Day 144

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A G Scale layout – a little large for me to use!

I decide that now I am feeling stronger and my car has passed its MOT I need to start getting out and about. So my first trip is traveling to Hinckley to a Model and Toy Fair. This is a delightful event organised by the regional G Scale Society held at the Methodist church in the town. One model features a working canal lock (with a little help from a giant hand!) The show is not an out and out modelling show but there are many exhibits of interest. For example there is an extensive 3-rail layout from the early days of model railways along with layouts in the hosts G Scale which is associated with large garden railways.  It is predominantly a scale used in continental European countries and this fact is reflected in the non-British models on display. I stay for about an hour before heading home.

I get back in time for some lunch and to settle down to the Rugby international on TV – Wales vs Tonga. Some serious nail biting as Wales let a handsome 24 point lead slip through their fingers before pulling away decisively for a comfortable victory. This is an unusual but pleasant experience for Welsh Rugby followers!

Lesley has put herself forward for election as Membership Officer at Tuesday’s Rugby Green Party Annual General Meeting. I am already thinking about how I can help her in this task and increase the number of activists and volunteers in our party.

On Monday (19th) it will be three calendar months since my bladder removal operation. It seems that though the recovery has been long and, at times, gruelling the time seems to have flown by.

Day 143

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Tweeting about the Bach keyboard concerto CD

Social Media has got itself a bad name with trolling, abuse and death threats frequently reported. But this can hide the fact that there are very many positive interactions every day. This morning I tweeted about my admiration of the Bach Keyboard Concerto’s and got an appreciative response from a few followers and a retweet from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra itself.

Fuelled by Theresa May raising the issue of no Brexit, the media is full of the possibility of a People’s Vote. Some people are arguing that this is betrayal of the 2016 vote in an attempt to ‘undermine the will of the people’. But this is a mistake resulting from a widespread and profound misunderstanding of the nature of democracy itself. A vote in any kind of election tells politicians what to do but not how to do it. This is a much more complex issue and so a People’s Vote, far from subverting the supposed will of the people, is vital so that the population can deliver a verdict on how the Government has gone about the task.

As I have mentioned in earlier blogs I am not a football fan, though I do look out for the results of the teams from my home area, Newport County and Merthyr Town. But this evening I could not resist buying a 24hr .Now TV’ pass so I could watch Wales play Denmark. Once again, however, with Wales falling to a defeat I could have saved my money! The other irony is that I never get much pleasure out of watching any Welsh national team which the game is actually taking place! I always find it too tense. I am not sure what Lao Tzu would have to say about that!

I am planning the most active weekend I’ve undertaken for months, even if it is relaxed by most standards!

Day 142

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Forgetting the Rules of sartorial elegance!

Following my bladder removal operation in August the nurses suggested I wear braces rather than a belt on my trousers. I have got used to this arrangement and decided to keep wearing them. In fact I have decided to make a feature of them and have purchased a pair of Welsh flag ones specially for my trip to Cardiff; they arrived today. Not exactly the height of sartorial elegance, but they will most probably not be seen anyway!

I have started posting again from my twitter account. Following the cancer diagnosis way back in June I abandoned social media and I still cannot get up any enthusiasm for resuming my Facebook account.

One thing I will pick up again in my posts is some political stuff. One thing which I found incredible today, for example, was that the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab resigned following the publication of the draft withdrawal agreement. You would have thought that he would have been largely responsible for the creation of the document, having at least an oversight role. But apparently not and it turns out that ‘Brexit Secretary’ is largely cosmetic post! A cynical attempt to extend Government power while spending our money on another ministerial salary. No wonder so many folks are cynical about politics.

6:20pm Rugby St Cross Hospital X-Ray Department. There is a certain informality about evening appointments at St Cross when there are fewer patients around and the admin staff have gone home. Having had two previous scans (not including the scary nuclear one!) the process is now becoming familiar.

Day 141

10:40am Friends Blood Taking Unit, St Cross Hospital. I go for a blood test ahead of my CT scan tomorrow. Booking an appointment online means that I only have a short wait, following a delay caused by the IT system going down. After the blood test Lesley takes me down to the garage to pick up my car following the repair.

In Parliament an event is organised to mark 50 years of the Royal Navy’s nuclear deterrent. What a truly bizarre thing to do for a pointless and dangerous relic of the cold war. The event is organised by ex-Labour MP John Woodcock and as he represents Barrow in Furness is probably a piece of political opportunism.  The fact that it is attended by Labour’s Shadow Defence Minister shows how inconsistent they are on this issue. In many ways the old saying that Generals always try to refight the last war is now true of politicians. But I guess even thermonuclear annihilation is an easier concept to understand than the real frontier of modern conflict which is cyber warfare!

This all masks the fact that, as many journalists including Peter Hitchens have pointed out, the weapon is not independent at all. Navy submarines have to call at US Navy bases to have the missiles loaded and the prospect of using one without US permission is unthinkable. What a pointless waste of money!

Annoyingly the evening brings some broadband instability. Consulting BT’s service status it reports No Problem,’ But they do this every time there is a problem. A website about as useful as Trident then!

Day 140

My car back to the garage for some work. The front coil springs have started corroding and need replacing before one of them lets go with potentially serious consequences.

I receive a present from Chris at work. This is a tiny violin crafted in Japan and brought back from his holiday. It is an exquisite piece of work and actually a chopstick stand when laid on its back. The sticks then rest on the fingerboard! What a lovely thought by Chris.

Around lunchtime the post brings an envelope clearly packed with a wedge of paper. It is an appointment for a CT scan which is on Thursday at 6:15pm! Before this I must have a blood test at least 24 hours before the scan. Looking closely the letter was dated 7th November but postmarked 12th – FIVE DAYS to leave the hospital!

Fortunately Lesley is free tomorrow morning so can take me to the Blood Taking Unit. The appointment is somewhat of a surprise as I wasn’t expecting it for a few weeks yet.

Listening to the Bert Jansch CD is a peculiarly comforting experience. He has a great gift for melody allied to a talent for moving lyrics. After about 7 or 8 tracks, the guitar part takes a very prominent part. In fact, even allowing for some less than perfect mastering on some tracks, the vocals have become suspiciously inaudible!

I get up to investigate and find that a wire to a speaker has become dislodged on my ancient stereo. Balance restored I can resume listening to the soulful and at times very personal songs.

Day 139

Listening to a recording of Bach’s Art of Fugue by Rachel Podger and the Brecon Quartet. The all-string performance is restrained and has a kind of delicate brittleness to it compared with other versions I possess.  It takes a little getting used to, but it is definitely growing on me.

Later on I find the old Phil Spector version of Christmas by Darlene Love on Youtube. It seems a peculiar choice of listening, but I always find the piano part towards the end of the song very funny. Clearly the primitive mastering tools available in the early 60s combined with Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ approach means that the pianist has to virtually smash up the instrument to be heard at all!

It is a strange time for me at present. Whereas most of the time I feel fine, I am still lacking energy for longer tasks. This means I must still consider what I do and when.

I take a bath – so what you may think. As leave the bathroom, however. I get attacked by Brandi the Cat who is lying in ambush outside the door! I put this down to adding Chamomile and Jasmin Radox to the water. We are used to Domestos and Deep Heat having a psycho effect on our companion, but this is a new one. Fortunately a few words in a stern voice brings a stop to Brandi’s activities.

I order a set of Welsh Dragon braces. I am determined to go to the Millennium (OK, Principality!!) Stadium appropriately attired.

Day 138

Apart from feeling a little stiff, particularly in one leg (the left for some reason), I am otherwise suffering no adverse effects from my longer walk yesterday. This is welcome as today is a big day with the visit from Andrew and Sharon. So more tidying up this morning in a last minute attempt to get the remaining jobs done. It is a losing battle, however, and in our place tidying up is never completed but simply abandoned when we run out of time!

I make some time, though, to listen to two of Bach’s Keyboard Works from my CD by Andreas Staier and the Freiberg Baroque Orchestra.  Well, you have to have a break and some tea at some point. The sheer vibrancy and textural interplay between harpsichord soloist and the accompanying musicians is a delight.

Andrew and Sharon arrive about 1:15, in time for a lunch of corned beef and potato pie which Lesley has made. After lunch Andrew helps with the soldering issues which have been causing me problems. For some time it appears that the problem was not going to recur, but then, suddenly, the solder refuses to behave as it should. It looks, however, that I already have the solution in my possession in the unlikely form of something called a Brass Sponge!

In the by-now tradition of unhealthy eating Lesley and Sharon pop down to Cawston Fish Bar for four sets of chips with fish/battered sausage etc depending on the order.

Andrew and Sharon set off for home at about 9pm and despite my recent progress I slump in a chair quite tired out.