Monday, 31 March 2014

BRD, T and the Mugs and Dead Neck; Punk Night at The Hobgoblin.


I’ve been warned about wallowing in nostalgia on this Blog and normally I go to The Hob to avoid it. This was three faces of Punk all on one night - no escape;

Punk died in 78 or perhaps even earlier, when The Clash signed that contract with CBS. I was at the funeral.

Imagine how surprised I was to find that in fact, Punk caught a plane to the U.S. and its been living out there all this time as a West Coast surfer dude. Who knew?

Then it came back for a trip over just to laugh at all us old men – Hey! Look what it came with; new clothes, a suntan and a surfboard. Is that a teeth job and a new accent? I’m all envious.

This is the angry face of ‘T and the Mugs’ – this is me looking in the mirror;


Their numbers included ‘It’s Bullshit’ and a song in praise of the sawn-off shotgun. Well, it is punk after all and this was all their own stuff, in-your-face-up-for-it punk rock. Who do you know like that?

Why is it that only old men get angry these days? Because it's only old men like me who remember that there is no reason why the world can't be made a better place and we don't understand why nobody else wants to try.

This is ‘Dead Neck’.

Loud and furious but not quite so angry.


But still a bit angry.


This is BRD and it's the full west coast skatepunk thing;

Happy, good time music. Loud and punky but with harmonies and music in there. I had fun and nothing wrong with that - Yo Dude!
OK I'm being spikey because they did a really great version of 'New England' - speeded up tripple time, but then they went and made me feel as old as I am by asking "Does anyone here know Billy Bragg?"

Do you want to know how the 'New England' ep proved to me that the pop charts were fixed and how it was that when I tried to fix them for Billy's next single it turned out that the fix was so big that even I couldn't beat it?


I don't know why I bother.
Spot Paul the Sound engineer (second left) playing a mean Bass.
Click on any picture for a slide show and a bit better quality.
Yo dude! SK8!
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production) 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Golden Ticket.

Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket

I feel slightly guilty. Actually not very guilty at all.

I delayed posting this until I got my ticket to the Rockgoblin on the 19th April 2014.
It's hidden in my pocket.
Hands off. Get your own.

That’s right – 7 bands and three D.J.’s from 5pm to 3am. Not sure I’m going to last the whole time.

Then again I may make it, take a look at the lineup for:  

Hits of the Hob

‘The Carnaby’s’ who I have never seen before and I can’t quite believe I’ve got this chance. I am going to like them.
A lot.

‘Tree House Fire’ who play reggae, but not as I know it. I’m guessing that somewhere there is a category called ‘Nu-reggae’ or something similar – well this is it.

UKID – playing Drum ’n Bass with some rockin’ metal thrown in. I will leave a defibrillator with security.
Just in case.

44 Fires –  Heavy metal with attitude

Actually, I’m rather looking forward to the Reggae and Ska D.J’s as well. It’s time I frightened the young folk.
Then you need to look at this on the Friday:

It’s also the last date on my tour. More news on that in a couple of days;

ZFive Alive
So, couldn’t have planned that better.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


A surfeit of banjos.

In which I am embarrassed by a surfeit of banjo’s, confronted by a pink cowboy hat, and have my own hat stolen (again) but in overcoming  this series of  frightening misadventures have a rather good evening.

I went down to The Riverside Club for a night of Bluegrass. I have no idea what I was thinking of. With the exception of The Dixey Chicks, I can’t stand Country music. Now I think about it, The Dixey Chicks don’t even count as Country. Heck, in some Southern states listening to the Dixie Chicks is liable to get you run out of town.

I have a problem with banjos anyway. My only excuse is that I’ve been ill, got depressed and there was nothing  else to do. My 'tour' has got off to a slow start but I'm hoping there will be some news, soon. 

When I got in the club I was feeling bad about the whole thing anyway. As I came in through the door, I saw a group of about 30 banjo players sitting in a circle strumming (I think they call it pickin’ – whatever). There were some embarrassed relatives watching  from across the way and a lady in a large pink cowboy hat with a fur trim.

I lasted for 30 seconds – long enough to shake hands with the legendary Bob, take my hat off, look around aimlessly for somewhere to hang it and then…..I ran away.

At least I’ve learnt that Aversion Therapy doesn’t work.

So now I'm standing on the street feeling foolish. I drove off to the Barley Mow in Shepperton where Friday night is usually a little bluesy. It was;

This is ’20 yards Behind’ and when they came on they started with an in your face version of ‘The Blues had a baby and they called it Rock ‘n roll’ and then followed it up a rousing version of Dr Feelgood’s ‘Down by the Jetty’ taken from their first album.

That’s the one with the black and white photo’s and the sound in uncompromising mono.

Wilco Johnson, battling pancreatic cancer, is alive and still kicking, with an album high in the charts and a single riding high as I write this.

This was high quality, hardline rhythm and blues, all shaded up and ready for action;


“Its 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a tankful of gas and half a pack of cigarettes. It’s dark and we’re wearing shades - Hit it!”

My only worry throughout the evening was the accordion on the floor - I kept thinking of those banjos. Luckily whenever Rick Mills picked it up the feedback was so ferocious he couldn’t play it.

That meant a lot more of this;

And when we were very lucky some of this;

There was Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and with “I can’t get no Grinding” - Muddy Waters.

My highlight?  That would have to be; ‘There’s a Riot goin’ on down in Cell Block No.9’. Now that could have been Elvis but I don't think so - from the way it was played it sounded to me like the fabulous centre piece of any Dr Feelgood live set.

I’m catching them again, if I can.

And then when I came to leave I found my hat had been stolen. A quick hunt around and I came up with a rather large gent wearing my hat - at least a foot taller than me and probably the same wider.

Got the hat back. Good night that.
Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Exclusive: David Cameron's secret election strategy.

No, I won't be at the 'Con' club as it is known locally. Next year is election time and this is Cameron's only hope of getting re-elected.
All I can say is DON'T STARE!

If it's been a bit dull here recently (it has), perhaps a little too introspective (maybe).

Well, things are going to heat up soon - I hope.
There will be news about next weekend and the one after.

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


Friday, 28 March 2014

To the Max!

Move on


That’s what they want me to do – it’s been 18 months since St. Peter’s Accident and Emergency sent me home with a displaced, broken ankle. That’s where the break is out of alignment and you are at risk of losing your leg if the blood supply gets cut off.


‘The Ankle Rankle’


I’ve got a problem

and it’s really starting to rankle.

You see, I hurt my leg

in fact, I broke my ankle.


The problem was my mistake

Oh what would that be?

The ambulance took my break

to St. Peter’s A and E.


Because instead of trying

to fix it there and then.

Some idiot, what was he was doing?

Sent me home again.


You can mess up a finger

You can bugger up a wrist

but only a consultant at St. Peter’s

would think a break was a twist.


When I went back a week later, I needed two operations to put right their mistake. After the first one, where they realigned the break, I didn’t sleep all night, I was trying to get out of bed so that I could get to A and E to sort them out. Bad ankle, flappy gown and crutches – no problem.

The nurses had a job on their hands persuading me over the next 6 days that it would be better to make a complaint and do things the ‘right’ way.

They meant well but they were wrong.

If I’d managed to give the consultant at A and E a good seeing too (while on crutches and a little light headed post–op) that would have been that. And the police would have had quite a job processing me and getting me to court.

But now, after 18 months of doing things the right way, I haven’t got very far.

I’m more than a little annoyed.

Here’s how I got rid of some of the anger this week after I learnt that I’d exhausted the ‘right’ ways of complaining.

Tuesday morning I decided that it was time to take my Mum’s old carpet to the dump. This is the ragged old room-sized rug that was bigger than me, rolled up. I know, I rolled the thing up.

This is me (bad back, ankle, knees and various other body parts gone), with a walking stick and another pair of big bad boots.

I never said that any part of this was going to be clever.

I got the rug into my tiny car. It really was as big as I am, but cleverer.

I got to the dump.

These days, it’s a recycling centre. Everything is segregated. In the case of old carpets, that means dragging it up a steel staircase and then humping it over the lip of a giant skip, which is the size of a bus. I wasn’t doing so well.

Did I mention that I’m not well?

After quite a lot of huffing and puffing, I was halfway up the stairs when a passing Good Samaritan came forward to help.

We each took an end, me at the front and him down below at the back.

I was fine, but at the top of the stairs, my Good Samaritan began to look more than a little grey around the gills and started to wobble. I saw fear in his eyes.

Increasingly, as he slowly rocked backwards I was keeping him upright (just) by holding on to my end of the roll. Not good, I only just managed to stop him breaking his neck.

Back at the top and breathing again, we were standing on a platform at the top of the skip. We had to get the carpet over the edge, which was at head height. I thought he was going to have a heart attack – which is why I didn’t ask to take a photo for my Blog.

On the way back home, I stopped off and found a compilation CD of Gypsy and Balkan music for 99p.

All the traditional influences were there; Eastern European folk music, India, Arabia and also a distinct tang of Kletzmer too.

Plenty of Paprika in that Goulash.

An oppressed peoples having some good times.

Nothing like having an edge of danger in the mix.

It’s called life.

But this was also young music from 2006 so there was plenty of echo and mixes and even some Ska too.

Of course, the outrageous and innovative ‘Gogol Bordello’ were there as well with their ‘You Must Wear Purple’….fabulous.


I should explain that there’s always a risk with my back and with a logic unique to me, I decided that as I’d done my back in a fortnight before without any obvious sign of lasting neurological damage, I might as well take advantage of this brief window of opportunity to take it to the Max. I Maxed it.

Wednesday, Oh that hurts!

Hoover the house, change the beds, do the washing, get the meals

In the afternoon as my back hurt (funny that) but my legs were still OK, I took a walk from Staines to Penton Lock and back to think things out.

Looking at the wreckage from the floods all around and watching the wild water flowing through the weirs I put it all in perspective.

I may put up the photos, but they weren’t that exciting. If anyone is interested in fish conservation and weirs – post a comment and I’ll do it on the Blog.

At least I remembered why I started this Blog – I never had any faith that the system would work for me in the first place.

Should I give up? Should I let them get away with it?

Should I F@#K!

So lots more to do and not so much time left to do it in.

Time to take the gloves off.

Time to name names.

To the max!

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Enjoying spring on The Moskva.

This is Edward Snowden, enjoying a boat trip in the spring sunshine as it passes the Kremlin to the right, with the new cathedral up ahead. Thanks to Cryptome for the picture -  it's not exclusive but not many people have seen it in the west.

Spring on the Moskva, there is nothing like it after a long, long winter.

Not so long now until the White Nights of June - take a trip up north.

So, from one renegade to another, enjoy every minute Ed, you earned it.

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



Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Doctors prescription pad.

Monday night not so well, not so happy.
I needed to book myself an appointment at the Jazz Doctors.

Mmmmh this could be serious – what started off as a complaint has turned into a condition. Doctor, what can I do?

I went to my jazz club. I was even early – but so was everyone else. It was packed.


Not in shot was Ross ’12 gigs a week’ Stanley on keyboards – star of Ronnie Scotts, many bands and countless session jobs around London. He was on great form.

On guitar – Nigel Price


The only Jazz guitarist I can stand – the only one who actually understands how the instrument works in jazz.

Vasilis Xenopoulos on Sax was great, all night long.

Trevor Tomkins drums and Steve Watts bass combined perfectly with Ross or Nigel in the quiet, cool sections.

‘Gentle Rain’ was one of those and was as smooth as the title suggests while ‘The Groove Merchant’ just grooved.

It got better and better.

The Nigel Price composition ‘Straight, No bounce’ was a mixture of Thelonious Monk’s ‘Straight No Chaser’ and Charlie Parker’s ‘Billy’s Bounce’ ending up with what was really just a boppy mash-up.

Moanin’ by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers (Mmmmmh) and Dizzy Gillespie’s Groovin’ High were great. There were a number of standards in between – it all added up to a really great night – just what the Doctor ordered.

I wrote these notes down on a Cancer Research notepad I had with me. It had ‘Every Moment Counts’ at the top of each page. Gedddit? I did.
Click on a picture for a slideshow and better quality pictures.
Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Up to date self portrait.

 Being full of myself, I'm always putting up pictures of myself. Here's an up to date self portrait.

I do like the way it highlights my tail.

Neil Harris

(a don't stop till you drop production)



Monday, 24 March 2014

Scott Freeman and Girl in the Garden at The Hobgoblin.


Saturday at The Hob was a night of (to me) grungy, garagey, thrash at the top of its voice. This is Girl in The Garden;

And their lead singer:


Scott Freeman from Shepperton started it all off – but he wasn't grungy, wasn't garagey. Not bad either.

  – an acoustic guitar, a beard and irrepressibly cheerful?  Not what I was looking for. And, no I don't like audience participation either.
I was sold before he started when both of us were separately miming to Ian Dury on the Juke Box – ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll’. Unlike everything else, Ian gets better with age.

Scott was irrepressible, a ball of thumping energy singing his own songs at the top of his voice.

All he needed was a bit of anger.

That's never going to happen, is it?
Next Saturday I'm back in Hayes - moonstompin' with The Reggulaters.
Mmmmmh, 'Long Shot kikky bucket' and 'the Return of Django', or at least I hope so.

Click on a picture for better quality pictures.
Since I wrote this I discovered I was a month too early for The Reggulaters - 29/4/14. Check it on lemonrock.

You can catch them on 5/4/14, but I've got something even more exciting planned for then....... watch this space....
Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Hitting Hayes.

The HighsF

Friday night found me in Hayes, wondering why it’s taken me three months to see The Highs again.

If your interest is 1960’s British Rythym and Blues, 1970’s MOD revival and The Jam, 1990’s Paul Weller or a smattering of Northern Soul – this is the band for you.

I hit Hayes with a hacking cough, some recent bad news, it was cold and raining on me – what a grouse. I still had a great time;

There was The Who, The Spenser Davis Group, The Small Faces and of course, The Jam.

As the rain was blowing along The Uxbridge Road I was enjoying ‘A Town Called Malice’ for all the wrong reasons.

Some of my favourites were the instrumental numbers; ‘Green Onions’ and ‘Sliced Tomatoes’ and then there was Martha and the Vandela’s ‘Heatwave’ played with all the pace of The Jam’s final e.p. ‘Beat Surrender’.

It’s always a great night with The High-s  and if you want to find out just how great that is, you can catch them free on the 19th April at The Sun. Over Easter they are one of the bands playing Brighton Pier to commemorate 50 years of The Mods.

Nice one.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Five Alive Tour - official launch!

I’m on tour again – and this will (hopefully/possibly) be the best yet.
Further, Higher, Faster;

 ZFive Alive

On tour: 18-3-14 to 21-4-14

I have five wonderful weeks before my next appointment (gulp!).

Five weeks to have fun, do significant things, become a different person.

To live.

It would be such a shame to waste it.

While I got some really good news this week I also got some bad news too. There are decisions to be made, new battles to be fought.

So I started planning it all out as I watched The High-s (Fabulous Mod band) playing Hayes on a rainy Friday night. I’m reviewing that tomorrow – today I still have plans to make.
Try and keep up!

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Friday, 21 March 2014

The Animal Sanctuary at Dorney.

Last Friday, I was late getting to Cookham, partly because I stopped off at The Animal Sanctuary at Dorney on the way. I hadn’t planned it but when I passed this rather ramshackle collection of wooden buildings I thought I’d take a look and I’m doing this special Blog on it because I was so impressed by what I saw.

Turning in, the sanctuary appeared even more strange – many DIY wooden buildings, some chaos, lots of frantic building work and painting going on, all set amongst what seemed to be a recycling yard. On top of that, the R.A.F. had to help them out last month when the sanctuary was in danger of being flooded out – so lots of sandbags are still piled up as well as pools of muddy water lying around.

After I parked, Matt quickly came over and told me that because of health and safety restrictions he had to accompany me the whole time I was there. I asked his permission to put his picture on this Blog and here he is at the Sheep Shangri-La;
It turned out I was very lucky to have him as my guide – as he took me around he described the animals in each pen or stable, told me their names and explained how they had arrived at the sanctuary. Given that there are at least 200 of them, this was quite an achievement.

As you’ve seen, there were a couple of sheep, there were also lots of cats, a fair number of dogs, 40 horses, pigs, lots of chickens, ducks, geese, a pigeon and two pheasants.

Obviously, I only took pictures of domestic animals and didn’t use flash so I can’t show you the wild birds who had come in as casualties. I’ve never been so close to live pheasants before and was stunned by their plumage.

The pigs come in because when people buy them as tiny cute piglet pets they don’t realise that Porky is going to end up big and bad and possibly dangerous.


Many of the animals come in neglected and abused – especially the horses. While I was there, Matt pointed out all the sticking out ribs, the injuries and the untreated illnesses that had come with the animals. None are turned away.

A small number of the horses were still angry at people, most were touchingly friendly given what they had been through. As Matt told me; because a lot of the horses haven’t been looked after properly, they never stop eating – they were always underfed.

The sanctuary’s policy is to continually replace the food until eventually they learn that they will be cared for. No animal is ever killed;

All of this was very nice – I like animals but I’m not an extreme animal lover, I’ve always put people first.

What really moved me were the number of volunteers and their dedication to the animals there. Soon it was obvious that there was more to the sanctuary – I got Matt to pass me a leaflet and I read that apart from rescuing mistreated or abandoned animals;

“ We believe that the Animal Sanctuary has a highly beneficial role to play in the support and rehabilitation of local vulnerable people. We have groups and individuals with learning difficulties, physical disabilities, autism and we work hard to facilitate their full inclusion in the community”.

Back last summer, I was having a fairly bad time myself – I’ve got some wounds of my own and I had big problems as a carer, a cancer going badly wrong and some gruesome side effects to be getting on with.

I got involved with a herd of semi-wild horses near where I live. At first I enjoyed the thrill of just being in the middle of a seething band of half wild, fighting, kicking, biting horses. It was a real buzz being there, better than running with the bulls.

Soon I started feeding them carrots and over the summer got close to several of them. I’d never been around horses before– so they had to train me up, deal with my fears and prejudices. You can read about ‘the Punk Horses’ in several blogs I posted through July, August and September last year.

It made a big difference to my problems and helped me through a really tough time.

Later I read that there are programmes now which treat soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder by putting them together with horses.

From my experience, damaged men interacting with vulnerable horses produces a noticeable therapeutic effect. I have to make it clear I’m not talking about breaking, training or riding horses – that’s a different and unequal kind of relationship.

So I was just as interested in the volunteers as I was in the animals but I didn't feel able to post photos of them because I wasn’t happy about getting proper consent.

There was a great, human atmosphere wherever I went but my tour came to a quick end – a troupe of Shetland ponies were being brought through for their walk and Matt just couldn’t resist joining them. Clearly it was a highlight of his day and I don’t blame him;

Click on any picture for a slideshow and a better quality picture.

This is a really good cause and well worth a visit if you have an hour free. I intend to go back, in the meantime here’s their site;

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)


Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Bicycle Thief.

I saw this graffiti when I was up in London on Monday.

When I stopped to go back and take this photo above a bicycle stand, an unpleasantly angry looking man followed me and when I took out my camera he was clearly disappointed - a plain clothes police officer watching out for a bicycle thief.

Better luck next time.

Neil Harris

(a don't stop till you drop production)


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Hard Bop beats the blues anytime.

Monday was always going to end up at my Jazz Club. It didn’t matter to me whether the news was good or bad at Charing Cross Hospital. It didn’t matter that I had a hacking cough. It didn’t matter that I got home late and worn out. I was always going to make it.

On the way back from the hospital I passed Sid’s Shoe repairs/keycutter/Trophy supplier on The Fulham Palace Road – I wrote about his amazing trophy cabinet last month;
This time, to my horror, the life size F.A. and European cups had disappeared from his window. Sid was closing up and I asked him – when the shop shuts he has to lock them away because he is worried that they would be stolen.

In their place?


 The World Cup, of course. I fear that’s the only one that’s coming to London this summer.

I made it to the Jazz Club because the great Art Themen was playing. He is the best in British Hard Bop and is there any other kind of Jazz worth listening to?

It also matters to me because at every stage in my illness when I’ve need a bit of a boost, Art Themen happened to take his turn at the club and I found that little bit extra I needed to make it in.

My reward?   Art Themen on top form – saxophone screaming and then breathless as he blasted through ‘Trinkle Dinkle’ and ‘Hackensack’ by Thelonious Monk, ‘Four’ by Miles Davis and ‘Doxy’ by Sonny Rollins to name just a few.

Trevor Tomkins on drums, Paul Morgan on bass and John Donaldson on piano made up a great quartet.

Quite a night.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)