Friday, 31 May 2013

Wraysbury News



This is Raj’s newsagents – Wraysbury News. There you can find a full range of papers and sweets. Also a good range of very reasonably priced greetings cards.

The real reason for this advertisement is that back in December when I started this campaign, Raj put my posters up in his window without charge. There they’ve stayed until earlier this month when a copy of ‘Nearly There’ went up in their place. In fact – you can just make it out on the right-hand side.

Lots of people took a poster, said they’d put it up, then when I’d gone, threw it away.

So, respect is due.

Thanks Raj.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Where the really cool cats hang out.

There are speeches and statements made on a daily basis, blaming G.P’s for the increase in Accident and Emergency attendances and none of it is true.

Things certainly could be better, down at the Doctors, but they aren’t going to sort out the queues at A and E.  

You go to your GP and tell him/her you hurt your leg – what do they do? Send you to A and E to be on the safe side – you need an X-ray.

You faint with a head ache what do they do? Send you to A and E for a scan.

What else could they do, unless they just guessed?

Why is it only England that has had such an explosion in the numbers of people attending A and E?

Why not Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?

If you don’t believe me take a look at my new blog, the articles you’ll find there include; ‘Timewasters’ and ‘All the problems are caused by old people’. These use statistics to discuss who really attends A and E and why. It’s not what you think.

There’s a new series called ‘Going, Going, Gone’ which is about the hidden, insidious privatisation that’s creeping up on us.

The problems of the new 111 service are exposed.

And when your government is lying to you…you’ll find it there.

It’s also where the really cool cats hang out.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Wednesday, 29 May 2013




                  I DID IT AGAIN!

I’m sorry about that – I tried to post a load of smiley faces on that last blog but instead of coming out as a neat block they appeared as one long sentence. I thought about leaving it like that – but no.

When I started this Blog, I was advised by friends to use Wordpress, I’m now realising the limitations of Blogger.

Then again, the reason I gave at the time was that I wanted my Blog to look as though it was written by an ill old man with an uncertain grip on technology. Which is what I am.

At which point two people said; “Well, you’ve managed that then”.

Mmmmmmmmmh. Very funny. You didn’t have to agree with me.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Three Grand.

3000 !

Thanks. That's three thousand smiles

When I started I put up the page view counter when it hit 20 – I thought that wasn’t bad. 40 seemed great.

3000 is wonderful and things changed because of you all.

‘Popular Posts’ Fwhich you can find on the right, is something I can’t fix – it’s down to how many times you look at Blogs. I admit I do try to influence it – I can alter how many popular posts are displayed (3,4,7,9 whatever), but I can’t choose what goes in there and the order is all down to you.

I’m secretly really pleased that ‘The Ankle Rankle’ has made it even though it’s a bit childish.

The 13th of the 13th leapt up there in little over a week, which amazed me. It was one of those days – make or break; unfortunately I always knew it was going to be break. Luckily, there has still been time for a quick dance on the edge of the volcano. ‘The Red Lion Blues’ is the follow up Blog.

‘A moments reflection’, was something I never gave much thought to, right at the start of my Blog, but it made an important point – if the NHS isn’t about the people who work for it, it is nothing. And yes, I do know she worked for a private hospital, but it’s all one profession and usually people who work in private hospitals also work for the NHS. The inquest into her death still hasn’t taken place – come on, please.

‘My Leaflet’ is out of date – my ankle was due to an incompetent consultant, I was misled at the time. However, it’s how this all started and I’m proud of it. Getting my head straight and actually writing it was a big step at the time.

‘S@#k on it’, has a history of what happened. It’s a little bit defiant too, I like that.

There’s even an untitled Blog – I think it was the third or fourth  entry I made and I still hadn’t realised then that you had to type a title into the box to get one – duuurgh?!

Many of the ‘Popular Posts’ have clocked up more views than my whole Blog did for quite a long time.

Thanks to all of you, especially the few who stuck with me through everything. It’s ironic looking back, that when I started this Blog in December it was just as my health started to go wrong, but starting it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Of course, I’ll keep this going as long as I can and I’m still hoping that my glasses will steam up from laughing a few more times yet. (‘The Red Lion Blues’)


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Flat Batteries.

I thought I’d post another self-portrait – it’s a sign that I’m getting a bit above myself. I’m calling this ‘Tuesday morning’, although I took it yesterday. This one was really enjoying a sunny morning, almost seemed to be smiling.

Today? Raining and miserable and I don’t have any pictures from last night because my batteries ran out on me. I am just talking camera batteries here, I think.

First of all, I now realise that the celebrated trumpet ace guesting last week, over from the States, was Warren Vache, with an accent so that it rhymes with ‘Cachet’, rather than Vachet to rhyme with ‘sachet’, I hope that clears things up.

Last week, everyone but me had heard that it was going to be a special night, so it was packed out. Today they didn’t show and as Trevor Tomkins said; “I’ll get the bouncers to throw them in”.

It’s a shame – the band sparkled with talent. Nigel Price was introduced as “the finest jazz guitarist in the country”, and I think that’s probably right. Simon Spillet on Tenor Sax sported a proper black suit and a skinny tie, which usually indicates someone with a taste for jazz from a certain time and space.

The first and last numbers showed me I was right. Last to go was Charlie Parker’s ‘Ornithology’, at high speed. First off was the Bird’s ‘Yardbird suite’. Trevor was having to work the drums tonight. In between were quite a few standards and the odd ballad, ’What’s new?’ started slowly – I heard the pianist, John Critchinson say “We’ll find our way in” – then the sax kicked down the door and they were off again, but there were a lot of chances for a delicate guitar or a languid sax to be heard.

Alec Dankworth was a solid bass and Trevor fairly firm on drums today. John Critchinson on keyboards was with the Ronnie Scott band for many years, a link back to the early days of British BeBop, where it all began.

It was late May, the weather that’s hung heavy all year seemed to break open for one just day. It was light till late, cool and warm long into the night, all at the same time. Not yet a midsummer night’s dream but…..

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Floating about.

This morning I went for a walk along the side of an old quarry and then climbed to the top of an old refuse dump – it was a Bank Holiday Monday, the sun was shining bright and clear and when I was well I always tried, usually unsuccessfully, to get a holiday at this time of year.

I went for a walk, went far too far, my ankle hurt, knee ached, I felt tired out – it was great.

I’d love to put all the pictures up but Blogger is a bit mean with JPEG bytes, so I’ll fit a few in over the next couple of days. It’s late spring now but it looks like April still.


 This is a view of one of the old gravel pits that dot this part of the world – the gravel built office blocks in the city, houses and roads; Heathrow Airport, the M25. Now they have moved on to rape somewhere else and nature is struggling back.

The hill (or ‘Alp’), is a filled in pit – filled in with household rubbish. In the 1980’s it had been due to become Western Europe’s largest shopping centre, then the capitalists fell out and started arguing amongst themselves and it didn’t happen. So they piled up more rubbish until they made a big stinky hill, which you can’t really see from here, I’m standing on it. There was so much methane, for 20 years they had to flare it off, they still do, but less now.

The horses were brought in to change the ecology of the area – until they came about three years ago it was rough woods and tall weeds. Now, very quickly it has turned into grassland and flowers.

This is a very special place, not many people know about it. You can see the fluffy seeds that fly about for the next couple of weeks – floating about on the water, if you look carefully.




Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Has anyone seen the Myrrh?



                IS BUST!

An old rebel like me has seen it all and fought ‘em all. It comes as a shock to more ‘respectable’ people, when they come up against the government.

Over the last month they have been protesting down in Ascot – it’s probably the richest part of this country. Except that doesn’t mean that everybody there has lots of money.

In fact, there are quite a few people who don’t have much. And a fair number who are now old and sick and in financial difficulties. They probably were hoping for help from Heatherwood Hospital – except that Heatherwood and Wexham NHS Hospital Trust is in financial difficulties – solution?

Shut down the Accident and Emergency – gone.

Shut down the birth centre, rehabilitation ward, and MIU unit – going.

Build a new surgical unit.

Sell off three quarters of all the land.

Here’s the problem – they don’t need a new surgical unit for the area, however this is ‘Royal Ascot’ – lots of rich people wanting quickie private operations. Lots of surgeons wanting to do their private work in exclusive Ascot.

Local people? They don’t count. So the locals have been marching, raising petitions, the Borough Council had a meeting at the racecourse, the Member of Parliament came and made all the right noises. All of them conservatives and me an old lefty and I actually feel sorry for them.

One of the things that angered them most was that the bankrupt ‘Trust’ spent £500,000-00p (that’s 500 grand) on a ‘public consultation’. Only 495 people responded.

That means each response has cost the ‘Trust’ £1010-10p. That’s over a thousand pounds for each person who answered.

Was the questionnaire written on vellum parchment, scented with Myrrh from the orient?  Letters illuminated by rows of short-sighted monks using goldleaf from the mountains of Morne and Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan? A cover of finest Ox hide, beaten and burnished to a sheen of rare luxury? Were the replies rushed back to Slough in swift chariots drawn by the finest white Stallions, the bits clenched between their teeth? The thunder of their elegant hooves hammering out the message; “We listened to you”?

Actually, ‘public consultations’ are not done to consult the public – the decision has already been made. They hold them so that you can’t take them to court for having failed to hold a consultation. As long as they spent the 500 grand and can show that some of the public were consulted, they are in the clear. It would be better to boycott the whole thing to show what a sham it is.

Of course, if they had had any interest in what we thought, what they should have done is have a full public opinion survey or better a referendum in the area of the ‘trust’, with a fair choice of viable alternatives and some democratic input – that’s what a public consultation is.

Trouble is, the public would have told them what they really wanted at Heatherwood;

Re-open the A and E to take the pressure off Wexham.

Refurbish the old wards to use as post-op rehabilitation, which is what they were really for.

Maternity, gynaecology, specialist units.

Expand units for treatment of the elderly – a specialism which we are always told will be a growth area. The money you earn here will pay for the other facilities.

Keep the land for when you need it to build new facilities.

Anyone seen where I left the Myrrh?

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Given up?

Am I downhearted?


Perhaps a little.

I spent a happy afternoon at my local CafĂ© Nero in Egham, where they still tolerate me. I was making a cappacino go a very long way (Thanks, really – it means more than you will ever know) and using their Wi-Fi.

I thought I’d be clever (see last Blog) and quickly look up the Quarterly Accident and Emergency statistics for St. Peter’s to extract how many poor souls had waited for more than 4 hours but less than 12 hours at the A and E. That’s the information the hospital wouldn’t reveal when it was requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Of course, ‘to save money’ (like yeah, right) those figures have been discontinued by NHS England.

They are still available, for the moment, but to get at them you would have to open 52 separate, weekly, Excel spreadsheets for that year and scroll each one down to pick out one hospital, then do the calculations for yourself.

Suddenly, I didn’t feel so well.

I don’t have broadband and there just isn’t enough time. I can’t really express how angry it makes me feel – because these quarterly figures are what the hospital trusts are judged on by the Health Ministry, not the weekly stats which are there for everyday management information. It’s the quarterly stats that matter – what I mean is, they are being collated anyway, they just aren’t giving them to us in the hope that we will go away.

Last year, I wouldn’t have given up, and I’m angry with myself for being so weak.

Given up? You think?

I’ll be back.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Hiding isn't going to help you

         WE REVEAL



I was complaining the other day, about how little information Ashford and St. Peter’s NHS Foundation trust give us; this Freedom of Information request dealt with on 23rd November 2012 is a good example.

Any member of the public can put in these requests, as do journalists. The NHS, like any public body is ours – you’d think they would want to give helpful answers? No chance.

Here are someone’s questions about A and E waiting times – a matter of public interest, surely;

1.Please can you tell me on how many occasions patients in your A&E department waited 24 hours or longer for treatment in 2012?

2.How many patients have had to wait longer than 12 hours?

3.How many patients have had to wait longer than 18 hours?

4.Please also tell me the longest recorded time a patient waited for treatment in A&E in 2012?

5.Please can you tell me how many delayed discharges have lasted longer than 28 days in 2012?

6.Please can you tell me the longest time in 2012 a patient’s discharge has been delayed for?

7.With reference to question 6, can you give the reason why the patient’s discharge has been delayed?



Completion Date 29/01/2013

 Details of the Response


2.* patients awaited treatment in A & E over 12 hours.


4. 846 mins

5.* patients had a delay of longer than 28 days in 2012

6.The longest of these had a delay of 53 days

7.The reason was “unusually long delay due to dispute by Surrey PCT on who should fund healthcare needs. Outcome was placement without prejudice by Surrey PCT for agreement on funding to be made in the community between Hounslow and Surrey PCT”


* Ashford & St Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust can confirm that it holds the information you have requested. However, the Trust believes that this information is exempt under section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) as due to the low numbers involved it is possible that individuals may be identified.


To start with, 846 minutes are just over 14 hours, quite a long time to wait for treatment.

Then the ‘Trust’ refused to answer how many poor souls had to wait longer than 12 hours for their treatment, on the basis that there were so few they could have been identified from the answer.

How could anyone be identified? – only that person knows how long they waited.  What about the one patient who waited for 846 long minutes – they didn’t worry about identifying him or her, did they? It’s obviously more than one, otherwise it would be only be Mr or Ms 846 in the ‘longer than 12 hours section’.

If they had been good statistics, the PR department would have been issuing press releases like confetti.

This kind of information isn’t just what the public needs to know. It’s essential for the Board of Governors as well as for the staff at A and E to know this stuff.

If I was a Doctor or a manager and someone had waited 14 hours for treatment, I’d want everybody to know, pdq, to stop it happening again.

Or perhaps no one really cares, unless there is bad publicity.

Well, in my Blog, all publicity is good publicity.



Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Friday, 24 May 2013

Oh, very well then.

OK, it’s been a few days now, but I’ve got an idea of where you are all at. You voted with your feet and I lost, as usual.

Behind the scenes I’ve been doing an experiment, I posted twice as many articles (gulp). On the new site

I posted the serious Blogs analysing academic research or press reports on the NHS and trying to highlight facts that don’t fit in with what the government wants you to think. That’s the really good stuff, if you haven’t seen it you are really missing out.

This old site is a lot of silly messing about, boring reminiscences.

The figures are pretty clear – no one is much into serious important stuff. As one of my friends said; “If you’d just put a video of yourself up there, doing a silly dance, you’d get a million hits”. Mind you, he can’t even find this site, what does he know?

The problem is, this was always really a serious Blog.

I think I’llcarry on, pretty much as now, until there are the 10 consultants at the A and E– then it will be time for a rethink.

And I will go on posting, serious, thoughtful stuff on the new site whether anyone reads it or not because that’s the only way to argue our case. Why not have a look?

Meanwhile, I think you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Rock against Racism carnival.

Respect due to Robert Elms and his BBC Radio London show today, which had an excellent feature on the April 30th 1978 Rock Against Racism Carnival at Victoria Park. It wasn’t just a music festival, it was a political protest which started a process which changed everything. If you go on the BBC i-player you can listen to it.

Elms was there, briefly as he said, he turned up after a party for about half an hour and then went off looking for a pub. I knew him back then and that’s about typical of him in those days. Except that he was there to make a stand when it mattered and since then he has come good. I may be wrong, but in my poor memory I also seem to remember him telling me that he helped out on ‘Temporary Hoarding’, the RAR paper even though he didn’t mention it on his show. His heart was definitely in the right place.

I had had a late night too, that was the night before – in my case I was up into the early hours, making RAR ‘Lollipops’ by their thousands; round placards which you would remember if you were there on the march, I’ve still got a couple. It was a good day.



 I’m going to tell you some of the background that didn’t make it onto the show – it was also an important day.

Fascism was big and getting mainstream. Racism was everywhere and respectable. The Police were the worst. My generation had a choice – put up with it or say ‘Never Again’. It was all or nothing then.

People like me and Robert Elms made the right decision and fought in our different ways for a Britain without racial prejudice and discrimination. It’s a different country now and a better one because of it. That doesn’t mean the battles are over, they never are.

The Old East End had always been a stronghold of the old style fascists and what the BBC London programme didn’t say was that it wasn’t just about music and the attempt to make a stand for what was right, we went there expecting  that we would have a fight on our hands – it was about territory.

It was a long march from Trafalger Square, through the City of London, into the area of warehouses and wholesalers, then the sweatshops and Brick lane.

We turned up ready for the worst – a few thousand people fighting their way in and fighting their way back out again. In fact there were a sixty thousand marchers and the East End; Black, White, Asian and Irish came out to dance. The fascists melted away and although there were still many fights to be fought (I may tell you about some of them when I get a bit more ill and don’t care anymore) but the heart went out of the opposition.

If you look it up on the net you will find films of the carnival, the music and peoples recollections - do have a look.

We learnt then that if something is wrong, you shouldn’t just accept it – you need to fight to put it right. It’s what I did at 18 and it’s what I’m doing now and I’m no hero.

I was very emotional over the Olympics – I may Blog about that later too. One memory that came back was anti-racist leafleting and canvassing on poor estates in the East End – always starting at the top of the Tower Blocks and working our way down in case we had to fight our way out.

At the time of the Olympics, the new East End celebrated – those were the same areas where I leafleted when I was young and when members of ethnic minorities would be too frightened to go out at night. These are now, like my West London, multiracial and getting on with life. Problems continue – of course. But problems can be solved if we want to solve them.

I have no regrets about those great days and I’ll take this opportunity to thank everyone who turned up and made a stand on that day.

And ‘The Clash’ and ‘Steel Pulse’ were great, I know, I was up at the front, pogoing.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Time to fight prejudice folks.

I’ve lifted this direct from ‘The Guardian’, today. I don’t think they or the author will mind.

It’s a very important article about how health professionals assumptions about the disabled determines the treatment patients get.

You could actually substitute many other categories too;the elderly, ethnic minorities, working class or mentally ill.

When resources are short and waiting lists long, these first impressions/ quick decisions have really serious consequences for people.

There’s nothing wrong with Doctors and Nurses, they just reflect the prejudices everybody has. It’s something we have to fight:


"My daughter is disabled so I know at first hand how badly NHS staff often treat people like her."

Ian Birrell      

The Guardian, Wednesday 22 May 2013      

My daughter was ill at the weekend. Just a heavy cold; but when your child has profound and multiple learning disabilities, even a minor illness can send her life-threatening condition spiralling out of control, so we needed to get some antibiotics. As so often, it was a dispiriting experience.


First, the 111 operator asked what language our daughter spoke and whether she could come to the phone, despite being told she was non-verbal. Then the nurse asked about her symptoms but never bothered to discuss her underlying condition, although she is under palliative care. And finally the doctor who came to the house looked uncertain how to deal with a disabled person, never talking to her once.

Tiny things – yet all too typical in the health service. Staff should be used to patients with complex conditions and disabilities; sadly, this is often not the case. We have experienced far worse than these minor annoyances in the 20 years since our daughter was born, including a doctor giving her an injection despite being warned it could kill her. Thankfully, she survived. But all too many people with disabilities end up being killed by the health service – the very institution supposedly dedicated to saving their lives.


The latest case is distressing and disturbing: Tina Papalabropoulos, a young woman scarcely older than my own child dying after a series of blunders by two NHS organisations – a hospital and out-of-hours GP service – in Essex. Quite rightly, her mother, Christine, is angry. "When your child becomes ill and you need professional help from doctors, you and your child are looked at and you can see their mind working, 'Is there any point in trying to save this child's life?' You can see that they think, 'This child has an existence and not a life'," she said.

The loss of this young life was a needless tragedy. But it is far from an isolated one. Each week 24 disabled people are killed by such prejudiced presumptions; indeed, there was a case at my local hospital recently. These shocking figures are based on a government-commissioned inquiry into one region of the country, which found people with disabilities 37% more likely to be killed by incompetence or inadequate care – and their lives end on average 16 years earlier than they should. The more serious the disabilities, the higher the risk.


Forgive me if I fail to join the national worship of the NHS. Mencap has been campaigning to prevent these deaths, logging at least 100 cases over the past six years. The charity blames poor communication with parents and carers as the main cause – but it has concluded that the only explanation for so many preventable deaths is prejudice. Doctors and nurses reflect views prevalent across society that people with profound disabilities are second-class citizens, their lives not worth saving. Imagine the furore if any other minority group was dying in such numbers.


There is a shameful failure to understand that every life is different yet all have the same value. This is the fumbling bigotry – and that is the only word for it – that emerges when people tell a grieving parent their son or daughter is perhaps better off dead. This is the starker bigotry that explains the rise in hate crime, the reluctance of employers to hire people with disabilities, the resurgence of eugenics. It explains why disabled people live under a form of apartheid, for all the hot air around the Paralympics.


Sometimes these attitudes sneak into the open. A Cornish councillor has compared children like mine to deformed lambs, saying they could be dealt with at birth by "smashing them against a wall". There was widespread disgust over his comments. Yet a less violent form of such prejudice can be found lurking under the polite veneer across society – and when its malevolent presence is in the health service, the consequences can be fatal. I live in hope one day my nation will wake up – but until then, many more innocent people will die simply because they are disabled.”


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


United we stand, divided we fall.

What a day!

My copy of Uniteworks! – the magazine for members of ‘Unite the Union’ – came this morning and they published my letter with its plug for this Blog.

This is no small thing, it used to be called the Transport and General Workers Union, has a growing number of health service workers in its ranks and has been vocal in fighting for equal rights and against discrimination. Amongst the different health service unions, it stands out. It is a good friend to have on your side.

It’s also my Union and I am very proud to be a member.

Here’s the letter they published;

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Last year when I went to St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey with a broken ankle they sent me home for a week with treatment for a sprain.

Unfortunately when I went back for my appointment I found that it was a dislocated fracture and it had become an emergency. I was at risk of losing my leg and needed two operations over six days in hospital.

I was determined that this shouldn’t happen again, while at the same time being a Trades Unionist I didn’t want a witch hunt against the staff.

I launched my campaign to improve the hospital and to challenge the cuts and privatisations that threaten our NHS.

I would welcome any support and solidarity my fellow trades unionists can give; whether patients or staff in the NHS.

Check out my Blog;

Fraternally yours,

Neil Harris

Since I wrote that letter I’ve expanded! Check out my new Blog full of facts and analysis:

Thank you, Brothers and Sisters.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Red Lion Blues.

Had to get the results of my blood test today (see 13th of the 13th), you may remember I’d decided to get someone else to give the blood for me – it was the only way I could think of to beat the rap. Turns out he was even more ill than I was. Drat, now I’m really in trouble.

It didn’t go very well. The rest of the day wasn’t so great either.

9 hours later and I’m driving along the Great West Road just the same as in the morning, past West Mid just the same and parked on the same road, just a bit further up. Spooky.

When I got in The Red Lion, was packed even though I was early. There were more photographers than musicians. The seams were bursting. You could sense the excitement.

It was only a quartet, which I prefer and it started big and bouncy with Alan Barnes on his alto or bass sax (I can’t tell the difference, it’s just big) ‘You do something to me’. Then a very sparse and thoughtful ‘Alice in Wonderland’ with very delicate piano from Dave Newton interspersed with Trevor Tomkins light cymbal work adding up to a dream.

‘You and the night and the music’ was a standard with zing – so much so that Barry fell off his chair and my glasses steamed up from laughing. Phew, what a night!

Then back downstairs with ‘Laura’, a beautiful, mournful track. I’ve got a Don Byas CD recorded in Paris in the 1940’s, it was written for a movie. Anyway it worked for me. ‘We’ by Dizzy Gillespie followed on hot n’steamy and then it slowed down again for ‘Lament ‘ by J.J.Johnson.

The second set was, as promised, better than the first with Johnny Mandel’s ‘Close enough for love’ bringing out the best of Alan Barnes sax (the little one this time) and on ‘Two for the road’ by Henry Mancini he was really fine on Clarinet.
Then, as a bonus, we got Warren Vachet over from the States to tour with Alan Barnes, guesting on Trumpet. Camera flashes popping off all over – here’s mine;

Three numbers and an encore – a blues in B flat: The Red Lion Blues as Trevor called it.

I was close enough to hear the trumpet ‘breathing – and the sax too. Trumpet and Clarinet together never sounded so good. Paul Morgan was very solid on bass, with a bit of a flourish too.

It was a good night, music to die for. And I know what I’m talking about when I say that.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Monday, 20 May 2013

There is a light that never goes out.

It all went so wrong Sunday.

I was really sad that I couldn’t go to Wembley Stadium with the Bees (Brentford Football Club), a team that has always lived in what was once called the ‘third’ division. I don’t really support them, but I lived in Brentford so long, worked there, fought so hard for Brentford people and I used to go to home games. And if you have a soft spot for an underdog, this dog is down on its luck.

So, I was listening to the commentary on BBC Radio London, following the build-up and the match. It was good but not the same as being there.

Twenty years ago they were promoted to the old ‘second division’ and I was there. We lined the High Street with everyone else, cheering the open topped bus carrying the team with the cup and the Mayor of Hounslow wearing his golden chain. Then we marched behind them into the ground and I stood in the centre circle with the old men, weeping. That’s the old men, not me. It was 50 years since they had last ‘gone up’.

Next season, in the old ‘second division’, they sold their best player as soon as they could and were relegated by one point – ONE POINT!

Since then they reached the promotion play-off matches six, make that seven times now and lost each time. Yesterday they lost again – that’s seven times.

The Bees journey hasn’t been an easy one – have a look at this from a fortnight ago: 'hyped up, laid back and knocked out'.

When teams run out onto the pitch they play an anthem like ‘We are the champions’ or ‘We will rock you’. I think the Bees should probably chose something by The Smiths – I’m not yet decided which.

‘There is a light that never goes out’.

– almost any of them would do.

Then at 4pm it was time for the last games in the premiership. From 1967 I supported Tottenham Hotspur (come on you spurs). I stopped going to games in the 1980’s when I discovered the corruption in top flight football, but that’s another story (say it ain’t so, Joe). Childhood dreams never really leave you and I still always kept an eye out for them.

Spurs had to beat Sunderland to snatch the last place qualifying for the Champions League, while rivals Arsenal were chasing the same spot – they just needed a draw at Newcastle.

So, listening to the commentaries on the radio (parallel games) was pretty exciting I can tell you. Arsenal scored, Tottenham were firing off shot after shot. Sunderland had a man sent off – then at last we scored. It wasn’t enough, Arsenal won too and got the place.

In the morning I was mowing the lawn. Wheel fell off the mower. It wasn’t the best of days.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Wish me luck.



I made myself a paracord bracelet. Except, I don’t have any paracord, so I use ordinary cord. It means it’s not soft and stretchy – it’s tougher, harder, but hey, I’m a guy!

Here’s a photo;


Like it?

Soldiers do these for each other when they go on a tour of duty and don’t take them off till they get home safely. For me, it’s a good time to do it– wish me luck.

If you google ‘paracord bracelet’ you’ll find instructions on how to make one for yourself.

Pretty cool, I think.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)