Wonderful autumn day

Just as I was beginning to enjoy having some colour in my cheeks after my latest iron infusion, over five days I seem to have bled it all away. I am ashen again. That is a shame; for some time, the tap inside me had seemed quite closed; and then the iron really seemed to be making a difference; some of my symptoms were lifting for the first time this year and I don’t remember the last time my face looked healthy.

However, today has been a splendid example of early autumn.

Not only has the sky been blue and the feeders covered in baby finches — mostly gold; a few green — but, when I have endeavoured to save the wildlife from the fire, some of it has been quite pretty. I have browsed ‘’ and I think one of them might have been ‘aradus depressus’, a common flatbug, known for living under bark.

Also, I have been enjoying vivid memories of sweet things from the past; I forget what now, but the sweetness was real.

My brain has been on good form in other ways too. I have been more focussed today than in the recent past; more organised and better at simple problem-solving, including at the piano.

And then, while tinkering with my blog software, I began to listen through my old radio recordings. That too took me back to happy times. I have been able to appreciate such reminiscences (somewhat) in recent years, but this time something inside me warmed to what I was hearing, in a way that made me think that I could once again live and love, the way I used to.

I browsed that old radio stuff using my blog’s new search feature. How conspicuous was the gap in audio recordings between 2011 and 2014! (And then another gap to 2017.)

I also searched for G3CAQ. It was good to see on a single page my radio recording and log alongside photographs from one of my meetings with Bill and that time I walked through Codsall during that mad New Year of walking everywhere.

This is also the time of year when — in healthier times — I would be called by the sea and therefore go to stay with Gran and Gramps. I do not feel quite so moved to see the sea now — the Gran and Gramps option is of course no longer available — but I do feel closer to it than I have in a while.

What a lucky boy I was.

0000aa60 | 2017-09-13T17:07:22Z | beauty, health anaemia, health crohn’s disease, people brenda, people trevor, radio, weather, wildlife

Longest stay at another place (with no radio!)

This morning, I dreamed of trying to get hold of Gramps on the telephone. From what I can tell, he was retired, widowed and newly-employed at a large shop.

The man who answered the phone was Indian (or something) and could hardly understand my English. Eventually he got the gist, but I suppose I did not manage to speak to Gramps, because I cannot remember doing so.

At another juncture, I visited his place of work: a large, low shop on a single, white floor. The location somehow felt like Cowbridge Road, though the high buildings and view up the street suggested a rather compact market town.

Inside the shop, I recall lounge suites and a partition wall about halfway back, with a few steps leading to a higher level. Perhaps Gramps would be way at the back of the place, beyond those steps, but again I failed to meet him.

As with previous dreams of Gran, though it was nice to have a lost loved one restored to the world, Gramps’ presence (or absence) was rather grey and lifeless.

When I rose this morning, the sun was on the ‘Gran’ figurine in the sitting room fireplace. I would like to have photographed it, as counterpart to the ‘Gramps’ picture, but I needed a piss and missed the opportunity.

One more dream moment, from one or two mornings before. I had been reading a letter or probably a card from Jessica. Near the end was a message in a square, which said something like, “I started to cry. I miss you.” The emotional words and patchwork layout are typical of Jessica, though the shape of that windowed message was rather ordinary for her. (Jessica and I have not exchanged letters in years.)

A week ago (Sunday), I accompanied Ma and Pa to another place for a few days of chores. I ended up staying until Saturday morning, when Ma and Pa had done their Clare Short and curry evening and we all returned to Wolverhampton.

Before setting out from here, I decided to leave my radio gear behind, since my insistence on blogging the radio highlights of each visit seemed to be hindering the progress of other things (as this is now!). On this occasion, instead I took Pa’s computer, intending to use it to enhance my blog software.

Despite having felt somewhat shaky when we arrived, I rose early on at least three occasions during our stay, and spent a few hours on the computer in the river room, with green tea and lemon and ginger infusions to keep me warm. (I could not remember being so motivated, let alone several times.) I revised my blog’s ignorant SQL, learning a few things about joins and subqueries along the way.

There is no wired internet connection at the other place, so all my computing was offline. The lack of internet probably helped to keep me undistracted, though I did play the occasional frame of snooker on foobillard, to give my brain a breather.

Another feature of our stay was red meat. I had declined it for years, for the sake of my gut, but, since starting medication this year, I have relaxed my old rules, in case doing so might boost my health. I am not happy about it, but this is the way it goes, when a chap has let himself become sick.

When we dined at home, it was pies and pasties from Beaman’s on the High Street. There was no red meat option at breakfast, so I just cooked poached eggs every morning, while Mum cooked tomatoes beforehand, for me to add to her plate and Pa’s before serving.

The tomatoes came from the plants Ma had had delivered earlier this year. Throughout the summer, they have come to dominate the view from the garden room and seem to have produced a bumper crop. The plum tree was less lucky this year, finally succumbing to the weight of its fruit and splitting.

Before our arrival at the other place, Pa had taken delivery of a new television and a Blu-ray player. We could not get a signal from the terrestrial aerial, so settled for Hitchcock films and whatever was hanging around on Pa’s computer.

Since I had fallen asleep in front of the telly on our first night, I expected that I would continue to do so, especially in view of my early starts. However, I would last quite well, until Thursday evening.

On Tuesday, Pa heard on the radio that the weather would be fine all day. Despite having planned to leave our visit to the Severn Valley Railway until later in the week, we decided to seize the day. We rode the length of the line, enjoying pints of beer along the way.

Wednesday brought our second Blue Ginger gourmet night of the week. Having tasted Mum’s Lamb Karahi on Sunday, I made that my choice and was not disappointed. Though it was not as spicy as my usual sort of thing, I can imagine choosing it again and again.

On Thursday, after completing a chore or two, we decided to take the Severn Valley Railway again. That was good, though already I seemed to be weakening. The pints of Erlestoke Manor were good though, as was the Hobsons Mild on the way back.

On Friday, I remained tired. The tiredness was joined by a somewhat-obstructed gut, which eventually confined me to bed and then kept me from having an appetite for dinner. I listened to a nearby pub singer for much of the evening, snoozing once or twice.

Then and throughout the night, steam engines could be heard, as the Severn Valley Railway ran its Autumn Steam Gala. That was great. It had been an option to ride a night train with Pa after his evening engagement, but I did not feel like even rising from my bed.

So what were my chores? I fitted a staple to the bathroom wall, so that a chain could be passed through the handles of a cabinet and secured with a padlock. Another drilling job was to fit a key-safe. Yet another got postponed, so instead I entered the cellar, to measure the run between satellite dish and garden room. Oh and I assembled another couple of barstools.

And so this was a very different stay to my first two. I was content to be without my radio gear, though I wish I had remembered my little bedside Roberts. Instead, I borrowed Ma’s old beside clock-radio, which I left tuned to a Spanish medium-wavelength that I had used to listen to some years ago in bed, when my anaemia had first begun to pinch.

I think it was on the Tuesday night that Messi kept scoring for Barcelona, resulting in frequent interruptions to the chat show. “Gooooooooolllllllllllllllllllll!!! Gol-gol-gol-gol-gol-gol!!! Messi, Messi, Messi! Argentina!”

As I said, I did not miss my radio gear, but on that Friday afternoon I did find myself staring at the empty fishing line. For the first time that week, it occurred to me that it might be quite nice to have a quick dabble on the air. Perhaps that was perfect timing: a little fancy, just before leaving, to bear in mind before my next visit.

0000aa61 | 2017-09-24T12:28:49Z | computer, dreams, health anaemia, health crohn’s disease, people brenda, people jean, people jessica, people paul, people trevor

Thomson dream | Rallying health | Diwali

I must go early to bed more often. The dreaming benefits can be significant. Last night, everyone went to bed around ten. This morning, I went for a piss and then dozed.

I dreamed of watching an Australian sports presenter on TV, who flobbed on the pitch while addressing the camera. I woke amused and went to tell Pa.

(But I was still asleep.)

The house was at once well-lit and deathly dark. Perhaps Ma was ironing in the hall.

In the study, Pa’s computer screen was set high on the south wall, approximately where the right edge of the doorframe is. The screen was full of windows appearing and disappearing, as if under the influence of a virus. The background was black; the foreground a light shade of purple. The windows seemed to be terminals; the desktop environment perhaps non-existent. I suppose I moved to fix the issue, but I don’t remember any more.

In my final dream, I was with Ma in a house on a hill, perhaps in Spain. The room was white, with a white corridor to the left of a window. The window overlooked a wide plain beyond some woodland and a road which passed the front of the property. The corridor led toward a driveway.

My memory of the event begins with a car (in the room) reversing into the wall, to the right of the window, and disappearing down the corridor. The hole left behind in the wall began to glow with the manifestation of a baby boy. The boy became increasingly more material and then began to grow. When I reached out to touch his hand, I was surprised. “I can feel you!” I exclaimed. I remember the sensation vividly.

Perhaps I lifted the boy out of the wall. Soon, he was standing in the middle of the floor, ageing all the time. I lowered myself to his level. Having noticed his Thomson t-shirt — the name over the logo on his chest — I said, “I see you’re Thomson. So where are you going to take me?”

“It doesn’t matter, because you’ll be dead in fifteen minutes.”

“I’d better wake up then, and say goodbye to people.”

As I broke out of the dream, a sly satisfaction had crept across the boy’s face.

I meant to ask Ma and Pa this morning whether Thomson Holidays had been in the news, but forgot before they went out to a lunchtime concert. Later, by the stove, Ma read to Pa out of the ‘i’ that Thomson was now Tui.

After some wobbly weeks, I have lately been feeling a little stronger. A few weeks ago, my weight would be 68 kilos one day and 67 the next. Over the last few days, it has been consistently 68; today, it was 69,5.

What changes to my diet might have occurred? My toast, which has for some time been delayed after breakfast, has recently been doubled, so that it has more of the bulk of a proper lunch; I expect the extra bulk keeps me from salty snacking in the afternoon. After years of a restricted rotation of evening meals, I have begun to eat whatever is going, even eating the odd pizza. After that, instead of just hydrating before bed, I have also been drinking peppermint & licorice infusions from Aldi and Clipper Organic tea (from bags).

I seem to have shaken off my cold, but my throat still wakes dry. Pa seems better too, but Ma’s symptoms keep flaring up.

The city rumbles with Diwali.

0000aa6d | 2017-10-19T13:41:59Z | computer, dreams, health anaemia, health crohn’s disease, people jean, people paul

Early audio tape makes sense | Girlie dream

‘Top of the Pops 1984’ on BBC Four has just reached the point where it is making sense of the odd snippets of pop music on one of my earliest home-recorded audio tapes. I have the impression that I was always ignorant of the music and the people who sang it, because so much of it seems strange in retrospect, but perhaps I have just forgotten the way I was.

I recently recognised Laura Branigan’s ‘Self Control’ from my tape; and now I know — that cool riff is from Nik Kershaw’s ‘Human Racing’.

I had ‘Human Racing’ in my head overnight. At one point, the ‘lointain’, ottava-sopra broken chords from ‘Oiseaux Tristes’ arrived and called quite neatly over the top of the song.

That was probably when I was awake for ages after taking a massive shit. I think Pa’s handling of last evening’s pastie might have been the cause: dumped on granite worktop after defrosting and then insufficiently heated in the oven. (It was tasty though.)

Also, during that time awake, I heard them across the road return home from Lanzarote, but in my stupour I could only think of burglars.

Later, I had a dream of which I can remember only one part: petting one of two girls — a short-haired blonde — in a woody indoor pool.

0000aa6f | 2017-10-21T11:02:11Z | beauty, dreams, food, music piano, music, people paul


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severn valley railway, between kidderminster and bridgnorth

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Approaching Bridgnorth on Severn Valley Railway

This soundtrack is mostly train noise: chuff, clickety-clack and whistle. The others had eaten their pasties and pie in the pub at Kidderminster station, so perhaps everyone had his beak in his beer at this point.

We had collected Huw from Kidderminster and were chuffing home, sitting in a compartment with plastic pints of real ale. Some of us were drinking Bathams. I had selected Hobson’s Mild, feeling still a little delicate after day one of Peter’s visit.

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severn valley railway, between kidderminster and bridgnorth

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7714 passes Bridgnorth platform 1

Huw makes his own movie. Pa points out that these pannier tanks used to haul Valleys trains. Peter’s coat and nose appear near the end.

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Paul smelled Lynn Davies’ fart

At the White Lion, Bridgnorth, Pa tells us of a famous fart he once inhaled in his father’s Austin 8.

Having shared the table at the back of the bar with two local women, now we had it to ourselves. The atmosphere was rather close, but at least we were warm.

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Peter and Paul eat pasties and pies on the train

We were awaiting departure on the 02.35 from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster. Peter and Pa’s table looked splendid with its food and beer. In the absence of my camera, I made a quick movie on the Q3, so that I could keep a still image of the scene. The table is rather over-exposed, but it is nice to have a picture of Peter. Pa looks like a greenfinch.

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Clear sky and trees on arrival at Hampton Loade

Somewhat leaning over the slumbering Peter, I captured this through the slit of the slightly-open window of our first-class compartment. Lamps are lit, as is the signal box.

0000aa8b.webm | 2017-11-12T17:06:57Z | railway | video | alt

Trying to record DMU audio at Hampton Loade

Pa had suggested that I attempt to record the sound of an old ‘farter’, but I ended up with just more chuffing.

(When deciding in Wolverhampton to bring the Q3, I did not think of the microphone windscreen.)

The whistle at the start seems to make me jump. It activated the Q3’s gain control too, which I have tried to counteract in producing this file.

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Weekend in Bridgnorth with Peter and Huw

In late September, Pa arranged a weekend in November with his old pal Peter, who had expressed an interest in seeing the new place. He then invited me to make it a double date with my old pal Huw. That weekend just passed.

The dates we chose meant that Ma and Pa still would not have attended the Great Western Beer Festival in Wolverhampton, which was scheduled at the same time. However, we did manage a brief visit to that pub before collecting Peter from the station. I had a black APA and a Kinver Black Ram.

Once we were in Bridgnorth and Ma had set out for Cardiff, Pa and I introduced Peter to The White Lion, where he settled on an old-fashioned beer called The Usual. Then we gave him a tour of some other pubs, without stopping; at The Kings Head, an employee greeted Pa: “Hello again.” Pa later revealed that he had not noticed this greeting, but that he understood its meaning. When Pa had arrived with Ma and John and Paul for a meal, their table was not ready. Pa extracted from this employee complimentary Camparis all round.

After a few at The Black Boy, we returned home for Ma’s spag bol and wine. I was a bit poorly overnight; the potential causes were numerous, but I think I should just blame myself.

The next morning, Pa dressed two plates with ham and tomato. I completed them with eggs and toast. And then we walked to the station to catch the 10.50 to meet Huw in Kidderminster.

On our way, Huw texted Pa to say that his train had broken down at Cardiff! However, his bad luck did not last and he arrived at The King & Castle just an hour late. That was fine, since he still had time for a pint or two before I bought pints in plastic to take on the train. He had been looking forward to Bathams and ended up having my whole pint after his, since I was feeling somewhat delicate after Peter’s first day in town.

Once we were back in Bridgnorth, I suppose it was The White Lion and The Black Boy again. In the course of our perambulations, Peter got some more wine in, prompted by Pa to buy a house wine from Tanners.

Before home and Pa’s venison bourguignon, we sampled The Black Horse, where the last five minutes of Wales’ latest defeat to Australia were being played out. We sat under the television at the back, where we made more noise than the rest of the pub put together, especially when Hallam Amos’ try was awarded.

The previous evening, Pa had prepared spuds and Peter sprouts. Now, back at home, I cooked them, while heating up the bourguignon.

The comedy high-point of the weekend was when Huw returned to the dining room from the toilet and adjusted the light-switches, as if he were at home. Incredulous, Pa made a fuss, which gave us a laugh. As the laughter died down, he had another go, suggesting that perhaps Huw would like to rearrange the furniture a bit; and so on. Huw could not believe he had been so absent-minded.

Later, when Huw was in the toilet again, Pa disclosed that he had not laughed like that since the time out the back of The Goose & Cuckoo in Llangadog, when he had been similarly inflamed by the price of a bowl of Paul’s chilli.

We could hear Huw still creasing up.

The next morning, Sunday, I prepared smoked mackerel and scrambled eggs, before we headed into town for some pre-travel pints. We caught the cliff railway just as it was opening. It was, to my knowledge, my first time, though Pa said that I might have ridden it as an infant. Then we drank paddles of third-pints at The White Lion, except for Peter, who was set on his ‘Usual’. It seemed to be the barmaid’s first day; perhaps all those fiddly glasses were quite an ordeal.

There was not enough time for a further visit to The Black Boy, so we headed for The Railwayman’s Arms, where I found a welcome change from beer: a fizzy draught fruit cider, which featured rhubarb. That refreshed me enough to return to beer, buying Otter Poppy for the train.

As Huw’s arrival at Kidderminster had been delayed by the network the day before, now he was in danger of missing his intended 15:57 due to a late-running Severn Valley train. However, he sprinted and caught it with just a minute to spare. We watched it disappear, before we too set off.

The three of us each slept at some point on the journey back to Bridgnorth. After Hampton Loade, Pa went into the corridor to lean out of a window for the big chuff home.

The two ‘Black’ pubs were our stops before our splendid meal at Blue Ginger, after which we retired to the dining room with Peter’s second bottle from the day before. Since noone was fiddling with light-switches today, Pa got stuck into folk music instead, just as Peter was introducing his first song, which prevented him from upholding his end of our musical tryst.

I think 13:15 was our intended departure time the next day, in order to return Peter to Wolverhampton railway station. Ma turned up early enough to meet the two boys at the antique centre; in the end, we did leave on time.

After cheery farewells with Peter in the station car park, Ma dragged us to the Great Western! I had two Black Rams and we sat next to a table of friends, one of whom was the chap who had invited us into his reserved area at the Hogshead a few years ago to watch the rugby. He was pleased to have been remembered.

In greeting Jane behind the bar, I had noted how ironic it was that we should be there at the beginning of their beer festival and the end, but not at the festival itself. Next year, perhaps, when the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War promises an even grander event.

0000aa8c | 2017-11-16T10:25:42Z | beer, food, fun, music, people huw, people paul, railway, rugby
matthew munro, still photograph, movie clip, audio clip