everyone burst out laughing and the boy and this time the girl too were extremely distraught.

And finally I was back at the kids’ garden party last night, going through the images. All of the sudden I gave a cough and wiped out a whole directory full of images that I’d taken of the young girl in her very nice ball gown.

Once I’d awoken I sat down to make a start on the next radio programme.

While I was in hospital I’d used the time to select the music for several programmes and this one was one of them. Consequently, it didn’t take long to pair them up.

And then in a mad fit of bravado that came from I’ve no idea where I sat down and wrote out the notes for all of it – well, all of the 10 tracks that have been selected so far. I don’t choose the last track and write the notes for that until the day that I assemble to bits.

Nothing nostalgic about anything in this one, which makes a change. In fact, I seem to have run out of steam in this respect.

The cleaner came round after lunch so I stayed in here and wrote out the notes for a few more photographs from Canada 2022 but I’ve run aground at the moment.

The big difficulty is that I can’t remember why I took a few of the photos. I always travel with a dictaphone and make a few verbal notes of most of them but sometimes some of the subjects of the photos are so evident that they need no contemporary notes.

But two things happen when you reach my age. The first thing is that you forget absolutely everything.
"And what’s the second thing?" – ed
"I don’t know. I can’t remember"

That’s how things are. I can remember verbatim the words to any obscure rock song from the late 1960s that you can care to mention, but ask me why I’ve just walked into the kitchen ….

My best friend in this apartment is my white board and washable markers.

With no Centre de Re-education I did some more work on the back-up drive and then went for tea. Something from the European Vegan Burger Mountain with pasta and veg in spicy tomato sauce.

Rosemary and I had a quick chat too. She’d found some wild mushrooms and wanted to know if they were edible. I explained to her that everything is edible once but I’ve no idea about subsequently.

While I was at it I told her about the delicious mushroom soup that Nerina once made for me
"This is delicious" I said. "Where did you find the recipe?"
"In an Agatha Christie novel" she replied.

Tomorrow I’m off to Paris for my appointment with Destiny. We’ll see how that works out but we’ll have to be pragmatic. An 8-hour car drive in bad winter weather is not ideal but at least I don’t have to do the driving.

There will be no medication, no breakfast and nothing to drink before I go, on the basis that what doesn’t go in won’t want to come out, but I’ll make some sandwiches all the same. My appointment is at 12:40 so there will be a moment for me to have a bite to eat before we set off for home.

There are plenty of cafés and restaurants there at the hospital but I won’t be able to walk there, especially if we have snow and ice covering the paths.

Saturday 25th November 2023 – I WAS HAPPY …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And by God is it strong!

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

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

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

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

That should keep me out of mischief for a while.

Saturday 4th November 2023 – I WON’T BE …

… sorry to go to bed later on tonight. I’ve had a horrible day.

Even though I was in bed at a reasonable time last night and managed to struggle to my feet when the alarm went off, I was still totally out of it and I’ve been asleep on my chair in here for several hours on a couple of occasions during the day

It’s probably the after-effects of my wandering off around the shops yesterday and going visiting later. You’ve no idea just how much all of this takes out of me.

But at some point or other I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. We started off by planning a rail trip for some reason. In order to connect ourselves up to the system we had to press on a link on our computer and drag it into another link. That way it would connect. We were there in our room trying to connect these two links together but it wasn’t happening. Everyone was starting to panic. Suddenly the link connected and we had the screen. We saw an ancient 1960s-type of diesel multiple unit in the railway station in the centre of the town of Llanidloes (in fact nothing like Llanidloes and actually the railway station there has long gone and taken the line with it) in the snow, with people running for it and leaping aboard as it pulled away. We were sitting there thinking “if we’ve connected why weren’t we taken on board?”. We discussed that for a couple of minutes until in the end we realised that it was only a single track and the train that we’d seen had been heading towards the west but we really needed the train that was heading towards the east.

And then I was with a famous actor last night, interviewing him for the radio. At the end there was a pile of photos so I asked about them. He explained that they were his so I asked if I could look through them to choose a few. I asked if they were in any kind of order. The guy with me suggested that they were in reverse order. The actor himself began to have a look through the clothes that he was wearing which by now were heaped on the side of the bed in layers. He thought that they were in the order of “oldest first”. We ended up having a lengthy discussion about his pyjamas, how modern pyjamas are much lighter and much more aerated and generally much better for the skin in your sleep. But I couldn’t help noticing that going through his pyjamas from all those years ago up until today how the size had changed. It may not look like it on the film but this guy for the last 20 years had been putting on rather a lot of weight that he’d been doing very well to try to hide.

Finally, we’d been performing some experiments, my partner and I, on some certain products, setting up this chemical experiment and letting it run to see what happened. It was a Friday evening and I thought that we’d have plenty of time but judging by how it was unfolding it would be 03:00 or 04:00 by the time that it finished, if by then. I began to wish that maybe I should have done it on a Saturday night when I could have had a good lie-in on a Sunday morning instead of getting up at 07:00 on Saturday morning. We carried on doing it all the same. I was having some kind of brief desultory chat with my partner while I was overseeing this experiment. I suddenly decided that I’d like a cup of tea (yes, it MUST have been a dream). I asked her if she wanted a cup of tea but she said no – she’d be going to bed in a moment so I was sorely tempted at that point to abandon the experiment for the night and go to bed with her but as usual it was one of these situations where I was caught in indecision again.

At one time these dreams that were riddled with indecision used to be a fairly common occurrence but we haven’t had one like that for a while.

What else I’ve been doing is some tidying up in the dining area and the kitchen. It’s true to say that only the basics are being done round here, like keeping the place clean, but the lack of tidiness is starting to spiral out of control and I need to do something about it.

And that’s something else that is taking its toll. It’s totally exhausting doing things like this and it takes so long too. I can only work in bursts of a couple of minutes and then I have to go to sit down to recover for a couple of hours.

Another thing that I’ve been doing is to chop up a few more sound-files. There’s stuff here that I recorded back as far as 2019 with which I’ve done nothing at all. It’s high time that I caught up with everything.

There’s only another … gulp … 31 hours to chop up and then I can get on with some more stuff. But there will probably be a lot more after that hidden away in the bowels of my computer.

For a start, there are probably a dozen or so soundtracks of Louis de Funes films and there will be dozens of soundbytes to be cut out of those. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall, if they have listened to my radio shows, that Louis de Funes is a special guest on my programmes and we present them together.

Another task is to go back to when I was in hospital last year and add in the dreams. I’d finished transcribing them a good while ago but I’d never managed to find the motivation to add them into the relevant entries. Anyway I made a start and I’ve now done a dozen or so.

But reading through the notes of my hospital stay – all two months of it – it’s interesting to watch how my thoughts changed over that period. They swung all the way across the whole spectrum of emotions from relief to sadness to depression to anger to incandescent rage

One of the (many) reasons why I keep these notes is because they are an important gauge of how my mental health is doing as I battle this illness. At one time it was interesting to watch my health swing back and fro, but over this last 18 months or so it’s been all downhill.

While I was going through my notes, I came across a reference to ZERO SHE FLIES.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that this “girl, she is almost a woman” refers to someone whom I knew very well and who, every so often, comes along to visit me during the night. She unfortunately had a lot of baggage attached, none of which was her doing and she struggled on valiantly despite everything, but in the end the baggage overwhelmed me.

Quite often, I’ve wondered what became of her and what she would be like today. I remember in 2016 being in a café in Belgium drinking a coffee when in walked a girl who would have been the spitting image of how I imagined her to have looked just then. I was so surprised that I dropped my coffee.

And then, in 2017 I was on board ship going across the Strait of Belle Isle between Newfoundland and Labrador when I bumped into a girl who was exactly as Zero was when I remembered her. And that surprised me too

So this afternoon I did something that I haven’t done for a while, and that was to have a play about on the acoustic guitar. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that after having spent all that time with Castor up in the High Arctic teaching each other the ukulele and the guitar, I started to play again quite seriously.

When we were on Spirit of Conrad down the French coast I was giving concerts and I even went and treated myself to a new 5-string fretless bass to go with the big amp that I picked up in that pawn shop in Ottawa.

But the bass is now too heavy for me to hold and while I can still play the old EB3 and the acoustic guitar, I just can’t find the time or the motivation.

The difficulty is that even the most simple tasks are taking so much time and so much effort that I can’t manage anything else right now.

So instead of continuing to feel sorry for myself and brooding on the infinite, I went and made tea. Baked potatoes from the European Potato Mountain cooked in the air fryer, a vegan salad and a burger from the European Vegan Burger Mountain.

And now I’ve finished my notes I’m going to dictate the radio notes that I wrote out during the week and then go off to bed. Tomorrow I’m going to be baking biscuits, so I need to cheer up .

What went on in the past can’t be changed so it’s pointless brooding on it. Here’s looking forward to my chocolate and coconut biscuits.

Friday 3rd November 2023 – SO MUCH FOR THAT …

… idea about having a good night’s sleep.

It might have been only 23:00 when I went to bed but at 03:30 I was still wide awake with no sign whatever of ever going to sleep.

However I must have done at some point but I was awake again before the alarm went off even if I wasn’t actually up and about.

Once the alarm went off I made it to my feet and went off for my medication. And then back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to see if I’d been anywhere during the night. I’d been away somewhere for several weeks, it might have been the hospital, and I’d parked Caliburn in a shed on a piece of waste land at the back of a pile of terraced houses. I went there to pick him up. There were cars all over the place, being worked on or being dismantled etc. Going into the shed Caliburn, who was now an LT Volkswagen, had had one of his air vents bodily ripped out so there was a hole in the front panel. I opened the doo and there were engines, cowlings, covers and shrouds everywhere. I fought my way in. A guy came running over. He asked if I could give him a jump start. I started the van and rolled forward and it was to his father’s wheelchair. We had to put the leads from the van to the wheelchair in order to make it start

There had been something earlier. I’d gone on a long-distance journey with someone. Everyone else had gone at the end of whatever this meeting was. The only way out for me was to climb over the fence. That was extremely complicated and I ended up having to do practically a forward roll over the fence to go out again. I’d brought someone with me. We were talking about the accounts and he said “I’ll let you off some of the accounts in view of the fact that you drove”. I thought that the reason why we took so long was because we had to go back once or twice for things that he’d forgotten. That really bumped up the mileage. He’s not doing me any favours at all by knocking a couple of things off. I should be sending him a bill for all the extra mileage.

This “Peace Train” thing (whatever that might have been) was about Joan Baez and her guitar being hung from some kind of monorail track and being driven around as if she was a train on the monorail while she was playing the guitar and singing that particular song.

A kitten was wedged underneath the foot of the table and stuck up against the glass surface which was why it was looking so peculiar. I actually dreamt that bit in French and began to dictate it in French.

Finally I was coming back from work somewhere and I’d stopped in a town to have a coffee. I had a wheelbarrow with a few bricks and things like that in it which I no longer needed so I just abandoned it in the street and went in. The coffee bar was packed and there wasn’t room anywhere but the proprietor encouraged the patrons to move up a little. It made a space for me next to a girl. I sat there with my coffee and we had quite a chat before she disappeared. Then I had to leave. I was in a wheelchair by this time, doing down the steps in it when I noticed her outside. She asked if she could give me some help but I told her that I’d be able to manage. We were sorting through a few things of hers, LPs and CDs etc because there was a market on in the town where there was a stall for 2nd-hand CDs etc. I noticed in her glove compartment things like books about camping, scouting and so on. I thought that she was one of these strange “jolly hockey sticks” types of girls who never seem to grow up.

Later on I staggered out onto the bus and went to St Nicolas for my shopping. There wasn’t much that I needed but it was nice to be out and about and to have my coffee while I waited for the bus home.

Once more it was a struggle up the stairs and I really can’t go on like this much longer. But back in here I made myself some soup – and then I crashed out for half an hour.

In a couple of weeks’ time it’s the birthday of one of my neighbours and she was having some of her family around so I went up to say hello and to give her a box of chocolates that I’d bought her.

But as usual, I didn’t stay long. I’m not really the sociable type, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, and after an hour or so I came back down here to crash out yet again.

What I’ve been doing this afternoon is to hack some sound-files about, tidy up some of the music directories (yes, directories – I’m still working in DOS 5.0 in my head) and reviewing some pages in my blog. There are quite a few that need updating with things missed off that I never had the time to do at the time, and I want to catch up with that.

As well as that, I’ve been chatting on the internet. Liz is helping me choose a couple of new domestic appliances, Rosemary and I talked about the storm and then Hans in Munich has found some real Bavarian gingerbread spice mix and would I like some?

Actually, today I finished the last of the honey and oat biscuits that I made and some gingerbread biscuits would be nice but the spices won’t be here by then. I fancy making some chocolate ones this weekend. The last batch of chocolate ones that I made were really good. Add some orange and some coconut flavouring and they’ll be really nice.

Tea tonight was chips cooked in the air fryer and salad with one of those strange burgers that I bought a while ago, and it was actually quite nice.

But that’s got me thinking. I’ll have to send my spies out to look at the pavements at one of the bus stops at Yquelon. There’s a bus stop that’s not too far away from Noz and I’m wondering if I ought to have a go at going there on the bus some time to see if I could survive the journey.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve hit the jackpot on several occasion at Noz with the end-of-range stuff that they have, and I wonder if I ought to think about going again.

Saturday 21st October 2023 – I HAVE SET …

… a new record today.

When I checked the dictaphone today I found no fewer than THIRTEEN sound files. It must have been an extremely mobile night last night.

What’s surprising though is that I haven’t crashed out at all, despite all of that. This could well be the cue for a decent night’s uninterrupted sleep, but you know how well my prophesies unfold in this respect.

leaving the bed was the usual struggle, and then I had a good wash and scrub up. After the medication I had a few things to do and then the nurse came round for my blood test.

He didn’t have much luck today. It took him three goes to find some blood and once again I’m feeling like a dartboard after all that.

It took a while to recover from that and then I attacked the dictaphone notes. There was something going on last night about members of my family but I can’t remember anything at all about it except that I was having to identify who was who on the basis of their ankles and lower calves. That was really quite difficult.

Later on I was doing something about the railway stations in Paris, the advantages and disadvantages of going to the Gare St Lazare instead of Montparnasse. No matter which way I looked at it, it didn’t seem to make any difference because both involved a lot of walking between various taxi pickups and so on in any case. It was just becoming more and more complicated all the time

Later still there had been some kind of attack on several cities by kamikaze pilots flying aircraft and crashing them deliberately into different things as the Japanese did in World War II. It caused an enormous tidal wave which began to engulf the low-lying areas. There was a lot of film report about it much of which looked as if it had come from the San Francisco earthquake but where we were, we were blocked by a rising lake that was threatening to cut off our escape. In the end we had to retreat higher and higher. I was in my van so I was told that I had to retreat the furthest away and park at the side of the road. Even then the water began to lap around the bottom of Caliburn and slowly rise higher. The people who had watched me move thought that it was quite funny that I was suffering like this but but gradually it began to affect them too. Strangely enough the city that had been most affected by all of these attacks was Bombay because a great many others had managed to have been shot down or otherwise dealt with before they crashed.

We were on board ship at some point and the water level was rising higher and higher. In the end we were forced to abandon the ship and we ended up in a sort of lifeboat. The water was rising quite rapidly and eventually we were cut off, floating in this boat. I was singing a few sea shanties until people told me to keep quiet. Gradually we were higher in the sea as the water rose. This began to be extremely serious and it didn’t look as if we were going to touch down properly and have a relaxing arrival. We’d all be completely at the mercy of the van that was following us and the people in it.

This one concerned a ginger cat called Rusty who lived in a supermarket somewhere. This was something else that was affected by the rising water levels etc. I could see that although people had built some kind of wall of produce to keep it out it had managed to jump through and knock over a lot of these items and had ended up in difficulties. I really can’t remember the rest of this.

We were then on board a bus and the water level was rising. Several of the passengers were panicking. One of them had sent a text to his mother to ask her what he should do. She replied that she had seen some straps hanging from the ceiling, the type that standing commuters take hold when the bus is swaying around. She told him to take hold of one of those. At least he’d be steady and upright while the waters continue to rise.

I was back in these floods watching an English football referee called Stanley Baxter swim around refereeing a football match becoming slowly more and more engulfed in the water until he eventually sank in it.

There was an island off the Arctic coast of Canada where there was a Canadian politician who used to attack people and tear at their clothes and generally thrash about at them. The fact was that he had to be airlifted in and out of this island like a baby.

There were parts of the UK mainland where you could have your injections for free. There are people there who had been injected who were living until they were 103

Later on I flew out of Brussels and ended up in the Falkland Islands although it was nothing like the Falkland Islands that I ever knew. I was walking around there looking for somewhere to eat. The more I walked, the further I seemed to go out into the country. It wasn’t until I’d been walking for a mile or so that I realised that I didn’t have my crutches. I was walking normally. After a little while I noticed that there was a major road in the distance. I thought that if I were to take this road back it might lead me back in town again. There was a detached house with a garage. It seemed to be the public footpath and everyone was passing through it to reach that road. I followed a few people and there was a family in there playing. As I went out of the back door of the garage there was a young girl there with a big fluffy white cat. I bent down to stroke it. It immediately began to rub itself against me purring really loudly. The people looked at me and seemed to be extremely pleased about the cat being so friendly. The woman asked me if I was allowed to have a cat where I am. I replied that cats are certainly allowed wherever I am. The little girl then asked “were you on the flight from Brussels out to here on Monday?”. I replied “yes”. Se replied “so were we. I thought that I recognised you. We were sitting at the back talking to the stewardess and a woman with a baby”.

Later on I was back in that dream again. I rang up the house and spoke to the girl. She said that she was very sorry about her sister because apparently I made her cry. I said that I couldn’t understand how I could possibly have made her cry. If I did, it certainly wasn’t my intention. After we’d talked for a while I asked “by the way, would you like to come out to a milk bar or something with me one day?”. She replied “I don’t know if my parents would like it”. I replied “they don’t really need to know, do they?”. She had a little laugh about that.

There was a British woman working down on the border between Switzerland and Germany during the war. 2 tourists came along to have a look around the area for some skiing. They gradually worked their way into the confidence of this woman. She gave one of them some information that was important. After several adventures these 2 men flew away. Just at that moment the German police turned up to arrest them. They took hold of this woman and tried to drag her away but she wanted them to wait for a moment. Then the plane with these 2 men flew over, waggled its wings at her and then flew off presumably back to the UK. Later on the was imprisoned. her cellmate was talking to her about the event. She said “did you think that these British people managed to get away? Do you think that the British Government got what it wanted?”. The cellmate looked at her and said “the British Government might have done but I don’t think that you and your friend did”.

And finally I was back in a family last night. although it wasn’t mine – it was a happy family. There was talk about relocating to Iceland and becoming Icelandic nationals. This meant applying for all kinds of documents etc. We set about collecting the documents for them. The most important document was the police statement, that we hadn’t been involved in any nefarious activities. I seem to remember that at the time that gave me a lot of hope and optimism and cheered me up, although there were several questions in my mind about other issues that might cause a problem with the Icelandic authorities. Nevertheless it was still another one of these very happy dreams

I really don’t know what to say about all of that.

Later on I attacked in a rather desultory fashion the radio notes that I’d dictated before going to bed. That programme is now completed and there’s just one more of the backlog to do. That’s tomorrow’s project.

Tea was one of those strange veggie burgers with salad and chips. It was actually quite nice too. I don’t know what I’m going to do when the supplies from Noz runs out.

Later on I chopped up a few more sound-tracks and once I’ve dictated the radio notes for the final programme I’ll be going to bed.

After last night I deserve it too.

But before I go, there was something that I forgot to mention about yesterday.

When I was round at Rosemary’s three years ago there was a feral cat roaming around outside.

When I was around there last year it was “keep the door shut – I don’t want that cat to go inside the house”

Last night it was “I’ll have to get out of my chair to fetch that. Just let me take Myrtille off my lap”.

No-one I ever knew won a fight with a cat.

Thursday 19th October 2023 – IT GOES WITHOUT …

… saying that last night was just as bad as the others that I’ve been having just recently. Having a nightmare at about 03:00 didn’t help matters any.

Anyway, as a result it was another difficult crawl out of bed when the alarm went off

What surprised me though is that I seem to be moving rather better than I was a couple of days ago – to such an extent that I actually managed to walk 14 paces without grabbing hold of any support, and that’s an improvement over the last few weeks.

So I made it into the living room and had my medication. Then I came back in here and checked my mails and messages. There wasn’t anything exciting in the mail this morning – no letters or messages from any Health Insurance people. Time is running out.

Once I’d come round into the Land of the Living I transcribed the dictaphone notes. There was a review of what needed to be done in the garden, tasks performed, items bought, etc to prepare it. From there we went on to a football match which Morton won 4-0 which was to the disadvantage of Oldham Athletic. Someone was saying that it’s a shame that Morton’s new manager didn’t score a goal. Someone pointed out that he did in fact score a penalty earlier on in the match. When we had a look to see who it was I saw that it was one of the existing players but I couldn’t remember now who it was.

So later on, back to where we were before. One of the Morton players had pushed this guy who was his manager, pushed him around in a wheelchair during part of the match, pushing him around to show him off to the team or vice versa, something like that.

I was in a dream later with Nerina. She was going off to do a taxi job and I was preparing the cars ready to go out. One of the estates didn’t have an MoT on it. We’d let it expire while we’d been away. We had to go to check it over to make sure that it was OK. I was taking out the radios etc ready. I decided that I’d go through the diary, check on all the big jobs that we usually do and go through for when they were ready for renewal to see if that would give me a clue about how I could manage the car MoTs better. Nerina was going out to do a couple of jobs so she was confused about what was going to be happening to the radio in the office if I was outside fixing all the cars.

There was also something else, as I mentioned earlier, but you don’t really want to know about that.

This morning I’ve been sorting out paperwork and making another assault on a different target. They actually replied too, telling me that I had the wrong address. But at least they posted the correct one so I could redirect my correspondence.

They also provided a phone number that I could ring, so if no-one has contacted me by mid-morning tomorrow I’ll phone them.

There’s also a personal profile that I need to create for the French Government’s healthcare site so I spent some time doing that. It might be too late for that to be of any use but you never know.

All in all, it took me an age to do everything this morning.

This afternoon I finished off pairing the music for the third radio programme in this batch that I’ve just done and then I wrote out all the notes.

Before I go to bed later I’ll dictate the notes for the first one. I did four one after the other last time and I was exhausted by the end so I’ll do one at a time over the next few days.

My neighbour gave me the phone number of her ergotherapist. She told me that she was very impressed with the one who came to see her so I may as well try to have an appointment with the same one. He wasn’t in but his secretary took a message.

My cleaner came by too to bring me a letter. It’s good news from the Belgian Social Security – I’ve had a pay-rise for my pension. Whatever am I going to do with this extra €1:02 a month?

Tea tonight was an attack on the European Burger Mountain in my fridge, with pasta and veg and the rest of that vegan pesto from the other day. Pretty basic, but pretty nice.

So when I’ve dictated the radio notes, I’m off to bed. Tomorrow I’ll be shopping and then I imagine that I’ll be panicking about this trip on Monday, making a raft of phone calls and eventually, I imagine, making a phone call to book a train.

It’ll be a blooming miracle if this taxi thing comes off.

Saturday 7th October 2023 – HAVING HAD MY …

… first of what will probably be many Saturdays without going to the supermarket, I’ve been quite busy again nevertheless.

It actually all got off to a good start too with me being up and about before the alarm went off. Not by much, I have to say, but all the same it was still an early start.

And yes, there will still be an alarm on a Saturday morning. I have to keep up a routine otherwise I’ll just melt away into oblivion.

After the medication it took me a while to come round into the Land of the Living and then I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. There was some kind of dream about an old couple who had a young baby living with them. They were all living in squalid circumstances. Some man came along to try to take the baby away to give it a cleaner existence but he had to be extremely careful in the way he approached and tackled it. If the grandparents thought that the baby was being taken away for ever then they wouldn’t be quite so co-operative in letting him come in and see the baby. This evolved into my being at my sister’s old house in Gresty Road. I had to leave there and go home. It was a 7-hour drive. The bathroom was really insalubrious and I hated that end of the house so I wasn’t going to go there to have a wash. I’d wait until I’d reached home if I could. All of the stuff that I needed to pack into Caliburn which otherwise would have to go out of the back through the bathroom and down the fire escape and out through the back yard to where the car was parked wasn’t going to happen. I’d have to take it out of the front. I’d need to fetch Caliburn round to the front but there was no waiting or no parking there. I’d be interrupting everyone and risking a parking ticket by doing that. While I was thinking about what I was going to do I found a huge, enormous box of Quality Street chocolates so I took a large handful and went and sat to eat them. I realised that I couldn’t wait because with an extremely long journey, the longer it too to sort myself out the longer it would take to reach home. I really wanted to be on the road as quickly as possible.

And later I was in a pop group playing drums last night. I only had a really cheap beyond-basic kit but I didn’t do too badly and I could keep the beat of the songs. We were sitting there rehearsing once and there was another drummer there. he began to play some kind of drum beat music and I joined in. Much to my surprise it was quite accurate. The guitarist joined in, playing a guitar piece that I recognised but I can’t name it. The guitarist said that he was playing this particular track because it was one that he’d like to work out. By now I was playing the guitar but I wasn’t at all confident in the idea that I’d be able to master this song to a sufficient standard to be able to perform on stage.

Nerina and I were then running our business last night, going through the cars cleaning them from top to bottom to within an inch of their lives etc, having them really sorted out. Another taxi driver from a different company came round to see what we were doing and for a chat. It slipped out in the conversation that I’d won a contract with a major motor vehicle repair place in Northwich. He asked whether that was the place that dealt with rebuilding cars after accidents or after they’d been out on lease. I replied “as a matter of fact it is but I’m far more interested in their military vehicles”. he said “you mean training vehicles?”. I replied “no. I mean vehicles that have been used by Generals being chauffeured around etc”. We were busy washing one of the cars at that point. When we scraped away the years of grime and washed it we found that one of the doors was distorted and there was paint of a different colour on it. We wondered how that was happening. In the meantime Nerina was having trouble with a jug of warm water. She shouted so I went in to see what she was doing and to juggle with this huge jug of hot water. The other driver said that he’d like to see me for a while sometime if I could spare him the time. he wanted to talk to me about his business. I didn’t really understand what he meant by that but I’ll talk to anyone so I said that I’d let him know when I was free, something like that.

After that four of us were going off to watch car racing somewhere. We stopped off at a motorway service station to have a coffee. Here we bumped into my friend from Munich on his way there so we had a really lengthy chat with him and talked about his plans. We then went back to our motor bikes. It really was a beautiful afternoon made for motorbiking. We thought that it would be lovely to be out on the road in this beautiful weather. We could have a nice leisurely ride up the drive of the place where this hotel had been built.

At another point I was sitting on a beach somewhere and a vendor came round selling mugs of hot coffee. I’m not sure why I wanted a hot coffee in the middle of summer but it was £1:30 so he poured me a mug of coffee. While I went through my pocket for the money he wandered off somewhere. Just then I heard a voice behind so I said “£1:30” but it was in fact a man asking me if I’d seen his wife. Of course I hadn’t so I said “no” so he wandered off. The coffee vendor came back. He stood there for quite some time waiting for me to sort out my money while I had it in my hand. parked right opposite me was a Standard 10 which had a Canterbury registration number so I must have been in Kent at that particular time.

Finally, there were several of us wandering around the London Underground, some of us who knew each other well and one girl who didn’t. When we arrived at a main underground station we found all the doors locked and we were effectively locked inside. I saw a door open and someone emerge so I went to grab the door before it closed so that we could leave but it turned out to be the door of the gents’. We all then decided to make for the main-line platforms and go home that way, my group going one way on one train and our lone friend another way on another. We all agreed to meet here at some other time. I asked “whereabouts here,” and someone else replied “here – on this spot”.

As you can see, it was quite a mobile night and I didn’t have much sleep at all. It’s no surprise therefore that I fell asleep again at some point later in the morning. And for an hour or so as well.

But I also spent a lot of time this morning making a start on updating the blog entries. I hadn’t added the dreams that took place when I was in Leuven just now so I edited all of those and brought them up to date.

This afternoon I wrote out the notes for the music that I selected yesterday for another radio programme. They are now complete and tonight before I go to bed I’ll dictate as many of them as I can.

It’s the kind of thing that has to be done late at night because there’s too much noise outside during the day with traffic going past and buses idling at the bus stop.

There was football on the internet later on early in the evening – Pontypridd v Hwlffordd in the Welsh Premier League.

It was a proper basement battle that in the first half was quite agricultural and Pontypridd were well on top. Hwlffordd improved quite considerably in the second half but the sending off of Tyreese Owen for two yellow cards put paid to any hopes of a revival, even if they did have a couple of excellent chances.

The final score was 2-0 for Pontypridd and that was probably about right. It’s difficult to explain what has happened down in south-west Wales. Hwlffordd did really well in the latter half of last season and performed quite well in Europe, but the fire has gone right out.

Tea tonight was salad and chips and one of those vegetable burgers of which I bought a supply a while back at Noz, along with a vegan salad. Of course, with Noz being off the agenda now I’m not sure what I’ll be doing when the stockpiled stuff from there runs out.

So now that I’ve finished my notes I’ll dictate the radio notes and then go to bed. A nice lie-in tomorrow will do me god so I hope that it actually works.