Tag Archives: vegan pizza

Sunday 7th April 2024 – I’VE HAD ANOTHER …

… horrible, gruesome, miserable day today again.

And if you thought that the one the other day was bad, this beats is easily. In fact it beats any day that I have ever had and I wish that I were dead.

It was at about 05:30 when I awoke this morning which, considering that once more I didn’t go to bed until long after midnight, is simply not enough.

Whatever it was that awoke me I really have no idea but I do know why I couldn’t go back to sleep, and that is this nerve ending in the sole of my right foot that is absolutely killing me.

It was doing its best to unsettle me last night, not without success. I’m getting to the stage where I’m simply afraid to move or to do anything in case it flares up again. And then after a while it flares up again all of its own accord anyway.

What would be nice would be in I knew what was causing it so that I didn’t do it again, but that’s far too easy a solution.

So when the alarm went off first thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. Maybe because of the stabbing pain in the sole of my foot it was 17.1/10.1 whereas last night, despite the stabbing pain then, it was 16.2/10.1

The nurse was early again today and I hadn’t finished my toilet so it was a very dishevelled me who went to meet him. And he’s given me instructions to wash the puttees for next time, but not to worry as I have the spare set which are already clean.

After he left I made myself some coffee and corn flakes, and went to carry on reading THE DAWN OF ASTRONOMY for a while.

Considering that the book is over 100 years old, it’s absolutely fascinating. It’s interesting to read his speculation about a lot of the ancient Egyptian temples, and then read subsequent modern research into the sites that proves his theories

The amount of old, interesting out-of-copyright books that I’ve found on these archiving sites is phenomenal and I’ve enjoyed every one.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night last night. There was a group of girls being used as entertainers. I had a woman who wasn’t all that much older than me supervising them and making sure that they were well-behaved. While they were eating the supervisor was hanging around the girls so I wondered what was going on. I went over to find out. I found out that she had a series of plates, cups and saucers etc that were made in bright green plastic. She was trying to have her whole network to buy these products and use them so that she could identify them whenever she went away or was on some foreign soil etc but one or two of her members I suppose were quite keen on the idea but the rest weren’t so she was having a really difficult job trying to explain this to them.

When we were up in the High Arctic we were all given bright blue jackets. Firstly, they stood out really well against the snow and ice so that we could be seen quite easily in case we lost the way
Secondly many of our landings were dependent upon winds, currents, tides, polar bears and ice flow. All that could change in an instant and if we had to be called back to a zodiac or to THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR we could be distinguished quite easily from a local.

Not for nothing was our party always known as “The Smurfs”.

My jacket from 2018 is hanging up in my cupboard here, but the one from 2019 was last seen hanging from a coat hook in a hotel in Calgary with my notebook and a few other bits and pieces in its pockets.

The whole of my progress around the Northern Hemisphere is marked by the objects that I’ve left behind, scattered to the four winds like that

By now I’d crashed out, for the first (but not the last) time today and was gone on this occasion until 12:00.

But even though I was feeling so bad, worse than you will ever know, I pressed on as well as I could with my radio notes to try to make some kind of progress.

After lunch I crashed out again but managed to awaken in time to make a start on the biscuits. And nice as they are, they would have been even nicer had I remembered the desiccated coconut to go with the coconut oil that I put in there.

It’s just a basic 10/8/4 mix of flour, butter/oil and sugar with nutmeg, cinnamon, ground ginger and cocoa powder.

While the mixture was firming up in the fridge I was crashing out again and then while it was baking I was dealing with tonight’s pizza. Not that I wanted to because I wasn’t hungry but I forced myself. And you can tell that I’m ill when I’m off my food

To everyone’s surprise, especially my own, I’ve brushed up in here and washed the floor. I’m likely to have a visit tomorrow afternoon. A party of Auvergnats has now arrived in the immediate vicinity and I’m likely to be called forward for inspection.

So I’ll need to pretty myself up too – an impossible task these days, I know. But if I have a better night’s sleep that will be a start.

But talking about polar bears just now reminds me of the time that they decided to have some cycles available for the more intrepid tourist on THE GOOD SHIP VE … errr … OCEAN ENDEAVOUR
Two polar bears were admiring the advert and one of them said to the other one "high time someone started a ‘meals on wheels’ service around the Arctic"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would have made an exciting novel anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 17th March 2024 – WHOSE SILLY IDEA …

… was this for me to make a start at 08:00 this morning?

It wouldn’t have been so bad if the alarm had actually gone off but somehow for some unknown reason it didn’t fire up and that was that.

Strangely enough, five minutes later, at 08:05 exactly, I sat bolt upright, wide-awake and that was something really quite extraordinary, especially as first of all it’s a Sunday and secondly, I didn’t go to bed until 00:20 this morning. I’ve really no idea why I should awaken like that just five minutes after the alarm should have gone off, but didn’t.

It’s actually quite surprising how long it takes to do everything that needs to be done before I go to bed. There’s the list of what I needed to do that I posted the other day, and even then I forgot about taking the blood pressure. Seriously, I’d forget my head if it wasn’t so firmly screwed on

And that’s why a baby never falls out of a pregnant woman – because it’s screwed in. But I digress … "again" – ed

Last night after I’d finished the notes I wandered around doing everything that I need to do before retiring, apart from washing these puttee-things. They aren’t soiling so there’s no need to wash them until we have the second pair.

And then, thinking that I’d set the alarm, I fell into bed.

As I mentioned earlier I fell out of bed at 08:05 and then checked the blood pressure. 16.0/9.9, compared to last night’s figure of 16.1/11.1. We shouldn’t go round taking these figures as gospel because there’s quite a discrepancy between what they show at the hospital and what is being shown at home. I have grave suspicions about my little machine.

Having taken my medicine I arranged a few things in order ready for the immediate arrival of the nurse.

When she turned up she tore into me because the stuff wasn’t here from the pharmacy. As I said, “what can I do about it? I’m firmly and completely in the hands of other people”. However, that’s no excuse apparently, and she carried on with her endless verbal assault.

She also had a good moan about me not taking painkillers. The whole of France is awash with Doliprane and I have no wish to join them. We’ve seen far too many cases in the past where people, pumped up to the gills with painkillers, fail to notice the damage that they are doing by continuing to use whatever member of the body is being numbed and the damage becomes permanent.

You suffer pain for a very good reason.

After she left I didn’t do too much. I had some food and then simply drifted around in cyberspace, that is – when I wasn’t asleep. I’ve fallen asleep a couple of times, once at the table in the dining room after two large mugs of black coffee. Something’s clearly not right there either.

But I did manage to listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. I had another dream … "when was the first?" – ed … where all the passengers were soaked inside a coach. This time I’d been to a local bar and seen on the counter top a couple of trips advertised to different places, one of which was a trip around the nuclear power station up the coast. so when the landlord had a moment free, for he was the type who was friends with everyone I asked him about it. He had a moan about him hoping that I wasn’t someone who had just come in to waste his time but he let me see the itinerary, the brochure etc and I thought “yes, I’ll sign up for this” and put my name down. He was at the point of asking me for a payment and a deposit but we ended up playing football. I was substituted quite early on pretty much the same as that dream at the start of the evening … "which dream?" – ed … where all the passengers were given a soaking by the coach driver who pulled the choke mechanism and that released a water tower into the air vents

That was another dream about which I recall absolutely nothing at all and I’ve no idea at all to what it refers.

But later on I was back singing in a rock group again … "presumably in English tonight" – ed … One of the things that I had to do was to speak to someone there about singing some of the songs in a mixed-up kind of fashion like singing a song by the Moody Blues, giving a false title and having people guess who it was and who wrote it. I had to communicate with someone about it, another group’s arranger. He was speaking to someone else so I had to interrupt him. A policeman there tried to take hold of me and usher me away. I had to be really insistent to the point of actually almost being arrested before the policeman would let me speak.

That’s something similar to a quiz that we had a few months ago on the radio. There, we were snipping out sound-bytes from popular songs and having people identify them. Being ushered away by a policeman is however quite a new experience. Usually, from what I’ve seen, it would be “out with the handcuffs” or, these days, more like “out with the truncheon”.

When you look back to the 1960s and early 70s and the Monty Python sketches of violent policemen going berserk with their truncheons and how we all laughed at the satire because it was such an unreal situation, and yet here we are today where policemen going berserk with truncheons is par for the course.

We’ve come a long way since those days, and all of it completely in the wrong direction. It’s like Théoden said in LORD OF THE RINGS"The world changes, and all that once was strong now proves unsure"

And as Erma Brombeck wrote, "When humour goes, there goes civilization", and humour has long-since departed from this wretched world.

I’s easy to understand the sentiments of Bhuwan Thapaliya who said "The older I get, the more I cherish the company of children and the flowers. The children have no prejudices. They are what they are. And so are the flowers". That’s a position with which I sympathise.

What work I’ve done today has been to make a start on editing some radio programme notes. Not much of them because, being so tired as I am, I’ve not really felt in the mood for work.

In fact, I almost forgot about making my pizza tonight. Luckily I remembered just in time, and it was another delicious one.

So here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow. A good sleep might put me right, and then I have plenty to do. It’s never-ending. Who said anything about retiring making life easy?

It’s the one thing about old age, and that is that you have so much to do but you keep on forgetting to do it. That’s where I am now. It’s like the character in The Navy Lark who said "All of which reminds me of a funny story I once heard and which now completely escapes me"

As for me though, I’m like the character in “Gunsmoke” of which it was said "A lot of things can happen to people who get too lonely" – but as long as it only happens to me when I’m asleep, that’s OK.

Rather like the police who raided that woman’s apartment and found a knife under her pillow
"What’s this for?" they asked
"That’s in case someone breaks into my room while I’m asleep" she said "and brings me a cake".

Sunday 10th March 2024 – TODAY IS THE …

… first day of the new regime, in which I have an alarm call on a Sunday morning.

It was set for 11:00, which makes for a nice lie-in after working until 02:00 dictating radio notes that I’d written, but it will be a different time next Sunday and for every Sunday onwards for the next few months as the nurse comes to visit me.

Yes, a much different time on Sunday mornings in the future, so make the most of it today.

Sure enough, when the alarm went off I was deep in the arms of Morpheus but I still managed to stagger to my feet.

Last night had been quite calm after I’d finished my notes. I went back to reading THE DAWN OF ASTRONOMY and the baffling phenomenon of Sothic time periods and the calculation of epacts until the street outside had quietened down and then went to dictate the notes for three radio programmes

In fact though, there were only two. I hadn’t finished the third, what with being in hospital and all of that. It had completely slipped my mind, thanks to my teflon brain, to which nothing whatever seems to stick. Still, it will give me something to do on Monday.

So just two to dictate, and that was enough. The usual nonsense and garbage because first of all I’m all up to my eyes in a state of confusion and secondly, with the cancer now beginning to affect my eyes I can’t see what I’ve written anyway.

In fact, it reminds me very much of the student at art school when his teacher checks his art folder
"What on earth is this?" asks his teacher, waving a piece of the student’s work around
"I assure you sir" said the student "I paint what I see"
"Well the shock will come" said the tutor "when you see what you paint"

Having done that I cleared off to bed where I had a rather bizarre night, as you will find out in due course.

When the alarm went off I fell out of bed and the first thing that I did was to check the blood pressure. 16.9/10.7. Last night was 18.0/10.6, but that was after dictating the radio notes so it’s no surprise.

After the medication I went into the bathroom and gave me feet a really in-depth wash. At the hospital they had put some kind of vaseline cream on my legs to hydrate them and it seemed to work. Somehow the tube was left behind in my room and it found its way into my rucksack.

Now that it’s here in my apartment I may as well make use of it before they work out that it’s missing.

Having done that I came in here to transcribe the dictaphone notes from the night. We’d been to a restaurant, a group of us. We’d been having a meal. We’d ordered dessert but dessert was served in a strange way. There was a big bowl and everyone’s dessert was in the bowl. We would pass the bowl and had to help ourselves to our dessert from it. People were dipping in and taking their bits and pieces. I’d ordered some kind of pastry which was served as round balls covered in cream … "profiteroles" – ed … I was having a look for them but couldn’t work out which was mine or not. I lifted one up and said to the assembled multitudes “is this one of my balls?” which of course stopped the conversation and brought forth a whole gulf of eruption of laughter from the table, so much so that it actually awoke me.

That was what I mean by a bizarre night. The sound of the laughter did actually awaken me and I did actually sit upright with my eyes wide open

And then we’d been fighting a war against the Germans in World War I. We were in our front line somewhere and I vaguely remember walking in the air over the front line looking at all of the people still in the trenches as I passed by over their heads. It was a weird sensation. Then there was an attack, apparently the French attacking the Germans because the Germans had massacred all of their French prisoners in a certain town as some kind of reprisal for this particular raid.

It really was a strange feeling, that. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall several years ago I had a strange dream where I was running down some marble steps when I took off near the bottom and actually flew for some distance. It was a similar sensation to that, floating over the trenches looking at the heads of the soldiers in there.

It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder if that’s what happened to the soldiers when then died. Was it just as case of the light going out, like a switch being switched off, or did something live on afterwards?

There are lots of stories about people in a high emotion doing all kinds of things that they could never normally do, and there can’t be a much more heightened state of emotion than being psyched up to charge an enemy trench.

Later still I was with a friend and another guy. We were up in the hills looking down over a beach waiting for the D-Day landings to begin. The guy had one of the latest cameras that was capable of taking photos in the dark. He was playing with it and taking some really good images with the camera stopped quite low down. So I had a play with the little NIKON 1 J5 and that was producing some pretty good pictures too so I decided to go as low as it was possible to go and take a photo to see how it would come out. I pressed the shutter and knew that I would have to wait for several seconds but then my friend went and stood right in front of the camera to block the light. Every time I moved the camera he moved again with it to block the light so I was really quite annoyed about that because I was sure that regardless of the money that the guy had spent on his new camera my Nikon would take photos even better than the ones that he’d managed to squeeze out of his new camera.

Having my friends step in to confound my progress is not a new experience either. There was one of my friends who seemed to enjoy doing that as a matter of course but it wasn’t this particular one. Having said that though, I can think of a couple of occasions when I put my mind to it …

Finally the eldest daughter of my niece came to see me last night. She asked if I’d heard of a certain beach, (and she mentioned the name of it, but I’ve forgotten). I said “no”. She said that her friend suggested that they take me there. It’s very quiet and there are hardly any cars there. It would be nice. They handed me a card and after a little while I noticed that it said “credit cards accepted” so I wondered what on earth type of place it was.

Most beaches in North America are private. It’s not like Europe.

In the UK, for example, when lands began to be allocated shortly after the Norman Conquest, there was already an established road system and lands were allocated “back from the road”.

In North America however, there was no road network at the time of the allocation of lands and access was by the river, so lands were allocated “back from the river” and that included the beaches of course.

Québec is really interesting in this respect because much of the traditional medieval French system of allocation of lands is still reflected in the current system. For example, if you go around the St Lawrence valley you’ll see première rang or “first row” back from the river, and then deuxième rang or “second row” back from the river and so on that still exist today when you look at a map of current land allocations.

Anyway, I digress … "again" – ed

After lunch, or breakfast, or whatever, I made a start on the next radio programme but I didn’t go far. I had pizza dough to make as I had now run out. And having used the same flour and the same yeast as yesterday I’m totally bewildered as to why it went up like a lift as I watched it.

There’s really something not quite right here with this dough and I don’t know what it is.

“Watching it” because I was making biscuits while it was proofing.

On the internet last night I found a recipe for oat and syrup biscuits, and I had all of the ingredients if I were to use honey instead of the syrup. That was what I did for the flapjack and it seemed to work perfectly, so why not?

It was quite an interesting way of making biscuits, more in the American line than the European but once I figured out what was going on (which took a while and wasn’t easy) they were absolutely fine.

The pizza was delicious too. The base had risen just as it ought to have done and it was well cooked too. I really seem to have found the knack of making these now, but I wish that I could pass on the skill to the bread-making activities.

The radio programme is almost finished now – just the notes for the final song to write and dictate. So I’ll do that tomorrow too along with everything else.

It looks as if I’ll be extremely busy this coming week with all that I have to do. Still, it keeps me out of mischief and I’d only be bored.

But right now I’m tired so I’m going to bed. But before I go let me just mention that it’s not just Rosemary who has joined the Air Fryer revolution. Grahame tells me that so has he, and he doesn’t know what he’d do without it now.

In the future I can see huge “hint-swapping” and “recipe-swapping” sessions on the agenda

The best recipe-swapping session took place in the mid-west USA in the 1940s when two farmers were having a discussion
"I hear that your old cow had the colic" asked one. "How did you treat it?"
"I made up a mixture of three parts turpentine, two parts paraffin and one part molasses" said the other.
"Very good" said the first.
Two weeks later they were talking again
"You know that recipe that you gave me for the cow with colic?" asked the first
"What about it?" asked the second
"I made it up and gave it to my cow and it died"
"That’s strange" said the second. "So did mine"

Sunday 3rd March 2024 – I’M NOT TELLING …

… you what time I awoke today. It’s rather … errr … embarrassing.

And I’ve no idea either why it should have been what it was. I was in bed at 02:15 – a pretty reasonable time for a Saturday night/Sunday morning and I’d had plenty of sleep during the day too so I can’t have been all that tired.

There wasn’t much tossing and turning about during the night either. In fact I can’t remember moving at all while I was asleep.

The only thing that I can think is that I’ve had another one of those fits that I’ve been having just recently. But even then, I’ve been aware of my surroundings. This morning I was completely and utterly out of everything.

But we have to learn from lessons like this. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks and as of right now this minute, I shall be setting an alarm call for a Sunday. 11:00 might not sound particularly alarming for an alarm call for me, but it’s certainly a novel situation in which I find myself these days.

When I hauled myself out of bed I checked the blood pressure – 15.8/8.4, which is no surprise considering that my ears were steaming. Last night’s figure of 16.2/11.2 was due entirely to the frustration in having to track down some new batteries.

Why they can’t fit rechargeable batteries into machines like this is beyond me. My fitbit is rechargeable and even my kitchen scales will recharge off an USB port. How my life has changed since I’ve had my RECHARGEABLE KITCHEN SCALES and don’t have to scrabble around any more for batteries.

Once I’d done that I cleared off into the kitchen for my medication, and then I suppose that I’d better have breakfast, seeing what time it was – porridge, cheese on toast and hot black coffee – whilst I carried on reading some more of Sir Norman Lockyer’s THE DAWN OF ASTRONOMY.

He’s the guy who came up with the idea that the ancient Egyptians were star-worshippers and that their temples and pyramids were located and orientated so as to catch the light of certain stars as they rose and set. And I suppose that Lockyer was over the moon when he worked that out.

But several thousand years further on from the Ancient Egyptians there’s still plenty of star worship that goes on these days. But they aren’t the kind of stars of which Lockyer was thinking.

Back in here I transcribed the dictaphone notes, such as they were. A propos l’acteur Davy Buell il a continué vers le Texas où il a travaillé pour un petit moment, entré dans une Ordre réligieuse et puis était acteur à la télévision et acté dans les filmes qui sont biens connus par la publique américaine.

Yes, that’s what I said – In French, which surprised me completely. “About the actor Davy Buell – he continued on towards Texas where he worked for a short while, entered a religious Order and then had been an actor on television and in films that were well-known to the American public”.

It’s not the first time that we’ve had dreams in French. There have been several in the past. We’ve also had dreams in Flemish, Welsh and in Spanish too.

Yes, Spanish. Apart from having several Spanish colleagues at work from whom I was able to pick up the kind of language that you’d never learn in class, while I was having my “year out” after work in 2004/05 I went on a Spanish class at the University down the road from where I was living in Jette

That was quite an enjoyable year and an enjoyable class. I met that nice Asian girl with whom I had something of a fling but I can’t believe it (well, I can, actually) – even as recently as those days I still encountered parents warning their girls about me, and the girls taking notice.

It seems that I am fated to go wandering through the universe encountering this kind of opposition until I myself turn into a star – but no Egyptian will ever erect a pyramid of temple to worship me.

But do you know why there are pyramids in Egypt?
It’s because they were too heavy to move to the British Museum.

That reminds me of the time that I was in Egypt visiting the Great Tomb of Seti, I was told by a tourist guide that it was 3,200 years 3 months and 16 days old
And so I asked him how come they could date the tomb so accurately.
He replied "when I started work here they told me that it was 3200 years old, and I’ve been working here 3 months and 16 days."

There was more on the dictaphone too. Did I dictate the dream that I had twice … "no you didn’t" – ed … about being in that house and there being some kind of machine that had to fit on me like a blood pressure sleeve that would hopefully make me feel better but was one that I found very difficult to actually fasten on with one hand. It took a great deal of doing yet in the end I managed to fasten it on. It seemed to support me enough for whatever it was that needed doing. I had this dream not once but twice, once after the other.

That’s obviously related to this meeting that I have on Tuesday when they are going to be talking to me about some “mechanical aids” or whatever to help me with my problems. I wonder what they are likely to be.

Having done that I made a start on the radio notes – editing some in order to prepare the next programme.

The stuff that I dictated last night is going into the bin by the way. Whatever I wrote last week was total rubbish and makes no sense at all. Not that much of my stuff ever does, but we have to pretend about it.

There is however some stuff in a kind-of backlog so I made a start on some of that.

Not for long though because I had some hummus and some fruit buns to make.

Fruit buns first, and no banana today so I had to use more water. But piles of dried fruit, crushed nuts, sunflower seeds, desiccated coconut and the like. It’s all good stuff, took an age to knead but it went together quite well and rose nicely too.

While it was rising I made my hummus. One batch with chilis and a second batch with olives – and the missing ingredient was almost blood as I had cut myself quite badly on the blade of the food processor.

There was pizza dough to roll out too for tonight’s tea. And being plain flour it did really well too.

So the pizza was delicious, the hummus looks (and tastes) excellent and the bread rolls look great. I had a really good afternoon in the kitchen.

Shame about the morning though, but I hope that an alarm call in the future will help in that situation.

Nevertheless, what a state to be in? I ought to be ashamed of myself. As I’ve said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I can’t go on like this. It’s ridiculous

If I go on like this people will be calling me Rip van Eric and that’s not the reputation I want. Geoff Goddin called the volunteers behind the resurrection of the Talyllyn Railway as having a "Boy’s Own comic spirit of adventure, involving enthusiasm, ingenuity and a fair degree of irresponsibility" and that’s much more like my style of doing things.

As Tennyson put it, "my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset and the baths of all the Western stars until I die" – which won’t be long a-coming but I’ll do what I can until then

Hence the alarm on a Sunday as of now. And about time too.

Sunday 25th February 2024 – I’VE HAD A …

… lovely chat with Ingrid this afternoon. Another one of our multilingual ones and which ended up as a Rosemaryesque conversation of 1 hour and 15 minutes. It’s nice to be popular.

It’s also nice to have had a really good night’s sleep too.

After the dictating the usual load of rubbish that passes for radio programme notes these days, I was in bed for 01:30. And then waking up ay 09:25 without having felt a thing, and then not leaving the bed until 11:30 What is there that is any better than that at my advanced age?

First thing that I did was to look at my foot. I had to take off my elasticated stocking on the right foot last night as it was irritating the foot.

A closer examination this morning reveals that the fabric of the sock has rubbed it raw for some reason and it’s inflamed. The skin is flaking around the wound too so a day or so in the fresh air followed by a disinfected cloth covering will do it good.

It’s a good job that I have some surgical tissues and alcohol disinfectant. They should help it heal and in the meantime I’ll show it to the doctor at the Centre de Re-education when I go there in 10 days.

Next step was to check my blood pressure. This morning it was 17.4/10.1 which compares with last night’s 17.7/10.5. So what excited me during the night? it certainly wasn’t TOTGA, Castor or Zero.

After the medication I came back in here to find out what had happened during the night. And it was rather disappointing, if not depressing. I’d been in a van with someone and we’d been driving somewhere. We had to stop because the person with me wanted a cup of coffee. We had a rope with us and I wanted to tie it up to something so that it would stay in the van. The only thing that I could find was the handgrip over the door. I tied the rope there with a kind of knot and went out to have my coffee. For some reason the rope wouldn’t stay tied. tt managed to untie itself and at that moment I actually awoke. That rope wasn’t right for some reason.

That’s not exactly what I call an exciting dream. The way things are in my life right now he only excitement that I have is what goes on during the night.

And not just with TOTGA, Zero or Castor either. While of course I’m delighted if one of them comes along with me on a travel, that’s really the icing on the cake. Having adventures, voyages and bizarre encounters is what my dreams should be all about regardless of who (with the exception of my family of course) comes with me.

Boring, sad and uneventful encounters have no place to play in my life, especially during the hours of darkness.

Instead I went for lunch – cheese on toast and porridge with strong black coffee to fire up the imagination.. And there are no complaints about my bread. It’s not perfection – in fact, it’s a long way from it, but it’s better than a couple of weeks ago.

Back in here, rather later than usual, I made a start on the radio programme whose notes needed editing. And while I was … errr … elsewhere during a little break, Ingrid phoned me.

after I’d washed my hands I phoned her back and we had our lengthy chat. Her elderly cat, who was 20 years old, has died, so she told me. And that’s sad news. Mind you, 20 years s a good age for a cat, especially around the Auvergne with so many predators

She’s talking about coming up to see me, which will be lovely. In fact there are a couple of people in the Auvergne who have been talking about coming up here. Not just to see me of course, but to have a little holiday break, and Ingrid is talking about hitching a ride with them.

If they do all come up here, it’ll make a nice break for them and a welcome distraction for me. Up here locked in my little room while my leg is healed and the lift is being repaired is doing me no good.

They say that the lift might be fixed by Friday in which case I can go to the shops on the bus.

The lifts here only go to the half-landings which is a shame. They don’t actually go to the floors where the front door is or the apartments are.

That’s something that sounds very strange but this is a 17th Century building built before lifts of course, and as it’s a registered historic building we can’t knock it about how we like

Before Ingrid phoned I was planning on making some biscuits as I’d run out but it was too late now. Instead I went and rolled out the pizza dough that had been defrosting since I took it from the freezer after lunch.

Yes, Ingrid on the phone or not, nothing will stop the relentless march of the Sunday pizza.

So now that my notes are written, I’ll have a think about finishing off the assembly of the radio programme and then choose the final track and write the notes for it. I’m not sure if I’m up to dictating them but we’ll see. Ralph Marston said "Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work" but if I were to do that, I would never ever restart.

With this new medication, I’ve noticed several side-effects kicking in. I’m having difficulty with my eyes (hence the typos), I’m all confused (you should see the mess that I’ve made of this radio programme) and I’m just so tired – all the time too.

There was an interesting paragraph in the Woolhope Naturalists (not “Naturists”) Club’s 1867 Annual Report which said that "the history of a people, for the most part, is but the detail of the trials and calamities that have occurred to them", and that is something with which I can personally relate.

Sunday 18th February 2024 – MY HOME – MADE …

… vegan mayonnaise worked to absolute perfection and if I can do it like that every time things will be great around here

It’s slow and time-consuming, but the results are well-worth it, and it’s another good reason for having bought my food processor at the end of last year.

The end of last night was rather a mess. I didn’t go to bed until well after 02:00, but that was after dictating two radio programme notes though. And as usual these days, they are a real mess and will take a lot of editing down to make them sound any good.

However that wasn’t a problem for last night. Being half-asleep I hauled myself off to bed

And it was a really good sleep that I had too. When I pulled my head out from under the covers and checked the time, it was 11:55. A good sleep indeed

When I eventually rose from the Dead, it wasn’t 11:55, I’ll promise you that. But there was the blood pressure to take – 17.4/10.6, surprisingly similar to last night’s 17.6/10.0

After the medication I went into the bathroom and put the washing-machine on the go. There’s my bedding and plenty of clothes that need attention. The bedding in particular could do with a really good hot wash.

Then I came back in here to check the dictaphone. I was sleeping solidly when I awoke with a start. Somebody pointed to me saying “this piece goes under the yellow”. It was someone from the hospital. They were trying to put something in the bed underneath the blanket but STRAWBERRY MOOSE was in the way. I went to help them but awoke instead. It seems that there had been a football team playing in a football league. It was one of these leagues where they had physical plans like musculators for the legs and things like that permitted. I was signed up to play and I had my legs all strapped up so that the bits of me that weren’t working were protected but the bits of me that were working were active so I joined this team and played n°s 5 to 11. I mostly played in attack. I remember two people saying that if I have as much more luck in attack then they’ll be conceding goals in the other team’s attack and I should be absolutely great, obviously referring to my periods in hospital. Instead, after a few days I demanded some annual leave so that I could clear out my bus and the shed where I’m living and clear out the dirt of my café. I was granted a bus and went to change it. I noticed from the change that this was a priority, not an ordinary run-of-the-mill school bus so I rang them up to find out about it because this should never have gone on a trip like this with me but kept in reserve until it was needed.A t the reserve they told me that it was all mine if I was careful so I put most of my things in and went back to prepare for leaving.

And that was rather confusing.

Later on I went to the hospital. The prescription was for double the treatment to my legs, i.e. double the injections and everything down there. On the way home I stopped and thought. There was a shop that was selling St Bernards and Alsatians. I thought that seeing as they were already in and around the farm somewhere so I might as well … fell asleep here … I knew that having a twin tailpipe was going to cost me twice as much in fines as having that single tailpipe just now but I thought that it was well worth it because of the difference in performance and difference in layout and well-being of their house, it would be much better this way

Here I am, having a dream within a dream – that’s an interesting concept. DENNIS WHEATLEY in his Satanist collection of books has his hero travelling between various levels of dreams within dreams but so far, I’ve only managed the two levels.

That’s complicated enough. I shudder to think what it would be like by the time that you arrive at your eighteenth or nineteenth

I was fast asleep just now dictating to nothing and I can’t remember now but it concerned our final match of the season, at the end of April against another Bangor team. We had all the support so we should overcome them quite easily but I mentioned the fact that the other team in Bangor now, mine was so much better with this new steering and I did a really good series of turns with it on the road to Amlwch. I was delighted with it and that I’d spent the money on it having it done

That sounds like something else where there’s a bit missing out of the middle. I wonder where it went

And finally I was with a friend from University (yes, I did have some) last night. I’d been absent from work for a while and was retiring on health grounds. She and I bumped into each other somewhere and ended up having quite a nice chat. She asked me about what I was doing so I explained. She said that I’d been very much missed in the office with people sending me their regards etc. Before I retired I had some kind of relapse and was not doing very well at all. She said that she’d asked someone how I was. They said that he seems to be OK but he’s gone a little wild these days. I thought that that was a pretty good description. She filled me in with all the news. I began to explain about things that I’d been doing before I retired and the office was going to be in quite a shock because I was doing so much. I had all these meetings arranged including one on the day that I was supposed to be retiring and no-one as yet has approached me to ask me how they are going to be covered. As far as I was concerned they aren’t going to be covered at all and I couldn’t care less. She was surprised at my attitude because she thought that I was going to leave thousands of ordinary people sitting around with less money than they ought to have. In a way she was right but I was just up to my ears in anger, I suppose, and I just couldn’t wait to leave that office and leave them with all kinds of complications that they’d have to sort out. maybe then they’d realise just how much work I was doing in that place.

It’s quite strange really. Before I retired I did take off some time as sick leave. And I counted – three different drivers rang me up about different aspects of the job that I was doing. In other words, it took three people to replace me.

But what was quite funny there was when I made a suggestion about how things might be improved. I was told “what do you know about this kind of work? ” by the guy in charge.

So on the way home I stopped at the stationer’s and bought some cheap A4 picture frames. And next morning as the guy in charge watched, I hung up my framed couple of Taxi Owners’ Operators Licences from Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council and from Congleton Borough Council, my framed copy of my Certificate of Professional Competence to Operate a Fleet of Coaches in the UK, and my framed copy of my Certificate of Professional Competence to Operate a Fleet of Coaches in Europe – the latter two being issued by the European Union .

Having done that, I asked him if he needed to see anything else, Strangely enough, he never said anything to me again after that.

In most jobs these days though, they have taken to sending home on the spot people who hand in their resignation. It was much more fun in the old days when you could plant time bombs in your working routine to go off after you’ve left, like asking 12 people to come in for an interview at exactly the same time when you know that there will be only four officials present, or booking 12 coach jobs simultaneously when the company has only 5 coaches.

You could spend hours thinking up imaginative and inventive time bombs to confound, confuse and demoralise an antagonistic employer.

All of the above was interrupted by brunch – porridge, strong black coffee and my cheese on toast. At the end of the day I wasn’t too discouraged by the bread. It still tasted nice with bread, cheese, tomato and onion.

Once I’d finished the dictaphone notes it was time to make the mayonnaise.

  • 120ml of soya milk was whizzed around until it began to thicken
  • Once it started to become thick, add a teaspoon of wine vinegar and also your flavouring, like garlic, tarragon, sea salt, lemon juice, chives, diced onion
  • Whizz that lot up for 30 seconds or so
  • Scrape around the sides and base of your whizzing bowl to free off anything that is stuck to it and then whizz again for 10 seconds.
  • Start up the whizzer and while it’s whizzing add 240 ml of vegetable oil drop by drop by drop.
  • Once about a third of the oil has been added, you can slowly increase the speed at which you are adding it
  • Scrape around the sides and base of your whizzing bowl to free off anything that is stuck to it and then whizz again for 10 seconds.
  • Put it in a pot in the fridge

It takes an age adding the oil drip by drip and it’s quite uncomfortable holding the container. I will have to think of a work-around to make it easier. Some kind of plastic container maybe with a pin hole at the bottom perhaps

Back in here I started with the radio programme, one of the ones where the soundtrack was recorded a while ago but not yet edited. And by the time that I’d knocked off for tea it was almost all ready. The final, 11th track has been chosen and remixed, and I just have to write, dictate, edit and assemble the notes that go with it and then assemble it.

That will be tomorrow morning’s job.

There were a few interruptions. For a start … "or for a finish" – ed … the washing machine finished its work and I had to hang out the clothes. And this little trolley really is worth its weight in gold being pushed around the apartment by my crutches, with all kinds of different things on it.

After lunch I’d taken out some pizza dough from the freezer and by 18:00 it had defrosted so I could knead it again and roll it out onto my pizza tray.

After it had stood for an hour or so I went back, assembled the pizza and then baked it. And it’s not denying that it was one of the best that I’ve ever made. Everything about it was just about right tonight.

So that’s all that I’m doing today. Despite Sunday being a Day of Rest I’ve really been quite busy, and like the Duke of Wellington said after the Battle of Waterloo, "I don’t think it would have been done if I had not been there".

Right now I might actually go to bed if I can summon up the energy to do so but I dunno. Maybe I should remember the words of baseball coach “Yogi” Berra and "If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there"

Sunday 11th February 2024 – MY VEGAN SAUSAGE …

… rolls are not quite the success that I was expecting.

Either the sausage filling has expanded during cooking or the pastry that I used has shrunk, but they have come apart where I thought that I’d joined the pastry, so there’s a slit up the middle

But we live and learn, hey? Rome wasn’t built in a day. I shall just have to have more practice with this rolled-up puff pastry stuff.

While we’re on the subject of thinking … "well, one of us is" – ed … I had plenty of time to think while I was in bed last night.

It might have been 02:00 when I finally staggered off to bed but when I opened my eyes this morning and looked at my fitbit the time was 11:42. That’s much more like a respectable time to awaken on a Sunday

As I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … I’ll get up at any time you like six days per week without a problem (well, in principle anyway) but on Sunday don’t call or message me on a Sunday unless …

  1. … the building is on fire
  2. … the fire brigade is in the building trying to fight the flames
  3. … and the firefighters have given up all hope

So 11:32 was when I opened my eyes. That is of course not to say that 11:32 was the time that I left the warmth and comfort of my bed.

When I did raise myself from the dead I took my blood pressure. 17.8/9.9, a little less than last night’s 18.9/11.2. The hospital asked me to collect all these readings but no-one has told me what to do with them.

After the medication I transcribed the dictaphone notes from the night. The game of rugby was invented in the late 19th Century and what we know about everything of the game dates from 1915 when they abolished the machines that surveyed the touchlines as humans did it, on the grounds that when there was a human call that differed from that of the machine it sounded as if the integrity of the sport was all wrong. Of course not everyone had a machine * it was only a few clubs so it was why these differences in calling in just a few clubs was quite different between the males and the machines on several occasions

And I’ve no idea at all what that’s all about

Later on I was out somewhere. I’d had a lot of money given to me as a discount for something. It was exactly the same price as a large teddy bear so I had the large teddy bear instead. I carried it around with me for a short while. Then I had to go off to do something else so I put the teddy bear in the common room by the entry into my daughter’s school – my daughter might have been Roxanne. Later on my partner and I had to go to pick up Roxanne from school. When we did I told her that she had this new friend. When I explained that it was too large to bring home we’d have to bring it home another time. I explained to her where it was. She asked his name but my mind went a total blank. I’d given it a name when I’d bought it but I just couldn’t think of it at the time of this dream.

It goes without saying that STRAWBERRY MOOSE can see himself in part of this, but no-one who has seen Sid James and Peter Butterworth in CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER won’t eve rforget his name.

Finally, we’d been to Munich and ended up staying in a hotel – one of these hotels where the staff is extremely superior etc. I found the hotel to be quite reasonable and didn’t have an objection to coming back here again but one of my friends didn’t like it at all. I couldn’t understand why. When we were cleaning the rooms ready to leave we came across all kinds of things like envelopes, photography paper etc in a kind of welcome package that made the deal even better but one of my friends said that he wouldn’t stay in this hotel even if they gave him a printer that he could sell to have his money back. I was really puzzled as to why. I tried to ask him but he was quite evasive about his replies. I didn’t know how the situation could advance if he wasn’t going to answer correctly. I found the hotel to be good value and quite reasonable. I’d be really happy to return here.

This is an argument that I’ve had on quite a few occasions. When I look at the comments on some of these booking websites and see what people have written, it bewilders me. I’m usually on the budget plan when I’m travelling and I don’t expect there to be much in the way of facilities for the money that I want to pay.

It seems to me that some people expect to pay bus fare but travel in a Rolls-Royce the way that some of these comments go.

There was that dreadful motel in Flagstaff in Arizona where I stayed 20-odd years ago but it was the cheapest motel that I could find so I wasn’t complaining.

That was the time that I was attending a Biodiesel course in Colorado and then going down to pick up up a couple of wind turbines in Flagstaff.

Knowing how things worked, I paid a credit to my credit card supplier and also told them where I was going and where I was going.

However after picking up the wind turbines and paying for them, I went to fuel up the Mustang only to find that my credit card was now blocked for “unusual spending patterns”, despîte having told them.

And so I had to rely on the small amount of cash that I had on me until next morning when I could telephone the bank and have the situation resolved.

In those circumstances, you don’t complain about the quality of your accommodation.

However, it’s these kinds of things that teach you a few lessons. I now have three credit cards from three different banks in three different countries.

That kind of thing can lead to some kind of excitement. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall MY STAY AT THAT MOTEL IN FARMINGTON, MAINE where I was asked to prove my identity so I produced …

  • Identity – British passport
  • Proof of address – French Driving Licence
  • Vehicle registration – New Brunswick plates
  • Mobile ‘phone – Québec number
  • Payment – Belgian credit card

That’s the kind of thing that will keep them occupied for a while.

After lunch I dealt with the radio programme for my Hawkfest. That was a really complicated thing to assemble and took me well into late evening before it was up and running. And up and running it is too.

Much to my surprise, considering that I was working it inside-out and all at once instead of doing as I usually do and adding the final track later, it was just 13 seconds too long. That kind of editing is no problem at all and it was soon down to one hour in length.

There was a pause while I made the dough for the next few pizzas. And I don’t know why but the dough rose up like a lift, quite the opposite of my cannon balls from the other week. So why can’t I make my bread rise up like this?

While it was rising, I was making the stuffing for my sausage rolls. The vacuum-packed chestnuts worked perfectly with mushrooms and in principle it all went very well indeed

The final result was maybe less than I was expecting but you can’t win a coconut every time. They’ll still freeze nicely and finish off quite well in the air fryer with a portion of chips and some baked beans.

The stuffing tastes rather sweet to me but I suppose that it’s meant to be like that.

There was enough stuffing left to make a kind of burger or patty so I’ll fry that and have it with a baked potato at some point in the near future.

The pizza was absolutely perfect. The dough was lovely and soft and crumbly, and I remembered the cherry tomatoes this week.

So all in all, a busy day today and one that was quite successful. I accomplished a lot today.

Those chestnuts will be on the menu again now I know where they can be found, so my cooking will go up another notch. I have plenty of vegan recipes where chestnuts are an important part of the recipe.

A few more busy and productive days like this will be really good, but it won’t be next week. Monday and Tuesday I have this Welsh course, and then on Wednesday I’m off to Paris for my important meeting with my specialist.

THis is where we’ll decide what happens to me in the future. Will they still deal with me? Will they abandone me? Will they refer me to a hospital closer to home?

But what does it really matter? As Jacqueline de Bellefort once said, "one must follow one’s star, wherever it leads – even to death itself."

But I shan’t be dying alone and unloved. At least the French medical service seems to care about me to some degree – probably just until I’ve paid these bills that I owe them.

Sunday 4th February 2024 – NOW THAT’S WHAT …

… I call a good Sunday morning.

The kind of Sunday morning when I slowly raise my head from underneath the quilt, blink in the daylight, glance at my fitbit and find that it’s actually 11:30.

Yes, we really need a few more like those.

Mind you, I’ve no idea what time I went to bed, but it was extremely late, that’s for sure.

There were the notes for three radio programmes for a start – the one that of which I made such an unholy mess last week, the one that I prepared this week just gone that would replace the Isle of Wight one, and the notes for the Hawkfest

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that the last time that I tried to dictate so many programmes one after the other I ended up tying my tongue in knots a long time before the final programme, and this was what happened here. When I get round to dealing with it, I’ll probably find that it’s a complete mess.

But that’s for another time. Eventually I staggered off to bed.

The night was quite peaceful and I can’t remember too much about it except that I dropped the dictaphone and had to search for it. It’s amazing, the things that I can do in my sleep. I just wish that I could work so well when I’m awake.

But awake I was at 11:30 and having taken my blood pressure (18.1/10.9 this morning, 19.8/12.4 last night) I wandered off in search of medication. But I can tell you something for nothing, and that is that this blood pressure medication that I’m taking isn’t working.

Back in here I had a listen to the dictaphone to find out where I’d been during the night. This apparently might be the last message that you receive from me because I might be able to try to become a Limited Company but that isn’t quite so sure but according to the Statutes laid out by King Edward I, II, III and IV and everyone else I might not qualify according to them and according to some others as well. But if so I shall have to keep much better accounts of my income and outgoings than I do now and that’s not going to be easy because me keeping strict and proper accounts of anything is almost impossible as regular readers of this rubbish will recall but you can but try. Instead of me being in the dock it will be the company of course but the company secretary and that is going to cause problems too. I could easily imagine that for this limited company of mine I would never ever find anyone to share the responsibility but we’ll have to see.

And I’ve absolutely no idea what that was all about, or even where it had come from. We had been talking about people using this big tax fiddle of setting themselves up as “service companies” but I’m not likely to fall into the category of people who would benefit from such an arrangement.

But any of that notwithstanding, it wasn’t my last message because there was a couple more.

Someone came along to give us a talk about vehicles. It was hosted by a famous TV personality he said that he’d now left the TV world and was working for Ford’s and would be on TV next week telling everyone why Ford’s was the best company for which to work. But another guy came along and talked about vehicles and their importance in society. He asked several questions, one of which was “how do we deal with them at the end of their life?”. People came up with the idea of recycling or dismantling or quite simply throwing away. He wanted to know a few examples of people’s activities. I was dying to talk to him about dismantling but for some reason he seemed to ask everyone else in the room except me. I had the idea of thinking about my time at Gainsborough Road when I was always doing stuff like that but he just never seemed to come round to talk to me.

And I wish that I had £1:00 for every Ford Cortina MkIII or MkIV I’ve dismantled in my back garden in Gainsborough Road during the 1980s. People would always be bringing MoT failures to me and I’d strip them for useful bits for the taxis and the rest would go under my gas axe.

Sometimes one would be in better condition than one of my taxis so with maybe a little welding they’d be back on the road. On one occasion Nerina and I drove all the way around Hungary in what had been an MoT failure at one time

The story of my welding equipment was interesting. I wanted to weld up a car so I borrowed a set of bottles, pipes and torches from someone who used to work with my father.

When I rang him back a while later, his wife told me "I’m sorry but he has died"
"Well I have some things of his here."
"Don’t worry about them" she said. "He won’t need them now where he is" so I acquired a complete set of gas-welding equipment.

Regrettably I don’t have it now. Just before I left for Belgium I lent it all to a friend. And due to circumstances that I outlined a few weeks ago I won’t ever see it again, along with a pile of other stuff.

But this story of going round the room asking everyone questions except me – that rings a bell.

After I’d retired for the first time I went to work for a bizarre American company where I met Alison.

They were shedding clients like nobody’s business and after a while they began to be concerned (probably about 10 years too late).

In the meantime I’d been making a list of how things could be improved and I ended up with a bulging notebook with all kinds of examples. And one day we had a big meeting to discuss the situation

The manager went all around the room asking for suggestions and when she came round to me, took one look at my notebook on the table and said "well, it’s nearly 17:00. We’ll call it a day at this point".

So I went back to my desk, took out all of my personal stuff from the drawers and walked out. They didn’t pay me enough to put up with this nonsense.

But this was not my first (and not my last) experience of Corporate America

There was a major problem with a printer set-up and I had to negotiate with the New York office about it. I was talking to the guy there on a Friday evening. It was 18:00 our time, 12:00 their time.

The problem couldn’t be resolved then and there so he said he’d think about it during his afternoon and call me back on Monday.

Monday came and no ‘phone call so I rang him up just before I went home at 18:00.

Someone in his office answered. "Oh, (so-and-so)? He was made redundant on Friday."

No notice, no warning, nothing. Out of the door more-or-less on the spot I would imagine.

Anyone who is opposed to the idea of Trades Unions ought to go and spend a few weeks working in Corporate America. The Americans in our office were totally paralysed with fear about their jobs.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed I was at work and feeling hungry so I went to the staff café but they had no sandwiches. I asked why and she said that the sandwich tray was on the floor above until 13:00 and it won’t come down until then. I contented myself with a cup of coffee for a while. Later on the woman beckoned me over. The sandwich tray had arrived but I couldn’t make out which sandwich to have. Then I noticed that for €3:50 (the price of 2 sandwiches was €4:00) I could have a kind of cheese platter with various types of cheese on it, some bread and even some additions like olives and onions to put on it and sauce in which to dip it. I thought that that sounded so much nicer than having a couple of sandwiches

And wouldn’t I love to have a cheese platter right now? Unfortunately it’s out of the question. No pancreas (or, at least, a non-working pancreas) means no animal fats of any description. Hence a vegan diet and the diabetes type 2.

That’s another issue with which I had to contend 30-odd years ago. What with all of my demons and everything else that I was fighting at the time, a major illness was the last thing that I wanted to face, but there I was.

But anyway, after lunch I had a very slow, desultory canter through one of the sound files that I recorded last night and eventually ended up completing to programme that I had assembled last weekend and which was a total mess.

But re-dictating and re-editing the notes, reassembling the programme in exactly the same was as far as I could remember I was short by … errr … 1.221 seconds short compared to what I’d assembled last week, and if that’s not impressive I don’t know what is.

That kind of time can soon be taken up and so that’s now ready, with two more to edit during the coming week.

Tea tonight was a vegan pizza and it was excellent of course. However it would have been so much better had I remembered to put on the cherry tomatoes. I really don’t know what’s the matter with me these days.

They say that the side effects of a couple of these pills that I’m taking is “confusion” but I don’t need any pills for that. I’ve been confused for most of my life. In fact when Led Zeppelin wrote DAZED AND CONFUSED they were obviously thinking about me. I’ve been dazed and confused for so long it’s not true.

In fact I feel rather like my hero the Irish politician Boyle Roche when he argued with his tailor and said "I told you to make one longer than another, and instead you have made one shorter than the other – the opposite"

Perhaps I ought to go to bed while I’m still awake.

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

… what the hell is going on here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it was an audience of one too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 21st January 2024 – TODAY HAS BEEN …

… another one of those days where I have emulated my namesake and done three fifths of five eights of … errr … nothing.

And that’s hardly a surprise. In between my leg and this blasted stuff to cure this excess of potassium, I’ve not been in any fit state for anything at all.

While we’re on the subject of this anti-potassium stuff … "well, one of us is" – ed … after taking the stuff last night I stayed up to see how long it would be before it overwhelmed me if I tried to fight it.

It’s as well to know these things, I suppose.

So I stayed up, and up, and up, and fought, and fought, and fought, but by 03:30 I was well and truly done and I crawled off to bed as best as I could.

It was round about 10:50 that I finally awoke, and that’s no sleep at all for a Sunday.

And I had a head like lead too. I don’t know what’s in that stuff and I really don’t think that I want to. But it really is the pits, as John McEnroe would say.

So having made it out of bed and dressed, I staggered off into the kitchen for the next batch of medication, and then back in here it took a good while for me to come back into the Land of the Living.

Once I’d gathered my wits, which, seeing as I have so few these days, takes much longer than it ought, I sat down to listen to the dictaphone to find out if I’d been anywhere during the night. I was living in Wistaston last night with a group of people last night and had to go into Crewe. I set off on foot and I went down to the end of our road which was a dead end, and found that the obstruction had been cleared away and we could walk through. I carried on walking and ended up in Crewe on Brookhouse Drive. I thought “this is going to be convenient if they leave this footpath open like this without the obstructions that they’d had before. I went to do my shopping and then came back and announced to everyone “do you know what they’ve done? They’ve moved the obstructions from down the road now so that we could walk through”. Someone made some kind of remark and my mother showed me an article in the newspaper about how they’d now created a road between Wistaston and Shavington. “I suppose that that’s it” she said. Reading the article I thought that it looked like it. That’s bad news because they would be building apartments or something like that alongside and there’s a little more greenery gone so I was disappointed. I mentioned it to a couple of people but they weren’t sympathetic at all. One of them was certain that apartments would be built and thought that it was a good thing. In the meantime there was some more school to attend that morning. It was Saturday morning and I had my music lessons. My mother wrote out a shopping list. I asked “do you want directions to this new street?”. “No” she replied. You’ve been there once, you’ll know it now”. She put 2 extra streets on this list and handed it to me. It was just like the usual shopping list with these 2 extra streets on it. I set out and halfway down I came to some kind of yard like a school yard. There were people playing so I went in. Somehow I ended up on my knees so I walked on them instead. When I was inside I met a guitar teacher. He had a girl whom I knew with him. She was about 10. I said “hello” to her because I knew her. I had a look around the yard and then I left. I said to her “not going to music school today, are we?”. She asked “why not?”. I explained that it would be 10:00 soon and it’s a long way to go. She said “it’s only 5 minutes and it’ll take me less time because I’m not on my knees” which I thought was rather insulting but never mind. I smiled and laughed with her. I set off on my knees on my travels down this new footpath thing. There were many people on it. I thought that it was looking like the M6 on a Friday afternoon these days.

Yes, I know. My family yet again.

Mind you, I had better luck next time. I was with my Dutch friend. She’d come to visit me in the Auvergne. We were talking about all of our friends because she was now living in a commune. She mentioned someone who had transformed a cellar there into a small apartment. It sounded really interesting so she asked me if I’d like to go. We went along and had to climb down these steps. It was really nice, what he’d done. It was very small but everything was well laid out to make the most of the space. I was quite impressed. He didn’t have very much in there so I said to him “it’s rather Mies van der Rohe, isn’t it?”. he didn’t understand the significance so I said “you know – less is more”. He said “yes, certainly”. He had a friend down there who was caulking the joint between the skirting board and the wall, doing a good job of it. It really looked quite nice. My Dutch friend and I ended up back in the main house again. I said that I’d come to see her in a couple of days. A couple of days later I set out from my house. I was nearly hit by a car reversing out of a driveway. He pulled away but I overtook him and carried on. He was behind me for a while but then disappeared. I turned up at my friend’s with an old denim jacket that I wore occasionally. I’d mentioned earlier to her about embroidering it. She’d agreed to do it so I had it with me. My friend and I ended up in bed together but it wasn’t a sexual thing, just lying there talking. She said “I can’t pay you, except maybe for an afternoon or something like that”. I said “you don’t owe me anything. There’s no need to pay me anything at all. Let’s just stay here and be comfortable

With a little voyage like that, what would you do when you had read all of the notes. I gave her a ring and said "I dreamed about you last night."
"Did you?" she asked.
"No" I replied. "You wouldn’t let me"

And Mies van der Rohe – there’s a name to conjure with. He was a director of the Bauhaus, the modernist school of architecture in Germany and after the excesses of the Victorian period of architecture, pioneered the idea of minimalism in design and construction with his famous slogan of "less is more"

The ghastly buildings of the immediate post-war period prior to the arrival of the even more horrific Brutalist movement of the 60s and 70s can be laid fairly and squarely at the feet of Mies van der Rohe and his fellow crew of Bauhaus barbarians

Having finished the dictaphone notes I went off for my porridge, cheese on toast and strong, hot, black coffee. I’m back eating again after the last few days that I mentioned when my appetite went for a while.

However, having said that, I’m not sure how long I’ll continue eating because I’m in total agony every time that I try to stand up and try to move, with this perishing leg. I really have done it a major mischief but a scanner and a handful of X-rays can’t lie, I suppose.

And it’s no good if I can’t stand up because I can’t make any food to eat.

And then there’s the question of this anti-potassium stuff. This is killing me. Every time I sit down I either fall asleep or if I close my eyes I begin to hallucinate again. If I could walk I’d be forging prescriptions for this stuff and hawking it around the back streets of Granville.

It goes without saying that I’ve crashed out more than once this afternoon, and quite definitively too.

Whenever it’s been possible, I’ve been chatting to people here and there. Ingrid rang me for a chat, then Liz and a couple of my neighbours have been texting me too. I seem to be in demand these days, which is nice.

In fact I was speaking to Ingrid for so long that I forgot about my pizza in the oven. It’s not like me to forget my food, is it?

As I said yesterday, it’s the wrong flour so the pizza wasn’t the dazzling success that it might be, but it was still nice, edible and filling.

So that’s it for the day. I’m off to take my blood pressure, take that nasty horrible stuff with the rest of the medication and then go to bed. I’ve had enough for today and I’m not sorry.

Tomorrow I restart work after my Christmas break, hospitalisation, recuperation etc. But I don’t feel much like it. Not with this flaming leg and this blasted anti-potassium stuff. If I could stop those I’d probably feel a little better but if I don’t, then when I come back from Paris on Tuesday I’ll start writing out my … errr …. instructions. It’s about time.

What I hope for is that someone will give a good and loving home to STRAWBERRY MOOSE.

As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, I’ve travelled halfway round the World and well into the Polar regions with, quite often, only him as company. My faithful companion and I have travelled miles together and so he deserves a nice comfortable retirement somewhere where someone will look after him properly.

Sunday 14th January 2024 – GUESS WHO…

… spent several hours in the Casualty department of the local hospital here in Granville last night?

What at first had appeared to be just a dull, throbbing pain though the part of my right leg that can actually feel anything, I could feel it going worse and worse as the evening continued and I began to freeze.

Once in bed, the pain increased and I began to shiver violently. I can recognise the symptoms of severe shock just as well as anyone else and with no improvement with the passage of time (quite the reverse, as it happened), in the end I gave up and phoned my cleaner who lives upstairs.

She was down here in an instant and one look was all that it took. She phoned up the emergency number and we all had a very lengthy chat with three different people before they decided to send an ambulance.

While we were waiting she, following my instructions, packed my emergency bag which she promised to bring during the day, and then she helped the ambulancemen, one of whom I knew, take me to their vehicle. And that wasn’t easy either, 25 steps and no lift.

Once I arrived, I told my story to four different people, one after the other after the other, while the pain was increasing and increasing, and then I was x-rayed with my leg and foot being twisted into some of the most painful positions imaginable, without even the suggestion of a painkiller.

Wheeled out of the x-ray cabinet on a stretcher far too small for me, I was told to “get some rest” which, as you can imagine, on a tiny stretcher with a painful leg overhanging into a void and with no painkiller or anything, was pretty much impossible.

Eventually, they came back, told me that the x-rays showed no breaks, gave me a couple of painkillers and said that the ambulance will be back shortly to pick me up and take me home.

And lifting me up 25 steps with no lift was no laughing matter either for the poor ambulancemen, but I was back in bed in a state of semi-comatose stupefaction (and drugged up to the eyebrows too) by 05:00.

Liz had a chat with me at about 08:45 on the internet but I was talking utter nonsense and fell asleep again, to awaken at 12:45.

The painkillers had worn off by then but I had some more around here. I hate using painkillers because while you’re walking around on damaged bone and tissue, you don’t realise the damage that you are doing. But in my case, the right leg is damaged enough so it makes no difference.

It’s a good job that it’s not my left leg that I hurt. I really would be in difficulty. But even so, the damaged nerve in my right leg that gives me those stabbing pains in the soles of my foot that I thought that I’d dealt with is now back again, and in spades too.

After my delicious soup, bread and coffee (and it really was too) I transcribed the dictaphone notes. Yes, to my surprise there were some, but none of the young lady who was here or hereabouts last night. But we did have various musicians with us, including someone from IN THE LAND OF GREY AND PINK, un autre groupe … "dreaming in French again, are we?" – ed … who played in front of us. I leant over too far for something and ended up with my right knee totally collapsed just as the football was finishing. I had to watch the first two chapters on my foot but my right arm was really depressed and unstable. I’ve not able to be visited by my mother-in-law about the cables everywhere yet but when I’m too ill to see The Land Of Grey And Pink … fell asleep here … and the chairwoman as I said called the meeting to order and sent me off for these things

And then some woman was being investigated by the Tax Office for some kind of irregularities in connection with a hairdressing salon. It turned out that many years ago she’d also been the subject of an investigation in respect of a chip shop somewhere in Bradwell in Newcastle under Lyme. Quite naturally, having fallen foul of the Tax Office twice they were being quite severe with her. This investigation had been going on and I’d been asked if I would like to take part in part of it. I went along to see the people there at the Tax Office but for some reason they were extremely busy and never had the time really to talk to me. I just sat there and listened. I knew that the information that they were discussing was wrong but what business of it was mine? The interesting part about this was that they came out with something that was called “The Secret Root”. I didn’t have a clue what the Secret Root was. It turned out that it was some kind of secret and unofficial percentage that the Tax Office uses to bind all transactions together, bearing in mind of course that people have business relationships with each other and that all transactions are somehow interlinked. Back several years ago the figure of the Secret Root was 3.9 but now it was 3.1 and that made a difference to some of the calculations that had been made. I was sitting here really interested because I’d never heard of this Secret Root before. I was intent on finding out more about it because it sounded quite so interesting so I didn’t even bother to mention what it was that I’d come along here to discuss. I just sat there and listened while they were discussing this Secret Root.

One or two people who follow this blog know about my relationship with the local Tax Office in Crewe and I’d tell the rest of you about it, except that a certain law called the Obscene Publications Act is still in force. As well as that, there are certain well-enforced Laws of Libel in the UK and the site that deals with the administration of this blog has terms and conditions about its use.

So instead, let me just ask you what the Tax Office and a pelican have in common.
The answer is that that they can both shove their bills up their @rses

There was no pizza dough left in the freezer so I had to make some more. But Rosemary called me just as I was starting and I ended up being all behind. To make matters worse, I used the wrong flour so the base for the one that I baked wasn’t as good as it might have been.

It was still quite delicious though, as I found out when I came to eat it. And I’m sure that the two in the freezer will do just the same.

So doped up to the eyebrows in painkillers and falling asleep, I’m off to bed. And I’ll try to keep out of mischief while I do it. I can’t go through this again.

But final word on the subject of last night must go to my cleaner.

Having called her at some silly hour to come to my rescue, I apologised for waking her.
"Ohh, I wasn’t asleep" she said. "I was watching TV when you phoned"
"Then I hope that I didn’t make you miss anything interesting" I said.
"Don’t you worry about that" she said. "What goes on in your apartment is far more interesting than anything that I could see on TV."

Sunday 31st December 2023 – I DON’T KNOW …

… what happened last night but when I plugged the dictaphone into the computer to download the night’s voyages, I found that there were none.

For the first time in just over a year I must have had a completely deep uninterrupted sleep and I suppose that that’s something to celebrate. But on the other hand, I know that this sounds strange but I was disappointed.

It’s not that I mean that I didn’t get to see Zero, Castor or TOTGA, but as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … the only excitement that I seem to have these days is what goes on at night while I’m asleep.

Having lived a life full of excitement, to be practically “confined to quarters” is so depressing. I’ve been blown up in a Freedom Fighter explosion, I’ve had an extremely inflammatory confrontation with a Russian security patrol in Minsk in the Soviet Union, I’ve been arrested by a military patrol in Belfast, I’ve been shot at in Stoke on Trent, I’ve had someone kill herself right in front of my eyes, and here I am stuck in a first-floor apartment on my own because I no longer have the strength to go downstairs. So what goes on at night is so important to me.

Still, never mind. It can’t be helped

Although I didn’t leave the bed until about 11:30 this morning, I didn’t go to bed until late and it probably wasn’t far from dawn when I finally hit the hay

But there’s a good reason for that, and a big “thank you” to the organisers of the Shrewsbury Folk Festival who deserve more than just a mention on these pages.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I talked the other day about my radio shows and how I’d like to broadcast concerts on the anniversary of their taking place.

And after a brief exchange of e-mails, the organisers of the Festival have made available a whole pile of video recordings of groups who have appeared there.

Last night just as I was thinking of going to bed I was sent Steeleye Span 2018 which of course I had to check over the recording to make sure that it is complete and correct.

Today I’ve been sent a Fairport Convention, Lindisfarne and a couple of Show of Hands performances, and they reckon that there might be more stuff in their archives. So once again, a great big thank you to the organisers of the Festival.

Apart from downloading and checking over the concerts ready for conversion to *.mp3 and editing, I’ve been a very busy boy today even though it’s a Sunday.

First task was to edit the notes that I dictated and to assemble all the programme components. I ended up, when the final track had been selected and the notes written and dictated, with an overrun of 3.5 seconds but I can soon edit that down. There’s always stuff in my notes that I can edit out without losing the sense or the rhythm.

And then there was the baking. I needed pizza dough, a small loaf and a bread pudding so I set to work and they are all complete. 2 parts of the pizza dough are in the freezer and the third part made a lovely vegan pizza. But it took ages to make and I ended up with a very late tea.

In the middle of it all Rosemary rang me for a chat. And because I was pressed for time, it was only a short call. 1 hour 8 minutes and 16 seconds to be exact. Not one of our marathon chats where we spend hours talking about nothing.

Meanwhile, in other news, regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I am a great-uncle to three young ladies in Canada.

The eldest one is settled down in her little house in Woodstock with a partner, a dog and a job working at her father’s corn mill

The middle one won a place at Canada’s most prestigious University, St Francis-Xavier in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I visited her a few times and she came to see me when I was living in Leuven when she was on a student exchange in Madrid. She was the one who was married in November in Michigan.

The youngest one has also won a place at St Francis-Xavier University. It’s really hard to believe that I was holding her tightly when she was so small and tiny, only two months old that winter in Canada. How quickly time has flown.

But anyway, she’s won a place on the foreign exchange programme of the University and for the next 6 months she’ll be in the UK and “Uncle Eric, can I come to visit you?”.

“Of course you can! Don’t be silly! Come when you like! Stay as long as you want!”.

It’ll be lovely if she comes. I don’t see my Canadian family anything like as often as I would like to do.

So I’ve had my pizza, written my notes, and that’s all I’m going to do. I’ll have a hot drink and a quiet evening and then go to bed.

Many people will be celebrating tonight but I don’t have all that much reason to be out there with them, even if I could.

There used to be a drink called “Phyllosan” that “fortifies the over-forties”. What is there that I can take that will “sixtify the over-sixties?”.

Sunday 17th December 2023 – I AM ABSOLUTELY …

… exhausted.

And not just the usual fatigue from which I seem to suffer but I’ve been on my feet for 5 hours without a break and without even a moment to sit down, starting from 15:15

Things aren’t finished yet either. I have my packing to do and my sandwiches etc to make before I can go to bed. And then I have an alarm call arranged at 06:00.

This was the last thing to which I was looking forward, this early morning trip to Paris, but it has to be done and I have to make the best of it.

What didn’t help matters was that, surprisingly, I didn’t have a very long sleep tonight. Although it wasn’t until 09:45 that I raised myself from the Dead, it was something like 02:00 when I went to bed this morning so it was hardly anything like the usual Sunday lie-in.

There were the radio notes to dictate, a play around on the guitar to do and a few other bits and pieces before I went to bed.

And it was a mobile night too. There was quite a lot of stuff on the dictaphone so I must have gone quite far. I was playing with a rock group last night, me, a guitarist and a drummer, accompanying a female singer. We were preparing for a concert. I had my notes. For some reason the other guy had some note for my sister which he’d given me in a notebook which I’d put underneath the bus. My guitar was underneath the bus too. I was busy having a think about trying to organise myself ready when the singer suddenly appeared and began to performance. The first song was “Rock and Roll Hootchie Coo”. The other 2 musicians began to accompany her but I couldn’t find my bass. Eventually I remembered that it was underneath the bus so I pulled it out from underneath. Then I couldn’t remember how to play it. I was just standing there miming something or other thinking to myself “how on earth am I going to play this?” I couldn’t remember.

Next, wee were making a radio show, but it was a radio show with a difference. The artists had to sing their actual song down the telephone so that they could be recorded in the studio and the programme assembled. I made out a running order of people etc whom I wanted to take part, contacted them all. Of the 10 people or groups who were assembled one guy refused to take part. he didn’t actually say that he wouldn’t but he just never turned up until we were well under way, and then he kept discreetly to a corner hoping maybe that we wouldn’t see him. But it was awful. I had to do about 10 takes for whatever I was doing and so did 1 or 2 other people, the order became completely and utterly confused, things were being recorded in all kinds of different ways. In the meantime the young guy was still keeping out of everyone else’s way in this room while the rest of us were at the telephone singing our songs. Then we looked around and noticed that he’d gone. One of the teachers came over and asked us why we had only 9 instead of 10. We explained the situation about this guy but he replied “why don’t you go to fetch him back?”. We replied “he lives in Tarporley. That’s a long way away to go to come back again”. As I was wandering away I suddenly realised that I didn’t have my keys. I began to look for them but couldn’t find them and had another panic attack about the keys.

Then I had another girlfriend. There was something to do with Chester. Whether she was at the college in Chester and I was in Crewe I don’t know but I ended up going to see her, walking home and then going back to see her. It was all becoming extremely complicated. The question of a car came up. I explained that I would have to buy a car, it would have to be something rather more modern and I don’t know where the money would come from. She offered me a mug that had about £500 in it. Of course I couldn’t accept it. We had a little dispute about that. I ended up talking to her friend about it and the story about Chester came up. There was also something about a load of entries being written in the margin of a piece of paper. I was rubbing them out one by one as I checked them off but I can’t think what this was supposed to be about and where it was involved. There was also a feeling running through my mind that maybe this girl didn’t like me as much as she perhaps ought to but I dunno. She was also at one stage checking some grammar for a letter than she was writing. She was asking me questions . For some reason I was replying with Welsh grammar and words. She asked “what’s the word for this?” and I’d reply to her in Welsh. It was all just so confusing

And I did have a girlfriend for a while at Chester College too. One of the rock bands in which I played bass and sang topped the bill there in 1975 at a Students Union event and in the audience was a girl whom I knew from school and with whom I’d had a brief adolescent fling. She was a student there.

After our performance she came over for a chat and one thing led to another. And, as I have said before … "and on many occasions too" – ed … once you actually make a start, you’ll be surprised at just how many other things there are.

On one occasion the steering box seized in the van and it was off the road for a while while I tried to find one (I dug one out of a vehicle abandoned in a hedge on a farm in the end) and so to go to see her I’d catch the bus from Nantwich to Chester.

There were several occasions when I walked back home all through the night to my squat near Audlem, all 20-odd miles of it, arriving just as dawn was breaking. In those days, walking that kind of distance was never ever a problem.

It all came to a halt when she came home from College for Easter. Her parents actually knew me from “elsewhere” and they made their displeasure quite evident.

But anyway, that dream was surprisingly accurate in parts.

Meanwhile, back at the ran … errr … bed, I was back out with the rock group again but I can’t remember very much about this at all except that the floor to this building was of cracked marble times. It looked really nice and ancient. Somehow words were passing from one end of this great hall to the other end underneath the tiles and coming out where the tiles were missing or had been worn away. It was an interesting phenomenon that impressed quite a lot of us.

I’d also been on my holidays. For some reason I’d gone to Ilkeston where I’d watched a football match between Ilkeston Town and someone else. I developed quite a rapport with Ilkeston’s goalkeeper and couple of fans so I stayed on for a week to watch a few games. Then I hit the road and ended up in Scotland. There was a Scottish 2nd Division match taking place between Alloa Athletic and someone else which might have been Morton so I went to see it. It was pretty agricultural. As I was walking back I bumped into a girl whom I knew with whom I’d been on a night school course once. She had an arm in plaster. We began to chat, chat about the game at first. “Did I call this game ‘entertainment’?”. I replied “for Scottish 2nd Division it’s not bad. I’ve seen worse than this”. A couple of her friends from work came to join her. They all began to talk about work things. The Department of Work and Pensions was mentioned and 1 or 2 other things. I began to feel left out of the conversation, which was only to be expected. This was another one of those dreams that went on for hours and hours, and when I awoke most of it evaporated immediately.

There was another dream at some point where a herd of migrating wildebeest ran into a couple of prides of lions at a river crossing. You don’t really want to know any more about this, especially if you are eating your meal right now. But interestingly there was even a pile of chimpanzees joining in with the carnage at one particular point.

After I’d awoken I had something of a slow start to the day (which is no surprise) and then attacked the radio programme for which I dictated the notes last night. It took longer than usual to edit the notes because, as seems to be the case these days, I made something of a dog’s breakfast of it and there was a lot of editing to do.

By the time that I’d added in the eleventh track and the notes that do with it, I had over-run by 8 seconds but I always include phrases in my dictation that I can edit out without changing the sense of anything or interrupting the rhythm.

Having finished that, I went into the kitchen and began to work.

First thing was to make the dough for a small loaf with which to make my sandwiches

Second thing was to make the dough for the biscuits. And following the recipe, the dough was far too wet for what I wanted so I heaved in a handful or two of oats and put the mixture in the fridge to cool down.

Thirdly, I made my chestnut stuffing. Unfortunately it ended up without chestnuts in it because the packet of chestnut that I had had evidently been hanging around here for far too long so they ended up going the Way of the West.

Instead, I had to make it with some ground almonds, extra breadcrumbs and some various kinds of oil

After my lunch I’d taken out a lump of frozen pizza dough and it had been defrosting. So next I kneaded it, rolled it out onto my pizza tray and put it on one side to prove.

The biscuit dough, I rolled it out, dusted it with flour and cut it with my 50mm biscuit cutter so that I ended up with about 40 biscuits.

While they were baking, I assembled my pizza and when the biscuits were done, the pizza and the stuffing went it.

While they were cooking, I washed everything up and cleaned the kitchen.

Once the pizza and stuffing were cooked (and the stuffing does actually smell like stuffing) the bread went into the oven while I ate my pizza.

Now I’m off to make my butties and pack ready for tomorrow The car comes for me at 07:00 and then I’ll be gone. Until when, I don’t know.

The internet in the Neurology department was dreadful. I don’t expect that it will be any better in the Haematology department so as usual, it will be just brief notes typed on the ‘phone using a mobile hotspot, and I’ll update everything when I’m back home.

Whenever that might be.

Sunday 10th December 2023 – MY VEGAN CHRISTMAS CAKE …

christmas cake vegan pizza vegan fruit buns Granville Manche Normandy France Eric Hall photo 10th December 2023 … now has some icing on it.

It’s not exactly the prettiest Christmas cake that you’ll ever see, but it looks much more like a Christmas cake this year than the one that I made two years ago, which looked more like Quatermass’s Experiment.

A great big thanks to Liz who dived deep into her memory and came up with a recipe for vegan royal icing using chick pea liquid, which I just happened to have, having made some hummus the other day.

And to Sean too who suggested that I treat the icing as if I was plastering a wall and do it in several thin layers. But I have to be honest and say that it does look rather like my plastering efforts used to before I discovered the trick of using a lump of wood thoroughly soaked in water.

Also in the photo is the batch of fruit buns that I made this afternoon for the next couple of weeks, and don’t they look much better these days than they used to when I was just setting out with my baking experiments?

Last week I’d used the last of the pizza dough that I had in the freezer so I made another batch. 2 lumps are in the freezer and I used the third to make a pizza tonight, which you can also see in the photo.

All of that effort today has worn me out, which is no surprise seeing as I had another turbulent night.

Being a Saturday night I was in bed late and didn’t have a great deal of sleep. By 10:00 I was up and about having my medication.

First thing that I did afterwards was to transcribe the piles of stuff on the dictaphone from the night. We started off with a Paul Temple mystery but no sooner had it started than my feet became tangled with each other and the elastic strap that I wear around my ankles. I awoke rather suddenly and quickly before anything had happened

Then there was a series of car races. One of the competitors found himself in hot water because his car had been mis-described. It had been described as one particular model when in fact it was a different one that was 10cm longer so maybe more powerful. This caused quite an uproar with various people commenting on how such a thing like this shouldn’t ever arise, how important it is for the correct details to be presented and what they would do in similar kinds of circumstances etc.

Later on I was up to my ears in work. It was about 04:00. The specimens had to go to the laboratory and normally I would take them but at the moment a girl was going to take them. She’d be here at any time. As well as having everything out I had pastry half-rolled out on a laboratory desk etc. I was generally thinking that I’d be hours late. She turned up. Today’s subject was a red pepper. It took me ages to find a pen and some kind of ad-hoc envelope in which to fit it. Then I had to tell her about the other things that needed doing, for example, when you are sending in blood tests of families, if there are more than 2 children you have to send in the blood tests of at least 2 of them and not distinguish whether they were masculine or feminine children. This list went on for hours. In the end all I could find was some kind of paper pochette in which to put the red pepper. I imagined that by the time she organises herself with this and whatever else she has to do, the laboratory will have closed at 04:00 and that would have been it. She’d have been too late.

There was also some story about a really expensive diamond. It begins in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan when the Khan gave the diamond to his daughter. Following the invasion by the Russian colonialists in the 19th Century it was lost. It turned up later in a European auction house in comparatively modern times. On one instance it fell into my hands. I had the task of not only trying to keep it safe from marauding pillagers but to make sure that it was handed back to the current Government of Kyrgyzstan. I was beset by all kinds of perils etc in an effort to move this stone to where it ought to go. I was really like something out of a James Bond novel. Unfortunately in the middle of dictating the notes I awoke and the whole lot of everything that was left evaporated away out of my head.

Did I dictate the dream about the precious stone from Kyrgyzstan? … "yes you did" – ed … but I fell asleep after I’d dictated it and had a visit from a couple of people who were looking for the stone. I set a trap for them, caught them and began to interrogate them about what they’d been doing, who they were doing it for and the reasons why they were here etc.

And later still I was taking my exam for my French citizenship. I came to the part about different Provinces, different peoples, different lifestyles. Of course I ended up writing reams of stuff about it, most of which was totally unnecessary for the article. With Cécile we’d created some kind of life as a couple living in her house. That was something comparatively new for me but as usual, most of the stuff that I wrote was pages and pages long and gave no advice to anyone really (just like what I used to write for our old “Radio Anglais” programmes). And then I awoke.

There was a story about medals in World War II. One particular medal was illustrated by 2 brothers who flew for the RAF as night fighter crew during the opening period of the Blitz in a 2-seater Defiant. They were on their way to Buckingham Palace to receive their medals before flying home to Ireland at the end of their engagement. Something happened to the ‘plane and they both baled out … "as is any rear gunner could ever bale out of a Defiant. It’s practically impossible" – ed. One of them, his ‘chute failed to open correctly and he was killed when he hit the ground. His parachute ripped on a tree and you could still see a morsel of parachute in the tree if you were to look carefully. The second brother, his parachute opened but he fell into the sea and was drowned before he could be rescued.

Finally we were working in the stores, bringing out piles of stuff for a huge project that was taking place. Suddenly, halfway through, we had word that the project was cancelled. It was coming up to weekend and everything needed to be put back, which meant that we would be hours late going home. My partner and I shrugged our shoulders and made a start. The other people in the building, including Jon Pertwee and the girl attached to him, didn’t seem to want to start, being too busy messing around and teasing each other. I knew exactly what would happen – the moment that I finished packing away my things I’d be called into putting away their things. I decided that I’d slow down to a crawl. The conversation carried on about all the bad habits of Pertwee and how this girl had even brought him a cup of coffee in bed once at 08:00. He’d given her a kiss that had upset her but she took it in her stride. Nothing whatever was being put away. People began to remark about Pertwee preparing things for his own tidying-up at the weekend. I had a look and there were tons of wires and cables etc out on my side of the warehouse lying around here. If they disappeared overnight I’d be the one who’d be in trouble. While it was very interesting and enlightening listening to all this banter that was going on, I was beginning to have a few serious misgivings about things that were happening and things that would be happening. It didn’t look at all healthy to me.

With all of that going on I must really stop listening to the Navy Lark on Old-Time Radio before going to bed.

After lunch I made a start on the radio programme, the notes for which I dictated before going to bed. And I’m right – I AM losing the co-ordination between my eyes, my brain and my mouth. I suppose that as this cancer marches on through my body, more and more things like this will happen.

Halfway through, I knocked off for a while and went to the kitchen for my baking session.

There’s no doubt whatever that my new FOOD PROCESSOR really is the business. It’s also nice to have a set of reliable kitchen scales, which made life so much easier too.

Even though the bearings burned out on the grinder on the old whizzer set that I had, the rest of it still works and it whipped up the chick pea juice and icing perfectly. Having the correct equipment really does make life so much easier.

For almost four hours I’d been on my feet working without a break. At about 19:00 I sat down for the first time and by 19:01 I was well away with the fairies.

The vegan pizza was delicious as usual, and so now that I’ve finished my notes I’ll check my cake again, have a nice hot drink and then go to bed.

Tomorrow I have to tidy up as the ergotherapist is coming round. Mind you, if she sees me living in chaos and disorder it might be a good thing because it might mean that I’ll qualify for more assistance.

Actually, I’m trying to avoid having any extra help. Past experience shows that if people start to let themselves go, they keep on going. I’m intending to keep on fighting and do as much for myself as I possibly can.

My autonomy is quite important and I want to hang onto it. I’m not quite ready yet to be helped into my grave by anyone.