Tuesday, 31 December 2013

The Coolest place to be.


I wasn’t even going to go out, I was going to stay in and have a rest ready for New Years Eve. That’s what I should have done (not been so well blahdeeblah) and in the morning do the food shopping, spend the afternoon at hospital and the evening ….well, we were going to see what happened.

Instead I went to The Red Lion for a night of jazz, so thats the end of the shopping.
 I always knew it would be a good night but I didn't realise it was going to be a really good night and that I had to be there. I wasn’t the only one either – it was packed out.

 


 Simon Spillet was magnificent on the saxophone while Nigel Price on jazz guitar complemented him perfectly. They were all up for it, I think having several days away from jazz had them desperate to get back in – that’s what it sounded like. John Critchinson couldn’t stop smiling and Tim Wells on bass was thwacking out the rythym.

Best of all was ‘Alfies Theme’ by Sonny Rollins; you know it, really you do. It’s from the 1960's film. It’s cool…really cool.

The joint was jumping.

And for this one night that packed pub was the only place in the whole of London to be.

Now it's New Year's Eve and I got up late (there goes the shopping - frozen leftovers for me). This time last year I wrote that 2012 was the worst year of my life but that I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Well I can tell you that 2013 was ten times worse than that and I still wouldn't have missed it for anything.

2014? Bring it on.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)  

Monday, 30 December 2013

If that ain't cool, I'm an old f@#t.


The

BeaTles


If you want this font (and why wouldn't you?) you can find it free on www.fontspace.com and it's by 'Northern Fonts'. I guess that means 'It's only a Northern Font'

It comes from the logo on Ringo's drumkit.

And yes, it's a sign I need to get out more.

To help with that I need you to wish me luck - because I've got to be well enough for my New year's Eve. If I'm OK it will be the best ever and it will end in one of these;

a) a Police Cell
b) In Accident and Emergency
c) a great night
d) a mixture of all the above.

Wish me well.

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


The

BeaTles    say;

HelpmesorTouTsTpeTers.blogspoT.com

Home:
helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Andrew Deevey.


I said it had been a Beatles Christmas – a few days before I won a prize in the raffle at The Highs gig at The Sun in Englefield Green.

One of the CD’s was ‘While my (acoustic) guitar gently weeps’, and it’s by the lead guitar of The Highs – Andrew Deevey.

 


 
As you can see from the front cover, its got Beatles stamped all over it.

 
 

Here he is on acoustic guitar taken at the gig at The Sun. Andrew is a Liverpuddlian, and with a back cover featuring the Liver birds on top of The Liver Building, the album itself is a Beatles labour of love; 14 Beatles numbers played on unaccompanied acoustic guitar.

Back in the 1960’s, The Beatles were so big that everybody from Frank Sinatra, the band of The Grenadier Guards and The Royal Philarmonic Orchestra all brought out albums of Beatles songs. You could buy them in Jazz (ancient and modern) pub piano, choral or just plain silly. Anything to make a buck.

Those days are gone and this album is just a fan’s homage to the city and the sound. It’s a great performance and you can buy or download it from any of the music sites (CD Baby.com is where the cover photo came from).

On a similar subject, yesterday I listened to a one off Elton John show on BBC Radio 2 – not him playing, I wouldn’t have tuned in for that.

This was two hours of a middle aged man going through his record collection, picking out some of the the best stuff and some of the more obscure stuff – it was a real treat. Soul, reggae, you name it.

From Motown to Anthea and Donna, a real Christmas treat. If you have broadband and a couple of hours to noodle away, you can catch it for a week on the BBC i-player.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Saturday, 28 December 2013

My Beatles Christmas.


THE

beaTles

I have to confess it has been a Beatles Christmas for me, shamelessly wallowing in nostalgia.

It started because I bought myself (why not?) ‘The Beatles On air – live at The BBC volume 2’.

About twenty years ago the BBC and Apple brought out a double cd of Beatles numbers from the archives with a few introductions and snippets as well. It was about a year before the magical series of demos, outtakes and odd leftover stuff came out on ‘The Beatles Anthology’.

Now there is a second volume out – I couldn’t resist. I loved the Beatles in the 1960’s and whatever anyone says I still like them now.

Beatles fans come in two blocks – before 1967 and after, I’m very much a ‘before 67’ fan.

I can’t stand Sgt Pepper, which was a dreadful, pretentious album. If you don’t believe me, listen to the tracks on ‘Anthology’, to the demos and early takes before George Martin messed them about, they are far better than the finished article. Also, Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane were due to be on it but EMI wanted a single out and they were ‘stolen’, we can only guess which songs made it as a result.

Anyway, ‘On Air 2’, is a pleasure; great sounds, great photos and some interviews, a lot of fun.

I grew up with a transistor radio from about 6 years old, catching the tail end of these broadcasts and later heard them endlessly repeated. Back then ‘The Beatles’ were aimed at a younger audience and they often did matinee performances for children.

They got their contract with Parlaphone records (EMI’s comedy label) – based on their humour, because everybody thought that the Merseybeat sound was already dead by then. Their ‘harmless’ humour won over the older generations as well as the BBC – they did a lot of performances (250 plus) and always nurtured their relationship with ‘The Beeb’.

When new experiences, the Vietnam war and drugs radicalised them – that was why the older generations were so scandalised – they had thought The Beatles were harmless.

Because their contract with EMI was so bad (a farthing per record – which is a quarter of an old penny or less than one eighth of a present day ‘new’ penny) they had to keep touring.

Their punishing schedule meant that their BBC shows were often crammed in between rushing up and down the country for shows. As a result it’s the nearest thing to a live performance you can find, without the screams.

It’s also the nearest thing to their act when they were playing all night in Hamburg – more rocky, more lively.

It’s a sheer joy to an old ‘un like me. And Brian Matthews (of Saturday Club fame) whose on the disc and got them onto the BBC to start with, is still broadcasting ‘The Sounds of The Sixties’ at 0800 am every Saturday on BBC Radio 2.

 

 

A Hard Days Night

Then I went into Staines for the sales and didn’t buy anything, except I went into Sports Direct and bought a Beatles Calendar which charts 1964 (50 years ago) with some wonderful photos from the Apple archive.

When I got home I enjoyed it so much that when I went back to Staines today to go to HMV for music, I bought another one to give to my new friend Thomas, in Upton Park Hospital, just so that he realises that you have to make plans for 2014, whatever the year holds.

He loved it too.

And I’ve still got to review Andrew Deeley’s album.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Friday, 27 December 2013

1914

 
It's now a hundred years since the First World War and this year will be full of expensive commemorations 'celebrating' and glorifying the event, at least here in Britain.
 
Here's a quote from a letter from that time, I'm not going to identify the nationality of the writer;
 
"My dear Mother!
We have gained a good bit; our cemetaries already stretch as far as the sea"
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
 
 
 


Thursday, 26 December 2013

The best Christmas.


Christmas day brought me a very special and exclusive invitation (to be honest I’d sort of invited myself) to the Christmas day party run by the nurses and care workers on the Jubilee Ward at Upton Hospital, Slough.

That’s why I had these with me;


As well as crackers and party poppers I had a few other goodies besides; presents for my Mum and everybody else on the female ward as well as few patients from the mens ward invited over for the day.


It’s a pity there was a fault with the air conditioning, it seemed to affect my eyes. I must have a word with the maintenance department after Christmas.

It was a real pleasure to watch the nurses and care workers being so kind and careful with the elderly people in their care and to watch them opening their presents, eating chocolates, having a glass of xxxx, doing a quiz, singing songs and just being human. That darned air conditioning – every so often just when everything was going well, something would get in my eye.

Anastasia, who I know well, normally doesn’t speak very much and makes constant attempts to get away. Because she is at risk of falling, often someone has to be with her all the time to make she is alright. Today she was talking and smiling and had no thoughts of making a run for it.

I made a new friend – Thomas who didn’t want to be with the others and was sat on his own with a religious programme on the TV in the day room.

I had a chat but couldn’t get a lot out of him; he’d been in hospital over 4 months and was having problems with internal bleeding. He told me he was ‘lost in time’.

We started to flick through the TV channels and both of us settled on a nostalgia show – pop videos from 1977. I started to dance and sing to Talking Heads ‘Psycho-killer’, which I thought was a very appropriate tune for Christmas Day;

Psycho-killer

Que’s que c’est

Fa fa fa far better, fa fa far far better.

Run run run run run run away.

He liked that and then we watched Ian Dury and the Blockheads; ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll’ and I showed him the scar I got when I broke my arm dancing to their ‘Sweet Gene Vincent’. He liked that a lot.

It turns out that while I’m an old MOD, Thomas is an old Rocker. We should be sworn enemies but we decided to have a truce.

Thomas and I had a good chat about music and bands and old days. We agreed I’d pop in and see him again when I’m passing.

Then on another programme they played Peter Sarsted singing ‘Where do you go to my lovely’, a wonderful song which was also a favourite of someone I once knew, and while I was remembering her I had another problem with some dust getting into my eye. I really must speak to someone about that.

It was a real privilege to be there. It was the best Christmas.

I cannot understand how people can be cruel and nasty to the elderly or the vulnerable. How can they be so foolish, that they will never know the sheer joy of spending a morning like this.

All my thanks and good wishes to every one at Jubilee ward who made it such a special morning.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Christmas day

K

This morning started well – I was up early and started my potatoes off, got everything ready and had breakfast.

Then, planning to put my failed cake in the bin, I decided I might as well cut it open before I chucked it out. It turned out it’s fine on the inside!
 
 

After that good news things could only go well so when I realised I’d forgotten to buy bread sauce I didn’t care. All I had to do was reach for Delia Smith’s ‘Cookery Course’ and so, before I went out I had poked cloves into a halved onion and left it to soak in milk with peppercorns and a bay leaf, ready for my return.

Where was I going to? Well, I need to have a think about whether I should  be blogging this morning – tonight perhaps.

Here’s a clue, it’s what I took with me:

 

 

In the mean time, as I promised there would be ‘drunken blogging’ (I kept my word) here’s my contribution to Christmas Day, a song from the Socialist Songbook:

THE MAN WOT WATERS THE WORKERS BEER

 

Now I'm the man, the very fat man,

Wot waters the workers' beer,

Yes I'm the man, the very fat man,

Wot waters the workers' beer,

And what do I care if it makes them

  ill,

If it makes them terribly queer,

I've a car and a yacht and an

  aeroplane,

And I waters the workers' beer.

 

                      2

 Now when I makes the workers' beer,

I puts in strychinine,

Some methylated spirits and a drop of

  paraffin,

But, since a brew so terribly strong

Might make them terribly queer,

I reaches my hand for the water tap,

And I waters the workers' beer.

 

                         3

Now a drop of good beer is good for a

  man

Who's thirsty and tired and hot,

And I sometimes has a drop for myself

From a very special lot;

But a fat and healthy working class

Is the thing that I most fear,

So I reaches my hand for the water tap

And I waters the workers' beer.

 

 

                        4

Now ladies fair beyond compare,

And be it maid or wife,

O sometimes lend a thought for one

Who leads a wandering life,

The water rates are shockingly high,

And meths is shockingly dear,

And there isn't the profit there used

  to be

In watering the workers' beer.

 

 

L

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Happy Christmas John and Yoko

 
 
 
 




 
 
 
 
 
Happy Christmas John and Yoko
and
To all of you.


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

Christmas Eve.


o

 

Christmas Eve and I’m driving – in Staines I can see all the pubs are rammed full. Passing ‘The Hob’ there are bouncers everywhere. The Police are prowling but I’m on my way to The Barley Mow, Shepperton for a bit of Rock and Roll, a bit of soul, some blues.

I’m spending Christmas Eve with ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and I’m not alone either – it’s solid inside.

 
 


There was a first set with a lot of Blues, some Ray Charles, Rory Gallagher. There was soul from Percy Sledge and James Brown and some Rock and Roll in the second half.

 
It’s not my music but I was looking for a fun evening and I found it.

There is nothing, but nothing, like dancing to ‘C’est La Vie said the old folks it goes to show you never can tell’, played slow and with an air of Tarantino menace.

 


 

It’s a six piece band but that’s subject to changes – usually when one of the band has a proper paying job. So, tonight the brass section was short by one, but there were still six, so I could be wrong.

Then we had a guest drummer for a couple of numbers and a guest pianist. Then in the interval there was a trio playing the country/blues end of Rock and Roll with acoustic guitar and electric fiddle. The fiddler kept guesting through the second house. By my count that’s ten for the price of six.

That was a whole lot of fun and just what I needed to start my ‘stay at home’, no Christmas Christmas.

I’m driving home at midnight enjoying the lights on peoples houses. Back in Staines they are fighting on the high street while the police are arriving in strength. I cruise on quietly past.

Are you ready for tomorrow morning? I am.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

You are all invited to my Christmas.


B

It’s Christmas Eve lunchtime and because I have to get up early to take my medication, I was able to get a lot of things done. The ham is boiled and unlike my cake (if you must know it came out like a curling stone) it’s fine.

I’ve been wrapping presents and generally not doing Christmas.

But, this year I’m all alone and it will be my last Christmas – so I’m hoping that if any of you have nothing to do, perhaps you’d like to spend it with me?

I’ll be blogging late tonight, say 1-00 am GMT and on Christmas day morning at my usual time, say 9-00 am GMT.

 v

Then in the afternoon I’ll be doing an experiment in ‘Drunken Blogging’, not entirely sure how that’s going to work out……..may have to have more than one attempt at that.

And I may do something in the evening.

So I hope some of you will join me in my Christmas present to you. And I'm not planning to be moping about feeling sorry for myself!

 X

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Blue Christmas.


J

Sunday, three days before Christmas, I staggered home from Tesco’s exhausted. A couple of people were actually close to fighting in there. Hey, I’m not even having a Christmas this year, people don’t know how lucky they are. As I fought my way through I couldn’t help thinking how unimportant it all is really. Just to help my mood, for lunch I had half of last weeks pizza exhumed from the freezer. Afterwards I visited my Mum in hospital, then on the way back I went to see a band but because I don’t do bad reviews, I won’t do one this time.

Pompous pumped up power ballads for the portly middle aged – that just about covers it. Or another way of saying the same thing is that it was a load of P.

I got home and in a fit of madness I started to cook a Christmas cake, which was not clever. I didn’t have all the ingredients – last time I did a cake I didn’t have them all and winged it. I replaced the missing ones – now different ones are missing.

I was too tired, started it far too late and got more tired doing it. I’m not even doing Christmas this year; what came over me? I ended up using too many bowls, too many spoons, making too much mess. Not enough raisins or spice in the mix.

It’s in the cooker now, spoiling. It went in far too late and I’ll be sat there waiting for it to finish. I don’t even know who is going to eat it.

Perhaps if I was to smother it in Brandy? Then again it may be better just to drink the brandy and put the cake in the bin.

And if any of you say ‘Aaaah, its Christmas’, I will come round and sort you out. Remember I know where you live.

Monday and a trip to my clinic, struggling through a storm and happy crowds on their way up to town. The result? A no score draw - no test result. Two weeks time and there will be. Hmmmmh.

And then in the evening I went back out through a wild storm of branches crashing down and flooded roads– to the Red Lion, Isleworth for my jazz club.
 

You don’t miss a chance to hear Martin Shaw on trumpet and flugelhorn – he’s a star of stage and screen and Sam Mayne is a great saxophonist. Together it added up to a whole lot of Thelonious Monk and that suited me.

I’ve got a really busy day tomorrow – after the fiasco of the cake I’ve got a ham to cook amidst a general struggle of not doing Christmas.

Let’s see what a mess I can make of that.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Monday, 23 December 2013

Sunday Morning and Saturday Night.


F modnight

Sunday morning and Saturday night.

Spending the Sunday morning before Christmas at Tesco’s  just didn’t match the Saturday night before.

The night before? That was spent in the countryside, dark and deep – just outside the boundary of Windsor Great Park – the queen’s garden.
 
    l

If you know me you know that’s not where you are usually going to find me – unless it’s

F modnight

It was; 'The High-s' were playing at The Sun, Wick lane, Englefield Green and I was looking for a fix of 6T’s music mixed with The Jam and the world of Soul.

 



Up till now you’ve had a serious reviews about this band, (set lists, the lot) but not today – blame the Doctor, because this time dancing was allowed.

 

I wasn’t alone – this was now a pub full of skinheads as well as this proud MOD.  I think they'll get over the shock, not least because if I’m well enough and a number of other things work out, I’ll be spending New Years Eve with most of them and with The SkaSouls. You never know, perhaps I can help them out with a few style tips!

They didn't need much help with the dancing - this was hardline MOD music, hard and fast with no compromises. That’s why I keep coming back for more and so do the skins.

 
I also won a prize in the Raffle; a number of CD’s including ‘While My (acoustic) guitar gently weeps’ by the lead guitarist Andrew Deevey. That's him on acoustic and I’ll do a proper review of that in a day or so.

Clearly the landlord has a thing about The Modern World and more than a passing brush with the world of Northern Soul, but it always puzzles me how the locals, who are from a very different world indeed, cope with this culture shock every month. It's The Kinks meet ‘David Watts’.

Did I mention what a good night it was?

 

aaaa

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The darkest night of the year.


I have finally done it now – Saturday morning I struggled up after a Friday evening with The SkaSouls and realised that I had shed far too many brain cells for my own good. Remember, I didn’t even drink any alcohol as a minor concession to the little matter of my thrombosis.

Having adjourned to

CaffeƩ nero

in Egham, I was on the laptop and I plugged in my headphones to enjoy (if I say it myself) some pretty cool sounds at full volume while I was on the net.

That was fun, until I was confronted by various customers complaining about the noise.

How silly can people get – isn’t it obvious I’m using earphones?

Except I finally realised that I’d put the plug in the wrong socket and the phones weren’t on.

Doh! Mr Bean goes to Egham. Mind you, it was a better class of music than usual.

Today (Saturday) is the winter solstice – the darkest night of the year. From now on the days slowly start to get longer as the earth’s tilt moves us a little bit nearer the sun. Can’t you just feel that new hope of spring in the air? OK, give it a month.

Instead of a bonfire to celebrate (been there, done that) I’m off to see The Highs on Saturday night.

Mmmmmh, Modnight for the longest night.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

The SkaSouls Christmas Party at Mr Bumble's.


Friday night and I’ve got a cold, I’m not feeling great and a bit low after another really stressful week. I've either been depressing everybody I meet or losing it in spectacular fashion.

Now I’m preparing my relaxing new Blog, sorting out some rather fascinating hedge photos. I thought I might call it ‘hedgesyewlike.blogspot.com’. (good pun?)

Eh, no I’m not. Of course I’m not. Monday’s going to be a depressing day for me and there’s no more time for moping about.

This afternoon I stumbled across an interesting lead for a story I’m going to research. I’ve had a lean spell recently and needed a bit of luck – I write some really, really  boring  interesting things for another place. I’m looking forward to some ferreting about on the net.

But

Have you any idea how much effort has gone into keeping me alive? How many disappointments there have been along the way? I’ve got to face it, I’ve been a very unrewarding patient for poor old Dr Feelgood.

Then

there’s the money Dr Feelgood has conned out of successfully applied for from The Cancer Drug Fund. Obscenely large amounts of money that aren’t going to work for very long.

Hedges, indeed.

I said I wasn’t going out – too ill and I meant it.

Until 8-30 pm, that is. Then I shot out of the house, grabbing only a Porkpie hat, got on the motorway and headed off to Camberley/Blackwater to Mr Bumble to see;
 

 

The Skas0uls  
No the crowd got in the the way of that shot;

 
No that’s a bit tame, how about this;

 
No, that’s even tamer, how about this;

 
 No, still not enough action

 
 

 That’s better, that’s what a brass section should be like – can you work out who is where?

I had a great evening. It’s the friendliest, happiest, partyest, christmassyest pub I have ever been to.

I was moonstompin’ and skankin’. Uptown Top Rankin.

‘Rankin’ fooolstop’.

‘546 was my Number’.

‘Guns of Navaarone’.

Got kissed by three beautiful women and one man. Sadly, only the guy was sober. I seem to have danced with quite a number of people although some of them were only doing so to avoid dancing with the ‘incredible falling down man’ who took his shirt off when perhaps he shouldn’t have. And no, it wasn’t me – I only fall down in private.

I have decided that of all the cool records I have ever heard The Upsetter’s ‘Return of Django’ is the coolest record ever. Until I hear the next coolest record, that is.

Now it’s 1-20pm at night and I’ve just eaten a bacon sandwich, drank a pint of iced coke from my favourite Belgian beer glass (I am trying to be good, really) and my shirt is wringing wet through.

I think The Cancer Drug Fund can count this special night at Mr Bumble as a great success.

What a great night.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

N.B.

I’ve decided to go on another wasted tour  to forget about Monday – tomorrow it’s Modnight!