Friday, 31 January 2014

Flooding at Wraysbury and Staines 2014 2.0

This is the flood alert from The Environment Agency issued at 1830 hrs, then shortly afterwards we then got the second alert to confirm that The River Colne had flooded at Colnebrook.


A Flood Alert has been issued by the Environment Agency for the Colne Brook at Iver and Colnbrook.

Flooding is possible for The Colne Brook at Iver and Colnbrook including Fulmer tonight.

Low lying land and roads will be affected first.

Be prepared to protect yourself, family, pets and property.

River levels have continued to rise on the Colnebrook, following the rainfall this afternoon.

Flooding to low lying land and gardens has been reported in Colnbrook, and our staff are checking the area for any obstructions in the watercourses. Surface water flooding can also be expected in some locations.

The rain is expected to continue through the night, with patchy showers forecast for Saturday.

We shall continue to monitor the situation overnight, and will update this alert in the morning, or if the situation changes.

Subject to how much water escapes into the local area, the rest will move down the watercourses to Wraysbury –  by Saturday lunchtime, I'd guess.

This morning (Friday) I went to Staines; the Floodmarker on The Colne where it meets The Thames was at 2 feet above normal which means there is still quite a long way to go.

Here is the Thames at The Lammas park;

The River bank is by the submerged fence on the left.

And here's the river at Staines.


On the edge of overflowing.
It’s raining now with an Inch and a half due to fall over night. Meanwhile the ground is still saturated from last time. The Thames was moving fast and steadily, heavy with silt,
Confused fish were jumping out of the water to try to work out where they were.

Should be fun!

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
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Missing Al the hat.

Ok, after about a week and a half of wasting time being ill, it’s time to wake up and come alive again because on Saturday night at the Egham and District Social Club, it is time for another appearance by the acclaimed MOD band;


When I heard about the gig back in December, there was no way I was going to be on my feet for February. A month ago I was seeing in the New Year at the same place with the mighty SkaSouls. And now I’m (all being well) going to be back there again.

Friday night is Blues night and a difficult choice. If I’m lucky and can get away in time I’m heading for The Crown, Cowley for ‘The Phoenix Blues band’.

Now these are not necessarily the youngest bluesmen, but then I’m not the youngest either. They come highly recommended and I am really looking forward to a night of hardline blues.

It’s a wrench for me because at the same time I could be catching 'The Weydown Rythym and Blues Band' who will be waking up The Barley Mow in Shepperton.

I saw them last August and they are good. Also they are lucky enough to have the world famous ‘Al The Hat’ on the blues harp.


Well, he's world famous now and I’ll be sad to miss them, especially as they usually play Conservative Clubs in this area, which I am unable to enter for ideological reasons (I would disgrace myself).

It’s a tough choice but then it gets worse, if that is possible.

By Sunday I suspect I won’t be good for much any more and that’s a real shame, because on Sunday afternoon at The Oddfellows pub in Apsley, the fabulous Stanley Dee are playing again.

Their next date is in March and from here that seems a very long way away.

Hmmmmh, choices, choices.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Thursday, 30 January 2014

Have I gone away?

Just in case you thought I’d given up, this Blog is meant to be a health campaign – to sort out St. Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey – which is where the Accident and Emergency  sent me home for a week with a displaced, fractured ankle.

Remember this?



On this Blog there are no Finks, Grasses, Stool pigeons or informers.

If you get in touch, your secrets are safe with me.

Hush, hush.

On the quiet.


What can you do?

If you are a Patient; I need case studies of problems with A and E to force the Care Quality Commission to start an investigation.

E-mail me direct.

If you are employed by the Trust;

It’s time to blow the whistle on A and E.

E-mail me direct – privacy guaranteed.

Or you can Post an anonymous comment.

Anybody Else;

read, share, publicise this blog.


Well there have been developments and things are happening with my own personal complaint.  However, I’m being a bit sly – these days I’m keeping quiet about things on this Blog, but you will be the first to hear when anything has happened.

And I’m sure you will forgive me if I do occasionally take some time off to have a laugh or two.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Steve McQueen.

Another tough day and at the end of it, after all the struggling, fighting through all the aches and pains, the sorting things out and the sheer, hard f@#*ing struggle of it all, I’m sunk back into an armchair.

I’m drinking something warming and Scottish and I’m pretty well stuffed from eating home-made bread straight out of the oven. I got a lot of things done and still remained human (almost) by the end of it all.

And now to annoy everyone who reads this Blog I’m listening to this;

‘Steve McQueen’ by ‘Prefab Sprout’ and I’m basking in memories while the music washes over me.

It’s 1985 and I’m working in a record shop, a dead end job for no money, one of many. There are about 9 of us (remember it was 30 years ago).

Each of us would get to choose the music for the shop by turns, playing either a side of an album or three or four 12 inch singles every three hours. It was about the only real benefit of being there but can you imagine how great it is hearing the selections of 8 people in turn, then putting on yours?

Everyone had different preferences and so every 4 hours I’d be forced to listen to different spells of Heavy Metal or Soul or Pop whatever it was.

‘Steve McQueen’ came from an unlikely person – the white socked soul boy who educated me into ‘Blues and Soul’ and Caister Alldayers.

But this album doesn’t come from there, in fact I’m still not sure where you would place it or where it comes from – it’s not any style I can think of. But it’s good.

Produced by Thomas Dolby – his post punk career had stalled by then and he was making a living as a much sought after producer – his clean, clear, cool sounds give this album an electric atmosphere.

Paddy McAloon later said (I’m not quoting) that this period was one where everything just worked perfectly for him; the writing, the playing – production, everything. It was never to work out like that again. Those times only come once.

All the copies we sold must have had worn out side ones from us playing it. This was the days of vinyl and that side one has to be the best on any record ever made. There aren’t any sides anymore and no ones listening to things they didn’t choose/click on, so no one ever gets forced to listen to anything new or unexpected.

And it’s an adult record – for grownups even if they are only 15 years old.

‘When Love Breaks Down’, ‘Faron Young’ and ‘Bonny’ are all fantastic.

Then there is;


“If you take then put back good

If you steal, be Robin Hood,

If your eyes are wanting all you see

Then I think I’ll name you after me

I think I’ll call you appetite

I think I’ll name you after me

I think I’ll call you appetite”

I remember it all; the records I sold, the amazement of discovering Hip-hop, rap and scratching, exploring the bizarre and exciting material of the ‘no compromise’ output of Factory records.
Exploring Jazz. Trying and failing to get on with classical music.

Dealing with ‘Goldstar’, the main independent Reggae distributor at that time.

Delving in the chaos of records on the floor of the ‘Cartel’ van, the independent record distributor that grew out of ‘Rough Trade Records’, the home of punk and new wave. Which is where my copy of The Buzzcocks’ Boredom E.P. came from.


No record collection should be without this one.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)



Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Wraysbury Flood 2014 - before and after.

Various problems stopped me going out to my jazz club last night, so I matched some pictures of the flood with some shots I took yesterday morning,
This is the view of Wraysbury Splash today;


This is the same view on the 11th January;
And this is someone’s home made Flood Marker. The pink strip is marked out in inches.  You can just make out the middle bollard on the picture above;

At Staines, the River Colne Flood Marker reached 4 Feet 6 inches above normal, this looks about 3 Feet above normal. However in other places around the village it was a lot higher.

This is the Village green flooded out on 11th January, notice the top of the bench poking out of the water;


There's not a lot of cricket being played today and the bench is still a bit damp;



Hopefully, normal service will be resumed shortly.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Monday, 27 January 2014



That’s my January and I’m finding it hard to snap out of it at the moment. Rain, cold, family problems.

Blahdiblah blaah.

Call me an Ambulance!

I’m ready t0 g0 h0me n0w

That was a little something I rustled up to cheer me up as I staggered from blue January to Fighting February.

It ends on 15/2/14 with a trip to The Hobgoblin, Staines (all being well) one of my favourite venues, in time for my clinic on the 17th. That isn’t going to end well.

But on the 15th?  That is going to be good. This is the blurb from No Lip’s website;



Right, lets get this straight. We are playing no frills, straight up honest as you like punk rock. We don't bother with our own stuff it just clouds the issue, the issue being bringing these tunes back to an appreciative audience and not trying to promote our own half assed take on current affairs, we leave that to the Facefuk generation. Why not come along to this show and hear full on, heart felt renditions of PuNk RoCk classics and rarities plus tunes to groove to before and after the blistering live set. So tell everyone you know, whether you like them or not and get down to the clash city rockers that are

no lip"

Did they put this on especially for me? I think they did.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Back to 70's with the Sharpees.



Hey guy’s it’s the;

Call me an Ambulance!

I’m ready t0 g0 h0me n0w T0ur

Day Tw0

It would be hard to beat Stanley Dee in full flight, so I didn’t try on Saturday night – I headed off for The Barley Mow in Shepperton for an easy evening.

Saturdays are normally Rock and Roll – a bit before my time and not, in style terms, me. Tonight however, ‘The Sharpees’ were in town;


offering ‘Maximum Rhythm and Blues’, which I do know something about. The term comes from ‘The Who’, very much a Mod band although this was not Mod night. Rather, British R ‘n B from the early 1970’s, with an extra dose of power and the amplifier turned up to 11.


These days I always have a handy set of earplugs with me, just in case.

As I was up at the front, by one of the speakers I needed them! There were a lot of their own numbers but also some Dr Feelgood and a lot of Rory Gallagher, the late great Irish Rhythm and Bluesman.

They told me that most of their time is spent in France, Holland and Belgium and judging by the size of their tour bus, I can believe it. That was a good rocky night, not my usual thing but a happy nostalgia trip to 1973.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
Home :


Saturday, 25 January 2014

No time is better than now; Stanley Dee at Jagz.

Where have you taken me, Stanley Dee?

This is not my normal venue – it’s Jagz and it's in the richest part of the country and has an audience to match. You just might find ‘The Charley with the lotion and the kinky hair’ up by the bar but they probably don't have 'Da coco shell' which is so essential for a good night out.

Let’s face it, I’ve been thrown out of worse places.

The thing is, I came for the music, not for dinner and as a result I and some of the other Dan’s got sent right up to the front of the hall like a punishment (as if!).  

When I came in the staff took one look at me (are you Harris?) and I was warned ; "I'm afraid it's right by the dance floor".  So I got a great sound, ringside seats, a candle on the table and ended up right by the dance floor. You know what's coming - they made me do it.

I tried to get out but they pulled me back in.

Then I got my calculator out; if one of the vocalists was ill but there’s an extra tenor saxophone that still makes ten. Is it possible they are going to be 11 now? Ten was crazy enough but…….?

When the band started I was still laughing about the conversation I’d had with the staff when I came into the hall and I never really stopped smiling. And strictly no William Burroughs, I was on my best behaviour.


If that made for a quiet first half, I have special thanks for ‘Midnight Cruiser’ (No time is better than now) and ‘Dr Wu’.

Then for the second half all the groovers in the ringside seats woke up and there was dancing. It was a whole lot of fun and that’s what Stanley Dee bring to all that serious and challenging stuff.

I’ve had this heretical thought – you have the brightest, tightest, really competent band with the unheard of luxury of such big brass and vocal sections. Just suppose Walter Becker and Donald Fagen weren’t looking for a moment and the Dee’s were able to play truant now and again.

What a great jazz/funk band this would be. What about soul? I know, I know, I’m getting all nostalgic about 'Working Week' and that whole 1980's soul/jazz groove. Must stop that.  But there are a whole lot of possibilities.

Neil Harris

(a don't stop till you drop production)



And finally, a word from my sponsor;


Cancer Drug Fund


Friday, 24 January 2014

Hold on, we are off!

I’m not waiting for February;


 January, sick and tired, you've been hanging on me

 You make me sad with your eyes

 You're telling me lies

 Don't go, don't go


 January, don't be cold, don't be angry to me

 You make me sad come and see

 Oh January

 Don't go, don't go


I can’t remember which band sung that old one but it captures the ambiguity I feel about this month. I can’t stand it but I really don’t want it to end.

So I’m starting another ‘tour’ to cheer myself up;


Hey guy’s it’s the;

Call me an Ambulance!

I’m ready t0 g0 h0me n0w T0ur

And in case this is new to you, it means I’ll be embarking on a rampage through the world of live music (at least, local to me that is).

Starting tomorrow with Stanley Dee and ending on the 15th of February at The Hob (The Hobgoblin, Staines) where the wild and raucus ‘No Lip’, a ruff, tuff and dangerous punk band will be blasting out over their home turf. If you search on Youtube or on the bands own website you can hear their versions of The Clash, The Ruts and The Damned. Did someone set that up for me specially?

On the way will be ‘Lord John’ at The Egham and District Social Club giving the classic 1960’s Mod bands a workout, making a nod to the 1970’s and The Jam and another one to Blur and Oasis. Parklife -WOW!

Then, if I can fit them in there are ‘The Highs’ with their excellent homage to the 1960’s greats and possibly even ‘The Sounds of the Suburbs’ who play a range of Punk leaning towards New Wave. ‘The Members’ were another local band, famous for their 1978 number ‘The Sound of the Suburbs’. Believe it or not, they are appearing at ‘The Horns’ in Watford in the near future.

There’ll be Jazz and the blues (remember ‘Al the Hat’ on blues harp?). How good can it get?

Hold on tight.

This is not for those faint of heart or squeamish, this is my;

Call me an Ambulance!

I’m ready t0 g0 h0me n0w T0ur


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Thursday, 23 January 2014

With a strong beat.

I don’t know if it’s getting old or getting ill but these days I like my Jazz pared down to the very minimum. Life? That’s different, cram it all in, go on push it down and get some more in.

I’ve been  quite ill for a couple of weeks (and that is not good) and then for no reason this morning I felt OK, and that’s despite a very early wake up from my Mum’s carer.
That means don't waste this special day.
After breakfast I got the urge to bake bread again. I set off the yeast, got all the stuff out and sorted and then when the dough was proving (pretty in control, hey?) I went for a long walk.

That was when it all went a bit wrong – thick, thick mud (6 inches) loads of water, and one gravel pit overflowing into another. Strangely the water appeared to be flowing up a gradient away from the river rather than down to it. I got very messy, very wet but then I am only 11 years old.

I handed out carrots to my friends the wild horses and then had to come home a different but longer way to avoid the slush. Exhausted, I was covered in mud.

Then it was time for some serious baking. Between the two of us we scoffed nearly a whole loaf of bread, it was that nice.

In the evening, I snuck out and headed for The Barley Mow in Shepperton to catch 'Holly’s Trio'.


Holly I’ve seen before, filling in for Sunset Boulevard’s keyboards player.


 This was a trio, and as anyone who knows me knows – if there’s a quintet I always wish it was a quartet, a quartet and I wish it was a trio. So it was my kind of evening.
This was Jazz with a lot of blues and swing, played fast time. I swear there was a little stride somewhere there too. Best of all they played ‘Moanin’ by Miles Davis. Man that was good, played with a strong beat.

Lasagne and fresh, fresh bread. Mmmmmh, delicious.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Needle Exchange

I must admit I was behaving badly yesterday on my journey to and from Charing Cross Hospital. This is my Sharps bin;


It’s for storing used needles and when I go up to hospital to get another batch of drugs I take the full bin with me for disposal, before I pick up a new one.

I always resist the idea that I should hide it away as though it’s something to be ashamed of – I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. So on the train it’s there in full view; big and bright and yellow.

Because of the hospital you pass a few staff – they look at you, quite honestly.
But otherwise it's looks of horror. There are people who look away in embarrassment. There are people who are just plain scared.

I’m forcing people to confront their prejudices.

Or perhaps I'm just scaring people on the Underground. But what is there to be scared about?



Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Another Fighting February? Bring it on.

It’s that time again – ‘Fighting February’. At least that’s what it was last year.

The last ‘good’ medication had just failed, I was about to start a real pig of a pill which pushed me into treacleworld, where everything took three times as long as it should have done. It only worked for ten months anyway. I had cosmetic radiation therapy and family problems that made everything else look trivial.

I came out fighting and had a fantastic year. Did some really great things.

Now it’s all different but February is going to be a fight this year as well.

Yesterday (it’s midnight now) I went to Charing Cross for my clinic. My medication is complicated but I had to wait two hours at Lloyds Pharmacy (this private company has taken over from the old NHS pharmacy) slowly dying.

I got out in time for the rush hour and stood all the way back in the tube, staggered to my car and then got stuck in the rush hour traffic. I got home at 7-20 pm. I left at 1-00pm.


I had something to eat and slumped in front of the TV watching rubbish when I should have been clearing up or doing something that mattered.

All I can say is that January still sucks.

Floods, ill, no music, no brain, hospital everyday (if it’s not one it’s another), social workers and now it’s foggy.

So come on Fighting February do your worst!

I’ve got plans – you will be surprised.

I’m up for it.


Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Monday, 20 January 2014

Thank you, Jubilee Ward, Upton Hospital, Slough.

I didn’t know that anything could ever be as hard as that. For that matter, I didn’t think that anything that wasn’t illegal could raise my blood pressure so much.

I’ve been icing my cake, baking the thing yesterday was hard enough but the icing…...

The kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it and vaporised everything into fine white powder. And tonight I was meant to be cleaning up ready for the arrival of the massed ranks of carers, social workers and occupational therapists who are due to bring my mum back home on Tuesday.

Who’s stoopid idea was it to bake a cake anyway?

The cake is for the care assistants, nurses, sisters, occupational therapists and physiotherapists at Upton Hospital, Slough who took in my 94 year old Mum five weeks ago after she was very badly treated by Wexham Park Hospital. Then they started the long process of trying to put her back together again.

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to do the washing, cook a Bolognese, and a whole load of other things at the same time.
I finished the lettering at 1130 pm.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Blue January

I decided to try to spend my way out of the January blues – buying things I don’t need and as you would expect from me, we are talking big money here.

First of all, I bought a ‘Lonsdale’ sweatshirt. Obviously, it’s my kind of brand even if in recent years they have become a bit brash for my taste. Luckily this charity shop number came from their golden period (sadly not their really golden period of the 60’s and 70’s that would be asking too much) but still before they discovered fluorescent day-glow and oversized branding. As I handed over my £4, I discovered there was a sale on – 50% 0ff.


The second charity shop I tried turned out to have had a wave of Jazz donations. Wow, who’d have known I was going to be walking by just then?

I bought ‘Alone Together’, a CD by Lee Konitz, a brilliant saxophonist from the golden era of modern jazz. He was the origin of ‘Cool Jazz’, as opposed to Charlie Parker’s more frantic version of modern jazz. Konitz also played on ‘The Birth of The Cool’ sessions with Miles Davis.

It was on ‘Blue note’ records, and anything they issued was always great until the mid 1970’s.

Even if this was released in 1997 – well past their prime and also just a little past Lee’s - what the heck I took a chance on it.

When I put it on, it sang.

This was just Lee, piano and bass (no drums), just jazz distilled down to its pure essence and recorded in a venue not a studio, so it had feeling as well.

Konitz was at an age where he had nothing to prove any more but wasn’t about to give up on it just yet. He was old enough, tired enough, and wise enough to understate it all.

Pared down to the minimum, pure cool at £1-50p

Then I couldn’t resist a double CD; ‘Brother Jack McDuff – The Concorde years’.

This was a ‘best of’, by a man I’d never heard of. I was caught because this was definitely Jazz at the crossroads where the signpost reads out four great destinations; ‘Jazz, Funk, Soul and Blues’.

Even better, Brother Jack, whoever he is/was/maybe, played the mighty Hammond organ. And as you must know by now, I am prepared to travel a long way for a little of what Mr Hammond sells.


It was so good I had to stop the car to listen to it.


I thought I’d never get home.


I gottem.

Do I care?

Well, maybe.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)