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.

Day 137

In a post a few days ago I threatened to break my promise and write about one of my walks.  So here goes.  Around lunchtime I brave the inclement weather and walk up to the farmhouse outside the village. Unlike last month, this time I walk along with relative ease, including the uphill sections. I cover the distance there and back in 22 minutes (including a break at the destination) which is a full 10 minutes quicker than last time. While feeling a little tired after the exertion it is nothing by comparison to a month ago.

Hopefully there will be no further effects and I can continue getting fitter. Apart from the exercise it provides I love walking along the lanes and bridle paths which surround the village. To think that this lovely countryside is in danger from runaway climate change is appalling.

Tomorrow we are looking forward to Andrew and Sharon spending the day with us. They have put their dog Pippin in a kennels for the weekend for an event on Saturday which they have to attend. This means they can spend more time with us. I need to get stuck into some tidying up!

Finally the reward, I get to watch the Rugby, Wales vs Australia. Well. OK. I would have watched this anyway. With any luck I’ll be down in Cardiff in two weeks time myself to watch Wales play South Africa. The tickets were booked a long time ago before I got the initial cancer diagnosis. It’s always been a little target in my recovery to be able to go to the game and I am hopeful now of doing so. I always love the atmosphere in Cardiff on game day, with the stadium being right in the centre of the city there is really nothing else to compare it with.

Day 136

A big day. Today is the day I take my car to be MOT’d. For the first time in months I need to get up relatively early to get my car to the garage for 9am. I surprise myself by being up and ready to go on time.  Apart from a brief drive in Lesley’s car two weeks ago this is the first time I have driven anywhere, especially on my own, since mid August.

Lesley gives me a lift from the garage into Rugby to pick up some things including a couple of Not Roast mixes I have on order with Holland and Barrett. We get home about 10am and following a couple of chores I settle down to do some work.

I am not looking forward to the phone call from the garage.  Finally they call around 2pm. My car has passed the MOT and they are finishing the service. This is a real surprise as it is fourteen years old and has not been driven for the past three months! But there is other work that needs doing as a result of standing idle combined with the age of the vehicle.

Lesley takes me to the garage about 5:30pm and I arrange to take my car back on Tuesday for some work on the front suspension. I experience a peculiar sense of freedom as I drive home via Halfords to pick up some electrical cable. It may take me a while until I build up to driving longer distances, however, as driving is still liable to tire me out at present.

Day 135

I get to do a load of work free from network problems. That was a nice experience and things are going really well with this at present. The fact that I am able to concentrate on work for a few hours at a time now brings forward the time when I am able to go back to work. This is helped by the fact that I work only 9 miles away from home with a fairly straightforward journey and can park right next to the building.

Hurrah.  Finally get to run a test train on my model railway – if only for one foot! A real sense of achievement. There has been a lot of preparation only to get this far but I am hoping it will pay off as I have lots of components and cable now ready for installation. At least my soldering has been successful! I have also found out that my little Andrew Barclay industrial loco actually runs. Now that I know this part of the track works I can wire the rest of the section and get the train running the length of the board.

In the evening I decide to catch up a little with some politics. The mid-term elections reminds me that it would be interesting to find out what issues are bothering Senator Bernie Sanders in the United States. I have a lot of respect for the ex-Presidential candidate and find his approach to problems of equality and social justice to be an effective one, focussing on oligarchies as opposed to a class based analysis which can be unhelpful and exclusive.