Friday, 28 February 2014

Our place in the universe.



This stunning NASA picture is taken from the surface of Mars, looking back at the Earth, our home.

If you put a finger in the middle of the top of the picture, another finger in the middle of the side - move them together so you get dead centre of the picture.

Then work from the dead centre towards the top left corner, and at about halfway (11 o'clock) you will see a small white dot. That's the Earth and the Moon shining in the sunlight of an early Martian morning.

Not such a big deal, are we?

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

Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Still family problems - hopefully to be sorted out soon, adventures are calling.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Having a chat.



Spring flowers are popular so I've posted this - they are Téte á Téte narcissi, having a chat in the sun.

Spring is still a long way away, these flowers poke up early to get in before the real spring arrives.

Meanwhile my domestic crisis gets worse, so normal service is still postponed.

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

Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
Contact: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Spring in the air?

 
 
 


If you've read this Blog for any length of time, you'll have guessed that I've been having problems (family problems) for a while. Normal service to be resumed shortly.

Meanwhile, this is our front garden - my present to you.

It's not spring yet, but it's in the air and I am thirsting for it.

Neil Harris

(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home:   helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact:   neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

100 years and nothing learnt.


It’s the hundredth anniversary of the First World War (what kind of monster called it ‘The Great War’?).
I’ve been getting increasingly annoyed by assorted Imperialists and war mongers who have been glorifying and celebrating this tragedy which murdered so many and ultimately gave us the second world war as well.

I don’t think I am anymore capable of writing the kind of historical critique that such a wasteful and pointless expression of mass murder needs– I have battles of my own to fight.

But occasionally I may publish some of the songs and poetry and a few biographies from that time just to show that there was another way of looking at things.

  

Suicide in the Trenches (1917)

 

I knew a simple soldier boy

Who grinned at life in empty joy,

Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,

And whistled early with the lark.

 

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,

With crumps and lice and lack of rum,

He put a bullet through his brain.

No one spoke of him again.

 

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you'll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go.

 
Siegfried Sassoon

 
Neil Harris

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

Contact:   neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 24 February 2014

Wraysbury, cold and bright.


       Saturday morning in Wraysbury, cold and bright




It's a perfect morning to take out your pony and trap. I don't know who this is, or anything about him.

But some of the people who ride these traps are travellers who have lived in this village as long as I have - and that's a long time.

This is an important part of their culture and they are rightly proud of it.

Neil Harris

(a don't stop till you drop production)

Home:  helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com



Sunday, 23 February 2014

When the drugs don't work anymore at The Hob; Truth About Vegas, The Harriots and Loose Lips.


I need to stop going to The Hobgoblin, this is now the third classic Saturday night in a straight row. It can’t go on, I’m riding my luck.

Tonight?

I’ve found myself in the land of Skinny Jeans and Skinny Kids - this is indieworld.

It was a night of pure ‘Power Pop’ – of course they aren’t going to like me saying that because all three bands would describe themselves as ‘Power punk’.

You’ll have to forgive this old punk for being a pain. Think ‘The Skids’, ‘The Motors’; think ‘New Wave’ in general but with some gravel thrown in.

 

Truth about Vegas

 
That’s Joe Sharman, Jack Gee, Sean Bowen and Jacob Howell and they are very local – Walton. They describe themselves as:

 “a young, new and exciting band on the London music scene. Fusing pop punk with their distinctively energetic, yet melodic, guitar driven sound they captivate any audience they play to”.

And that’s about right – it was thoughtful, clever stuff (all their own) played well with bursts of really hard power.

 

At the time I was being the local drunk magnet – attracting all the slurring, wobbling incoherents of Staines to came over and talk into me. It’s a gift I have.

Also there was Vegas’s biggest ever fan shouting in my ear about how good they were and then demanding that they play ‘Rock and Roll’.

They did and in fact, at the end of a hectic 7 day national tour, they were back on their home ground and to be fair, they were good.


Loose Lips

Loose Lips are from Brighton and this is how they describe themselves;

“Brighton has been churning out great bands throughout music history, it must be the sea air, and now is no different. Welcome Loose Lips....

Consisting of Jason Barker (Lead Vocals and Guitar), Ben Moore (Vocals and Bass) and Sam Perkins (Vocals and Drums), Loose Lips are on the brink of breaking the music mould and its easy to see why. With the cheek and confidence to make you sit up and listen, then with the musical talent to back it all up Loose Lips are a force to be reckoned with.

After phenomenal response back from their debut EP release 'Cloud Your Thoughts' the band are arguable one of the busiest groups out there. With countless supporting shows to the likes of Futures and Don Broco also playing festivals throughout the summer such as Redfest.

Loose Lips are a refreshing change to the watered down cordial music that pollutes our charts today.”

 

They put themselves in the “Punk Indie Rock” box.

Me?

 
I’d say less pop more gravel. Lots of power, plenty of aggression. Lots of fun.

 

  The Harriots

 
The Harriots are a four piece band from Feltham and according to them they have a;

“a sparkling energy that is missing from so many other bands around today. They are here to prove that there is still a beating heart in Rock and Roll with a set of songs, massive self-confidence and a youthful exuberance that no band over the past few years can match. The band's influences take in the best from British guitar music from The... Who through to The Jam and all the way up to Oasis and Arctic Monkeys. The band blend these influences to come up with hugely catchy sing-along tunes with what can be described as a very 'London' sound.”

I enjoyed them a lot – lots of power, lots of energy – and then when their amplifier failed we had bit of a sing-along to some classic covers.

Except that for me it was becoming quite an emotional night – several people said hallo including someone who came up to say how I’d done some ‘work’ for her Dad, which was very nice- I was in a little piece of Feltham in Staines, that little grain of sand in the oyster.


Then, while the frantic attempts to save the amp were failing, someone from the crowd joined the band
 

 
to sing  Richard Ashcroft’s (The Verve) ‘When the drugs don’t work anymore’, which was not necessarily an anthem to drug excess but a poignant song about watching his dad, dying from cancer.

“Now the drugs don't work

 They just make you worse”

So, all in all that was a very special night for me down at the Hob.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)   

Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Clearing up after Wraysbury flood.

I thought I’d take a walk around the flood area to see how the cleanup is going. On Ouseley Road most of the houses are now clear of water although not all;


 There are houses with pipes coming out of their windows, throwing water into the gutters. Here you can see the scale of the battle the residents were fighting;

 

Some flooded houses like this one were on the left side of the road (downstream), most were on the right. More modern houses are raised up, the older ones like ours are low lying and at greater risk


 
These are the fire brigade pumps, going 24 hours a day. There are fire trucks from all over the country;


These come from Tyne and Wear and Humberside and we are very grateful to them for coming down. The other day I posted a picture of a fire engine from Derbyshire. I suspect they have been taking it in turns to come down to help us for a few days before they are relieved by another area.

Next time someone like the Mayor of London wants to make more cuts to the fire service, remember that when you need them they won’t be there.

There are removal vans taking people away – there’s a woman sat on her doorstep talking on her mobile as her belongings are being loaded into a lorry. There are lorries coming to pump sewage. There are two vans from a company that offers de-humidifiers. There are three loss adjusters, looking for business. There is a police presence to stop looting and everywhere the sound of those pumps working.

I think tomorrow I’ll put up some before and after pictures.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Home: helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com
contact: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com
 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Blue Thursday.


Thursday night which is when I should have been up in town supporting comrades at a meeting, saw me stuck at home instead. Miserable.

By the time I’d got everything sorted out and in spite of being ill, I headed to The Riverside Club in Staines for a special night of the Blues – fitting really.
 

 This is the legendary ‘Papa George’ and the equally legendary Mickey Moody – here Mickey (on the right) is playing a mean slide guitar.

It was a very full house, not least because George’s fairly slow, thoughtful blues is popular but also because this was a special night to thank the flood volunteers and anyone from the services who helped.

 
This is George on the steel guitar – he also had a classic steel’un which wasn’t shiny like this one.

It was classic blues too, played brilliantly and understated; John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson – you know the kind of thing. But also there was J.J.Cale and Tom Waits and some Peter Green - a good mix for my blue Thursday.

Friday and the sun is shining. For old times sake I’m going to go round taking some pictures of the retreating waters.

Neil Harris

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

Contact; neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Thursday, 20 February 2014

14000!


14000
Thanks
 
Thank you for ticking up 14000 page views for this little Blog.

Some thousands, like this one have been easy because so many people checked out the flood pictures. Normally it’s a painful struggle.

Here is why I do it – this is one of my poster’s from early 2013. That was such a tough spring for me – I was ill, medication failing fast, being a carer and running a campaign. In fact I didn’t realise it at the time but I was a lot rougher and tougher then than I am now.

As I discovered later, it was a ‘consultant’, who was incompetent, not a junior Doctor.

St. Peter’s Accident and Emergency has recently appointed one more consultant but it’s still understaffed.

The Blog Battles on!

   I need your help!

I’ve started a campaign to improve the level of staffing and competence at the Accident and Emergency department at St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey.

I had a bad experience and I fear this is being repeated – people are at risk.

    Check out my Blog; 2000 hits and still hitting!

Helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

I had a blackout in the summer – I have cancer and these things happen. In fact, I’d broken my ankle but when the ambulance got me to St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, the doctors were young and inexperienced; it was august bank holiday and there was no one for them to ask. I was sent home with treatment for a sprain.

When I went back for my appointment a week later it was a real emergency – an untreated displaced fracture. I spent 6 days in hospital and needed two operations. I was very lucky; the orthopaedics/trauma team’s hard work saved my leg.

Now, I’m rough and tough and I was just about able to cope. If you’re 80 years old and frail you can’t. St Peter’s is sending people home without proper treatment and some are going home to die

       There are only 4 Accident and Emergency consultants for 90,000 patients a year.

       Operations, holidays and sickness mean that 4 consultants are not enough; sometimes a junior just won’t do.

       Last year complaints against A and E rose by 23%.

       We need at least 10 consultants and a commitment to give us proper cover, 24/7.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)
 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Flares and Fusion.


Monday night at The Red Lion, Isleworth and it wasn’t really my night even though Jimmy Hastings is a fine saxophonist who also throws in the flute every so often.

 

It’s just that 1970’s fusion isn’t my thing and 70’s jazz isn’t my era. There was a lot of Chick Corea and if there wasn't any Weather Report, it was in the air that night.
The flute does always brings back memories of the recently departed Gil Scott Heron who did shine out at that time.

Trevor Tomkins clearly likes the period as well, judging by the workout his drums were getting and I was in a minority of one amongst the crowd.

Today, I was having a quick look at the minutes of the January meeting of the governors of Ashford and St. Peter’s NHS hospital Trust and under the heading of ‘Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, there appeared to be a request for information back in December relating to Accident and Emergency.
I wonder who that relates to? Perhaps we will see later.

Neil Harris

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

Contact: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Thanks Sid.


This is for Sid, who made me laugh on a bad day.

I’d been to Charing Cross Hospital where I got some good news and should have been happy about it but to be honest I was tired out, facing a long journey home and fed up with battling Lloyds Pharmacy who have taken over the hospitals chemist in a privatisation. And it’s got worse since they did.

On the way home at the Hammersmith end of the Fulham Palace Road, I just had to take a photo of Sid's shop window.

Sid’s a traditional cobbler, repairing shoes, cutting keys and supplying trophies for a school competitions, Sunday league football, the dart’s competition or whatever.

So what has he got in his shop window?

 

 Of course it’s a full sized replica of the F.A.Cup and best of all – the European Cup. It’s the best trophy cabinet in London.
 
When Sid caught me taking the photo I went in to explain – and both of us were laughing about it.

Now you know where to get your shoes sorted on the Fulham Palace Road.

Neil Harris

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

Contact:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Monday, 17 February 2014

Scrummy


Anyway, on Friday I left you a mystery. I made a homemade Pizza from scratch and it cost about £3-00 less than if I’d bought a similar one readymade.

What did I buy with the money I saved?
 
 

That’s right, we had caviar. Although it’s fair to say that no noble sturgeon was hurt in the process. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the poor old common Lumpfish.

£2-48p in Tesco’s.

Scrummy.

Neil Harris

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

Sunday, 16 February 2014

No Lip at The Hobgoblin.


NO LIP

1977 AND WE ARE GOING MAD..

                                              
 

Or actually is it The Hobgoblin 2014?

 

It really is 2014 but you’ll have to forgive me time travelling for a while.

 

 The Ruts; we f#ing love them

 

Its 1978, the second Rock Against Racism Carnival and I’m hanging back by the side of a broken down flat bed truck talking to Tom Robinson. It’s the middle of nowhere and the band that should be playing on the back of the truck are fighting their ancient equipment and losing the struggle.

But the growing crowd isn’t going to move on when they are told to because this is an early outing for The Ruts and whenever they get it together they are absolutely f#ing amazing. The Police really do not like it. There is a stand off until the truck splutters into life again and the band power up to play- In a Rut.

 

Cut to spring 1978 and I’m lying in a hospital bed with a broken elbow. I’m supposed to be in Southall in what ends up being the Southall riot. In fact it’s a Police Riot and The Ruts are one of the targets.

I should have been with friends in the People Unite Squat. This was the home of the famous People Unite Records collective and a thorn in the side of the local council and the nearby police station. Locally, they were a threat to the state and when the chance came, the Special Patrol Group took it and went in and smashed up all the studio equipment and the people inside. Misty in Roots got particular attention, every drum, every guitar smashed. As was all The Ruts stuff. Within weeks the council had levelled the building.

At that time Southall was white working class and Asian working class and that day they came together to defend their town. Since then the town has changed and it’s become a middle class, money making place.

But if you walk a few minutes away from the police station towards Ealing you will see the brass plaque on the pavement that the local Sikh community placed to commemorate the People Unite Collective and the contribution that The Ruts and Misty in Roots made to the town.

Did No Lip really play H-eyes? I haven’t heard that for 35 years.

Clash City Rockers


 

It’s Christmas week 1978 and I’m in The Lyceum on the Strand. I’m standing next to Don Letts (DJ from The Roxy Club) who has somehow begged, borrowed, stolen or found a movie camera and some film. It doesn’t really look like he knows what he’s doing. We’ve never met before but we are looking at each other in amazement. The Clash are better than we have ever seen them before.

 
 
There’s gonna be a Borstal Breakout.

Jimmy Pursey was another threat April 1978 and it’s the first Rock Against Racism Carnival in Victoria Park.

X-Ray Specs, Tom Robinson Band, Steel Pulse and The Clash; how’s that for a lineup?

And when The Clash come on there is Jimmy Pursey with them on guest vocals. After that I saw Sham 69 many times, and also after that, when the far right found that they couldn’t manipulate Pursey, every time they played there was always going to be a fight. I can’t speak highly enough of Jimmy Pursey’s courage in those days. Not a man to give in to anyone.

NO LIP

Uncompromising, no messing, no surrender.


This is how they describe themselves;

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+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"
 

 
 And thats about right.

They played a couple of Sex pistols tracks which is fine but for most of us, the art school punks and the Bromley contingent were a million miles away from where we were.

The Clash, The Ruts, The Angelic Upstarts, Sham 69, The Damned.

Pure Mayhem, Pure Punk.

I don’t care who you are or where you are.

No Lip are playing The North Star, May 31st.

You better be there.

 

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Home:  helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact:  neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com

Photos: you can click on a photo and get a slideshow which is a little better quality.

Swear words; it may not seem like it but this is meant to be a health campaign - if I don't # them out my Blog gets excluded from many searches. IRL I have been known to swear.

Punks; My thanks to all the Punks at the Hob for giving me such a special night to remember, you have no idea what it meant to me.
 

The Morgellons at The Hobgoblin.






     The Morgellons

Saturday night at the Hobgoblin, Staines and these are The Morgellons, a good nu-punk band, playing all their own stuff.

 
If they’d been headlining it would have been a good night.

 

There is, of course, a ‘but’ coming and that’s ‘No Lip’. I’ll post that this afternoon.

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

Saturday Night with No Lip at the Hobgoblin.

 
 
 
 
 


It's one o'clock in the morning, I've taken 49 photos and even with my £12-99p charity shop camera they are good enough. Some are even good. I was tempted just to post them and nothing else.

Meanwhile, my head has exploded with thinking about 1977 so I'm going to leave off doing the review until tomorrow.
And no, that's not where I spent the £3 I saved by making a homemade Pizza.

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

Home:    helpmesortoutstpeters.blogspot.com

Contact: neilwithpromisestokeep@gmail.com


Saturday, 15 February 2014

Pizzaman.


If I’m lucky this is how my tour ends tomorrow;

p

Hey guys its the;

Call me an Ambulance!

I’m ready t0 g0 h0me n0w T0ur

Day Eight

Stanley Dee                                                                     The Sharpees

The Phoenix Blues band                                                Lord John

Trevor Tomkins Quintet                                                Groove Manoova

Mocara                                                                             Tree House Fire

Captain Accident and the Disasters                             Morgellons                                                                      

No Lip

It didn’t go according to plan but perhaps that’s just as well.

The whole point of having a tour is to cram in as much fun as possible before the inevitable return to the Oncology Clinic and the equally inevitable bad news.

At the end of one glorious tour, I was so knackered that I fell asleep in the waiting room and had to be woken up by a rather irritated Dr Feelgood.

I’ve marked that up as a victory for The Cancer Cru.

This time, first the flood intervened and then kindly Dr Feelgood actually rang me up herself to tell me the result of my test early (unexpectedly good) which rather took the sting out of Monday.

Which also means I have a month or so I didn’t expect to have.

So what did I do today as the rain fell and fell on sodden ground?

 
 

I made Pizza, here it is steaming as it came out of the oven;
 
 
 What happened next?



 


Oops.

Anyway I’m going to leave you with a mystery.

My home made pizza cost me about £3 less than if I’d bought a ready made one from the supermarket.

What did I spend the money I saved on? I bet you can't guess.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Friday, 14 February 2014

Show's over, folks.


Mjgcf

Now the water levels are on the turn and no one died; the politicians have discarded their designer wellingtons, the press have moved on to the next disaster, the snappers have packed away their cameras and laptops, the satellite dishes have been dismantled and the press vans have moved on. Even the sightseers have all gone back home.

For a few days this place was the centre of the country. Front page news in all the papers, number one on the TV news. Even this Blog got a share of interest.

I’ve got a small collection of photos which document what happened. I hope I’ve been able to highlight the many acts of kindness the flood produced.

For example, my Mum needs carers twice a day. During the flood they were unable to come several times and on a number of occasions I sorted things out myself and we cancelled them to help out.

I was talking to a carer last night from the Windsor and Maidenhead Short Term Support and Rehabilitation Team. After a long shift at work, doing a difficult job, she and a number of colleagues volunteered to help out in their spare time. They visited vulnerable people in the flooded areas, going to houses by boat to help evacuations or support those who wanted to stay on.

Countless locals volunteered in the days before the politicians were shamed into helping; working non-stop for 48 hours until help eventually came.

Now the waters are retreating we’ve got a breathing space until it rains again and this Blog can go back to just being a health campaign. Things have been happening there but because people from the hospital check up on us, I’ll blog about that later.

Except that I do take time out to have a laugh or two, while I can.

The No Lips poster? That came from The Clash’s second single; ‘Complete Control’, an attack on CBS records and produced by the great Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry who was in London in 1977 to produce for Bob Marley. Great days.

PUNK

I’m going to review the gig on Saturday but it’s not going to be easy; I’ve not been able to write about Punk since I started this Blog. It’s too important to me, too raw even after 30 odd years.

It will be a real contrast; Morgellons play their own stuff, which is something I think all bands should attempt to do. No Lip are uncompromising – they want to play Punk covers and nothing else keeping it rough and raw.

It’s full of possibilities or…..not.

We’ll see how that pans out and whether I can do it justice. And whether I’m up to it…..oh yeah no doubt about that.

punk

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)