Saturday, 31 August 2013

Three Mohicans.

I’d intended to go time-travelling on Saturday (unless you have a time travelling machine you’ll have to wait till Sunday), but by accident my trip started on Friday night with the ‘One Chord Wonders’ playing at The Two Rivers, Staines. In another life when it was ‘The Phoenix’ it was a bit of a sweatbox, on Friday night it still was.

Also, while I’m grumbling, why is it that the bouncers always seem to know that I’m the one who has a problem with authority? I got the evil eye for about half an hour and then one pointedly stood next to me. Two grown men, looking at each other out of the corner of their eyes. He’s looking at an old man with a bad ankle and a bad knee or two, a walking stick and a supply of cancer tablets in the car – just in case. I should be flattered.


 The Boomtown Rats’ were never my thing although they did them very well, ‘The Stranglers’ kept turning up – ‘Get a Grip’, ‘No More heroes’ and ‘Nice and Sleazy’. Guildford is just down the road, so it's a local thing.

I’d recommend they gave the Ska numbers a miss but then I’m biased from a summer spent following ‘The SkaSouls’ around town –Staines finest, they are playing again at the end of September.

I loved the Clash’s; ‘London’s Burning’, ‘Tommy Gun’ and of course ‘White man in the Hammersmith Palais’, best song ever written. I was that man in the Palais.

There was a lot of Blockheads stuff and a unique Segway of ‘Pump it up’ (Elvis Costello) morphing into ‘In the Midnight hour’. I really, really enjoyed Eddie and the Hot Rods ‘Do anything you wanna do’. They always did a really spirited rendition of ‘Get out of Denver’ which I would dearly love to hear again, live;


You look just like a commie and you might just be a member,

Get out of Denver, Baby,

Get out of Denver, Baby,

Get out of Denver, Baby, Go, Go, Go.


The drummer gave everything a storming beat – and this even turned ‘Joy Division’s’ austere and bleak ‘Love will tear us apart’ into a wild dance number. I enjoyed that.

‘The One Chord Wonders’ two hour gig seemed to be over in about 5 minutes, which says to me they were good – especially as it was standing room only.

The name comes from the first single by ‘The Adverts’ (Gaye Advert and T.V. Smith of Gary Gilmour’s Eyes fame). I saw ‘Sex Pistols’ and ‘Vibrators’ T-shirts in the audience, three or possibly four Mohican haircuts and a lot of people of a certain age who had come out for a night of New Wave.

None of us were disappointed.

Now, where did I put the key to that time machine?

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Friday, 30 August 2013

Huntin' and shootin'.


The whole idea was that I was going to take it easy before the weekend (we time travellors need to conserve our energy) but that didn’t quite work out.

It was 29th August – summer’s nearly over, the sun was shining; it had everything going for it. Who could stay in on a day like that?

So, after lunch I spent the afternoon at Windsor Great Park, over the years the royal playground of debauched princes, mad kings (no really, check out the history) and me, sometimes.

They had the polo pitch laid out for the guards polo club (Oh I saay! Yah!). Plenty of security around.

Big boots on and walking stick in hand – I walked far too far and then went stag shooting, after all this is the place to go for huntin’ and shootin’;

I got pretty close to this guy – my camera isn’t that good so I had to rely on them being used to people so that I could slowly creep up.


 Here’s another shot of this fine 12 point stag – his friends had got frightened and sloped off long before he did – but he’s  my kind of guy, he stood his ground just to make a point to me.

Later on in the year the males will fight it out, they’re still friends at the moment although the horns are growing quickly.

When I see these fine animals I can’t but think how noble they are in comparison with all those fine aristocrats who shoot them for sport.


sCLUE No 2

Here’s the question;

7000 what? By whom?



It’s by one of my favourite 20th century artists.

It’s a work of art.

When you’ve got the answer, e-mail it in to me at;

The first right answer wins a combat bracelet, made by me.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun.

This is the rather puzzling aftermath of a long Bank Holiday Monday - who loses just the one shoe, on their front doorstep?

Was he staggering home drunk and it sort of 'fell off' as he was fumbling with the keys?

Or, imagine the scene, you were just leaving the house, carefully closing the door behind you, and again, the shoe just fell off - that could happen, who would notice such a thing?

It was the last holiday of the summer, the last of the year. Beautiful August days, dried out grasses, wilting bushes and blue, blue skies. Something worth celebrating. 

For some reason I got the urge to pick blackberries, which I haven't done for many years.

Now I look like I've been in a fight, scratched all over, old torn clothes. Purple lips, like I took a drugs overdose. Coming home really tired and happy. And now I've got some tubs of blackberry juice in the freezer, waiting for sad autumn days, to remind me of August.

I think I'm going to try and make some ice cream.

When the blackberries are ready (beginning of August really - I was late) old friends become enemies, or at least deceitful, for a month.
Trying to hide where the best bushes are.

My main rivals were the Punk horses - they have a sweet tooth and are rampaging into the bushes, then pulling back crunching mouthfuls and, I swear, they have silly expressions on their faces. Not unlike me.

                                  I can't reach,Mum?

The Song of Wandering Aengus

                                               by W. B. Yeats


I went out to the hazel wood,  

Because a fire was in my head,  

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,  

And hooked a berry to a thread;  

And when white moths were on the wing,

And moth-like stars were flickering out,  

I dropped the berry in a stream  

And caught a little silver trout.  


When I had laid it on the floor  

I went to blow the fire a-flame,

But something rustled on the floor,  

And someone called me by my name:  

It had become a glimmering girl  

With apple blossom in her hair  

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.  


Though I am old with wandering  

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,  

I will find out where she has gone,  

And kiss her lips and take her hands;

And walk among long dappled grass,  

And pluck till time and times are done,  

The silver apples of the moon,  

The golden apples of the sun.

sCLUE No 1

Here’s the question;

7000 what? By whom?


Clue number 1;

It’s a work of art.
When you have the right answer, e-mail it to me.
First one in gets a combat bracelet, made to measure by me.

Neil Harris

(a don't stop till you drop production)

Casual it wasn't.

I’ve had a few bad days being not so well, as I said yesterday I’m a grumblin’ an a grouchy.

Also this Blog has got behind itself by a day and I can’t seem to get it straight, like getting the buttons on your shirt done up out of order.

Then again I’ve got a couple of (I hope) adventures* planned for this week although I don’t think I’ll be able to do both. At the moment I’m hoping to be well enough to nail one of them.

I’ll keep you posted.

Monday I hit the jazz trail, or perhaps it hit me.

I warned you, I’m being a grouch.

At the Red Lion, Isleworth, it was an odd set. Five fine players, a couple of hours of good music but to me it seemed as though I was only enjoying every other number. Then again 50% ain’t bad.

This is Tim Wells twackin’ the double bass.


 And this is Dave O’Higgins on Sax – a really fine musician.


‘Hackensack’ by Thelonious Monk was as good as ever, who doesn’t like that?

Steve Waterman woke me up with an outrageous, screaming trumpet while John Horler was doing a very reasonable Monk impression with just one hand, a sharp minimalism that looked so casual that you knew it wasn’t. It got the crowd cheering and my neighbour playing ‘air piano’ for the second week running.

The last number was a special version of ‘It ain’t necessarily so’, the instruments fighting it out amongst themselves.

* One of them involves time travel!


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

An update on my complaint against the hospital.

I’m in a grouchy, grumbling, annoying sort of mood.

It’s a year ago that I broke and dislocated my ankle – went to St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey by ambulance and was told it was a sprain. It was plastered up (ouch!) and I was left in a wheelchair at reception and told to get a taxi home. It was a long and painful week.

So, unhappy memories for me. How am I celebrating?

I’ve been waiting for my ‘meeting’ since February. That’s the meeting I was offered to go through any remaining questions I may have – believe me I have a few.

I phoned ‘Patient Experience’ three times and then waited.

When I finally got fed up of waiting I sent this letter;

Mr Andrew Liles

Chief Executive

Ashford and St. Peters Hospitals

Guildford Road




Ref; xxxxxx

Dear Mr Liles,

You wrote to me on 13/2/13 regarding the complaint I made about how I was treated by Accident and Emergency at St. Peter’s.

In February I left two messages with the Patient Experience team answerphone, in April I spoke to someone.

Still, no one has contacted me to arrange the meeting I requested. Perhaps you could investigate this delay and provide an explanation.

Yours Faithfully,

Neil Harris


I haven’t had a reply from Mr Liles, let alone an explanation – he stopped replying to me some time ago, which is why I’m happy to publish my letter.

Mind you, all their delaying hasn’t got rid of me.

After I complained they delayed 3 months in sending me the report. I responded immediately with my criticisms– Andrew Liles  delayed until February to send me a letter fobbing me off.

Now a long six months has passed and I can’t help getting the feeling they just want me to go away.

I have now had a call from Patient Experience – they have no record of my calls but I have now got an appointment – at A and E, for my meeting with a clinician.

I’ve got a lot of questions, although I’m not looking forward to returning to where it all happened.

Someone has been giving me a bit of moral support in all this and I’ll need to have a chat with them before I go round.
I'm about a day behind with the Blog - problems and things to deal with. Normal service to be resumed tomorrow.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Monday, 26 August 2013

A night with the Shiny happy people.

Saturday night and it’s the last day of my three day rollin', travelin', ‘blues fest’. This time I’m at The Feathers, Laleham, an old fashioned English country pub with real oak beams. I’m squeezed into the middle of a big crowd in a small bar, waiting to see ‘The Weydown Rhythm and Blues band’. I’m guessing the ‘wey’ is from nearbye Weybridge.

Inexplicably, there is a widescreen T.V. behind the band showing horse racing from Saratoga. Also the pub is heaving with people – most of them young and beautiful. I can’t work out why – is the Blues suddenly fashionable again? Surely the blues should only appeal to old men with gnarled walking sticks?

Could it be that word has got out that ‘Al the Hat’ is on Blues Harp tonight? That’s the by now world famous ‘Al the Hat’ from ‘The New Hawleans Jug band’ and probably all the other blues bands in the area too. He blows a mean harp does Al and he still looks worryingly like Freddie Kreuger .


The band starts up and then I realise, half the pub is a restaurant and all the 'shiny, happy people' are waiting for their candlelit dinner – Scampi anyone?

The bands write up promised me a plateful of "Muddy Waters, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix, Sonny Boy Williamson, Bill Withers, The Rollin’ Stones (that spelling should give you an idea of dates and era’s*), and Eric Clapton".

Lewis was very steady on drums, Al the Hat was hot on Harmonica as usual,  Gil was on bass & vocals while Elliot was impressive on guitar & vocals. It’s a tough call to take on Hendrix and carry it off – he did.

This is Elliot, in a world of his own playing Jimi Hendrix.

Black magic Woman was up there as well. But the presence of Al the hat told me this wasn’t going to be just any old covers band, this was going to be an authentic blues night; ‘Hoochie Coochie man’ and Down at the Crossroads’ are two examples. More than that this four piece had the spirit of the blues too.

By my calculation they rampaged from 1925 through to 1969. Luckily by the second half, enough meals had been served next door for me to get a seat up front.

A good foot tapping night, even if the band was fighting a losing battle with the seafood platters and the garlic sauce.

Mmmmmh, scrummy.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
* The Rolling Stones started off as The Rollin' Stones, playing down the line blues. Later on they added a 'g' and lost an Ian Stewart and a Brian Jones. Some people feel they lost their way too.

* If you go onto and search out the Weydown Rhythm and Blues Band page there are 4 tracks you can listen too - the best is 'Sweet Home Chicago' which gives Al the Hat a real chance to show off. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Red Shoes.

Friday and I ended up somewhere just west of east – The Jubilee pub, Sunbury, opposite Kempton Park racecourse.

That night it was the kind of place where all the locals look up when you walk in, well they did when I came in through the door. Tumbleweed drifted.

I invested in a draught Amstel Bier but somehow it didn’t taste the same as drinking Amstel Gold in a brown café like the Café Alto just off Leidseplein. I have a feeling it was brewed in an industrial estate in the north of England.

And who on earth is ever going to want to drink this?

Nice sign, though.

Now I’ve got all that off my chest, I saw Capital City; that’s Alan on bass, John on drums and Iain on lead guitar and they take you on a tour of London’s R ‘n B sounds starting at Richmond with the stones and ending up at Canvey island with Dr Feelgood. There’s a theme developing in my week – can you spot it yet? Actually they were an old fashioned covers band, with some work to do.

Check out the red shoes! Iain’s guitar playing was good.

I got a spirited selection of old favourites – Louie Louie, Walking the dog, Route 66, ‘The Walk’ by The Inmates, some ‘High Numbers’ tracks (early ‘Who’), a lot of Johnny Kydd and the Pirates and a burst of three Dr Feelgood tunes – Down at the Doctors, Back in the Night and Roxette.

The Pirates rocked but didn’t have much to say. The Feelgoods were the best and now Wilco, Lee and the band are getting the respect they deserved.

Back in the mists of time I saw the Feelgoods and the Pirates so it was an evening just for me in a week that’s turning out to be my very own Bluesfest.

Wilco is having a good spell at the moment, appearing at a Blues Festival up north this weekend, and yesterday I saw a Wilco Johnson band Tour T-shirt at the ‘Blues Business’ show.

The Cancer Cru salute you, dude.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Saturday, 24 August 2013


mMeet Big Phil

     He’s from Customer relations.


Big Phil says many thanks for the 6000 hits.

Couldn’t have done any of it without you.

I was all ready to celebrate when 5000 came up but this one crept up on me, while I was thinking about other things.

I’ll do something much more interesting when we hit 7000.

In the meantime, thanks.


Here’s a few of the things that are coming up;

*There are developments in my complaint against St. Peters Hospital – I’ll keep you posted.

*I was looking at the cover of an old, old record – ‘Our Favourite Shop’ by The Style Council. Not their best but good. All the band members put together an assortment of their favourite things, the things they’d like to find in their imaginary, favourite shop. That became the cover of the record. Very MOD.

In my case, I’m going to put together a selection of ‘my favourite things’. The stuff I’d like to take with me on a long journey; the sounds, the images, some places and things that have meant a lot to me.

*You can’t have fun all the time. My other, ‘seriously boring Blog’ is going strong – it has all the long boring, and truly tedious articles about the National Health Service. You know, the researched stuff, campaigning articles, the scientific ones that don’t have any pictures, the ones that put all of you off when I used to post them here.


Check it out:

 *I’ve kept the best till last - I’m having a ‘7000’ themed competition. If you get the right answer, the prize is a combat bracelet (as previously shown on this Blog), made to measure especially for you. Send your answer to me by email, the first one in gets the bracelet. When I contact you, you’ll need to send me your wrist measurement and an address so that I can send it to you.

I will give you some clues but because Google is such a help for slacker’s, I can’t make it too easy.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
If you’ve lost a ring recently you are reading this because you saw my poster.
Send me a description of the ring to;


Friday, 23 August 2013

Down by the river.

Thursday night found me back at the Riverside Club in Staines. If last week was all about the silliness of a Jug Band, today was the serious business of the Blues, that is;

Paul “Chicken Legs” Burris - guitar and keyboards.

“Wildman” Roger Fuller on the blues harp.

The fabulous “Mr 110%” Mark Roberts drums.

“BB” Bruce Fryer guitar.

Alan (sorry no name on your website) on electric bass

Collectively known as ‘Blues Business’ they came from the ‘deep south’, that is the ‘deep south’ of errh, Sussex.

Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads, they came down by the river at Staines.

Now, if I’m honest I prefer ‘Rhythym and Blues’ to the plain old blues but this was good. British ‘R ‘n B’ was harder, faster and tougher than the blues. Like George Thorogood and the Destroyers but angry with it. But beggers can’t be choosers and today was something of a beggers banquet.

You know what they say; “The blues had a baby and they called it Rock ‘n Roll” and several times this strayed over the border, like on ‘Route 66’ when the rubber chicken fell off the Yamaha (and that’s not a euphemism, there was a….and it fell off)

Check them out for yourself at;

Oh, and here is “Wildman” Roger Fuller giving the blues harp some feeling.
                                  Nice shades, Wildman.

The highlights for me were ‘My Girl’, ‘Baby please don’t go’, and at the start of the second set the medley – a series of numbers linked together by some pretty slinky slide guitar from Paul Burris.

The “Wildman” played a mean harp, while Bruce Fryer showed us that his gold Gibson Les Paul was worth every penny.

Solid drums and a very strong baseline throughout.

Still in the game. Eh?

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Summer Holidays.

Here's a good way of spending a day's holiday in sunny August - fishing on the river at Staines.


And these are a couple of canal narrowboats converted to holiday cruisers.

Neil Harris

(a don't stop till you drop production)



Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Thinking of you.

                                   Bradley Manning

                                    Thinking of you

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)



So I'm Cool.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Many shades of bad.

I got an unexpected holiday – Monday was like last day at work/school. Not a serious day at all.

This time last week I was on a madcap, gulp-it-all-down-while-you’ve-got-time sort of mood. It still gives me a warm glow to think about it – doesn’t the phrase ‘run like F@#K’ send a thrill up your spine?

Sunday night was special too – I stayed up till 3-00am watching a series of BBC4 docuementaries about Punk, what led up to it, what it was about. A lot of clips and interviews, some I’d seen before, some were new to me. Great bands; Dr Feelgood, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Ian Dury, Elvis Costelloe, Clash, Jam – do I need to go on? It was all about attitude.

As the long night went on, it was obvious to me as it was last December, that this Blog draws nothing from technology/software/nowstuff and everything from the DIY FU attitude of Punk and especially the Fanzines that it produced. That’s why people often don’t like the site – it’s a take it or leave it kind of thing and I’m stuck with that, like you’re stuck with me.

So I went to bed far too late and then woke up far too early – early enough to watch wisps of September clouds wandering slowly over August’s bright blue sky. I got three hours sleep.

At the clinic I was expecting bad (bad bad) news and while it was bad news it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. There are many shades of bad.

We’re (they’re) having a bit of a gamble – if it works out I win another three months and that sounds pretty good to me.

Monday night and I was just about tired out, ill and aching. Was I going to miss out? Well, not this time. I went off to my Jazz Club at;

I ended up in the back row – the naughty seats, where I deserved to be. The whole evening was like being a prop in a Dali painting. I wasn’t really able to settle. I wanted to be dancing on a table, this was more thoughtful stuff.

Here are the youngsters at the front, letting go;


 Mind you, Sam Mayne, when he’s wound himself up properly, plays a very expressive saxophone – lots of screams and shouts, but John Horler’s piano is always reflective and they played a couple of his quiet compositions; ‘One for Clifford’ and ‘Around in three’. My attention was wandering like those September clouds, then I noticed that the person next to me was playing ‘air piano’ on the table.

I really enjoyed the start of the second set – a one off trio of Trevor Tomkins on Drums, Dave Green really giving his Bass an outing and John Horler. I really enjoy quartet’s and even trio’s, but I have to admit that the number ‘five’ really packed them in this week while ‘four’ didn’t do it for anyone but me last week.

I’m pleased with what I have been able to do over the last 18 months. I can’t travel, can’t climb the mountains I’d love to clamber up, walk across the wild, wild cliff edges of the world. But I’ve made a difference. Did some good, had a few adventures and sometimes the keyboard is mightier than the sword.

Another three months, hey?

Tomorrow, off to the dentist.

Neil Harris.

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Monday, 19 August 2013

Here we go again.

Here we go again, another week, another solution for Wexham Park Hospital in Slough.

This time, we have been warned ‘this must take place quickly if it is going to happen’.

Oh no, we shouldn’t.

Remember the saying; act in haste, repent at leisure.

The new ‘big plan’, is that Frimley Park Hospital in Camberley should gobble up Heatherwood and Wexham Park NHS Trust. I imagine Frimley Park got worried that all the prime land at Ascot would be sold off if they didn’t get in quickly.


Wexham Park at Slough has a mountain of debt and a poor reputation.

Heatherwood at Ascot has beautiful land in a really wealthy area. Good to sell off and then just do private operations in what’s left. That would appeal to the Sheiks and the New Russians when they are in town for the races.

St. Mark’s in Maidenhead – convenient but also looks like a very desirable property to speculators.

In contrast Frimley Park has a good reputation and has been a lot more careful with its money.

What would the people of Slough want? Do they actually want to go to Camberley or Bracknell?

This is what they need;

1) Government help in managing the financial mess.

2) A change of management.

3) A Clinical plan to sort out the important problems.

What will happen?

The management will get saved and/or get big fat redundancy cheques.

Hospitals will close, the land will be sold off. Patients will have to travel further and further – that is elderly, sick, vulnerable people whose relatives and friends are often in a similar state.

How did this happen?

The Government is at the root of all the problems at Slough – Government/NHS England should sort it out.

NHS financial allocations depend on population and this is measured by the census. Slough has had massive population growth, much of which has been missed by the last two censuses. The result is underfunded hospitals and G.P’s.

The closures of nearby A and E’s at High Wycombe and Heatherwood have sent huge numbers of extra patients to Wexham Park.

All this has been reflected in poorer outcomes and big  financial deficits.

When hospitals shut, they don’t open new ones. This merger hasn’t been planned, isn’t logical or convenient. It only helps the management out of the fix they are responsible for.

Time to fight back. Or do you want to go to Bracknell/Camberley?

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Not with a bang but with a wimper.

My ‘tour’ ended sooner than I thought it would. I’d like to be able to say it was because my poor old body gave out on me – that I was so wrecked I couldn’t carry on any longer. Actually it ended ‘not with a bang but with a wimper’* – I had a band lined up but then couldn’t find the venue and when I eventually got there found I couldn’t get in. Sounded pretty tame from outside.

Now I think about it that has the authentic ring of the 1970’s about it – all it needed was a fight in the street outside and it would have been like being in a time machine.

I’m not complaining, I had a lucky week.

A ‘dreaming’.

I’m not in a position where I can ever book anything in advance. No plans. So, it has to be down to luck and apart from the ‘Good old boys’, I’ve been very lucky over the last 6 weeks.



If you’ve lost a ring recently you are reading this because you saw my poster.

Send me a description of the ring to;

to get it back.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

*T.S.Eliot - The Wasteland

‘This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but with a wimper’