Thursday, 30 October 2014

Jack 'o Lantern.

Another bad week - Tuesday we went to the cinema and we didn't just not get in....we couldn't even get into the car park. it was half term and Diwali.

Tonight? We went out but we got there a week too early.

And I've been ill all day.

So we slunk home and did this!

We cut our pumpkin up to make a Jack 'O Lantern.

Not bad for our first effort - Happy Halloween!

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


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Wednesday, 29 October 2014

In the sun.

Monday and it was warm and sunny but as that was never going to last we went out in the morning.

This is the distant view of Windsor Castle, down the 'Long Walk';

We sat in the sun by the statue of mad George III, watching planes taking off from Heathrow and flying off to exciting places;

But I couldn't resist having a closer look at some of the Queens deer;

I have two cameras - one cost me £11-99p in a charity shop, this time I was using my £19-99p pawn shop camera.

I like this shot - I have no real zoom so I got this by stalking my deer.

Very slowly, tippee-toed, creeping up ever so quietly;

It was a lovely morning out there in the sun;

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


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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Fill me with Love.

The window of the Age UK charity shop in Egham - a riot of plastic bag art.

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


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Sunset Boulevard at The Three Horseshoes, Feltham.

Saturday – lousy day, magical night.

I’d been ill for a few days but by Saturday I was really ill and feeling fairly C@#p. If I hadn’t had a dental appointment I would never have gone out. Because the dentist was too scared to pull the remains of my tooth out I had to have pins driven into my tooth and a resin stump constructed out of nothing.

It hurt when it shouldn’t have but I’m a little bit impressed.

I slept most of the day and whenever I woke up I was worse, it was that kind of day .

So we went out!

In fact we were planning to see a favourite band but when we got there all we found were cars leaving.

So we drove off to Staines, parked, went into a Pub and found that the band there was truly dreadful – we lasted about 30 seconds and left.

So finally, we spent the evening at The Three Horseshoes in Feltham watching my old favourites ‘Sunset Boulevard’.If anything they are an old fashioned ‘Showband’ – no pretension but great fun. A six piece with a full brass section and all the trimmings.

I last saw them on Christmas Eve and I might do it again this year, if I make it.

They are that kind of fun;

They play covers (of course).

There is always some soul and some blues and a lot of Rock ‘n Roll. Not so much my thing but we did enjoy it – dancing in the back of a crowded bar – making up our own silly dances.

Just Jivin’.

And Robyn is even a cousin by marriage to Little Richard. Although now I think about it, she has so many cousins she’s probably related to most people.

And we got complimented –“such a cool couple”, which was really nice.

They play covers (of course).

There is always some soul and some blues and a lot of Rock ‘n Roll. Not so much my thing but we did enjoy it – dancing in the back of a crowded bar – making up our own silly dances.

Just Jivin’.

And Robyn is even a cousin by marriage to Little Richard. Although now I think about it, she has so many cousins she’s probably related to most people.

And we got complimented –“such a cool couple”, which was really nice.

It was a strange evening – we saw an amazing Custom car but it passed us far too quickly to take a picture; it was just a blur of chrome and wheels.

It’s also Diwali (the Hindu festival of light) and as we left at midnight we passed a Hindu family, a couple and their kids all dressed in traditional clothing and garlanded with chains of flowers as they made their way home from a party.


And then we ended up at ‘Burger Plus’ in Ashford.

Buyin’ fries and just chillin’.

And I got the second compliment of the night – for my hat.

So it was a magical evening after all.

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


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Monday, 27 October 2014

Too much for any shirt to bear.

Three years ago I went to a hospital appointment but to my surprise I was given an unexpected and rather painful biopsy and a junior doctor immediately gave me the news that I had cancer and that it wasn't treatable. I also wasn't going to be around for that long.

I was wearing one of my favourite shirts at the time and ever since then whenever I wear it, it brings back all those unhappy memories again.

I never felt the same way about it again and to avoid doing that to another shirt, I selected just one shirt to wear every time I went to get bad news - and there was plenty of that.

Now I've decided that my 'bad news shirt' has had more bad news than any one shirt can take.

I decided to burn it - mind you, my various easily obtainable household chemicals worked a bit too quickly for my liking.

Hee, Hee!

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


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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Joe Strummer's Rant.

This is Joe Strummer's Rant - it's merchandise from 'Strummerville' which was the fundraising trust set up to commemorate Joe after he died.

It raises money to fund projects that enable troubled young people or young people in deprived areas to perform music.

Here's the link:

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


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Friday, 24 October 2014

In the Poo.

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

Denzel Washington and Popcorn too.

What do you do when everything goes wrong?
It still is, by the way and its now over a fortnight.
We went to the movies.
We went to see the new Denzel Washington movie; 'The Equaliser'. Loosely based on the old TV series, it's not really anything to do with it.
Denzel is the typical 'Quiet man' - he works at a DIY store, gently helping the people he meets. Then he comes up against the Russian Mafia and a fierce one man revenge breaks out - Denzil is ex special forces.
Who knew?
It's very violent although the violence is very stylistic and looks like it's computer generated. But the cinematography is brilliant, the story is exciting and well researched.
Marton Csokas is a supurb villain and even though we emerged from the cinema at midnight, the two hours were over very quickly.
Good film and we had popcorn too.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Meeting Paul Booth.

Monday night and we were tired out – it was a hard weekend and even though we were able to get out in the afternoon it was tough.
In the evening we were in Isleworth for our jazz Clkub and a new talent (for us, anyway).
Paul Booth has been making a name for himself as a Saxophonist touring America for the last 10 weeks with Stevie Winwood.
Tonight? Back at Isleworth playing Jazz. He’s good; expressive and creative.
In the background is Tim Wells playing bass.
We were shattered, falling asleep on the job.
Neil Harris
(a don’t stop till you drop production)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Stanley Dee: Now there are 11 at The Oddfellows, Apsley.

Sunday, sat looking at the wreckage of our weekend.....we somehow managed to get my mum out of Hospital, got her home and gave her lunch.....we were free!

What did we do? We'd driven miles to get to Hemel Hempstead (don't even ask where that is) and got lost looking for The Oddfellows Arms.

I'm wearing a red tie, it's a special thing for me and we were searching for Stanley Dee, the only tribute band anyone could ever want to see;

 Crammed into a tiny Pub, now there really are 11 of them; the lights failed, the sound failed. It was great - there was dancing. It was fun!


Katie Ayres (vocals), Cavan Daly (lead vocal), Paul Davey (tenor sax), Don Ellis (drums), Jen Good (vocals), Keith Jones (keyboard), Steve Joy (trumpet), Mark McCormack (bass), Amelia Rendell (vocals), Darren Spicer (guitar), Derek Walker (alto sax)

I know, I know, there are only ten in this photo but I have gone to some lengths to cover them all. This was taken in the middle of the beautiful instrumental part of Aja - it's the music of Steely Dan; the most enigmatic of groups and the hardest of all to copy.

Hiding in the back are the drums and keyboards - that's an improvement on last time when they were in a different room!

There were some magical moments - this is music that the real live Steely Dan couldn't really cope with playing too well live and always with a host of ever changing session musicians.
It's also always great fun - who else knows that the audience will sing along with;
" Is there gas in the car? Yes there's gas in the car - I think the people down the hall know who we are!"
Probably the best line ever written.
The red tie? I was once approached at a Stanley Dee concert and someone winked at me and pointed to my red tie; "The Crimson Tie....heh?" I nodded back in a conspiratorial fashion. I didn't have the heart to tell him that the line from Deacon Blues refers to "The Crimson Tide".
And now I imagine a growing number of Steely Dan fans wearing red ties by mistake.
Hee Hee!.
We hope to catch Stanley again at the end of November at The Horns in Watford - always a good night and a great sound system.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Happy Christmas.

It's probably the stupidest thing I could have done but at the point where everything that could possibly go wrong had gone wrong.....I bought a lot of the stuff we need for Christmas.
I'm not going to name check where I bought it but it's a budget priced German Mum was once upon a time (nearly 80 years ago) from Germany so there are certain things we need that can only come from there.
We've agreed we may need to eat them early this year!
I'm having problems Blogging - so where posts always came out at the same time every day.....they may not.
But they will still come out!
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Monday, 20 October 2014

I'm whingeing.

I don’t often grumble (no really, I don’t) but this last ten days has been the worst ever.

Starting with the failure of my cancer medication, here’s how things have gone since then;

My Dongle was running out….I don’t have Broadband – I’m a guerrilla Blogger, a dangerous desperado flitting between a dongle and whatever free Wi-Fi I can get my hands on.

For a couple of years I’ve been buying a dongle with three months unlimited internet from T-Mobile but now they’ve gone, gobbled up by ‘EE’. Of course they stopped it – now I ‘need’ Mi-Fi which isn’t what I want at all.

It won’t work for me and it’s much more expensive.


So I look on their website – there’s a dongle at EE but it’s 4G (don’t want it, can’t get reception here anyway) but even though it’s more expensive and less data, it will work on 3G for 3 months.

At EE? “We don’t sell that any more”.

So I went to a well-known local electrical hypermarket whose website said they stocked it; “discontinued”.

By chance I went to another branch of the same store, I’d tried the same at EE – that didn’t work for me. They were sold out but the nice man there looked it up for me and found that my local branch (tried them the day before) had two left. He even printed of an internal stocksheet so that they couldn’t argue with me.

So I went back and got one reduced to sell; they won’t be doing that again in three months time. And it's useless.


We’ve got mice in the loft – a whole herd. I’m dealing with that – I’m up there every other day.


We needed the central heating serviced – it’s long overdue but I’ve been ill….we’ve all been ill.

So I get the nice guy in – that’s the one who doesn’t overcharge and doesn’t make you do expensive stuff you don’t need.

It needed a new, expensive part. So I wasted two yes two whole days on that. Then when he’d  gone, we had a flooded boiler – water everywhere and I had to wait for him to come back and fix it.


Then we had a traumatic meeting with my Mum’s new doctor – we needed a new doctor because I discovered that her old (calous, negligent, uncaring) ‘family’ doctor hadn’t bothered to tell me for the last three years that we were entitled to 4 weeks respite care a year (means tested but so what?) which meant that for those three desperate years when I was caring for my Mum alone and without a break, I could have had 4 weeks breaks/holidays/adventures a year.

4 weeks freedom.

I gave her a telling off that she will never forget and told them she was never coming in the house again.

At least Mum now has a different doctor – if only we’d had someone who gave a damn from the beginning.

How different these three years would have been.


By Friday morning I’d had enough and went out for a walk – only I didn’t.

The front door wouldn’t open. It was actually broken.

I then spent two hours puffing and blowing, swearing and sweating. I undid the panel, I WD40’d it. I hit it, I pushed it , I pulled it.

I even tried the internet.

And when I was exhausted (and I am stubborn, believe me) I called in an incredibly expensive locksmith.

He gave me the knowing smile he reserves for silly householders who get themselves locked in and then can’t sort it out for themselves.

He sniggered at my WD40; “See, that doesn’t cure everything!”

He laughed at the panel I’d left on the floor.

Then, through our firmly shut door, I watched him puffing and blowing, swearing and sweating for an hour. He hit it, he pushed it, he pulled it. He swore some more.

In the end he even went to his van and got some WD40 and no, it didn’t work for him either.

Two crowbars, a slimjim (and if you don’t know what that is I’m not going to tell you) all the tricks of the trade and even more swearing and in the end he got it open.

He fixed the minor problem (I could have done that if only I could have got it open myself. We agreed that the 40 year old lock was still OK, and as the new ones don’t last any time……we’d save the extra £200 he’d have charged us to install a new one.

It was such a bad 12 days for us and as I’m now two fifths through the five weeks I had untill my next and probably rather unpleasant hospital appointment…. we’d planned out a really nice weekend.

Saturday morning and my poor old Mum collapsed with a seizure.

Ambulance called and our weekend was spent at Accident and Emergency. She’s OK but that’s more than can be said for us.

It was Saturday night at 730pm when we found they weren’t letting her out and there was nothing more we could do…..we went and had fish and chips and then moved over to McDonalds where we had icecream and lavished ourselves on their free Wi-Fi.

And my beautiful, wonderful girlfriend felt so sorry for me that she gave me a pedicure and a foot massage, which I have never experienced before.


And that made all the F+#@ing C@#P I’ve had for the last ten days seem worthwhile.


By the way, I’m burning my shirt but that’s a story for another day.

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Power of Soul - Oh yeah!

Friday night - you don't really want to know what the last ten days have been like.

We jumped in the car and headed for The General Elliot in Uxbridge for a taste of 'The Power of Soul'.

Here's what they have to say for themselves;

       Originally formed in 1988 by Glitter Band sax player Harvey Ellison  and
      founder members Gavin Barnett (bass ex Albert Lee) and Ted Cullen
      (trombone ex Scratch Perry) have kept the flag flying for Classic Soul
      music and with accomplished accomplices in Adrian Barry (vocals), highly
      acclaimed guitarist Steve Kempson, plus George Lee (alto sax ex Jimmy
      Cliff and the Amboy Jukes) all powered by the drummer’s drummer the
       amazing Mac Poole (whose Soul background included taking over the drum
      stool in top Birmingham Soul band Locomotive to let  his pal John Bonham
      leave to try his luck with Led Zeppelin).

Think Motown, think Stax - in fact the opening few numbers were classic instrumentals from the world of Blues and Soul.

Then the Soul began;

All the greats of 1970's classix soul, played by some great instrumentalists;

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

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Day three of Robyn's campaign to cheer me up; down at The Red Lion

It's day three and I'm even getting Robyn down. Monday was wet and cold and miserable; the evening wasn't any better.

This time she made me go to The Red Lion - I told her the Jazz wouldn't be any good but she wouldn't listen. I was wrong, I'd forgotten how good they were.

On the left is Kate Williams on keyboards while in the centre on bass is Steve Watts - making a very good duet with Trevor Tomkins on drums when the others shut up;

 I didn't manage to get a shot of Steve Fishwick whose trumpet was good but his mute work was brilliant (love a mute, I do).
This is Chris Boscoe on saxophone; 
There was a lot of Miles Davis ('4' and 'Half Nelson') and my old friend Thelonious was there too ('Mysterioso') and there was an excellent version of 'Skylark' by Hoagy Carmichael.
A good night.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Day two of Robyn's campaign to cheer me up; The Funk Foundation.

Sunday and I was depressed again - the happy effect of those ice creams had worn off already.

I didn't want to stay in and I didn't want to go out.

Robyn dragged me out again (for my own good) - and it was miles away. I'm not going to tell you where because the pub staff took our drinks away before we had a chance to finish them - so no plug for you!

We went to see The Funk Foundation and they have this to say about themselves;

Funk Foundation were formed with one purpose - to bring the wonderful groovy and sophisticated vibes of Soul Funk and Acid Jazz to the live music scene. We're a live 5 piece soul funk band with decades of experience playing, performing and loving the music of artists like Chic, Jamiroquai, The Brand New Heavies, Incognito, Jocelyn Brown and Chaka Khan.

Why Soul Funk & Acid Jazz? It's a musican's joy, featuring deep groove, sophisticated arrangements and soulful vocals, all permeated with rhythms, hooks and licks that cause people that love music to spontaneously combust with head nodding, helpless movement and shouts of choooon!

Whilst there's a good scene bubbling away in the big cities it's hard to find live bands out in the real world packing their setlists with music this classy. There's lots of brilliant acts covering rock, indie and party tunes but Funk Foundation serve a different, higher purpose: to make you move, to make you feel the bass, live the rhythm, lose yourself in lyrics and most of all, to bring alive our love for this genre and spread the groove far and wide.

We saw the band back in the summer and while we had fun, it didn't quite live up to the description - more classic soul really.

Mind you, we did dance!

So we gave it another go and this time there was a completely different line up and a different sound too.

It was good;

Guitar and keyboards were the only members we recognised (could be wrong - if so apologies) and certainly they were the heart of the group;

But there was a Thakathakathaka bass as well as a funky drummer; it all added up to classy soul, get on down Funk plus a touch of jazz (well Brand New Heavies type Acid Jazz) - pretty much what the flyer says and very strongly recommended.

Sorry you just can't make out the venue logo on these shots.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Robyn's campaign to cheer me up; Boulters Lock.

Last week was about the worst week ever(I know, I know - there will be worse) , so at the weekend Robyn started her campaign to cheer me up.

On Saturday afternoon she dragged me out and we went to the River Thames at Maidenhead.

I was pretty grumpy, even with a view like this;

It's the riverside path from Boulters Lock in Maidenhead on the way to Cookham. It's about as English a scene as you could find. There are weeping willows with their branches sweeping the surface of the river. There are broad leafed trees - ancient and solid. There are swans and geese, there are ducks.

There are gentle ripples on the river from a light breeze. It's sunny;

There are boats cruising and this gloriously restored working longboat dappled by the sun;

And then we walked back to the island at Boulters Lock where we had an ice cream as the day ended;  

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

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Carters Steam fair.

On the last day of my 'respite' we went to Carters Steam fair - sadly the Messham's family Wall of Death weren't travelling with them at that time.


There are some amazing sights. The fair is made up of rides and vehicles rescued by the Carter family during the 1960's onwards as the travelling showmen were disposing of them.

The Carters met at art school and became fascinated by the traditions and the artwork the rides.

As steam became replaced by diesel, they built a fair out of the ruins until today their fair is a tradition itself. This is the steam organ on the merry-go-round;

These are the steam yachts;

And what would a fair be without some original Dodgems?

You wouldn't get me on this:

Then there was the ghost train, a real product of the 1960's, lovingly restored;

Visually amazing;

The influence here is the American comics of the '50's and 60's;

There were lots of thrills and sceams;


They have a website where you can checkout where they are performing.
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)