Tag Archives: vegan cheese sauce

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

… what happened to this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 25th January 2024 – I’VE BEEN OVERWHELMED …

… by a fit of positivity today, and I’ve absolutely idea where it came from.

It’s probably something to do with the choice of music. When I make up a playlist of Hawkwind or Help Yourself, Marillion or Alquin it brings back far too many distant memories that I’ve long since consigned to the dustbin of history – or, at least, I thought that I had

And as Gimli said to Legolas in LORD OF THE RINGS, "Memory is not what the heart desires. That is only a mirror"

Instead, I’ve been making up a playlist of Tangerine Dream. By an amazing coincidence, Edgar Froese, John Kay of Steppenwolf and my friend Lorna’s mum were in the same refugee column that fled from Tilsit in East Prussia in the winter of 1944/45 before the advancing Red Army.

Lorna’s mum, who was 12 at the time, told some horrific tales of the flight that people would have found hard to believe before the news of the events in Ukraine broke

But I digress … "again" – ed

Tangerine Dream bring back memories of happier times – the hot summer of 1976 where we lived at an abandoned sand quarry near Congleton and the next couple of years when I was struggling to get myself and my life together again after several years in the Wilderness and ended up going from living in an old van to owning a brand new semi-detached house in the suburbs of Winsford in just 3 years.

Albums like TANGRAM, WHITE EAGLE, FORCE MAJEURE and EXIT with the two magnificent tracks PILOTS OF PURPLE TWILIGHT and CHORONZON that can only ever be played one after the other.

Then there is CYCLONE, the best of all the Tangerine Dream albums with two tracks that have never ever been off my playlist, BENT COLD SIDEWALK, and RISING RUNNER MISSED BY ENDLESS SENDER.

But maybe it isn’t. I found an old elastic knee reinforcement that I used a few years ago and I tried that last night. I’ve been wearing it ever since on my right leg and since then the pain seems to be manageable. Perhaps it’s that which is making me feel better

However, it’s still something of a misery in bed and I was moving around all night trying to find a comfortable position. Not that you would have thought so with the amount of stuff on the dictaphone. Even when I was asleep it must have been quite restless, and there were some strange, very strange comments on the dictaphone, such as “you can tell that I’ve been on this anti-potassium stuff. There’s a radio playing somewhere, there’s a speaking voice that I can hear presenting a radio programme from somewhere. There’s absolutely no radio anywhere near where I am and this time of night no-one would be playing a radio so loud that it would penetrate solid grès de Chaussee solid granite walls 1.20m thick. I’ve no idea what’s happening except that it’s really confusing me”.

And then I awoke (so I said in my sleep) in the middle of a dream. I was in a French class and was late back from a break. Everyone else was there so I had to fight my way through the crowds to a seat at the back. The teacher had given everyone an exercise that they had to write a letter as if they were in the final throes of preparing a music festival when someone had written offering his services as a singer. I had to hunt for the question first – it was on page 80 of our notes so eventually I managed to find it. When I went to begin to write I found that my notebook was completely full. I reached under my desk, went into my backpack, pulled out a scrap pad. The people around me were amazed that I had so much stuff and was so well organised that I even had a spare notepad. I just gave a smile and began to write down the question on the spare notepad so that I’d be ready to answer it and writing it down gives me a little chance to think a little

Talking of surprises, I think that the whole wide world would be surprised at the amount of stuff that that I have. I’m probably sitting on a fortune of stuff that I’ve never had time to deal with. And as for being well-organised, I think that even I would be surprised at that.

They’d … "who?" – ed … been playing in a rock band with Declan McManus of Leek’s sister and somewhere in the middle of the Sunday hall they’d been overcome by something or other. They thought that it was just grief but maybe there was some slight predicament that was needed but it grew worse as the day went on. His leg was positively killing him at night so they arranged for an ambulance to come and collect him and have a look at whatever it was but I don’t know the name of the film now but I remember thinking that it was an excellent film and deserved to be shown on mainstream television.

And apart from the fact that Declan McManus doesn’t play for Leek but for TNS in Wales, you don’t really expect a dream to make sense, do you?

After that we were suddenly in Crewe again. I was sitting rather than going for a walk and suddenly had an appalling fear or suspicion that someone was watching me and I couldn’t shake it out of my mind …fell asleep here

At a later moment a bunch of crooks had stolen a pile of antiques from a place in South-West London, rather similar to something like one of the Ealing comedies. I was involved merely as a spectator. The retreated to their headquarters with all of their loot. They tried to take taxis in order to disperse but all of the taxis were booked. In the meantime I was ringing a friend of mine in Chester to tell him that I’d left my job there as an underwriting clerk. If he was still looking for a job there was one vacant and he ought to apply. I was greeted to a pile of silence so I said “right, see you there” and hung up. I went back into the room where they were arguing. Eventually one of them grabbed his share of the loot from the table, said “right, I’m going by bus”. Someone else replied “the buses from here don’t go to Finchley Central”. He replied “I don’t care. I can take a bus to the Angel, take a bus to somewhere else and catch a bus there. It’s better than sitting around”. That propelled one or two others to start moving, particularly the fellow who had organised it to suddenly get to grips with what was going on and get a settlement to the airport so that they could fly out of the UK quickly

Did I dictate that I was with Marillion last night? … "No you didn’t" – ed … Things had been slack for them on the music scene and they’d become taxi drivers. Someone had gone up to Fish to tell him that they’d seen a dead body somewhere. He was at the taxi rank picking up a fare so as soon as he dropped off the fare he went with this other person to go to look to see if they could find this body. The rest of his group turned up too to help. Then the alarm went off so I don’t know what happened next

It was a struggle to make it to my feet which is no surprise these days and to give you an idea of what’s going on right now, getting dressed, going into the kitchen, taking my medicine and then coming back in here took me 50 minutes. What kind of state is that to be in?

First thing was to check the mails and messages and then to transcribe the dictaphone notes. And then afterwards, seeing as I was in a malicious mood I rang up the garage to find out why they hadn’t been for Caliburn.

After the usual excuses they’ll be here for him on the 8th of February to take him for his annual controle technique.

And that’s a shame because just when I was getting myself under control and feeling as if I might manage a trip around the block, I have this really bad fall that knocks the stuffing out of me and sets me back.

While I was now in something of an aggressive mood, I rang up the supermarket to complain about why one of the products that i’d ordered and they’d delivered yesterday was damaged. I sent them a photo by e-mail and they agreed.

The result is that I’ve had the purchase price credited back to my account and I can keep the product. They were really quite nice and helpful too which made a lovely change.

Next task was to go one better than David Crosby, presumably because I hadn’t had the flu for Christmas and was not feeling under par. It’s been a while and it was growing quite long – at least, for how I like it these days – but now it’s all short and bristly thanks to the sheep-shearer in the bathroom cupboard.

Strangely enough, sitting on the chair in the bathroom after I’d finished, I crashed out for 5 minutes. While I was away with the fairies there was something going on in my subconscious about two cats having a playfight and someone picking up one of them.

Of course, that made me wish that the tenant in my apartment downstairs would hurry up and find somewhere else to live so that I can move downstairs and have a moggy adopt me. Only 16 more months until the lease ends but I can do with her clearing off a long time before that. The way that I feel right now, I’ll be finished off a long time before the lease is.

Once I’d returned to the Land of the Living I loaded the washing machine and gave the clothes a whizz around while I went to eat some fruit. Only apples and clementines – I don’t like the pears that they have and they had run out of the Eco bananas at the delivery site.

There was even some time to play the guitar – the first time for several weeks. But how sad is it that I can no longer stand up to do it and sing? I’m really surprised that I kept my good humour.

Once I’d hung up the washing to dry I went to sit down. I reckon that I’d done enough today. I really don’t know what had come over me with all of this effort, as Monica Lewinsky one famously said.

After my hot chocolate and Christmas cake (there’s not much of that left now) I carried on with the radio programme and wrote a few notes for some of the tracks that will be figuring in the programme. Just a few to dictate now and it will be finished and I can go back to my usual routine and record it on Saturday night.

In the meantime I’ve been giving my “Hawkfest” and “Isle of Wight 1968” programmes some thought, about who will feature and so on.

The Hawkfest isn’t too difficult. Back in the good old days of the anarchy of what was loosely called “Usenet” down in the bowels of the internet quite a comprehensive list of the first Hawkfest performers was “published” and I tracked a few down, even someone who lived in Congleton who had been up on the stage performing, but the first Isle of Wight is not so easy. There was a big pile of extremely obscure groups who played there, including one that at one time had had on bass guitar Lewis Collins, later actor in The Professionals.

Even finding their names wasn’t easy, and tracking down any of their work will be much harder than that.

As for tea, I changed my mind about what to have.

During the course of the day my mind had gone from gravy to cheese sauce and I don’t know why, but nevertheless I steamed some vegetables in my microwave vegetable steamer and cooked some falafel in a nice thick cheese sauce which I poured (well, it was too thick to pour, but you get the meaning) over the top. And it was just as delicious as I expected.

So right now I’m going to go to bed. And hope that I awaken in the same positive mind tomorrow.

First task (and straight away too) is to bake my bread for the weekend. That’s important and it needs to be done early ready for my mid-morning cheese on toast.

My bread rolls were a success so I might do that again, but this time hope that the bread rises more than it did last time. I really don’t understand why my bread doesn’t rise like it ought to.

It reminds me of the time that I went to the doctors to ask for certain “help, advice and assistance” about my meeting with a certain young lady of my acquaintance in April a couple of years ago and who has figured in these pages on occasions too numerous to count, especially during the night.

He took one look at my “problem” and said "I’ll give you the number of a spiritualist whom I know"
"Why’s that?" I asked.
"I’m a doctor" he replied. "It’s my job to heal the sick. It’s his job to raise the dead."

Thursday 28th December 2023 – IN WHAT CAN ONLY …

… be described as a new, rather regrettable record, I was actually up and about, taking my medicine and preparing to start work at 03:20 this morning.

Feeling absolutely wretched and totally washed out, I was in bed early – at about 22:30. And I must have fallen into a deep sleep almost immediately because there was something on the dictaphone with a timestamp of not much later.

But then there were all kinds of strange things happening during the night and I ended up awakening at about 02:15. Try as I might, I simply couldn’t go back to sleep after that and in the end gave it up as a bad job.

Firstly, there was a strange entry on the dictaphone that I have absolutely no recollection of dictating. “All that seemed to be missing from last night’s adventures was a visit from TOTGA but we’ll just have to make do without that” was what I recorded.

And that was early on too. The one that I’d had almost as soon as I’d gone to bed went “we started off with a very long complicated and involved dream that I can’t remember now. It all seems to have disappeared from my mind but at one point there was a young girl in Nantwich waiting for a load of other girls for the local dance hall to open so that they could all go in. This would be in the early 60s when beehive hair and all of that was in fashion. Some older man came and began to talk to her, to chat her up. Another girl in the queue accosted the man and told him what she thought of him, and generally made him feel uncomfortable until he left. That girl was actually a very young Marilyn Munroe who had come to Nantwich for some kind or other of show promotion but was standing in the queue at the dance hall just like any other young girl of that particular age and behaviour at that particular time. There was nothing special about her at all” which has absolutely nothing whatever with what came after it.

However, I do have a vague kind of ethereal feeling that at some point during the night not only Zero but also Castor came to see me. And if that’s the case I’m surprised that I didn’t dictate it. Maybe it’s my subconscious blocking them out for reasons that I can only speculate, or else it’s simply that I don’t want to share my experiences with anyone else. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, with coming from a large family where nothing was ever my own, I don’t “do” sharing if it’s something nice like one of Liz’s vegan cakes, and I can’t think of anything very much nicer than having Zero and Castor around.

Zero as we know drifts in and out of my nocturnal rambles, doing her own thing and going her own way, what around here they call son bonhomme de chemin but as for Castor, I haven’t seen her in the flesh since that morning in early September 2019 when she turned her back on me and walked to her ‘plane to Ottawa on that windswept airstrip at the Coppermine River, just a short walk from where in 1771 Samuel Hearne had stood helpless and horrified as his Dene guides fell on and butchered an Inuit hunting party.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, it puzzled and bewildered me for quite a while as to why she left me as she did. And it wasn’t until I had to say “goodbye” to someone in similar circumstances a year or two ago that I realised that sometimes, goodbyes have to be done like that.

Castor has been back during the night a few times since then, but not for quite a while. If indeed it really was she (and Zero) last night and I missed it, I’ll be helpless and horrified too.

However, it was what happened next that was the killer.

There was another dance taking place at Wistaston. There was a group of kids and I was going but I was going to buy a big motorbike and hopefully turn up on it to arrive there. Then I had a think about first of all, it wouldn’t be registered, then it won’t be taxed. And where would I leave it because there would be no burglar alarm or anti-theft device fitted on it. Much as I wanted to have it and take it there it would cause quite a few problems. I was listening to a couple of bikers talking. One was actually knitting while he was talking. he was talking about his travels out in the USA as a road racer around a lot of circuits in California. They were talking about his bike, how it would still pass an MoT in the UK after that. Their conversation was extremely interesting. They wanted to know about the amount of Marshall Aid that would be applicable to importing over something that they’ve had in the USA but I wasn’t able to give any help. This question of this big motorbike was something eating away at me – how was I going to bring it to this dance with all of the problems that I had to face? Many of them were insurmountable because they required a lot of input from a lot of other people in a short space of time.

“Another dance” indeed because there had been a dance at the Wistaston Memorial Hall on the Saturday night of August Bank Holiday weekend in 1973 and every moment of it is etched onto my brain as if it was yesterday.

At that time I was sharing an apartment with a guy who played synthesiser in a rock band and his group had been invited to play at the Windsor Free Festival on the Sunday.

Everyone was stony broke in those days and they couldn’t afford the fuel so they arranged the dance where they would play, as a way of raising some petrol money.

My friend from the Wirral had been to school with one of the musicians so I invited him along and he turned up on his motorbike, a 350cc Triumph.

It was at that dance that he met a girl called Jane, and I met Jane’s friend Sheila, someone who has appeared in these pages on a few occasions. There was nothing particularly serious about any of this, except that my friend fell rather badly, but I imagine for the two girls is was more of a case as Al Steward described in SWISS COTTAGE MANOEUVRES as "I could see myself nailed to a dormitory tale as a holiday night’s escapade".

However, Sheila and I went on for more than a night (not much more) and I’m glad that it did because apart from the fact that she was a nice girl, her father kept a pub, the Whore’s Bed in Walgherton and that was where I met Paul Elson, drummer of “Strife” and a big friend of her brother.

And not so long ago, Paul sent me a recording of a “Strife” concert that he’d found in all his old papers and I featured it on one of my rock shows.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … Wistaston Memorial Hall, at the end of the concert we loaded up all of their gear into the back of the old J4 van that they had and they they discovered that they were still short of money. And so for £1:00 per head they would take anyone who wanted to go to the Festival. You’ve no idea how many people piled into that van with all of the gear already in it.

My friend and I decided that we’d go down on the motorbike so we set off and went a different way to Windsor.

But those in the van had a nightmare. Going down the M1 a tyre burst and with all of the weight that was in the van they were all over the road until the driver could bring it to a halt. It was a miracle that it didn’t overturn.

Horrible thoughts of 12th May 1969 must have flashed through everyone’s mind – the night that Fairport Convention’s van overturned at almost the same spot killing drummer Martin Lambie and guitarist Richard Thompson’s girlfriend Jeannie “the tailor” Franklyn, to whom the Jack Bruce album SONGS FOR A TAILOR was dedicated.

We stayed down there all weekend, without any sleep whatsoever, and then came home on the Monday night. My friend fell asleep riding back so he asked me to ride the rest of the way home but when we hit a bump in the road he fell off the seat so in the end we had a couple of hours curled up leaning over a table in a Little Chef near Oxford.

That’s not my best memory of the Windsor Free Festival either.

When I was living at home a schoolfriend and I decided one summer that we’d go to one. Not wishing to let on to my parents where I was going I said that we were going camping, which was perfectly true.

All went well until I returned home to a pair of furious parents. The Festival had been on the news on the television and there on the 21:00 News on BBC that Sunday was Yours Truly staggering past the TV camera with a Watneys Party Seven can tucked under his arm, and all of the family, friends and neighbours had seen it.

Ahhh well. We all have memories of what and what might have been. Some more than most

"Childhood comes for me at night
Voices of my friends
Your face bathing me in light
A hope that never ends
Pages turning
Pages torn and pages burning
Faded pages, open in the sun
Better bring your own redemption when you come
TO THE BARRICADES OF HEAVEN WHERE I COME FROM
"

But anyway, after all that, I just couldn’t go back to sleep again.

So here I am, up and about, trying nicely and calmly to fit the blood pressure tester to my arm. And after several unsuccessful tries, Our Hero notes on the box that is says poignée. So put it around your wrist, you berk.

Going for a ride on the porcelain horse to calm down again, I come back and take my blood pressure.

"The aim is to have a blood pressure of below 14.0/9.0" and so with mine being 17.0/8.0, I can see that we are starting as we mean to go on.

And as for what it was at lunchtime, I forgot to take it. Start as we mean to go on indeed.

Then there were 15 pills to take and that was … errr … complicated. I earned my coffee and cornflakes after that.

So today I tidied up the kitchen area so it looks as if someone lives here, and in my spare time I made a start on the next radio programme – chosen the music, paired it off and written some of the notes. There have been a few visits and phone calls too.

But one unwelcome visitor was the taxi to take me to the Centre de Re-education. he came 20 minutes early today and I was as nature intended in the bathroom having a good scrub up

But they put me through my paces and I came back here for more spoonsful of cake and some hot chocolate.

Tea tonight was nothing complicated. Pasta and veg in a cheese sauce. Quick, simple and delicious.

With having an early start, I’ve had several moments where I’ve been away with the fairies but as usual, I’m now not tired enough to go to bed.

So which childhood voices of my friends will I hear tonight? And whose face will bathe me in light? If it really had been Zero and Castor last night, wouldn’t it be nice if they were to come back?

But it doesn’t happen like that, does it? I’ll take my blood pressure and go to bed, and probably meet some of my family heading my way. I’ve no idea why they keep on putting in an appearance like this but I wish that they’d clear off and leave room for people whom I really want to see.

Thursday 14th December 2023 – IT WAS THE …

… staff Christmas lunch at the Centre de Re-education at midday today. And so as a result there really wasn’t all that much point in any of the clients going there this afternoon.

Anyone who has ever been to a French office party or Christmas lunch will understand only too well exactly what I mean.

It looked as if it was all going to go the Way of the West when Severine told me how difficult it was to make my feet respond to her massage.

She would probably have had more luck had she remembered to take of my shoes first, especially after all of the effort through which I’d gone to change my socks and put on clean ones earlier that afternoon.

Mind you, at least she went through the motions. Ophélie the Ergotherapist was definitely on another planet in some other universe somewhere and our session, which took ages to start, finished quite rapidly.

But I knew that today was going to be one of those days. During the night Zero had come to visit me. It was really nice to see her, but in the middle of a long interesting discussion that I was having with her, I suddenly awoke bolt upright and she immediately vanished into the ether.

Start as you mean to go on, I suppose.

Having finished my notes early last night I had an hour or so on the guitar and ended up going late to bed. One thing that I love about living in a building where the walls are 1m20 thick of solid granite is that I can make as much noise as I like and no-one can hear me.

Apart from all of the usual songs that I run through, I had a play around with THIS ONE.

It sounds really well on a decent acoustic guitar and the last time that I played the song to an audience was on the observation deck of THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR at about 04:00 one night when Castor and I were huddled up watching the midnight sun over Coronation Gulf on the last night of our little adventure

Playing Trevor Bolder’s bass line is really enjoyable and I used to do that a lot, but for some reason that I could never understand, I could never sing the chorus when playing the chorus’s bass line no matter how much I rehearsed and practised, and I found it deeply frustrating.

Being determined never to admit defeat and to master it one day, I still keep on trying, even if it has been 20 years.

"Keep your electric eye on me babe
Put your ray-gun to my head
Press your space-face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream"

At least, we had the midnight sun, I suppose.

Being late going to bed, I didn’t go very far. But it’s quality that counts, not quantity of course, and just like Kris Kristofferson, "I’d give all my tomorrows for a single yesterday".

I dreamt last night that I was at the Centre Normandy again. They were teaching up all kinds of things like different series of recipes which for example was the one where we learnt about Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings. There was another one where we learnt about stuffing etc. It began quite normally but as the menus progressed it became more and more chaotic until in the end I was chasing a tin of Christmas pudding mix around my bed trying to find it (and I was too!).

And later, I was dictating the next dream without the dictaphone again, something that I do far too often. But I’m glad that my subconscious realised it and made a wild grab because this was when Zero appeared and I didn’t want to miss her. I’d been out around the North Shropshire area in my red Cortina estate and coming back through Whitchurch I wanted a pint of milk. I couldn’t find one so in the end I ended up at Northern Dairies where I bought a bottle. At some point or other I’d picked up Zero but I can’t remember how – at one minute I was on my own and next minute she was in the car. Then I had something else to do that meant that I had to double back through Whitchurch and drive around the town for a while. Instead of Zero I then had someone else with me but I can’t remember who it was. In the end I was just driving around. It was the afternoon. The previous evening I’d been to a football match, a ladies match between 2 teams. I came across a sports ground somewhere on the edge of Birmingham. There was a fair-sized crowd for what looked like an amateur game so I decided to stop to look as kick-off hadn’t happened yet. I was wandering around and ended up in one of the rooms of the building. It was full of schoolgirls and a couple of teachers. One of the teachers was wearing a bright blue flannel suit and waistcoat with his name on it and a lime green shirt and was talking in a high-pitched voice to these girls about their English exams. There was probably 20 or 30 schoolgirls packed in here. I was just sitting quietly in a corner trying to work out where I was. I noticed that the postcode of this place began with PR1. I thought “it can’t be Preston so where was I?” In the end I came to the conclusion that I was in Perry Barr on the edge of Birmingham. I ended up talking to 2 of the girls, asking what time kick-off was. They told me that we had 20 minutes to wait. Then in walked Zero. I said “hello” to her and called her by name which surprised everyone in this room – they didn’t know that I knew one of their schoolgirls. She came over to chat. I asked about her birthday, what presents she had, and asked her about her holidays. We were having a really lengthy involved chat when I awoke quite dramatically.

After that, there was no point in going back to sleep, even though I tried. I knew that this would be one dream into which I would never be able to step back. Can you imagine the disappointment? There I was with Zero on my plate, just about get my fork stuck in, and “paff”.

"Gone! And never called me ‘mother’!"

For about half an hour I carried out my exercises with the elastic strap around my ankles and then Arose from the Dead. It was 05:40.

Being up and about is one thing. Actually being in any state to do anything is something else completely and it took me an age to wind myself up ready to go.

Eventually though I managed to make a start on things and by lunchtime I’d edited the radio notes that I’d dictated before going to bed and assembled another complete programme.

Had I put my shoulder to the wheel I could have finished it off a lot earlier than that but what with a late night and a really early start, I went off again with the fairies for quite some time in the middle of it all.

Having had a good wash and scrub up I made myself ready for the Centre de Re-education and while I was waiting for my lift I hunted down some music.

Unfortunately I ended up stuck in yet another nostalgia groove (and in case you haven’t already noticed, I’m still in it, regrettably) and came across a recording of a live Hawkwind concert from a festival in Canterbury 20-odd years ago. And that was that, I’m afraid

That actually gave me yet another idea for my radio programme.

Back in the 1970s with my various vans I used to run a sound engineer around to work at various gigs and then a friend’s son was sound engineer with the Pink Fairies who supported dozens of headline groups. Consequently I seem to have inherited quite a collection of live concert recordings

Occasionally I feature a live concert recording in my radio shows when it’s convenient so I’m wondering if maybe I should go through my collection of recordings, try to identify the dates for those that aren’t labelled (there’s A HANDY WEBSITE ON THE INTERNET where people post setlists of concerts that they’ve seen and that should help identify some of them) and then broadcast “anniversary concerts” when the appropriate date coincides with one of my programmes.

After the Centre de Re-education I came back here, made my hot chocolate and sat down to sort out the music for the next radio programme. That’s all paired off now and I’ve even written some of the notes. Once more, I could have done much more but I … errr … relaxed for a while.

Tea was steamed veg with falafel and vegan cheese sauce but the veg wasn’t really steamed enough. It seems that my microwave is being rather hit-and-miss these days too.

So having finished off everything? I’m going to sort out some paperwork for the hospital, make my shopping list for the supermarket at St Nicolas tomorrow and then have a play on the guitar.

And hope that Zero comes back to see me again during the night, either on her own or with Castor and TOTGA

Yes, I’m still on this nostalgia thing again, so what better track to leave you all with than THIS ONE? Definitely the poet Robert Calvert’s finest hour.

He describes the perigee of despair in terms that no-one else could possibly imitate. Imagine being stuck in a interplanetary spacecraft on an inter-galactic voyage that will take centuries, just you and a clone of your lover, and when you make love to it "she calls another’s name"

There will never be another song quite like this.

Calvert is buried just a few hundred yards from where my mother lived as a child and one of the things that I intended to do was to go to visit his grave. But that’s just one more thing that won’t ever be done.

This “unfinished list” seems to be growing longer and longer, and there’s nothing that I can do about it.

Thursday 23rd November 2023 – HAVING SAID …

… the other day that I was thinking about getting up before the alarm went off, I actually managed to make it out of bed this morning before the alarm went off.

A few months ago I went through a phase of early rising, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, but just recently it’s been just a distant memory.

Mind you, at one point I didn’t think that I’d ever go to sleep, never mind awaken. For several hours starting shortly after going to be I was wracked by attacks of cramp, one after another after another.

But something must have awoken me this morning and I’ve no idea what it was but I couldn’t go back to sleep afterwards. So I spend 15 or 20 minutes doing some exercises in bed with the elastic strap with which I sleep, wrapped round my ankles, and then I raised myself from the dead.

After the medication I had a listen to the dictaphone. And considering that it was a short night, it was quite a lively one. There were some huge problems about confrontations between the Government, the University and the Students’ Association. The Students Union magazine that was sent round for that month had dozens and dozens of cases in it where students claimed that they had been provoked by the Government or University into a whole variety of things. As members of the Executive Committee we had to sit and examine these cases. I was on my way to a meeting, walking through a street where all these ragged children were playing around telling each other jokes etc. When they were running around they were leaving their shoes all over the place. I had a couple of particular pairs of shoes that I’d encountered and had been playing football with them up and down the street as I was walking. One of the kids noticed and began to chase after me, making a few remarks. I was distracted because there was another instance taking place right before my eyes of the goings-on between the Government, the University and one of the students. I was in a hurry to go along and actually witness it first-hand so I couldn’t stop and sort out this boy’s shoes for him.

strawberry moose bill rammell open university Eric Hall photo April 2002And that brought back a few memories from the time that the Minister of Education was invited by the University to address the student body, and being forewarned by one of our “moles on various committees” we laid an ambush with STRAWBERRY MOOSE and the Minister fled. Such was Strawberry Moose’s fame in those days.

But of course, Strawberry Moose had the final say, as you might expect.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bedroom I was going off by road to the far north of Canada. We set off in a big double-decker express coach. I had my huge suitcase with STRAWBERRY MOOSE in it. I handed it to the driver, boarded and found a seat. There were a few other people sitting near me and we had a chat every now and again but I spent a lot of time dozing off. We eventually pulled into a service area with a restaurant etc where we had to alight because this was where our different buses came in to take us further on our way. I alighted from the back along with these other people whom I’d met. The driver began to take the cases out of the coach. We were checking times with each other and discussing our plans etc. One of the girls with us asked where the restaurant was. I said “it’s behind you” … "ohh no it isn’t" – ed … so she turned round. Of course by this time the bus had gone so you could actually see the service area. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t have my case and the bus has gone. It’s dark and I could hardly see anything on this motorway service area. I certainly can’t remember my case being taken off the bus and now he’s disappeared.

And later I was with a girl who might have been Roxanne. She wanted to know if she could borrow my big Bosch hammer drill to drill a hole through a piece of wood. We had a look at the wood and saw how thick it was. We ended up having to tape a couple of drill bits together. I put them in the drill and was busy giving her a lesson on how to drill wood and how to drill deep lengths etc.

Nerina and I had had some friends round at one point – another couple. We were chatting away and it was becoming quite late. I said something to Nerina about going to bed. It caught her unawares and she sked me exactly what I meant. I explained that I was having to go to the bathroom so if she was planning on going to bed at some point in the near future I’d switch on her electric blanket for her so that her bed would be nice and warm. I switched it on and the evening carried on. I wandered off to do something. later on I went upstairs and she was there in bed with the bedclothes thrown back. I asked if the bed was warm enough. She replied that it was too warm. I asked why she hadn’t switched off the electric blanket but she didn’t say very much. We ended up having a lengthy discussion about Christmas and birthday presents.

Later on there were 3 of us. We were having a virtual tour on the internet of Yeovil, getting into a virtual car and on one of these map sites having a street view out of the town. We decided that it looked fairly sophisticated so we found another way back into the city. I went a strange way because I said that it’s one way of seeing what’s in people’s gardens. We came across a nouse where behind a tarpaulin were dozens and dozens of police motorbikes all with white fairings. They were a model that I hadn’t seen before so I imagined that they had been imported from somewhere obscure and were slowly being prepared for sale. This visual programme was incredible. We ended up on the very top of a hill really high up looking over this really beautiful valley with a river and viaduct in the distance etc. We climbed out of the car to look and the car just accelerated away on its own down the hill. I could feel the wind whistling through my hair as Nerina, this other guy, another couple of people and I stood there watching it. All 5 of us seemed to go at the same time. The woman of this other couple completely forgot who she was with and took my hand as we walked away which of course had everyone bursting out into laughter.

The last time that I was in Yeovil was with Sue from Swindon. I moved her from Brussels when I had my Luton Transit and we saw each other a few times after that if I happened to be in the UK. We celebrated the Solstice together at Avebury one year but like most things involving the UK it petered out.

Thinking about it, I was in the UK for half a day in 2013 to pick up a lorry-load of slates to deliver to the South of France and Rosemary and I went in Aberdeen in 2019 to pick up THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR instead of flying to Greenland to meet it there, and they are the only times that I’ve been in the UK since 2011. And, to be quite honest, I’ve no intention of ever returning.

Having finished the dictaphone notes I carried on with the radio programme and that’s now finished and up and running, ready for broadcast on … errr … 5th July next year.

In between all of that, I had my coffee and bread-and-butter pudding and phoned the garage to talk about Caliburn and his controle technique. He actually has a vacancy and he’ll send someone round “shortly” to pick him up. And Caliburn will soon be 17 too.

The lift engineer who came to chat with me was a woman – not that that’s a surprise in itself these days – but I wouldn’t go doing any lift engineering in the clothes that she was wearing. And she was wearing enough perfume to pole-axe a bactrian camel. It reminded me of the story about the guy spreading white powder outside his front gate and his neighbout asked him why.
"It’s to keep Polar Bears off my cabbages" he replied.
"But there are no Polar bears within 5,000 miles of this place"
"Powerful stuff, isn’t it?"

This afternoon I’ve been sorting out more of my Canada 2022 photos and I’m now about to board my train in Moncton ready to travel back to Montréal. And what a journey that was.

As well as that I’ve been going through one of the backup drives checking duplicates and disposing of yet more.

Tea tonight was steamed veg and veggie balls in vegan cheese sauce, delicious as usual. Tomorrow’s tea with have to be sausage and beans, not salad, as I’m not going shopping in the morning. At some point the garage might come by for Caliburn and I’ll probably be out at the shops or something so I’ll stay at home and wait, which will mean that he won’t come.

But I’ve plenty of other things that will keep me out of mischief. At some point I’m even going to soak my fruit ready for Christmas baking and that’s the kind of thing that will be exciting.

My first ever Christmas cake a couple of years ago, coached on the internet by Hannah from Batley, was a resounding success but I put that down to beginner’s luck. And in any case Hannah is no longer in our Welsh group so I’ll be on my own for this one.

But I learnt a lot last time. Here’s hoping that I can remember it.

Thursday 9th November 2023 – MAIS OÙ SONT …

… les neiges d’antan? wrote Francois Villon 550 years ago in his poem La Ballade Des Dames Du Temps Jadis.

And I wrote something similar last night in my tale of woe about “Ladies From Former Times” when I wrote about Castor, Zero and TOTGA and the absence thereof during my nocturnal ramblings. Where indeed are the snows of yesteryear?

So of course it goes without saying that last night Zero and TOTGA came to see me – at different times, I have to say. I don’t think that I could cope with them both together.

It was all extremely confusing because I had another bad night – one of many that I seem to be having these days. I think that it must be my guilty conscience catching up with me, or something like that.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. As I said, at some point TOTGA came by. We were talking about an expression that I’d used in a conversation – one of these superlative hyperbole expressions. At first she didn’t understand it so I explained that it came from the “Round The Horne” programme which was very good at doing that kind of thing. I went to give her an example and was about to talk about Geronimo and his Indian braves when I suddenly had the most appalling attack of cramp in my left lower leg and I awoke in absolute agony.

Can you imagine it? There I was, not only with the bird on my plate but just about to get my fork stuck in it and I had a bad attack of cramp. The first time that she’s shown up for quite a while too. Is there anything more disappointing than that?

Actually, all through the night I was having these bad attacks of cramp and it was probably all of this that was disturbing my sleep.

In fact, I was glad when the alarm went off and I could stagger to my feet.

It took rather longer than usual to come round into the Land of the Living, but once I was finally on the same planet as you lot, I transcribed the dictaphone notes.

TOTGA I mentioned just now. And later on I was in some kind of big city. One of these places with some impressive stone buildings like Bank headquarters etc. I was walking along a path that was on top of a cliff with all of these big buildings on my right. I came to a point where I couldn’t go any further. The wall of the building went right down to the edge of the cliff. I noticed that there was a gate in it. I can’t think why I hadn’t noticed this gate before. I walked through the gate and slowly went up the hill. There in the distance was a Fortis Bank cash machine. Luckily I had my new Fortis card with me. I picked up the card and tried to put it in the machine but it wouldn’t fit. I’d noticed that I’d actually left it stuck to the backing. I had to peel off the backing but it still wouldn’t fit. I noticed that there was still something else attached to it. It took me several goes to have the card completely separate from whatever it was that it was stuck to. I put it in the machine. At first I had a really difficult job to remember the code number. Eventually I recalled it and could access the account. I then had to think about drawing out some money – obviously, with not going anywhere near a bank these days, the more money I have on hand the better but there has to be a limit. I didn’t want to go too close to the limit in case the machine swallowed my card and then I really would be stuck. I had to think really hard about how much money I was going to ask for.

Actually this is a real preoccupation with me right now. I can’t actually go to the bank any more because I can’t climb back onto the bus at the bus stop. I have a little “fighting fund” of cash squirrelled away but it’s not going to last for ever.

It’s actually quite bizarre. When I was at University, as well as being Chair of Northern Europe I was also involved in Disability issues when I was on the Executive Committee and so I’m well-aware of the day-to-day problems that disability can present.

So I’ve never understood why, if the local council only has a certain budget to spend on improving the bus routes and facilities around the town, why one of the last bus stops to be raised up to a working height is the one just outside the Medical Centre where all of the ill and infirm people go.

That should have been one of the first to be raised up. But instead, the buses stop in the roadway far from the pavement and they don’t “kneel down” enough for wheelchairs and handicapped people to board very easily.

Anyway I digress.

A little earlier I also mentioned that Zero put in an appearance. But you really don’t want to know about the voyage that we had together, especially if you are eating your meal right now. It’s been a while since there has been anything really gruesome figuring in my nocturnal voyages, but when there is, there really is.

With a bit of luck she might put in an appearance tonight and we’ll have a happy ending.

Some nights, what goes on in my sleep is far more stressful than anything that happens during the day. It’s similar to the reason why I’m having serious thoughts about stopping my treatment at Leuven. It doesn’t matter how good the treatment might be and how efficient the care is in the journey to and from Vlaanderen is finishing me off.

Once I’d sorted that out I attacked the notes for the radio programme that I dictated last night. And I stuck at it and finished the programme. I’m actually now at 31st May 2024 with my totally-completed radio shows. I want to be as far ahead as I can possibly be because sooner or later the inevitable will catch up with me.

Afterwards I spent some time tidying the apartment. I’m having a visit tomorrow so the place needs to be clean and tidy. I know that cleanliness is next to Godliness but with me it’s next to impossible.

Neitzsche famously said “out of chaos comes order” but he said that a long time before I was ever thought of. Ezra Pound once said of Ford Madox Ford “Put Ford naked in an empty room and within an hour behold total chaos!”. That’s something that I understand very well

The bedroom is actually clean now and I’ve even vacuumed the floor. And you’ve no idea just how difficult a simple task like vacuuming is right now.

And then I had a good wash and brush up and the car came for me to take me to the Centre de Re-education. The ergotherapist had me opening and closing doors, laying tables, picking up pins and counters off the table, that sort of thing. She also says that next week she’ll come round here to give me practical advice about getting the most out of my apartment.

Severine the physiotherapist put me through my paces too and then, totally, exhausted, I headed back home in the car.

My cleaner was just coming into the building so she helped me up the stairs and into here, where I made myself my mug of hot chocolate.

The rest of the day, such as it was, has been spent pairing off the music for the next couple of radio programmes and beginning to write the notes for one of them.

Tea tonight was delicious. Steamed vegetables and a vegan sausage in a vegan cheese sauce. That was a meal that I enjoyed very much.

So now I’m going to bed, but not before I’ve sent someone a message. If I had to pick a favourite relative (and despite everything that I have said, I do actually have one) it’s the one who is getting married in Michigan tomorrow and I’m really disappointed that I can’t be there with her.

She actually works for one of the biggest transport firms in North America and was away on a mission for work when she was caught in the lockdown over across the border in 2020. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to fight the good fight at the shops if the wind has dropped because it was quite savage again today. And then I’ll finalise my tidying up ready to find out what is actually going on about this visit tomorrow.

The plot sickens.

Thursday 12th October 2023 – I’VE JUST FOUND …

… myself flat out on the chair asleep. I’ve no idea why but what it probably means that I’m going to have another restless night tonight.

Actually, last night was one of the better nights that I’ve had just recently and I didn’t move around much during the night. The only problem was that there wasn’t enough of it. It was extremely late when I went to bed

You’ve no idea how much of a struggle it was to leave the bed when the alarm went off, but I did manage to beat the second alarm to my feet.

And I was right about what I thought yesterday about the fall that I had making things worse. I can’t walk with just one crutch now, and I can no longer rise up from my knees.

After the medication I came back in here and didn’t do very much for quite a while as I slowly came round into the Land of the Living.

However I was disturbed on several occasions. Firstly the nurse came round. The hospital want me to have a blood test before I go so I had asked him if he would do it. He came round to collect the prescription to check what he needed to bring with him when he comes.

Next was the doctor’s secretary. I’d written to him a few days ago and apparently he wants to come round to see me to discuss the points that I raised. We tentatively arranged Tuesday morning, but that will of course depend on his other commitments.

After that was the cleaner. The forms for this Autonomy service had arrived in my letter box so she brought it up to me. There’s tons of stuff that they need, including bank details and a medical certificate. So I’m glad that my doctor will come round to see me.

There’s something going round in the back of my mind that someone else disturbed me too but I can’t think of who it was.

Despite the much calmer night, there was still some stuff on the dictaphone from the night. I’d been away for a few days and was coming back home to Virlet in my yellow Cortina estate. When I pulled round at the front of the house there was my mother and some small girls cutting up some firewood, burning brambles etc. My mother looked at me and burst out into a tirade of nonsense about “what on earth am I doing coming home?”. She’s the one who’s supposed to be working tonight. How’s she going to make her money if I keep on taking hours away from her? I didn’t understand anything. I’d been away from home for a few days, I’d just come home and I was going to go to bed, sleep for a week and leave everyone else to do the work as I usually do on a Saturday night. I’d no intention of taking any work away. Instead we had this absolutely hysterical outburst

There was also something about a demonstration taking place going from somewhere in the Midlands to the Isle of Anglesey, coming by Virlet. Out of all the people taking part they had arrested one motorcyclist for something or other. I had a look at his motorbike. It was a big 4-cylinder thing. I tried to climb onto it to sit in the seat but found that I couldn’t. That was when I reluctantly came to the opinion that motorcycling is not going to be for me now.

Next thing to do was to to deal with the correspondence that’s been building up. Some of it is extremely important too and can’t be left loitering around for too long. It was extremely complicated too and involved a lot of research. But now that’s all done and I can take it to the Post Office tomorrow.

That’s one thing to which I’m looking forward about going on the bus to St Nicolas. They have said that the Carrefour is bigger than the one here, it’s much closer to the bus stops, which are both raised to a reasonable height, but the crucial point is that the supermarket, the Post office and a Chemist are all right next door to each other so I don’t have to stagger very far.

There isn’t much time though so I suppose that I’ll be having a coffee in the Agora Centre while I wait for the following bus.

The rest of the day was spent working on another one of the radio programmes for which I dictated the notes at the weekend. That’s all assembled now, and there’s just one of that batch left to do. That’s the task for tomorrow afternoon.

Tea was exciting tonight. To create some room in the freezer I finished off the last slice of the lasagna that I made a while ago. I had with it steamed vegetables and vegan cheese sauce. all of that gave it a certain je ne sais quoi.

So now that I’m awake again I’m off to bed and if I have as good a sleep as I had last night I’ll be more than happy. I just hope that it’s much longer than last night.

Thursday 24th August 2023 – REGULAR READERS OF …

… this rubbish will recall that yesterday I had something of a moan about how my Welsh course these days seems to go in cycles – one day good, the next day bad, and vice versa (and if there’s any vice involved, then in the words of the late, great Bob Doney “I’m Your Man”).

And so today we had something of a better day on the course and I was actually quite satisfied for a change.

Mind you, I think that I’ve worked out the reason why this might be.

When I first moved to Belgium 30-odd years ago I would watch the football in Flemish. You don’t need much translation to watch a game of football so you pick up quite quickly a few words and phrases, and gradually you can pick out the individual words even if you don’t understand them.

Since SGORIO won the rights to broadcast the Welsh Premier League on the internet in Welsh, I’ve been watching it quite regularly whenever I can

Throw enough stuff at a blanket and some of it is bound to stick, and I’ve been noticing that after all of this it’s my oral comprehension that seems to be working well enough right now. All I need to do now is to work on everything else.

Like my sleep, for example.

Last night I was in bed at a respectable time and managed (just about) to beat the alarm this morning, which makes a change considering the last couple of weeks.

Once I’d had my medication and checked my mails and messages I spent much of the morning going through and revising. I noticed that on the agenda for today was a quiz about verbs and their conjugations so I made myself a chart to keep handy.

That’s all very well, of course, but having made the chart I’ll probably lose it somewhere now.

As I said just now, the lesson passed well enough today which makes a pleasant change.

During the various pauses I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was in a film, a really, really vivid film last night about Armageddon – about how the end of the World was approaching and how everyone had to flee. Some people wouldn’t leave their possessions behind and were all swept away in the holocaust. They basically ended up being just half a dozen people still living in Los Angeles. Everywhere they went, they encountered chaos, queues of traffic stuck there with bodies all over the place how had died. Even after Armageddon and a few people had been saved, there were still some people performing hold-ups etc, people shooting each other until in the end there was just one family. The narrator was saying that in years to come people will ask him how he spent his years . He’ll say that he was just hanging out having a good time and not doing any work at all. His epitaph, he said, would be that in years to come in a Society where people are valued for their work it will be the cleaners and people like that who will be the richest, most wealthy and highest-praised in the land, except of course in the communities where the little old lady do-gooders will be holding sway. That’s how my film finished.

And even though I was asleep I remember that film very well. It really did go on for a good 90 minutes, or so it seemed and I reckon, would have actually made quite a decent film in the style of Neville Shute’s ON THE BEACH. I should really begin to consider a new career

Drifting back into that dream about Los Angeles or San Francisco or wherever again. There had been some kind of race between teenagers or something. When the winners were lined up in the end the guy who’d won went down the line to kiss a few of the people. When he reached one particular young girl he turned round and walked away. Everyone was totally spellbound that he had been so rude. admittedly it was raining and there was no cover where she was standing but it was still quite awful. I was down there doing something with the organisation so after he turned and left I went over to the girl and kissed her and said “never mind, you can have a kiss from me”. There was some comment like “he’s never going to miss the opportunity to kiss a girl when it arises” that brought a smile from her. Then I turned to the guys standing behind her and said “don’t worry, you’re safe. I’ve absolutely no intention whatever of kissing you lot”, something like that, in a light-hearted humorous way

We were in France next, going through a town. There was a kind of drone going through this town on behalf of an estate agent who had several houses advertised here for sale. We all ended up in a Square. I had my bass with me and an amplifier. Someone else had something else. We were waiting for someone to come to meet us but he didn’t turn up. In the meantime there was a flautist there who was waiting for people but they didn’t turn up either so we began to chat. It turned out that he was doing the music for local concerts at some point and had some musicians lined up but they weren’t very reliable so on the spot, we all agreed that we’d perform with him so we went off to an old pavilion by the lake where we could practise. We set up our equipment as best as we could but the place was old, ramshackle and mouse-ridden. I found that i’d forgotten my guitar lead. I had everything else but the guy who was the flautist said “hang on a minute” and went found one for me.

Later on I went back into that dream and had to take all my equipment back to Caliburn which was parked on the square in the snow. Climbing up the steps onto the car park I slipped and fell. A couple of people had to help me up. I had some kind of accessory for the guitar, a tuner or something, and it fell in the water. When I tried to dry it out I broke it. This German who helped me was very kind and considerate but a typical officious German who insisted that he knew best about what needed to be done. Eventually I put all my stuff into Caliburn and walked back across the Square. By now a friend of mine from Munich who had been in the music party was having a beer. I don’t know where my photographer friend from Vancouver, who had also been in there somewhere, had gone so I asked my Munich friend what needed now to be done because I was all for going home. I’d had nothing to eat. There was a Metzgerei at the side of the bar so I was hoping that I could go to fetch some chips or something from there. However my friend was busy drinking and chatting to all his friends and didn’t seem to be too involved in what I was trying to do at that moment.

After the lesson was over I had a try to contact someone in Paris who, I’m told, has a VSL. A VSL or Voiture Sanitaire Leger is the equivalent of a taxi but is equipped to handle ill or disabled people who need transport to and from medical appointments but who aren’t ill enough to need a proper ambulance.

If your doctor thinks that you need one, he’ll give you a bon de transport, a transport voucher, so that you can travel in one free of charge.

The medical specialist whom I saw the other week gave me one so that I could have a VSL from the station in Paris to the hospital and back next week.

However, to cut a long story short, no-one answered the ‘phone so that was that.

Tea tonight was more steamed veg and cheese sauce with a vegan sausage, and that was quite delicious yet again.

Tomorrow I need to pop into town before my lesson and as it’s late right now I won’t have much sleep. But it’s the last day of my course tomorrow and I’ll breathe a sign of relief.

What I can say is that over this last three weeks I’ve certainly learnt a lot. I just hope that I will be able to remember it.

Thursday 17th August 2023 – I’VE HAD A REALLY …

… horrible afternoon today.

There were a couple of moment during my Welsh lesson when, for some reason or other, I felt myself drifting away into never-land. Then later on, after I’d had my hot chocolate when the lesson finished, I crashed out completely.

And I DO mean “completely” too. For about 2.5 hours I was totally out like a light in probably the deepest sleep I’ve had for quite some considerable time. Not a thing was moving during that time.

It’s not as if I didn’t need it though. What with one thing and another I didn’t go to bed until after midnight last night. Just as I was on the point of going to bed a Paul Temple mystery came round on the playlist so I stayed up to listen to it.

Despite all of that, I had woken up and was out and about (after a fashion) before the alarm went off, which goes to prove that there’s no pattern to what’s going on inside what’s left of my brain right now.

As usual, it took a good while to wind myself up, and then I had a couple of phone calls to make. Firstly there was to the chemists to order the next month’s supply of Aranesp, and then to the doctor to order another supply of medicine as I’m running out of certain supplies.

There was the dictaphone to listen to, to find out where i’d been during the night. I was with someone like that guy whom I knew when I had my taxis, me and a girl. For some reason we’d gone to California in Caliburn but he was driving. We went all the way to California. The girl and I were talking about settling down there, going to school etc, creating a new life for ourselves. We had to go back to collect our equipment. They drove us back and they said “we’ve been in your bank accounts and paid back all the money that you spent on this trip”. I told them that they didn’t need to because it was for us anyway, but they insisted. I began to collect my things together. I disposed of one scrap car out of my garage but there was a gold Cortina MkIII in there where I had half the axle out but a rear wheel had seized on a bearing so that bearing was still in the axle. He brought a pile of screws and nuts for me. They were mine anyway but he said that he wanted me to have them back. I went into the garage to find a box for them but he followed me in. He was looking at my tools and equipment saying how wonderful they were. he looked at the Cortina. I told him about the wheel. He replied “we can have that off”. I explained that I’d tried just about everything for months but I’ll end up having to cut it off. In the end we were preparing to go. But this thing about him turning up looking around my garage began to fill me with unease. I’d no idea why that would have been

And later I was back in this dream again talking to a friend of mine about my illness. We were talking about Zero. He was saying that if I’d been in good health she would have probably been living with me by now. I was chatting to Zero (so welcome back to her, who has been absent from my voyages for quite a while) and I asked her how she fancied living in California. I explained to her about portable oxygen cylinders, how I could buy one and walk around etc. She was worried that the heat in California would be too much for me. I explained that if we were to live by the sea it would be quite comfortable. We had a long, lengthy chat about moving, living down there by the sea etc. This was another one of these rare dreams where everything seemed to be going so right. It really felt much more than just an ordinary boring dream, a lot more intense feeling that there was in most, which was quite a surprise.

And what’s going on with California? I’ve been going there quite a lot just recently which is bewildering because I’ve never been farther west THAN ARIZONA OR UTAH. So I’ve no idea what’s happening about that.

After spending some time doing my Welsh homework I went for my lesson. The morning didn’t go too badly but gradually as the afternoon went on I found myself fading away, and that kind of thing is doing me no good at all.

During my brief moments of lucidity today I’ve been writing notes for my forthcoming radio programme and then I went for tea.

Tonight’s tea was another really good one – mixed veg and falafel in a vegan cheese sauce. And I’ve got the hang of all of this now.

It makes a world of difference being able to lay my hands on what to date is proving to be a consistent supply of vegan cheese. In the past I’ve only been able to grab it when I can but it looks as if the supply from LeClerc is going to keep on running for the foreseeable future, although nothing in this World is certain.

Having done all of that I’m off to bed, ready for a trip down into town before my lesson. Mind you, I probably won’t sleep, having had a really good session this afternoon.

But it was nice to see Zero again last night and it would be even nicer to see her again tonight. But what on earth is going on about California?

STANDING ON A HILL IN MY MOUNTAIN OF DREAMS,
TELLING MYSELF IT’S NOT AS HARD, HARD, HARD AS IT SEEMS

Well, yes.

Wednesday 2nd August 2023 – I MANAGED TO KEEP …

… on going this afternoon until about 17:00 before I crashed out. And then it was only for about 10 minutes or so.

That makes a change from how things have been just recently. But there’s no need to crow about it because one swallow doesn’t make a summer, as we all know.

And in any case, even if it were to be the situation, past experience tells us that what goes around comes around and it wouldn’t be too long before we’re back there again.

Mind you, it’s a real surprise that that’s all there was, considering the night that I’d had. Because I’d certainly been around the block, and more than once too. There was some kind of weird dream about cats and football goalkeepers and these wafers that you have on which you spread your food but I can’t remember any of it at all.

Then there was something to do with the town football club that had been playing in Wales. They’d played against three Welsh Premier League clubs and had been beaten comprehensively in each one 4-0. They went on some kind of outing. I was there and took part in it. We had to walk through a really old building. When we reached the far end someone opened the door and there was a very small yard outside. The tour must have stopped at this door but there was no-one about to talk to and we hadn’t actually seen anything. It was one of these dreams where one expects something to happen and you grip the edge of your seat waiting for it yet nothing does. You end up being in some kind of void about it. I was walking without crutches but having some mobility problems.

There was another distressing dream about being in the Southern Hemisphere where the penguins there were being fed live rodents, just tearing these rodents to shreds. The squeals were horrible. In the snow was a strange vehicle that went past. It looked like a tadpole travelling in reverse making a noise as it scrunched past the snow. But it was the squeals of these rodents that were being torn to bits that got me.

We were also talking about these animals that were watching a football match. They somehow managed to escape from the crowd and ran down this narrow footpath through the ice. People chased after them in different cars and machines and so on. One person was on foot and managed to corner them in the kitchen of a house somewhere but they threw some product onto the fire to make an explosion that broke these people’s trains of thought so that they could escape without being noticed

Later on I was back in Crewe. There was a wedding of a membr of our family. I’d no intention of going. My sister was going but there was no-one to do her job. They couldn’t find a replacement at the pub where she worked in Nantwich. I said that I’d go to do it. I prepared myself . That took me much longer than I expected. In the end I set off in this ancient Ford Transit van that was rusting and generally falling to bits. When I reached where I was going to park, an Indian guy came over to ask me what I was doing. I told him. He had a look inside my van and saw tons of stuff lying around. He went round to the passenger side and just with the force of his hands slid down the window from the outside. I shouted at him and told him what I thought. I said “if I come back here and find stuff missing I have a good idea of your face and I’ll call the police about it”. He asked “what would the police do?” as if the police wouldn’t be interested in a case like that. He explained that he owns several properties in the town and rented the rooms out to different people. I replied “God help them!”. Making sure that the van was locked I set out to walk to the pub but bumped into a friend of mine. As we were walking down towards the river bridge in Welsh Row the subject of Charles Hawtrey came up. I explained that I’d once actually met him. He replied “yes he’s a wonderful guy. You’re really lucky. I would really have liked to have met him”. I was thinking that I was already running late . Everything that’s happened since has been to delay me. I’ve no idea what the time is now. I was too afraid to look in case I’d messed the thing up totally and completely.

Finally I was back in Crewe again, this time for the first time in years. I’d gone to help out to work on the taxis. There was a job to pick up at 01:45 from a house. I didn’t recognise the address but someone said that it’s next to a certain pub near Nantwich. I knew where the pub was soo I thought that I could find the house. I set out but the whole entire road layout had changed. New roads had been added. I completely and utterly lost my bearings. In the end I had to retreat to a place that I knew in the centre of Nantwich and walk the way that I would walk 30 years ago. I found out where I’d made a mistake and eventually found my way to this house. I was running ever so late because of all this confusion but it really was bewildering how all of the roads had changed. I didn’t recognise anything.

As you can tell, it took me quite a while to type out all of that. It was quite a voyage last night.

Something else that I had to do was to re-do part of the radio programme that will be broadcast at the weekend.

As you might expect, being so far in advance causes all of its own problems, and we had the usual one that having dictated something along the lines of “and is still performing even now” about a musician, he then duly obliges by shuffling off this mortal coil to go to that Great Gig In The Sky.

It’s all very well being “not frightened of dying – Any time will do, I don’t mind” but I wish they wouldn’t do it a week or so before the programme is to be broadcast.

While the cleaner was here I finished off the notes for the next radio programme and then after she left I turned m attention to the notes for the trip around Canada in 2017.

Right now, I’m coming off the Eagle Plateau and out of the Mealy Mountains down into the valley of the Churchill River where I’ll be heading east and then north to North West River, the furthest north that it’s possible to go by road.

Well in fact, it’s possible to go further north, but not in a continuous drive. Strider and I would have to take a freighter and head north to one of the Mission Stations where the Moravian missionaries attend to the spiritual needs of the Inuit.

That would have been an interesting trip prior to the Influenza epidemic of 1918. There were about a dozen or so Mission Stations but several of them were wiped out and abandoned. There are now just five.

But as for the road, that didn’t go to North West River in the past. Access was by boat and then a cable car across the river.

However, the discovery of a deposit of uranium at Makkovik at the height of the Cold War led to the construction of a road, which reached as far as North West River before the deposit was found to be uneconomic.

The road was thus abandoned and piles of radioactive rock was left lying around causing a health risk to the local inhabitants.

Tea tonight was one of the best that I’ve made. It should have been a leftover curry but I’m saving that for tomorrow because I won’t have much time.

Instead, I had the meal that I promised myself – steamed vegetables in a cheese sauce with a spicy vegan sausage. It really was delicious.

So I’m off to bed, hoping to have a really good sleep. Or if not, a really good voyage. The other night several of my favourite characters came to accompany me and it would be really nice if they were to turn up again.

Thursday 8th June 2023 – I’VE JUST HAD …

… quite possibly the nicest tea that I’ve ever had – at least, that I’ve made myself.

Steamed vegetables in a cheese sauce with vegan meatballs, it was. And for the vegetables there was a small handful each of potatoes peas carrots, runner beans, sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli, cooked to absolute perfection with some dried mint in the steamer

There’s no doubt whatever though that the pièce de résistance was the broccoli that I froze the other day. It was a hundred times better than any frozen broccoli that I have ever bought from a shop

So when there’s more room in the freezer I’ll buy some cauliflower and freeze that too and see if that makes a difference. I’ve already commented in the past that the sprouts and carrots that I have frozen in the past are much better than any shop-frozen ones have ever been

The vegan fondant cheese that I put in my bechamel sauce was delicious too along with the fresh-ground black pepper and tarragon.

There’s no doubt in my mind that my cooking is slowly improving.

Which is more than can be said for my sleep. When the alarm went off this morning I really was deep in the arms of Morpheus and I had to struggle to my feet. But that was probably because I didn’t go to bed until long after midnight, being stuck in at my travel notes from 2017.

And that’s what i’ve been doing today, bashing out yet more stuff.

This morning I was dealing with the “Arrow Air” crash at Gander Lake, reading the Canadian Air Investigation Board reports where the investigators argued about the causes of the crash to such extent that the Board was wound up and a new organisation created.

This afternoon though I was hunting down stuff relating to the Newfoundland Railway, at one time in its heyday the longest narrow-gauge network in the World but which was closed down overnight in the 1980s during Canada’s ruthless savaging of its railway network that made Beeching look like a guardian angel.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall my misadventures trying to go to see my niece just now. There’s actually a railway station at the back of her office that would have been ideal of course but that line was closed in 1989 when the Canadian Pacific slashed its entire network east of Montreal.

There is now only one passenger train east of Québec City and that’s the train that I caught. It goes down to the coast at Halifax and runs every Preston Guild.

The physiotherapist came round today, and he says that he’ll be here tomorrow. He tells me that he’s quite concerned about the way that things are developing, and to be honest, so am I. But there’s not much that I can do about it. At least I had a shower before he came so that I would smell nice.

And after he went I crashed out for half an hour. I must admit that I was feeling dreadful for a while

There was some stuff on the dictaphone too from the night. Morton were playing in a football match, a Cup Final of some description. They had gone 1-0 up but towards the end of the game the opposition equalised. They were pressing forward and the keeper, Brian Schwake, made a really good and dramatic save with just seconds to play. he gathered the ball, kicked it downfield straight away and Jai Quitongo running down the field reached the ball and took it into the opposing penalty area to score past the keeper. As a result Morton won their first Cup competition for quite some considerable time. And no-one is more surprised that me that I can remember the names of Morton’s right-winger and on-loan Livingston goalkeeper when I’m asleep.

Not so much luck with this next one though. There was another dream somewhere about a few of us out walking. The girl with us was handicapped. Someone had to explain to one of the little boys what that actually meant and what the implications were but I can’t remember any more of this.

My delicious tea I’ve already mentioned, so now I might even have an early night. Tomorrow I’m carrying on with my little voyage around Newfoundland.

Amongst the places I’ll be visiting will be the site of where the very first commercial Transatlantic flights across the North Atlantic landed (well, they didn’t actually “land” but you’ll see what I mean when you eventually read the notes) in the late 1930s and also where the very first action of World War II on the American continent took place.

There’s no doubt that I was certainly getting around back in those days. Strider and STRAWBERRY MOOSE did me proud.

Monday 8th May 2023 – AND THE ANSWER …

… to yesterday’s question was indeed “not very much”.

It’s actually a Bank Holiday here today when the country celebrates VE Day and strictly speaking I ought to be having a lie-in as I try to do on as many Bank Holidays as I can, but with the threatened arrival of the nurse to give me my fortnightly injection, that’s out of the question.

What usually happens is that when I try to lie in on a day that he is due to come to visit, he usually has a blood test to carry out in the building so he’s here before breakfast. Consequently, we had an alarm set today for 07:00 as usual.

Mind you, I needn’t have bothered because when the alarm did go off, I was sitting on the edge of the bed dressing. we’ve had another one of those nights – and mornings.

It was about 08:50 when he came round to give me my injection. And here’s a thing that’s totally unexpected – the database paperwork that he has to keep to record the injections that he gives me is now full.
“What happens now?” I asked.
“I don’t know” he replied. “It’s never reached this stage before”

So clearly I’m continuing to defy all expectations. No-one with this illness has lived longer than 11 years and I was diagnosed in 2015, as regular readers of this rubbish will recall (and I expect that I had it a good while before then) but while it’s true to say that I know all about ill-health, I’m still fighting on. Not exactly fighting fit, just fighting for breath and fit to drop.

With it being a Bank Holiday I’ve had a very relaxing day doing too much of nothing at all. I did finish the radio programme today, as I said that I would, and listened to the one that is to be broadcast this coming weekend but that’s about it.

There’s just one more now that is half-done and I’ll do that this coming weekend. And then I’ll have to start off again. I’m months ahead, which is good news, but there’s always this feeling that some of it will have to be done again as some of these artists can’t go on for ever. I remember back a few years ago in the old “Radio Anglais” days when I spent quite some time waxing lyrical about Chris Squire, only for him to begin to manger les pissenlits par les racines the morning the programme was due to be broadcast.

There was also the stuff on the dictaphone that needed transcribing too. We’re back on the Sherlock Holmes murders again. A couple of people had been struck down in a park by someone dressed entirely in black. There was some woman who dressed herself in black ready to go out just as 2 people were starting to walk on a common in Balham. These 2 people were talking about their past, the girl saying “wasn’t it to this common that you brought such-and-such a girl with whom you used to go out, but she was rather strange?”. The name that they used was the name of this girl. There were police loitering in attendance. They arrested someone dressed all in black in the vicinity of this couple and dragged him away. It turned out that he was actually a mime artist dressed in black ready to perform his act to collect money. As the camera panned to see him dragged away it panned through a figure in black sitting in a café on the common overlooking the events that were taking place

Later on I was going on a coach trip with work for some kind of sports event. One of my colleagues asked me if I went on the previous one two weeks ago to Carlisle. I said no because I had something else to do that evening. While we were waiting for the coach back on this draughty bus station it just didn’t appear. We sat there waiting. There were several tomatoes rolling around, coming and going. One of them came back so I asked it if it had come to pick us up. Someone said “I’ve already asked him and it’s not him” so we sat there and waited. Suddenly I realised that I didn’t have my watch or my key to the office. I’d left them at home. I was wondering what I was going to do. I thought that I’d better take a gamble and go to fetch them. I ran, which was the first time in ages, all the way home to our house in Vine Tree Avenue. All the lights were on. I could hear people moving around. The front door was unlatched so I walked in and ran lightly up the stairs. The taps were all dripping in the bathroom but no-one was in there. My brother was asleep in bed with the light on so I walked quietly in, picked up the key card and my watch that was on the bed, came out and came downstairs again. I could hear my parents in the front room talking about me but I didn’t have the time to stay and listen. I managed to open the door again without making too much noise and set off to run back to the bus station.

It’s a total mystery to me why it is that my family keeps on intruding into my nocturnal voyages. During my waking hours I don’t even waste a minute thinking about them so what’s going on in my subconscious? I don’t mind Nerina putting in an appearance every now and again – after all I invited her into my life for better or for worse, but one of the reasons of leaving the UK was to escape the negativity of everything that was weighing me down and I thought that I’d left them all behind.

But it was interesting to read the bit about “running”, given how I’ve not been out running for a couple of years and I couldn’t do so these days anyway. When we started this programme at University we had all kinds of people recording their dreams, one of whom was a girl who was born without legs. She would tell us that although she’s never walked a single step in the whole of her life (for obvious reasons) she still dreamt about herself going for a walk. So clearly, dreaming isn’t completely tied up with your own personal experiences.

Finally I’d had some issues at work about sick leave, that kind of thing. In the end what I used to do was that at night I’d take a van from work without authority and do furniture removals etc. On one occasion I came back with my Luton Transit. We dropped it off at Zero’s father and began to strip it for spares so we could sell the bits and move on. It wasn’t until we had it pretty much dismantled that it suddenly occurred to me that in the back of it was an old Volkswagen estate, another estate car, a motorbike and lots of other bits and pieces. I’d been using it as a shed I went round to see his wife and said “you’ll never guess what I’ve just remembered” but she told me. She asked me what the plan was. One thing going through my mind was to hire a vehicle, put the Luton Transit on the back and drive al lthe way to France, unload it, drive back and carry on. I said that it would probably take us about a week. If you like, you, your husband and Zero could come along as well. She looked dubious at that point and asked “could it be done in a weekend?”. I replied “we could get there and back in a weekend but unloading it is something else”. She said “the difficulty is with Zero. She could go to her grandfather’s who could take a day off work to look after her but I don’t think that we could do anything else. Are you sure that it couldn’t be done in a weeked?”. I had to describe the journey to her etc. She said “the next question of course is whether we have any money”. I repled “you won’t need any money. Everything will be on me of course”. We had this huge discussion.

Interestingly, I do have a Luton Transit, as regular readers of this rubbish in one of its previous versions will recall. I bought it for scrap because I wanted the box off the back to use as a garden shed and it’s still down on the farm 20-odd years later. And there is a Volkswagen estate in the back of it too, albeit in pieces. A diesel estate that was crashed in Spain and which I recovered to use for spares for mine.

And even more interestingly, while I was waiting to take it down to the farm, I did use it around Brussels doing furniture removals at night and weekends. No tax, no MoT, no nothing in fact. But back then in those days no-one really cared. I remember reading the story of Sir Daniel Gooch, Chairman of the Great Western Railway, reminiscing about the experiences of the way that the GWR operated in its early days, and commenting “what would be said of such a mode of proceeding today?”.

And, interestingly, once more as Tom Petty would have it, “HOW COULD I GET SO CLOSE TO” ZERO “AND STILL BE SO FAR AWAY?”. I’m not sure how many times this is just recently that she’s just been tantalisingly dangled out of reach during one of my nocturnal rambles. It seems that I can summon up members of my family at the drop of a hat but Zero, TOTGA and Castor are totally eluding me. And the Vanilla Queen dropped off the radar a long time ago.

Looking back on things, each time that I’ve been up in the High Arctic, and each time I’ve been trying to edit that Colosseum live concert late at night on board THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR I’ve had a strange encounter with a mysterious young lady of the opposite sex. First there was The Vanilla Queen, and the next time there was Castor. Jamais deux sans trois as they say around here, but the way my health is going, there won’t be another trip out there. 700 miles from the North Pole we were in 2018 and it looks like that will be that. No Rensselaer Harbour, no Thank God Harbour (where my namesake is buried after they poisoned him 150 years ago) and no Fort Conger.

All of this reminiscing probably means that I have too much time on my hands. But nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

So having crashed out here and there, I went for tea. Steamed veg with falafel balls and a vegan cheese sauce. It’s amazing just how different things have become since mainstream French supermarkets are now selling vegan cheese. It’s expensive of course, but it saves me having to bring back a rucksack full every time that I return from Leuven.

Tomorrow is a Welsh lesson of course, so I’m off to bed early. I don’t want to go crashing out in the middle of my lesson. And then I’ll have to pack my stuff ready for Leuven. Three hospital appointments I have on Thursday so I’m going to be busy.

Thursday 27th April 2023 – WE ARE HAVING …

… a disaster.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that Alison and I have a favourite restaurant in Leuven where we usually end up in the middle of our walk around the town. She passed by there earlier this evening for a portion of the beautiful sweet potatoes, only to find that it’s closed down definitively.

We started to go there because another vegan restaurant that we used, “The Loving Hut”, closed down a few years ago. We’ll now have to look for somewhere else, always assuming that there IS somewhere else to go.

We shall have to make further enquiries.

Further enquiries too about my sleeping issues because it was yet another depressing night when I took an absolute age to go off to sleep.

And once more, I awoke in the middle of the night and spend a miserable couple of hours trying to go back to sleep. However at one point I must have dozed off because I sat bolt upright wide-awake (well, sort-of) at 06:59, a minute before the alarm went off, so I fell out of bed just for the sake of saying that I beat the alarm once again.

When I was checking my mails and messages I found out what had awoken me. It was the nurse sending me a message to say that he’d miscalculated and it’s tomorrow when he needs to come to take my blood sample.

Once I’d organised myself this morning and awoken properly I bashed out another radio programme from the stuff that I had lying around. I’m getting nicely ahead of myself now, but it will all go pear-shaped of course because someone whose virtues I’ll be extolling will drop dead just before the programme will be broadcast.

And that reminds me. Some of the more legendary figures of the rock world are reaching the kind of age when fate will overtake them. I suppose that when I have time I really ought to prepare a couple of programmes that relate to people like Bob Dylan and keep them on the back-burner “just in case”.

It was while I was on my way to la Haye-Pesnel in Caliburn yesterday that I thought of a really good idea for a programme in this respect. What provoked the was when Spirit came onto Caliburn’s playlist and played “All Along The Watchtower”.

This afternoon I had a ‘phone call. Would I like a lift to town?

It was raining outside quite heavily and although I did have things to do, I didn’t fancy walking down there in this so I grabbed a lift. A couple of my neighbours were going off to the shops.

They threw me out in the town centre and I went to the letting agency. That’s a good place to start, I reckon, with my quest to gain vacant possession of my new apartment. However, there was only a receptionist there. The agent was out on a mission.

She took my details and said that the agent will call me back. And, as you might imagine, I’m still waiting. I’m also still waiting for the return phone call from my visit to the property management company yesterday. I have a rather uneasy feeling that I’m going to end up with a bunch of je m’en foutists.

That’s a beautiful French expression. Je m’en fous is rather a vulgar French way of saying “I couldn’t care less” (I’m sure that you can think of an English equivalent, but this is a family website) and so a je m’en foutist is an employee who is only interested in collecting his salary and doing as little as possible to actually earn it.

It was 15:05 when I went in, and by 15:10 I was back out again. The rain had quietened down considerably so I decided to walk back. It didn’t take me long and I didn’t have to stop for breath too often. But one thing that I noticed was that trying to squeeze into the back of the neighbour’s car, my right leg wasn’t comfortable whatsoever – not one little bit.

Back here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I was in the middle of having a dream but I awoke (that was the time in the middle of the night). The dream evaporated completely and everything went except for a vision that I had about coffee in Malta or Cyprus that cost £3:00 per ounce. That’s all that I can remember about it.

Again this next one is another one of which I can only remember bits. I was at a talent contest last night. There was a couple of girls singing in Inuit. One was an older girl and the other was a younger girl. What happened now I forget, but later on someone else at this concert contacted me. They had a house to let in Greenland. They were quite fed up of the type of tenant they were having. They tended to be the younger, trendy type of person and they wanted someone more traditional. It turned out that they were writing the adverts in the newspaper in Inuktitut, the more modern style of Inuit language for people looking for lets. I suggested that she write the adverts in Sisu, the more traditional type of language, and that way it would be the more traditional type of person who would understand the advert and would make more of an effort to reply to rent it. She thought that that was a good idea. She turned over in bed and squashed me. She said “I’m hitting you, am I? It’s most uncomfortable lying here in bed with all these people” but this was the way of life up there and we just had to accept it. I walked out to Caliburn. He was up on a jack for some reason. I noticed that one of his rear tyres had a bald patch. That was strange. It had only done 8000 kms, these tyres. Most of the tyres were in really good condition but just this one bald patch. It started to worry me for it meant that there was something wrong somewhere with Caliburn’s suspension or brakes. I needed to try to sort it out but there was this expensive tyre that had just gone to waste.

After that I made some hot chocolate and had a few of my delicious chocolate biscuits – and then I rather regrettably fell asleep for a while.

As for tea tonight, I couldn’t think of what to have. In the end I settled for steamed vegetables with falafel in a vegan cheese sauce.

That was really delicious yet again, but I have to say that this other type of vegan cheese is nothing like as tasty as the vegan Cheshire Cheese. Even though the Cheshire Cheese is much more expensive, I think that I’ll be sticking with that in future.

Tomorrow the nurse is coming to take my blood sample, and then I don’t have anything planned for several days, except the football over the weekend of course. I’ll have to start to plan for my trip to Leuven though because that’s important. It seems that all kinds of things are unravelling right now.

And who knows? I might even have someone return one of my phone calls about the visits that I’ve made. If that happens, there won’t be any notes tomorrow night. I’ll have passed out from the shock.

Thursday 13th April 2023 – THE VISITING NURSE …

… came round this morning to take my blood sample, and I was surprised. After all, he’d tried one of my biscuits when he was here on Monday, and he’s still alive. They must be quite good so I’ll have to make some more of them.

Mind you, he wasn’t so good at taking the blood sample from me. I ended up looking and feeling like a dart board. And to add insult to injury, he said that he hadn’t managed to fill all of the three tubes that were required but he hoped that there would be enough for the analysis.

When he turned up, at 08:40 this morning, I was really pleased because I was starving. And so would you have been too had you been up since 04:45 this morning. I’d awoken a long time before that too but just couldn’t go back to sleep.

And so with an early start like that I took full advantage of the peace and quiet by dictating some of the backlog of notes that i’d been accumulating.

While I was on my travels around the internet checking up on a few things that I’d written I happened to notice that the first Hawkfest – Space-rock festivals promoted by Hawkwind to try to recapture the spirit of the early rock festivals of the late 60s and 70s – started on a 19th July some time 20-odd years ago.

By pure coincidence that’s a Friday next year.

One thing that I’ve wanted to do is to dedicate a whole programme to just one group and while that’s not really feasible, I have quite a collection of music from obscure space-rock bands who came to whatever prominence they had thanks to an appearance at a Hawkfest, so I think that I’ll have my own Hawkfest on 19th July next year, if I’m still here

A couple of hours of spacerock would be really nice, but I’ll have to find out who has the recording rights to Nik Turner’s performances with his old group “Children Of The Sun” after he died last year.

Once the nurse had gone, I had a bowl of cornflakes and then set out for town in the rain to pick up my Aranesp. It didn’t take me long to go there and come back, although I was quite exhausted when I arrived back home.

One thing that I didn’t have to do though was to go to the post office. NIkon got back to me this morning to tell me that the old NIKON D5000 can’t be repaired. It’s not been made for years and parts are no longer available.

Considering that I bought it in June 2010 I’m not really surprised, but it would have been nice to have kept it going for longer.

So what do I do now? Mirrorless seems to be all the rage but as regular readers of this rubbish will recall, we don’t seem to have much luck with the NIKON 1 J5. It’s not strong enough to withstand shocks and being smaller than a conventional camera, the moving parts are smaller, lighter and much more delicate.

Having said that, I do persevere with the Nikon 1 because it fits quite nicely in a pocket and being lightweight, I can carry it around quite easily when I’m doing something else. The quality is surprisingly good but only within its limits and I’m expecting it to do much more than it’s capable of doing.

Armed with my cheese on toast and a coffee I came back in here to carry on working but I just couldn’t keep going and by 13:00 I was back in bed asleep. And that’s no surprise either.

Not that I was there for long, though. The laboratory rang me to say that they needed more blood. Caliburn came to the rescue and we went off there.

Surprisingly, the nurse there found my blood straight away with no drama and it didn’t take long to sort out.

The laboratory is just over the road from But, the electrical houseware supplier, so I went over there. I need a built-in microwave oven to go in the units that I bought in Germany last summer that I’ll be installing in the new apartment.

Another thing that I want is a big fridge-freezer seeing as there’s a nice space there in the kitchen, and so I reckoned that I’d go there for a good look around.

Back here I had my hot chocolate and finished off the last of my home-made biscuits while I transcribed the dictaphone notes. I was dictating out the music (do I mean the text?) last night and had it all arranged. The speech had been edited and I was intending to snip it into sections ready to assemble but for some unknown reason I forgot how to do it. I was sitting there for ages looking at the database that I keep, wondering about what I was supposed to be doing to assemble it all to make a proper radio programme. The way it was laid out on the database it just didn’t look right to me at all.

Later on, our mother was keeping us prisoner in our house. We couldn’t go out. We worked out where she’d hidden the key. While we were doing that someone else had worked out a way by which he could open the door but it was long and complicated. he waited until our mother had got up, left her bed and gone out and he began to creep downstairs. Of course we knew that mother would have left her key in her bedroom so we said “you want the third door”. He made a gesture, one, two, three, and started to go downstairs again. We said “no, Clive, the third door” but he carried on downstairs. He didn’t understand that we wanted him to go to the third door on this floor which was my mother’s room where he could find the key just sitting there.

At another point I had plenty of things to do but it was lunchtime and I was being friendly to my colleagues. We were standing around talking and I could see my lunch hour fading away rapidly. But then she invited us up to the 1st floor to have a look at the furniture that she was making in this warehouse. We said that we’d go. Before we reached the stairs she took us to a wall. She pressed a button and a panel rose up. There was an old fireplace that had been bricked up. She asked us to smell by it. We couldn’t smell anything at first but as she closed it there was a smell of varnish. I told her about it. We went upstairs. She had tons of furniture up there including a gorgeous collection of kitchens. We had a good look around here. I thought that there was some lovely stuff. The quality was undeniable but it wasn’t exactly my taste. I ended up spending a lot of time looking at everything to see if there was anything there that really caught my eye.

Tea tonight was beautiful – yet again. That vegan Cheshire cheese that I found in LeClerc a few weeks ago melts really well and with the new dairy thickener that I found there the other day, my cheese sauce was the best that I’ve ever made.

Consequently, steamed vegetables and falafel balls in a vegan cheese sauce it was. I’ll certainly have more of that some other time too. I’m really pleased that the supply of vegan food in mainstream French shops seems to be growing all the time. And not before time either.

So tomorrow I have the physiotherapist coming round in the morning to put me through my paces. I need to be at my best because I have some working-out to do ready to go off to the hospital next week for treatment.

So an early night it is. Here’s hoping that it’s not an early morning.